Santorini is a charming Greek island in the Aegan Sea, most known for its white houses covered with blue roofs, surrounded by traditional windmills on the hills, and crystal-clear waters underneath. Santorini looks like a perfect summer postcard.
Santorini - also known as Thíra – is the largest island in the circular archipelago that forms the Cyclades, which was the site of biggest volcanic eruptions more than 3.600 years ago. The eruption destroyed the thriving Greek civilization. The remains and evidence of this natural disaster can be found at the Minoan Town of Akrotíri – one of the most important ancient sites on Santorini. Car hire at Santorini Airport and drive up to this historic site to explore the excavations of the Minoan prehistoric civilization that lived there centuries ago. Santorini’s east coast is lesser known than the celebrated, elevated west coast. The east side of the island is filled with black sand beaches; however, on the south coast you will find the dramatic Red Beach – best known for its multicolored sand.
Car hire in Santorini will allow you to discover and experience a mythical treasure with breathtaking views over the Aegean Sea.
Basic info and car hire in Santorini
Location: Southern Aegean Sea, Southeast of Greece's mainland
Population: 15,550 (2015)
Official language: Greek
Currency: Euro (€)
Weather: Santorini has Mediterranean climate, the season mainly split into two – summer (with daily average lows at around 20°C, whist daily highest can reach over 30°C) and winter (average daily low temperatures range between 10°C and 14°C, whilst daily high temperatures range between 19°C and 25°C). Read more»
Public holidays in Santorini: For public holidays in Santorini click here»
Internet coverage: Hotels, bars, restaurants, and cafés are mostly equipped with Wi-Fi. Free wireless Internet access is available in main points in Fira, Oia, Messaria, Imerovigli, Exo Gonia, Pyrgos, Karterados and Akrotiri.
Road conditions: Roads are quite narrow and often cobbled.
Driving in Santorini
Within the various towns and villages, the roads on Santorini can be narrow and often cobbled, adding a little bit of charm to your car hire experience. Still, it’s essential to bear in mind that the environment and obstacles differ from European roads – keep an eye on for the steep and curved roads, sharp turns, pedestrians, and local drivers.
- Age limits: In order to rent any vehicle you have to be 18 years old (some rent a car companies require that the driver has to be older than 23 and have a valid drivers license for at least a year)
- International Driving Permit: For visitors who are residents of the USA, Canada, Australia, India, China, Korea, Japan, and some others.
- Additional papers: Your insurance policy and passport.
- Additional requirements: If you plan to drive your own car, you need a valid registration and proof of internationally valid insurance (check beforehand with your insurance company) in addition to your IDL.
- Children in the car: Passengers under the age of 10 years old cannot sit in the front seat. Additionally, children under 3 years old are required to use a car seat.
- Driving side of the road: Drive on the right side of the road.
- Lights: Dipped headlights have to be used at night and in poor daytime visibility, but it is recommended to use them every time.
- General speed limits: Typically, urban areas have speed limits of 50 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour) while non-urban roads have a speed limit of 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour), and freeways and expressways have speed limits of up to 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour).
- Parking suggestions: There are free parking places everywhere, so parking is not a problem.
What to see in Santorini
Santorini is considered one of the top places to visit in the world. Check our Santorini travel guide to discover the most magical sights on this unique island. Let the exploration begin!
Our favourite spots
Romantic sunset in Oia
One of the highlights of every trip to Santorini is its magnificent sunsets. Experiencing the sunset from Oia, will make you feel like you are living inside the most amazing postcard rich with golden colors. We do recommend arriving to the location prior to the sunset to secure a spot for viewing of the beautiful sunset since this is a very popular tourist destination.
Parking in most places in Oia and all over the island is a free, however it can be a bit chaotic during peak hours.
Akrotiri Minoan Site
Akrotiri was the ancient city that was turned into ruins due to the enormous volcanic eruptions. Like the destiny of the Pompeii in Italy, Akrotiri was fully covered with ashes and lava. Located on the southern side of the island near the village of Akrotiri and Red beach, the archaeological site remains an incredible tourist attraction taking you on an exploration of the Minoan civilisation.
There is a huge parking just opposite of the entrance of the site.
Caldera in Santorini is the result of the volcanic explosion in the Mediterranean that occurred thousands of years ago. The popular myth links the Caldera to the famous legend of Atlantis. Today we can witness this natural Greek wonder as a landscape filled with step rocks and cliffs.
Parking is generally free but in the high season it can be quite a challenge to finding a free parking space.
Red beach is filled with multicolour volcanic rocks; therefore, it creates a unique and dramatic landscape. It is located near the ancient site of Akrotiri on the south coast of Santorini. The beach is surrounded by red cliffs from the one side, while the other side is embraced by the clear Aegean Sea.
Park your car at the parking space at Akrotiri and continue walking down to the beach.
Hotels in Santorini
Drive your rental car around Santorini
Santorini is a stunning island! To fully enjoy all the benefits of a car hire in Santorini you should take a road trip around the island.
Firá is the cosmopolitan capital of Santorini, located upon the high edge of Caldera cliff. From the city you will be able to get an amazing view of the volcano, that is still active to this day. But don’t worry, the last, rather small and weak eruption was recorded over 70 years ago. For all those explorers out there, that wish to take a closer look at the volcano, we suggest you take your car hire in Santorini and drive down to the Fira old port where they offer boat tours to the site of the volcano and Caldera.
Oia is considered one of the most beautiful sights on Santorini. This picturesque village attracts thousands and thousands of tourists every year from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the idyllic sunset. Keeping that in mind, make sure to reserve your spot at least 30 minutes before the sunset, since the sunset viewing spot tends to get crowded. To avoid the crowd, we suggest parking car hire in Santorini and walking up to the old windmills and lighthouse to get a better view of the sunset.
Santorini is dotted with vast vineyards and traditional villages that let you see beyond the tourist hustle. Make a stop in the town of Pyrgos and wander through charming streets, and while you are there grab a traditional gyro. Car hire at Santorini Airport makes the trips between villages easier, as the region is easily accessible by road connections.
On your road trip, you simply have to include a visit to one of many Santorini wineries. Most of them can be found in the central and southern part of the island, for example: in villages like Mesa and Exo Gonia, Megalochori and Messaria. Most of the large wineries are available for an organized wine tour with tastings. We recommend visiting one of the most famous Santo Wines or Volcan Wines. The volcanic soil and the Mediterranean climate gives the wine its special and unique flavour like you never tasted before. All the local wineries are easily reachable if you book a car hire in Santorini.
Where to eat, drink and party in Santorini
There are lots of places to eat and drink in Santorini, as the island us one of the top tourist destinations in Greece. Restaurants, cafe, and bars are found all around the island, from popular spots like Fira, Oia, Perissa, and Kamari, to more secluded places.
This upscale restaurant housed in an old captain's house which dates to the 16th century is located near the Cathedral of Fira. Having dinner on their terrace offers stunning views of the sun setting into the Aegean Sea, adding extra charm to your fine dining experience.
Chilli Bar is located on the famous Perivolos Beach, which is known for its crystal-clear waters. Today the bar is one of the hottest destinations on Santorini, attracting numerous fun lovers from all over the world who seek a fun night out.
Located in the center of Fira, with a magnificent view of the Caldera landscape, the rrestaurant has a closed dining hall as well as an open terrace, perfect for entertaining larger groups. The restaurant provides its gusts with exceptional dishes that combines both Mediterranean and Californian cuisines.
Located on the road between Kamari and the new Athinios port. From its terrace, you can admire the beautiful view over Kamari. It has an outstanding Greek cuisine, serving well-cooked traditional dishes with fresh local ingredients. The plates are based on meat and vegetables, cheese and herbs.
Major events and festivals in Santorini
Megaron Gyzi FestivalAugust
The Festival of Megaron Gyzi, takes place during the first three weeks of Augustand its located in Gyzi Cultural Centre in the capital of Santorini. It includes live concerts and several art exhibitions.
Santorini Jazz FestivalJuly
The Santorini Jazz Festival takes place in the hisgh season of July, and it is dedicated to the lovers of Jazz music. Famous Jazz musicians and performers from the Greek and international scene will entertain you with their jazz rhythms.
The Ifestia Festival or the Greek Volcano festival is organized annually in Santorini. It involves a visual representation of the eruption of the Santorini's volcano with fireworks and a series of interesting events, concerts and dance performances that will take your breath away.
International Music FestivalSeptember
The International Music Festival welcomes artists from the international music scene to perform at concerts for two weeks during September. Enjoy the music from all around the world in the middle of island.