Driving in Lefkada: What to expect?
Lefkada is part of the Greek Ionian Islands. It’s a hilly island with a lot of roads to explore. You might be thinking about renting a car for the duration of your travel. In this case, we’ll get you ready for driving in Lefkada with this guide.
Driving in Lefkada is moderately difficult. There are some very nice roads that are easy to drive on but there are hills as well. If you want to fully explore the island you can’t avoid hill roads and this is where previous experience will come in handy.
Lefkada is an awesome island to visit. You can spend a lot of time on the beach and if you are up for the challenge explore some secluded beaches. For the latter, you’ll definitely need a car. Let’s see what’s driving in Lefkada like for tourists.
Do you need to rent a car in Lefkada?
Before we get into the details of what’s it like to drive in Lefkada let’s answer the question: do you actually need to rent a car?
Compared to some of the smaller islands in Greece, Lefkada has a reasonable amount of people living there. This means an okay public transport system. You’ll be able to move between the bigger towns without a problem.
If you are planning to spend most of your time on the beach and have found a great beach resort in Lefkada then you might want to consider not renting a car. You can still use the public transport system to visit the most important towns and spend the rest of your time relaxing on the beach.
You can check out the official bus transport site of Lefkada for the schedule.
If you don’t fancy the public transport system then you can also opt for a taxi. There are enough taxis in Lefkada to take you around the island but in reality, your costs will be high if you use the taxi service too often.
This is where renting a car comes into play. You’ll get a better budget when you rent instead of always using the taxi. You can visit all the remote places and beaches without waiting for a taxi to pick you up.
It gives you the freedom for fully exploring the island. We recommend renting for 3-4 days. This way you can have some chill beach days where you don’t worry about sightseeing, then you can head out and explore in the car.
Driving in Lefkada
Now that the car rental question is out of the way let’s get started on Lefkada driving. This section is for those who are looking to rent a car and want to be familiar with the driving conditions on the island before they land.
The basics of driving in Lefkada
- The speed limit is 50km/h (31mph) in Towns.
- The speed limit is 90km/h (56mph) out of Towns.
- Road Signs always overwrite the default speed limits.
- All passengers must always wear a seatbelt.
- Your phone can’t be in your hand while driving. You’ll need to use a hands-free mode.
- No drinking and driving.
- Children under 10 can travel on the back row of seats
- You need a valid EU license or International driving license
- You must be over 18 to drive in Greece
- Though most rental companies require you to be 21
- People drive on the right side of the road in Lefkada
Roads in Lefkada
Lefkada is a mountainous island. It has a few major roads mainly going around the coast and a lot of smaller roads that go through the mountains. There are no highways in Lefkada.
The main roads are of excellent quality. They have great asphalt and allow for plenty of space between the cars. Sticking to the main roads makes it very easy to drive in Lefkada. However, it will rarely happen that you can stick to the main road.
Minor roads vary heavily in quality. There are good ones and there are bad ones also. As a rule of thumb, we’ve found that roads leading to major attractions are overall better maintained.
Maintenance is not the only problem with smaller roads in Lefkada. They often cut through the mountains which means they get very twisty. These are the roads that we consider Lefkada to be a medium difficulty when it comes to driving.
You’ll tackle the mountain roads of Lefkada better if you already have some experience in driving. If you have experience with mountain driving that’s even better.
Smaller roads can also be less than two cars wide. This means that while two cars can fit next to each other you’ll have to slow down and carefully pass any oncoming traffic.
Some roads that lead to beautiful beaches can also be very narrow and windy. Unfortunately, to reach these great beaches you’ll often have to get down from the mountain level to the sea level. As you can see it’s very hard to avoid driving on mountain roads in Lefkada.
Most roads are paved with asphalt and we’ve rarely found routes that took us through gravel sections. A good practice is to check the satellite image of the route you will be taking the next day and verify if there are any sketchy sections.
What’s it like to drive in Lefkada?
Lefkada is a compact mountainous island. It takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive from one end to the other. This makes driving in Lefkada small scale and never boring.
You’ll rarely have time to settle on a road as there are no great distances. Everything is within reach and you’ll find yourself changing roads frequently to reach your destination.
We’ve found the road signage satisfactory when driving in Lefkada. Due to the small scale, we’ve never really got lost even if we’ve taken a wrong turn. A modern phone navigation app should handle the island very well.
Driving on the main road is relaxing. You’ll get beautiful mountains on one side and the deep blue sea on the other. Pop in some coastal driving playlist and you’ll have a ton of fun.
On the other hand, driving on mountain roads in Lefkada can be scary. Often there isn’t even any kind of barrier next to the road. Yikes! Always drive very carefully on these roads and don’t let other quicker drivers unsettle you.
Traffic in Lefkada
When you visit during the summer you can expect a reasonable amount of cars on the road. Most tourists like to rent a car and go out exploring. A good chunk of the summer traffic is people renting a car or visiting on their own.
Yes! In case you were wondering there is actually a bridge leading to Lefkada. You can totally visit the island without the need for a ferry.
Of course, the tourist traffic is a bit more dangerous than the locals. Although locals will drive faster than everyone else they know the roads in and out. You never know the experience level of the other person when it comes to rental cars.
Make sure that you stay safe and keep a good following distance when it comes to traffic in Lefkada.
During the off-season months, the Lefkada traffic is a breeze. Once visiting in early November we’ve encountered almost no cars on our way to the stunning Lefkada lighthouse. It was awesome.
Tips on renting a car in Lefkada
Now that you know what’s driving in Lefkada like it’s time for some useful tips on renting a car. Let’s start with the most important one.
You’ll probably rent a car outside of Lefkada Island. That’s right, Lefkada is kind of unique in the sense that there is no airport on the island. Rather there is one just outside of it at the town of Preveza. You can land at Preveza, rent a car, and drive directly to the island.
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What kind of car to rent in Lefkada?
When you are choosing your rental in Lefkada keep the driving conditions in mind. There will be plenty of narrow and winding roads to discover. Due to this very reason we recommend an ‘Economy’ or ‘Compact’ category vehicle.
Although these cars are most definitely smaller than the ones you are used to in the US they’ll be nice for the Lefkada traffic. Locals drive small cars just like these.
Always pick a car with AC and confirm the AC actually works before you take the car.
We recommend full insurance as you might be driving on gravel roads. Standard insurance usually doesn’t cover your windows and the underside of the car. Both of these are in danger when driving on gravel.
It is possible to book an automatic rental car but if you are after one you must book way in advance. There is a very limited stock of automatic vehicles at the car rental agencies and you will be expected to pay a premium price for automatic. It’s just the way it is in Europe.
Don't forget to check out our other articles: Driving in Naxos Driving in Malta Driving in Kefalonia