It is reasonable to rent a car in Athens to drive to the Peloponnese for 3 or 4 days? How's the driving? Will it save time to have a rental car? We will be staying in Athens for 2 days and also want to explore Nafplio and the surrounding towns for at least 3 days. It would be great to take a drive to Monemvasia, too.
It's reasonable to rent a car to drive to the Peloponnese, but don't do it in Central Athens. Traffic is an insane nightmare and if you don't know the streets you'll be VERY sorry. Instead, just take the Metro or the Express Bus (from Syntagma Square) out to the Airport and pick up a car there. You'll be closer to the national highway and won't have a problem finding your way. When you're done just bring it back to the airport and take public transportation back into the city.
Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test required. If you get in an accident and don't have one your insurance coverage will be invalidated and you'll be in serious trouble with the local police. It's also very likely you will not be allowed to leave the country until the damages are paid in full in cash, and what you pay will more than likely be a grossly inflated amount. One more thing: don't rely on your insurance coverage from home or your credit card company's so-called automatic coverage. Take out a full-coverage policy when you pick up the car.
Lee has given u the best advice ... further advice from a savvy Greek-American who rents cars every year. You can get just bout the best price by going to Budget Car Rental -- but NOT the US site -- enter the GReece portal ... http://www.budget-athens.gr/default.aspx. That link is in English, and you don't have to pretend to be from some other country, either... it's just that using the Greek link rather thant USA link, MUCH better price. NOTE this applies to other major multi-nationals too... I guess they have found that europeans won't stand for the rates that Americans are willing to pay :P
PS: If u are dropping the car at the airport too & must return it with a full tank, keep eyes open on the big hiway as u approach; last gas station is about 20 Km before the airport.
Now there's a tip to reduce tension at the end of a trip! As someone who drove into Hertz at the Denver airport totally on fumes I will remember this one! Even if it's several years until I make that trip back to Greece! Pam
Listen to Lee!!!! :)
A rental car is the only effective way to travel the Peloponnese; the trains are out of the question and the buses aren't much better. Like Lee says, you really don't want to drive in Athens, but once on the National Highway it's okay. Swift Rental, a local company, will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the edge of town. Check out Matt Barrett's website at: www.greektravel.com/swift
for more info.
I agree with everyone thus far and will add that when driving in the Peloponnese, people actually drive straddling the shoulder which tens to get my heart rate going on the winding roads. Don't be alarmed.
Also, I remember doing as was suggested and getting the car from the airport--only I ended up taking a wrong turn and negotiating Piraeus--don't do that!
Thank you ALL for the insight on renting a car in Greece. The information has been very helpful.
Any suggestions on traveling to Monemvasia from Nafplio by car, or would hydrofoil be less time consuming?
Thanks again for sharing what has been successful in your travels!