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!
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.
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!
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.
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 | International Driving Licence
Greek law requires that licence holders from a number of countries present an International Driving Licence along with their driving licence.
We understand that renters with licences from the following countries do not require an International Driving Licence but ensure you check the latest rules prior to travel:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark,Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Holy See, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe
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. Make sure to check the rules of the rental and if you require an international licence prior to travelling.
6 | 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,
7 | Standard of roads
The major roads are generally in reasonable condition. The smaller roads often had potholes and were bumpy ride.
8 | 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.
9 | 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.
10 | 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.
11 | 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.
12 | 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.
13 | Navigation
Google Maps worked fine and the app navigated us well during our time in Santorini
14 | Tolls
There aren’t any toll roads in Santorini.
15 | 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.
16 | 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.
For more on Santorini travel:
Check out our other Santorini articles which include: