Driving in Greece, especially in Athens, might seem difficult or even intimidating, but there is a certain rhythm — and once you get into it, driving in Greece is a breeze.
If you really want to experience the country, especially mainland locations, having your own rental car is almost essential.
“The first thing a visitor must make sure of is that they have an international driving permit (IDP) if needed,” noted Nicolas Haddad, the owner of Athens Car Rental.
Haddad has extensive experience in the car rental market and his tips on what visitors should take into consideration before renting a car in Greece might save you a lot of time and money!
Non-EU travelers are required to hold an IDP together with a valid national driver’s license if they wish to rent vehicles in Greece. A recent law, passed in May of 2018, calls for hefty fines for both customers and rental services and even the seizure of the vehicle, if this rule is violated.
“Some car rental companies do not inform the visitor that they need an international driving permit. What they do is include a clause in the contract saying that if the driver gets a ticket by the police for driving without the permit required, then the driver will be obliged to pay the fine,” Haddad noted.
He added, “it’s very easy to get an IDP issued in any country. It doesn’t take more than half an hour, usually there are some online systems, and it costs about $20 to $25.”
Other documents needed to rent a car in Greece include a passport or ID and a credit card for the guarantee.
Regarding car insurance, Haddad also underlined that “A customer should, first of all, read what the policy includes and what it excludes. And once they are at the airport they should take photos of the car with the agent during the delivery so they won’t get charged for any hidden damages or pre-existing damages.”
On the upside, Haddad told the Greek Reporter that “most car rental companies in Athens have new cars. They don’t keep a car for over 4 years because of the high mileage.”
Athens Car Rental takes into consideration the needs of the customer before recommending a specific car for rent. As the owner says, “We ask customers to describe their parties, how many people will be traveling in the car and how much luggage space they need.”
Additionally, because standard cars in Greece have a manual gear box, if a visitor wants an automatic, they need to specify this up front, as less than 25% of all rental cars are automatic.
To be honest, parking in Athens can be very difficult. A visitor should check with their hotel if they have private parking; otherwise Haddad highly recommends asking “if the hotel has a deal for special discount rates with a private parking lot in the area because the car needs to be parked in a secure private parking!” This will keep the car safe from theft or damage and parked appropriately so you don’t get a ticket. He also emphasizes to “never leave luggage or personal belongings visible in the car”.
Furthermore, road signs are easy to understand since they contain no text and most resemble European signs. A driver must “be careful of hidden/removed road signs and it is highly recommended to stop at all small roads conjunctions!.”
Finally, the owner of Athens Car Rental suggests “before going for the cheapest option, check and review Touristic Forums for reliable car rental services!.”