The Guide to Car Rental In Greece
Over the years, we have noticed that people ask many of the same questions when it comes to driving and renting a car in Greece.
So, whether you are planning a vacation in Greece, putting together a road trip based on Greek Mythology, or want to explore the lesser-known areas of the Peloponnese peninsula, these FAQs and Answers should help you.
If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, then please get in touch. We would love to help!
I would like to explore Greece with my family. Shall I use Public Transport, Rent a Car, or Private Transfer?
There is no right or wrong answer to that question as all three options, namely renting a car, using public transfer, and using private transfer, have cons and pros.
The short answer to that question is IT DEPENDS on your family budget, your family interests needs, and ages of kids, the duration of your vacation, how many places you would like to visit but most importantly. your comfort zone.
If budget allows, we recommend either renting a car or using private transfers as using public transport will be very tiring for kids and time-consuming.
We recommend that you read our article about the pros and cons of car hire in Greece and using private transfer.
Why rent a car with my family in Greece?
Car rental in Greece is a great idea for families who want to discover more of the area they are visiting and get a sense of living like a local. It is convenient, more affordable compared to private transfer, and enables you to see things your family likes that you might otherwise miss.
Greece is a relatively small country with lots of amazing historical sites, picturesque villages, stunning beaches, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cities. Renting a car during your family vacation in Greece will give you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and shape your own itinerary based on your kids schedule and interests.
All you have to do is rent the right car, do your homework in terms of itinerary, follow the driving rules and review our driving and car rental tips highlighted in this article.
DRIVING REQUIREMENTS AND LEGISLATION
How old do you need to be to rent a car in Greece?
To rent a car in Greece, you must be at least 21 years old and you must have held your driving license for at least 12 months, regardless of your age. Bear in mind that some Greek rental companies require 2 years. It is not uncommon that the minimum age may vary by car category.
Some car rental companies in Greece might charge extra if the driver who is renting a car is under 25 years old. The oldest you can be for your car rental in Greece is 70 years old (for some companies it is 75).
What driving license do I need to have in order to rent a car in Greece?
European Union (EU) residents just need the own EU driving license when driving in Greece.
Residents from other countries will need an International Driving License (IDP). This is an officially translated Driving License in different languages and it is valid for 12 months.
If you are a US citizen, you must get an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Learn How to Apply for an IDP | International Driving Permit. Make sure you always carry also your original driving license. The validity of IDP is 12 months.
An IDP or IDL is easily obtained in your home country before you travel to Greece. Your rental car company will ask you for this when renting the car, so make sure to get it before you travel.
Do I need a Credit Card?
When renting a car, apart from your EU driving license, your international driving license, or IDP, you will be asked to show your passport and your credit card. Bear in mind that most car rental companies in Greece do not accept debit cards.
Most Greek car rental companies need your credit card to secure the booking and will take a provisional deposit in case of any car damage upon return. Your card will not be charged if there are no issues when you return the vehicle.
What is the legislation in terms of Car Seats in Greece?
It is compulsory to have a car seat for your infant/ child in Greece. You have two options in case you are considering of hiring a car:
- You bring your own car seat with you or
- You get one from the car rental company
Depending on the car rental company, you might be charged an extra charge if you would like to get a car seat from the rental company. Make sure that you let the rental company know about the age, height and weight of your child before booking your car.
At the time of publishing this article, the following rules applied. Please make sure that you double-check the legislation at your time of travel.
- Kids under 3 years of age need to be within child restraint when traveling by car.
- Kids under 135cm and aged between 3-11 must use an appropriate child restraint,
- Kids over 12+ years of age (provided they are over 1.35m in height) can sit with just an adult seatbelt as a restraint.
- The airbag must be deactivated if placing a rear-facing infant in the front passenger seat.
Shall I bring my own car seat or get one from the car rental?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by our client. Our answer is always IT DEPENDS! Here is why:
- Contact your airline company and ask if there is an extra charge if you bring your own car seat on the plane. Ask how much shall surcharge is.
- Contact the car rental company and ask the same question.
- Compare the two answers.
If your family trip is not going to be exclusively a self-driving trip, it might be cheaper not to bring your own car seat.
Also, make sure that if you will be picked up from the airport/ port, the transfer company will have the appropriate car seat for your child.
USEFUL TIPS ABOUT DRIVING IN GREECE
Driving in Greece: general guidelines
- In Greece, all vehicles are driven on the right side of the road.
- Overtake on the left, and never overtake on a bend. Try to keep overtaking to a minimum if possible, as Greece is quite mountainous.
- You are required by law to wear a seatbelt at all times.
- Traffic coming from your right side has priority unless there is a stop sign on that road.
- Greek roundabouts can be very confusing as priority often changes as you drive around. If the approach road does not have a stop sign, traffic on the roundabout has to give way. If the approach road does have a stop sign, traffic already on the roundabout has priority.
- The legal alcohol limits for driving in Greece are very low, at 0.05% (0.25mg per liter of your breath). For drivers who have held their license for under two years, the limit is lower, at 0.02% (0.10mg per liter of your breath).
Gas (petrol) stations in Greece
- You will have no problem locating a gas (petrol) station in Greece if you are in the city or a large town. That said, you might have some difficulties in locating a gas station in rural areas, including on the smaller Greek islands. Try to plan ahead and keep an eye on the tank.
- The majority of gas stations in Greece do not offer self-service (with the exception of a few in Athens)
- Most petrol stations accept credit cards, but not all of them.
- During the weekend, most petrol stations (especially in rural areas) are open from 7 am to 7 pm. In Rural areas, gas stations might be closed on Sundays.
- Always return your car rental with a full tank of fuel.
There are two main toll roads in Greece; the first is from Athens to Thessaloniki (E75) and the second is from Athens to the Peloponnese (8).
There are multiple toll booths on both toll roads so many sure that you have enough cash with you. Each toll is between EUR1-4. Tolls from Athens to Thessaloniki EUR40.
What are the roads like in Greece?
Mainland: The main roads are mostly in very good condition, aligned with international standards, and are sealed. Once you leave the main roads and followed the secondary roads, you may encounter some bad quality roads, with poor signage.
Make sure you have studied the itinerary before, do not hesitate to ask your hotel concierge and even request the help of locals, in case you get lost.
Islands: Remember that Greek islands are mountainous and roads might have lots of beds and curves. Drive safely.
From all islands, Crete, as the largest one, has the main highway that connects the north east to the north west parts. There are multiple secondary roads that connect the south to the north.
Is it safe to drive in Athens?
This is a great question! To visitors from the USA, Athens, in particular, may seem to have a somewhat aggressive, chaotic feel to it when it comes to driving. Parking is another problem!
We would suggest avoiding driving in the center when at all possible and using public transport such as the excellent metro system instead.
Outside of Athens, you should aim to be aware at all times, and be prepared for tight switchback roads leading up and down the mountains.
Parking can be difficult in Athens and other big cities. Make sure that you only park in marked bays and adhere to the instructions displayed. If in doubt, ask a local for help.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN RENTING A CAR IN GREECE
What type of car should I rent?
You should choose a vehicle based on the type of family vacation you are planning in Greece. In general, the type of car that you need depends on the size of your family, your luggage, your itinerary and your personal preference.
For example, if you are staying in just one hotel, and need a car only for a few day trips in the area, a smaller, less expensive vehicle will be fine. in addition, we recommend that you rent a smaller car if you are planning to visit large towns/ cities as parking and navigating the small roads will be significantly easier.
However, if you are planning a long road trip in Greece and need to take all your luggage with you, you should ensure that it has adequate space for passengers and suitcases.
In general, we recommend that you consider renting a more comfortable car such as an SUV so that you drive to more remote areas including secluded beaches. Also, an SUV is handy if you are planning a family trip to a mountaneous area in Greece as you might go off-road.
In any case, shop around online for the best offer.
Automatic or Manual?
The vast majority of cars in Greece are manual/stick-shift. If you have never driven a manual car before, we would suggest that Greece is not the place to learn!
If you prefer an automatic car rental in Greece, contact Kids Love Greece, and we can arrange one for you. During busy times, it might be challenging to find an automatic car.
Get a GPS
We recommend that you consider getting a GPS. You can always use your cell phone, however, make sure that the cost of using international mobile data is reasonable.
Consider renting a GPS in case you are travelling in rural areas as mobile coverage might be poor.
Gas versus Diesel Rental Cars in Greece
Gas (petrol) cars are more popular than diesel in Greece, however, the popularity of diesel cars is on increase as diesel is considerably cheaper than petrol in Greece.
We recommend that you request a diesel car if available when renting a car as you will have some cost savings.
Should I book a car in advance or when I arrive?
We highly recommend that you rent a car in advance when traveling with your family.
There are many online search engines specializing in car rentals that will allow you to find the most suitable car rental for your family vacation in Greece. See below a list of benefits of booking in advance your car rental in Greece:
- It will be faster: no need for the whole family to wait in line in the airport/ port, while you are completing the paperwork
- You can request in advance the appropriate car seat as well as a GPS system
- It is a guarantee that the car of your choice will be available
- You have time to decide what type of insurance you will need
- You have plenty of time to shop around for the best deals
What type of insurance shall I get?
Primarily, there are two major types of insurance when renting a car in Greece: Collision Damage Waiver and Super Collision Damage Waiver.
The most comprehensive of all is the Super Collision Damage, however, it is more expensive. We highly recommend that you choose that one when traveling to Greece with your family, as you are fully covered in case of an accident. However, make sure that you ask for the deductible in advance.
Air conditioning is a must!
Make sure that your car rental has a good air conditioning system, if you are visiting Greece during summer. Make sure that you test it works well when you rent a car.
I am picking up my car rental. What should I check?
When picking your car rental, use the following checklist:
- Thoroughly check the car and make sure that there are no previous scratches/damages in the car (including under the car). If there are a few, take a picture and notify the car rental company.
- Ask the type of fuel that the specific car uses.
- Make sure that you take notes of the tank level. Ask about the expectations when you drop off the vehicle in terms of the tank.
- Ask for the telephone number of roadside assistance in case of an accident. Make sure that you know exactly when and where you are dropping off the car. In case you decide to keep the car a bit longer, ask for the phone number you should call to ask for an extension (ask what such an extra charge will be).
- In case of a car accident (even minor), call the police.
Which are the emergency numbers in Greece?
If you are using a foreign mobile phone in Greece, the only three-digit emergency number that works is the main one (112).
Emergency & Important Numbers:
Greece’s country code 30
Emergency Assistance 112
Police 100 or 210 770 5711
Tourist Police 171 or 210 920 0724
I want to explore multiple Greek islands by car. What do you recommend?
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive about renting a car in Greece is whether you should take a rental car onto the island car ferries and do island hopping.
Although there are many ferries that can carry cars, we do not recommend island hopping by car in Greece mainly because of:
- It is more expensive than renting a car on each island
- Not all ferries carry cars meaning that you have less flexibility when doing you island hopping
- You need to be at the port 60 minutes before the ferry departure as it gets busy
- Those ferries that carry cars are typically less fast than the high speed
- For efficiency reasons, you might want to fly to islands such as Corfu, Rhodes, or Crete as they are all away from the mainland
- You might need to pay a surcharge to the car rental company as many times insurance does not cover potential damages on the car while on the ferry
- Pick up and drop off at different locations can be restrictive as not all car rental companies have offices on multiple islands
In case you decide to take your car rental on a ferry, make sure that you book in advance. One of the best sites to book your ferry rides in Greece is Ferry Hopper.
Where can I rent a car in Greece?
Rental Car Companies That Operate in Greece / Rental car companies serve Greece in 2021:
You can rent a car in virtually any large town or city throughout Greece, including the islands. Cars can be collected from airports, delivered to your hotel, or picked up from the rental company themselves.
There are countless car rental companies in Greece offering services for visitors all year round. We highly recommend that you pre-book your rental car in Greece in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you arrive with your family!
Big international car rental companies such as Sixt, Thrifty Rent a Car, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Avis, Budget operate in Greece. There are also some local rent-a-car companies which are equally reliable.
To get a quote for a rental car in Greece by either contact each of the companies or use a service such as rentalcars.com
Which car rental companies are in the main Greek Airports?
How can Kids Love Greece help you with your car rental in Greece?
Kids Love Greece has partnered with several car rental companies and has also created some family-friendly self-drive road-trip itineraries to help plan your driving holiday in Greece.
Contact us for more details.
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