Is Renting a Car in Santorini Worth it? 2024 Car Rental Guide

Renting a car in Santorini

Santorini is one of the most popular islands in Greece, and for good reason! Not only are there the famous villages of Oia and Fira to explore, but it’s full of unique beaches, amazing history and so much more. One of the best ways to see this magical island is by getting a Santorini rental car. However, it might not be right for everyone! Here’s our top tips and tricks for renting a car in Santorini to help decide if you’ll need one on your holiday.

Plan Your Santorini Vacation First

To start off, it is important to know that there is so much to see and do on Santorini! Whether or not you need a rent a car in Santorini may depend on how many days you have and the area you decide to stay in. 

If you only have a day or two and book a hotel in the popular towns of Fira or Oia, then you honestly won’t need a car. The iconic views can only be seen from the steps and winding maze of walking streets that flow through the main towns. 

The villages of Santorini are best explored on foot and many of the hotels are built into the cliff sides. That means that hotel parking isn’t even an option with a Santorini car rental! These hotels also come with a premium price tag with some costing several hundred a night or more in high season. 

If you have longer and want to see other areas then you will need some type of transportation to get around. The most popular ways to experience the island of Santorini are to rent a vehicle, take the bus, or jump on an island tour. 

→ How to Visit Oia Santorini: Best Hotels + Sunset and Castle Tips

Santorini Rental Car Guide

Santorini Rental Car vs Bus System

One of the reasons you might decide against a Santorini rental car is that there is actually a decent bus system. However, that does come with some warning! Taking the bus can get crowded in the busy summer months and even overpacked at times. 

Only heading to one specific town or somewhere on the main bus route? Then you may not need a rental car in Santorini.

Obviously, there are some major benefits to taking the bus. It’s very inexpensive, you won’t have to deal with parking, and the public transportation runs year-round.

The bus can fine for some people on vacation, but there are drawbacks. For instance, you won’t be able to explore at your own pace and may be planning your days around the bus schedule. 

Depending on the time of year, you also might be showing up to your destination with a bus load of other tourists. This can be annoying as you’ll feel like you need rush around and beat the crowds.

At the end of the day, there are so many beautiful places and viewpoints that you can only reach by renting a car in Santorini! Yet, you may find yourself utilizing a mix of both car and bus if you have multiple days on the island.

Be sure to check out our post here to learn more about the bus system on Santorini. We also wrote a full guide for visiting Santorini on a budget!

Santorini Rental Car or Bus

Can Renting a Car in Santorini Save You Money? 

This is a funny thing that we were thinking about while traveling around Santorini. During our visits, we stumbled upon small villages, beach towns, and beautiful hotels overlooking the ocean… The only thing is they aren’t in Fira or Oia! 

So often, travelers come to Santorini and only see the two most famous villages. While they are absolutely stunning and worth seeing, know that there is so much more to this famous Greek island. 

Additionally, the hotels on other parts of Santorini can cost 1/4th of what you would pay for the caldera view. The only issue is that they aren’t always the easiest to get to!

If your lifelong dream has always been to travel to Santorini and stay in one of the famous cave hotels we understand. You can literally swim in a pool overlooking the Aegean Sea and watch the magical Santorini sunset from your balcony! 

However, if you are looking for a more affordable option then staying in the smaller towns could be better. Even including the cost of renting a car on Santorini, it will likely be cheaper to stay outside of Fira and Oia than splurging for a hotel with an iconic view. 

Another huge cost factor is the time of year you visit. By doing a quick search just now we found a week long Santorini car rental for only $100 USD!

Keep in mind this deal was for the month of May. A different week in the middle of August will cost at least $350, and even more for an automatic vehicle.

Is Renting A Car in Santorini Worth It?

How Long Do You Need Your Car Rental in Santorini?

Something we should point out is that you may not need a Santorini car rental for your whole visit! It actually may be smarter to just have it for day trips or just a couple days out of a longer itinerary.

Many high-end hotels actually work with Santorini rental car companies and even offer a free delivery service to your accommodation. That way you can time the pick up of the car for first thing in the morning and have an entire day to see the island.

Once you get out and start to drive around Santorini you’ll quickly see how massive it is. There is a main road the leads out of the popular towns and takes you along the beautiful coast.

Santorini Rental Car Tips

3 Main Santorini Rental Car Locations

Decided that renting a car in Santorini is right for you? Well, there is something else to think about! It’s now time to figure out where you’re picking it up from.

The best prices can often be from the airport. Yet, if you will only have it for a couple of days then one of the other rental locations might make more sense.

Remember that even though it’s an island you’ll be able to book all car types from standard to high end luxury cars. 

We always use Discover Cars while traveling. They make it easy to compare all the different companies and filter by pickup location. 

Santorini International Airport

If you plan to get it a rent a car in Santorini as soon as you arrive then the airport is the best way to go. Most rental agencies have branches nearby and offer shuttle services to the office.

Taxis and private transfers can be pricy from Santorini Airport. By renting a car on Santorini you can avoid additional costs and get the best rates when you land!

Rent a car in Santorini Airport

Fira Town

Fira is the capital of Santorini and one of the main places to see on the island. You will have no problem finding a rental car company in this zone. As always, we recommend planning ahead to get a great price and guarantee your booking. 

This still applies even if you only need the car rental in Santorini for just a day or two. Know that many of the best car hire deals are ones you get by searching months in advance!

→ 12 Fun Facts That Might Surprise You About Fira Santorini

Renting a car in Fira Santorini

Santorini Ferry Port

This is something you might have not thought about if it’s your first visit to the island. If you are arriving by ferry you will want to book with one of the Santorini car rental companies that have a physical office in the Santorini port. 

Just to make it very clear, this is different than if you are arriving on a cruise ship. Cruises dock in the bay and shuttle guests up the gondola which takes you directly to Fira Town. 

Santorini Car Rental

More Tips for Renting a Car in Santorini 

If you go to Santorini and only stay in Fira or Oia then there is so much you will be missing out on. Ideally, you will to have at least a day or two with a car to explore!

This way you can visit some of the amazing smaller villages, unique beaches, and discover all the best things to do in Santorini. Here are some more quick tips to help you on your journey!

1. Book a small rental car if possible. The roads around the island are busy in the summer months and can be very tight. 

2. Use a rental agency that has good reviews and a pickup location that fits your schedule. You don’t want to have to pay for extra taxis just to get your rent a car on Santorini.

3. Visiting Santorini in July or August? Book ahead for the more affordable prices and get on the road early. You will feel like you have the island to yourself if you are out exploring first thing in the morning. This is especially true if it’s before the cruise ships dock!

4. Santorini is large, but still not big enough where you’ll need to worry about having unlimited mileage. Still, make sure you have a valid driving license from your home country and an international drivers permit if possible. Sometimes we have been asked for this in Greece, and other times we haven’t.

5. Make sure the car is in good condition and document any scratches or dings when picking it up. The last thing you want to happen is to be hit with an extra charge if you didn’t make the damage! 

6. There are more manual cars than automatic cars on the island of Santorini. If you need an automatic then be sure to filter for it during your online search.

7. Finally, don’t take the car on a ferry to a different island without specific written permission. Many companies don’t allow it and you’ll face a huge fine if you get caught.

Tips for Renting a Car in Santorini 

Should You Rent a Car on Santorini?

If you couldn’t tell already… Yes! We highly recommend renting a car in Santorini for at least a day or two of your trip. While it may not be necessary for the entire visit, having a vehicle will allow you to see so many amazing places that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. 

With that said, everyone has a different travel style and budget to work with. Hopefully, this helped with your own decision. The rental prices can be a little crazy during the summer. Yet, it’s absolutely worth it if you want to explore outside the main towns of the island. 

This is the BEST Sunset in Santorini View (Surprise It’s Not Oia!)

Do you need a car on Santorini?

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own experience renting a car on Santorini? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

 Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Where to Stay in Santorini Greece

Here are some hotel recommendations as well as inspiration for different areas of the island. As you can see, there is something for every type of traveler on Santorini!

Oia: Canaves Oia EpitomeKastro Oia HousesAllure Breeze Suites – The most iconic village in Santorini Greece with beautiful white-washed buildings & famous island and sunset views.

Fira: Atlantis HotelPantelia SuitesEste Luxury Suites – The capital of Santorini is a great hub with lots of nightlife and shopping. 

Imerovigli: MerovigliossoKasimatis by La PerlaWhitedeck Santorini – Traditional village with a laid-back feel. Yet still, with plenty of high-end hotels and restaurants.

Kamari: Makris Beach Hotel La Bellezza Eco Boutique Hotel Kalya Suites – Fun black sand beach town with lively bars and restaurants that run along the promenade. Great options for travelers on a budget. 
 
Akrotiri:Kalestesia Suites  – Potnia Theron Suites  – Kokkinos Villas – Mountain village set on the far side of the caldera near Red Beach and the Minoan ruins. 
 
Pyrgos: Apikia SantoriniPyrgos 1870, A restored WineryFlora’s House & Cave Winery  – The ancient capital of Santorini and its highest sitting town. Great views and also home to the island’s best vineyards. 

PIN FOR LATER 

Santorini Car

Greece Travel Planning 

Information: Explore all our articles on Greece and the many different islands we cover such as Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete & Milos!

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! 

 Flights: We always check Skyscanner and Kayak to search for cheap flights. That’s how we got from Athens to Santorini for under $50 USD!

 Accommodation: Always compare multiple sites to get the best deal. We search both Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 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.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!

Santorini

*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Share:

4 Comments

  1. E. Vargas
    February 19, 2024 / 8:12 pm

    I cannot find anywhere that I can rent a car in the Old Port-Santorini, coming off of a cruise ship on June 12th, 2024. There’s KRONOS but they do not rent at the Old Port from May 16th through September 15th. I really want to drive the island and not only see the typical tourist areas. Most everywhere has a presence at the Santorini Port only, which is where the ferry comes in—No luck with Discover Cars either. Any suggestions?

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      February 20, 2024 / 2:25 am

      Hey! Yes, that is correct. There are no rental car locations at the old port as it’s located under the cliffs below the town of Fira. You will have to hike the steep stairs, or take the gondola to the top. This brings you directly into the capital town.

      Many rental car companies will be walking distance from there all around Fira. Definitely try and be the first off the boat if you’re tight on time. Hope that helps!

  2. May
    January 15, 2024 / 3:48 am

    I visited Athens before and fell in love with it! Santorini is also on my bucket list so your tips here are really helpful! I’m definitely going to consider renting a car if I ever get to visit Santorini!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      January 15, 2024 / 3:51 am

      So glad it was helpful! Renting a car in Santorini can be such a fun way to see the island

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *