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Basic info and car hire in Athens

  • Location: Central Greece
  • Population: 3.414 million (2011)
  • Official language: Greek   
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  •  Weather: Subtropical Mediterranean climate. Summers in Athens are hot and dry with an average temperature above 25°C (77°F), winters are mild with moderate rainfall and an average temperature around 10 °C (50°F). Click here for more.
  • Internet coverage: Many hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés in Athens are equipped with Wi-Fi.
  • Car hire in Athens: The best option for hiring a car in Athens is Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos". To ensure you have the lowest car hire price, make a car booking from 3 to 8 weeks prior to your vehicle collection. Alternatively, it's possible to get a great last minute car hire deal also. Find the best car hire deal in Athens!

About Athens

The city of Athens was named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. It is considered as the cradle of democracy and  is a cosmopolitan metropolis. Thanks to its long history and famous gods and goddesses, it is brimming with magnificent monuments, ancient temples, impressive mansions and amazing museums. A large portion of the Athens historic centre has been converted into a 3 km (1mi) pedestrian zone. This area is a journey from past to present, since it offers an insight to classic ancient times and other historic periods, the architectural growth and all phases of the city evolution until the 21st century. Visit Athens Town Hall, shop for meat, fish and vegetables at the Municipal Market and admire the size of Kotzias Square. Explore the unique Monastiraki neighbourhood with its clubs, bars, restaurant and taverns that will keep you up all night. Climb the arboraceous Lycavittos Hill and enjoy a spectacular view of the entire city all the way to the sea. Be sure to visit the lively neighbourhoods as well. If you wish to leave the city centre behind you, drive to Greece’s main port, the town of Piraeus, and to Daphni Monastery (11 km/6 mi west). Take pictures of one of the two UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in Athens, the fascinating Byzantine monuments (11th century), with exceptional mosaics. Stop at the 2nd century Kaisariani Monastery (5 km/3mi east), which was presumably dedicated to the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.



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Driving in Athens

  • Suitable for tourists: Good connections. Traffic on multi-lanes and toll roads flows comfortably.
  • Problematic areas: Traffic in Athens is heavy. Drive on the large main roads (such as Leoforos and Attiki Odos) as much as possible. These roads will allow you a faster travel. Traffic in the centre of Athens is restricted, partly to ease traffic jams, but mostly to minimize pollution. The area is defined by a sign with a prominent "Δ" and is in effect September through June.
  • Age limits: 18 (In order to hire a car, some companies require that a driver must have a driver license for at least a year and be older than 21)
  • International Driving Permit: Yes
  • Additional papers: ID (passport) and the proof of insurance (It is advisable to buy insurance at the rent a car company, in case that your policy does not cover your insurance while driving in Athens.)
  • Additional requirements: A warning triangle is compulsory and a reflective jacket must be kept within reach of the driver inside vehicle.
  • Children in the car: Children under 10 may not be driven in the front seat. Child seats are mandatory for children up to the age of 4. Children between 3 and 11 years, measuring less than 1.35m must be seated in an appropriate child restraint for their size.
  • Drink & drive: maximum BAC = 0.05 % (0,02 % for new drivers with less than 2 years of experience in driving)
  • Driving side of the road: right side
  • Lights: Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility. The use of full beam headlights in towns is strictly prohibited.
  • General speed limits: 130kph on motorways (110kph in wet weather and on urban motorways), 90kph on other roads outside built-up areas, 50kph in build-up areas
  • Parking suggestions: There are numerous parking spots near the main attractions however, finding a vacant one might take you longer than expected. You might want to consider leaving your rental somewhere near a metro or tram stop and use public transportation to explore the city centre. Don’t leave any valuables in the car.
  • Best time to visit: Athens and Greece in general experience warm weather throughout the year, but if you want to avoid the heat and hordes of tourists then spring or autumn might be your preference. If you want to see a performance at Odeon of Herodes Atticus or attend at least one of the many festivals occurring in Athens, plan your trip in the summer time. If you want to get a great price on a room and don’t mind the occasional rain, discover Athens in the winter time.

Drive your rental car around Athens

Got some extra time in Athens? Have you seen the Acropolis and walked through the Plana? If not, then it is time to head out. Drive your hire car to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. It is a magnificent site on top of the hill, just on the tip of the Attika peninsula. The temple was the first and the last sign of ‘civilization’ Athenian sailors would see to and from their journeys.

The ancient site of Delphi is a perfect destination for a day trip from Athens. It takes about 3 hours to get there by bus, so most people opt to hire a car and drive there themselves. Delphi is a place where the succession of oracles interpreted messages from the gods for the benefit of those seeking wisdom. It is a huge site, spread over the slopes of Mount Parnassus, that contains a theatre and a stadium. Today it is protected by the UNESCO Word Heritage.

Another popular destination far day trip is Mycenae, located southwest of Athens. Now the ruins of a hilltop citadel were one the Bronze Age home of the legendary Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra. You can walk through the famous Lion’s Gate and see the characters from Homer’s tales of the Trojan Wars coming to life.

What to see in Athens

Our favourite spots

Hotels in Athens

Major events and festivals