Renting a Car in Santorini: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

If you’re planning a trip to Santorini, Greece, you’ve likely wondered about the best way to explore its picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, and must-visit attractions. From our personal experience, renting a car in Santorini is the best way to make your Greek island adventure truly unforgettable. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiring a car in Santorini, including where and how to rent a car, essential tips and requirements, and the top spots to visit by car.

We’ve rented a car in Santorini ourselves and loved the freedom and flexibility it provided. Our firsthand experience ensures you’re well-prepared for your journey. From finding the best deal and checking all necessary requirements to understanding local driving rules and getting our personal tips on what to pay attention to when renting a car in Santorini, this travel guide has got you covered!

Renting a Car in Santorini Complete Guide

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Santorini Car Rental – Quick Tips

In a hurry? Dive right into my top tips for renting a car in Santorini, Greece. Your journey starts here!

Where to Rent a Car | Discover Cars

Required Documents | Driver’s license, passport, credit or debit card, voucher (if you have made a booking in advance)

Best Time to Visit | May, September, October

Top Places to Visit | Oia, Imerovigli, Fira, Pyrgos, Red Beach, Perissa Black Sand Beach

Insider Tips | Emporio, Megalochori

Best Places to Stay | Aqua Luxury Suites, Xenones Filotera, Seven Suites

Stay Connected | Get your Europe eSIM

Keep reading for my complete Santorini car rental guide!

Why You Should Rent a Car in Santorini

While the popular Santorini spots of Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli are breathtaking, having a car lets you venture beyond these tourist hubs to discover hidden gems like Pyrgos, Megalochori, and Emporio.

You’ll also have the freedom to explore the island’s beautiful beaches and picturesque wineries. With a car, you can maximize your time in Santorini and visit all these beautiful places at your own pace.

Instead of being tied to bus schedules or expensive taxi fares, you can explore whenever and wherever you like. Therefore, I can highly recommend renting a car in Santorini.

A view of the impressive Red Beach in Santorini, with its deep red cliffs and turquoise waters.
Red Beach, Santorini

We absolutely loved the flexibility of having a car, which allowed us to stop at scenic viewpoints, dine in quaint local tavernas, and visit remote locations that are often overlooked by tourists. For us, renting a car is the best way to travel around Santorini.

However, if you only want to visit the main towns and spend most of your time relaxing at your hotel, there may be better options than renting a car. In this case, sticking to public transport, occasional taxi rides, or joining organized day tours could be more convenient and cost-effective.

Where to Rent a Car in Santorini

In this section, we’ll guide you through the best options for renting a car in Santorini. Having a car ready to go from the moment you arrive at the island’s airport or port will definitely make your Santorini vacation less stressful and more enjoyable.

Rent a Car in Santorini: Airport

The most convenient place to rent a car in Santorini is directly at the airport. Santorini International Airport (JTR) offers a variety of car rental options from reputable rental companies. By renting a car at the airport, you can start your journey immediately without worrying about additional transportation to your accommodation, especially since taxis from and to the airport are very pricey.

The car rental companies at Santorini airport provide a range of vehicles to suit different needs and budgets. Whether you prefer a compact car for easy parking or a larger vehicle for family travel, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. Booking your car rental in advance ensures you get the best deal and availability.

Rent a Car in Santorini: Port

If you’re arriving in Santorini by ferry from Athens or another Cyclades Island like Mykonos, Paros, or Naxos, it might seem convenient to rent a car at the Athinios ferry port. The ferry port hosts several car rental agencies where you can pick up your vehicle right after you disembark. However, due to the chaotic nature of the port area when a ferry arrives, the renting experience there is a bit more stressful compared to the airport.

Additionally, the winding road up the cliff from the port area is frequently congested with large buses and cars, which can be challenging if you’re not an experienced driver. However, if you don’t mind navigating through the traffic and the crowds, renting a car at the port of Santorini is still an option.

Similar to airport rentals, booking in advance is recommended to secure the best rates and vehicle choices. I also highly recommend booking your ferry tickets in advance.

Reserve Your Car Online with Discover Cars

For the best car rental in Santorini, consider searching for a rental company through Discover Cars. They provide a comprehensive comparison of deals from multiple rental companies, including both international and small local agencies, to find the best offer.

We always use Discover Cars when reserving a car online. We love their transparent pricing, which includes all fees, taxes, and extras in their quotes, ensuring no hidden costs. This means there are no unpleasant surprises when arriving at the rental desk.

Using Discover Cars allows you to choose the best car rental deal that suits your travel needs and budget. By booking and reserving your vehicle online with Discover Cars, you can secure your ideal rental car in advance, giving you peace of mind and a smooth start to your Santorini adventure.

🚘 BEST CAR RENTAL COMPANY: DISCOVER CARS

When booking a rental car online, I personally recommend and always use Discover Cars. They search not only for international car rental companies but also for small, local agencies to find the best deal for you. Plus, there are no hidden costs and they offer free cancellation. I always opt for full coverage because of their comepetitive rates!

How to Book Your Rental Car in Santorini

Renting a car through DiscoverCars.com is a straightforward process that ensures you get the best deal and the perfect vehicle for your trip. Follow these steps to make your booking:

Step-by-Step Guide to Booking with Discover Cars:

Step 1: Visit DiscoverCars.com.

Step 2: Select your pick-up and drop-off location in Santorini, as well as your pick-up and drop-off date, and click on ‘Search Now’.

Step 3: Browse through the available options. Each vehicle listing includes a summary box with car rental reviews and important rental documents. Make sure to read the ‘Rental Conditions’ found under the car picture before moving on to the next step, as they contain essential information specific to each supplier.

Step 4: Once you’ve selected the best rental car for your Santorini trip, you can review all the details on the booking page. Here, you can also choose full coverage and optional extras such as additional drivers, GPS, or baby seats.

Step 5: Finalize your booking. After your booking is confirmed, you’ll receive a Discover Cars Voucher via email. This voucher contains crucial information about your rental and will be required when you pick up the car in Santorini. Be sure to review it carefully to ensure a smooth rental experience.

An old wooden boat sitting atop a Cycladic house as a decoration, with the cliffside town of Imerovigli and the blue sea in the background.

Renting a Car in Santorini: Cost and Payment

When booking your car through Discover Cars, you’ll benefit from lower prices because they negotiate deals directly with car rental companies. This allows them to secure competitive rates, ensuring you get the best value for your money.

Prices for rental cars are seasonal, so if you are looking for cheaper car rental prices, consider visiting Santorini during the shoulder season, which is between late April and May, and from late September to October.

Depending on your preferences, the time you visit, and whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly or premium car, rental prices usually range between €15 – € 70 per day. However, prices for a high-end luxury car rental in Santorini can be substantially higher, depending on the specific car model.

💡 Discover Cars offers two payment options for car rentals:

  • Partial Prepayment: Pay part of the rental cost at booking and the remainder at pick-up.
  • Full Prepayment: Pay the entire rental cost at booking, with the option to cancel for a refund up to 48 hours before pick-up.

The price breakdown is listed on the voucher, and it’s important to check the rental conditions for insurance coverage details before booking.

View from a Santorini road trip with pink wildflowers in the foreground and the steep coastline in the background.
Santorini Road Trip Views

Full Coverage for Your Rental Car in Santorini

To ensure a worry-free road trip, we recommend opting for the ‘Full Coverage’ option of Discover Cars. It includes the following protections:

  • Deductible Coverage: Covers the deductible for both damage and theft.
  • Repair Costs: Includes charges for repairs to the car’s body, undercarriage, tires, wheels, roof, windshield, windows, mirrors, locks, and hubcaps resulting from a collision.
  • Towing Expenses: Covers the cost of towing the car after an accident.
  • Taxi Expenses: Provides coverage for taxi costs related to an accident (excluding mechanical problems).
  • Key Loss or Lockout: Covers costs related to losing the keys or locking yourself out of the car, such as locksmith fees or delivery of a spare key.
  • Administrative Fees: Includes certain administrative fees related to damage and loss of use

With Full Coverage, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protected from various unexpected costs, allowing you to fully enjoy your Santorini adventure.

Santorini Car Rental: Documents and Requirements

Before picking up your rental car in Santorini, it’s essential to ensure you have all the necessary documents at hand. Your booking voucher from Discover Cars will outline the required paperwork, so be sure to check it carefully for a smooth rental experience. Here’s what you’ll need:

A Valid Driver’s License: Ensure you have a valid driver’s license.

Passport: Bring along your passport for identification purposes.

Credit or Debit Card: Most rental companies require a credit or debit card for payment and security deposit.

Discover Cars Booking Voucher: Keep a copy of your booking voucher handy, either as a physical printout or a screenshot on your device.

Discover Cars also offers 24/7 Customer Support in various languages, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or issues. Having the right documents will help streamline the rental process and ensure you’re ready to hit the road and explore Santorini hassle-free.

It’s worth noting that rental requirements may vary, but most companies typically require drivers to have a minimum age of 21 years and to have held their driver’s license for over one year. Additionally, some companies may impose a surcharge for renters under 25.

If you’re from the United States or the United Kingdom, you can rent a car in Santorini using your respective driving licenses. However, as rules and regulations may change anytime, especially when traveling abroad, it’s advisable to obtain an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) as an extra precaution, especially when you are a frequent traveler like us.

An IDP allows you to drive legally in over 150 countries and provides peace of mind during your travels. Therefore, we always have our International driving permits with us.

Helpful Tips for Hiring a Car in Santorini

When you hire a car in Santorini, following these helpful tips and recommendations can enhance your rental experience and help you make the most of your time on this beautiful island:

  • Book with Full Coverage: Opt for Full Coverage when booking your rental car for peace of mind during your trip.
  • Manual vs Automatic Transmission: Most rental cars in Santorini have a manual transmission, so make sure to reserve your vehicle in advance to secure a car with an automatic transmission, as they are in high demand.
  • Take Detailed Photos: Before departing on your trip, thoroughly inspect the rental car and take photos (we, personally, also take a video) from all angles. This documentation can be invaluable in case of disputes regarding the vehicle’s condition upon return.
  • Select Fully Prepaid Cars: Choose fully prepaid options to avoid paying anything on arrival and streamline the rental process.
  • Choose Highly Rated Suppliers: Look for rental suppliers with ratings of 8.0 or higher to ensure quality service and reliability.
  • Pay Attention to Mileage Policies: Be mindful of mileage allowances, especially for long trips. Opting for unlimited mileage is ideal for extensive journeys.
  • Read Rental Conditions: Familiarize yourself with the Rental Conditions provided by Discover Cars, which detail important information such as required documents, fuel policies, and more.
  • Thoroughly Review Booking Confirmation Voucher: Carefully examine the Booking Confirmation Voucher for essential documentation and instructions to ensure a seamless rental experience.
  • Island Hopping in the Cyclades: Most rental car companies don’t allow their cars to be taken on ferries, or it requires extensive paperwork. Therefore, it’s advisable to rent a car separately on each island if you plan to visit multiple islands during your trip. In that case, make sure to check out my Cyclades Island Hopping Itinerary.
The iconic sunset view in the seaside village of Oia, featuring white-washed houses, windmills, and vibrant flowers.

Driving in Santorini

Before visiting Santorini, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the local rules and driving customs. Here’s what you need to know about driving in Santorini:

  • Roads and road orientation: Driving in Santorini follows the right-hand side. Major roads are generally well-maintained, but smaller roads may be bumpy due to potholes. Keep in mind that the roads in Santorini are often narrow and winding. There are no toll roads in Santorini.
  • Parking availability: Fortunately, there’s ample free parking throughout Santorini, with parking lots located in most towns and villages. Municipal parking spaces are available just outside village centers, offering convenient access. However, securing a parking spot in Oia might be trickier, so we highly recommend arriving there early in the morning.
  • Traffic and driving style: Driving on the island can be lively, with tour buses, cars, ATVs, scooters, and pedestrians. Locals are familiar with the roads and may engage in more assertive driving behaviors, including overtaking and passing in challenging areas. Traffic around the port during ferry arrivals as well as in major towns, particularly Oia, can be congested.
  • Fuel and navigation: While fuel may be relatively expensive, the island’s small size means fuel costs are generally manageable. Navigation is straightforward, with Google Maps or road signs providing reliable guidance.
  • Connectivity: Consider purchasing a Europe eSim for seamless navigation during your Santorini visit, ensuring you stay connected throughout your road trip adventure.
Skaros Rock in Imerovigli with the caldera in the background.
Skaros Rock, Imerovigli, Santorini

Best Places to Visit in Santorini by Car

During our vacation in Santorini, we explored many incredible places by car. It’s the perfect place for an island road trip. We loved driving through Santorini’s breathtaking landscapes, discovering the island’s most iconic destinations, and enjoying the spectacular views from the car window.

Must-visit places include Fira, the bustling capital, with its charming streets and vibrant atmosphere; Imerovigli, with its panoramic views of the caldera; and Oia, with its iconic blue-domed churches and picturesque alleys. Oia truly stole our hearts as we witnessed the famous Santorini sunset there.

Venturing beyond the tourist trail, we explored Pyrgos, a traditional village boasting panoramic vistas and historic charm, as well as the quaint villages of Emporio and Megalochori. We also visited Profiti Ilia Monastery, offering serene tranquility and breathtaking views of the island’s rugged terrain.

Don’t miss Perissa Black Sand Beach and the striking beauty of Red Beach.

The Archaeological Site of Akrotiri offers a glimpse into Santorini’s ancient past, while the nearby majestic Akrotiri Lighthouse is the perfect spot to watch the sunset without the crowds.

If you are looking for further inspiration, check out my complete Santorini itinerary for the best places to visit and the best things to do on the island.

Additionally, you can explore some of Santorini’s attractions through amazing day trips and tours. Be sure to check out the following top-rated Santorini experiences:

Views of the coastline during a boat cruise in Santorini.

I hope you enjoyed reading our comprehensive Santorini car rental guide. Renting a car in Santorini opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace and discover its hidden gems. From breathtaking views to charming villages and ancient sites, Santorini offers something for everyone. So, start planning your Santorini road trip today and prepare for an unforgettable journey through this stunning Greek island!

Want to explore more of Greece? Check out all my Greece travel guides below!

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