Greece is a great country to travel on your own. Somehow we ourselves rented a car on the island of Rhodes, but we entrusted the author Anna with writing a detailed review about car rental in Greece: she has much more experience (and beautiful photos).
What you need to know about car rental in Greece and what is the best way to do it now — when our bank cards are useless for paying on foreign aggregator sites like RentalCars?
Which car did I drive in Greece?
I have been to Greece many times, and the last one was just recently. In March, I made a 9-day trip from Athens to the beauties of the Peloponnese peninsula on Peugeot. And then I spent the weekend on the island of Santorini, where, thanks to a small Toyota, I managed to see almost everything in two days.
My favorite brands that repeatedly met expectations on trips:
- VW Polo with a 1.2 TSI gasoline engine – a universal traveler's car in all countries, traction is excellent for mountain serpentines, there is a roomy trunk;
- Toyota Aygo – has all the advantages of a “Japanese”: reliability and convenience;
- Peugeot 208 is a good alternative, tested by time and various climatic conditions.
With all these models in practice – that is, on Greek roads – I met thanks to the Localrent car rental site. I recommend it even now, because Russian guys are behind the service, and they retained the ability to book a car using a Visa, Mastercard or Mir issued in the Russian Federation.
What rights/documents do I need to rent a car?
A new type of Russian driver's license is suitable for renting a car in Greece. A driver's license must be accompanied by a passport. In general, it must be said that the Greeks are favorable to our tourists, and personally I have never had any difficulties. No IDL needed.
Driver age requirements in Greece are common: the minimum age for renting is most often 21 years old (sometimes 23), driving experience from 1 year. For an additional fee (on average from 5 to 10 euros per day), companies can also provide cars for younger drivers.
To rent large cars and luxury cars, the age must be at least 25–26 years. Most often, the second driver fits into the rental agreement for free, but there may also be an additional fee of 5-10 euros per day.
What is the cheapest way to rent a car in Greece? Services and hacks
I'll start right away with the important thing: how to book a car in Greece now and at the same time NOT worry about possible problems now, such as:
1) the rental site will reject the Russian card;
2) on the spot for the deposit or a deposit for the car will require a credit card (which, if any, is not valid abroad).
This summer in Sicily, we were left without a car for exactly these reasons. But in Greece, car rental is different: the LocalRent service works here. It has many advantages, which I will talk about later, but the main thing is that it allows you to reserve a car with a Russian bank card, and give the principal amount and deposit when receiving a car in cash.
If everything so wonderful, why did we travel by bus in Italy? It's simple: Localrent rents cars only in 15 countries, and Italy is not one of them. But Greece – yes, use it.
In general, if you do not take into account the payment methods available or inaccessible to certain tourists, then you can book a car in Greece on your own in two ways: from local distributors or through international agencies such as Hertz, Alamo and others. I used to alternate these two methods depending on how much time I have to choose a car.
Method one is through small local rental agencies or through international agencies online or on arrival.
Rarely will anyone wander through a hundred Greek sites (in Greek) in search of a good price on a car. Therefore, there are also aggregators for communication with local rentals:
- The already mentioned LocalRent service is the best option today, because it still accepts Russian bank cards. It works on an advance payment system (the balance is in cash on the spot). Here are the best Greek distributors.
- The RentalCars service is also good, it’s just for large international rentals, but sometimes it also captures small ones. However, only suitable for those who have a foreign bank card.
VW UP we took in Rhodes the whole island
Offices of international car rental companies – Avance, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Sixt – are located at airports, as well as in major tourist centers. If you have not booked a car in advance, then you can do it upon arrival (but in the high season, alas, there is no guarantee of a car).
Pros of this method:
+ Reliability. You book a car with a company that cares about its image and level of services, monitors the condition of the cars.
+ Support. In case of emergency, they really answer the phone around the clock.
+ You can choose the appropriate insurance plan.
+ Free cancellation. In case of unforeseen circumstances, you will not have to pay anything if you cancel your reservation no later than 24 hours before pickup.
Cons of this method:
— Deposit. If you book a car through the website of an international company, then you will need the data of a valid card (alas, not a Russian one) and the required amount on the account for a deposit. But when booking a car on Localrent, this deposit can be left in cash.
— The cost will be slightly higher. The price includes service and guarantees “at the level”.
The second method is in local offices, backed up by a personal visit.
If your vacation is not soon, and you want to REALLY get confused with the choice of a car among local car rental companies, and maybe book cheaper without deposits and bank cards, then you can try the old fashioned way.
To do this, you need to open the Greek yellow pages vrisko.gr, select the desired locality where you plan to rent and make a template mailing list in English with information:
- when and for how long you are planning a trip;
- where you want to pick up and return the car (at the airport or at the hotel);
- request an offer for these dates.
Pros of this method:< /strong>
+ Savings. The cost of rent per day is lower than that of giants in international relations by 5 (or even 10) euros. It is possible and even necessary to bargain and ask for a discount – Greece is an eastern country after all.
+ A minimum of documents when booking. 2 out of 3 local Greek car rental companies will agree to keep a car for you without a deposit and bank card details (especially relevant in 2022). You can formally confirm your serious intentions to rent a car by sending a copy of your air tickets/VU/international passport.
Disadvantages of this method:
– A cat in a bag. There is always a chance that you will come across an unscrupulous distributor who will bring to the airport the wrong car that you agreed on. This happened to me once in Cyprus, where they brought a car beaten literally from all sides, and demanded a deposit of 500 euros in cash for it. Of course, I had to look for another car on the spot.
— English. You need at least minimal communication skills on it.
– There is one favorite divorce in local offices. This is when, upon receiving the car, the manager, having studied your rights, sighs sadly and reports that, in fact, Greece needs an IDP. Without them, rent is not possible. But only for you and only today, in order not to spoil your vacation, you can pay another 100-200 euros and pick up the car. This is not so – in Greece, car rental is allowed and legalized according to the national laws of other countries.
Prices for car rental in Greece
To roughly imagine what the price is in 2022, we compiled a table for you below according to the LocalRent service. Criteria:
- mechanical or automatic,
- without mileage limit,
- for 7 days from 01.09. to 09/08/2022.
Rent a car price in Greece:
€23 per day
€30 per day
|Thessaloniki||Fiat Panda< br> €38 per day||Subaru Trezia
€40 per day
|Heraklion (Crete)||Peugeot 301
€45 per day
€47 per day
Of course, when renting a car for 1–2–3 days, the price tag will be higher: the longer the period (usually from 4 days), the lower the cost per day. Localrent service statistics show that the highest average car rental price in Greece in July is 60 euros per day, the lowest average price of the year in January is 30 euros per day.
In general, you need to understand that, like everywhere else, the price of car rental in Greece fluctuates depending on the season and place: from April to October, the demand for rental increases, and with it prices; seaside resorts are more expensive than in large cities.
Weighing all the pros and cons, think about the fact that a taxi in Greece is not cheap: a trip from the Athens airport to the city center during the day costs about 40 euros, at night – about 55 euros. That is, initially it is cheaper to take your own car and ride it all day for the same money.
Step-by-step steps when renting a car on the Localrent service – instructions
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At Localrent, everything is so transparent and understandable that you don’t really need to explain anything – even the most intricate moment (which insurance to choose) is presented extremely simply in the form of a convenient comparative table. But still:
- Choose the point of pickup and return of the car, indicate the dates and start building filters on the site – engine type, drive, insurance, age of the car (!), consumption.
- If you are a confident driver of mechanics, then choose it: on sharp mountain descents, engine braking skills will come in handy. I usually choose automatic and try to avoid uncomfortable descents for me. You can check the “no deposit” box, but then the choice will narrow down significantly. Choose a car without a daily mileage limit.
- In the selection below, you can choose a category: from compact cars to luxury and convertibles in Greece. If you wish, you can consider renting an SUV for trips to wilder locations.
- Inside the card of each car, you need to study the insurance option that suits you, characteristics and real photos. If necessary, you can add a child seat, a second driver (for an additional fee) and other details there.
What to look for when booking?
There is much more in Greece cars with a manual transmission than those with an “automatic”. If you visit a rental agency and inquire about available cars, then most likely only “pens” will be available. Keep this in mind.
If you study the sites of local distributors on your own, then be aware that some, taking advantage of the inattention of tourists and their desire to save money, do not include the minimum standard mandatory insurance in the rental price. Always read the terms carefully.
Insurance and deposit
I recommend taking a car with the most complete insurance: no one is safe from cars next to yours, parked on narrow Greek streets, and pebbles flying into glass on mountain roads.
LocalRent has two great options:
- A convenient insurance comparison table, where it is immediately clear what is included in each individual plan. Usually, OSAGO and CASCO are automatically included in the rental price. Super CASCO (covers damage to wheels and windows) is not available for all cars, but you can build a search using this filter.
- The “no deposit” filter, which will show car options available without a deposit (and there are quite a few of them! ).
Unfortunately, there is no “insurance without deductible” checkbox 🙂 You need to find this information yourself – in the car card in the section about insurance. A deductible is a fixed amount (for example, $400) that is charged to you when an insured event occurs and the cost of damage is calculated. Anything over the deductible is paid by the insurance company. That is, if the repair/replacement of car parts costs $1000, then you pay only $400.
Receiving and returning the car
The process is simple: come to the office, accept the car, sign the contract, leave a deposit. Carefully inspect the machine upon receipt and note if there is any damage not indicated in the documents.
It is accepted to return the car with the same amount of fuel that you received at the beginning. Usually, if I don’t have time to fill up and wash the car before departure, I just give euros in cash for this purpose.
Driving rules in Greece – what are the differences?
Speed rules in Greece are pan-European with slight national differences:
- Speed limits in the city, outside the city and on the autobahn 50 – 90 – 130 km/h, on the expressway – 110 km/h; li>
- On a roundabout, the car that enters the circle most often has an advantage, but you should always look at the signs;
- Flashing yellow traffic lights warn that after 100-150 m a red light will turn on at the next traffic light;
- The maximum permitted blood alcohol level for a driver is 0.2 ppm.
In general, I have a strong belief that road signs in Greece are not respected enough (probably due to the lack of cameras in cities), which is why it is not uncommon to drive under a brick and go in two directions on a one-way street. I advise you to be very careful.
Local drivers, unfortunately, for the most part do not let pedestrians pass even where they have every right, so the latter are forced to cross the road in the most inappropriate places. And perhaps the most painful feature of Greek drivers for me is that they do not turn on their turn signals.
But the size of local fines speaks for itself:
- from 350 to 2000 euros for drunk driving (if the figure exceeds 0.2 ppm);
- 700 euros for failure to comply with a STOP sign or running a red light;
- 200 euros for a violation markings;
- €150 for driving without a fastened seat belt (also applies to rear passengers);
- €50 for a mobile phone in hand;
- €40 for parking in in the wrong place.
Route by car in Greece – where to go?
I will talk about non-standard routes with starting points from Athens and Santorini. For Rhodes or Crete, it is enough to mark the main attractions on the map – you will agree that you cannot leave the islands.
1. So, the rich and beautiful Peloponnese.
Many of our compatriots, coming to Athens, are limited to sightseeing metropolitan attractions. My advice is to take a car for 10 days and go on an unforgettable trip to the Peloponnese.
I suggest a route along excellent quality autobahns and just good roads with a length of 809 km (12 hours 15 minutes non-stop on Google Maps). I made such a trip in March on a brand new Peugeot 208 (I rented it at Localrent for 25 euros per day), when there were few tourists, prices were low, and spring was already raging in all its glory.
Where and why to go on paragraphs:
1. Leave Athens and stop at the bridge over the Corinth Canal. The canal is 6 km long, and with a wall height of 76 m, built at the end of the 19th century without modern technology and therefore is practically a man-made wonder of the world.
2. Spend the night in the town Kalavryta (2 nights). It is famous for the fact that it was in the ancient monasteries of Kalavryta that national uprisings against the Turkish yoke began. Surrounded by picturesque mountains (in winter they even ski there).
3. Drive to Ancient Olympia (1 night). Ancient Olympia is a cult place of pilgrimage for tourists from all over the world and the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The Greeks consider this place sacred and strictly monitor the preservation of monuments.
4. Move to Pylos and Navarino Bay (2 nights)— my favorite location in the Peloponnese. A city with incredible views, delicious cuisine and a rich history – it was here in 1827 that the Navarino naval battle took place, which changed the course of European history.
5. Drive to the Byzantine ghost town Mistra (2 nights) — in 1449, the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI was crowned there, the ruins of the city still keep some kind of magical and secret atmosphere.
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6. Go to Nafplion (2 nights) – for me the most beautiful city in Greece after Athens. No wonder it was the first capital of the Greek land independent of the Turks. Be sure to climb up for an unforgettable view of the Palamidi fortress.
7. Look inside Ancient Epidaurus. When returning to Athens from Nafplio, be sure to stop by Epidaurus to see the huge ancient amphitheater, where concerts and theatrical performances are still held today.
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My personal recommendations for accommodation:
In Kalavryta: Olympios Zeus Hotel is a cozy little hotel with a homely atmosphere, where the hostess herself helps to cook traditional Greek breakfasts in the kitchen.
In Pylos: Tina's House or Philip Hotel – located nearby and belong to the same family, the balconies offer a panoramic view of the bay, there is parking.
In Mistra: Mazaraki Guesthouse – excellent value for money, beautiful rooms and delicious breakfasts, which are brought to the room every morning in a basket.
In Nafplio: Amalia Hotel Nafplio is a large comfortable hotel located 2 km from close to the city center, has its own parking.
Links to hotels lead to services where you can pay for booking abroad with a Russian card – this is Ostrovok or Yandex.Travel; sometimes Hotellook.
2. A weekend in Santorini.
It takes only 55 minutes to fly from Athens to the volcanic island of Santorini (and 2000 rubles one way if you are looking for an Aviasales ticket). Thira – the official name of the island – is a miracle of nature, history and architecture. In order to see it in its entirety, you need only 2 full days with a car that you can rent right at the airport – so I rented a Toyota Aygo from Avis for 32 euros per day (Localrent is not here).
I advise you to stop in the village of Imerovigli – from there it is convenient to move around the island, and you can find accommodation at an affordable price (my personal recommendation is Aelia by Eltheon).
Where you should definitely go on your own in Santorini:
- to the capital of Thira
- to Akrotiri lighthouse
- to Red Beach
- to the ruins of the ancient city of Akrotiri
- to the hill of Ancient Thira
- to the volcanic black sand beach of Kamari
- to the most picturesque village of Oia
< p>I will not describe these places in detail, because the photos from the island of Santorini and the views speak for themselves.
My review and tips about driving in Greece
In major tourist destinations (Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu), competition among distributors is higher, and it makes sense to look for a better offer. The price of car rental in Greece can be overpriced on small islands, but even there the advantages of having your own transport will justify its cost: according to the guide you can quickly and comfortably travel around all the sights and devote all the remaining free time to the beach.
The only thing you should mentally prepare for before the trip is the price of gasoline in Greece in 2022: in May this year, all records were broken, when the average price for unleaded gasoline was 2.24 euros per liter, and for diesel – 1 .88 euros per litre. You can see the location of gas stations in Greece in relation to prices on this site (the interface is quite simple if you turn on the translation of the page into Russian).
Roads in Greece are generally in good condition, which is favored by the climate. You will be impressed by the evenness of the asphalt on the islands, where sometimes only 10-15 thousand people live: the Greeks are trying to finance everything that has tourism prospects, despite the crisis. Of the minuses for drivers: narrow streets, parking lots and the Greek landscape (an abundance of mountain roads and serpentines).
For the most part, roads in Greece are free, there is no such thing as a vignette (rights to drive on the country's roads). Toll highways in Greece are owned by various private companies (which is why the fares on them differ) and pass through the entire territory of mainland Greece. Driving on them is an incomparable pleasure: the maximum limit is 130 km/h, frequent comfortable stops, amazing views on both sides, and fines for some reason come quite rarely (do not take it as a guide to action). On autobahns, payment is made at a checkpoint in front of the section you enter, and on average it ranges from 0.5 to 4 euros.
Pros and cons
Be prepared for the southern and temperamental style driving locals and let everyone who wants to bypass you pass. You quickly get used to driving along serpentines and narrow streets, especially since the roads are mostly good everywhere and “not scary at all”.
My review on car rental in Greece is 100% positive. Car rental prices in Greece fluctuate from season to season, but the advantages of having your own vehicle always outweigh any possible disadvantages.
+ IT CAN BE DONE – without a foreign card, credit card, and even without a deposit on Localrent
+ What rights do you need to rent a car in Greece? New Russian “plastic” and nothing else
+ Scenic routes
+ Budget-friendly rental prices
– Expensive gasoline
– Lots of cars on the “handle”
– Some slovenliness on the roads, there is no such European manner of driving strictly according to the rules
– Impressive fines
What to do without a car?
worth seeing in this warm and hospitable country. Traveling around Greece by car is a solution for those who, like me, have few attractions near the hotel. Since there is no car sharing service in Greece, and public transport is not well developed, I definitely advise you to rent a car.
But there is a bus service between large settlements on the mainland and on the islands, and in Athens there is a metro and a line, which leads directly from the airport to the city center. It is more difficult to move around in Greece without a car, but you can always sign up for organized excursions and see a lot under an interesting guide story. All foreign excursions in Russian are collected on the Tripster and Sputnik8 websites.