Considering renting a car in Athens and not sure where to start? We got you covered! Most travelers fly into the capital city to start their journey in Greece. While there are plenty of great ways to get around, picking up an Athens rental car can be one of the best ways to travel… Especially to explore the vast and beautiful mainland.
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10 Best Athens Car Rental Tips
1. Plan Your Road Trip in Greece
The first thing to decide before searching for car rentals in Athens is where you’re actually going! The country’s largest city is the likely starting point for most travelers flying in from abroad.
Whatever type of traveler you are there is truly something for everyone in Greece! We picked up an Athens rental car and drove through the Peloponnese region before continuing on to the monasteries of Meteora.
Prior to this trip we’d mostly spent time in the islands. So it was absolutely amazing to experience a different part of Greece. While you can take public transportation around the mainland, just know it’s so much easier with an Athens rental car!
→ Explore all our articles from mainland Greece for inspiration planning your own visit.
2. Do You Need an Athens Car Rental For Your Entire Vacation?
After you’ve thought about some worthy destinations, you’ll also want to decide how long you’ll need to rent a car in Athens for. Are you just planning a day trip or do you have a couple weeks to drive through the country?
If you’re looking into a longer rental car in Athens make sure to search for the weekly rate as it is often a better deal. Another great strategy for finding a cheap Athens car rental is to book in advance. There are often better offers several months ahead of time and many companies have a free cancellation policy.
3. Don’t Rent a Car to Drive in Athens
We don’t recommend actually using a vehicle during your stay in the city. Many people visiting Greece will fly into Athens International Airport first to see it. If you are spending some time in the capital, don’t pick up your rental car in Athens until the day you actually leave!
Trust us when we say you won’t actually need a car rental in Athens. In fact, having one in the city center will actually be more of a hassle than anything.
Remember that parking is difficult and always expensive in big cities. The traffic in downtown Athens is wild, and there are plenty of other ways to get around this metropolis of over 3 million people.
It’s much better to take advantage of the city bikes, Uber, and other modes of transportation as opposed to renting a car in Athens to use there. Even if you have to head back to rent a car from Athens airport, it’s still worth it to avoid having in the city.
4. Book an Athens Airport Rental Car
That brings us to our next point! Obviously, if you’re flying into Athens (and taking off directly from there) you’re better off hiring a rental car when you land. Still, you should always compare companies to find the best deals.
To make things easier on yourself, you can rent a car from Athens airport, complete your road trip, then spend some time in the capital before you fly out.
Prices are typically lower at the airport because there is so many competing Athens car rental companies. We always use this company when renting a car in Greece.
We’ve found great weekly rentals with Discover Cars as well as a one-way deal when we wanted to finish our trip somewhere else. The popular website filters for the best prices through dozens of different companies.
After booking our Athens rental car in advance we paid around $200 USD for two weeks in early June! You can even find cheaper deals if you’re able to drive manual cars instead of automatic cars.
We will say that we visited in May before the peak summer season. Unsurprisingly, you should expect to pay more in the busy months of July and August.
5. Don’t Bring Your Athens Car Rental to the Greek Islands
So can you bring your Athens rental car to the Greek Islands? The answer is usually yes. Just know it’s a little more complicated than you might think.
Most of the Greek ferries allow cars on. Yet, after you factor in the extra cost to bring your vehicle on it may be cheaper to pick up your Greece car rental on the islands.
You also will want to double-check with each specific Athens rental car company to verify their rules. This is because not all of them will allow their cars to be taken on the ferries.
It really depends on how many days you have on each island and the prices you’re able to find. Overall, taking it to the islands would probably be more of a pain than it’s worth.
A better way to do it would be hopping on a flight or ferry then finding a cheap car hire once you’re there! If you need help planning your time on the islands check out some of our other posts.
6. Be Aware of When You’re Traveling
Another thing to look into before renting a car in Athens is the time of year you’re visiting. If you’ve only been to the islands on summer vacation then you would have no idea! Parts of Mainland Greece actually get a fair amount of snow, and you can even ski in the mountains.
If you’re traveling in the winter months prepare for the possibility of heavy rain and inclement weather conditions. During these seasons, it would be wise to pay more for a larger type of car. We would recommend considering an SUV with 4-wheel drive rather than a flashy sports car.
Of course, renting a car in Athens during the off-season has its perks! You can usually find better deals than during the more popular summer months.
If you’re planning on traveling during the holidays or in the warmer months, book your car as far as possible in advance. Remember that Discover Cars and many Athens car rental companies offer free cancellation. This way you can lock in your deal and switch your plans if you have to afterward.
7. One Way Athens Car Rental
When renting a car in Athens, it’s a great idea to look into one-way options. This allows you to see as much as possible while also giving you the convenience of returning wherever you’re ending your trip.
Our recent journey from Athens took us across the mainland to Western Greece. Our plans ended up changing mid-trip which had us scrambling for what to do. In the end, we were wishing we looked into a one-way price instead of having to drive all the way back to the city!
When you factor in the average price of gas and toll roads the one-way fee might really be the better option.
There is typically a one-way fee to drop at a different location. Still, it may be worth it if you want to experience multiple places on your vacation. This will also save you from backtracking with your Athens car rental.
8. Tolls & Fees in Greece
Now for the not so fun part about renting a car in Athens. One thing we didn’t know before driving across Greece was how many tolls there are. We’ve experienced plenty of that coming from the USA, so it wasn’t so shocking. Nevertheless, it was something we weren’t expecting on our road trip.
At one point in central Greece, it seemed like we were stopping every 20 minutes at a new toll! Fortunately, most of them (aside from the Rio–Antirrio Bridge in Patras) were only 2 to 3 euros each.
Another good thing to know is that they do take credit cards. Just be prepared for this additional charge as you make your way around Greece.
We estimate that we paid almost 100 euros driving around Greece on our 2-week road trip. Now, there is a way to avoid these main roads. However, this could have you driving double or triple the time on the non-toll roads.
9. Check For Damage on Your Athens Rental Car
An extremely important thing to watch out for is damage when picking up your rental car in Athens. It’s essential to check for damage both in and outside of the vehicle before you drive away. Some companies these days don’t even bother to walk around the car with you.
While they may give you assurances that they know every inch of the car, do your due diligence. Take pictures, have them mark the contract, and even make a video circling the vehicle.
As you can imagine, many of these car rentals in Athens have been through a lot. You are in the country’s largest city after all! There’s no reason to put yourself or your insurance deductible at risk by not taking these simple steps beforehand.
Also, make sure you’re insured before renting a car in Athens. Our credit card covers us whenever we’re renting vehicles around the world.
If you don’t have your own form of coverage you’ll want to look into your options. Purchasing the collision damage waiver and any other extras could be a good idea directly from your Athens car rental company.
10. Should You Rent a Car in Athens?
Yes! There’s endless beautiful beaches and ancient sites to see in Greece. It is possible to utilize buses and trains to get around the country. Yet, after using all different kinds of transportation, one thing is clear. Renting a car in Athens is the way to go!
Once you get outside of Athens city center you’ll have all the freedom to explore on your own. At the end of the day, it all depends on your itinerary.
It may not make sense to rent a car in Athens if you’re heading straight to the islands. Oftentimes, the cheapest car rentals can be found when you get to your final destination.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own tips for booking an Athens car rental? Leave us a comment below.
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Greece Travel Planning
For island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. The fast ferries like Sea Jets will cost more but often takes half the time of slower ferries like Blue Star.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for as little as $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Tours: Go to Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities in Santorini. You can find everything from group sailing tours to private catamaran cruises. Go wine tasting around the island, horseback riding down the beach, or even jump on an ATV tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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