Driving Tips in Santorini
Santorini is the top destination of tourists worldwide. The famous blue & white domes, the mesmerizing sunsets and the volcano attract millions of visitors each year. In order to enjoy and discover Santorini though, for your own safety, you are strongly recommended to comply with the following safety rules while driving in Santorini.
Safety tips while driving in Santorini
Santorini has very narrow roads because they used to be donkey paths inside traditional villages. Due to the narrow roads and the bad driving habits of many locals and foreigners, a lot of fatal accidents take place in Santorini every year.
In order to enjoy your visit to Santorini, all you have to do is to follow a few elementary driving rules.
- Pay attention to the sign that reads, "I love life, I drive safe".
- Seat belts are compulsory. Fasten your seat belt. You will not regret it.
- Fasten your seatbelt before you start driving or you may not have a chance to fasten it.
- Buses are driving in the middle of the road so you need to be really careful to avoid being hit.
- If you have rented a car, do not overestimate your driving skills.
- It goes without saying that if you have drunk more than 1 beer or 2 glasses of wine, let someone else drive the way back.
- There are quite a lot narrow roads in Santorini. Look ahead and be prepared to stop if an obstacle appears.
- The speed limit is rarely above 60 miles per hour, you do not have to run fast. There are though many young drivers that tear round the island like lunatics so be careful of them as well.
- Use your mirrors all the time.
- Use your horn at intersections if you do not have the best visibility.
- During the high season period, there are people clogging up the roads on monkey bikes. The speed of the traffic tends to be dictated by them. Be prepared to wait.
- Crash helmets for motorcycle drivers are compulsory.
- If you visit Santorini by boat, by the time that you get off the boat, drive carefully. Any mistake can be fatal due to the windy and steep hill.
- Keep your eyes on the road while driving. Santorini views are magnificent but you should not admire the sunset while you are driving.
- Road signs and markings are generally poor on Santorini. Keep your eyes and ears open.
- The double solid white line in the center of the road prohibits overtaking. For your own safety, do not ignore it.
- Nearly all direction signs are bilingual, showing the place names in Greek and English.
- Avoid aggressive driving. Use the gas pedal and the break wisely. Remember that the faster you drive the more gas you use. By not running like a maniac, you save the planet, your money and your life.
- You may see flashing amber arrows. If you are turning in the direction of the arrows, you must expect pedestrians to be crossing. Give way to anyone already crossing the road.
- When driving in Greece you must drive on the right hand side of the road.
- The main roads only have 2 lane traffic, and within the villages, the roads are very narrow.
- Be careful with the scooters. Most of the tourists that rent a scooter are ignorant of driving. It is a fact that a few of them do not have a driving license at all.
- Alcotests & police blocks are common practice especially on Saturday nights in the summer.
General tips about road safety in Santorini
- Fira and other villages on the island have free public parking areas. Use them to avoid traffic congestion and parking fines.
- If you are a pedestrian, walk on the left side of the road so you can see the cars coming.
- Donkeys and mules in Santorini are part of the native charm of the island. Avoid arguing with a donkey or the donkey driver though.
- To rent a car in Santorini you need an international or national driver's license, held by the driver for at least 1 year.
- The minimum driver's age is 23 years for cars and jeeps.
- We advise you pay the extra for Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).
- If you get a fine then you have to pay it.
- Also be careful if you are walking on the side of the road as cars come around corners rather quickly.
- There are hardly any pavements in Perissa. Four-wheelers are very popular amongst locals and tourists. They are quite fast and seem to have very little road sense.
- Do not react to the habit of drivers in the queue telling the first car that the lights have changed to green with a toot on the horn.
- In gas stations, an attendant will fill up for you. Just say how much you want in Euros, or say "Full!" You don't have to tip for their service.
- In the UK there is a rule that pedestrians have priority when crossing at a designated zebra or pelican crossing. This is not the case in Santorini.
- If you do give way, don't be surprised or upset if you don't get a thank you or a smile. So when driving on Santorini don't interpret this as rudeness!