Rent a Car for Travel in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city and the vibrant cultural capital of Macedonia. With ancient sites, Byzantine wonders, great food and dynamic nightlife, Thessaloniki makes for an exciting Greek destination. Having your own wheels makes it easy to explore this sprawling city and surrounding areas at your own pace.

Benefits of Renting a Car in Thessaloniki

Renting a car provides many advantages for getting around Thessaloniki and nearby towns and beaches:

  • Flexibility – Create your own itinerary without relying on public transport schedules. Go wherever you want, whenever you want.
  • Convenience – No waiting for buses or trains. Stop wherever you please. Avoid taxi lines and language confusion.
  • Accessibility – Easily visit sites outside the city center like Aristotle’s birthplace in Chalkidiki.
  • Comfort – Travel relaxed with space for luggage and the ability to stop anytime.
  • Control costs – Sharing a rental car can be much cheaper than taxis for city tours, airport transfers, day trips etc.
  • Explore further – Take day trips to Meteora, Vergina, Halkidiki beaches that are hard to reach by public transport.

Types of Rental Cars Available in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki offers car rentals from major international companies and Greece-based agencies. Options include:

  • Economy – Small cars like Toyota Yaris ideal for zipping around the city. Cheap and easy to park.
  • Compact – Like VW Golf or Toyota Corolla. Mid-size models good for 2-4 people.
  • Standard – Spacious sedans like VW Passat fit up to 5 passengers comfortably.
  • Minivan – Large vans capable of carrying up to 7 passengers plus luggage.
  • Luxury – Drive in style with a high-end model from Mercedes, BMW, etc.
  • SUV – Jeeps and 4×4 vehicles best suited for off-road day trips from the city.

Documentation Required to Rent a Car

Have these documents ready to show rental agencies in Thessaloniki:

  • Valid driver’s license – Held for 1+ years in most cases. International Driving Permit strongly advised.
  • Passport – Required for non-EU nationals. EU citizens can use national identity cards.
  • Major credit card – For the deposit and rental payment. Debit cards rarely accepted.
  • Voucher – Any booking confirmation if pre-paying online before pick-up.

Where to Rent a Car in Thessaloniki

Convenient rental locations in Thessaloniki include:

  • Airport – Pick up right at the arrivals hall. Drop off at the departure terminal.
  • Train station – Agencies located a short walk from the central rail station.
  • City center – Various scattered downtown offices within walking distance of sights.
  • Hotels – Many hotels have partner rental car desks on-site for simplicity.
  • Online – Reserve ahead online for best rates, deals and guaranteed availability.

Driving Laws and Rules in Greece

Driving a rental car in Greece requires observing the following main traffic laws:

  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road
  • Seat belts are mandatory for driver and all passengers
  • Use of handheld mobiles while driving is prohibited
  • Blood alcohol limit is 0.05% – do not drink and drive
  • Driver and passengers must carry official ID at all times
  • Rules against honking in residential areas after midnight
  • Headlights must be on at all times outside urban areas
  • Yield to traffic entering roundabouts
  • Park only in approved public spaces to avoid fines

Top Sights and Day Trips From Thessaloniki by Rental Car

Having a rental car makes visiting top sites outside Thessaloniki easy:

  • Meteora – Famous 14th century monasteries perched dramatically atop rock pillars. 2 hours drive.
  • Halkidiki – Three pristine peninsulas jutting into the Aegean Sea dotted with villages, monasteries and beaches. 1 hour drive.
  • Vergina – Archaeological site housing the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. 1.5 hour drive.
  • Mount Olympus – The mythical home of the Greek Gods with great hiking options. 2 hour drive.
  • Pella – Birthplace of Alexander the Great and capital of ancient Macedonia. 45 minute drive.
  • Edessa – Stunning town renowned for its waterfalls and verdant landscape. 1.5 hour drive.
  • Veroia – Quaint town with Ottoman architecture and Byzantine churches. 1 hour drive.

Driving Tips for Thessaloniki

Follow these tips for a smooth rental car experience in Thessaloniki:

  • Get a small car for easy parking in the city center and narrow streets.
  • Allow extra time for trips as mountain roads around the city have twists and turns.
  • Be alert for pedestrians suddenly crossing the street outside of crosswalks.
  • Carefully inspect your rental for any prior damage and note everything on the contract.
  • Using a GPS device or app can help navigate Thessaloniki’s chaotic roads and signs.
  • Have some Euro coins on hand for parking meters which don’t accept cards.
  • Gas up before returning your rental to avoid inflated refueling charges.
  • Follow all posted speed limits and traffic laws carefully to avoid issues.

FAQs about Renting a Car in Thessaloniki

What is the minimum age to rent a car in Thessaloniki?

The minimum age is usually 21, but some agencies may allow younger drivers for an added fee.

Can I rent a car using my U.S. driver’s license?

Yes, U.S. licenses are accepted but getting an IDP is recommended to complement it.

Are child seats provided with rentals?

Child seats are available for extra cost but must be reserved well in advance due to limited quantities.

What side of the road do Greeks drive on?

Like the rest of Europe, Greece drives on the right-hand side of the road.


Renting a car is the ideal way to enjoy maximum freedom and flexibility while exploring Thessaloniki and northern Greece. Just be sure to reserve well in advance for the best rates and availability of automatic cars. Brush up on Greek road signs and driving laws before your trip for a smooth rental experience. With a rental car you can pack your trip with ancient sites, beaches, villages and natural splendors at your own comfortable pace.


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