17 Tips for Renting a Car in Santorini (2024)

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Santorini is home to breathtaking sunsets, blue-domed churches and quintessential Greek towns and villages and renting a car is one of the best ways to see as much as possible. We highly recommend renting a car in Santorini to have the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover everything the island had to offer. We found driving safe and easy and we highly recommend renting a car in Santorini. Here are our tips for renting a car in Santorini to help you on your journey!

Sunset in Oia, Santorini

Tips for Renting a Car in Santorini

Overall, we found driving in Santorini easy and convenient.  We encountered decent, albeit narrow, roads and a mostly high standard of driving.

Why Rent a Car in Santorini?

Santorini is stunning and there are beautiful sights dotted around the island. Most visitors to Santorini rent either a car, a quad bike/ATV or a scooter to get around. Public transport is an option but the buses are often very crowded. Most buses route through Fira making journeys across the island cumbersome. We opted for a car as, although the ATVs and scooters looked fun, we preferred the safety of a car among heavy Santorini traffic. 

We loved having a rental car to explore. It allowed us to travel at our own pace, visit off the beaten track sights and generally make the most of our time in Santorini.

Renting it car makes it possible to visit spots like Akrotiri’s Red Beach

1 | Booking your rental car

Renting a car in Santorini can be relatively cheap. Demand during the peak summer months can get very high so it’s worth booking your car in advance to secure availability.

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in almost 50 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. We’ve always found them to have a good selection of cars at competitive prices – click here to book now!

Book your Santorini rental car now

Renting a car in Santorini tip: The biggest benefit of having a rental car in Santorini is that you can visit the off the beaten track sights. It also saves on the cost of airport transfers and opens up lots of accomadation options.

2 | Choosing a rental car

In Santorini, the smaller the car the better. There are lots of winding roads on the island and it’s easier to squeeze into tight parking spots. We found life easier with a smaller car!

3 | Visitors arriving by ferry

Visitors arriving by ferry may want to consider picking up their rental car at the airport. We prefer renting from one of the bigger car rental companies but the choices can be limited at the ferry port and queues can be long. It’s also easier to reserve an automatic in advance at the airport pick up. 

Renting a car in Santorini tip: it’s only a 20 minute taxi ride from the port to the airport.

Many visitors arrive to Santorini by sea

4 | Renting Eligibility

Most rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 and to have held their license for more than one year. Some companies impose a surcharge for renters aged under 25.

5 | Rental Car Insurance

There is a mandatory minimum of third-party liability insurance required when renting a car in Greece. This will be included in the base price of your rental agreement, however we highly recommend purchasing fully comprehensive cover with your rental car.

The basic cover usually includes third-party liability and a basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that covers damage to the car in event of an accident or accidental damage. This basic CDW usually has an excess payable by you in the event of damage to the rental car. This excess varies by rental car agency, however they usually range from a few hundred Euros up to thousands.

It is possible to reduce or remove this excess by paying an additional daily rate for full CDW cover. We always purchase this additional insurance and recommend it for two reasons:

  • it gives us peace of mind that any damage to the car is covered (i.e. less stress on your trip)
  • returning and picking up the rental car is a lot easier and quicker as the rental car agencies usually don’t check the car for damage at pick up or return.

RentalCars.com allows you to include the price of the additional insurance at the time of booking so you know exactly how much your rental will cost and there is no risk of extra costs while you’re in Santorini – check prices now!

Book your Santorini rental car now

You can purchase the full insurance on RentalCars.com in advance

6 | International Driving Permit

Greek law requires that licence holders from a number of countries present an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their driving licence.

Renting a Car in Santorini tip: Since June 2022 visitors with licences from the following countries now do not require an IDP: European/USA/Canada/Australia/UK driving licence holders do not require an International driving permit to rent a car in Greece.

An IDP is a document, separate from your driving licence that is simply a translation of your driving licence to a number of different languages. IDP’s are not expensive and we highly recommend having one when renting a car, even if it’s not a legal requirement to have it in a country.

We understand that renters with licenses from the following countries do require an International Driving Licence. This list is not exhaustive, so please check the latest rules before traveling if you don’t have a driver’s license issued by the above countries that do not require an IDP:

Argentina, China, Colombia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia

While rental companies don’t always check if renters have an International Drivers Permit, it will likely be an issue if you are stopped by the police. Make sure to check the rules of the rental and if you require an IDP prior to travelling.

We didn’t require an International driving licence but some countries do

7 | Drive on the right-hand side of the road

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Santorini, similar to most of Europe and the USA,

8 | Standard of roads

The major roads are generally in reasonable condition. The smaller roads often had potholes and were bumpy ride.

The Santorini roads are often quiet outside of the towns

9 | Sim card

We recommend purchasing a SIM card with data when you arrive in Greece. We always find having mobile data invaluable and extremely useful for navigating in the rental car. It also meant that we could research places to visit when we were on the road.

There is a store which sells sim cards in the arrivals hall of Santorini Airport.

Renting a car in Santorini tip: if you have a data package from another European country you may be able to use this data in Santorini. For example, we used our Three UK data package in Santorini.

10 | Car Parking

There is lots of free parking in Santorini. There are parking lots in most of the towns and villages and it’s usually possible to squeeze into a space. It’s also permissible to park on the street so long as you don’t block the road: just stick to areas where others are parked if you’re unsure! 

Renting a car in Santorini tip: We stayed in Oia, one of the most popular towns in Santorini, and managed to find a parking space whenever we returned.

Parking is usually readily available but it can be a tight squeeze in Oia

11 | Driving style

With a mix of cars, buses, pedestrians, ATVs and scooters, island driving is certainly interesting in Santorini! Locals know the roads well and will likely overtake rentals and pass in riskier places.

Take care passing the other road users in Santorini!

12 | Traffic

Traffic in the towns is often gridlocked and requires a lot of patience.  The worst traffic is generally Oia at sunset and around the port when ships and ferries are arriving and departing. As a result, make sure to leave lots of time if travelling to Oia at sunset or if you are catching a boat off the island.

Watching the sunset in Oia is one of the most popular activities in Santorini and traffic can be gridlock before and after!

13 | Fuel

Fuel is expensive in Santorini but, given the island is relatively small, it’s unlikely you will spend much filling up. There are lots of modern garages and most accept credit cards. 

14 | Navigation

Google Maps worked fine and the app navigated us well during our time in Santorini

We used Google Maps to navigate to the black sand Perissa Beach

15 | Tolls

There aren’t any toll roads in Santorini.

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. The rules state:

  • 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.

17 | Taking a rental car to other islands

Most rental companies do not allow the rental car to be taken outside of Santorini. However, it may be possible to take a car rented in mainland Greece to the islands.

Renting a car in Santorini tip: we rented a car in Athens and travelled by ferry to Crete and Rhodes by ferry with the rental. We flew to Santorini from Athens and picked up a rental to use on the island.

Why would you want to leave?!

For more on Santorini travel:

Check out our other Santorini articles which include:

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