Car Rental & Driving in Greece
Do I need a rental car in Athens?
No, you really don’t need a car in Athens. In fact we would really advise against it.
Athens is a very large city, however the parts of Athens where you will be visiting, mostly the historical center, the museums along Vasilis Sophias Boulevard, Kalimarmaro Stadium and central Athens are very walkable and public transportation is inexpensive, reliable – unless they go on strike, safe and can be a fun way to see real Athens. Taxis abound, and they are also inexpensive. For more information on Taxis, click here.
However, if you are staying in Greece for a while and are going to be visiting sites outside of Athens or are going to be touring around Mainland Greece or the Peloponnese, you can check rates with Kosmos, we’ve found them to have very good pricing on cars and vans and we often rent from them ourselves. on the link below and get your car. (Of course if you are working with us on your itinerary, we’ll include a car for your journey.)
Driving in Athens
Athens is a large city. This is a list of rules, not by any means all inclusive, that will help the uninitiated be better prepared for driving around Athens.
- DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S PERMIT. Remember that you need to carry both, your Driver’s License and your International Driver’s Permit. Eventhough many of the car rental companies will rent to you without your International Driver’s Permit, be aware that you will be driving illegally. Some companies are real sticklers for the International Driver’s Permit, while others are not so concerned.
- If you do not need to drive, leave your car where it is. God knows, it took you long enough to find that parking space.
- Parking… Athenians believe that parking is fair game anywhere a car will fit. However, I would advise against it.
- When you find that parking spot, put on your blinkers [indicators for the Brits that may me reading this post] well ahead of where the parking spot is.
- You will notice that the traffic lights are even up, even perhaps a little behind from the street corner. Unless you stop well ahead of the traffic signal, you will not know it turned green. Don’t worry though, all the drivers behind you will let you know by honking. Don’t take it personally, that’s how they tell the first car in line that the light is green.
- The light cavalry… that’s what I call the motorcycles and mopeds that filter through the cars, turning the bars left and right to avoid the car mirrors and sift like sand through pebbles to the front of the line.
- If you are to turn down a one way street, and you are going the right way, do not assume that you are safe. You better look as traffic signs are arbitrary. I think most people view them as decorations rather than actual safety directions. Just wait until they pass, and don’t feel that you need to tell them about it. They already know they are wrong, but they will not apologize and will yell at you. Just let them go by.
- Pedestrians know that cars have the right of way! You may decide to let someone go by and waive them through. They will look at you in disbelief, and they will not go forward. Instead, be carefull not to run anyone over and go about your business. The reverse of that advice is true for when you are a pedestrian yourself.
Highway Driving in Greece
- Highways are rather new in Greece and people are not quite as used to them as you may be. A few things to watch out for:
- When they enter the highway, they slow down, even stop.
- Greeks consider the emergency lane another traffic lane.
- Speed limits, though posted, are meaningless. There will be people on mopeds doign 20k/hr and Mercedes and BMW zipping by at 200 km.
- Passing to the right or to the left is fair game.
- When you see a car approaching from behind flashing its lights, move over, quickly.