Should I Rent an ATV in Santorini (Or Any Island)?

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If you intend to rent an ATV in Santorini or are deciding between whether to rent a car or ATV in Santorini or other islands please read this.

ATV Rental Santorini

ATV rental (or All Terrain Vehicles) is very popular on Santorini island as well as many others.

There are ATV rental companies all over the place. You’ll walk past shops with quad bikes on display in Fira town, Perissa Beach and other popular parts of the island.

But quad rental in Santorini is not something I recommend there, or on any other islands. Here’s why.

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These bikes are popular on other islands like Milos, too

Quad Rental Santorini Just Isn’t Safe

Lots of travel bloggers recommend getting a quad bike to explore Santorini. You’ll hear from many people who have had a wonderful ATV adventure. They’ll tell you it’s a great way to travel around and that they’ve had so much fun during their trip.

But you probably don’t hear so much about the people who’ve had accidents and did not have a great time.

After a few years of experience living in Greece, I’ve seen numerous reports in the Greek media about people who’ve died in quad bike accidents on the islands.

What’s less publicised but also happens is people who live to tell the tale. But rock up to the airport at the end of their vacation with a black and blue face, missing teeth and a broken collar bone.

Or who are injured so badly they have to prolong their stay until they’re well enough to get home.

Quad rental Santorini

Why You’re Vulnerable

If you rent ATV to drive in Santorini you can be quite vulnerable on the road. It’s not a small island and a lot of the roads you’d probably be driving are main roads.

It’s also a very busy island even before it hits peak season. There are lots of people who drive for a living (taxi and transfer drivers, for example) and they get impatient being stuck behind quads.

In my experience, they get frustrated and can overtake in really unsafe places. If you’re coming along on an ATV in the other direction and turn a corner to find a car coming towards you at speed it likely won’t end well. 

If you’re in a car, you obviously have more protection if you’re in an accident.

I think also, quad bikes seem quite fun. And because they go slower than cars people don’t perceive the risk.

As well as providing less protection, the ATVs don’t react in the same way as cars do to road surfaces and braking. Plus you’re probably not as used to steering them.

Unfortunately, you also need to consider how well they’re maintained and whether the tires are being replaced at the recommended intervals.

Renting scooters In Santorini

I don’t really recommend getting a scooter/motorbike either. Many places in Greece won’t let you hire one if you’ve never driven one before anyway.

(I know we’re talking about ATV rental but often people are considering scooters/motorbikes too.)

When I was in Milos recently, a couple came off their bike just in front of me. They were driving on the other side and basically took the corner too wide. The bike slid out from under them and they were quite shaken up and bruised.

The bike was pretty smashed up too and you’re even more vulnerable of two wheels than four. 

Car Rental Services on Santorini

In terms of a rental vehicle to get about whichever island you’re visiting, I pretty much always recommend car rental over ATV rentals or motorbike/scooter.

Quad rentals prices are often the same daily rate as if you’re renting a car anyway. And if there is a bit of extra cost in terms of the rental price for a car, I’d consider paying it. Cut back somewhere else to compensate for the additional cost if you need to.

Exploring the island with a car is really the best way, you’re much less vulnerable.

Most cars in Greece are manual though, so book in enough time to get an automatic if that’s what you’re used to.

You might find it helpful to read this post about renting a car in Greece and this one about driving in Greece for the first time.

There are rental companies both at the port and Santorini Airport plus all the major spots around the island. 

Your accommodation provider will probably also have a company that they work with and recommend too.

A number of rental places have an online booking system which is a secure way to pay with your debit or credit card in advance. And some will offer free delivery – collection if you’re staying somewhere outside of the main villages.

Other Options

If you can’t get a manual rental car or you just don’t want to drive a car then the best solution might be taking day trips.

Lots of hotels have minibus transfers to take you around the island. Or there are plenty of small group tours you can join and not have to worry about travel logistics.

Have a look at this post about how to get around Santorini.

Choosing to go with ATV Rental Anyway?

If you decide to go ahead and choose ATV rental anyway, please be careful. Here’s what you need to know.

In terms of the logistics of renting:

Driving License Requirements

You’ll need a full, valid driver’s license

You shouldn’t need an International Driving Permit to go with your US or UK licence. The laws have changed a couple of times in recent years and some rental companies aren’t quite up to speed with the current law. For the price, it might be worth getting one anyway so you’re prepared if they ask for it.

Quad bikes on display

Vet the Rental Companies Before Choosing One

Check out the rental company before you rent a quad don’t just be swayed by the best prices. See if they have good reviews online (like on Google Maps). You want to know they have “safe” vehicles that are in the best condition from a maintenance point of view

  • Know whether full insurance is included. You want comprehensive not just third party insurance. 
  • Check for any other hidden costs or extra charges involved and note you might need to make a deposit.
  • Ideally, you want to work with an organisation that has excellent customer service so you know you can get help if you need it. See if there are reviews about their response to breakdowns or accidents. You’ll want the best service if things go wrong. Especially if you’re only on the island for a short time.

Quad rentals line the street at Kamari Beach

Plan Your Time Well

Make sure you return your ATV within the agreed rental period. There’s usually a short window for you to go over before you also get charged for the next day.

In terms of driving a Quad Bike

If you’ve never driven a quad bike, think twice (yes I’m telling you again!) about driving a quad in Santorini as your first experience. It’s not a small island and Greek drivers can be impatient.

Here’s what to bear in mind.

Know the Law

It’s Greek law that you must wear a helmet on your rented ATV

Obey the speed limits in whatever area you’re in. The speed limit is usually clearly displayed when you enter an area so look out for signs.

Get Travel Insurance for Your Trip

Make sure that you have good travel insurance. Read the small print too because some insurance companies class quad biking as a dangerous activity. In which case, it won’t be covered by the normal premium.

Check too that you’re covered to be repatriated. If you were in a really bad accident and couldn’t get home on a normal flight would your insurance pay out to get you home.

Quad bike on the way to Akrotiri Lighthouse

Other tips:

Go Steady

Take things steady and at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured to speed by other drivers. Lots of other drivers don’t stick to the speed limit but you can.

Let Others Pass

If you notice a queue/line of other vehicles building up behind you pull in to let them pass safely. You might need to do this several times on your journey depending on how far you’re travelling.

Be Careful on the Corners

Go slowly around corners as one of the most common things that happens is that the quads tip over.

I’ve seen people driving in front of me take corners too fast and or turn at the last minute and almost tip over. The bikes are heavy, especially if you go off the side of the road and they fall on you from a height.

Focus on What You’re Doing

I think one of the other common issues that causes accidents with ATV rental is not focusing on what you’re doing with the controls. 

I’ve heard of people driving into walls and off cliffs because they accelerated forward fast when they were intending to reverse or break. 

Some of the spectacular views in Santorini are spectacular because you see them from a height. Focus on what you’re doing and give yourself margin for error.

In the same vein, people end up going over the handlebars because they’ve lost control. The point of ATVs is to go off-road or on dirt tracks that aren’t suitable for cars. But they won’t always react the way you expect on uneven surfaces.

Don’t Drink and Drive

Goes without saying but take heed even if you just have a short way to go or it’s at a quiet time of day/night or quieter at low season.

Santorini quad rental bikes

Please Have a Safe Trip

As I always say, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether renting an ATV in SAntorini is the right choice for you. But please think long and hard about it and stay safe on your trip.

Other Santorini Travel Information

On a lighter note, I want you to have an amazing experience on Thira/Santorini so here is some other information you might find helpful when visiting.

Things to Do In Santorini

Going to Oia’s probably on your list so here’s a load of things you can do in Oia village.

Definitely find your way to Santorini’s Pyrgos village. You’ll find whitewashed streets (lots of steps), churches, cute gift shops and some good restaurants with super sunset views at the top. If you’re looking for the best place to see the sunset here are some other suggestions.

These are the days trips I recommend and these are some boat tours you can choose from. My favourite was the kayaking tour.

If you’re avoiding the heat of the high season then check out these hikes to discover Santorini. I have a whole separate post on the Fira to Oia Caldera hike which is bloomin’ stunning.

What to Wear in Santorini

Talking of hot weather, here’s what to wear in Santorini for a happy trip.

You can take it a step further with a fancy dress on one of the flying dress photoshoots.

General Tips for the Greek Islands

If you’re after some useful tips about visiting Greece then I’ve got you covered. Wondering about power in Greece and the adapters you need? And have a peek at this post about the best apps for Greece travel. You might find a couple of useful ones to make your life easier. 

Doing Some Island-Hopping?

First of all here are the best ways to get from Athens to Santorini.

If you want to combine Santorini with some other islands then Thirassia is a 7-minute hop and little Anafi is another neighbour.

For some of the more popular islands, here’s an overview of Naxos and ideas for things to do in Paros.

If you’re going to Mykonos (which is a popular first-time route along with a stop in Athens) then definitely go on the day trip to Delos island.

And finally, I can also give you some pointers on the best Greek airlines for island-hopping.

Probably that’s enough to keep you going for now. But if not, use the menu and search bar to have a look at what else I have. And once again, stay safe!

Should I Rent an ATV in Santorini (Or Any Island)?

Suzie Young

Suzie writes informative posts for solo, nervous or first-time travellers to Greece, Turkey and other countries on her 50-before-50 bucket list. She became a Greek resident in 2020 and intends to visit every inhabited island (13 down!).

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