Car rental in Athens
Rent a car in Athens

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Athens is one of Europe's oldest and most sprawling cities, and thus having your own transport lets you explore sides of this destination many visitors don't often see. Car rentals in Athens are available throughout the year, ideal for taking advantage of the mild winter climate. After picking up a rental car at Athens International Airport upon arrival, see iconic sites such as the Parthenon, Acropolis, and Syntagma Square — then take advantage of the flexibility to head farther afield.

It's your choice: Where to go in Athens?

There are so many fun things to do in Athens that your only difficulty will be deciding what to see first.

  • Most visitors go straight to the Acropolis, the ruins which were the centre of the ancient capital.
  • Close to the Acropolis is the Plaka district, with pretty streets, tavernas, and souvenir shops. This area is quite central, but with the advantage of a rental car, you can quickly head away from the hustle and bustle to one of the most peaceful places to visit in Athens:
  • The National Garden. This is an oasis of greenery with ponds, bridges, mature trees, and plenty of picnic spots.
  • If you rent a car in Athens, it's also easy to get to Greece's biggest theme park, Allou. Fun for all ages is guaranteed, with a mix of high-adrenaline roller coasters and gentler family rides.

Important info about Athens

Athens is in the southeast of the Greek mainland, slightly inland from the coast. There have been people living here for 7,000 years, and the current population of the urban area is just over three million. Summers can get quite hot, with spring and autumn being popular times to visit the city. Furthermore, the city is famously built on seven hills, so to rent a car in Athens makes sense for those who'd rather not do too much climbing.
Dining out in Athens is excellent and affordable, with a mix of international cuisine and Greek classics such as moussaka and kleftiko available in traditional tavernas. Some of the best restaurants in Athens are found around Syntagma Square. The city is also a popular shopping destination. Plaka is the best district for Greek arts and crafts, whereas posh Kolonaki is home to high-end designer boutiques.

Things to do in Athens

Most people come to Athens for the history, but this vibrant and modern city has much more to offer than just ruins and museums.

  • One of the best places to get a feel for life in Ancient Greece, however, is Herod Atticus Odeon, a huge open-air amphitheatre in the Plaka district. It's still used for concerts, plays, and movies. The acoustics are superb.
  • For the best views over the city, take a drive-up Mount Lycabettus, or leave the hire car at the foot of the hill and take a ride in the funicular railway instead.
  • Car fans won't want to miss the Hellenic Motor Museum, packed with classic cars from the 1910s to the 1980s.
  • Another interesting stop on a historic Athens tour is the Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games. Don't miss the chance to get your photo taken on the winners' podium.

Weather in Athens
Facts
Country France
Language French
Currency Euro
Time-Zones GMT -1
Capital Paris

Good to know

There are many options to rent a car in Athens - you can pick up a car at the airport or from locations in the city centre. Greece drives on the right, with a minimum driving age of 18. You'll have to be at least 21 – sometimes even 23 - to rent a car in Athens – depending on the rental conditions. Seatbelts must be worn by both driver and passengers, and watch out for the alcohol limits for the driver, which are much lower than in most of the UK. Speed limits are typically 50 km/hour in built-up areas, 110 km/hour on open roads, and 120km/hour on motorways. Police patrols will issue tickets if you're caught speeding, and these have to be settled at a bank. In Athens, coloured spaces mean parking is reserved for local residents only, and additional parking restrictions might apply in market areas.

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What to visit in the surroundings of Athens

Having an Athens car hire makes getting out and exploring a whole lot easier. See things at your own pace, with the freedom to stop for lunch at a roadside taverna or linger at a particularly interesting site.

  • One of the most popular excursions from Athens is to Delphi, a two-hour drive inland to the east. Delphi is arguably Greece's most important archaeological area, with a dramatic hillside setting.
  • Alternatively, head south out of Athens towards Cape Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon, right on the headland overlooking the Mediterranean. Rather than returning the way you came, follow the coast road back towards Piraeus, the main port, for coastal views the whole way.
  • One of the region's most unusual days out can be spent at the Cave of the Lakes, in the hills east of Corinth. Descend into the limestone caves to see amazing stalactites and other rock formations.
  • On your way back to Athens, stop in Corinth to see the city's archaeological museum and Temple of Apollo.

What to bring to your friends from Athens

There's much to choose from when shopping in Athens for gifts. Sticky and sweet baklava pastries are a great choice, if you can resist the temptation to eat them first. Olive oil and other olive-based products like soap are widely available and a good reminder of your time in the city. Craft shops all over Athens sell Matia, blue and white glass pendants which bring luck and are said to ward off the evil eye. The pendants come in the form of jewellery, keyrings, or in a large format, to hang on the wall and simply remind you of your visit. Leather goods are a good value throughout Greece, and shops along Ermou Street or Athinas Street in Athens seem to sell every style of boot, shoe, handbag, and coat imaginable.