Blogger Robin renting a car in Greece.

Renting A Car In Greece โ€“ Our 16 Pro Tips

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Renting a car in Greece is an invaluable way to see more of the country. Even on the smaller islands like Paros and Mykonos, you’d be surprised how much you miss if you don’t have your own transportation.

Over the years that we’ve been travelling to Greece, we’ve found that having a car means you can pack in a whole lot more into a short amount of time. Even in June, the hire prices have been reasonable at about $35-40 a day, though you can get much cheaper deals if you travel outside peak season.

Car rental in Greece might not be for you if you plan to stick only to the big cities or camp out in your beach paradise of choice for a week – which is totally fine. No judgment here, it’s something we did on our first couple of visits to Greece! 

But for anybody who wants to go on an adventurous jaunt across the county, read on.

๐Ÿš— In a hurry? Browse through the cheapest car rental deals for Greece ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท, which have a free cancellation policy and no hidden costs via โžก๏ธ โžก๏ธ Discover Cars.

#1 Is It Safe To Drive In Greece?

Renting a car in Greece is a good idea for visiting places like Delphi & Meteora.

We wouldn’t bother writing a post on renting a car in Greece if we didn’t think it was generally safe. However, like anywhere in the world, there are some unique quirks.

The locals like to use the car horn – a lot! Technically, it’s illegal to honk ‘unnecessarily,’ but the bar seems to be pretty low for when it’s necessary! 

Our impression is that using the horn is often just a general “hey, I’m over here” signal, which can be useful when you’re going around winding roads. So don’t be put off by the noise; you’re probably not doing anything wrong.

Speaking of winding roads, the routes through mountainous areas can be narrow and meandering. You can also expect to encounter your fair share of potholes on more rural routes, although highways are generally of a good standard.

On the navigation side of things, we found it easy to drive both on the mainland and on various Greek islands with common apps. We tried both Google Maps and Waze in places like Mykonos and Santorini without problems.

TIP: Buy a phone holder for the car and download offline Google Maps or buy a local SIM to use Waze.

#2 Is It Worth Hiring A Car In Greece?

If you decide on renting a car in Greece you can visit Meteora Monasteries.

Yes, in our experience it is worth it to hire a car in Greece. Here’s why:

  • You have greater freedom. Having a vehicle means you can go where you like when you like. No need to stick to public transportation schedules.
  • You can explore more. There are quite a few gorgeous places that are only reachable by a private car. That’s particularly true on larger islands like Crete and Rhodes, as well as across the Peloponnese peninsula.
  • You may save money. Especially if you’re travelling as a group, you might find that it’s cheaper to rent a car than it is to use other forms of transportation. 
  • You have your own personal space. From being able to carry more on day trips to choosing the music playlist, you can personalise your environment more if you’re in a rental car. Plus, you don’t have to worry about what the strangers around you are doing!

#3 How To Rent A Car In Greece?

should I rent a car in Greece?

If you plan on doing a mainland road trip, you’ll probably be flying into Athens International Airport, so we’d advise picking up the car there.

Alternatively, if you’ve got a few days scheduled in Athens, you can pick up your rental car from somewhere downtown after you’ve finished seeing the capital.

In most cases, we’d say it’s not worth using a vehicle to get around Athens because then you have to deal with congestion and parking. Plus, the public transport network is reliable and easy to work out. 

We always recommend pre-booking a vehicle, especially if you want an automatic car rental in Greece. There’s nothing worse than turning up and being stuck with a model that doesn’t suit your needs.

We always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest deals. The site compares prices from a variety of other places, so you can get a good overview of what’s on offer.

On our last road trip through Greece, we rented from Sixt through Discover Cars, picking up the vehicle at Sixt’s Plaka office. It was all super convenient and smooth, with no issues to speak of. In fact, that’s been our general experience with renting a car in Greece.

For travel to the Greek islands, we strongly recommend you arrange pickup of your vehicle at the airport or port where you arrive. Don’t bother sticking with the same car across different islands. Not only does it cost so much more on rental, but you also then have to factor in the additional ferry cost. 

Taking a car on the boat from Piraeus (Athens) to Milos, for example, would basically have cost us the same price as taking a third person along. On top of that, rental car companies will also often charge extra if you venture across the sea with your vehicle, even if it’s just domestic.

#4 Is Renting A Car In Greece Safe?

As long as you go through a reputable company, there should be no problems with renting a car in Greece. Big brands like Avis, Hertz, and Europcar all operate throughout the country.

If you opt to go with Greek car rental companies, which can be cheaper, make sure to check out their rating on Trustpilot, cross-referencing against Google Maps reviews of specific pickup locations to gauge the reliability and quality.

We’ve previously tried the Crete-headquartered otoQ car rental using this method and haven’t had any issues.

#5 Car Rental In Greece: Requirements

For renting a car in Greece, you need a valid driving licence.

Renting a car in Greece requirements follow a standard pattern for this part of the world. Here are a few things to look out for.

โžก๏ธ Age Requirement

Anybody over the age of 21 can get a rent car in Greece, but there are often additional charges for anybody 25 and younger. Similarly, drivers over the age of 65 are likely to incur extra fees, although there is no limit to the upper age. 80-year-olds, go for it!

โžก๏ธ Driving Licence 

You’ll need to have had your driving licence for at least two years to be able to rent a car in Greece. 

Can you rent a car in Greece without getting an International Driving Permit (IDP)? For citizens of quite a few countries, the answer is yes. All European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals can drive in the country without any additional documentation.

Additionally, the UK government has explicitly stated that you will not need an IDP if you have a photocard license. The US government, on the other hand, still advises its citizens to have one an IDP just in case of any issues.

There are two main cases where you would definitely require an IDP to drive a rental car in Greece: 

  • If your driving licence does not show your photograph.
  • If your driving license is printed in a non-Latin or non-Greek alphabet (e.g., Arabic, Cyrillic).

โžก๏ธ Other Documents 

Always check with the rental company if they require any other documents when hiring a car in Greece. Requirements sometimes vary between brands, depending on the kind of car you hire.

As  minimum we’d recommend having handy your passport, the car booking voucher or confirmation, and a copy of any additional insurance purchased, complete with helpline numbers.

โžก๏ธ Credit Card

Depending on the company you use for renting a car in Greece, you may or may not need a credit card to act as security against any damage to your vehicle. For some hire businesses, it’s mandatory, while others will accept a debit card as an alternative.

Either way, we strongly recommend you stick to using a credit card. With a credit card, a hold is placed on the money by the rental company, but no funds will be transferred. With a debit card, the money will actually leave your account and will only be refunded when the car is returned intact.

This can cause issues for anybody who has daily withdrawal limits attached to their accounts. Plus, you have no control over how long the deposit refund takes, which can lead to annoying cashflow problems.

โžก๏ธ Extra Insurance To Drive In Greece

It is a legal requirement to have third-party liability insurance, which is supplied as part of most car rentals in Greece, along with a collision damage waiver. However, we generally opt to top it up with a more comprehensive plan.

You may already have extra coverage as part of your credit card agreement. This seems to be quite common with American travellers that we’ve met. Otherwise, we recommend taking out Discover Cars’ full insurance package. 

This policy takes care of repair costs incurred by damage to the windows and mirrors, any excess charges for damage or theft, as well as niggling stuff that sometimes get tagged on – like the nebulous ‘admin fee.’

While Discover Cars is our go-to, there are lots of other policies out there to explore. Ensure you read the fine print and understand any exclusions, limits, or excesses, as these are often where people get into trouble.

Itโ€™s easy to view comprehensive insurance as just an added expense, but a little damage can come with a big price tag. We’ve had first-hand experience of how a dent, caused through no fault of our own, can entail €900 in repair costs!

โžก๏ธ Mandatory Car Kit 

In addition to a basic degree of insurance, it’s also required by law for all cars to come with a warning triangle, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit. This should be supplied as part of all car rentals in Greece, but it never hurts to double check!

Additionally, if you’re heading to Greece in the winter and will be driving through mountainous regions, double-check that you are supplied with chains.

#6 How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Car In Greece?

Corfu Town, Greece.
Corfu Town.

In the past, we’ve paid around $35-40 for a small automatic car during the May-June sort of time. The price has varied a little depending on whether we’re picking up from Athens International Airport, Corfu New Port, or Zakynthos International Airport, but only slightly.

However, there are a lot of factors to unpack there. First off, how far in advance you book will affect the price, as will general vehicle availability. We always book as soon as our plans are settled so that we can get the best deals, but at the very least, you should aim to have something lined up 2-3 months ahead of time.

It’s also always more expensive to get an automatic. Personally, we think the extra cost is worth it because we feel more comfortable driving an automatic, but if you are used to operating a manual car on sometimes rocky terrain, that’s a good way to save a few bucks.

Then you need to think about the kind of car you want. Obviously, a larger or more luxurious vehicle will cost more, but it might be worth splurging for a 4ร—4 if you’re travelling with a larger group or plan to visit out-of-the-way mainland destinations where the roads aren’t quite as reliable.

Big-name vehicle rental brands are attractive because they have an international reputation to uphold, but you can usually get a better cheap car hire in Greece from smaller outfits. If they have been well-reviewed on Trustpilot or Google Maps, it might be worth exploring.

Finally, you probably know as well as we do that the time of year causes massive fluctuations in prices. July and August in Greece are particularly bad for car rental inflation because it’s the height of the sunny season and the summer holidays, but Christmas is also a peak price period. If those are your only options for travel though, you’ll have to bite the bullet.

#7 What Kind Of Car Is Recommended?

what is the best car for driving in Greece?
Mal behind the rental car in Paros.

On the mainland, we suggest getting a medium-sized car. This will give you a bit more comfort but also keep the costs reasonable. 

On the islands, we recommend renting a small car. The roads tend to be narrow in places like Paros, Naxos, and Milos, so you don’t really want to be manoeuvring a humdinger of a vehicle. Plus, it’s much easier to park in a mini-model! 

We generally go with an automatic wherever we travel because it’s what we’re used to driving. If you’re from somewhere like the UK where cars operate on the left-hand side of the road, you might also want to plump for an automatic so that the adjustment to driving on the right-hand side is easier.

#8 Road Signs In Greece

Road signs in Greece.

Warning signs are usually a mixture of red and yellow, while other kinds of signs are mainly blue and white.

Most of the signs we’ve seen while driving in Greece have been a variation on the standard ones you’ll see anywhere in Europe, including typical things like speedbumps, bends in the road, and pedestrian crossings. 

You also get the occasional sign for cattle and/or deer crossings, as well as the always concerning symbol that indicates potential rock slippage along a section of hillside or mountain.

Are Road Signs In Greece In English?

One thing you don’t have to worry about when renting a car in Greece is the language of the road signs. Most of the names of towns/cities are mostly in English as well as Greek, so you’ll always know where you’re going!

Can You Turn Right On Red In Greece?

As with many other countries in Europe, you are not allowed to turn right on red when driving in Greece UNLESS there is a separate traffic light that indicates a right turn is permitted. This is usually indicated by a yellow or green light.

#9 Speed Limits In Greece

Speed Limits In Greece.

One of the most important things to know when renting a car in Greece is how fast you can go. In cities, the speed limit is usually 50k/h (31mph), while on rural roads it varies between 90km/h (56mph) and 110km/h (68mph).

On the motorway, things get a little zippier at 130km/h (81mph).

Fines can range from €40 ($43) to €750 ($805), depending on how far over the speed limit you are going as well as the kind of road where you are caught (i.e., city street vs. highway). 

#10 Toll Roads In Greece

When renting a car in Greece it is important to know about the Toll Roads.

Greece’s toll roads are all on the mainland and connect cities across the peninsula, from Kalamata in Attica all the way to Alexandroupolis near the Turkish border.

The price per section of toll road varies quite a bit, from just under a euro to €4.30 ($4.60). Just to give you a rough idea of the kind of costs you could incur, travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki cost us about €30 ($32) in fees, although that’s the longest journey we made.

By contrast, Athens to Napflion (in the Peloponnese) was less than €7 ($7.50)

The toll booths that are dotted between the different sections accept both cash and cards, which makes payment all nice and neat.

#11 Gas Station In Greece 

Gas stations in Greece.

Stewards still man gas stations in Greece, so all you have to do is state the kind of fuel desired and the euro amount that you want to be topped up. 

There are several kinds of petrol and a couple of types of diesel sold at the gas stations. Most rental cars are completely fine to run on the cheapest variety of petrol, Unleaded 95, so don’t let yourself get upsold to a more expensive option.

The last time we visited, fuel prices hovered around €2 ($2.15) per litre. For our American friends, that’s about €7.50 ($8.15) per gallon.

#12 Parking In Greece

Parking in Rhodos, Greece.

One of the biggest hassles about hiring a car in Greece is the parking, particularly on the islands. We had a hard time finding a space in popular places like Oia in Santorini. 

On the plus side, the parking is often free of charge on the islands, including in places like Crete and Naxos.

In Athens, there’s always parking to be had, it’s just a question of price. There are a handful of free parking places, but usually you’ll be paying around 50 cents per hour for surface parking. Underground parking seems to vary a lot, judging by the handful of places we tried, so plan ahead if you don’t want to get stung by exorbitant charges.

TIP: Book a hotel with free parking to save yourself the hassle and expense of finding a parking space.

#13 Driving Laws In Greece

Greece has a mixture of fairly universal laws with a couple of oddities thrown in.

Starting with the bog-standard stuff, ๐Ÿ“ต It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in Greece, so keep it hands-free. ๐Ÿบ Your blood alcohol cannot be higher than 0.05% – about a pint of beer or a glass of wine. 

๐Ÿ’บSeatbelts are mandatory in the front as well as in the back (if your vehicle has backseat seatbelts, which it probably will). Don’t put them on and you can be fined €350 ($375).

๐ŸšธThere are also a couple of regs related to children. Child seats are obligatory for kids up to the age of 4, while only children over the age of 10 can sit in the front seat.

๐ŸŸข One of the weirdest things about driving in Greece is that cars already on a roundabout must give way to cars joining, which threw us a little bit the first time we rented a vehicle. 

People drive on the right-hand side of the road, and priority is given to vehicles coming from the right.

โ„๏ธ On mountainous roads in winter, you’re expected to have snow chains. Speed limits are also temporarily decreased in these conditions to 50km/h (31mph), though we can’t imagine many people want to be zooming round bends on snowy tracks anyway!

In town, there are restrictions on the use of full-beam headlights, and you can be fined for unnecessary use of the horn.

Speaking of fines, these can be imposed by police, but they are not collected on the spot. If the ticket is given to you by a police officer (perhaps for speeding), they should be able to tell you how to pay it. If a ticket is left on your windshield (most likely in parking violation cases), details of where to go to cough up the money should be on the reverse of the ticket.

In most cases, you can pay the fine at either the post office, the local bank, or sometimes online.

#14 Crossing Borders With A Rental Car

When renting a car in Greece it is important to know about rules of crossing the border.

Greece borders 4 countries: Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Some car rental companies will allow you to cross these borders, while others will not so make sure to check with the vehicle supplier what their policy is if you intend to go on a trip to a neighbouring nation.

For example, Enterprise only allows its hire cars to go from one European Union country to another. That means you’d be limited to Bulgaria, as Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey are all non-EU states. 

Hertz, on the other hand, is less fussy as long as you give them at least 5 days’ advance notice before you pick up the car.

In almost all cases, you can expect to pay an additional fee for the privilege of renting a car in Greece but using it abroad. This can be a one-off charge or a set amount per day.

#15 Visiting The Greek Islands With A Hire Car

Blogger Mal enjoying a renting car in the Greek islands.

Just like crossing the border, whether you can take your hire car to the Greek islands is a company-by-company decision. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s often more expensive to do so due to ferry costs and additional fees levied by the rental company, but it is usually possible if you don’t fancy swapping vehicles multiple times.

Just make sure to check the ferry you’re taking actually has space for vehicles when planning your route! Some watercraft are passenger-only.

#16 Awesome Places To Visit With A Hire Car In Greece

Car rental in Greece opens up some wonderful possibilities for adventure, from rural ruins to isolated beaches. Here are a few of the best places we’ve visited using a vehicle.

๐Ÿ“Meteora 

you can do a Day Trip From Athens To Meteora by car

A collection of huge sandstone pillars rising out of the valley floor, Meteora is an incredible natural wonder crowned with equally fantastic man-made buildings.

Once upon a time, Meteora had 24 monasteries atop its surfaces, but only 6 have survived to the present day. Dating back to the 14th century, these amazing feats of architecture can only be reached by clambering along pathways that have been cut into the rock over time. Hope youโ€™re feeling fit because some of these can be slightly strenuous, especially in 30-degree sun!

Given their unique history and location, it’s hardly surprising that these monasteries have earned themselves a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They look like movie sets rather than real-life places – in fact, they’ve appeared in their fair share of films, including the James Bond flick For Your Eyes Only.

Just for visiting Meteora alone it would be worth renting a car in Greece! Although you can take day trip tours to reach the monasteries, being able to spend as long as you like meandering through the area is part of what makes the experience enchanting.

Located just outside the town of Kalabaka, about 345km (214 miles) from Athens, Meteora takes about 4 hours’ drive to reach. 

๐Ÿ“Delphi

hiring a car in Greece is perfect for visiting Delphi on a road trip

One of the most popular places to visit in Greece, Delphi was traditionally the home of the Oracle (also known as Pythia), a high priestess who was believed to commune with the gods. 

Perched in her temple complex on the slopes of Parnassus, a mountain sacred to Apollo, she used her alleged gifts to impart prophesies to pilgrims who made the trek to her doors.

There was no sign of a priestess when we visited, but there are plenty of gorgeous ruins to explore that tell the story of this fabled pagan retreat. Some of the most impressive are the 6th-century Temple of Apollo, the Athena Pronea Sanctuary, and the huge theatre, which has a capacity of more than 5,000 people. There is no sign of a Taylor Swift concert anytime soon, though!

Delphi is about 120km (75 miles) north of Athens, which translates into a drive of about 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic. 

๐Ÿ“Volos

Sheltered in the Pagasetic Gulf, about 331km (205 miles) from Athens, Volos has a killer combo of charming waterfront and hilly hikes. 

Situated at the foot of Mount Pelion, the town streams down towards the sea, with lots of restaurants lining the port for a scenic lunch or dinner.

The surrounding area has quite a few sandy beaches to enjoy. Right in town, Anavros is the most convenient option. It’s also just a short walk from the Athanasakio Archaeological Museum of Volos if you want to break up the sunbathing with a deep dive into the ancient world.

One of the best things we did here was taking the Pelion Train, which runs from Ano Lechonia, on the outskirts of Volos, up to the village of Milies. The line was built at the turn of the 20th century to transport goods, but it’s now solely devoted to taking tourists along one of the most scenic rail routes in all of Greece. 

Just riding the old-timey, narrow-gauge steam train is an interesting experience, but it’s the views that took our breath away.

Budget 4 hours for the drive from Athens, give or take a half hour.

๐Ÿ“Thessaloniki 

Hiring a car in Greece will allow you to visit Thessaloniki.

Greek’s second-largest city has one of the nicest seafront promenades in the country. Lined by gardens and parks with just a smattering of restaurants and bars, it’s a rather serene place to go for a stroll in the mornings or evenings just to give yourself a moment to decompress.

We certainly appreciated the relaxation as part of our busy itinerary! The city has plenty to see, including some UNESCO-recognised churches from the Byzantine era with well-preserved mosaics.

If youโ€™re more of a neighbourhood vibe seeker, head to Ladadika, a historic, pedestrianised district packed with buzzing tavernas, boutiques, and bars. Its colourful houses and cobblestoned streets have a slight whiff of the bohemian about them, but it’s also the place to go for a fun night out.

It’s actually quite convenient and reasonably affordable to get from Athens to Thessaloniki by train, but it does limit your ability to get to some of our fav beaches in the area, like idyllic Potamos and the slightly wild Stavronikita. 

๐Ÿ“Peloponnese 

When renting a car in Greece, you can drive to Kalamata.

The Peloponnese covers a huge area, one that we would imagine is quite hard to explore in any detail unless you rent a car. 

Having a vehicle certainly made it a breeze for us to travel the peninsula, crossing the 210km (130 miles) from Kyllini (where you can get a ferry to Zakynthos) to Mystras, a hilltop complex of stunning medieval ruins just outside Sparta. 

For lovers of Ancient Greece, you’ve hit the paydirt! The area is littered with millennia-old buildings, which makes it hard to pick a favourite.

If pushed, we’d have to say Messini was the most magical. There’s quite a bit to see; the location is the definition of bucolic, and it was less crowded than Olympia, another ancient highlight that attracts more tourists because it was the birthplace of the Olympics.

The Ancient City of Mycenae is also a very cool place to check out, with the added bonus that it’s close to both the enormous Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus as well as one of the Peloponnese’s prettied big towns, Nafplion.

Renting A Car In Greece: Final Word

Surely, by now, you’re sold on renting a car in Greece! Unless you plan to rely on tours, which can quickly inflate the holiday budget, there’s no real alternative to getting out of the big cities to see the many gems that fill the bountiful mine of culture that is the Greek experience. 

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