Athens is the capital of Greece and one of the world’s oldest cities, so it’s rich in culture, heritage and history. Surrounded by three mountains, Athens is now a sprawling modern city which is dotted with some of the world’s most spectacular historic features and lots of Roman and Byzantine attractions. It has one of the longest histories in the world and has been inhabited for over 3,000 years.
We recommend you park the car outside the city and use the public transport to get around and see top attractions like the Acropolis, the ancient fortified town where the Parthenon is to be seen. You could also visit the National Archaeological Museum (the largest and most popular museum in the city) and the Byzantine Museum.
Greece Car Hire Tip: In Greece you drive on the right hand side of the road.
Piraeus is the city’s main port and is about 11km southwest of central Athens. It is said to be the biggest port in Europe and the 3rd biggest in the world! From Piraeus you can take your car hire by ferry to different Greek Islands like Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Zakynthos, Rhodes and Paros.
Drive the stunning Apollo Coast, which runs from Piraeus to Cape Sounion – about 70km south of Athens on Route 91. Cape Sounion is where you’ll see the famous Greek Temple of Poseidon, which was built about 444BC about the same time as the Parthenon.
Greece Car Hire Tip: It is illegal to use your mobile when driving in Greece.
If you head west of Athens on the E94 highway in the direction of Corinth, you’ll pass the Corinth Canal which separates the Peloponnese Peninsula with mainland Greece. As you enter the peninsula you’ll pass through the ancient city of Corinth, which was founded about 6,000 BC. Here you can see the spectacular Temple of Apollo.
With a car, it’s highly recommended that you visit Mycenae (a UNESCO world heritage site), which can be found 48km south of Corinth. Mycenae was one of the main centres of civilisation in Greece during the 2nd millennium BC. What you’ll see here is the ruins of palaces on the acropolis and ruined walls which are much older than most of the monuments in Classical Greece.
Greece Car Hire Tip: Usually the speed limit is 50km/hr in built up areas, 110km/hr outside of cities and 120km/hr on motorways.
Travel onto Sparta – once known for being a military state with one of the best armies in the Greek world. A major attraction in Sparta is the Temple of Artemis Orthia – it was here that young Spartan men would receive brutal public floggings. Or visit the Acropolis and Ancient Theatre, which was at one time, the largest in Greece with a capacity to hold up to 16,000 people.
Also on the Peloponnese Peninsula you could visit Nafplion and you’ll definitely see one of the most beautiful cities in Greece! Nafplion was once the capital of Greece and today is one of the major tourist destinations – especially if you’re looking for sun, sea and sand. The city has a beautiful coastal setting, narrow streets and lots of attractions like the Museum of Nafplion, the Peloponnese Folklore Foundation and the The Palamidi Fortress – one of the country’s greatest attractions.
By following the National Road Corinth – Athens you’ll end up back in Athens or if you’re travelling on to Olympia travel along the mountain road from Kalavrite or along the coast via Patras and Pyrgos. The historic city of Olympia hosted the first Olympic Games. There is an interesting museum here and also the famous Temple of Zeus, which was once the home to the statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Greece Car Hire Tip: It is illegal to use the car horn in built up areas except in the case of an emergency.
About 180km north of Athens is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece, Delphi. This trip to Delphi comes highly recommended and can be done in a day if staying in Athens. In ancient times, Delphi was a very special place, so special it was said, that it was centre of the world and a place where heaven met earth! Delphi has long been associated with the God Apollo and this was where people would flock to worship him. Explore the famous Oracle and a collection of temples like the Sanctuary of Appollo, Temple of Pronaia Athena and the Theatre where chariot races were common place.
For the ski enthusiast, the slopes of Mount Parnassus which are over 8000 feet lie between Athens and Delphi and from December to April are extremely popular for skiing.
Greece Car Hire Tip: Try to avoid driving in Athens – it suffers from severe congestion, roads are confusing and trying to find a parking space is next to impossible!
A drive to the vibrant Greek city of Thessalonika from Athens is quite a pleasant experience, and although the two cities are about 500km apart, they’re connected by one of the best highways in the country. Thessalonika is the second largest city in Greece, and like most Greek cities it has its fair share of archaeological attractions and ruins. It’s a vibrant city so if it’s good Greek cuisine, fine wines and beers and a rip roaring nightlife you’re after, then this is the place for you!
If you’re up for a challenge then head for Mount Olympus, which is located south of the city on the E45. It’s the highest point in Greece and was believed to be the place where the ancient Gods lived!
Hope this gives you an idea of what to see when driving in Greece. Remember you can also hire a car in the popular Greek Islands of Corfu, Crete, Rhodes and Mykonos. So for a relaxing and casual look at beautiful Greece, get a good map and take to the road.
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