Where and What to Hire
Surprisingly for a small island, Santorini has a reasonable number of international and local car rental firms to choose from. Avis, budget, Tipoa and Santorini Car Hire are all available from Santorini Airport. Across the island, Santorini Rent a Car, Hertz, Enterprise and Lion Rental all have branches on the northwest coast of the island. Coolcars Car Hire can be found at Thira ferry port on the west coast while Santorini Car Hire, Mark’s Bikes, Accordo Car Rental and Romani Rent a Car are all located on the south east coast. All type of vehicles from cars, bikes and scooters are available for hire. Small two-door city car and larger family cars cater for all visitors to the island of Santorini.
Driving on Santorini is, on the whole a very pleasant experience, made so by the endless stretches of blue sea and sky that you see from the car window. Roads could be in better condition but they are not dire. Some Greek drivers can be a little on the ‘crazy’ side and don’t always observe the usual niceties of road travel so it is best to be on your guard. Sometime, a lack of road signs can add to the general frustration. The speed limit is between 30 and 60 miles per hour depending on whether you are in a town or on the open road. Take care as there are many winding roads with cliff side drops. Also, pedestrians at crossing do not have priority as is the case in most of Europe. Beware of narrow roads and oncoming lorries – one of you will have to stop and let the other pass. Finally, note that roads are much busier on Santorini in the summer season, with July and August being the busiest months.
Parking on Santorini is usually plentiful, except perhaps during the height of the summer holiday season. Most parking is free and parking on street is the norm, as long as it appears to be safe and your car is not causing a blockage or disruption. Some roads have no-parking signs which make it obvious that cars are not allowed to park there. Many hotels, museums, shopping areas and restaurants also offer free parking.
Where to Go and What to See
Having a car on Santorini is a real must, particularly for those with families or those wanting to explore the island at their own pace. Faros, in Akrotiri in the southern tip of the island, is one of the best places to see the sunset. Often tourist free and peaceful, this is one of the island’s most romantic spots. Akrotiri also happens to be a pre-historic city with the added elegance of stunning 17th century architecture. Scuba divers will love Santorini for its spectacular dive locations where divers can see the volcanic seabed in some areas and the bottomless depths of the Caldera in others. Nea Kameni Island, in the middle of the flooded Caldera, happens to be one of the most violent volcanoes in the world and the possible site of the lost city of Atlantis. The volcano can be toured by boat, or walked around. Those who want a more relaxing watery experience should visit Thirasia on the little island across from Santorini, where swimming in the old harbour at Korfos is like swimming in a warm bath. Families holidaying with children will find plenty to keep the little ones happy. If the breath-taking white sand beaches and bathwater warm seas don’t do the trick then a trip to Santorini Water Park should with its wave pools, chutes, slides and lovely picnic areas. One of the best things about driving on Santorini is the magical sight that greets drivers around almost every bend in the road. That of dazzling white-stone houses and blue-domed churches, like those in the magical village of Oia, all with a backdrop of cloudless skies and clear blue seas that it is impossible to tire of.