How To Rent a Car in Santorini

  • Renting a car is a great way to see the whole island as not everywhere is well served by bus and taxis are in short supply. About half of the best things to do in Santorini are made easier by having a rental car.
  • Book rental cars in advance for visits from June to September.
  • Most rental cars in Santorini have a standard transmission. If you only drive automatic then definitely reserve in advance.
  • If arriving by plane pickup your rental car at the airport to avoid the long lines for a taxi.
  • If arriving by ferry take a taxi or bus from the port into Fira and then pickup your rental car.
  • Take pictures of the vehicle (inside and out) before driving away from the rental company.

Car rental in Santorini from rental car company near airport.

How do I rent a car in Santorini?

Auto Europe searches all the big car companies and finds the best price. Don’t be put off by the simple layout of the site – it’s all about finding the best rates. The most common pickup points are Fira and the Santorini airport. Under Pickup Location select either Santorini Airport or All Locations (which will usually means Fira).

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).

Car Rental At The Santorini Airport

Reserve through Auto Europe and pickup from one of the kiosks at the airport. The airport is very small and it’s super easy to get your car. From the airport it’s an easy 10 minute drive to Fira. About 15 minutes to Imerovigli. And 25 to Oia (from the airport).

Should I Rent A Car In 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.

4 Reasons to Not Rent a Car on Santorini

Walking vs driving on Santorini - you don't need a rental car for the best views

The highlight of visiting Santorini: the walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia. You don’t need a rental car for this.

Santorini with rental car – finding the best views.

Sitting in your private plunge pool and staring out into the caldera. You definitely don’t need a rental car to enjoy this.

The best things to do on Santorini without a car rental.

A boat tour of the caldera and volcano is a must for Santorini. You don’t need a rental car to jump into the hot springs. (Hotel pickup and drop off are included with pretty much every tour.)

Santorini's best bars - you don't need a rental car for Fira nightlife

The best bar in Fira – the Kira Thira Jazz Bar. Having a car is more of a hassle if you’re going out drinking.

13 Reasons to Rent a Car on Santorini

Driving around Santorini - Where To Go

There are definitely places you’ll see and things you’ll do with a rental car that you wouldn’t if getting around by bus or taxi.

The best things to do on Santorini with a car.

One of my favorite restaurants in Santorini. Cava Alta in Pyrgos. You can get here without a rental car … but you probably won’t.

Exploring Santorini with a hired car.

The awesome village of Emborio in southern Santorini. You won’t be getting here without a rental car.

What's best? Getting around Santorini by bus or car?

A line-up for a bus in Santorini. I like taking the bus – it’s a fun experience. But let’s be honest: it says express, this ain’t no fucking express bus.

Car vs bus on Santorini – the bus schedule for getting around the island.

The bus schedule for Santorini. It changes all the time. On the plus side: for the main caldera towns they run pretty often. But for getting anywhere else they’re less reliable.

The best places to go with a rental car on Santorini.

The beach road on the east coast of the island. You’re not getting here unless you rent a car.

The best restaurants on Santorini with a car.

The best restaurant in Santorini is Metaxy Mas in Exo Gonia. Very difficult to get here and get back home by bus (presumably at night). Getting here by taxi is easy, getting a taxi to come back late in the evening is a challenge.

The best views and walks on Santorini with a rental car.

Great views from the mountain south of Kamari (that’s the airport out by the water). You can certainly get here by a combination of bus and hiking but much easier with a rental car.

The best beaches to go to on Santorini with hired car.

Lots of good beaches and great swimming on Santorini. This is Perissa and it would take 2 buses and 1 hour to get here from Oia (at the opposite end of the island). So, this is one example where renting a car makes things a lot easier.

Wine and wineries to go to with car rental.

Wine for sale on a roadside in Santorini. You won’t be stumbling upon this if you don’t get away from the crowds and explore the island on your own.

Fun things to do on Santorini with car?

One of my favorite things to do on Santorini is the open air cinema in Kamari. So much fun. But tricky to get to and from without a rental car. (Not impossible but just takes some planning.)

Shopping on Santorini with a rental car.

How the you gonna get your meat home without a car? Can’t take this slab of cow on the bus.

Taxi or rental car for Santorini airport.

The taxi line at the Santorini airport. It can be chaotic and in short supply of taxis. If you rent a car in advance you won’t have to wait for a taxi (which can take up to an hour in the morning or evenings). And if it’s late at night some taxis will not drive to any town except Fira.

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).
Driving on Santorini - Is it easy or difficult?

Driving on Santorini’s narrow roads can be challenging and comical. Once again: be patient.

Getting rental car at the ferry port in Santorini.

If you arrive by ferry it’s going to be busy and crazy at the ferry port. Take a bus or taxi to your hotel and get your rental car in Fira later that day or the next day.

Parking on Santorini with rental car.

Parking on Santorini is always an adventure. This is the “parking lot” in Imerovigli. Just have lots of patience and know you’ll always be able to find something.

Is it safe to drive on Santorini with a rental car?

I love Greek people but they’re terrible drivers. And in all honesty, crazier than the donkeys.

Prices on Santorini for car, scooter, and ATV rental.

Car rental prices at local rental car companies in Santorini. There will also be some additional charges (insurance, transfer, taxes).

See Also

38 Questions and Comments

  1. Parking in Imerovigli

    Hi Dave –

    We will be traveling to Santorini this coming May and splitting our time between Imerovigli and Oia (3 nights in each). I was considering renting a car for a couple of the days we’re in Imerovigli. Do you know what the parking options there? Thanks for your help!


    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Parking is tricky but you’ll always be able to find a spot. Drive towards Anogi and take to road to the left of the restaurant. This leads to a few different parking areas where there’s usually something available.

  2. Rental Car in Oia

    We are planning to stay a week at Esperas in Oia and would like to make 2 or 3 day trips to visit the other sights on Santorini. Sounds like we would want to rent a car. Can you recommend a good way or agency in Oia to pick up a car in the morning and then drop off in the evening? Or do you know if Esperas has parking where it would just make more sense for a multi-day rental?
    Scott Williams

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yes, definitely get the car for more than a day. Spiradakos has a rental car office in Oia. (They’ll probably deliver it to Esperas if you ask.) There is plenty of parking a short walk from Esperas (about 5 minutes). Drive towards the Post Office (there are signs) then park anywhere you can find a spot.

  3. ATV Rental on Santorini

    Thanks for a great website. Is it safe to ride the ATV’s and explore the island? I have read that there are accidents or that it is not safe due to the hills but I am not certain why. Also, is it less busy on the streets to ride them on Friday or Saturday? Would you suggest renting one for the day or not??
    Also, does Santorini shut down stores, and things on Sundays??

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yes, I agree. ATVs are not very safe (compared to a car), uncomfortable, and not particularly enjoyable. Much better to rent a vehicle.

  4. Rental Car Companies Open in November

    Hi David,
    I’ll be in Santorini this November, will the car rental companies still be open?
    I’ll be arriving by cruise ship, I’ve been there once before but did an excursion and
    Didn’t get to see much so I want to rent a car this time.
    Thank you,

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yes, some will definitely be open.

  5. Getting Back to Hotel After Clubbing

    First of all, your blog is amazing. I have already shown it to 4 of my friends who are traveling to this island.
    My questions is that my soon-to-be wife and I will be stay at the Astarte hotel for our honemoon. Of course we are young so we like to go out at nighttime to local clubs and bars so if we were to go out at night, what would be the best method since we are about 30 minutes away from the main nightlife area? I can rent a car but going out and drinking wont be the best option late at night. Do they have 24/7 taxi numbers we can call to take us back to our apartment?

    Thank You so much,

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yeah, don’t drive if you’re going out drinking. (It’s hard enough to drive at night on Santorini under the best conditions.) Astarte has a free shuttle, so take that to Fira. Then taxi back. Taxis can be tricky to get late at night but with a bit of patience you’ll get something. The taxi stand in Fira is just west of the bus station.

  6. Car Hire at Santorini Airport

    Just a tip for future visitors. We reserved through Auto Europe and did pickup at the airport. All easy and good. But if you don’t reserve a car in advance do not rent from the airport. The quoted rates that were advertised at the airport car companies were 50% higher than through Auto Europe and 40% higher than in Fira. You’re better off going into Fira and negotiating with the local companies which had prices almost as cheap as Auto Europe – you just have to pretend that you’re looking at multiple places and comparing prices and they’ll come down.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yes, you’re right Ari. Auto Europe has the best rates, then the small car companies in Fira (but don’t be afraid to negotiate, they’ll come down if you look like you’re shopping around). Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Location de Voiture

    Bonjour nous partons lundi prochain pour Santorin Perissa et je cherche ou louer une voiture pour 2 jours à Perissa
    Avez-vous une info?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Il sera facile d’organiser après votre arrivée à Santorin. Ou de l’utilisation: Auto Europe.

  8. Ferry Strikes on Greek Islands

    I am getting very worried reading about ferry strikes. All of my hotels are non refundable. I will need to get from Mykonos to Santorini and then Santorini to Crete. Are there any private boats that could get us there?
    Suzanne Pittman

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Ferry strikes are rare. (It’s more likely that ferries will be canceled due to rough seas.) But in any case, private boats are not that practical. If you’re willing to pay then yes, someone will take you at some very high price. But the boat would be small and the ride very bumpy and long if you weren’t used to being on the sea. Also, assuming the ferry was canceled due to rough seas, then the smaller private boats won’t be going anywhere either. If you really want a safety net then I’d book air tickets (via Athens).

  9. Renting a Ford Fiesta on Santorini

    It seems like you rented a yellow Fiesta in Santorini?
    I can recognize the car in three of your photos…
    Where did you get it from?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      I’ve rented a lot of cars on Santorini but I think the one you’re referring to is from Sunbird Rentals in Imerovigli.

  10. Santorini Travel Blog

    I wish I had found this site sooner; the most informitive by far. It has dramatically decreased my anxiety about our upcoming trip in June.
    I have never commented on a blog site before, but felt compelled to let you know how great your blog is. AMAZING work.
    Sherri Semple

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Thanks Sherri. I’m glad it was helpful – that’s why I do it.

  11. Pickup and Dropoff at Different Places in Santorini

    Hi there!
    My husband and I are going to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini this coming May and your website has been so useful in the planning process.

    I have a couple of questions for you. We are taking a Ferry into Santorini from Mykonos and by the sounds of it, are planning to rent a car. However, would you happen to know if we can rent a car in one place and drop it off at the airport on our way back to Athens? Typically we would just pick up and drop off the car at the airport but since we aren’t arriving to Santorini by air, this complicates things a bit. Any insight? We are staying in Oia. Also, would you suggest renting a car while in Mykonos as well? We will be on both Mykonos and Santorini for 4 nights/5days.


    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Pickup in Fira (or Oia) and drop off at the airport should not be a problem. Pickup at port and drop off at the airport will not be quite as easy and require a bit more searching to find the right company. With 4/5 days on Mykonos I might rent a car for one day, two at most. But most of the “sights” – beaches, Mykonos Town, Ano Mera, Delos – are easily explored without a car.

  12. Taking Rental Car to Different Island in Greece

    Hello. Heading to the islands for the first time in June. Can’t wait. Planning to rent a car and it looks like you can bring it on the ferry and return it to a different location. Can you leave your luggage in the car or do you have to take it out for security? Would like to avoid all the transfers to and from the hotels and just have our car the whole trip. Thanks.

    Roger Ciafre

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Can you take a rental car from one island to another? In theory, yes. In practice, it’s very difficult and expensive. For one, you’d need to book a ferry spot well in advance for your car. And two, car companies are very reluctant to let their cars go to other islands. It’s a lot easier/cheaper to rent a different car on each island and use the ferry as a walk-on passenger.

  13. Renting ATV on Santorini

    Hi Dave,

    What are your recommendations on renting an ATV? What is the best place to hire?

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    Barb Svak

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      My recommendation is not to rent one as that’s the number one way that visitors end up in the hospital on a Greek island. But if you still want to they’re found everywhere and easy to rent.

  14. Boat Tours with Limited Mobility

    Planning a trip to Santorini, Paros, and Naxos as well as local day boat trips at those islands. With bilateral knee replacements my days of jumping off boats to swim are sadly over. Do boat excursions have easy entry /exit options for swimming? Thanks for your reply and your helpful website!

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Generally, you’ll want the smaller (and more expensive) tours that have smaller boats. On the large group tours you usually have to jump from the upper decks. With the smaller sail boats and catamarans you could get in and out of the water more easily.

  15. Where To Stay on Santorini

    Hi, great to discover this website and thank you for all the great information. We have just booked flights to Santorini for a week at the end of October next year (school holiday here in the UK). We are trying to choose where to stay – with 2 kids, the beach appeals in some respects, but obviously that is without the views. If we were to stay in Oia and rent a car, how easy would it be to park if we had a place without its own parking? Would you recommend staying on the west side rather than east side of the island? We have two kids who would enjoy the beaches to the east but I’m not sure if those areas will deliver enough of the anticipated Santorini experience (I know this is really something we have to decide for ourselves). Also can you tell me what your opinion is about tap water on the island? I’ve read a mixture of views from “don’t be ridiculous it’s fine” to “avoid ice cubes and salads in case they’ve been washed in the water”. We enjoy eating out and don’t want either to curtail our enjoyment or end up with dodgy tummies (especially the kids). Big thanks, Alison

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      In late October I’d definitely stay on the caldera side of the island. It’s possible for weather to be coolish (though still sunny) by late October and you might not be swimming all that much. If that’s the case you’ll find the beach towns very quiet and a little boring – much better to be in Oia or Fira where there’s lots going on until well into November. Parking is always a small hassle but never a big issue – you can always find something with a few minutes search. Most visitors don’t drink the tap water but ice cubes and produce washed in tap water are absolutely fine.

  16. Which Islands and How Long

    Will be in Greece in July 2017. Athens 2 nights. Santorini is a must. Trying to decide between Naxos and Milos for another island. The other question is should we do 3 islands and add Mykonos or is that too much running around? Traveling with husband, 2 teens(19,16). We love to explore, absorb local culture, snorkel, dive, and relax. Any advice would be so helpful. I’m quite overwhelmed. Luci

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Naxos and Milos are both great. Naxos has better beaches and more inland villages. Milos is great for boat tours around the coast and its wonderful beautiful geography. Mykonos has nightlife (Naxos and Milos don’t) and beautiful lively beaches. You don’t say how long you have in total so can’t tell you what to do but I’d recommend 3 nights at least on each of those islands.

  17. Billiards

    Are there any pool tables or snooker tables in Thira?

    Kev Tucker

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      The Saloon in Fira (the lower half of Murphy’s) has a pool table. Groove Bar in Kamari also has one.

  18. Pickup Rental Car and Parking in Oia

    Hi Dave
    Thank you fo a very informative site!
    We will be in Oia in July 2017 for 5 days, arriving by transfer from the port. We would like to first spend some of the time in and around Oia, and then rent a car for 2 days to drive around the island. I’ve looked at the Auto Europe site and it doesn’t seem to have a vehicle pick up point in Oia. Would I have to travel to the airport to pick up the car? And where could I park the car in Oia?

    Kathy Hutchinson

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      Yes, most of the pickup and drop off spots are in Fira or at the airport. (Fira is much closer to Oia than the airport is.) If you wanted to rent from a local company that has an office in Oia then try Spiridakos. There are a few different spots to park in Oia (the turn off to Baxedes or up near the north end of Oia, by Lioyerma pool) but I don’t know where you’re staying and I’m sure your hotel will have some tips on where to park.

  19. How Many Days on Santorini for Renting a Car to be Worthwhile

    We’re planning our stay in Santorini for next August. Between Crete, Naxos, and Mykonos we’re uncertain about how much time to spend in Santorini. Where would you draw the line between renting and not renting a car for Santorini? We might spend 1, 2, 3, or 4 full days on Santorini – for which length would you recommend getting a car?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Greece, Italy, and Everywhere

      If you have 1 full day on Santorini I would not rent a car – explore the caldera towns of Oia, Imerovigli, and Fira. If you have time walk the footpath from Oia to Fira. Have dinner with a caldera view. But for 2 days or more I think renting a car becomes worthwhile for most (unless you’re doing a full-day boat tour of the caldera). And certainly 3 or 4 days you’d be thankful for having a car to really explore the island. Lots to see.

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