Updated: October 21, 2016
How To Rent a Car on Santorini
- Book rental cars in advance for late June to early September
- Most cars on Santorini have a standard transmission. If you need to rent an automatic book in advance.
- If arriving by plane book a car in advance to avoid the long lines for taxis at the airport.
- If arriving by ferry it’s easiest to take a taxi or bus into Fira and then pickup your rental.
- Take pictures of every ding and scratch on the vehicle (inside and out) before driving away.
Q. How do I rent a car on Santorini?
Auto Europe is a car rental company that has the best rates for hired cars in Greece. Don’t be put off by the simple layout of the site – it’s all about finding the best prices from the big rental companies (for Santorini it’s usually Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, or Thrifty).
I prefer renting from one of the international car companies that you find on Auto Europe but there are also local rental offices all over the island that will rent a car, scooter, or ATV to you. (The local companies are the only option for scooters and ATVs.) Many people have horror stories about dealing with local car rentals but 2 that are reliable are Vazeos in Oia and Spiridakos (which offers free pickup at the port, airport, or your hotel).
Q. Should I rent a car on Santorini?
It definitely makes getting around the island much easier – especially if you’re not staying in Fira. Fira is the hub of the bus system on Santorini and there are direct buses from Fira to pretty much every corner of the island. But if you’re staying in Imerovigli or Oia, then you need to take a bus to Fira and then another bus to the Kamari Beach or Akrotiri or Perissa. So, that’s 4 buses right there. If you wanted to go (from Oia) to Kamari and Akrotiri on the same day you’d be looking at 8 bus trips. However, you’re most interested in staying at your hotel, sitting by the pool, enjoying the caldera views, eating a local restaurants, and doing the occasional bus ride to Oia or Fira, then you’d get little benefit by renting a car.
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Tips for Renting a Car on Santorini
- All local and big name car companies will do airport pickup and drop off.
- If you’re arriving at the airport then it’s best to book in advance and do airport pickup. This way you avoid the sometimes-dreadful taxi line.
- If you’re arriving at the ferry port I’d recommend taking a taxi or bus into Fira and then getting your rental car in Fira – whether you booked in advance or not.
- Booking in advance is not absolutely necessary but if you require an automatic transmission during June, July, August, or September then you have to reserve it (most cars on Santorini are standard).
- If you need an automatic and you’re booking through Auto Europe (recommended) be sure to select Transmission: Automatic.
- I do not recommend renting scooters or ATVs. Over all my years of traveling this is the number one way that people end up in the hospital: riding a scooter, motorbike, or ATV when they don’t usually do it at home. Also, they’re fine for short trips but going from one end of the island (say, Oia) to the other (Akrotiri or the beaches) on an ATV or scooter is a long ride – at least I don’t enjoy it.
- If you have a young child it’s best to bring a car seat from home – some rental agencies do have a few child seats but they tend to be older and not up to British or American standards (though they’ll do in a pinch).
- If you need a larger car for a family of 4, 5, or 6 then I’d recommend booking in advance.
- EU drivers licenses are perfectly acceptable for renting a car. But if you’re not from the EU you’re supposed to (in theory) get an International Drivers permit before leaving home. Almost all places will rent to you with only an American, Canadian, Australian, or any other foreign license but if you get into an accident your insurance will be not be valid (in theory). For the record: I do not have an international drivers permit and have never had a problem – but, I’ve never gotten into an accident either.
- Before you leave the lot take pictures on your phone of every corner of the car (inside and out).