Our experience of driving from Greece to the UK was a quick one. We completed the entire journey in 3 days. This meant driving up to 12 hours at a time. The main reason we endeavored to complete the journey in such a short time-frame was the new addition to our party; Blue. She had just undergone her second trip to the vets, and completed all the necessary vaccinations and treatments required for travel back to the UK.
Despite speaking to several knowledgeable people about the process of bring a dog from Greece to the UK, we were still anxious about our return journey and how each border crossing would go. Blue had been vaccinated 21 days before we set off (as required) and she had taken her worming tablets, which gave us a 3-7 day period in which to travel back to the UK (in hindsight, we could have got the worming tablets in a French vets and not rushed back).
Setting off – Driving from Greece to the UK
So, our journey began in the Greek city of Volos. We set off in the afternoon and made it our mission to cross the border into Macedonia before nightfall. We planned our route using the trusty Google Maps app on my phone and picked the route that only used toll roads where it really made sense to do so. Google calculated our driving time to be around 32 hours but considering we were in a big van, we expected it to take longer.
The drive from Volos to the Macedonian border was straightforward enough with no traffic, scenic views of mountains and a fairly well maintained road. We slept in the Greek mountains before continuing our journey the next day.
Driving in Macedonia – Driving from Greece to the UK
We arrived at the Greece – Macedonia border fairly early and were quizzed by officials about our vehicle documents. At this point we realized that, due to Macedonia being a non EU country, we were not insured to drive there. The border control guards stated that we need to get a green card and pointed us over to an office which was one guy sitting at a desk. We asked him how much to insure our vehicle in order to simply pass through the country. It cost us 70 Euros for the green card, I am not sure if that is the going rate or not. We took the E-75 through the country and passed through in a few hours.
Driving in Serbia – Driving from Greece to the UK
At the border into Serbia (another non EU country) we were expecting to have to pay for insurance to travel through but there was no issues other than a thorough inspection of our campervan interior. The journey through Serbia saw the weather getting colder and colder (we were travelling in early January) and we encountered some heavy snow showers.
We had no trouble with not having a green card and were not stopped by police. There were no vignettes or tolls to pay. The E-75 road took us through Belgrade which made for a stunning sight and looked somewhat different to other European capitals we had seen.
Driving in Hungary – Driving from Greece to the UK
The border crossing into Hungary was a simple one although as we paid for the vignette, (a requirement if you plan on driving on main roads in the country) we were accosted and asked to help by a Serbian man who could not get his van to start. We helped him push and even pushed it with our van but could not get him started. Eventually we gave up, feeling very sorry for him as it was freezing cold and the snow was falling heavily.
We slept near the border in a service station and woke up to snow surrounding the van. It is worth mentioning here that since arriving back in the UK, we have received a fine from Hungary stating that we did not purchase a vignette. Luckily we still have proof of purchase and are disputing the fine.
Driving in Austria – Driving from Greece to the UK
We crossed into Austria with ease due to no border control. We were on the E60 European highway and had purchased a ten day vignette which cost 8.80 euros for ten days in a camper under 3.5 tons. The snow was getting worse and at times we were travelling at around 40mph due to terrible visibility.
Driving on the autobahn in Austria was a doddle and we made good progress passing through the country in a few hours but not before admiring a road side shop full of Austrian merchandise.
Driving in Germany – Driving from Greece to the UK
Passing into Germany was easy enough with no border control. We were set to be on one autobahn from one side of Germany to the other (and all for free!). We were soon pulled over by German police (again) but this time the police were much nicer and did not accuse us of taking drugs.
We drove for many more hours before stopping somewhere on the outskirts of Frankfurt. We had a Burger King, took advantage of free WiFi to book our ferry ticket home (this cost 110 euros) and then slept on the service station car park.
Driving through Belgium and the Netherlands – Driving from Greece to the UK
After waking up in Germany, we still had a good few hours to drive before leaving the country, it felt like a very long time as we were following the same road all the way but eventually we passed into Holland. We were not in the country for long, merely passing through before entering Belgium. The roads are great in both Belgium and Holland but we did encounter some traffic. We kept ourselves entertained with US state naming games although time really seemed to drag for this part of the journey.
Driving through France – Driving from Greece to the UK
Our drive through France on the return leg of our trip was an eye-opener. On arrival in France 10 months earlier, we had seen the ‘Calais Jungle’ but passing back through now at night time was shocking. All of the approaching motorway parking areas were cordoned off and were not available for vehicles to park in. The camp itself was surrounded by a large number of armed French police; an intimidating sight. The fences surrounding the camps looked impenetrable, like a cage at the zoo and there were mighty floodlights beaming down onto the site.
We had no trouble getting Blue on to the ferry aside from the fact that we had not paid the extra five pounds required. Blue’s pet passport was all legit and she boarded the ferry with us. The ferry took around an hour and we arrived back in the UK very late with a lot of driving still ahead of us.
Cost of Driving from Greece to the UK
Fuel – Around 400 Euros
Tolls – Austria 8.80
Ferry from Calais to Dover – 110
Green Card Macedonia – 50
Food and Drink – 50
Total – 629.80 Euros