Do You Need a Rental Car in Karpathos? Pros & Cons

Karpathos Rental Car

Do you need a car on Karpathos? That’s the very question you may be asking yourself before planning your trip to the island! A rental car in Karpathos can be a great way to get around and to the most beautiful beaches and mountain villages. Here’s what to know about Karpathos rental cars, pros and cons, and all about our own rent a car experience.

Our First Visit With a Rental Car in Karpathos

Our initial trip to Karpathos was actually unplanned! We were on the nearby island of Rhodes and our hotel owner highly recommended it to us. 

After an amazing week on Rhodes, we headed to Symi, Halki, and more of the Dodecanese islands by ferry. Luckily, we left an extra week at the end to visit Karpathos.

The Halki to Karpathos ferry was very inexpensive during June (check prices here) and took around two hours. We ended our Greece trip with a cheap flight from Karpathos Airport back to Athens on Sky Express.

We were completely overwhelmed with how much there was to do and see on this island that we’d previously never even heard of. So with that said, the most logical thing to do was get a rental car in Karpathos!

We spent our first couple of nights in the capital of Pigadia at Porfyris Studios and Apartments. Once we’d seen the main town, we headed off to pick up our Karpathos rent a car.

The next week was spent driving around the island and staying at the different towns and beaches. From the stunning pebbly coves to small local villages, we were completely blown away! Read our one week Karpathos itinerary here to view our exact route.

Karpathos Greece Rental Car

Where to Stay on Karpathos

Pigadia: Porfyris Studios and Apartments  – Located in the center of town, this hotel is within walking distance of the harbor and restaurants. Our room had a sea view balcony, small living room, and compact kitchen to make simple meals.

Olympos: Aphrodite Hotel – This is where we stayed in Olympos and loved every second! Enjoy incredible views from the balcony that overlook the rugged coastline. The room was very basic, but one of the best deals you can get in the village.

Kyra Panagia: Pension Akropolis – Wonderful family-run hotel with rooms that overlook the beach below.

Lefkos: Zorbas Studios – Basic studios with beautiful sea views! Just steps from the sand and close to all the shops and restaurants. 

Pros and Cons of Karpathos Rental Cars

When deciding if you need a car on Karpathos (check the current prices), you should know the pros and cons of each! There is public transportation available with more routes available in the summer months. 

You can even take boat tours to the best beaches like Lefkos, Lakki, Kyra Panagia, and world famous Apella. Nevertheless, none of these will give you the freedom of a Karpathos rental car!

Karpathos Rental Car Guide

Karpathos Rental Car Pros

We really enjoyed the ability it gave us to see more of the island. With both the bus and even boat tours, you’re confined to whatever the particular routes are. 

Yet, with a Karpathos rent a car, you can plan your own personalized trip! This is especially important for visiting the amazing beaches which are a huge draw to the island. 

Be sure to read about our 6 favorite beaches on Karpathos here! This destination in Greece is also known for its incredible hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. 

We also made the drive to Olympos Village which is an absolute must-see! There are group tours you can join to get you there. However, by driving ourselves, we were able to stay overnight and experience it with no tourists after the day trippers left.

Having a rental car in Karpathos will allow you to get to the far reaches of the island and see them on your own time.

Rental Car Karpathos Greece

Cons of a Rental Car in Karpathos

The biggest reason to skip Karpathos rental cars is simple. The driving is a bit difficult, and we would only recommend it for travelers that are confident in their skills. 

Many of the roads can be very narrow and go up through the winding mountain roads. While we have driven everywhere from Vietnam to the Scottish Highlands, some of our days on Karpathos were slightly terrifying.

Aside from the tight and bumpy roads, the sheer height you will be driving at along the cliffs (some with no railings) is pretty wild. Specifically, along the road from Pigadia to Olympos, we were passing through areas under cliffs that were hundreds of feet high with no protection. 

One more con about having a rental car in Karpathos is the parking. Sometimes it can be a hassle looking for parking at the beaches and sites during the peak season. It’s smart to check if your accommodation has parking available beforehand. 

Rental Car in Karpathos

Greek Island Travel Tips

  • ⛴  Use FerriesinGreece to search for routes to the island. The most popular are from Rhodes to Karpathos. 
  • ✈️  Check out Skyscanner for cheap flights especially to Athens!
  • ☎️ Get a Greece E-Sim before you arrive. It’s important to have a sim or offline map while exploring the island.  
  • 🛌 We search both and Agoda to find places to stay. Know if you’re traveling in off season, you may want to message or call the hotel directly for the best date. 
  • 🚗 Use Discover Cars to explore the islands in Greece. This is where you should first search to get an idea of the prices. 
  • ☀️ Never travel to Greece without insurance like SafetyWing.
  • 🎒 Scan through our Amazon packing lists, electronics and camera gear & long flight essentials.

Olympos Karpathos

Karpathos Rent a Car Q & A

Do You Need a Car on Karpathos?

It really depends on what you want to see and how much time you have. If you have an entire week on Karpathos like we did, then renting a car is definitely worth it!

Yet, if you only have a couple of days, you could easily utilize the buses from Pigadia and take some fantastic boat tours to the beaches. Your own personal travel style will also help you decide if you’re comfortable enough to drive on Karpathos.

We will say that if you aren’t comfortable with a rental car there are islands that might be better set up for exploring without a car. Rhodes and Paros are perfect examples of this. 

Karpathos is all about adventure, scenic views, and getting lost in the beauty of the island. This is why we recommend having a rental car as it will allow you to experience so much more. 

Do you need a car on Karpathos

Can You Drive Around Karpathos in One Day?

Technically, yes! The island is big, but it would be possible to do it if you wanted to. 

At the same time, we much preferred staying in the different towns and slowly making our way around Karpathos. We even made a trip the less explored west coast to stay at Lefkos Beach.

We’ve circled islands like Santorini and Paros in one day which was definitely fun! With Karpathos we just felt a stronger connection to the local life, which was so much fun to do at a slower pace.

Do you need a car on Karpathos Greece

How Much Do Karpathos Rental Cars Cost?

We visited in early June just before the high season. During this time, we paid 150 Euros for a one week Karpathos rental car. 

We always check the website Discover Cars which compares the different companies on the island. Always make sure to check for a weekly deal as it can sometimes be the same price as renting for 4-5 days.

This is obviously a great price and something you should jump on if you get the chance! Just know once you get into July and August the rates can double for the peak summer months.

Greece Island

What About ATV & Scooter Rentals?

Both motorbikes and ATV’s are available to rent from Karpathos! There are a few different local shops in the main town of Pigadia which you walk into. 

We love using these different vehicles, and have rented scooters many times to explore the Greek islands. On our last visit to Naxos we even took an ATV out for a day trip through the mountain villages.

However, we really enjoyed having a rental car in Karpathos because of the nature of the roads. It also can get very windy up in the mountains so it may be better to have something more sturdy.

Still, ATV’s and Scooters could be fun for short distances. You’ll also want to have a proper international motorcycle license from your home country if you plan to get a scooter.

ATV & Scooter Rental

How Many Days in Karpathos is Enough?

One of the best things about Karpathos is that it’s great for any amount of time. Whether you only have a couple days or an entire week like us, there’s so much to do on this island! 

After our own experience, we have to say you should have three to four days minimum to fully see Karpathos. Honestly, the more time the better!

This way you can take your time hitting the beaches, spend a night in Olympos, and even take an exciting boat tour to Saria Island. Don’t miss out on the delicious local food and all the most unique activities on Karpathos as well.

So do you need a car on Karpathos? Feel free to ask questions or share your own Karpathos rental car tips in the comments!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake



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