Unless you’ve got the patience to barter with taxi drivers.
Wendy spent 12 days traveling through the Greek islands.
You may think Santorini is an island, and why would you need to rent a car? But, taxis require mad bartering skills. Unless you’ve got the patience, renting a car can make your relaxing escape easier and far more efficient.
Why you should rent a car.
Since Fira is the region that contains the most public (bus) transport system, renting a car is well worth it if you’re not staying in Fira. Fira has many bus option that can take you to Oia, Kamari, Imerovigli, or Perissa. But many routes require up to four changes, and don’t forget to double that for the return trips.
Don’t rent a car if…
You plan on staying in the hotel, lounging by the pool.
Tips & tricks when renting your car.
If you’re booking ahead of time, then arrange airport pickup from the car rental company so that you don’t have to wait in the taxi line after getting out of the airport.
You don’t need to book a rental car ahead of time, there are many affordable options on the spot. Just ask your hotel, or Airbnb host (which is what we did.)
If you have an EU drivers license, then you’re fine. Other than that, you “technically” need an International Drivers License. But we were told that our US drivers licenses were fine and there were hardly any police or cops in Santorini. It’s up to you either you want to be safe than sorry!
Most cars in Greece have standard transmission (manual.) If you only drive automatic, then consider booking in advance since those cars tend to run low during high season.
If you’re traveling between June – September, then booking in advance is highly recommended.
Take photos of your car with your phone before the rental guy leaves you with the car, or before you leave the rental company.
When you return the car, someone from the rental company should technically come to check the condition of the vehicle. But you may also be asked to simply park the car in a designated parking lot, then leave the keys inside the car. Sounds sketchy, but it seems to be a normal process.
Many opt to ride ATVs or scooters on the island, but word on the street is: the experience gets old after the first two days. Not to mention, you might get hurt.
If you’re arriving at Athinios ferry port…
Then we highly recommend getting a taxi to the rental car company, since the ferry is typically crowded. In addition, the road getting out of the port is extremely narrow with major curves along the cliff. So it can be quite dangerous to drive the twisty route as soon as you get off the boat.
Another option is to pick up your car at the Santorini airport even if you’re arriving at the ferry port. The airport has numerous kiosks which makes getting your car easier.
If you’re arriving at Santorini airport…
Then arrange airport pickup with your rental company ahead of time, because it’s easier without having to wait at the long taxi line. There’s no Uber, so taxis are your best bet.
How to rent a car.
If you’re booking ahead of time, most major car rental companies will have websites for Santorini car rentals.
If you’re booking while you’re in Santorini, then either ask your hotel for a recommended company or ask your Airbnb host. Locals seem to always have a friend who knows someone with rental cars.
Photos: Wendy Hung