Road trip in Greece and the Greek islands

Road trip in Greece and the Greek islands

a guide on how to get around Greece with ferry and car

A road trip to Greece is an excellent option for travelers in order to discover the most beautiful corners of the country! Our team has collected here a few useful tips for your road trip, how to transfer your vehicle by ferry to Greece, suggested routes from major ports and what you need to know when driving around Greece. Book your ferry tickets on Ferryhopper and start your exciting journey by car & ferry in Greece, in just 4 clicks

How to bring your car to Greece?

The easiest way to bring your car from central and south Europe to Greece is by ferry, through the ports of eastern Italy. The 4 ports of the east Italian coast that serve ferry connections to Greece are Venice, Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi. The ferry routes are very frequent throughout the whole year and the ferries connect the Italian ports with the port of Igoumenitsa (in Epirus) and the port of Patras (in Peloponnese). During the summer season, there are also ferry connections to the Ionian islands of Corfu and Kefalonia (Cephalonia). On our pages, you will get all updated information for the Italy-Greece ferry routes

The ferries that operate on the Italy - Greece lines have large garages that are ideal for cars, motorcycles as well as for campers and caravans. On the Ferryhopper search engine, you will find all the available ferry ticket types for vehicles, all prices, and offers in order to organize your ferry trip to Greece in the most convenient way for you. 

Italy - Greece ferry tickets

Why take your vehicle to Greece by ferry?

There are many reasons why you should consider transferring your own vehicle to Greece by ferry, apart from the flexibility, comfort, and independence that you can have on your trip. For example:  

  • You have the chance of driving through Italy and spending some time in some of the most beautiful cities in the world like Venice, Florence, or Rome and taste the amazing Italian food!
  • Transferring your vehicle by ferry from Italy to Greece saves you time from driving as well as money since you don’t have to pay for gas or tolls on the way. 
  • The crossing of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean sea by ferry allows you to enjoy a unique scenery with a view of the coasts of Croatia, Albania, the Ionian islands and northwestern Greece.
  • The ferry ride can be more relaxing and fun than you have thought: the ferries from Italy to Greece offer many onboard entertainment options, often including screening rooms, bars, disco as well as restaurants, cafeterias and open deck where you can enjoy the sunset or the sunrise over the sea. 
  • The ferry rides from Italy to Greece are usually overnight which means that you can sleep on the ferry and wake up in the morning in Greece fresh and ready to start your road trip with your batteries charged. Booking a bed cabin is the best option for a comfortable ferry trip from Italy to Greece. 
  • If you are an early planner then you can benefit a lot from the Early Booking Discount that the ferry companies offer on the Italy-Greece ferry routes for passengers and vehicles. 
  • The ferry companies that operate on the Adriatic Sea also have exclusive offers for campers and caravans. You can find more information about traveling to Greece with your campervan or about the types of ferry tickets and offers on our relevant blog post. 
  • The ports of Igoumenitsa and Patras, where you arrive by ferry from Italy, are located in key locations in order to explore some of the most beautiful areas in Greece or catch a ferry to the Greek islands. 

Ferry traveling in the greek sea, island, cliffs, nature, blue, holdays in Greece by car and ferry

So bring your car to Greece by ferry and get the chance to have a genuine experience of Greece’s landscapes, vibe, tastes, and history. Below you can find more detailed information for your road trip planning:

Road Trips in Greece: where to go after your ferry arrival

When you travel from Italy to Greece by ferry, your road trip to Greece can start as soon as your ferry arrives in the port! The 2 Greek ports that mainly serve the ferry connections from Italy are Igoumenitsa and Patras.

  1. The port and town of Igoumenitsa are located on the northwest coast of Greece, opposite the island of Corfu and close to the country’s borders with Albania.
  2. Patras is the third-largest city in Greece located in the northwest corner of the Peloponnese. The port of Patras is one of the main gateways to the Ionian islands. 

You have many road trip options in both cases and it depends on your time, taste, and of course, budget so we present you here with 4 road trip suggestions, two for each port of ferry arrival. 

Roadtrip 1: Igoumenitsa – Meteora – Thessaloniki – Halkidiki

Igoumenitsa is a great point of departure to explore the beauty of central and northern Greece. In just 2,5 hours from the port of Igoumenitsa, you can drive to the impressive site of Meteora. The breathtaking view of the immense rock formations and the mountain-perched Byzantine monasteries will be an unforgettable experience. From Meteora, you can then drive north to Thessaloniki, the second-largest city of Greece. You can get from Meteora to Thessaloniki via the Egnatia Odos (A2/E90) a modern highway that passes through the impressive Pindos mountains. 

Monastery in Meteora, rocks, mountain, snow, clouds, road trip central Greece, Igoumenitsa port ferry routes

Thessaloniki is a vibrant city and you should definitely consider spending a few days there. The history of the city is evident throughout the center, with archaeological sites, monuments, and historical buildings coming regularly into sight when walking around the city. Thessaloniki is also famous for its amazing food and its nightlife so make sure that before leaving the city you try some of the local delicacies and do some bar-hopping! The next (and final?) stop of this road trip should definitely be Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki), the beautiful peninsula in the south of Thessaloniki. In Halkidiki, you will find many great beaches and small villages to visit, while there are many campsites across the two ‘legs’ of the peninsula. Halkidiki is an ideal destination if you want to relax a few days next to the sea.

Italy - Igoumenitsa Ferry

Roadtrip 2: Igoumenitsa - Corfu - Lefkada - Zante 

This road trip option includes a visit to 3 of the most beautiful islands of the Ionian sea as well as a drive-through to the west coast of Greece. 

The beach of Porto Katsiki in Lefkada, holidays, roadtrip in the Ionian islands, ferry routes, Igoumenitsa

  1. To begin with, as soon as your ferry arrives from Italy to Igoumenitsa, you can get one of the multiple ferries that depart from Igoumenitsa to the island of Corfu. The ferry ride is just 1,5 hours so you can even organize this as a day trip. In the summer months, you also have the option of getting a direct ferry from Italy to Corfu. After a visit to the cosmopolitan island of Corfu, you can return back to Igoumenitsa for the second part of your road trip. 
  2. In just a 1,5 hour drive from Igoumenitsa, you can get to the island of Lefkada for some of the most impressive beaches in the Ionian sea. Lefkada is the only, of the Ionian islands, that is not accessible by ferry since it connects with mainland Greece with a causeway. On your way to Lefkada, you can also make a stop to the picturesque town of Parga, or dive to the crystal sea waters of Syvota. Driving around Lefkada will allow you to see some of its most beautiful beaches like Porto Katsiki, Kathisma or Milos as well its rich nature, passing through waterfalls, caves, and cliffs. 
  3. From Lefkada, you can then drive further south through Ionia Odos (A5), pass the Rio-Antirio bridge and reach the port of Kyllini in the Peloponnese in about 3 hours. From the port of Kyllini, there are many daily ferry connections to the island of Zakynthos, while the ferry trip duration is approximately 1hour. Zakynthos (or Zante) is a great holiday destination that combines great beaches, beautiful nature, seaside resorts, watersports, and sea activities and of course the famous beach of Navagio (Shipwreck). 

Kyllini - Zante Ferry

Roadtrip 3: Patras – Peloponnese – Poros – Aegina - Athens 

A road trip in the Peloponnese is an absolute must if you have at least 5-6 days to wander around the coast and the mainland of the region. Starting from the port of Patras, following your ferry arrival from Italy is a great option as you can make a proper tour of the peninsula. Heading southwest, your first stop should definitely be the Archaeological site of Ancient Olympia. You can reach Olympia in just a 1,5-hour drive from Patras for a visit to the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Then continue south, by the west coast of the Peloponnese where you can enjoy the long sandy beaches before you reach Pylos and Foinikounta at the very south of that side of the peninsula. Heading towards the southeast coast of Peloponnese make sure that you drive through Areopolis and Gytheio before reaching the picturesque and romantic town of Monemvasia

From Monemvasia start heading up north, enjoying the coastal views of the Aegean sea all the way to the historic city of Nafplion, the archaeological site of Mykines, and the ancient theatre of Epidaurus.  Across the way, you will find many accommodation options including beach resorts, smaller apartments, and campsites. 

Italy - Patras Ferry

Now, if you want to make your road trip a bit more interesting, you can drive east from Epidaurus and get to the small coastal town of Galatas in just 50min. From there you can get a ferry boat that crosses to the island of Poros in just 10 minutes! Poros is one of the islands of the Saronic Gulf, ideal for peaceful holidays in the beautiful scenery. After your visit to Poros, you can consider some island hopping in the Saronic islands and catch a ferry to the island of Aegina. Aegina is a popular destination as it’s very close to Athens and it has many beautiful places and beaches to explore. From the ports of Aegina, there are daily ferries to the port of Piraeus in Athens, so you should definitely pay a visit to the capital of Greece, one of the most lively European cities. 

From the ports of Athens you can find many ferry connections to the Greek islands while many of the ferries have a garage to transfer your vehicle. You can therefore continue your road trip in island settings and why not combine it with some island-hopping in the Aegean. On the Ferryhopper map of ferries, you will find all the available ferry connections from Athens in order to plan your ferry trip in the most convenient way for you!

Small mountain road in Greece, nature, snow, green tree, roadtrip in the Peloponnese, Patras port, ferry from Italy

Roadtrip 4: Patras - Delphi - Volos - Skiathos

Our second suggestion for a road trip with departure from the port of Patras is to travel northeast, to the impressive village and ancient sanctuary of Delphi. It will take you 2 hours drive from Patras via E65/EO48 to reach the beautiful landscape of Delphi. From there, you can cross through the mount Parnassos to the east coast and drive north to the Pagasetic Gulf and the city of Volos. Volos is a coastal city, the capital of the Magnesia region, a place famous for its food and agriculture. Don’t miss the chance of spending some time in the renowned tsipouradika of Volos, and taste the local meze! From Volos, you can also drive through the mountain of Pelion, for some exciting natural routes and views of the Aegean sea. 

The archaeological site of Delphi, mount Parnassos, road trip in Greece, holidays, ferry from Patras or Athens

The port of Volos is also an important gateway to the Sporades islands so we recommend that you continue your road trip by taking a ferry to the island of Skiathos. The ferry trip to Skiathos is approximately 2,5 hours and from there you can also take a ferry to the neighboring island of Skopelos. The ferry ride is just 30minutes and the ferry ticket can be quite cheap so you could even plan this as a day trip. On our pages, you can find more information about the Skiathos-Skopelos ferry route, and all the ferry departures from the port of Volos

Volos - Skiathos Ferry

Tips for driving in Greece

In general, navigating around Greece with your vehicle can be easy, especially in the mainland or the main roads of Crete, Evoia and other large islands. You can plan your road trip to the Greek destinations smoothly, using online or printed maps. Here are some additional tips for you: 

Roads in Greece

Greece has a good and wide road network, with several highways connecting the big cities around the country so a road trip can be a fun and relaxing experience. The most modern motorways in Greece are:

  • Egnatia Odos (A2), which extends from the port of Igoumenitsa to the eastern border of Greece with Turkey
  • Ionia Odos (A5), which covers western Greece from Ioannina to the port Patras
  • Olympia Odos (A8), which connects the bridge of Rio-Antirrio (next to Patras) with Eleusina, in Athens
  • Moreas Motorway (A7), is the highway that runs through eastern Peloponnese from north to south, connecting Corinth to Tripoli and Kalamata. 
  • Attiki Odos (A6), is the main urban motorway network of Athens. 

It is therefore quite easy to drive from the ports of your ferry arrival from Italy (Igoumenitsa or Patras) to Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Meteora or Kalamata. There are of course many other places to visit in Greece so we recommend that you check in advance the routes that interest you, and consider that some of the smaller cities or villages are connected via smaller, peripheral roads. We also suggest that you check the weather in advance of your road trip, as during the winter in some mountainous areas you might need non-skid chains for the case of heavy snowfall. 

Sunset over mountains in Peloponnese, road trip, holidays in Greece, ferry from Italy to Patras

Driving license for a road trip in Greece

A valid driving license is required to drive in Greece. The minimum age limit to drive a car in Greece is 18 years old. You must keep the license with you at all times, as there might be police controls, particularly in the highways. Make sure that you also respect the speed limits

Citizens of the EU can drive with their countries' licenses in Greece while international travelers should have their driving license, accompanied by an International Driving Permit. You have to apply for an International Driving Permit (or License) in advance of your trip to Greece. 

Road signs in Greece

The road signs in Greece are both in English and in Greek so they are easy to understand. The highway signs usually have green color while the regional roads' signs are usually in blue. 

Toll stations in Greece

During your road trip in Greece, you might encounter several toll stations, especially if you are traveling in the long, new, highways or in the bridges like Rio-Antirio. The charge in the toll station depends on the area but it's usually under 10€ for a passenger car. The higher tolls are usually in the Rio-Antirion bridge or the undersea tunnel Aktio - Preveza. In general, the toll stations accept card payments but it would be good to keep some cash with you, for the rare occasion that a toll station is cash-only. 

Gas stations in Greece

Finding a gas station while driving in Greece is very easy! It is actually set by law that at least 1 gas station must remain open during the night and on Sundays in each area. So you can find unleaded gas and diesel even in isolated areas. Usually, gas stations in Greece also have a mini-market or a snack-bar while the station staff may also help you with a free air pump for your tires or water/oil for your car. 

Goat in a small road in Greece, nature, mountains, road trip, routes,

Where can I book ferry tickets from Italy to Greece for passengers & vehicles?

On Ferryhopper you can compare all the ferry ticket types for passengers and vehicles, all the ferry ticket prices and ferry itineraries in order to book your ferry trip from Italy to Greece in the most convenient way for you. On our map of ferries, you will find all the ferry connections from Italy to Greece as well as to the Greek islands so you can organize the best island-hopping and road-tripping experience! With our search and booking engine is now easier to plan your trip to Greece by car & ferry - book your ferry tickets easy, fast and at the best prices!