Driving in Kefalonia: Everything you need to know
The island of Kefalonia is the largest amongst the Ionian island. When you are planning a visit to this wonderful place you might be wondering, what is driving in Kefalonia like? We are here to help you find out and decide if you want to rent a car during your vacation.
Of course, it’s easy to find a cheap flight to Kefalonia, but once you are there you will need to get around the island. If you don’t want to use public transport, then renting a car is the best option.
Kefalonia is the 6th largest Greek island. As such it is quite big and takes some time if you want to get from one end to the other. The total land size is 773 square kilometers which translate to roughly 293 square miles. As you can see it is a lot of ground to cover, so let’s see what driving in Kefalonia is like.
The Basics of Driving in Kefalonia
There are a few universal rules which apply to driving in Greece in general. The speed limit in towns is 50 km/h (31 mph) meanwhile it’s 110 km/h (68 mph) outside of towns. This is true for all of Greece.
You need to wear your seatbelts at all times. All other occupants in the car must wear their seatbelts also.
There is zero tolerance for driving and drinking in Greece. This means that no matter how small the amount you drank you should not drive. To be honest, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you should never drink and drive anyway.
In Greece you can drive a car from 17 years old, however, almost all rental companies have a policy of at least 21 years old for the driver.
You can’t use your phone while driving. If a policeman sees you with your phone in your hands while you are driving you should expect to be stopped and likely fined.
It takes more than two hours to drive from one end of the island to the other.
How are the roads in Kefalonia?
Kefalonia has a major road going around the island along the shore. It’s the main road that people living on the island or visiting the island use for getting around. Although it is the major road of the island it’s only two lanes and not very well maintained at parts.
There is a small four-lane section of the main road that goes into Argostolion the capital of Kefalonia. Other than that you can expect only two-lane roads with the main coastal road being the widest.
The main coastal road is wide enough for two cars to fit comfortably next to each other. Do keep in mind however that even the main road can get narrow especially when passing through towns. Usually, there was no way to extend the width of the road which results in some narrow passageways. There are also cars parking at the side of the street which can make the road uncomfortably narrow.
When you turn off the main road into sideroads you will mostly travel on roads that have no lanes painted on them. At times it will be hard to fit two cars next to each other and you can expect to put one wheel off the tarmac when you have oncoming traffic.
Some of the side roads are extremely well maintained such as the one that leads to Ainos National Park. Other parts might look neglected, but we did not encounter roads that made us feel unsafe.
Almost all attractions can be reached on the tarmac, but there are some gravel roads on the island. Always plan your trip before you leave your hotel and you should be able to avoid going on gravel roads.
Is it difficult to drive in Kefalonia?
Kefalonia is not the easiest place to drive in Greece. A great thing is that most of the roads are paved so there is plenty of traction available. However, even the main road passes through some mountains so you should expect to drive in hairpins.
Make sure you are comfortable with mountain roads before you start driving in Kefalonia. Many times the roads will be narrow and allow for only one car to pass.
Considering all this, driving in Kefalonia requires attentive behavior from the driver. You should pay attention to the road and any upcoming obstacles.
Any driver that has a few years’ worths of experience under their belt should be fine. This is especially true if you have already driven in southern Europe where roads are small and twisty. If you are an inexperienced driver who would have their first driving experience outside of their country, then we only recommend driving in Kefalonia if you are confident in your abilities.
Luckily Kefalonia traffic is pretty light. Most of the off-season there are only a few cars on the road and it’s not uncommon to go a long way before meeting other drivers. During the main tourists months of July and August the traffic can pick up, but it’s mostly other people renting cars. This means driving in Kefalonia is usually easy when it comes to traffic.
Renting a car in Kefalonia
What do you need to know about renting a car in Kefalonia? Let us help you out with our pointers and things to consider before you decide to drive on your island vacation.
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What type of car to rent in Kefalonia?
The first thing you need to consider is the car size. If you are renting for only two people we definitely recommend a small car. Similarly, if the backseat will have children a small car is a great option. You will find it easier to navigate the twisty and sometimes narrow roads of the island.
Most of the other cars are also small cars on the island so you won’t feel out of place like you would in the United States. If you plan to drive around with 3 or 4 adults then do consider a bigger sedan. Although it will be a bit harder to drive around the small streets, the backseat passengers will be more comfortable.
The thing you should remember is that these small cars are pretty underpowered. Whenever you are going uphill we recommend at least one gear down from what you are used to in your own car.
How well equipped are rentals in Kefalonia?
When you rent a car in Kefalonia you will get a pretty well-equipped one. Almost all cars have AC and you do need it for the Greek summer. Make sure you check out if the AC works before you take the car. If the rental page does not mention AC do not rent the car.
Although most cars are small they have airbags and modern safety features that you would expect from a recent car. Kefalonia is an island, so the available cars are not necessarily the newest models. All cars are well maintained and we have found no issues with them, just don’t expect the latest model.
You can ask for added GPS when you rent a car, but we’ve found modern smartphone navigation reasonably reliable.
What else to consider when renting and driving a car in Kefalonia?
Think about getting full insurance, including the underside and window protection. Although most roads are paved, there can be small rocks on the side. These rocks can easily cause some damage to the underside or the windows of your car. Getting this extra step of insurance will help you drive more relaxed.
Consider getting a convertible. Many rental agencies have convertibles on offer and they are extremely fun to drive around. If you have no experience with convertibles then this might be a great chance to try driving without the roof. Summers are hot and they are a perfect time to rent a convertible.
During summer there are a lot of people driving in Kefalonia. This means that parking can be rather sparse and you might need to fit the car into small spaces. It might be worth practicing parking at home before you leave if you don’t feel comfortable parking in small spaces.
When you park next to a road or street make sure to always close the side mirrors. This will ensure that they are still there when you return to your car.
Kefalonia Driving FAQ
Kefalonia has right-hand side driving.
50 km/h or 31 mph
110 km/h or 68 mph
Driving in Kefalonia is moderately difficult. There are multiple mountain roads and some narrow streets.
Yes, it’s possible, but the availability is limited so you need to book ahead.
Yes, many rental agencies have convertibles. They are tons of fun to drive around the island.
You don’t need to rent a car in Kefalonia. Although it’s much easier and comfortable to get around in your own vehicle, the public transport system on the island is very good.
Apart from a very short 4-lane road leading into the capital city, all other roads are simple 2-lane roads. There are no highways.
We highly recommend that you take the highest level of insurance when you rent a car in Kefalonia. It will help you stay more relaxed.
Traffic is usually light. Most of the time the tourists are the ones who generate traffic. If you travel off-season you will meet very few other cars on the road.
It takes just a little over two hours if you want to drive between the two furthest points in Kefalonia.