Crete and Greece Drives on the Right Hand side of the Road, Opposite to the UK and Ireland, So it is Left Hand Drive, Right?
For British and Irish Ex-pat visitors to Crete, getting behind the wheel of a car you need to have your wits about you. The word to best describe Cretan and Mainland Greek drivers is enthusiastic.
As a result, road manners can be very different in Crete than you are perhaps used to elsewhere particularly Northern Europeans in their home countries.
Take note of:
Very rarely does someone stop to let you through if the road is blocked. An inevitable fight for road space starts using the preferred method: to inch forward to squeeze through the gap with a smidgeon to spare on either side of your vehicle.
Time suddenly seems to be so important, when for the most part on Crete, on any other occasion, time is anything but precious.
If, as a British or Irish driver YOU stop to let someone go through a gap in a busy built up area, don't be surprised if there's no acknowledgment or "thank you". But on a good Greek day, what is nicer than a wide smile from a fellow road user - probably a Cretan? (pronounced Cree-tan). It happens.
Be alert at all times when driving. Do not relax your concentration while cruising along deserted country roads. Those small roadside shrines (known as eikona or iconostasi) with a little oil cup and lamp you see all over Crete, are tributes to friends and relatives who have died or seriously injured at those spots. Concentration is the key to safe driving in Crete. Remember the advice and you'll be safe when you set out to explore Crete.
Video Selection Below: YouTube.com Driving in Crete Videos from an animation on passing safely, to fun drive on the way to Aghia Galini, on the E75 motorway from Heraklion to Rethymno, a three part Driving instruction on Cretan roads and a road race on Crete tarmac between a Seicento 270 ps Versus a Punto GT.
Some other pointers. Be aware that overtaking on solid, double white lines is definitely illegal but it happens (a lot) so be aware of this when nearing the brow of a hill or a blind corner, someone may be heading your way when you least expect it!
If you are the first car, watch out. Here you have to apply your Formula One driving technique. You sit with foot on accelerator as though you on the grid at Brands Hatch ready to drop the clutch the second the lights change to green. Why? If you don't within a split second, in less than the blink of an eyelid, a chorus of loud tooting from behind will be heard from other drivers, desperate for you to have a flying start. It isn't confined to the young guy in his souped up Fiat Panda either. Just look at the driver of the car next to you! You will know what we mean. This isn't a movie, this is for real.
Those are just a couple of the many hints as to what you'll face on the roads while driving in Crete, not to mention flying sheep and the latest hidden police radar traps along Crete's North coast E75 motorway that not only clocks locals and Ex-pat residents, but catches visitor drivers of rental cars as well. (We are in the EU after all, open borders, freedom to travel and all that.) Warning: If a car rental was paid for by a credit card be prepared for fines to be later debited from your card should you get caught by speed traps.
Car Insurance in Crete, is of course a legal requirement. In buying a new car, comprehensive cover is required and dictated for the most part by the car dealer. For the second year and and beyond try to shop around, there is plenty of choice of insurance agents locally. In looking for best deal, just check the reputation of the insurance through local friends or aquaintances. Be warned, every local person has a relative who sells car insurance. Payments are either every six months or a year. Greece respects UK no claims bonus if you provide the UK insurers certificate showing your current status.
With a new car, once any hire purchase payments are completed, or three years pass, then third party insurance is likely to be the better choice. While Crete's main roads are generally excellent, cars do get a lot of wear and tear from the mountainous terrain across the island.
Yet, second hand cars retain their value much better in Greece than U.K. Some makes better than others. One cautionary note, insurance companies in Greece stipulate that you retain your no claims bonus rank for one whole year with the new insurer - if you switch insurers. That is a kind of penalty if you are not on maximum NCB. Policies can also include other items, such as house contents insurance, etc to boost the minimum premium you need to pay. But it is usually worthwhile and not worth arguing about. Bring your No Claims Certificate or showing your level of insurance status to Crete, from your UK or Irish insurer, it is recognised through reciprocal EU agreements. You can take out Greek Insurance coverage for a full 12 months policy period or every six months. Ask and get a quote from the BritsinCrete.Net insurance man.
It is worth remembering that Greece, year-after-year has the highest road fatality rate in Europe. Yes, the police have breathalyzer kits and test after accidents, and at other times with on-the-spot checks. Drinking and driving over the limit is taken seriously. InGreece, the maximum legal alcohol to blood ratio is 0.05%, above 0.08% is considered a criminal offence.
You can drive on a UK or Irish Driving Licence (new type with photo). If you plan on moving here permanently, you could apply for a Greek one. But the police do not appear too concerned for EU Ex-pat residents to retain their original license from their home country. Only if there is a problem, they and / or the insurance company may make this an issue. Click for good advice and to a Good Debate: To Keep Your British Driving Licence or Get a Greek Driver's License on becoming a resident in Greece.
The wearing of seat belts for front and back seat passengers is in all new cars mandatory and a fine of 85.00 is payable at the local town hall in the area you were fined if you as the driver and or passengers get caught not wearing one. Children under 10 must sit in the back seat.
Be aware of the speed limits on the main E75 Crete motorway. Recently the upper limit was increased to 100kph on certain sections. In mainland Greece it is 120K. Most road users add 10kpm to any limit hoping they won't get fined. The police radar will register over the limit + 3kpm as the point of reference. A 30kph over the limit is considered dangerous driving and a likely court appearance. In built-up areas (villages and towns) the limit is 50kph. At night headlights must not be on high beam in populated areas. As with the rest of Continental Europe, main roads are designated by blue signposts.
Annual car insurance is now automated and your Crete home address for your Greek Tax number is where the annual car tax renewal is sent.
A final note: Driving in Greece and Driving in Crete is not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. It is certainly a lot better than some other European states. If you are an Ex-pat visitor or tourist get your atlas or map out and explore Crete's extensive road network.
- Detailed and current questions can be posted in our Brits in Crete Forum.
- A BBC Northern Ireland, TV programme team visited Crete. Their comments on Driving in Crete as they went through the villages can be read here!
- If the whole idea of driving in Crete puts you off - take a luxury air conditioned, KTEL Bus!