Santorini Airport Car Rental
My recommendation: If you need a rental car for exploring the sights then reserve a vehicle in advance at the Santorini airport. If your plan is to sit by the pool or beach, do a few tours, and then ferry to another Greek island, then you probably don’t need a rental car.
Booking a Santorini Rental Car
Renting a Car in Santorini
- The Santorini bus system is excellent for the main towns. But for the smaller villages, hotels a little off the main track, or attractions outside of Fira and Oia the bus is not that practical. Renting a car is a great way to see the whole island. About half of the best things to do in Santorini are made easier by having a rental car.
- Booking a car in advance is not absolutely essential but it sure makes things cheaper and easier.
- Most rental cars in Santorini have a standard transmission. If you only drive automatic then definitely reserve in advance.
- Visiting the best Santorini wineries is best done by tour if you don’t have a designated driver.
- If arriving by plane pick up rental cars at the Santorini Airport to avoid the long lines for a taxi. (Airport pick up is easier than pick up in Fira or Oia).
- If arriving by ferry take a taxi or bus from the ferry port to the airport and then get your rental car. It’s easier doing car pick up at the airport than finding the individual rental car companies in Fira or Oia.
- There are also rental car companies located directly at the ferry port. In my experience, when you rent from these companies they will then drive you to their customer service center somewhere around the island. This is a fine option too but it’s always a little uncertain what the process will be.
- When picking up your rental car, take pictures of the vehicle (inside and out) before driving away from the parking lot.
- Driving in Santorini is fairly easy (just drive slowly and never drink and drive). I do not recommend ATVs or motorcycles – too dangerous.
- Drivers from the US and Canada are officially required to have an International Driver’s Permit, as well as a valid driver’s license to drive in Greece. For what it’s worth, I have never had an International Driver’s Permit and I’ve rented cars dozens of times in Greece without ever being asked for this permit.
How do I rent a car in Santorini?
RentalCars.com searches all the big car companies and finds the best price. Don’t be put off by the site’s simple layout – it’s all about finding the best rates. The most common pick up points are Fira and the Santorini airport. Under Pick up Location select either Santorini Airport or All Locations (which will usually mean Fira).
I recommend picking up your rental car from the Santorini airport even if arriving by ferry. The airport is smack in the center of the island and a short taxi or bus ride from the port and all towns. All the airport rental car desks are within a few feet of each other. It’s easy to get your car, walk across the parking lot, and drive away. On the other hand, rental car pick up at the ferry port and in Fira can be busy and chaotic.
I prefer renting from one of the international car companies that you find online 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 and Spiridakos.
Driving Map of Santorini
Car Rental at the Santorini Airport
For airport rental cars you can reserve through Rentalcars.com and pick up from one of the kiosks at the Santorini airport. The airport is very small and it’s quick and easy to get your car. From the Santorini airport, it’s a short 10-minute drive to Fira. About 15 minutes to Imerovigli. And 25 minutes to Oia. Renting a car from the airport will save you the hassle of getting a taxi. When flights arrive taxis are in short supply and waits can be long. Rental car companies that offer cars from the Santorini airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Enterprise. Their desks are located just outside the arrivals hall of the airport terminal. The desks are well-staffed and there’s almost never a lineup for car pick up or drop off. The airport has the largest variety of rental cars including small, medium, and large sedans; family-sized mini-vans; and large SUVs.
What Rental Car Companies Rent Cars at the Santorini Airport?
Car Rental at the Santorini Port
The Athinios ferry port in Santorini is chaotic when a ferry arrives. I would not advise doing a rental car pick up at the port. For one, it’s very busy, and meeting your contact person will not be straightforward. And two, the winding snaking crazy road up the caldera cliff is damn scary and packed with large tour buses, trucks, cars, and motorbikes. It’s not easy or relaxing for a tourist to deal with. (Whenever I’ve booked a rental car for pick up at the port they’ve actually driven me to an inland customer service center, which is fine too. You’re just never certain what the process will be.) First-timers should consider reserving a rental car at the Santorini airport. When you arrive at the ferry port take a direct bus or taxi to the airport (about 20 minutes away). The airport is in the center of the island and from there it’s much easier to get going in the right direction whether you’re staying in Oia, Fira, Imerovigli, or one of the beaches.
Car Rental in Fira & Oia
There are car rental agencies in all the main towns: Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani, Akrotiri, Kamari, and Perissa. In Fira and Oia most are located on the busy road in and out of town. It’s not an ideal place to pick up or return a car. The roads are narrow and busy, and are the main routes for the local buses. I prefer picking up and dropping off at the Santorini airport. If you do rent from one of the local agencies ask about returning the car to the airport or ferry port. They’ll sometimes let you park it and toss the keys under the seat. It will save you a bus or taxi trip and allow you to skip the return on the busy roads of the main towns.
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 Kamari Beach or Akrotiri or Perissa. So, that’s 4 buses to and from your destination. If you wanted to go from Oia to Kamari and then to Akrotiri on the same day you’d be looking at 6 bus trips. However, if you’re most interested in staying at your hotel, sitting by the pool, enjoying the caldera views, eating at 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
13 Reasons to Rent a Car on Santorini
Tips for Renting a Car on Santorini
- All local and big-name car companies will do airport pick up and drop-off.
- If you’re arriving at the airport then it’s best to book in advance and do airport pick up. 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 to the relative calm of the Santorini airport – 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). You’ll also get a better rate by booking in advance.
- If you need an automatic and you’re booking through RentalCars.com 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 driver’s licenses are perfectly acceptable for renting a car. If you’re not from the EU you’re supposed to get an International Drivers permit before leaving home. However, almost all places will rent to you with only an American, Canadian, Australian, or any other foreign license. (For the record: I do not have an international driver’s permit and have never had a problem.)
- Before you leave the rental company take pictures on your phone of every corner of the car (inside and out).
- RentalCars.com – Best rates for rental cars on Santorini
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