Updated: July 19, 2017
Car Rental in Santorini – Tips & Advice
- Book rental cars in advance for visits from mid June to late September.
- Auto Europe is the best website for renting cars in Santorini.
- Most rental cars on Santorini have a standard transmission. If you only drive automatic then definitely reserve in advance.
- If arriving by plane pickup 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.
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 mean 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.
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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).