15 Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Santorini

21Santorini we all know it more or less: it is the home of romantic holidays, breathtaking sunsets, churches with blue domes and cities and that “Greek” style par excellence that makes its villages particularly characteristic.

To visit Santorini at its best, car rental is the best choice: it will give you the opportunity to be free, to explore what you want at your own pace, to stop to take a photograph and to discover all that this wonderful island has to offer.

Before renting a car in Santorini, however, read this post, so you will be sure that it is the best choice you can make: driving in Santorini is easy and convenient, even if some roads may be a bit narrow (hey I guys are of Genoa) the conditions are quite good and the driving standard is still high.


1 - Best car rental site: Rentalcars.com

2 - Best site for car rental without credit card: Santorini Rent a Car (In English)

3 - Check all the condizioni before renting the car

4 - Check the car before taking it over and if possible with the attendant (who will mark any damage and lines already present on the car on a sheet)

5 - When you leave her check out not having left anything inside

6 - When you leave it, check the car for damage with the attendant, if the attendant is not there take pictures

  • 1 - Is it better to rent a car in Santorini?
  • 2 - How to book the rental car
  • 3 - Car rental without credit card
  • 4 - Choose the rental car
  • 5 - Car rental at the airport
  • 6 - Car rental at the ferry port
  • 7 - Rental requirements and eligibility
  • 8 - Standards of the roads
  • 9 - Car parking
  • 10 - Traffic
  • 11 - Fuel
  • 12 - Navigation
  • 13 - Tolls
  • 14 - Take a rental car to other islands
  • 15 - Useful tips before leaving your rental car

1 - Is it better to rent a car in Santorini?

Santorini is gorgeous and there are tons of things to do scattered around the island. Okay, you might just want to be on the beach, but there are so many beaches in Santorini that in this case you could visit a different one every day.

Precisely for this reason, most visitors to Santorini rent a car, quad or scooter to get around the island.

ATTENTION: someone asked me if it is better car or scooter rental. Even though I have a scooter at my house and I always use it when I travel for safety reasons I always prefer the car!

Although the island is quite small, going from one side to the other on a scooter can get tiring.

In addition, it is really convenient to take the car at the airport and leave it there again when leaving, while with the scooter and suitcases it becomes a little more complex.

If you read this blog you know how addicted I am to public transport: in this case, however, even if it remains an option that you can evaluate, I would recommend it only if accommodation in Fira.

Fira is the center (better the hub) of Santorini's bus system and from here you can find direct buses to virtually every part of the island.

But if you are staying in Imerovigli or Oia, you don't find direct buses so you have to take a bus first to Fira and then another bus to, say, Kamari beach or Akrotiri or Perissa.

Taking the bus therefore becomes a huge waste of energy and time (above all), not to mention that in summer it is very hot!

That said, the biggest advantage of having a rental car in Santorini is that you can visit off-the-beaten-path places at your own pace and going where the road inspires you.

Plus car rental It also allows you to save on the cost of transfers from the airport to your accommodation (this is something that is not considered, but the transfer can sometimes involve quite significant costs)

2 - How to book the rental car

Rent a car in Santorini it is relatively cheap. Do some research before booking, so I recommend hiring the car before arriving there so that you can compare all prices.

By booking online in advance among other things, you save a lot.

I always use Rentalcars.com to book my cars around the world: actually Rentalcars is a price comparator between the various rental companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, etc etc etc) and finds you, with the same vehicle and dates, the best offers.

Booking is easy and safe. Just go on the Rentalcars website at this link, enter the dates of when you want to pick up and leave the car and where you want to pick it up.

Once you click on the button, Rentalcars will provide you the list of available options. You can also insert filters to refine your search, or sort the results by price, best offers and more.

Always remember, before proceeding with the booking to read the terms and conditions carefully, you will find them under each car. Rentalcars also tells you which company you are booking with:

By clicking on Terms and conditions, you will find lots of more information, for example what is included and what is not in the rental price, Insurance, Covers and Limits of Liability, what documents you will need for the collection of the car etc etc etc.

At this point you can proceed with the selection of your car and complete the booking by entering the required data in the booking fields.

3 - Car rental without credit card

There are some rental companies that allow you to rent a car in Santorini without a credit card: one of them is Santorini Rent a Car, which was highly recommended to me, but there are others.

Su Santorini Rent a Car a security deposit and no advance payment is also not required: you can settle your account in cash, by credit or debit card, upon delivery of the car.

However, this company cannot be found (at the moment 2021) on Rentalcars as I suggested before, so you will have to rent the car directly with the company even if the site and the booking process are currently only in Greek and English.

4 - Choose the rental car

In Santorini, the smaller the car, the better. There are many winding roads on the island and it is easier to squeeze into tight parking lots.

Obviously the size of the car depends on how many people you are, on the budget available, on special needs (for example families with small children and strollers)

A small car, however, attracts less attention, consumes less and, unless you have special needs, does its job like a larger car.

I recommend this is one very important thing: when you collect the car, always check, together with the rental employee, for any damage to the bodywork and, if present, take photographs. When you return the car, in case you are challenged with a line, you can always prove that when you picked up the car the line was already there and then contest if they ask you to pay the damage.

5 - Car rental at the airport

If you decide to rent a car at the airport, it will be very easy to collect the car through the kiosks present since the airport of Santorini is quite small.

Santorini Airport is only a 10-minute drive from Fira. About 15 minutes from Imerovigli. And 25 minutes from Oia.

Renting a car from the airport will save you the cost of taking a taxi or transfer. When flights arrive, taxis are scarce and waits can be long.

Car rental companies offering cars from Santorini Airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz and Enterprise. Their desks are located in the arrivals hall of the airport terminal. The desks are well equipped and there is hardly ever a line to collect the car.

6 - Car rental at the ferry port

Visitors arriving by ferry should consider always picking up their rental car at the airport and not at the port as you might think.

The main problem of renting the car at the Athinios ferry port is that when a ferry arrives a bit of chaos is generated and therefore it may not be easy to find the agency's contact with your car in the crowd.

There are also some car rental companies located directly at the ferry port. In my experience, when you rent from these companies they will drive you to their customer service center somewhere on the island.

Another reason why I don't recommend taking the car to the port is that the road leading up the cliff, as well as being winding, is also packed with traffic, including the big tour buses so if you're not used to it. you may find some difficulty.

When you arrive at the ferry port, take a direct bus or taxi to the airport (approximately 20 minutes). The airport is located in the center of the island and from there it is much easier to go in the right direction whether you are staying in Oia, Fira, Imerovigli or near one of the beaches on the island.

7 - Rental requirements and eligibility

Some of the rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old and have had their driving license for more than a year.

Some companies charge a surcharge for renters under the age of 25. With others, on the other hand, you can rent a car from the age of 19. This is why it is important that you always read all the terms and conditions before making your reservation.

Greek law requires license holders from a number of countries to present one international driving license along with their driving license, but this is not true for country tourists Europeans: in practice we can book the car by simply presenting our driving license.

8 - Standards of the roads

Olinchuk's image on

The main roads are generally in reasonable condition, I've put one up here map with the bigger streets. Some smaller roads can be bumpy and have a few potholes, but no problem, just remember to go slower.

The streets of Santorini are often quiet outside the cities and with decent pavement, some are narrow, but nothing that you cannot cope with in peace.

However there are some points that can only be reached via dirt roads such as Eros Beach o Mesa Pigadia - in this case remember or check before your rental includes insurance for any damage, or that assistance covers you, otherwise you will have to pay out of your own pocket.

If you still look at the map above, you can see why I recommend renting a car rather than a scooter or quad bike. Although the island is small, in case you have to go from Oia to Akrotiri, look how far you have to go, you will arrive tired!

9 - Car parking

There are a lot of free parking spaces in Santorini. There are car parks in most towns and villages.

Street parking is also allowed as long as you don't block the street - if you're unsure, stay in areas where others are parked!

Contrary to what I've read around, parking in Santorini can be tricky to find, especially in cliffside villages.

Do not try to find a place in the villages, the best thing is to check where the large parking lots are located outside and go directly there: you can then visit the villages by walking into them, they are usually quite small and you will not have to walk much.

The same thing happens in the most touristic points of the island such as the red beach.

Obviously, parking and the ease with which it is located also depend on the period. The most critical period are obviously the months between June and September, those of the high season.

10 - Traffic

Il traffic in cities it is often stuck and requires a lot of patience. The worst traffic is generally in Oia at sunset and around the harbor when ships and ferries arrive and depart.

Consequently, be sure to leave plenty of time if you want to go to Oia at sunset or if you are taking a boat off the island.

One thing to absolutely watch out for when driving in Santorini are the scooters and quads whizzing around the streets here and there. You have to be really careful, especially in the high season months.

11 - Fuel

Il fuel it is expensive in Santorini but as the island is relatively small it is unlikely that you will spend a lot on refueling.

12 - Navigation

Google Maps it worked fine and app helped us a lot during our stay in Santorini.

13 - Tolls

There are no toll roads in Santorini.

14 - Take a rental car to other islands

Most rental companies do not allow you to take your rental car outside of Santorini. However, it may be possible to rent a car in Greece continental and take it with you to the islands.

In my personal opinion, however, it is not convenient. First of all, the drop-off of the car in a place other than where you picked it up could have large additional costs.

Then loading the car on the ferries is possible, but it costs and it seems to me a rather useless thing since on every island you can find a rental car, a scooter or a quad.

15 - Useful tips before leaving your rental car

I end this article with some advice "before" you leave your rental car and take the plane (or the ferry).

1 - Make sure you haven't left your items in the car or personal effects (common to find hats, sunglasses, or small bags)

2 - Check it out with the attendant to whom you leave the car the condition of the bodywork and maybe take some pictures to be sure that in the future you will not be charged for damages that you have not caused.

3 - Make sure you have paid and received the documents that certify it.

4 - Remember to return your car on time to avoid additional costs. If you booked your car until 11am on Sunday, do not show up at the rental office at 00pm. The agency will have the right to add additional costs to you. Remember that even keeping the car for an extra hour means booking it for a whole day! If the agency is, let's say inelastic to put it mildly, they might charge you another full day!

So, be on time!


1 - Best car rental site: Rentalcars.com

2 - Best site for car rental without credit card: Santorini Rent a Car (In English)

3 - Check all the condizioni before renting the car

4 - Check the car before taking it over and if possible with the attendant (who will mark any damage and lines already present on the car on a sheet)

5 - When you leave her check out not having left anything inside

6 - When you leave it, check the car for damage with the attendant, if the attendant is not there take pictures

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