Driving in Greece is something that I have always dreaded and when we decided to spend a month in Athens it was already set – no driving. Mood, time and location can, however, change your mindset. Driving in Greece was eventually a reality. Not in Athens (that will probably never happen), but on the island of Kefalonia. So here are my thoughts on driving on Kefalonia and my recommendations if you consider it.
I’m not an experienced driver that can provide you with professional advice in regards to driving on Kefalonia or any place for that matter. My background looks like this: I recently had to request a new Swedish driving license as my previous was expiring after 10 years. That is 10 years with a driving license. I have during that time only owned a car for the last year. In the last 3 years, I have, however, been driving in 12 different counties – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Namibia, the Netherlands, Portugal (Madeira), Slovakia, South Africa and Sweden.
None of these countries frightened me more than Greece. I have a lot of respect for the traffic in south-east Europe and have so far not understood the flow in its entirety.
As we had been in Greece for three weeks at the time and were spending a long weekend on the island of Kefalonia, I reconsidered my objection to driving in Greece. Kefalonia is an island with so many amazing sights and renting a car was the only way to see as much as possible for a day. Driving on Kefalonia became my exception, the will to discover was greater than the fear of driving. And, how else would we be sure that Little A had a proper car seat? Traveling with a 1-year-old also comes with some restrictions.
Driving on Kefalonia – Reason to Do It
Kefalonia is an amazing island with nice beaches, towns, and other sights scattered with a few kilometers in between. Which is the best way to see them? Well, you can try to find a bus – we wish you the best of luck with that. There are probably a few tours available from the tourist areas where you have to follow a specific schedule. A more expensive option might also be to take a taxi to all the locations. We opted against all of these and chose to rent a car. This gave us the opportunity to go where we wanted, when we wanted, and know that we would have the car seat for our little A. When traveling with a child, there is an extra need to consider safety. For example, it is usually quite hard to find a taxi with a car seat for toddlers.
Our conclusion is that the best way to really enjoy all the sights and places on Kefalonia is by driving. Then you can really choose where to go and when.
Driving on Kefalonia – Our Recommendations
So what would we recommend you to consider while driving on Kefalonia? Well, driving in any European country should be quite similar. Here are our thoughts about which differences and challenges that might occur when driving on Kefalonia.
#1 Do It in Your Pace
The biggest problem that we have encountered when driving in a new country is that you don’t know the pace of the traffic and get stressed. Kefalonia is no exception and this island is filled with rental cars driven by tourists from a lot of different countries. Drive at your own pace and take your time. That is our main recommendation. The roads might be hazardous, with steep cliffs and narrow corners. Not to mention other traffic. So, drive slow and let others pass you instead.
There were also occasions where either the speed limit sign was tampered with or where no one seemed to care about the limit, so you will have to decide how careful you want to be.
#2 Plan Ahead and Expect Others to do the Unexpected
Always keep planing your drive ahead of the current situation. It might sound obvious, but for most, it is not. When driving always try to see the situations that might arise. A narrow road? Know where it is best to meet oncoming traffic before standing nose to nose. Having a corner up ahead? Don’t drive in the middle of the road. Is a car standing next to the road? Expect them to just start driving or for someone to run out on the road to take photos.
So, always consider what others might do and take precautions. The risk of someone destroying your holiday is not worth it just because you expect them to do the obvious. Even in not so dangerous situation, it is just more convenient when everything runs smoothly.
#3 Get a Small Car
It might be comfortable many times to drive a larger car. You sit better, you see the road better and you feel safer. Well, Kefalonia is one of those places where a big car might be quite inconvenient. Most roads are quite narrow, but not too small for an SUV or similar. That is as long as you stay away from the towns. The towns will be a challenge for any larger car, especially when it comes to finding a parking spot. There is usually not that much space available for your car and you would probably like to be able to get in and then out easily.
Smaller cars might not be considered as safe as larger ones, but keep in mind that most cars on the island are in the size of a Fiat Panda.
#4 Enjoy the Scenery
Driving is one thing, but when on Kefalonia you really need to take the opportunity to stop and enjoy the scenery. What other reason did you have for renting a car? There are so many places with amazing views, so do stop as much as possible. Just make sure to stop at a safe spot, preferably outside of the road itself. There are several small pockets along most roads where it is possible to stop for photos etc.
We really hope that you will have a great time on Kefalonia and drive safely.