A Foreigner’s Guide to Driving on Crete

Our first night on Crete, we drove from the airport to the village we were staying in. It was a terrifying ride with cars zooming around us, and a cliff drop right next to the road for most of it. The more we drove on the island, we started to learn the rules of the road – rules that are so opposite to how I learned to drive. They are uniquely Cretan.

There are few basic things to remember when driving on Crete:

    • Most of the highway is a two lane highway – one lane for each direction. On occasion, during the straight stretches there would be a 3rd lane for passing. But despite this, many Cretan drivers do not wait for these lanes to pass you. If there is space, they’re going to do it. We had a couple close calls with cars passing us when there was no room. The worst is when a car going the opposite direction is in your lane trying to pass someone. Heart in throat moment

Driving in GreeceCar passing us without regard to the upcoming curve

  • Two lane highway, you’d expect cars to be in the lane right? Well not in Crete. Most of the time you end up driving on the shoulder of the road and the actual lane is used for passing. So you’ll see car after car driving on the shoulder of the road like its no big deal.

Driving on Crete

Driving on the shoulder of the road so cars can pass. 2 lanes become a 4 lane highway.

  •  Speed. If you drive slow, you’re definitely a tourist. These guys drive fast! Even around the twisty corners.
  • Road signs are confusing. They’re in Greek and English, but almost never together. They alternate, so its useful to know how the Greek’s write the city you’re going to. And know the various ways of spelling the city in English too!

That’s it really. You remember these key things and you’ll be fine. The island is very hilly so there is a lot of going up and down. You’ll get lots of practice parking on a hill. Also, if you don’t already know how to drive manual, don’t attempt to learn on this island. Even the “quiet” roads have lots of cars. Especially not recommended if you’re already a nervous driver (like me) and are likely to freak out and scamper out of the driver’s seat like its on fire. Makes for an entertaining story though.

What unusual place have you’ve driven? Weirdest rules of the road?