Hiring a car in Santorini Airport
Santorini Airport, also known as Thira Airport, is tiny, with only one main building servicing all flights into the island. There are three car rental companies that operate out of this airport; these are Hertz, Europcar and Budget, and they can be found in the Arrivals Hall for both terminals.
There are a range of vehicles you can choose from, including small economy hatchbacks, medium sedans, and passenger vans. Most vehicles on the island have manual transmissions, but there are automatic options. However, it is important to note that in summer (June-August) the island gets extremely busy, and it is worth booking your car in advance.
Leaving Santorini Airport
Santorini island is small, and so navigating by car is easy. The main town of Thira is only a 15 minute drive away from the airport, follow the main road, Epar.Od. Firon-Ormou Perissis, and then follow the signposts to Thira.
For Oia, drive on Epar. Od. Firon-las and follow the road along the coast, to the end of the island where Oia sits, the whole drive taking around 35 minutes.
For Perissa and Akrotiri, the beach resorts of the island, you must head southwest towards Pyrgos, before taking either the corresponding Epar. Od Akrotiriou, or the Firon-Ormou Perissis, both on the south side of the island, and each take a total of around 25 minutes.
Typically rental companies want their vehicles returned with a full tank of petrol, luckily, in Santorini there are fuel stations on all of the major roads on the island, the one closest to the airport is situated on Epar. Od. Mesarius-Archeas Thiras, a road which is you follow will take you through to Mesaria and then onto Thira.
Driving in Santorini
Santorini is not a large island: driving from the most southerly tip of Santorini island, to its most northern point only takes an hour. However, it is worth noting that the roads are very windy, and in some places not especially well maintained. One of the roads to Oia follows a high ridge, with a fairly long drop on one side, so it is important that when you are driving in Santorini that you are alert, and cautious, especially if you choose to drive at night.
Parking on the island is mostly free, with very few officially designated places to park, so you can park anywhere where there aren’t ‘No Parking’ signs. Just use your common sense when finding safe, and unobstructive places to leave your vehicle.
Please be aware that in the peak tourist period of June-August, you will find parking in the main towns of Oia and Thira can become more difficult, and traffic can get very congested.
Greece does require foreign drivers outside of the EU to get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Often rental companies will not ask to see this, but for insurance purposes you need to have it on you. Please make sure you carry your IDP and license with you when you are driving in Greece.
What can you see and do in Santorini?
Santorini is a dramatic volcanic island, with unique geography to Greece. Visit Akrotiri on the southwestern side of the island, where you can see the remains of the city that was destroyed when the volcano erupted in the 17th century.
Take a boat out to the centre of the caldera to Nea Kameni island, and walk to its crater, where you can see the once the boiling heart that exploded thousands of years ago to create the Santorini we now know.
Cruise along down to Perissa and Kamari to relax along their striking, and beautiful black beaches. You can take a dip in the azure ocean, and take in the view of the monolithic Mesa Vouno that rises up between Kamari and Perissa.
Once you are done relaxing on the south side of the island, hop in the car to the north side to catch the sunset at Oia, the most beautiful town on the island. Teetering on the cliff sides of the rocky caldera, Oia has some of the most breathtaking views in Greece. Just be sure to get there early, and find a quiet spot in a café to truly enjoy this natural spectacle.
Please note all information is current as of October 2015.