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Reliable car rental in Athens.

We will be in Greece in early October.
We are going to rent a car for 3 days and drive to Nafplio.
I was thinking about renting the car in Athens, at the Port (after returning from Hydra by hydrofoil) and returning it to the car rental company at the Athens airport, 3 days later.

I have 3 concerns that I could use your help with.

1- I want to pick a reliable company with a good reputation. On other vacations (not Greece) I have shown up for car rentals before and been told that there is no car for me even though I have had a reservation. It ruined the vacation. I want to avoid that.
Any recommendations for a great dependable car rental company?

2-Should I rent the car through a travel agency in Canada, and prepay in advance?
I worry about showing up at the car rental company with just a prepaid coupon and being turned away, with no recourse.

3- Is returning a car rental, at 2 p.m., at the airport a challenge.??
I am unsure about how busy cross-town traffic is, and easy-to-read signs????

Your thoughts and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
1005 posts

When rented a car in Athens, I used an agency listed in Rick's book that picked me up at my hotel and drove me to the outskirts of Athens. This way I didn't have to deal with the horrendous traffic (and it is certainly one of the worst cities to drive in). I have driven in the port area--Piraeus--and the traffic was terrible there too. If you can get them to meet you at the ferry dock and drive you to the outskirts--I'd do it even if it costs more. They are called Swift/Avanti.

As far as getting to the airport from Nafplio, the "national road" (expressway) bypasses the center of Athens. All the highway signs are in English as well as Greek, so you should be OK.

Driving in Greece is a challenge. You should read some travel blogs about their style of driving. Once you get the hang of it, it actually can be fun. Right now, because of the recession, I understand the roads aren't too busy once you get away from Athens.

Posted by
4499 posts

I also used Swift/Avanti and had great experience with them.

Also know that you must have an International Drivers Permit to legally drive in Greece, and most rental agencies require it to rent the car. Those can be had from AAA.

Driving outside of Athens is not that bad. Roads are fairly lightly traveled and well marked in English. But on 2 lane highways, always stay near the right edge even when it seems wide enough for 3-4 car widths. The center is for passing.

Traffic on the Athens beltway can be very heavy and slow, but it shouldn't be too bad before 2:00 unless it's a Friday.

Posted by
16769 posts

I have rented in Greece (Thessaloniki), France, and Slovenia through Auto Europe, pre-paid before leaving home, and have not had a problem with the local agent accepting my reserved rental voucher. I believe that the source they booked me through in Thessaloniki was Avis. Our book researchers also routinely book cars through Auto Europe.