These car rental Greece tips will help you on your next trip to Greece! If you’re planning on seeing the best of Greece, renting a car in Greece is a good option. Not only does it give you the freedom and flexibility to travel how and when you want, but it also allows you to visit parts of this fantastic country that are difficult to reach.
We’ve rented a car in Greece many times and love being able to do what we want when we want. Public transport can only get you so far, and there are so many fabulous Greek beaches to explore and mountainside towns to see. But what do you need to know if you’re considering renting a car in Greece?
Tips For Renting a Car in Greece
What Do I Need to Rent a Car in Greece?
To rent a car in Greece, you need a standard International driver’s license (A valid US license works). If your license is not in English or Greek, have a translation just in case. It would help if you also were prepared to hand over your passport, but it’s unlikely you’ll be asked. Also, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) may be mandatory depending on where you rent.
We’ve rented a car in Greece without an IDP and had places in Greece require that we have an IDP. If you are from North America, Australia, or outside the EU, you should arrive in Greece with an IDP to be safe. You can get one here if you’re in a hurry. If you get in an accident or are pulled over without an IDP, you may be subject to a steep fine in the EU.
Most car rental companies in Greece will require you to be 21 and hold a license in your home country for a year. If you are under 25, you may face additional charges. It’s best to read all the fine print of your booking before renting a car in Greece.
A Credit Card is Needed to Rent a Car in Greece
You cannot pay for your Greek rental car with cash, so plan on throwing down your travel credit card for the charges. Many will carry car insurance if you have a US credit card, so you don’t have to pay excess charges. More on that later.
Expect a Hold Charge on Your Credit Card With Your Car Rental in Greece
The other reason you need a credit card is the excess charge – or hold a charge. Every one of our fifty or so rental cars around the world has put a hold on our credit card for the rental period. Holds can range anywhere from a few hundred euros to €1000+ in some countries.
Our Greek car rentals have been somewhere in the middle, around €500 for the rental duration. The “excess charge,” as it is called, is typically stated in your reservation details, but it is easy to miss.
We know that they must put this hold on our card, but it can be a huge shocker if you are unsuspecting and end up exceeding your credit card’s credit limit. These excess charges are for scenarios where you disappear with the car and are never seen again or get in a crash and refuse to pay.
Do You Need Car Insurance in Greece?
Do you need to add car insurance to your rental? Many Greek car rental companies will try and convince you to add it on, and if you want to be safe and have peace of mind, it’s not a terrible idea, but I’m going, to be honest – we never do.
Why don’t we add on car insurance? As mentioned above, if you have a US credit card or equivalent in another country, you may already have CDW (collision damage waiver) insurance for rental car coverage, and don’t know!
It’s worth checking your documentation and calling your credit card to find out. It’s even worth considering signing up for a new credit card that does offer this, so you don’t have to pay for ridiculous car rental insurance.
Bringing me to my next point – credit cards with primary rental insurance. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my favorite travel credit card for many reasons, but the primary rental insurance is one of its best perks (including Priority Pass membership). When you put your car hire on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you get primary rental car coverage worldwide for up to $75,000.
That works out great for us since we are nomadic and don’t have a car or home. Car rental companies in Greece and worldwide are notorious for scaring customers and upselling all their insurance packages. You need to make sure if you need it or not before falling victim to their trap. Call your credit card company and always find out before you get to Greece.
If you don’t have a credit card that covers rental car insurance, it may be worth adding it to your package. That way, you won’t be stuck paying for your car hire out of pocket if there is an accident.
The Cost of Renting a Car in Greece
One of the most important car rental Greece tips to know is about the price. It’s now so easy to compare rental car prices online. You’ll find that most of the big rental car companies have rates that end up being pretty close to one another; they keep an eye on the competitor’s prices so they remain competitive. The standard price we’ve paid for a car rental in Greece is around €30 per day. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a little shopping around.
Be careful when looking online, as rental companies use tricks to make prices look lower than they are. The main way they do this is by using a ‘from’ price, with the actual amount you’ll pay only revealed when you’re further into the booking process, and they reckon you won’t bother giving up and going elsewhere. Another trick they have is to show the price excluding tax, which means you’ll have something in the region of a further 24% to add to the headline price on show.
Needless to say, the cost of a smaller car will be lower than renting a larger one. The fewer add-ons (extra drivers, GPS, etc.) you require, the cheaper it will be. I also find that the small, no-name companies will try and rip you off in their fine print – so make sure and read all the details before booking! I love booking with rental companies I’ve heard of like Hertz, Avis, and Sixt.
We traveled around Greece for three weeks and paid about €25 a day for a car rental in Crete, which was a pretty decent deal, in my opinion. Though it all varies by island and the time of year you are traveling. If you are renting a car in Greece in July on Santorini, it’s going to cost more than renting on Corfu in October. I generally like to check comparison sites to get the best prices.
Booking a Rental Car in Greece
Nowadays, booking a rental car in Greece is straightforward before arriving in the country. We think the benefits of doing this are huge. Not only are you ‘guaranteed’ the vehicle you’ve opted for, reducing stress levels, but you’ll be charged less for renting that same vehicle simply because you’ve pre-booked. Walking up and trying to book a car is one of the worst things you can do for your wallet.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to pre-book, don’t worry! Rental agencies rarely run out of vehicles (and if they do, you can just pop next door to a competitor). However, it might mean there’s less choice – something worth bearing in mind if you have specific requirements, such as an automatic.
You’ll also be charged a higher rate for exactly the same vehicle, and you’ll end up spending more time at the desk of the rental company rather than enjoying the start of your vacation. I always warn people to book a car rental at least 24 hours in advance. You can see all my additional tips on renting a car abroad here. Many car rental agencies have loose cancellation policies allowing you to cancel your rental car booking up to 24 hours in advance, so there’s no harm reserving a car rental in Greece well in advance, as you can always cancel later.
Opt for a Return Rental
One way rentals almost always cost more, even in the same city. To save money, you should try and pick up and drop off your car at the same location in Greece.
Choose the Right Rental Car in Greece
Size of Car Rental in Greece
You’re going to want to opt for a smaller car when renting a car in Greece. Why’s that? Greek roads are very narrow, and you’ll see most of the cars are tiny too.
In some places, routes even narrow down to a single twisting lane for both directions of traffic. In this case, you’ll find ‘passing places’ in which to pass each other.
Style of Car Rental in Greece
Another thing you should consider when deciding on what rental car type to opt for is how many people and how much luggage you’ll have. Two-door cars are great for getting about (and really easy to park) but don’t offer much legroom in the back if those seats are going to be used, and obviously also have less space in the trunk for luggage.
It’s best to keep in mind your needs with Greek car rentals. Families of three or four might have a hard time fitting themselves and all their hardside luggage in a small car.
Transmission Type for a Greek Car Rental
Finally, you’ll have the option of a manual or automatic transmission vehicle. Manuals are by far the most common vehicles driven in Greece – it’s where Cameron was forced to learn and drive stick. You’ll have a more extensive choice if you’re happy to drive a manual car in Greece.
They also tend to be cheaper to rent as a result. However, if you’re not comfortable driving a manual transmission and shifting gears yourself, automatics are available too. Just make sure you make this preference absolutely clear when booking because each car lot only has a few automatic available.
Fuel Choices For Car Rentals in Greece
When picking up your rental car in Greece, you need to know what fuel your car requires. Diesel and Unleaded are not interchangeable. Often on rental cars, a sticker will be near the gas cap to remind you of the fuel type.
You need to return your Greek rental car with the same amount of fuel you were given. Don’t show up with less, as the rental car agency will charge you to fill it back at an astronomical rate.
Gas stations can be few and far between in many Greek destinations, and many do not stay open at all hours. Unless you’re in a city like Athens or Thessaloniki, don’t plan on filling up at midnight.
Gas is costly in Greece. At the time of writing, it’s about €1.90 per liter. Both gas and diesel are sold by the liter, and gas stations can be self-service or serviced. You may have a problem paying with credit cards around Greece, so make sure you have the cash to pay for gas.
Opt For Navigation
GPS is brilliant for when you’re driving along unknown roads. There’s no doubt about it in our opinion. Having a GPS kit (generally referred to as Satellite Navigation or SatNav) focus on navigation means you can concentrate on driving without reading every road sign you pass.
Navigation systems are also useful because they can provide alternative routes, should they be needed, and take you around congestion hotspots. The most modern versions will indicate the road’s speed limit too.
That’s not to say you need to get the GPS add-on with a rental car. If you have a cell phone with a local SIM contract or eSim, you’ll be able to access the data network, which means you can use smartphone navigation apps such as Google Maps.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a local sim car and don’t want to spend lots of cash on international roaming, you can download a Google Map to your phone while on WiFi of the area you’ll be driving in. If you forget to do this, you might have to wait until you get to your hotel and use their WiFi to download a map.
Using a cell phone when driving in Greece is not permitted to make calls or send/receive SMS text messages. You can use your smartphone for navigation purposes, but it must be hands-free only (such as safely stowed on the windscreen), and you must not program navigation while the vehicle’s engine is running. However, if I’m honest, you’ll see many Greeks driving erratically, and police are few and far between. So always be careful driving.
Inspect Your Rental Car in Greece
This is an essential car rental Greece tip! The rental car agent will often ask if you’d like them to show you around the vehicle or whether you’re happy to do it yourself. Though often in Greece, they have a chill attitude and won’t offer their service unless you ask.
Before driving off the lot, you need to go over your Greek rental car. If they don’t show you around, do a thorough inspection yourself and note anything and everything. The agent will generally start with the outside of the vehicle, pointing out any existing bumps or scratches, and ensure all the damages are noted. This will also assure you of the roadworthiness of the vehicle.
On the inside of the vehicle, ensure you know how to operate the headlights, indicator lights, and hazard lights before leaving the parking bay. You should also know the location of the windscreen wipers, as well as the horn.
Make sure you know how to alter the position of the driver’s seat, how the parking brake works (is it a traditional manual one you pull up or a newer electronic one), and how to engage reverse gear (which often requires you to push a button of some sort first). They will also help you set up the GPS if you’ve opted for one.
Remember that if you’re unhappy with anything you see, you should insist on an alternative vehicle if you find cigarette burns, broken mirrors, or windshield cracks. These need to be noted before you leave the parking lot. Otherwise, you could be charged for the damages once you return the rental.
Get Travel Insurance
Protect yourself from theft, injury, illness, or the unexpected. Heymondo has great short-term travel insurance plans!
Distances and Speeds in Greece
Distances and speeds are measured in kilometers in Greece. The speed limit is usually signposted on each new stretch of road or change in speed. In the cities, the speed limit is usually slow at 50 km/hr. Open roads speed up to 80km/hr, and highways are usually 100 km/hr, but keep your eyes on the signs.
In Greece, vehicles drive on the right side of the way. The passing lane, if there is one, is the middle lane. It’s worth noting that speed limits are limits, not targets; only drive as fast as feels safe.
I find most Greek locals to drive insanely fast and careless on scary narrow roads. Don’t follow their lead and try and stay out of their way.
Driving in Greece
If it’s your first time driving in a foreign country, Greece may make your head spin. Drivers drive fast and often carelessly, the roads are winding, narrow, and full of potholes.
Though if you take the necessary precautions, you’ll enjoy driving in Greece. A few things to remember:
- Always be aware of everything going on around you.
- Be alert for rockslides and rocks on the road.
- Watch out for people driving on the wrong side of the road – I’m serious!
- Don’t have Ouzu and Drive!
- Many roads have a shoulder lane, and if you are driving slow, you should (and are expected) to drive in it. This allows for those fast drivers to pass you. You’ll get a lot of angry stares and honks if you don’t! You’ll catch on soon if you aren’t practicing this unspoken rule. Drivers behind you will soon start to flash their lights at you, signaling you to move over.
- Look both ways before crossing the road. Just because a light turns red doesn’t mean a driver will stop.
- Watch out for goats, sheep, and pigs in the middle of the mountain roads.
- Many of the roads around the Greek coast are hairpin bends on mountain roads. The scariest one we drove on was down to Stefanou Beach in Crete. Take these roads slowly. The GPS usually doesn’t accommodate these roads, which can mean travel times take longer.
- Wear your seatbelt! This should go without saying, but wear your seatbelt at all times.
Scooters and Mopeds in Greece
It’s important to watch out for locals and tourists driving scooters and mopeds around Greece. A motorbike is a trendy way to drive around Greece; you’ll find them everywhere. Remember, they should be treated with the same respect that you treat a car. The mopeds also drive a bit erratically, so don’t be surprised if they suddenly pull out in front of you!
Renting a Car in Greece for Island Hopping
If you are traveling the Greek islands you’ll find that most islands – even the smaller ones – have rental car agencies. Some of the more touristy islands, like Milos or Paros have internationally recognized brands to rent from, like Hertz and Sixt. While some islands like Tinos only have local car companies.
Do your research and figure out day rates on the local islands. We have found it’s often cheaper and less hassle to rent a car on one of the larger “more mainstream” islands, and then take that car on the ferry to the other smaller islands.
Yes, we have to pay more to bring that car on ferries, but the convenience of not fussing with renting a new car at every destination we go to outweighs that cost. Plus, we have found that the smaller the island (and less competition there is) the higher the price.
Should You Rent a Car in Greece?
You have many options to get around Greece. Public transport is OKAY, not great, not terrible – just okay. The other DIY ways are a moped, 4×4, or a rental car. Although people drive a bit crazy, we find rental car is the best way to get around.
You’ll miss a lot if you have to always rely on public transport. We were able to make the most out of our time in Greece and see so much BECAUSE of a rental car. I highly recommend having one.
Greek Travel Planning Resources
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Yasou” and “Efharisto”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: Schengen visa. Which is 90 days in the European Union out of 180. Many nationalities are granted this on arrival for free. Check with your embassy to see if that is you.
- Weather: The weather in Greece is a Mediterranean climate. This means winters are mild and rainy, while summers are warm and dry with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
- What to Pack: Warm weather clothes and a swimsuit, don’t forget a good pair of clothes to go and a jacket for cool nights. Read about what to wear in Greece.
- Budget: If you’re in the initial stages of planning, check out our awesome post that breaks down how much a trip to Greece costs.
- Rent a Car: We suggest most visitors consider renting a car for the best trip possible. Try Discover Cars to compare quotes from different rental agencies. Check Price Here!
- Protect Your Trip: Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance! We always carry travel insurance to protect us from injury, theft, or a canceled trip. We use HeyMondo for our insurance needs.
- Tours in Greece: Check out our list of the best tours you can enjoy in Greece!
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
READ MORE GREECE TRAVEL TIPS
I hope you enjoyed this guide on renting a car in Greece! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Greece!