Greece is a country steeped in history and culture, with a wealth of natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes. The country’s road network provides an excellent opportunity to experience all that Greece has to offer, making it an ideal destination for a road trip. The winding roads of the Greek countryside take you through rolling hills dotted with vineyards, olive groves, and picturesque villages. This scenic drive is punctuated by stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the mountains that rise up from the coast.
Driving along the Greek coast, you will be able to explore some of the country's most famous archaeological sites and historic monuments, including the Acropolis, the Temple of Apollo, and the ancient city of Olympia. In contrast, the stunning mountain scenery of the Pindus Mountains, Mount Olympus, and the Meteora Monasteries offer a different kind of adventure, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching.
The country is well-known for its food and wine, and there are numerous opportunities to sample the local cuisine and enjoy a glass of local wine while on your road trip. The fertile plains and rolling hills of Greece are home to many vineyards and olive groves, producing some of the country's finest wines and olive oils.
Whether you are interested in history, culture, or nature, Greece offers an unforgettable road trip experience. With its stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage, and excellent food and wine, it is a destination that is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
Ancient ruins, various museums, narrow streets, small cafés, the Acropolis, or the climatic Old Town are only a few highlights that await you in Athens. It is an extremely colourful city where you can see the blending of Mediterranean, Oriental, and European elements.
Of course, sightseeing around Greece shouldn't be only limited to the capital. An equally interesting place is Delphi, located along the road connecting Thermopylae with the Peloponnese. The city can boast well-developed tourist infrastructure so, apart from interesting landmarks, you'll also find hotels, bars, restaurants, and taverns here.
If you decide to visit Greece in the summer season, you should definitely see Patras, where various theatrical performances are organised. At the end of the carnival season, there is a parade taking place in the city during which you'll meet crowds of tourists and residents wearing colourful and original outfits. The crowning of the event is the burning of a carnival king and a firework show.
Another city worth your attention is Kalambaka, located at the foot of the Metéora rock formation. It is precisely where you can find the famous Orthodox churches that are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Greek map also offers a place with a similar name, Kalamata, which can't boast a great array of landmarks, but is famous for top-quality olive oil.
Probably all travellers heard about such saying as "Spartan conditions" or "Spartan upbringing". They originated in ancient Sparta and refer to its residents who avoided too many pleasures and kept strict discipline in many fields of their lives. Today, the town is eagerly visited by tourists not only due its unique ambience, but also due to its location near Mistras, which serves as an open-air museum.
Greece is a country full of archaeological excavation sites. The most popular ones can be found, among others, in Mycenae, Olympia, and Corinth. Also, you can't really miss Messini, where you'll find the remnants of Arcadian Gate and the Temple of Asclepius. The temple was erected in 215 and had an extremely important political and religious function in the country.
If you want to see the best preserved Greek theatre, you should head for Epidaurus, located in the eastern part of the Peloponnese. The object was built around 300 BC. It is famous for excellent acoustic properties and has been the object of research for many years. Interestingly, it is still used for staging tragedies of famous Greek playwrights.
Greece encompasses so many fantastic places that you can enumerate them endlessly. It's also worth remembering that less known towns are equally interesting in comparison to more touristy places. These include Amfilochia (approx. 40 km from Arta), Larissa, with one of the largest ancient theatres, and Ioannina, nicely located on the western bank of Lake Pamvotida.
Suggested Road Trips in Greece
Athens to Meteora: This road trip takes you from Athens to the Meteora Monasteries, a group of monasteries built on top of towering rock formations. Along the way, you will pass through picturesque villages, rolling hills, and vineyards, providing an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Greece. The drive culminates in the historic town of Kalambaka, where you can explore the monasteries and enjoy the panoramic views.
Peloponnese Peninsula: This road trip takes you through the heart of the Peloponnese peninsula, offering an opportunity to explore ancient Greek history, scenic countryside, and charming villages. Highlights of this road trip include visits to historic sites such as Olympia, ancient Mycenae, and the theater at Epidaurus. You can also take time to sample the local food and wine, and visit local markets and craft shops.
Crete Island Drive: The island of Crete is a popular destination for tourists, and a road trip around the island provides an opportunity to see the stunning views and enjoy the local culture. The road trip takes you through picturesque villages, past black sand beaches and crystal clear waters, and along the cliffs that offer panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. Whether you are interested in history, food, wine, or scenic drives, Crete Island has something for everyone.
Traffic regulations in Greece are similar to those prevailing in other European countries. Motorists drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left side. It is vital to pursue the right-hand rule. Remember! If you enter a roundabout the right of way is yours!
Of course, we can expect speed control while driving around Greece. In built-up areas, the maximum driving speed is 50 km/h and in rural areas, you can drive as fast as 80 km/h. On expressways, you shouldn't exceed the speed of 110 km/h, whereas on motorways, you can drive at the speed of 130 km/h.
While travelling around Greece, having your dipped beam on isn't obligatory during the day unless there are adverse weather conditions. Fastening your seatbelts is, of course, mandatory. Only pregnant women are allowed for some leeway in this respect.
Passengers who are younger than 12 and shorter than 135 cm can't travel on the front seat; however, they can travel on a special child seat adjusted to their height. Talking on the phone while driving is allowed only with a hands-free set. Drinking and driving is severely punished - the blood alcohol content can't exceed 0.05% (0.02% in case of rookie motorists).
Before hitting the road, make sure that you have all the necessary equipment pieces. These include a first aid kit, a warning triangle, and a fire extinguisher. A reflective vest is something worth carrying in your vehicle, especially when you need to leave your car in rural areas.
Continental Greece has a well-developed road infrastructure, owing to which you can easily move between major cities. Motorists can use as many as 2000 km of motorways. Less frequented roads aren't that bad as well. You should be especially cautious on mountain roads, where the asphalt is narrow and surrounded by precipices.
Most of Greek roads are toll roads. However, the tolls aren't fixed but dependent on the vehicle category and the section that you have travelled. The only accepted payment method is cash. Queues to toll gates aren't long so your adventure will be pretty pleasant.
If you are planning to take the Aktio – Preveza Undersea Tunnel or the Rio - Andirio Bridge connecting the Peloponnese with the Balkan Peninsula, you should also prepare an appropriate amount of cash. The tunnel will cost you from 3 to 5 Euro, whereas the bridge will cost you approximately 13-20 Euro.
Greek cities are characterised by the scarcity of parking spaces. You can leave your car only in designated places. Restricted parking zones are usually marked with yellow road signs. Sometimes, motorists are required to purchase parking tickets that can be bought in kiosks. It's also worth remembering that illegal parking may result not only in a parking fine but also in losing your registration plate. Fortunately, most tickets and fines can be reduced by 50% if you pay them on time (maximally 10 days from the day you received them).
When taking a road trip in Greece, it is important to be aware of the following:
Driving conditions: Greece has narrow and winding roads that can be challenging to navigate, especially in rural areas. Also, it is common to encounter poorly maintained roads and unpredictable weather conditions, so it's important to drive carefully.
Road rules: In Greece, people drive on the right side of the road, and seat belts are required for everyone in the car. Greek law also requires you to carry a reflective vest, warning triangle, and fire extinguisher in the car.
Road signage: Greek road signage may not be as clear or consistent as in other countries, so it's important to pay attention to the road and to plan your route in advance.
Local culture: Greek people are known for their hospitality, but it's important to respect local customs and traditions when driving through rural areas.
Parking: Parking can be limited in cities and tourist areas, so it's important to plan ahead and find a safe place to park your car.
Fuel availability: Fuel stations may not be as easily accessible in rural areas, so it's important to keep an eye on your fuel gauge and fill up when you have the chance.
Cost: While Greece is generally an affordable destination, road trips can be expensive due to fuel and other costs, so it's important to budget accordingly.
The best time of the year for taking a road trip in Greece is during the spring (April to June) and the fall (September to November). These seasons offer comfortable temperatures, clear skies, and low amounts of rainfall, making them ideal for road trips and outdoor activities. During spring, the countryside is blanketed with wildflowers and the air is fragrant with the scents of blooming flowers. In the fall, the landscape is dotted with vibrant oranges and yellows as the leaves change color. Summer can also be a good time for road trips in Greece, but be prepared for hot temperatures and busy tourist season. Winter can be challenging for road trips in Greece, with potential for rain and snow in some areas, making road conditions difficult.
The cost of a road trip in Greece can vary depending on several factors, such as the length of the trip, the number of people traveling, the type of accommodations, transportation, and activities chosen. Here is a general overview of the costs involved in a road trip in Greece:
On average, a day trip in Greece can cost between €50-€100 per person, while a week-long trip can range from €350-€700 per person. A month-long trip can cost upwards of €1,500-€3,000 per person, depending on the level of luxury and activities included in the itinerary.
The cost of renting a car in Greece can vary depending on the type of vehicle and the rental company. On average, a rental car in Greece can cost between €20-€60 per day, depending on the type of vehicle and the rental company. However, it is important to note that renting a car in Greece can come with additional expenses, such as fuel costs, insurance, and tolls.
Accommodations in Greece can range from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and resorts, with prices ranging from €10-€500 per night. Meals in Greece can range from cheap street food to high-end restaurants, with an average cost of €5-€20 per meal.
In terms of activities, Greece has a variety of options, such as visiting historic sites, museums, and galleries, as well as outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and watersports. The cost of activities can vary depending on the location and type of experience, with prices ranging from free to €100 or more per person.
It's important to budget for additional expenses such as fuel, tolls, parking, and entrance fees when planning a road trip in Greece. These expenses can vary depending on the itinerary and travel route chosen.
Overall, a road trip in Greece can be a great value for travelers who plan ahead and budget carefully. By researching and choosing budget-friendly accommodations, transportation, and activities, travelers can experience the best of Greece's natural beauty, history, and culture without breaking the bank.
If you're planning a road trip in Greece, there are several guidebooks and road maps that you can use to help you navigate the country and discover its many attractions. Here are some recommendations:
Lonely Planet Greece: The Lonely Planet guidebook for Greece is a comprehensive guide that provides information on everything you need to know about the country. It includes detailed information on attractions, accommodations, and restaurants, as well as practical tips on transportation, safety, and health.
Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese: This guidebook is written by popular travel expert Rick Steves and provides a detailed look at the region around Athens and the Peloponnese. It includes practical information on transportation, accommodations, and restaurants, as well as detailed walking tours of Athens and the region's top attractions.
Michelin Greece Map: The Michelin Greece Map is an excellent resource for road trips in Greece. It provides detailed information on roads, highways, and cities, as well as information on national parks and other attractions.
Insight Guides Greece: The Insight Guides Greece provides a detailed look at the country's history, culture, and attractions. It includes practical information on transportation, accommodations, and restaurants, as well as a section on Greece's food.
Road Editions Greece Road Atlas: The Road Editions Greece Road Atlas is a comprehensive road map that includes detailed information on roads, highways, and cities. It also includes information on tolls, ferries, and other transportation options.
These guidebooks and road maps can help you plan your road trip in Greece, providing you with valuable information on attractions, accommodations, and transportation. Make sure to research and choose the one that fits your needs and preferences best.
Reading books before a road trip in Greece can help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country's history, culture, and landscapes. Here are some recommended books to read before taking a road trip in Greece:
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis: This classic novel is set on the island of Crete and tells the story of a young writer who befriends a charismatic Greek man named Zorba. It's a great way to get a sense of Greek culture and the country's laid-back way of life.
The Odyssey by Homer: This epic poem tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his adventures on his journey home from the Trojan War. It's a great way to learn about ancient Greek mythology and the country's rich literary heritage.
The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller: This travelogue is set in Greece during the 1930s and provides a personal account of the author's travels through the country. It's a great way to get a sense of Greece's natural beauty and the country's cultural and historical significance.
Greece: A Traveler's Literary Companion edited by Artemis Leontis: This collection of short stories and excerpts from Greek literature provides a glimpse into the country's diverse cultural heritage. It's a great way to discover new authors and gain a deeper appreciation of Greek literature.
The Iliad by Homer: This epic poem tells the story of the Trojan War and provides a glimpse into ancient Greek history and mythology. It's a great way to learn about the country's rich cultural heritage and the role of the gods and goddesses in ancient Greek life.
These books can help you gain a deeper appreciation of the history, culture, and landscapes of Greece, and can enhance your road trip experience. Whether you're interested in fiction, non-fiction, or ancient literature, there's something for every reader to enjoy.