Renting a car in Santorini is the best way to explore the island.

Renting A Car In Santorini, Greece: 2024 Ultimate Guide + Tips

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Interested in renting a car in Santorini?

Author’s Note: Robin is our car rental expert and a seasoned road-tripper who has expertly navigated everything from Vietnam’s Ha Giang Loop on a motorbike to the German autobahns by a massive truck!

Renting a car is the best way to explore the famous Santorini island and its many stunning landscapes, from sandy beaches to picturesque Cycladic villages.

Whether you’re planning a romantic road trip or an epic adventure with friends, renting a car in Santorini makes it easy for you to see all the best sights that this beautiful island has to offer.

We spent a full 2 weeks on Santorini exploring the island in our rental car, which was the highlight of your trip. We visited villages like Pyrgos and Akrotiri, parked at vantage points, dined at remote tavernas and visited beautiful beaches such as Kamari.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll look at everything there is to know about Santorini car rentals – from how much it costs, where and when you can book them, what types of cars are offered, as well as top tips on getting around safely so that your dream Santorini holiday can go off without a hitch!

  • Looking for a hotel with free parking? We recommend Christos Apartments Oia or Ifestos Villa in Fira.
  • Need a car? Browse Discover Cars for the cheapest deals with no hidden costs
  • Rental cost from $35* per day (*depends on various factors – check ⬇️)
  • Requirements: IDP, US, UK & EU driving licence + some age restrictions

Should I Rent A Car In Santorini?

Blogger Mal exploring Vlychada Beach in Santorini with her rental car.

If you’re not sure whether you should get a rental car in Santorini, read through the below pros and cons.

✅ With a rental car, you’ll be able to explore the rugged coastline, picturesque villages including Pyrgos and Megalochori, and remarkable ruins such as Akrotiri on your own schedule and according to your own itinerary. This is an incredible opportunity to experience the Island of Santorini in its entirety.

✅ You will be able to visit all of the authentic restaurants that are located away from the main tourist locations, such as Oia. You will also be able to get to the beautiful Santorini beaches.

✅ If you’re travelling with a family or a group, car hire in Santorini may work out cheaper in comparison with paying for transfers, taxis and tours.

⚠️ Renting a car in Santorini is not an ideal option if you’re not a confident driver or are under 21.

⚠️ It is also not the best idea if you’re planning to spend most of your time at the hotel pool or prefer organised tours.

Renting A Car In Santorini Greece: Logistics 

Oia, Santorini

Here are the most important logistics regarding the car rental in Santorini.

From our experience, you will always save money if you book your car in advance online. We always use Discover Cars, which provides the best deals.

⚠️ While the website ranks the cars based on top reviews, it’s wise to double-check the ratings of your chosen company on platforms like Trustpilot and Google Reviews. This extra step can safeguard you against potential negative experiences.

How much does it cost to rent a car for a week in Santorini?

The prices of car rentals Santorini has to offer vary depending on the season, rental agreement duration and type of car.

From our experience, you can get a rental car as cheap as €35 per day based on a short rental agreement, especially if you book in advance.

Automatic cars are a little more expensive, and if you’re interested in Santorini luxury car rental, the prices start at €80 per day for a Fiat 500 Cabrio. The longer your car rental duration, the lower the price per day.

Is driving in Santorini difficult?

Driving in Santorini may be a little bit challenging if you are not used to driving manual cars and on the right-hand side of the road. However, with enough practice, it will get easier.

The roads in Santorini are often narrow, winding, and steep, making it nerve-wracking when encountering buses or tour coaches on a mountain road. Additionally, you should be cautious of unexpected quad bikes or ATVs, inattentive pedestrians, and poorly parked cars on the roads.

Despite the downsides, as long as you meet the age and licence requirements, we highly recommend renting a car in Santorini and driving. Overall, driving in Santorini is fairly simple and will allow you to fully experience all the wonders this iconic island has to offer.

What type of car should I rent?

It’s essential to consider what kind of car you are most comfortable driving, especially if you’re not used to narrow roads or changing gears.

Although manual cars are the norm in Greece, an automatic vehicle could be more convenient for you if you’re not used to shifting gears while driving on twisty roads.

Another essential factor to consider is the size of the car. Santorini roads can be quite narrow, so a smaller car is always more convenient. However, if you’re travelling with family or have multiple bags, a bigger car might not be suitable.

During our trip to Santorini, we rented a small car. It was cheap and suitable for narrow island roads and the relatively small distances we covered (the island is too big).

Rent A Car In Santorini Airport

Car rental at Santorini Airport can be a great option if you’re planning to stay on the island for a short time but want to make the most of your stay and explore the island properly. We recommend booking the rental in advance with a pickup point at the airport.

Car rental Santorini Port.
Ferry Port in Fira, Santorini.

Rent A Car In Santorini Port

A similar applies to the car rental at Santorini Port. There is no real advantage in waiting to rent a car in Santorini Port on the day of your arrival. You will definitely not get a cheaper rate, and you’re also risking not finding a car that suits you at all due to high demand, not only in the summer.

We would advise you to always book in advance if you want to rent a car in Santorini and pick it up on arrival.

Luxury Car Rental Santorini

If you’re looking for a VIP car rental Santorini has to offer, you’ll be pleased to know that Discover Cars also offers a small selection of premium cars for rent. You can rent a Tesla Model 3 or similar for about €300 per day.

Santorini Car Rental: Requirements

Renting a car in Santorini is the best way to explore the island.


✅ Valid Driver’s Licence

✅ Credit Card

✅ Insurance

Is my US driver’s license valid in Greece?

To rent a car in Greece with a U.S. driver’s license, you need to meet some requirements. You must have held your U.S. driver’s license for at least one year, and you must be between 21 and 70 years old. However, if you are under 25, you will be considered a young driver and many car rental companies will charge an extra fee.

Starting from November 2021, it is no longer necessary to possess an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) along with your U.S. license to rent a car in Santorini Greece.

If you travel often, we suggest getting an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). While very few countries allow visitors to rent a car with just a U.S. license, more than 150 countries accept the IDP. Rental agencies and law enforcement are more likely to recognize the IDP than a specific country’s driver’s license, so it is handy to have this document on you while travelling internationally.

If you are 18 or older and have a valid U.S. driver’s license, you can apply for an International Driver’s Permit either online or at any AAA office in the United States.

Can I rent a car in Greece with a UK driver’s license?

Since the UK is no longer part of the EU, you may be unsure whether you still can use your British driver’s licence when renting a car in Santorini.

Despite Brexit, in Greece, UK citizens over 21 and under 70 years old can rent a car with only a UK driving licence if they have held it for at least a year. Nonetheless, this policy may change. To avoid any complications, we recommend getting an International Driver’s Permit as a precautionary measure.

In the U.K., there are three types of International Driving Permits (IDP). The 1926 or 1949 IDP is valid for 12 months, while the 1968 IDP is valid for 3 years or until your UK driving licence expires, whichever happens first. You can either apply for an IDP over the counter at any Post Office or online. To apply, you’ll need your passport, driver’s license, passport photo, and the permit fee.

car rental in Santorini.

Do I need insurance for renting a car in Greece?

Yes, you will need insurance for renting a car in Santorini.

While rental car agreements typically come with a collision damage waiver (CDW), we suggest getting full insurance coverage through Discover Cars when booking to protect yourself fully.

It is important to have full insurance coverage when considering a hire car Santorini to protect yourself from claims in case of accident, damage or theft. Additionally, some car rental companies may require a deposit, which is usually returned if the car is returned without damage.

Full insurance coverage also safeguards your deposit. Before signing the rental agreement, it is advisable to carefully review and confirm that it includes full insurance coverage.

We recommend booking full insurance coverage for your rental car online beforehand, as it is almost always cheaper than obtaining it at the rental agency. Also, car rentals in Santorini Greece don’t normally provide as extensive cover as you can obtain through Discover Covers.

Discover Cars provides a budget-friendly and extensive policy that guarantees worry-free driving.

Do I need a credit card to rent a car in Santorini?

Most rent a car Santorini shops require a credit or debit card for a deposit.

The rental company requires a credit card for a deposit to cover any potential damage or theft to the car while it is in your possession. This deposit also covers any fees or penalties that may be incurred when you return the car. It is taken regardless of whether you choose to take out full insurance or not.

We advise against using your debit card for the rental deposit, even though some rental companies may allow it. This is because the rental shop will withdraw the deposit money directly from your card instead of just blocking it, like in the case of using a credit card. If your debit card has a monthly spending limit, this deposit could greatly affect your ability to withdraw cash during your entire trip.

The money is then unblocked (on a credit card) or refunded (debit card) within a few days of returning the car in good condition. 

Sometimes, in order to rent a car from a rental company, you may be required to provide a credit card. This is necessary for their system and also in case you decide to extend your rental period.

To give you an idea, the deposit we had to provide for the car hire Santorini for only 2 days was €800. When you’re taking full insurance coverage with Discover Cars, your deposit is also protected in case something happens to the car.

Hiring A Car In Santorini: Practical Tips

You can rent a car in Santorini Oia.

✔️ Get a full insurance cover

We travel for various months every year and always take out full insurance coverage when we rent a car, and this is why we always recommend to our readers to do the same.

Although some travellers may choose to skip insurance to save money, it is important to consider that it only makes up a small portion of the total travel expenses and can save you so much hassle and unwanted bills.

A small scratch or a dent can cost up to €900 to fix, and it may be yours to pay even if it’s not caused by you. It happened to us on one of the Greek islands when a lady parked next to us opened the door of her car, making a massive dent in our rental car.

The full insurance cover includes protection against injuries to you or your passengers and any damage to the rental car and also covers damages caused to other cars, passengers, or property involved in an accident with you.

Although full insurance coverage may appear costly, it is much less than what you could be liable for in legal, medical, or mechanical expenses.

It’s important to read the insurance policy thoroughly, even the tedious fine print, to ensure you understand any restrictions or conditions that may void your claim in case of an accident.

We always opt for Discover Cars‘s full insurance cover to make sure we are protected from any claims, and also our deposit is protected. Discover Cars offers way more extensive insurance compared with any Santorini car hire shop for the best price. We actually checked both before deciding on choosing our rental car Santorini.

✔️ Book in advance

As you plan your dream vacation to Santorini, a car rental might be the last thing on your mind. However, if you’re travelling during peak season, it is particularly important to book your car rental on Santorini in advance of your trip.

Booking in advance will ensure that you will have a bigger choice of cars, including cars that are the best value for money. If you require an automatic car, it is even more important to book ahead of time because automatic cars in Santorini are not as widely available but are in high demand.

Santorini, Amoudi Bay

✔️ Record the condition of the car

We recommend inspecting the rental car before starting your road trip, just like you would inspect a car before buying it. Take a few minutes to carefully examine and document the condition of the vehicle at the depot.

Before setting off, verify if there are any damages like dents, scratches or windscreen cracks mentioned in the rental car paperwork. If there is any discrepancy between the mentioned damage and the actual damage, make sure to ask a rental car employee to update it accordingly.

Make sure to inspect the entire car for any overlooked damage thoroughly. Take detailed photos or videos of the exterior and interior, paying special attention to problem spots like the windshield, headlights, and rear bumper, and have an employee from the rental agency document any damage on the paperwork.

✔️ Take advantage of free parking

Santorini, similarly to other Cycladic islands, has a lot of free car park areas. Every village has a municipal parking space, which is normally situated just outside of the village centre. So, the good news is that on your Santorini road trip, you will be able to park in most places for free.

It may be a little bit different with finding a parking space in Oia, but we recommend you contact your accommodation host to point you to the nearest and most convenient parking. The car parks are situated outside of Oia historic town.

✔️ Drive on the right side

This might sound obvious, but it is worth noting that cars drive on the right side of the road in Greece. Unlike in the United Kingdom and Australia, the driver’s seat is on the left side of the vehicle. If you are used to driving on the left side of the road, remember to stay vigilant and keep your wits about you while driving in Santorini.

✔️ Watch out for potholes 

Although Santorini roads are generally in good condition, some roads may be a bit bumpy. There are sections of the road where there are potholes, especially after rain or during winter months.

Keep your speed down and keep an eye out for potholes on the road to stay safe while driving around Santorini.

Best Santorini Tours

📍ATV-Quad Tour

Santorini ATV Rental


This tour is a great option for those who always wanted to drive an ATV but were perhaps not confident enough to do it themselves. This top-rated small-group ATV tour accommodates up to six people and lasts 3 to 4 hours, allowing for plenty of attention from your guide. You can cancel for free up to 24 hours before departure. Please note that drivers must be over 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

What we loved the most about this tour was the small group and how fun it was to drive an ATV! We took turns driving and found it super easy!


  • Hotel pickup and drop-off from most island locations
  • An ATV/QUAD vehicle 300cc
  • A professional guide 
  • A helmet for each guest
  • Fuel costs
  • Bottled water 
  • Wine tasting 
  • A light snack


The tour will begin at Perissa’s black sand beach, where you will receive instructions on safety and driving before embarking on off-road trails. The first destination on the itinerary is the Castelli of Emporio, where you get 30 minutes to explore the area and the Venetian Castle.

After passing by the Windmills of Emporio on the way, you will ride your ATV to the charming village of Megalochori. Once there, you will make a brief stop in this quaint village before heading to the oldest winery on the island to sample three of their distinctive wines.

The final stop is at the heart of Santorini, where you can enjoy amazing views of the caldera and sea. After that, you will ride your ATV back to Perissa, where the tour ends.

📍Santorini Luxury Caldera Cruise

Best sunset cruises in Santorini end in Amoudi Bay to watch the famed Santorini sunset.


Experience the breathtaking beauty of Santorini through a 5-hour sunset cruise that takes you to the most picturesque locations on the island. With a 5-star rating and an affordable price, this tour offers great value for money. The tour is limited to 20 guests and comes with a free cancellation option up to 24 hours before departure. In case of unfavourable weather conditions, an alternative date is provided.

We took this cruise to celebrate Mal’s birthday, and we had a fabulous time. Despite being only a semi-private cruise, we’ve been treated like VIP guests and really enjoyed drinks from the open bar and a beautiful seafood dinner.


  • A professional crew 
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks
  • Use of Snorkeling equipment
  • A Greek meal on-board 
  • Beach towels 
  • Use of toilets and changing rooms 
  • Hotel pick up and drop off


The catamaran will depart from Vlychada Marina and first sail by Vlychada Beach before reaching Red Beach. There, you’ll have 30 minutes to swim or snorkel. Following this, you’ll pass by White Beach and Mesa Pigadia Beach before arriving at the caldera. During this section, you’ll see Akrotiri and the lighthouse before reaching Palea Kameni. You’ll have 20 minutes to enjoy the hot springs there.

After a freshly cooked Greek meal of grilled fish, chicken, pasta and salad, you will head to Amoudi Bay and Oia to watch the sunset, which was the highlight of the cruise for us, before going back to Vlychada Marina.

There are two starting times – morning and afternoon cruises, and we highly recommend taking the sunset cruise.

📍Santorini Wine Tour

Santorini wine tours


If you love wine as much as we do, you will also love this wine tour! You’ll be taken to a selected 3 wineries to sample delicious Santorini wine and learn more about the island’s rich wine-making heritage. We really enjoyed the stop at the wine museum, which is set in a large underground bunker!

The tour for adults only can accommodate a maximum of eight guests and allows cancellation without any charges up to 24 hours before the tour departure.


  • Transportation throughout the day
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • A guide
  • 12-15 wine tastings
  • Tapas snacks 
  • Mineral water


Once the hotel pick-ups are finished, you will go to three of Santorini’s best wineries that are located in the countryside.

During your trip, the guide will provide information about how wine is made on Santorini and the impact of the volcanic soil on the grape growing process and wine flavour. You will visit multiple wineries and go on a tour of their cellars, learn about production processes, and walk through vineyards. Throughout the day, you will taste around 12 to 15 wines. At each winery, you can enjoy tapas, including bread, cheese, and olives.

You can choose between a day tour and a sunset tour for this excursion. If you select the sunset tour, you’ll arrive at Santo Winery in time to watch the beautiful sunset.

How To Get Around Without A Rental Car In Santorini

Santorini buses
Main bus station in Fira.

By Bus

Santorini boasts a trustworthy and extensive bus network consisting of 23 coach-style buses operated by KTEL.

The buses provide transportation to all major tourist spots on the island, as well as the airport and port. They operate from 7 am to 10 pm every day, with airport buses starting at 6 am. Additionally, a limited night service runs from 10 pm to 5 am.

If you’re looking to get around Santorini, self-driving is faster compared to taking the bus. However, if you’re on a budget, the bus is an affordable option, especially for solo travellers. For instance, if you’re travelling from Santorini port to Fira, a 14-kilometre journey would only cost €2 per person. Moreover, discounted fares are available for students and children.

ATV/Buggy Rental

santorini ATV

Renting an ATV or buggy is a fun way to travel around Santorini. However, inexperienced drivers should avoid driving these vehicles. To be eligible for driving, one must be over 21 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. Prior to renting, make sure your travel insurance policy covers these vehicles. If you have an accident while driving an ATV, your travel insurance may not provide coverage.

It’s important to take into account the weather when riding an ATV. Bad weather conditions like rain or wind can make it unpleasant to ride on an open ATV. Additionally, renting an ATV or buggy can be more costly when compared to renting a car. For instance, the most basic ATV starts at €301 for a week in August, whereas a low-end buggy costs €875.

On Discover Cars, you can rent a four-seat Mini for €333 for the entire week and have the benefits of staying dry and carrying your luggage with you. If you plan to rent a vehicle for only 2-3 days, renting a car will always be more affordable than renting an ATV.

By Taxi

Santorini taxi
Taxi stand in Oia.

Taxis are great when you need to get to a location fast, and budget is not an issue. We only use it as a last resort because we believe they don’t offer a good value for money. Taxis in Santorini are plenty, and the rates start at €30-€40 per ride.

You can also use Uber App for ordering a ride, and the advantage of Uber over taxis in Santorini is getting a trip estimate and being able to read past customers’ reviews. However, as we mentioned earlier, Uber is not really cheaper than taxis.

Is There Uber In Santorini?

Yes, Uber exists in Santorini, but it operates in a limited capacity and with a slightly different format compared to what you may be used to. This is similar to how Uber operates in Athens and Mykonos.

As of now, Uber in Santorini can only be accessed through UberTaxi. This means that you can request a ride normally through the Uber App, but the vehicle that arrives will be a taxi licensed locally, which will follow local taxi regulations and fares. Due to this, Uber Taxi in Santorini will not provide you with the same cheap Uber rates available in other places.

Renting A Car In Santorini: FAQ

Santorini, Perissa
The village of Perissa.

Do I need a rental car in Santorini Greece?

Whether you need a rental car in Santorini really depends on your travel plans and preferences. If you plan to explore the island extensively, having a car will make it easier for you to get to places that are off the main tourist trail. On the other hand, if you prefer organized tours or just want to stay within a certain area, renting a car is not necessary.

What is the best way to get around Santorini Greece?

The best way to get around Santorini depends on what type of experience you are looking for; renting a car gives you flexibility while taking taxis allows for ease and convenience. And the best mode of transportation for budget travellers is the local bus.

Ultimately, it’s up to each individual traveller to decide what will work best for their own trip!

Is everything in Santorini walkable?

While you can explore all the towns and villages on foot in Santorini, it’s not possible to walk across the entire island due to the long distances involved.

For instance, if you are situated in the scenic Imerovigli, you can easily walk to the nearby capital town of Fira, which is two kilometres away and takes around 25 minutes. However, walking from Fira to Oia takes over three hours on foot.

If you want to explore beyond the village where your hotel is situated, you will need to rent a car or rely on local transport.

Renting A Car In Santorini: Final Word

Renting a car in Santorini is the best way to explore the island.

Renting a car in Santorini is an excellent way to explore the island, allowing for greater flexibility and freedom. The island is super diverse and has so much to offer beyond your hotel in Fira or Oia.

However, depending on your travel plans, it may not be necessary to rent a car if you’re only staying within a certain area or prefer organized tours.

If you do decide to book a rental vehicle, make sure you get a car you’re comfortable driving, such as an automatic car, and opt for full insurance cover. Finally, remember always to drive responsibly and obey all traffic laws while on the road in Santorini!

We hope you have a wonderful time exploring this beautiful island with the help of our helpful guide.

Happy road-tripping! 🤗🚗✨

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