Santorini Stories and Tips

Car Hire on Santorini

great views from the top of the island Photo, Santorini, Greece

We resent paying the high prices of the large established rental companies and on one of our walks about had seen the offices of IRIDA. You will find them on the edge of Perissa and Parivolas on main Perissa road towards the co-op supermarket and it looked like they had a reasonable fleet of new looking cars.

Their standard small car will cost you twenty Euros a day with full Collision Damage Waiver and although if an accident is your fault you must pay the excess if three hundred Euros (this seemed to be standard across the companies) you can pay extra daily insurance to cover this eventuality, we did not but fortunately a couple in our apartment complex had taken that precaution. They had driven halfway up the cobbled road to ancient Thira and then decided to abort, turn round on the narrow road, which must have been a nightmare, and they had managed to dent the care in this transaction. They had paid an extra nine Euros for the increased cover and must have been relieved and grateful that they had taken that step. There is no hard sell and the front man (it turns out he was the owner) gently explained a little about the cars. Their small car (a Kia Picanto) comes complete with air conditioning (a must un Greece in the height of the heat) and he happily agreed to deliver and collect the car from the hotel.

It was three Euros more expensive than the cheapest deal we had found but their cars did look in better condition and in all honesty we liked the attitude of the IRIDA Company. He asked for a small deposit of five or ten Euros and confirmed that the Kia (a popular car on the island) would be delivered to our apartment on the Wednesday morning at 9am and collected at 9am on the Friday.

He arrived bright and breezy at 8-45am and we signed the contract. As I was paying in cash he quietly insisted that he keep my driving licence as security. I was a little uncertain but could understand the need for them to hold some personal details (it’s usually a credit card). I checked what I would require if stopped by the police – a somewhat unlikely event as it turned out as we did not see a single police car or officer whilst on the island – and he assured us that the contract was all that we required as evidence of insurance and ‘our right to drive’. After the instructions were given on how to operate the care we set off along the drive to the main road.

In recent years I have got used to an automatic car and so I was sure that I had stalled the car on more than one occasion but having managed the first tight junction and got used to driving on the right hand side of the road I was brimming with confidence. That is until we took a wrong road in the town of Emporio. I’d only been driving about 15 minutes and we ended up on the narrowest of tracks that weaved its way with tight turns through the back streets of the town. At time the buildings seemed (no, indeed WERE) perilously close to the car and I was certainly not enjoying the drive. But there was no going back because the road was far too narrow. So we drove for what felt like ages until we hit open countryside and the courtyard of a smallholding farm. I reversed and after several manoeuvrings managed to get the car pointing back towards the town. Now I had to run the gauntlet of buildings yet again and, having successfully made it back to the main road, vowed that we would need to ensure that we didn’t take another “wrong turning”.

Generally there are no problems with parking but care needs to be taken in Thira and Oia as here, we were told, the authorities will often tow away cars parked on the streets of the town. We were careful to ensure that we parked in an official car park in Oia (we’d travelled by bus to Fira but that’s another story).

The map provided by the hire company showed us where the petrol stations are. As the island is small it’s not a massive problem but we put in 20 euros worth at the first petrol station and didn’t need anymore for the rest of the car hire period.

Remember on Greek islands there is a no tolerance policy in relation to the consumption of alcohol and if you’re found with any alcohol in your system it will mean that any insurance claim in invalidated. Abstinence truly is the best policy.

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