Renting a car in Zante is a great way to get around the gorgeous Ionian island. Opting to do so gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility of schedule than having to depend on public transport.
It allows you to venture away from the main touristic areas and find secluded beaches and quintessentially Greek traditional villages. Zante may well be one of the most popular Greek islands for international tourists but you can still find your own slice of peace and tranquility here. This is especially the case if you have a vehicle that allows you to go towards beaches that are difficult to get to without a car.
Renting a Car in Zante
Zante (Zakynthos) has gained a bit of a reputation for being a raucous party island destination in recent years but that isn’t entirely fair. While the island does have its share of resort towns, nightlife strips, and clubs, it also offers much more beyond that.
Zante is also a place of incomparable natural beauty. When the Venetians ruled the island centuries ago, they called it “Fiore di Levante” – meaning “flower of the east”.
Zante has a little something for everyone. There are quaint, charming villages, dramatic mountains, spectacular hiking trails, and stunning beaches and coves.
Is it necessary to rent a car in Zante?
It may or may not be necessary to rent a car in Zante depending on your schedule. If you plan on spending two weeks relaxing by the pool/beach in Laganas or another resort town and you don’t plan on exploring the island in detail, this may not be the best option for you.
Numerous local tour companies offer excursions and day trips to points of interest like the Navagio shipwreck beach, the blue caves, and turtle island. They are affordable and take a lot of stress out of the logistics of planning how to get from A to B as someone will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
However, the options are limited to the most popular Zante attractions. Besides that, Greek public transport on the island leaves a lot to be desired.
Zante is quite a large island. Actually, with a surface area of 157 square miles, it is the eleventh largest Greek island out of literally thousands!
There is no tourist bus that loops around the island connecting all of the different towns and villages. KTEL Zakynthos does operate a bus between Zante’s Dionysios Solomos airport and the main bus station in Zakynthos town but even that does not run at frequent intervals! Renting a car in Zante for sure allows you to see the more unspoiled side of the island.
Which places to visit on a Zante road trip
The possibilities for places to visit on a Zante road trip are endless. It all comes down to your schedule and how much time you have to dedicate to the island.
If you have two weeks of vacation, you could also consider spending one week relaxing in a beach town and the other week on a cross-island adventure.
Am I eligible for renting a car in Zante?
You need to be between the ages of 21 and 70 to rent a car in Zante, even though the legal independent driving age in Greece is 18. A lot of companies will also only rent to drivers aged 25 and above.
If you are aged between 21 and 25, or you have only recently obtained your driving license, you may have to pay a premium on your insurance. You need a full driving license to be able to drive in Greece.
If you are from outside the EU, you need to also have an International Driving Permit (IDP). The process to obtain this differs from country to country but it is usually very straightforward.
If you are British and aged 18 and above with a full driving license, you can get your IDP from the post office for £5.50. If you are American, you need to print out and fill out your IDP application and then take it to your nearest AAA branch. The permit fee in the USA is $20.
You must obtain your IDP from the country where your driving license was issued. You can check the information for all countries here.
Organising your car rental in Zakynthos
It is important to organise your car rental in Zakynthos as early as possible once you have confirmed your travel dates to Greece. This is particularly true if you are planning on visiting the island during the peak summer months.
The closer you get to your departure dates, the more the prices rise! Availability may be extremely limited in July and August.
Most cars in Greece are manual. So if you want to drive an automatic, that’s another reason that you need to reserve your vehicle in advance as those are in limited supply. Learning to drive a stick shift for the first time in Zante is not only less than ideal, but it’s also dangerous!
A lot of reputable international rental companies operate out of Zante. You can pick vehicles up at the airport, in Zakynthos town, in Laganas, and in Kalamaki.
Use a car rental comparison site like Discover cars to compare the different rates between providers. You should also purchase your insurance at the same time as reserving your car so that you know that everything is sorted in advance of your trip.
Cars may or may not come with sat navs. If you need additional extras like child car seats, etc, these are usually available for a small extra fee.
Buying insurance for your car rental in Zakynthos
Car insurance is essential for renting a car in Zante. There are minimum insurance requirements that you must meet – all confusing separate components.
It typically works out easier to just opt to purchase full coverage insurance. According to Greek law, your car rental insurance must offer third-party liability insurance, personal accident insurance, fire protection coverage, theft coverage, collision damage waiver, and super collision damage waiver.
Phew. That’s a lot of different individual coverages!
A full-coverage insurance plan will collate them all. Always read the small print to be sure of exactly what you are getting.
If your credit card comes with car rental insurance, check whether it covers you in Greece. Don’t just assume as some countries are excluded.
Zante Airport car hire
There are a number of places where you can pick up your rental car in Zakynthos. Ultimately, you choose what is more convenient for you.
The airport is probably one of the most popular and easiest places to pick up your rental car from. Keep in mind that Zante airport car hires may cost slightly more than picking up your car from Zakynthos town or Laganas.
Similarly, one-way rentals (i.e. picking up your car from one place and dropping it off in another) cost more than dropping your car off in the same place. It is important to be aware of this as there is often quite a significant cost difference, not a marginal one.
Inspect your car before driving off with it
You will typically be asked to sign an inventory checklist when you pick up your car. Check both the interior and exterior for any issues, damage, or scratches.
Make sure that you mention everything to the person handing over the car, even if it seems minor. Take photos of the car with your cell phone so that you have time-stamped evidence of the condition that you got it in.
This is not because rental companies here are sketchy. Obviously, they depend on tourism and it isn’t in their interest to trick people. But it is better to be safe than sorry wherever in the world you travel.
Taking cars on ferries from Zante
Zante is connected to mainland Greece and the other Ionian islands by ferries. From Zakynthos port, you can take a boat to Kyllini in the Peloponnese.
From there, you could explore one of Greece’s most underrated regions, taking trips to Monemvasia, Mystras, Sparta, and the Lakonia region. The other Ionian islands of Kerkyra (Corfu), Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Paxos are also spectacular summer travel destinations.
While ferry connections are convenient and frequent, taking cars on board is another matter. Most Zante rental companies will not allow you to take their vehicles on ferries.
This is both for insurance purposes and also for practical reasons. For instance, if you hire one of their cars and then you need assistance in a distant part of Greece or a remote island on the other side of the country.
If you want to cross from Zante to another island or the mainland, clarify whether this is possible with your rental company in advance of traveling. It is also worth noting that ferry tickets for car spaces are the first to sell out so these must always be purchased weeks/months in advance.
Crossing international borders with Zante car rentals
Truthfully, Zante is quite a ways from any of Greece’s borders. However, the country does border Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
If you are traveling long-term and thinking of crossing over into one of these countries as part of a wider Balkan road trip, you need to check this with your rental company first.
Again, most rental companies will not allow you to take their vehicles outside of Greece. It usually works out easier to simply cross the border by land or air and then pick up another rental car at the other side.
How much does a rental car in Zante cost?
You should expect to pay around €30-€40 a day for a rental car in Zante including your insurance. You will sometimes find deals for as little as €15 a day when searching on rental platforms but a lot of the time, if something seems too good to be true, it is.
Well-known international firms like Sixt and Avis are always a good choice but equally, a lot of smaller, independent firms are very good too. Check independent reviews on Google and on Tripadvisor to make sure that you are going with a trustworthy company.
Fill up the tank before you drop off your car
Check with your rental company when you pick up your car if there are any procedures that you need to follow when you return it. Most places will require you to fill it up with a full tank of gas.
It is important to note that usually if you take the car back and the gas tank is 40% full or 80% full, they will bill you for an entire tank of gas anyway! So either take it back completely full or empty.
Take photos of the condition of the vehicle when you drop it off, just as you did when you collected it. Again, this way you have time-stamped evidence just in case the company tries to claim that you somehow damaged the car later.
Driving in Zante
Driving in Zante can be an enjoyable experience. When you mention renting a car in Greece to a lot of people, they look at you with concern.
But the reality is that driving here is not all that different to driving anywhere else in Europe. Yes, people drive a little crazier sometimes and there are definitely those who speed unnecessarily.
But be aware of your surroundings, and make sure that you yourself drive carefully. Experienced drivers do not need to worry.
Navigating the roads in Zante
The roads in Zante are in good condition and are well-maintained. Everything is signposted in both Greek and English.
Upon exiting Zakynthos town, you will note that there is a main road that loops all around the island. This takes you anywhere that you need to go and offers a scenic ride by the sea.
It is virtually impossible to get lost, as you can always see the sea from wherever you are. You may have a sat nav in your car but it is also a good idea to have a map app on your phone like Google Maps or Maps Me (which works offline).
Do you have any experience with renting a car in Zante? What did you think?
Have a wonderful time exploring the Ionian! Safe travels! Geia sou! Xo