7 Useful Tips for Hiring a Car in Greece
Traveling to a far off corner of the world can be really exciting. There will be no shortage of sights to be seen, and history to be envisioned. Greece is home to a lot of both. From mountain roads that overlook the sea, to the narrow streets of some hard to find town, Greece can offer a lot for business, pleasure, and for driving enthusiasts.
There is no shortage of car rental companies either, like Corfu Car Hire if you’re planning to visit this particular area of Greece, so do feel free to match the car to the company to your specific needs. However, the rules between them can vary differently, much like the cars they may have available.
You should try to stick to a car rental company that is located within the area that you are landing in if you are going to be staying local. If you are going to travel across Greece, you will want to find a company that is close to your landing area and has a location at your end destination. Be mindful of any ferry regulations that your rental company may have.
To get you started with driving in Greece, follow these useful tips.
Get the Proper Driver’s License
No matter where in the world you may have learned to drive, your license only covers you in that region. You will either need to have a Greek driver’s license, or the more probable International Driver’s Permit (IDP).
Obtaining an IDP can easily be done online, by obtaining a form, printing it off and posting it out. Most will require you to be are at least 18 years old, submit a copy of your current driver’s license, a completed application, and a couple of passport sized photographs, as well as the prerequisite fee.
Upon receipt of your IDP, it cannot be used as a replacement for your driver’s license; however, it must be used alongside of your normal driver’s license while driving abroad.
However, there are some other restrictions that should be considered. The legal driving age in Greece is 21, and many rental companies charge higher rates for renters that are under the age of 25. There may also be car model restriction based on your age, and the amount of driving experience you may or may not have had.
Book in Advance
Making arrangements for a hired car should be treated like any other arrangement. The further in advance that you can make the arrangements, usually the cheaper or more accommodating the rental company can be.
Booking in advance allows you to have a better selection of cars and pickup locations. It can also include lower rates. It is suggested that you book in an advance of two to three weeks, but if you’re making your travel plans longer in advance, why not take advantage of that and see if you can nail down your exact needs.
Get the Additionals
Hiring a car abroad may not be covered by your normal insurance policies. The best practice is to double check everything within your policy and get any questions answered in writing by your local agent.
It would also be prudent to double check with your credit card provider or providers to see what benefits they have when dealing with foreign car rentals. It’s not uncommon for some of them to have a built in insurance policy for you. Again, if you have questions you should always get them answered in writing.
It would be prudent to pay for anything that the rental company has in terms of added insurance that would cover anything outside of your regular policy coverage. While you may feel the likelihood of something bad happening is minimal, you should be extra cautious and have the extras because you never know what can go wrong during your stay abroad.
After you are sure that you are safely covered for insurances, it’s time to make sure you get the added equipment you will need to get around with. Make sure you have a GPS system in the vehicle, or bring one of your own. A map and compass wouldn’t be a bad idea either, as you can never be exactly sure how well covered each road is on a GPS, or on a map.
Know the Roads
Driving where we gained our skills comes as second nature after a long period of time, however this will not always be the case when driving abroad. The transition from left side driving to right side driving or the other way around can be extremely stressful. Greece, however, is a right side driving country; so it may require some getting used to for visitors who come from countries where left side driving is the norm.
A good portion of Greece is connected via major highways, which should feel normal, but you should be aware of the fact that the center lane of a three lane highway is for passing purposes only. A good majority of the highways are also toll roads; having a budget for this expense will also ensure minimal stress.
The city and inner city roads however could prove to be stressful as the lanes tend to narrow and turns become tighter than what we may already be accustomed too. Parking may become an issue as there is no curb side parking.
In the outskirts or more rural areas, roads are often unpaved and merge into a singular lane that is used by both directions of traffic. Along with the extremely scenic routes comes with extremely dangerous roads. There is a potential for blind curves in the road, no-railed sections of a cliffside or mountain pass, or very winding hairpin roads heading up and down the mountains.
With islands being a part of Greece, there are ferries that you can take instead of relying on car transportation or use them to take your car from one island to the next. This however may not be covered or allowed according to your rental agreement. Be sure to determine in writing how your car rental company feels about traversing ferries.
Know How to Drive a Standard
The normal transmission type for the European side of the world is the standard or manual transmission. If you do not know how to drive a common 5 speed, then chances are you will have a difficult time without prior planning.
This does go back to booking your rental in advance, as obtaining an automatic transmission might prove to be difficult. Knowing how to drive a standard may reduce the possibility of having to pay a hefty repair cost in the event you do any mountain driving however.
Bigger Might Be Better
You could hire a cheaper car just based off of size. This will appeal to those who are frugal, however; it all does come down to circumstance. Consider your specific needs, but be warned that European cars tend to run smaller than their American counterparts.
It may be beneficial to take a larger sized car for greater visibility alone, instead of how much luggage or how many passengers the vehicle can comfortably handle. Being more visible to other motorists as well as having an increased field of vision reduces the likelihood of being involved in an accident.
Use Common Sense
Cultivating a plan or itinerary for your trip to Greece will help you get the correct tools. While Greece does have some long and beautifully scenic routes that can be taken, especially in Corfu, you have to stay within your comfort zone.
Not everyone will feel comfortable traversing the narrow roads along the scenic routes, even though it can be quite fun and offers rare photographic opportunities. The highways do offer direct routes to most of the major cities of mainland Greece, so getting to the major attractions shouldn’t be all that hard and the drive can be quite relaxing.
If you are traveling for business then it will probably be best to stay in a localized area for hiring and returning your rental car. If you are traveling Greece for pleasure then you will want to have the ability to use ferries.
There are a lot of rental car companies in Greece, each of them having their own rules and availability for getting around. Use the above tips to help you determine how best to navigate the roadways of beautiful Greece.
Keep in mind the minimum age of 21 and having the correct driver’s licenses. The sooner you have both, the sooner you can start the booking processes. You should make sure that you have enough time before actually needing the car to save a little money, and to ensure that you have the car make and model that you want; or the transmission type you need.
Get any and all additional coverages you feel you may need after you have determined how well you are currently covered. Extra coverage may seem like a costly suggestion, but it might just save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Plan for anything else you might want like a satellite radio or GPS system. This will help you to know the roadways that cover Greece. Having a map and or compass can only help you to make driving in Greece as easy as possible.
In the event that you cannot get an automatic, you will have to know how to drive a manual or standard transmission. Knowing how to drive a manual may save you some brake pads if you are doing any mountain driving. Lastly, having a bigger than your normal vehicle can add a safety cushion to all your driving.
Above all else, use your own common sense. Drive safely and defensively.