Driving on the roads of Kefalonia can be very enjoyable once you get used to certain local habits regarding driving and parking. You should also know some facts about the roads. If it is your first time in a car or on a bike on Kefalonia you should keep the following in mind:
- Never insist on having priority on the road, even if you are in the right.
- The road surface can be very slippery. You cannot see it but most certainly feel it, if you do not drive carefully. Especially when it rains and also afterwards you should be extra cautious!
- Always expect an unpredictable action of the driver in front of or behind you.
- (There are two roundabouts just outside Argostoli. Priority has whoever drives into the roundabout. Once you are in the roundabout you have to give priority to whoever comes in.)
UPDATE for 2020: a Stop sign was erected so that now drivers IN the roundabout have priority.
- The centre of Argostoli is a one-way system which brings you into town, coming in from the Koutavos lagoon. This road leads you along the harbour front through the centre. A parallel road (above the pedestrian street Lithostroto) leads you out of Argostoli.
- The speed limit for cars: 50km/h in rural areas, 90-110km/h outside (depending on the signposting). The speed limit for motorbikes: 40km/h in villages, 70km/h outside (depending on signposting).
- Many roads on Kefalonia are narrow and windy. If you drive slowly and carefully and are aware of possible goats behind the next corner having their midday break on the road, you will be fine.
- You are obliged to wear a crash helmet on a motorbike (even if you see many drivers who don’t). Should the police decide that today is a fine day to stop drivers without helmets the fine is gigantic. (350 Euro per person). The same penalty applies for not putting on your seat belt.
- The same goes for driving too fast or under the influence of alcohol – rarely controlled but very expensive. Alcohol limit in Greece is 0,5g/l.
Important to know: You pay only half of the penalty amount if you pay it within 10 days.
Parking in Argostoli during rush hour
Let’s call it creative parking. Especially in Argostoli on a busy day, like Monday around noontime, you need patience, time and high spirits when it comes to parking. Should you be lucky enough to get hold of a parking space in the centre, be prepared to find your car being blocked on your return by another car. The car’s owner might have stepped into the bakery just for “a second” and maybe ever so quickly to the fruit market across the road.
You can handle this situation in two ways. Either you patiently wait until the owner of the car returns or you sound your horn persistently until you see somebody coming out of a shop giving a signal that they will be just half a minute. The gesture for this is holding up a hand where the thumb is doing a cutting movement over the fingertip of the index finger.
With the latter way of finding the driver, you might have to face reproachful looks from those around you because of the uncommon impatience.
If you neither want to be patient nor getting the evil eye, you may want to park near the KTEL bus station, before you enter the centre. Or drive along the harbour front through the centre and park near the port police.
Yellow lines along the roadside mark areas where parking is prohibited.
Walking towards Argostoli centre along the waterfront is stress-free and you might even see some of the sea turtles. They are usually found near the fishing boats which stay in the harbour until around noon time. The walk from the port police to the centre is just a 5-minute walk, 10 minutes from KTEL.
Bottom line: In general driving on the streets of Kefalonia is relaxed. Only from mid-July through August Kefalonia becomes busier due to the Greek holidays. This is the time when the Greeks come by car from the mainland. If you drive defensively and go with the flow you will be fine.
Also, read tips and advice on car hire.