Driving in Samos

Driving in Samos: Everything You Need to Know

Samos is a lovely off-beat destination in Greece. Mainstream tourism often misses out on this island but it still gets enough visitors to make it feel lively during summer. The best way to move around the small island is with a rental car. We’ve prepared this guide for you on everything you need to know about driving in Samos.

We’ll take a look at the basics like traffic rules and general tips. Then we’ll cover the roads, traffic, and overall feel of driving in Samos. Once you’ve done reading you will be ready to rent a car in Samos and enjoy an unforgettable experience.

Do you need to rent a car in Samos?

Aerial of Samos
Tomisti, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Our favorite question before we advise on driving anywhere in the world. Do you actually need to rent a car for this location or you can get by with public transport. When it comes to the Greek island of Samos we highly recommend renting a car.

In fact, driving in Samos is the most convenient way to get around the island. The public transport system is lacking, to say the least. In order to visit the most beautiful beaches and see all the small villages, you will need to rent a car.

The basics of driving in Samos

The usual driving rules all apply in Samos that would apply in the US or other parts of Europe. The only thing you really need to remember is that there is no right on red in Europe. You got to wait for that traffic lamp to turn green.

Driving in Samos is done on the right-hand side of the road so if you are coming from a left-hand side driving country you might need a minute or two to adjust.

The speed limits are the following: 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns and 110 km/h (68 mph) outside of towns. We do not list the highway speed limits here as there are no highways in Samos. In reality that 110 km/h limit will also feel very quick and you will probably want to take it slower at most parts.

There is no drinking and driving in Greece and this goes for Samos as well. We strongly agree with this sentiment. Unfortunately, that means no wine to go along with your lunch if you are planning to drive straight after.

It’s mandatory to always wear your seatbelts and children under 10 can’t travel in the front seats. Also, you can’t have your phone in your hands while driving in Samos. Always use car mode on your phone if you need to call someone. If you want to recalculate GPS or check something then always stop and then reach for your phone.

The legal driving age is 18 and you need an EU or International driving license.

Is driving in Samos hard?

We rate driving in Samos moderately difficult. In reality, it’s not very difficult for an experienced driver but there can be scary parts if you are inexperienced.

The overall landscape of Samos is hilly this means a lot of mountain roads are present. If you are uncomfortable with such roads you might have trouble.

When it comes to driving, confidence is key. If you are confident in your own driving abilities then you will find driving in Samos quite easy and relaxing. There are a lot of mountain roads and winding passes but the overall pace is relaxing. Also, the views are always amazing.

However, when you are inexperienced, then you won’t care much about the views. You will care about all the mountain passes, the narrow streets in the towns, and the dirt roads you have to traverse. Without suitable experience, these things will be new to you and you might not enjoy driving in Samos that much.

To sum it up, experienced drivers should have no problems in Samos, but newbie drivers might struggle a little bit.

Roads in Samos

Road in Samos
HenrikJ, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The roads in Samos are okay at best but more often than not they are lacking. First of all, there are no highways. You’ll just have to accept that even the biggest roads on the island are two-way only.

There is one road that goes all around the island in a circular nature. This is the main road and it’s the widest. Yet even this road is winding through some mountainscapes so get ready for sharp turns at places. The main road is pretty good quality and can fit two cars next to each other easily.

Problems start when you turn off this main road. At most places, it transforms instantly into a dirt or gravel road while sometimes it continues on as a small road with an asphalt surface. However, almost always the road won’t be able to fit two cars comfortably anymore as you are now on a minor road in Samos.

Then you have the towns which I suspect were built to accommodate horses and donkey cars. Today these small streets are struggling to fit cars and it can be an acrobatic maneuver to drive through some of the smaller villages.

It’s highly unlikely that you can avoid driving on unpaved roads. Many of the most beautiful beaches in Samos have these dirt or gravel roads leading to them. Oftentimes they are going down a mountain range so not only is it an unpaved road but an unpaved mountain road.

Traffic in Samos

Traffic is probably the most relaxing part of driving in Samos. You will encounter the highest traffic in the month of August. This is due to all the other rental cars on the road. Even then the traffic is not too bad.

June and July see low traffic on the roads and roads become quiet when it’s not summer. Overall the traffic is pretty low and even the busiest months are not too bad.

How long does it take to drive around Samos?

Samos Size
The size of Samos on a map © OpenStreetMap contributors

It takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other. The whole trip is around 70 kilometers which translates to 44 miles. As you can see from this stat Samos is not a huge island but it’s not that small either.

In our opinion, it’s just the perfect size for driving around. You can visit multiple beaches and villages each day without having to drive for hours on end.

Tips for Renting a Car in Samos

Now that we’ve covered all aspects of driving in Samos we’ll give you some tips for renting a car. We’ll help you pick the correct vehicle for your needs and budget. When you want to rent a car, there are plenty of decisions to make and a lot of things to consider.

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What type of car to pick in Samos?

We recommend that you rent a compact category vehicle. The mini and economy are all great options too but we feel that the compact category is in the perfect spot when it comes to safety and mobility. These small cars will fit nicely on the streets and roads of Samos.

If you are a little bit nervous about driving on unpaved roads then you might think about renting a 4×4 or an SUV. This category of cars will give you a safer feeling when you are driving down a mountain on dirt roads. They are just a bit harder to navigate in the towns on Samos.

The stock of automatic transmission cars is very limited in Samos. Only a few companies keep such cars so if you definitely need to have an automatic transmission, then you have to book in advance.

Make sure that the AC works when you take the car. It can get really hot during the summer.

Make sure you have insurance

When renting a car you might want to save some bucks on the insurance however we advise against this. Usually, it’s fine to not take the highest level of insurance but not in Samos.

There are tons of dirt roads and gravel roads. Sometimes there are rocks on the side of the road which can cause damage to the windows or the underside of the car. You will drive more confidently if you know that you are fully insured.

Our other articles about driving:
Driving in Menorca
Driving in Naxos
Driving in Lefkada

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