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Car rental in Thessaloniki - An Arts and Culture Mecca in an Ancient Empire
Thessaloniki may not be the first, or even second, city that comes to mind when thinking about a Greek vacation. Quite possibly, you’ve never even heard of it. However, there are several reasons why Greece’s second largest city deserves your attention, and you may just find yourself leaving behind a piece of your heart.
A city famous for its festivals, Thessaloniki hosts international and cultural celebrations of food, music, film, art, and history all year round, and has produced some of Greece’s most well-known musicians, artists, and poets. There is no shortage of history or heritage, nor of daytime or nighttime activities that appeal to all types of travelers.
Situated along the Thermaic Gulf at the Northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, Thessaloniki is the Macedonian capital and Greece’s second city. It is a thriving and vibrant metropolis, often referred to as the Cultural Capital of Greece because of its rich history of the arts. There is no shortage of things to do or see in the city at any time of the year.
When to Visit
Thessaloniki’s warm Mediterranean climate means that there is something going on all year round. Winters are mild and rainy, with the majority of rainfall between November and March. However, from April to October temperatures start to increase, and if you can visit in spring or autumn you will avoid the summer vacation crowds. Luckily, it doesn’t ever get too cold in Thessaloniki, but you may find you sometimes need a light jacket during the cooler months.
Why Hire a Car?
With so much to see and so little time to do it, many travelers find it more convenient and less stressful to hire their own car. This way you can see the things you want to see on your terms, without being confined to group tours and itineraries. Also, with your own transportation, you can unlock and access the hidden and oftentimes best parts that the location has to offer.
Thessaloniki has such a rich history that you could spend days just visiting the many and various monuments and museums. And let’s not forget one of the best parts of travel: food! When you have your own transportation, you are much more likely to stumble upon some of the best and most inconspicuous local eateries that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Go explore off the beaten path and discover where the real magic happens!
Ways to Save on Rentals
Greece’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism and so caters well to visitors. That being said, Greece is an extremely popular tourist destination, and during the summer months prices can be massively increased. So, it’s important to plan ahead and find a time to travel that fits your schedule and your budget. Look for great car rental deals like these:
- Peugeot 108 or similar (mini class) – $11/day
- Fiat Panda or similar (economy class) – $12/day
- Opel Astra or similar (compact class) – $15/day
- Hyundai I30 or similar (intermediate class) – $19/day
- Renault Scenic or similar (standard class) – $27/day
Rental prices depend heavily on the time of year, duration of rental, as well as pick-up and drop-off location. Weekly rentals regularly yield lower daily rates than one-day rentals. For example, a one-day rental in low season can cost you upwards of $28 per day, while a week-long rental will start around $12 per day depending on the size and type of car you require. For comparison, in high season the same one-day rental will start at $46 per day, and a week-long rental will start around $26 per day. In both instances, the drop-off location is the same as the pick-up. Expect higher rates for deliveries, pick-ups, and different drop-off locations. All the popular companies are available, and you can save quite a bit of money by shopping around.
Tips for Driving in Greece
- If traveling to Greece during the peak season, it’s advisable to reserve a car 2 or 3 months in advance to ensure availability.
- Bring your government-issued driver’s license as well as an international driver’s permit.
- Drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left.
- It’s important to drive cautiously but defensively – there’s a lot of dangerous driving on the road in Greece.
- Be mindful that you are sharing the road with motorbikes and other off-road vehicles.
- If you are traveling to different islands, consider renting cars when you arrive – transporting cars via ferry can be difficult.
- Have a good map or GPS to help with directions, and to understand covered or unclear road signs.
- Entering or leaving major cities during holiday weekends can be chaotic, so plan accordingly.