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Car Rental in Santorini

Hi, Everyone! Three of us are going to be in Santorini in July for four nights, flying in and out. I've already booked a lovely place in Oia for the four nights. Now we're wondering if we should rent a car for our time on the island. We have an early flight out on the last day and have been thinking of getting a taxi-type airport transfer to and from the airport. We also want to visit the archeological site Akrotiri and perhaps a winery, as well as a beach or two on the far side of the island from Oia. (A day tour could cover all this.) I've heard that the road to Akrotiri is a bit rough. Is it too rough for a rental car? I'm also worried about parking. Since we're traveling in high season, will we be spending a lot of time searching for parking spaces in Oia and in FIra? The host of our lodging thinks that it will save us money to rent a car rather than pay for two-way airport transfers and a day tour for the three of us, but I'm wondering if it will be worth the hassle. Do any of you have ideas or suggestions?

Posted by
3135 posts

Parking in Fira and Oia can be a frustrating challenge in High Season. Both villages are very busy then, especially Fira. That said, having a car at your disposal is the best way to explore the island. The road to Akrotiri is fine for rental cars. If you live outside the EU/UK be sure to bring an International Driving Permit. If you live in the US or Canada you get it at your local AAA/CAA office, no test or membership required. Wait until you're there to decide what you want to do. In Oia rent your car from Vazeos.

Posted by
66 posts

Thanks for the information, Lee! I think that you've convinced me to wait until we reach the island to work out car rental/shuttles. This is the quote from the Hertz Santorini web site that gave me pause about taking a rental to Akrotiri: "Akrotiri: This is a dirt road route which requires 4x4 vehicles and careful drivers." But perhaps they're referring to a particularly scenic route to the ruins. Is there any particular reason to suggest Vazeos over the many other rental agencies?

Posted by
1530 posts

We turned in our rental car before we went to Akrotiri but we took the bus there and we definitely did not go on any dirt roads! We planned a driving itinerary to see the sights we were interested in and needed only one day. We actually could have fit in Akrotiri as we were unaware it is a fairly small site, but with the information we had we decided to leave it for the next day and use public transportation. By waiting until you are there, you can decide which days you want a car as you probably won't need it for the entire time. Our hotel was supposed to get us at the airport but had the wrong time so we took the bus into Fira and walked the short distance to the hotel. Since you're leaving early in the morning this probably wouldn't work for you.

Posted by
8293 posts

We rented a car for one day only and have no recollection of rough, dirt road to the Akrotiri site. When was the last time Hertz had a look, I wonder .... 1976?

Posted by
3135 posts

If you do a Google Street Map "drive" through Akrotiri you will see that if you stick to the main roads they will be paved. It's when you digress onto back roads that they turn to dirt and may be full of potholes.

I only suggest rental agents I know or know have an excellent reputation.

Posted by
66 posts

Thanks, Lee, Carol, and Norma! You've validated what I really wanted to do, and that's to rent a car for just one day even if it isn't the most cost effective thing to do. Then we don't need to worry too much about parking in Oia or Fira or about the car getting dinged in a tight parking lot, and we'll still be free to travel to two or three destinations of our choice at our own pace.

Posted by
32269 posts

Debbie,

I didn't drive into Akrotiri as the site was closed when I was last there, but I don't recall any gravel roads. I drove past the site on the way to the Red Beach. I'd suggest asking the people at the rental agency about parking, as they will be able to provide information on what's available. I vaguely recall a fairly large car park just off the main road on Fira, but my memory is a bit foggy on that point. I had no problems finding a space when I drove up to Oia in the early evening.

As Lee mentioned, you MUST be sure to get an *International Driver's Permit" for driving in Greece. I always pack one along each year, regardless of whether I'm planning on driving or not. As I recall, the rental staff asked for it when I rented the car on Santorini.