- How to rent a car?
- Is it easy/safe to drive?
- Tips for renting
- Price for a rental car
- Where to rent a car?
How to rent a car in Greece
Greece is a stunning country to explore by car as it’s relatively small and packed with beautiful beaches, historical sights, and lively towns. The majority of the roads are in good condition, with many that wind around scenic hills, offering the most incredible views over the Mediterranean Sea.
Depending on your itinerary, renting a car in Greece allows you to travel at your own pace and gives you the flexibility to make up your own schedule. This way, you also get to explore lesser-known beaches, villages, and ruins where local transport can’t get to.
What do you need to rent a car in Greece?
When you rent a car in Greece, there are a couple of documents that you’ll need to bring with you:
- Your driver’s license from your home country
- Your ID (passport)
- Valid Credit Card in your name
The legal driving age in Greece is 18 years old. However, the minimum age to rent a car varies, depending on the agency. Most of them will ask you to be at least 23 years old and that you’ve had your driver’s license for at least one year. However, some agencies also accept people over 21 years old. All drivers must provide a valid driver’s license, a passport as identification, and a credit card to make the payment.
Note: Most car rentals in Greece charge an extra fee if you’re under 25 years old. For non-EU citizens, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) might be required. While the rental agency might not ask for it, it’s good to have it in the event the police stop you. An International Driving Permit costs just 15 USD and is valid for one year. You can check and arrange yours here.
Rental car insurance in Greece
When renting a car in Greece, it’s mandatory that you’re covered with third-party liability insurance, which is arranged upon booking. Additional insurance, such as theft cover, is recommended but not mandatory. When you decide to add additional coverage, try to arrange that in your initial booking, as the prices are the best when booked like this. You can also check if your credit card policy covers car rental insurance in Greece. Good to know: Always have your driving license, IDP, and car rental documents on you.
Is it easy to drive in Greece?
Driving in Greece can be an incredible experience and is relatively easy as most roads, though narrow, are well maintained. Regardless of the car that you choose to drive, it’s always good to know some of the road rules and customs of the country.
Roads & Speed Limits
The most important rule you should always remember is that people drive on the right-hand side of the road in Greece. Most of the main roads are generally in good condition, with a few smaller and rural roads that have potholes. However, Greece does have lots of narrow and winding roads throughout the cities, towns, and mountains. You’ll find these both on the mainland and on stunning isles like Kefalonia, but they offer some of the most incredible views.
The general speed limits in Greece are 80 – 110 km/h on open roads, 120 km/h on highways, and 50 km/h within urban areas. However, due to traffic and many winding roads, you’ll not often be driving over 50 km/h. Try to stick to the speed limits, as there are a number of fixed speed cameras and police monitors on the roads. You can always spot the speed limits on road signs along your routes.
Google Maps works really well to navigate the roads in Greece. We recommend downloading the Google maps offline before heading out or making sure you have a SIM card with data when you travel through the country. If you’re traveling through Europe, lots of plans allow data roaming in Greece, too!
There are two toll roads in Greece; the highway from Athens to the Peloponnesus and one from Athens to Thessaloniki. Both of these are on the country’s mainland and cost about 1 – 3 EUR, depending on where you exit. Collectively, the total price can add up to about 25 EUR if you drive the full toll road.
Traffic in Greece
This Mediterranean must-see destination has relatively calm areas all across the country. Though, in cities and around hotspots both on the mainland and islands, you’re likely to experience some traffic. Throughout the week, this is mostly around peak commute times in bigger locations like Athens and more around the beaches on weekends. Getting from one place to another can become a long journey if you travel at the busiest time of the day.
Tip: Try to use alternative roads if you can, especially during the mornings and after office hours when there’s more traffic on the road.
Though road rules and laws exist, to some people, they’re seen more as guidelines. Always keep an eye out while driving and stay aware of your surroundings. This way, driving through the stunningly warm country of Greece becomes a breeze.
Visiting the islands with a rental car
Though you really don’t need a car to explore the beautiful historic city of Athens, you may want to rent one once you set out to see more of the country. Island hopping in Greece is one of the best things to do, with plenty of options to choose from. Having a car on the Greek islands, particularly the remote ones, makes it much easier to get around.
Vehicles may be taken from Athens to the islands as long as they’re returned to Athens. However, not every car rental company permits this, so it’s important to check beforehand. You’ll often need a written statement from the rental company allowing you to take the vehicle on the ferry. There are also additional costs and terms, and your CDW is void during the ferry ride.
It’s important to plan ahead if you want to take your rental car to the islands. Not every ferry accepts vehicles, some journeys are expensive, and many islands do offer good public transport. This is something to consider, especially if you plan on hopping from island to island.
Note: Some of the popular islands like Crete, Rhodes, or Santorini are further away from the mainland. Because of this, it’s easier to fly and rent a separate car once you’re there.
Is driving in Greece safe?
Although Greece has small, winding roads and experiences some traffic, driving is overall quite safe. Just like in any other country, you should pay attention to the other drivers and adjust to traffic. Some locals like to drive a bit more hectic in cities like Athens and Thessaloniki due to the traffic. However, driving is generally quite calm, and drivers are courteous.
In case you do end up in an accident, you’re requested to call the traffic police to file a report. After that, make sure to call your rental company so you can fill in the claims. The emergency number in Greece is 112.
Top Tips for Renting a Car in Greece
1. Do a walk-around when picking up the car
When you go and pick up the car, make sure to inspect it thoroughly before starting on your journey. Together with your agent, do a walk-around and log any existing damages. Additionally, you can take some photos or a video of the damages, if the car has any, to have extra ‘proof’ if necessary. Do the same with the inside of the car and check whether you have a full gas tank. Most companies are reliable and trustworthy, but it’s important to note the damages.
2. Getting gas
Getting gas in Greece is relatively easy, as you’ll find gas stations all over the country. They’re generally open between 7 AM and 7 PM, and most close on Sundays. Most of them are full-service, which means that an attendant will pump the gas for you. You can tip them 50 cents or so for the help if you’d like, but it’s not mandatory.
Gas stations accept cash or credit card, though it’s safest to have cash on you. While en route, you can find the one closest to you through Google Maps. Most rental cars run on unleaded petrol, but if you’re ever in doubt about which type of fuel you need, try to find the sticker in your rental car that provides that information. You can usually find this on the car key, the dashboard, or the fuel door.
Leaded gas, unleaded, and diesel are offered all throughout Greece. The current cost of gasoline (venzini in Greek) is around 1,87 EUR (2,03 USD) per liter and 1,57 EUR per liter of diesel. At the end of your rental, make sure to return the car with a full tank of gas. This way, you avoid getting charged for a full tank by the rental agency.
3. Be mindful of where you park
There is very limited on-street parking in Greece, especially in major cities. Because of this, it’s better to find tourist parking lots or hotel parking instead. These are also safer locations to park your car, as car theft isn’t unheard of. We recommend always removing your valuables from the car when you’re not driving. Tip: You can ask the hotel if there is any parking nearby when booking. Ideally, your accommodation has private parking that you can use.
How much does a car rental in Greece cost?
Rental cars are overall quite affordable in Greece. The price typically depends on a few things; the time of the year you’re visiting, the duration of your trip, and the time you book in advance. During the summer months, there’s always an increased demand for renting a car in Greece, which slightly drives up the prices. It’s also better to book in advance and for more days if possible, as that will often bring down the price per day!
Getting the right vehicle
The general rule in many European countries is that the smaller the car, the lower the price. Bigger cars are more expensive because they require more fuel. Opting for a smaller car is also better on Greece’s small roads and busy towns. This way, you drive more comfortably and don’t have to worry when parking or driving through narrow mountain roads.
You can browse your options online via a comparison site to ensure you get the best deal. Note that most rental cars in Greece are manual. If you want an automatic, make sure to arrange that in advance and expect to pay slightly more.
Where do I rent a car in Greece?
Greece is quite a popular destination, especially in the summer, so the demand for a rental car can be high. There are plenty of car rentals in Greece to choose from, and you can research them beforehand. If you’re planning on renting a car during the high season, we recommend booking your car in advance. It’s not uncommon in Greece, especially on the islands, to run out of rental cars everywhere. By booking in advance, you secure the type of car you want, possibly at a lower price, and it allows you to compare options.
In most locations, you can collect your car at the airport, though getting one at a rental office downtown is more affordable. It’s not necessary or recommended to rent a car in Athens as the roads are incredibly narrow and busy, though if you plan to explore more of Greece by car, you can rent one after visiting the city.
One-way rentals are possible between a few locations in Greece, though additional fees may apply. International one-way rentals are unfortunately not permitted. Most rental companies in Greece won’t allow you to drive your vehicle across borders into neighboring countries like Albania, Bulgaria, or Turkey. However, you can always check this with your rental company or arrange to drop it off close to the border and rent a new car in the next country.