18 Tips for Renting a Car in Greece
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Tips for Renting a Car in Greece
Overall, we found driving in Greece to be very safe. We encountered good roads and a mostly high standard of driving. We were also able to take our vehicle on a car ferry to both Corfu and Zakynthos which made for amazing side trips.
1| Why Rent a Car in Greece?
Greece is easily explored by car. It’s a relatively small country and is jam-packed with amazing historical sights, beautiful beaches and vibrant cities.
Renting a car is a huge advantage in Greece as it allows you to travel at your own pace, gives the flexibility to follow your own timing schedule and to means you can visit the places you really want to go. We were able to visit 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the mainland, travel to two islands and visit some off the beaten track gems!
2 | Booking a rental car in Greece
Renting a car in Greece can be relatively cheap. Make sure to shop around and book your rental car in advance for the best price. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – click here to book now!
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with RentalCars.com, where you will find the best rental car prices.
Renting a car in Malta tip: The biggest benefit of having a rental car in Greece is that you can visit the off the beaten track sights and stay in hotels from the crowds. This also allows you to save money as generally hotels in urban areas are more expensive as tourists can’t travel too far from them without a car.
3 | Choosing a rental car
We highly recommend renting a smaller car for road-tripping in Greece. Renting a smaller car makes navigating and parking in the many towns and villages that you will visit in Greece significantly easier. In particular parking in Thessaloniki and Athens was a lot easier with a smaller car.
It was just Elaine and I driving in Greece and we traveled with hand-luggage only so a more compact car was perfect for us.
4 | Rental Eligibility
Most rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 and to have held their license for more than two years. Some companies impose a surcharge for renters aged under 25.
5 | Drive on the right-hand side of the road
Driving in Greece is on the right-hand side of the road similar to most of Europe and the USA.
6 | Sim card
We recommend purchasing a SIM card with data when you arrive in Greece. We always find having mobile data invaluable for navigating in the rental car. It also meant that we could research places to visit when we were on the road. You can order your prepaid sim card online with Sim Options before you travel so you don’t have to stress about finding one at the airport when you land– check prices now!
7 | International Drivers Permit (IDP)
An International Drivers Permit (IDP) is a document separate to your driving licence that is basically a translation of your drivers licence to a number of different languages.
Visitors to Greece with an EU licence do not require an IDP. Since 2018 Greek authorities require any non-EU licence holders who are renting a car in Greece to carry an IDP.
An IDP is easily obtained in your home country before you travel. You cannot get one after you leave your home country. Your rental car company will require this from you at the time of renting so make sure to get it before you travel.
Renting a car in Greece tip: IDP’s typically last only one year so make sure if you have an older one that it’s still in date.
While rental companies don’t always check if renters have an international licence, it will likely be an issue if you are stopped by the police or if you are in a traffic accident. Make sure to check the rules of the rental and if you require an international licence prior to travelling.
Renting a car in Greece tip: We didn’t require an International driving licence as we have a European driving licence.
8 | Driving style in Greece
We found Greece a very safe country to drive in. We’ve driven in almost every country in Europe and found Greece to be one of the safest countries we’ve driven to date.
Renting a car in Greece tip: Like any country in Europe, we encountered some hectic driving in cities like Athens and Thessalonika due to the congestion and traffic, but driving is generally calm and drivers are courteous.
9 | Tolls
There are two main toll roads in Greece, both of which we used during our time exploring the country.
The first is from Athens to Thessalonika (E75) and the second is from Athens to the Pellepponese (8) Peninsula. There are numerous toll booths, in particular on the Athens-Thessalonika route so make sure to have cash with you. Each toll is €1-4 each.
Renting a car in Greece tip: The tolls can add up if you’re travelling a lot in one day so make sure to have cash with you in the car. We drove from Athens to Thessalonica in a day and the tolls were around €35-40 euro for the full length of the toll road.
10 | Parking
There is very limited on-street parking in Greece. We parked mainly at our hotel and at tourist spots. We prefer not to park on the street due to safety as we find it a lot more likely for the car to be broken into, especially in the cities.
Renting a car in Greece: Most hotels offer parking in their rooms rate so try and pick hotels where it is included.
11 | Navigation
Google Maps worked great throughout Greece and it was very useful to have data with our pre-paid sim card during our time in Greece. It’s also worthwhile having an offline navigation app just in case you run out of cell signal. This happened to us a few times in hilly parts of the country, like the Peloponnese Peninsula, where coverage is spotty due to the terrain.
12 | Drive times
The drive times we experienced were pretty close to the Google Maps predictions. However, we didn’t factor in enough sightseeing stops. Greece is a country packed with phenomenal scenery and unique sights.
Due to this, you should probably budget some additional time on drives for stops – the country is just so beautiful that you might have lots of unplanned stops and detours. It’s part of the fun of exploring Greece!
13 | Fuel
Petrol cars are more popular than diesel in Greece, however, try to request a diesel car from your car rental company when picking up your rental car. Diesel is considerably cheaper than petrol in Greece so you’ll save some money on your trip if you can get one.
Fuel stations are frequent, however, we found that a lot of the fuel stations did not take credit cards. Make sure to check before you fill up if you don’t have cash!
14 | Road quality
Most of the main roads in Greece are of good quality and aligned with international standards. The two main tolls roads are similar to motorway grade roads and other main roads are in decent condition.
Once you leave the main roads, however, you can encounter some pretty bad roads, both in terms of road quality and windiness! If you plan to use secondary roads make sure you know the route before you go and if in doubt check with your hotel before you set off!
15| Speed limits
Most speed limits are very well signposted in Greece. The general limits were 100-120 km/ph on highways while secondary roads were 90km/ph with residential areas being 50 km/ph.
Renting a car in Greece tip: these speed limits are a guideline. Make sure to check the roadsigns and adhere to the posted speed limits in Greece.
16 | Car Seats for babies and children
We usually travel with our own car seats. It is also possible to reserve these with the car rental company. At the time of publishing the below rules applied but make sure to check the current rules on an official website at your time of travel.
- Children under 135cm and aged between 3 and 11 must use an appropriate child restraint,
- Children under 3 must use an appropriate child restraint.
- The airbag must be deactivated if placing a rear-facing infant in the front passenger seat.
Visiting the Greek Islands with a Rental Car
We visited the islands using both car ferries and by flying and renting a separate car:
17 | Taking the Ferry with a rental car in Greece
One of the most common questions we receive about renting a car in Greece is whether it is possible to take rental cars onto the island car ferries.
Renting a car in Greece tip: There are a number of short duration ferries which you might want to take from mainland Greece, either for day trips or longer. During our Greek road trip, we took our rental car on the ferry to both Corfu and to Zakynthos and it was extremely easy and a lot of fun.
Rental Cars and Ferries
While most car rental companies will allow you to take your rental car on the ferry’s it’s best to tell your car rental company at the time of pickup that you plan on taking the ferry.
You may need special permission from your car rental company and there may be an extra cost and additional terms to use the ferry. Some rental companies have a fixed charge to pay and some provide written authorisation while others don’t cover damage to the car while on the ferry.
Booking Ferry tickets
Most ferry’s don’t actually sell out, however during peak season it can advisable to book your crossing in advance to secure your passage. One of the best sites for booking your ferry is Ferry Hopper.
Renting a car in Greece tip: We visited Greece in early April, during shoulder season, so we were able to turn up before sailings and had no problem getting space on-board
Three of the most popular short car ferry routes from mainland Greece are to Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos islands.
- We visited both Corfu and Zaknythos and loved our trips to the islands. The beaches in Corfu are simply breathtaking. It offers a real taste of Greek island life and is easily reached from the mainland.
- The main reason most people visit Zakynthos (also known as Zante Island) is to see the famous Shipwreck Beach – Check out how to get to Shipwreck beach here
Boarding the ferry
You’ll need to arrive at the car ferry terminal 30-45 minutes before sailing and join the queue of cars to get on-board. There will be staff there to assist with driving onto the ferry and to help with parking your car on deck.
Once you’ve parked your car make your way above deck to enjoy the crossing. Some of our favourite memories of Greece are the ferry crossings on the turquoise Greek waters with the sun setting on the horizon. Make sure to take your valuables with you above deck.
18 | Renting a car on the Greek Islands
Popular islands like Crete, Rhodes and Santorini are further away from the mainland meaning it is much easier to fly and rent a separate car.
Renting a car in Greece tip: we flew from Athens to both Santorini and Rhodes and reserved our rentals on RentalCars.com in advance. For us, it was much easier and cheaper than taking an overnight ferry. We did these trips at the start and end of our Greece adventure so we could avoid having an overlapping rental on the mainland which we would have to pay for renting and parking.
If you are planning on travelling to and renting a car in Santorini, read our tips for renting a car in Santorini here.
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