Many first time visitors find it difficult to move around in the country they are visiting because of lack of knowledge of the cities transport system and where to rent a car if they so desire. This article is therefore intended to guide the tourist or visitor to Greece on the car rental industry, the age requirements, documentation, and all relevant information that will enable the individual enjoy his stay in Greece without running foul of the law. Renting a car is no doubt the most convenient and effective way of travelling around Greece to be able to visit interesting sites and historical monuments. Car rental firms operate in major towns and cities of Greece offering a wide range of vehicles from cars, buses and jeeps.
Before you can rent a car in Greece, you are expected to have a general knowledge of driving rules and regulations some of which include:
Drivers are expected to look out regularly for mopeds and motorcycles before making any manouvres even if they are not visible in the rearview mirror, as they may be in the “dead zone”,
Many large cities lack adequate road signs, so drivers are expected to slow down when approaching major crossroads whether they see a sign or not.
Speed limit around cities is 50 kph, 80 kph on the countryside and 130 kph on highways. But since locals don’t really adhere to these limits, there is need to drive with caution.
Parking space must be carefully selected and one must bear in mind that parking is prohibited in the central business districts of most major cities.
Obey all traffic lights and make sure you don’t move immediately the green light appears because there is a penchant for drivers to slip past just after the red light switches on. The penalty for disobeying traffic lights is very high and may be up to 700 Euro
Don’t drink and drive. First time offenders can be fined from 20 to 2000 Euro but more severe penalties apply for subsequent contraventions.
Do not speak on your cell phone while driving, but if you must, then use your hands free.
You must have an international driver’s license.
To be able to rent a car in Greece, you must have attained the minimum age of 21 years and must not be above 70 years old. In Greece, the following rules apply for the minimum age and possession of a driver’s license:
For age 21, you must have held your license for 1 year and for age 25, you must have held your license for 3 years. Within these age bracket, you are only allowed to drive a certain range of cars. There is a surcharge for drivers under 23 years.
There are a lot of toll roads in Greece. Most roads in Greece are tolled and payment is in cash. It is therefore very important to have cash on you to be able to drive without issues on Greek roads.
Most car rental agencies offer automatic transmission vehicles – cars, buses, jeeps and more to meet the needs and requirements of all clients whether they are single individuals or family groups. It may be possible to get a manual transmission vehicle, but automatic transmission, state of the art vehicles which in most cases are not more than three months old, are in vogue.
Before you can rent a car, you must be in possession of a driving license valid for at least one year from the date you pick up the vehicle. Valid driving licenses of all EU countries are accepted. Any Driving License printed with non-Roman Alphabet (Arabic, Japanese, and Cyrillic) must be accompanied by a valid International Driving Permit. All Driver’s licenses from countries outside of the European Union must be complemented by an international driver’s license. Please show a valid driver’s license and identity card/passport at the time of pick up.
Generally, payment is made by means of internationally accepted credit cards which include the following – American Express, Euro card/MasterCard, Diners Club, Visa or debit cards. Third party credit cards or any prepaid cards are not accepted. The person applying to rent the car must be the owner of the credit card. When paying with a credit card, the PIN of the credit card may be required. Prepaid cards are not accepted.
If you make your booking at a prepaid rate, the payment may be charged along with the total rental price together with any extras. The driver and mode of payment will be finalized at the time of reservation and cannot be changed. The confirmed credit card must be presented at the time of collection of the vehicle. Any additional costs that might arise during the car rental will be charged to that credit card. There is no refund for non-collection, late collection or early return of vehicle.
Amendment and cancellation of booking is possible 48 hours before commencement of contract.
Cost of rental for a week is between $150 for mini cars and up to $1200 for jeeps per week and other more luxuriant and comfortable cars that meet different needs. The average sales price for fuel per gallon in Greece is $6.44/gallon.
Renting a car is cheapest in winter and during this period you can rent a car for $114 per week and its most expensive during late summer and mid-autumn at an estimated amount of $273. In spring you can rent a car at $140 and enjoy your holiday while cruising your rented car.
In Greece, cars drive on the right so if you are from a country that drives on the left, you need to get accustomed to right hand drive before you can safely navigate the roads in Greece.
Avoid Car Rental Companies Rip Offs
To avoid being ripped off by smart car rental agencies, be sure to read carefully through the vouchers and if there is any extra that has been added which you believe you do not need, draw attention to it immediately before collecting the vehicle. It will be wise to have a photograph taken of the vehicle before collection to avoid arguments on the state of the body when you return the car. Ensure that spare tyres, jack and others tools are intact. Check and make sure all the indicator lights are functioning properly so you do not have to replace what you did mot damage. If there are any insurance clauses which do not properly serve your interest, you must also point these out.
Here are some of the car rental companies and agencies in Greece
Of course, yes! As an American driver, you can rent a car in Greece but in addition to your drivers permit, you need an International Driver’s License and proof that you have held the license for a period over one to two years depending on your age.
Important numbers in Greece
Emergency Police 100
Directory Assistance 11888
Road Assistance 10400
First Aid-Ambulance 166
Poison Treatment Center 210 779 3777
Tourist Police 171
Greece with so many historical and ancient monuments, beautiful beaches and a friendly population is a tourist’s delight and to be able to enjoy your vacation and visit some of those sights, renting a car is the best way to go. However, you must first of all be conversant with driving rules and regulations to avoid being fined by the local police for traffic offences. Fines range from the mild to the very severe for driving under a drunken state.