Before you get on the road in Greece, it's important to know these driving rules.
Minimum Age: Drivers must be 18.
Seat Belts: Must be used by front-seat passengers. Greece has a high accident rate, so it is important for everybody to be properly strapped in.
Children: Kids under 10 can't sit in the front seat.
Speed Limits Use these as a guide, but always obey the posted limits, which may vary.
Urban areas: 30 mph/50 kph
Outside cities: 68 mph/110 kph
Freeways/Expressways: 75 mph/120 kph
Using the Horn: Technically, it's illegal in towns and urban areas except in case of emergencies. Use it freely if needed; it could save your life. On high mountain roads, make a short beep shortly before going around a blind curve to alert any oncoming traffic.
Driving in the Middle of the Road This is very common, especially on narrow roads, and is not necessarily a bad idea if you are expecting to have to avoid a sudden obstruction such as rockfalls, grazing goats, or an unexpected parked car. One Greek woman explained it by saying "If I'm driving in the middle, I always have someplace to go". But it is very disconcerting to see a car barreling toward you well over the middle line.
Parking: Forbidden (though it may not be marked) within 9 feet of a fire hydrant, 15 feet of an intersection, or 45 feet from a bus stop.
In some areas, street parking requires the purchase of a ticket from a booth. These areas will usually be posted in both English and Greek.
Moving Violation Tickets Fines are expensive, often hundreds of euros. With Greece's current financial crisis, enforcement rates will probably rise.
Driver's Licenses: EU citizens can use their own. Other nationals should have an International Drivers License, though in practice, a recognizable photo license is usually accepted. US licenses have been readily accepted in the past but I recommend having the international version as a handy second form of ID.
Roadside Assistance: ELPA offers coverage to members of AAA (Triple-A), CAA and other similar assistance services but any driver can contact them. Check with your membership department for information on using the ELPA shared services in Greece.
ELPA has quick-access numbers dialable in Greece: 104 and 154.
Athens Restricted Area: The central Athens area restricts car access to reduce congestion, based on whether or not the car license plate ends in an odd or even number, but these restrictions do not apply to rental cars.
Driving Your Own Car: You need a valid registration, proof of internationally valid insurance (check beforehand with your insurance company!), and your driver's license.
Emergency Numbers: For visitors to Greece, dial 112 for multi-language help. Dial 100 for Police, 166 for Fires, and 199 for ambulance service. For roadside service, use the ELPA numbers above.
Toll Roads: The two special roads called Ethniki Odos, the National Road, do require tolls, which vary and must be paid in cash.
Driving Side: Drive on the right, same as in the United States.
Circles and Roundabouts: While these are standard in many European countries and in the UK and Ireland, they are new to many US drivers. These circles serve as a kind of perpetual-motion intersection, keeping traffic flowing without the use of signal lights. This sounds more difficult than it actually is, and roundabouts are actually kind of fun once you get used to them.
Cell Phone Usage It is now illegal to use your cell phone while driving in Greece. Violators can be stopped and issued a fine. Periodic crackdowns are driving this point home.