All the car rental options at Athens Airport and all the tips you should know. Where to pick up your vehicle and what to look out for when you drive in the city!
Last updated: 15 Dec 2023
Exploring Athens and its surroundings can be an adventure like no other, and sometimes, having your own set of wheels is just what you need to make the experience even richer.
While the city itself isn’t the most car-friendly, there are certain situations where renting a car can be a game-changer.
1) Staying outside the city center? A car becomes super handy if your accommodation isn’t close to public transportation.
2) Are the alluring beaches your main attraction? A car is your ticket to easy sea access.
3) Planning a day trip from Athens to Delphi or a multi-day exploration of mainland Greece? A car gives you the freedom and flexibility that can make these adventures unforgettable.
Now, let’s check the details of how to get around Athens efficiently, while also making the most of your rental car experience.
Athens Airport Car Rental: What to Look Out For
If you are among the visitors who need a car and are arriving in the city by air, the easiest way to rent one is to pick it up at the airport.
But before we look at the companies you will find inside the airport and those outside it – yes, some are a few kilometers away – let’s start with some general tips.
Having rented a car in Athens, in the Greek islands, and also abroad, here is what I’ve learned:
1) Compare prices and book a car online with the most reliable company you can find. If the price difference between a well-known and a lesser-known brand is only a few euros/dollars, it’s worth spending a little extra.
2) Before picking up the car, take photos or videos of the exterior of the vehicle. Look for any existing damage or scratches, and make sure to agree with the rental agent on the car’s condition before signing any documents. You don’t want to be held responsible for damage you didn’t cause.
3) Check the car’s interior as well for any signs of damage.
4) Opt for an insurance package that covers all damages and fully relieves you of any liability. The additional cost is usually a small fraction compared to what you would have to pay in case of an accident.
5) Note the fuel gauge and make sure to return the car with the same amount of fuel as when you picked it up.
6) Ask the rental agent if there are any issues with the car that you should be aware of. This might seem obvious, but rental agents often have long working hours, especially during the summer season. So, there’s a chance they might forget to inform you about something important.
Tips for Driving in Athens
Driving in Athens is not difficult as long as you stay alert and take a few important details into consideration.
Being mindful of certain rules will ensure you don’t face any unpleasant surprises.
Just wear your seat belt, keep your focus on the road, and adhere to the traffic rules:
1) Be extra careful with motorcycles, especially when changing lanes! Their riders often speed, weave between cars, and generally do not drive cautiously. So, stay vigilant!
2) It’s also important not to drive and talk on the phone unless you are using a Bluetooth headset. So, remember to pack one in your suitcase for Athens. This little detail can make your drive much more convenient.
3) Be cautious about where you park. In many areas, parking is prohibited, and you might receive a fine or have your license plates confiscated. Look out for signs by the streets to avoid parking in restricted zones.
4) Lastly, do not leave any valuables in the car. I have heard stories of people getting robbed and being left without extra clothes, money, and travel documents. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
How to Find the Car Rental Offices at Athens Airport
Currently, six car rental companies operate inside Athens International Airport: Avance, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and Sixt.
After you pick up your luggage and exit the arrivals hall, make your way between Gates 3 and 4.
You’ll easily spot the rental offices right in front of you; they’re impossible to miss.
Once you’ve completed the formalities and paperwork, head over to Gate 5.
You’ll notice a large parking area designated for tourist buses as you step outside.
The car rental parking is just across from this area, about 50 meters away.
Representatives from the six rental companies will be there, ready to guide you and hand over your car.
This is also where you’ll need to return the car when it’s time to depart.
Companies Without a Booth at Athens Airport
Besides the six companies mentioned earlier, you can also rent a car from additional companies such as Europcar, Green Motion, and Centauro.
However, these companies don’t have counters inside the airport as they keep their operating costs low.
So, if you opt for one of them, their representatives will be waiting for you outside the arrivals hall with a sign for identification.
Once all the customers are gathered, a shuttle bus will take you to the company’s parking lot.
These shuttle buses usually leave every 10 to 15 minutes, and the parking lots are typically 5 to 7 km (3 to 4 miles) away from the airport. The journey should take around 10 minutes.
If you happen to miss the bus, don’t worry, just wait for the next one.
It’s best not to attempt to walk the distance.
Navigating Through Athens: Alternative Options
In Athens, it’s important to consider the practical aspects of getting around.
While a car provides flexibility, it’s essential to take into account the city’s characteristics.
The streets in central Athens can be crowded, and parking can be a challenge.
Thankfully, you can have alternative options.
The public transportation system, especially the metro, is a practical choice for exploring the historical center.
It’s reliable and can be more affordable compared to the costs associated with driving.
Walking is also a feasible option in Athens.
It allows for a more relaxed pace and can be an effective way to explore the city’s attractions.
Certainly, a car has its advantages, especially if you’re staying in areas like the Athenian Riviera, or planning excursions outside Athens.
However, the traffic and parking challenges might not make a car the most efficient option if you are based in a central neighborhood such as Plaka.
In conclusion, whether or not to rent a car in Athens depends on factors like your accommodation location, planned activities, and preferences.
If you need one, you will find the most reliable companies to rent a car on Rentalcars.com – the same service I use on my trips.
You can also read about the best alternative ways to visit and leave the airport in the Athens International Airport guide.
Last but not least, if you want a detailed plan for your trip, don’t miss out on my step-by-step itineraries.
They include the best places in town and their pins on Google Maps, so you don’t miss a thing.
But, most importantly, they are carefully and simply designed, depending on the number of days at your disposal: Athens in 1 day, Athens in 2 days, Athens in 3 days, Athens in 4 days, or hidden gems in Athens if you plan to stay even more days.
Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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