Useful Information on Living in Greece

Discover everything you need to know about living and driving in Greece as an expat in our useful and informative guide from insurance specialists Keith Michaels. Read on.
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The Language Barrier in Greece

Greek is the official language of Greece, but English is widely spoken in the country, especially in larger cities and in popular tourist areas. While learning some basic Greek words and phrases can be beneficial in daily life and help to integrate with local communities, it is not necessary in most of the country’s populated areas and sun-drenched islands such as Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini.

With a population of 10.64 million people, of which around 7% are expats, Greece remains an attractive destination for British citizens looking to move abroad as well as a popular holiday destination.

Weather & Climate

Greece borders the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea and is set on a peninsular, with an archipelago of approximately 3,000 islands, of which around 170 are inhabited. It has a total land mass of 131,957 square kilometres and also contains a mixture of mountains and green valleys.

Due to its location, Greece has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters across much of the country. The hottest month of the year is July when the average daily maximum temperature is 33°C and the average low is 17°C. January is the coolest month with an average daily maximum temperature of 6°C and an average low of -2°C. The southern lowland and island regions of Greece experience mild and wet winters, while the mountainous areas of the central and northern regions have cold winters with heavy snowfall.

British Embassy in Greece

Address:1, Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens, Greece
Opening hours:The British Embassy Athens and British Vice Consulates in Greece are open to the public by appointment only.
Telephone:+30 210 7272 600 (24hr) or +44 20 7008 5000
Email: [email protected]

Emergency Services Contact Information in Greece

Emergency ServiceContact Number
General Emergency112
Police Service100
Fire Service199
Ambulance Service166

Health in Greece

Healthcare in Greece is provided by the country’s National Healthcare Service, or ESY, which provides free and equitable access to quality medical and health services for all residents. The system comprises a mixture of public and private healthcare providers and, while the standard of healthcare is generally high, it can vary between the mainland and smaller surrounding islands.

There are currently no vaccination requirements for travelling to Greece, and no courses or boosters are advised except for people exposed to occupational risks, lifestyle risks, or with underlying medical conditions.

UK nationals living, working, or studying in Greece are entitled to state healthcare in Greece, though it is not always free. The guidance around healthcare for people visiting Greece is different.

Driving While Living in Greece

Driving in Greece is a great way to explore the country’s ancient cities, scenic islands, coastal roads, and white-washed traditional villages. However, driving in Greece is very different to the UK for a variety of reasons, not least because Greek people drive on the opposite side of the road to us.

While the majority of roads in Greece are well maintained, many rural roads are rough and potholed and can be affected by sandstorms and flooding. This is especially true in remote areas where local drivers often occupy the middle of the road to avoid uneven surfaces, potential landslides, sheep, and other farm animals.

Other things to consider when driving in Greece include:

  • Like all continental Europe and many countries around the world, Greece drives on the right side of the road, with local cars being left-hand drive. It is legal to drive a right-hand drive car, meaning you can continue to drive your own car from the UK. However, this can be inconvenient for toll booths, parking, and drive-through facilities.
  • Greece uses the metric system for speed and distance. This means road signs are shown in kilometres rather than miles, and speed limits are displayed in kilometres (km/h) rather than miles (mph).
  • The drink drive limit in Greece is 0.5g/l (also displayed 0.05%). For new drivers with under three years’ experience, the limit is 0.2g/l (0.02%). Greek police generally take a hard line on drink driving. For comparison, the limit in England and Wales is 0.8g/l (0.08%).
  • Police in Greece can request you take a random breath test if they suspect you of drink driving. Police also carry out saliva tests for anyone suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Failure to comply with police could result in fines, confiscation of a driving licence, or even a prison sentence.
  • A warning triangle, fire extinguisher, and first aid kit are compulsory requirements for every vehicle in Greece.
  • Children aged 12 years or under and less than 135cm in height must travel in an approved child seat in the front or back of a vehicle.
  • Infants aged three years or under must travel in a suitable child restraint.
  • Children aged between three and 11 years must be in an appropriate child seat.
  • Most road signs in Greece are in Greek and English.
  • Petrol, diesel, and LPG are widely available in Greece with road signs displaying the distance to the nearest filling stations.
  • As with many European countries, motorways in Greece are toll roads and payment can be made at toll booths or with an automatic system called GRITS (Greek Interoperable Tolling Systems).

Getting your Driving Licence in Greece

To drive legally in Greece, foreign nationals must have a valid driving licence from their country of origin. They can use their licence in Greece for up to six months, after which they must obtain a Greek driving licence. This law applies to all foreign nationals, regardless of their country of origin.

Licence Exchange Agreements

Some foreign nationals can exchange their driving licence for a Greek one. The countries that have this agreement with Greece are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Foreign nationals such as UK expats whose countries do not have an agreement with Greece must take a driving test in Greek to obtain a Greek driving licence.

To obtain and renew a driving licence in Greece, applicants must:

Foreign nationals must take a written and practical driving test to obtain a Greek driving licence. The test is conducted in Greek, which can be a challenge for those who don’t speak the language. It costs approximately 200 euros to secure a driving licence in Greece.

To renew a driving licence, foreign nationals must provide the following documents:

  • Valid passport and visa
  • Their original Greek driving licence
  • Medical certificate from an approved Greek doctor
  • Proof of residency in Greece.

While an International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognised in Greece, it is not accepted as a valid driving licence. Therefore, foreign nationals planning to drive in Greece for more than six months must have a valid driving licence and an IDP.

Penalties for Motoring Offences

Penalties for motoring offences in Greece are severe. They include:

  • Speeding: Fines range from 40 euros to 350 euros depending on the offence
  • Drink driving: Fines range from 200 euros to 1,200 euros, and a driving licence can be suspended for up to six months
  • Driving without a valid licence: Between 300 euros and 1,200 euros and the vehicle impounded
  • Reckless driving: From 200 euros to 1,200 euros and possible suspension of licence for up to six months

The motoring penalty system in Greece changes frequently, so foreign nationals should stay up-to-date to remain compliant with driving laws.

Legal Requirements in Greece

You must be 18 years or over to drive in Greece and hold a full UK driving licence. Riders of motorcycles up to 125cc must be aged over 18, while moped (50cc or under) must be aged 16 or over.

The speed limit in most built-up, urban areas is 50km/h rising to between 90km/h and 110km/h on open roads, and 130km/h on motorways.

Greece operates the same seatbelt rules as the UK. If your car has them, they must be worn at all times. The driver has the ultimate responsibility for seatbelts and the fine for not wearing one is 350 euros.

You can find more information about relocating to Greece here.