There’s a joke about Greek drivers that says if you don’t step on the gas when you see a yellow light in Greece, you’ll lose your license. You can replace crossing at a yellow light with speeding, honking once the light turns green, not wearing a seatbelt, or driving under the influence, and the joke works just as well…
Tourists are sometimes discouraged from renting cars in Greece due to the stereotype that Greek drivers are some of the most reckless in Europe. Traffic in Athens is a bummer too. But driving in Greece also comes with some undeniable advantages: the opportunity to see villages unreachable by any other means; creating your own itinerary, pairing cities with islands and beaches with mountains; unexpected moments of peace, when goat herds crossing the road force you to stop; and long winding roads with views one might expect to find in places like the Swiss Alps or the Scottish Highlands (except here, they’re within easy reach of the Mediterranean Sea).
And here’s another thing you may not know: In recent research conducted by DiscoverCars.com, Greece was revealed as one of the cheapest destinations worldwide to rent a car in the winter. On average, you’ll pay just €88.93 for a 4-day rental, and €84.87, if you’re visiting Crete.
So, does the good outweigh the bad? One hundred percent. We might argue that road trips in Greece are every bit as enjoyable as island hopping.
Requirements for renting a car in Greece
When picking up your car, you’ll be required to produce your driver’s license, a credit card, and your passport or identity card. The requirements for renting a car in Greece can vary slightly, depending on two things: the rental company, and where you come from.
While all drivers must be over 21 years of age to rent a car, some companies may specify an even higher minimum age, as well as a maximum age of 70. In addition, some companies (like Hertz) will raise their minimum age rule from 21 to 25 if the driver can’t provide a credit card in their name, others (like Avis) demand that all documentation is in the same name and will charge an extra fee per day for drivers younger than 25 years old, and some (like Sixt) have a minimum age of 28 for specific car categories.
As far as driving licenses are concerned, while all drivers must have had theirs for at least a year, not everyone must provide the same type of license. All EU nationals can rent a car with their national license, while people from some countries where paper licenses are still in use must also hold a card-type license. Others yet must provide both a national and an international driving license. For more information on the accepted licenses per country of origin, please click here.
As in other countries, an additional driver may be noted at an additional cost. They too must then provide the same documentation.
For more details regarding driver requirements and fees, refer to your chosen car hire company.
Where to rent a car
Greece may not be a big country, but the separation of popular destinations by water makes it important to consider where to best rent your vehicle. If you are only going to spend time on one island, and especially if it’s a small island, renting a car from a local company is usually the most logical choice. This is true even if you’re traveling via a big city where international companies operate, as transporting a car on the ferry can cost even more than the rental price for that day.
In the big cities and at most popular tourist destinations, you’ll also find large companies such as Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise, Sixt, and Greek companies Avance and Global, among others.
If you’re planning on a one-way road trip, choose one of the bigger companies that will allow you to pick your car up at one location and drop it off at another. Remember that you need to declare where and when you’ll be dropping the car off when you pick it up, but last-minute changes can usually be made if you change your mind, at an extra charge.
If you plan to cross into other countries on your trip, that’s another thing to factor into your choice as only certain companies give you this option. For example, Avis allows it, while Sixt does not. One-way trips across borders are not allowed; you need to bring the car back to Greece, so if Greece is not the final destination on your vacation, you might consider changing your route and/or renting your car in another country.
Good to know about driving in Greece
The basics: Drive on the right-hand side and overtake on the left. Those entering a roundabout have right of way.
Roads: There are many ways in which Greek roads may surprise you. Beware of potholes, be brave on winding mountain roads, and be thankful for the surprisingly good highway network. Find a list and a map of Greek highways and National Roads here.
Tolls: There are toll booths on most major highways, including Attiki Odos, Olympia Odos, Moreas, Aegean Motorway, Nea Odos, Kentriki Odos, Egnatia Odos, and on the Rio-Antirio bridge. The tolls are generally below €3 (more on the bridges), but if you’re on a long road trip, they can add up quickly. You can pay tolls with cash, credit or debit card, or an on-board unit that you can top up (find information about the latter here).
Parking: Parking in Greece can be tricky. Many depend on difficult-to-find and often illegal street parking, but we would recommend organized parking areas wherever available.
Athens Low Emission Zone: You may know that the city of Athens has two zones, or “rings,” where access is regulated to minimize vehicle emissions. However, these rules do not apply to tourists or rental cars if you spend less than 40 days in the city.
Getting gas: Unless you need to stretch your legs, there’s no need to get out of the car to get gas in Greece. The gas station staff will take care of it.
Where to go
Find some of our favorite road trip itineraries and maps here: