Greece self drive vacations

Greece is the perfect country for a self drive vacation, the mainland and islands dotted with fascinating ancient sites, idyllic stretches of beach, and picturesque villages. Pull in for a delicious Mediterranean lunch at a local taverna or take a stroll round a family run producer of wine, olive oil or honey. Having a car at your disposal means you’re not dependent on anyone else’s plans, and have the flexibility to see as much, or as little, of what interests you as you choose.

Why take a self drive vacation in Greece?

These are completely tailor made trips. You travel on the dates you want, and can arrange your itinerary as you please. If you let the tour operator know in good time before departure what you want from your vacation – walking in the gorgeous Greek countryside for instance, foodie excursions, or discovering lesser known historic ruins – then they can provide plenty of advice, but you’re under absolutely no obligation to follow it. All you need to do is get from A to B every day as your accommodation is pre-booked on your behalf.

You will usually be staying in small, locally owned and family run guesthouses or hotels, with breakfast included each day. And that’s another advantage of self drive vacations in Greece: they afford many memorable opportunities to get to know local people in a leisurely way. There’s also nothing stopping you from upgrading to a higher standard of accommodation if you wish, and you can also book a car that meets your requirements in terms of budget, space or fuel economy.
Self driving vacations offer the ultimate in convenience. You have your own transport available at all times, and follow nobody’s schedule but your own. Simply drive between points of interest and stay as long as you like. You can reach places public transport won’t take you, that organised trips often miss too, places that are far beyond the regular tourist route perhaps on the recommendations of the tour operator, or your hosts.

Need to know

You can take a Greece self drive vacation at any time of year, but the best weather (and warmest sea) is to be had between April and October. Bear in mind that the roads in popular destinations such as Crete can become very busy during the peak season from late July to early September, and during Greek Orthodox Easter. Some roads, particularly in less visited areas around northern Greece and the Peloponnese, can be narrow and tricky to navigate, and signage can also be less than ideal in places, so this type of trip is best suited to fairly confident drivers with a few years of experience. A GPS will come in handy.

Modern, well maintained cars with air conditioning can be picked up either from the airport on arrival, such as Athens, Heraklion or Thessaloniki, or if you’re spending a day or so in Athens before moving on the car can be conveniently delivered to your hotel. You’ll be supplied with a comprehensive information pack including maps, suggested itineraries and detailed descriptions of the various places you may want to visit during your trip, and as you would expect from any car hire arrangement there will be 24-hour support available.

Depending on the trip you select the following might be included, but potentially may need to be arranged beforehand with a supplement payable: insurance, second driver coverage, GPS, child seats, roadside assistance, airport transfers (if required). Fuel and road tolls will not be included, and you may also need to leave a repayable deposit when picking up the car.

Where to go on your Greece
self drive vacation

Northern Greece

Pretty remote and wild with it, Northern Greece is of great appeal to more adventurous travelers. Normally picking up your car at Thessaloniki International Airport, you can explore the awe-inspiring monasteries of Meteora, perched precipitously on natural pillars and boulders of rock on the hillside. You can hike around the charming traditional villages, forests, canyons and caves of the Zagoria region, and discover the tombs of Macedon kings and an underground museum in the little town of Vergina.

Crete

The largest island in Greece, said to be the birthplace of Zeus, Crete is an immensely popular vacation destination but although the roads can be busy, getting around by car tends to be nice and easy. Be prepared for some hairpin bends however, and the occasional shepherd moving his flock along. Here you can hike in the foothills of Mount Ida and the Rouvas Gorge, visit the Minoan site of Knossos and Gournia, and the highly regarded museums of Heraklion, or simply sunbathe your way around Crete’s famously idyllic coastline. This beach filling up a bit too much for your liking? Just hop back in the car and drive to one that’s more remote.

Peloponnese

Many of the most prestigious ancient sites in Greece are to be found on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece: Olympia, Mycenae, Bassae, Sparta, the Byzantine fortress-town of Mistra and Epidaurus – all of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then there is Corinth, with its incredible canal, medieval castles, the thermal springs of Kyllini, and attractive seaside resorts such as Tolon. Anyone with a passion for the myths and legends of Ancient Greece will thoroughly enjoy the experience of driving around the Peloponnese.

Our top Self drive & fly drive Vacation

Self drive vacation in Northern Greece, hike & tour

Self drive vacation in Northern Greece, hike & tour

Macedonia & Epirus - sightseeing & walking in ancient Greece

From £425 to £550 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Self drive & fly drive or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Some self drive tips from
our vacation reviews

Some of the roads are, to say the least, difficult to drive and a bit hairy. It was fine for us but if not confident driving think twice.
– Barry Marshall in the Peloponnese
“Take a portable GPS! The directions were good as far as they went, but the Greeks seem to be very sparing with their signposts, it took us some time to find our way in and out of Ioanina (having stopped to eat and go to the bank) in both directions!” – Penny Thomson in Northern Greece

“Driving Greece is the way to go. Get out of Athens and see the small villages especially in the Peloponnese. June was the perfect time of year before the mad tourist crunch. Listen to the travel agent. He did an outstanding job for us and found the best family run small hotels. All the hotels and route that he suggested to us were spot on. We were able to stop at places you could never visit on a large tour bus.” – Sarah Turner
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Alex Antoniadis] [Intro: Brian Snelson] [Why take a self drive vacation in Greece?: Chris Barnes] [Crete: ralfor] [Barry Marshall Quote: Detmold]
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