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Common questions: should I get a rental car in Greece, is it worth hiring a car in Greece? In my opinion, hiring a car (or sometimes an ATV) in Greece is a great way to get around and really explore all that the islands have to offer.
Although some islands have good bus networks not all of them do. And not all the villages and coves are accessible from the bus routes anyway.
I like being independent and exploring, heading off down a particular road if it takes my fancy. I personally think that’s the best way to discover a new place and see what life’s like away from the tourist areas. Your own set of wheels makes that more simple.
It’s quite easy to rent a car in Greece as long as you have the right licence and haven’t just passed your test. Read on for more information about hiring a car and then read this post about actually driving in Greece.
Hiring a car in Greece after Brexit
EU licences are fine and you can still rent a car in Greece with a UK licence.
Renting a car in Greece with a U.S License
Renting a car in Greece with other non-EU licenses requires one extra step before you leave. You’ll need to get an international driver’s permit that’s basically a translation of your U.S license.
Exceptions to this are Australia and the US (double-check whether your country also qualifies). Having said that, if your license is from the USA it might be worth getting an international driver’s permit anyway.
Although you technically don’t need it, I hear a lot of people still being asked for it on the islands. For the cost and time it takes (you can get it online) it might be worth getting one just in case.
Note this is not the same as an international driving licence and needs to accompany your licence in Greece. (I.e. not be used instead of it, it basically just translates your licence).
You can get a permit easily online or from your local office of either the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) or Automobile Association of America (AAA).
Greece car rental age
To rent a car in Greece you need to be 21 years old. More prestigious vehicles may ask for you to be a minimum of 25 years old to rent and have held your licence for at least 5 years. Regardless of age, you need to have had your driving licence for at least one year.
Driving in Greece – what are the roads like?
On the islands, the main roads and many smaller, frequently used roads are properly tarmacked although they can often have potholes. But a lot of island roads are unmaintained, dirt tracks. If you’re hiring a small car to nip about the islands then it’s best to avoid these kinds of roads.
Usually, the hire contract says that you can’t drive on these unmaintained roads anyway. The insurance won’t cover any damage to the underside of the car and you’re likely to get a dent or two in the side of your car as well. The stones fly up even if you’re going slowly. And you can’t account for other drivers’ speed or behaviour!
Hiring a car in Greece that’s suitable for your needs
Get an automatic if you are not used to driving a manual car. On most islands, you aren’t going to be cruising along a fast, straight road for long. You’ll be “properly” driving and changing gear often so get what you’re used to. (Although an automatic will probably be quite a bit more expensive.)
Hiring a moped or ATV in Greece
On some of the islands, you won’t be able to rent a moped if you don’t have experience with one. Greece has a lot of road accidents and the majority involve mopeds/scooters. Cars are much safer, especially for some of the mountain roads and tiny villages that other vehicles speed through without a care.
Personally, I don’t think ATVs (All-terrain vehicles/quad bikes) are that much safer. They are much sturdier with four wheels on the ground but I do worry about them tipping over. Having been on the islands a while I’ve seen a lot of ATV fatalities in the news.
However, if you don’t have experience with a scooter you’ll probably be able to hire an ATV much more easily. Make sure you wear your helmet, it’s the law.
How much is renting a car in Greece?
How expensive is it to hire a car in Greece? Well, costs for car hire vary greatly from place to place as well as seasonally. Prices can start around 11 euro per day for an economy class small car but don’t be surprised to pay upwards of 20 – 25 euro per day either.
In the height of summer, I’ve seen car hire companies on some islands asking for 65+ euro per day.
This RentalCars website will give you an idea of prices and availability for the place(s) you’re going.
Some islands will only rent for a minimum number of days. For example, when I was in Syros everything seems to have a minimum 3-day hire period. (Could have been because it was high season). In other places, I’ve picked a car up for 24 hours no problem.
What about child car seats in hire cars?
Third-party, fire and theft insurance is normally included in the hire price. If you want more comprehensive insurance you’ll pay for it as a bolt-on extra. Same with children’s car seats or boosters and sat nav.
Long-term car hire in Greece
If you’re in one place for a while and want to book a car hire for a month then don’t book online. Either call around or walk into the offices and see what deal you can get.
It was ok in Naxos because it’s so windy and the price was good for me. The exterior had a good few scrapes and marks which I liked because I felt like it took the pressure off
Do you need a deposit to rent a car in Greece?
In my experience, you don’t normally need to leave a deposit to hire a vehicle, at least not at the economy end of the scale. In the UK, you usually have to fork out a £250 – £1000 deposit before you can hire. But it’s not like that here.
Usually, the car companies will take a debit or credit card number but they won’t use it without speaking with you if there’s a problem at the end.
Recording the state of the car when you receive it
The car rental company will mark on the rental form the location of any significant dents, scratches or other damage to the car when you collect it. I highly suggest you take a video of all around the car too. Walk around it and then zoom in on any bits of damage.
At the end, if there are any queries you can check back with your video. A couple of times I’ve been challenged about scratches. But when we looked at the video, they were clearly there when I took the car.
Where can I collect a hire car?
Often you can have the vehicle delivered to your hotel at no extra cost. You’ll probably complete the paperwork there and then et voila. So easy and accommodating. Alternatively, someone might come and pick you up in the car and take you back to the office to do the forms.
But again, in the busiest months be aware of availability to do this. If you’re in a main tourist area it shouldn’t be a problem. And in popular tourist towns and villages, there are loads of car hire places dotted around.
Taking cars on the ferry in Greece
My advice on this is don’t. The tickets are obviously more expensive than for foot passengers but aside from that most car hire companies won’t let you.
If you do find a rental company that gives you the ok for inter-island travel they’ll likely charge a one-off fee. And you won’t be covered for damage incurred on the ferry. That is an important point because the cars are packed in like sardines.
If you do choose to take a car on the ferry be there 45-60 minutes before it leaves to get in the queue. (Current directive is 60 minutes.) The port police will help you get on and off and the ferry crew will direct you on the car decks.
However, I really recommend just hiring a car on each of the islands. You can usually pick one up right at the port so there’s no distance to travel, even if you have quite a bit of luggage.
When should I book car hire for Greek island hopping?
Obviously, the number of cars places have available is finite. In the busy summer months, I’d recommend booking your car as soon as you know the dates you need it. I generally use Google Maps to find a company with a good rating. But, to be honest, they’re usually much of a muchness.
Your holiday accommodation may have a place they work with and recommend so definitely ask them if you need to. I’ve shared car hire companies that I’ve had good experiences with in the relevant island posts. So check those if you’re looking for recommendations on a particular island.