Monday, September 24, 2007

Driving from England to Greece by car

Diving from the UK to Greece

A journey from England to Greece looks to many people like an Odyssey which means time consuming, tiredness and financially expensive, but it can be an amazing adventure tour if you have the time and, of course, a budget of around 1500-2000 euros to spend for the journey. This amount will include petrol, tolls, ferry tickets, food and accommodation in hotels on route. However, staying in cheaper accommodation or camping will reduce the cost considerably. Nevertheless, it is a great touring journey to take your car all through France, Italy, Northern Peloponnesus and the north western coasts of Attica. Starting from Dover and finishing in Athens.

DoverThe traditional way to begin is the Dover-Calais route by ferry using one of the two ferry companies, Sea France or P &O. Once in Calais begin your journey by making a slight detour along the coastal road from Calais to Boulogne (the D940). this Nord-Pas De Calais coastline is known as the Opal Coast and the route between Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez is spectacular. Spend the night at one of the many charming fishing villages which line the coast and treat yourself to a traditional French dinner of Bouillabaisse and mussels.

Opal Coast nord-pas de calais

This whole coastal area is completely different to that of SE England which, amazingly is only 20 miles away. The scenery is windswept and empty of large towns and people, acres of sand dunes and downs fringe the sea, with beaches that are wide and sandy or rocky. Here too, you will find lots of reminders of France's occupation during World War 2. Bunkers dot the dunes and the undulating landscape provides evidence of the bomb craters from 50 years ago. visit too one of the fascinating war museums that are in the area.

World War 2 remains in France


Alternatively, you could skip the Opal Coast and leave Calais on the A26/E17 towards Rheims. At Rheims make sure you visit the beautiful Rheims cathedral and then go on to spend the night in the wonderful medieval town of Troyes.


Cathedral of Reims

From Troyes, continue on the A26 towards Dijon until you see signs to Bourg en Bresse on the A39. A good place to rest and take lunch is at the motorway rest stop, Poulet du Bresse. You can't miss it as it is advertised by a massive metal chicken statue. The food in French motorway restaurants bears no relationship to that offered by its British counterpart, the French offering cheap, tasty and very French alternatives.

Continuing along the A39, before Bourg en Bresse, look out for the E62/A42 road, direction Amberieu-en-Bugey and from there the N504 towards Chambery. The N504 is a shortcut non-motorway road that goes from Amberieu-en-Bugey to Chambery and is about 60 miles of delightful scenery. The route takes you through stunning countryside of mountains, gorges, the River Rhone and enchanting villages of the Savoie region until finally you drive through the mountain via the Tunnel of the Cat. As you exit this tunnel there is an amazing view of the Lake of Bourget and the city of Aix le Bains. spend one night at one of the many charming hotels or guest houses at Bourget de Lac, on the southern shores of Bourget Lake. This is a tranquil resort with plenty of opportunities for lakeside strolls.

Lake Bourget

Italian Alps

Next day continue your journey passing through Chambery towards Frejus Tunnel (A43/E70, which takes you through to Italy. The toll price for this 12 km tunnel will cost you around 37 euros. From Chambery until Torino (Turin) at the other end of the tunnel you will be going through the French and Italian Alps. If you have an opportunity, turn off the motorway on the Italian side of the Alps and visit some of the beautiful alpine villages there. It was in this region that the 2006 Winter Olympics were held.

The E70/A32 continues to Torino. However before entering this city turn off towards Tangenziale (Ring Road), direction E70/A21, towards Piacenza. The A21 passes through the city of Asti, where the famous Spumanti sparkling wine comes from. Stop off here and visit some of the vineyards and enjoy free samples.

At Piacenza take the A1/E45 towards Parma, Modena (Pavarotti's home town) and Bologna. Before entering Bologna be sure to continue on the E45/A14, direction Rimini, Ancona.

San Marino Before Rimini, turn off and visit the Republic of San Marino, an independent state in the middle of Italy. Three to four hours should be enough to visit the medieval town of San Marina which stands on the very top of Mount Titanus and can be seen from miles around. On leaving this delightful little Republic, take the same way back to Rimini and continue along the A14 for a restful night at the charming seaside resort, beloved by Pavarotti, Pesaro.


The next day you are only a few dozen miles from Ancona where you can take the ferry to Patras Greece. The road Patras to Athens drives through the beautiful resorts of Northern Peloponnese ,and you can enjoy the jurney if you take the old National road instead of the toll road.



Blogger Harry said...

Dear Sir/madam, i am interested in making this journey as you described it. Could you please send me some more info, from what you have gathered from your journey?
Best regards, Harry Charalabopoulos

November 17, 2007  
Blogger admin said...

Hi Harry , the journey its easy if you have the time. As I wrote above you just cross the channel from Dover to Calais, if you want to see more of Nord Pas de Calais turn south from Calais on the coast road until Boulogne and then follow the road as I mention above. All you need is a road map of Europe and a good car.

November 21, 2007  
Blogger Jos said...


I wondered if you've ever done the journey starting from Santander - we would really like to have a go this summer, but live in Cornwall so it makes much more sense for us to get the ferry that goes to Santander, or there is also a Plymouth - Roscoff ferry.
Do you have any advice about which ferry you would go for?

Thank you!

January 16, 2008  
Blogger admin said...

Though I've benn to Santander, 30 years ago I got there from Baltimore on a cargo ship. I never did the journey from the UK to Santander and then to Greece. As about ferries from Plymouth check at
I recon the way to go to Greece from Santander is to follow the E70 to France via San Sebastian and Biarritz and then take the E80 to Toulouse, from there continue on E80 to Narbonne, Nimes, Aix-en-Provence, Nice and all the way of the French riviera until the borders with Italy, continue at the A10 to Genova and from there take the A62 to Piacenza, from there follow the way as I do in the article above.

January 16, 2008  
Anonymous Yannis said...

Hey Harry, I have made the uk - greece trip by car more than 3 times already with the first one in 2001 and the last 2005. I drove from oostende rather than calais. From there (Belgium) you drive down to east Farnce driving along the border of Germany and France until you reach lovely Switzerland. I know you are supposed to have breaks and stuff and this is the place to have one for definite. Ensure that you are not there during winter if you do not have 4x4 or chains and experience driving on snowy roads. From Basel i drove through Luzern and reached Italian border after 12 hours of driving from oostende. Then allow another 5 hours and you are in ancona where you get the ferry across to greece. if you drive through Belgium you save a number of toll road fees. Also you have to allow for the vignette in switzerland which was around 30 Euro. this is the road tax that you have to pay to drive through their lovely roads but God it is worth every penny...cent. There are F1 pit stops in the way for spending the night if you wish on the way. They cost around £30 a night and you pay direct with your card and a door opens and you are in sleeping and resting. Some tips: When driving through France do not speed more than 130kmph. The systems is that when you enter their motorway you will be issued a ticket which you check out when you leave the motorway and pay a fee based on how many km you have driven. If you were speeding the computer will work it out based obviously on km/hour and if you have exceeded the will pay a hefty fine. Tip 2: make sure you fill up with petrol before you enter Switzerland if you are driving through at night. In Switzerland the petrol station shut down at night. it should be around 300 - 350 miles so with a full tank you will make it through. Therre are some automated self service stations so dont panic it is just safer to have a full tank before you enter this country. Tip 3: Our neighbours the Italians...well may God be with you mate. The carrabinieri may see you speeding (i overtook a police car doing around 140mph) and do nothing as the everybody goes mental on the Autostrada and then just a couple of hundred of miles further down you may be doing 90mph and they may well stop you for a fine/caution. Oh well you are close to home now so you don't really care that much. It is an experience of a lifetime and it is something that i ve got my parents and friends to do. Once you do it once you want to do it again and again and again. Total cost for a VW Golf VR6 - around 200Euros petrol, 100 Euros toll fees, 200Pounds ferry Calais - oostende and 450 Euros ferry to Igouminitsa (Thats for an external de lux cabin on the ferry so it can well go down to 100Euro if you wish to sleep on banque beds with other travellers.)

February 10, 2008  
Blogger James said...

hi i want to travel from dover to calias and then calais to corfu in april/may but needs to be as cheap as possible and in shortest dureation possible what should i expect

January 12, 2009  
Blogger vitos said...

Hi, I would like to make this journey to greece begining from england the way you described it...but as I do not own a car here I was wondering if I could rent one and drive it all the way to basically I am looking for an car agency which would cooperate with a greek agency....any ideas?

April 07, 2009  

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