On Karpathos, you can of course choose a hotel in Pigadia without a car. Just relax for 8 days on the beach near your hotel. But we think that’s a shame, because Karpathos has so much more to offer. Therefore we think renting a car on Karpathos is really a must!
Is it advisable to rent a car on Karpathos?
Car rental on Karpathos is highly recommended! Not renting a car on Karpathos is really a shame, because there are so many beautiful places! And especially on an island like Karpathos the distances are small, so you’re never in the car for hours. Car rental on Karpathos does cost a little extra, but try to travel in the low season like May, early June or mid September, when prices are lower. You can also choose to rent a car for a few days rather than for the whole holiday, if you want to save some money.
What does it cost to rent a car on Karpathos?
You can rent a car for about € 30,- to € 60,- per day. This depends on a number of factors such as the size of the car, the number of days and the period.
If you are going to rent a car on Karpathos, we recommend you to do this at a local. Often a travel agency gets a decent percentage and so it is better to sponsor a local, isn’t it? We have been renting cars here for 10 years now. This rental company is located in Arkassa and is the family business of Michalis and Sofia Pittas. Everything is always well organised and Michalis and Sofia are very kind people.
Over the years they have really become friends of ours! We usually rent a small car, but they have many choices of cars. Recently they also opened a branch in Pigadia. You will find it on the long road to Aperi. Although the company is owned by Michalis and Sofia, it has a different name: AutoUnion. This branch belongs to a much bigger car rental company. AutoUnion car rental is currently one of the biggest car rental companies in Greece!
Practical information about car rental on Karpathos
Stopping along the road
On Karpathos there are many small unpaved coves in the road, especially between Afiartis and Amoopi. These are great places to stop and take photos of the view. What you really need to watch out for is the wind. When the wind is strong, it is better to stay in the car. The strong fall winds from the mountains can suddenly give a jolt and that is dangerous at such a point along the road.
Refuelling is not possible at many places on Karpathos. In Pigadia you find 3 petrol stations. Two at the end of Pigadia (on the way to Aperi) and one at the beginning of town (from Amoopi). You can also fill up in Arkassa. You will find this petrol station – seen from Afiartis – before you drive into Arkassa. You don’t fill up your car yourself, a fuel attendant fills up your car for you. The costs for petrol are usually around € 1.80 – € 2.00. In July and August, it is wise to take care of extra petrol in the car or to fill up when you can. It can happen that the boat with petrol does not arrive and you have to wait a few days. Fortunately, in some cases, you can get some extra petrol from the car rental company in case of emergency.
There are no parking fees on Karpathos. So that saves you a lot of money. On Karpathos fixed parking places (with lines) are not obvious. In the villages you will usually find fixed parking places, but at beaches it is usually just parked along the road. Keep in mind that – especially in the high season – beaches like Apella and Kyra Panagia are very crowded. So go early to score a (normal) spot for your car. Also useful to know is that cars in the main town of Karpathos, Pigadia, are not allowed on the boulevard/port after 19.00 hrs. This is also indicated at the beginning of the boulevard/harbour on a sign and after 19.00 hours there is a gate.
Need a navigation system?
Navigation on Karpathos is basically not necessary. The island is small and there is really only one main road on the island. You can’t get lost ;). A map (or via Google Maps) is handy to know where the villages are approximately.
Safety comes first. Therefore, here are some questions answered regarding safety when choosing to rent a car on Karpathos?
Are there any traffic rules?
Karpathos has few ‘real’ traffic rules. There are no traffic lights, roundabouts or crossroads. Driving on Karpathos is on the right. On Karpathos it is of course not allowed to call while driving and wearing a seatbelt is mandatory. Although this is very common in the Netherlands, most Greeks still have trouble with it 😉
There is a police presence on the island, but there are no real controls as we know them in the Netherlands. We have never been stopped in all those years! There are also no speedometers or speed cameras. The island also doesn’t really have a speed limit. Most people will drive between 50 and 60 km (the Greeks themselves much faster, that also goes for taxis and busses haha!). Still, it’s just a matter of feeling how fast you can drive somewhere. In a bend, you will have to slow down and go slowly through the bend, but near Afiartis and Arkassa there are sometimes roads where you can drive faster than 60 km per hour. Just feel for yourself and you will be fine!
Do I need a 4×4?
When you rent a car on Karpathos you don’t necessarily need a 4×4. Actually, all roads are just fine to drive with a normal car. Even a beach like Diakoftis, which you reach via a long, unpaved road, can be reached with a normal car. Kato Lako is one of the few beaches you really can’t reach without a 4×4, but you can also choose to rent a quad for that day on Karpathos or to park the car at the top and then walk down.
Be careful if you want to go to Kato Lako, in 2020 the road was washed away by a big rain, we don’t know yet if this has been repaired. You could not get there by quad in 2020, only walking.
Driving in the evening
Driving at night on Karpathos can take some getting used to. In the villages you have lights thanks to hotels, restaurants etc., but outside there is not a single lamppost to be found (yes, there is a row near the airport, but they are never on). At night, therefore, there is a lot of driving with high lights. We are not necessarily in favour of this. Try to drive with normal lights as long as possible, until you really can’t or you don’t feel safe. When you immediately start driving with high lights and you have to turn them off for oncoming traffic, your eyes have a lot of trouble switching back to darkness. The road between Arkassa and Afiartis is a lot nicer to drive, than the road between Afiartis and Pigadia. This road has cat eyes on it, which makes it a lot nicer to drive!
Nice car routes on Karpathos
Car rental on Karpathos has numerous advantages. But above all the freedom is wonderful! When you rent a car on Karpathos, these are some nice routes to drive!
Ahata, Kyra Panagia and Apella
The above beaches are the most famous and beautiful beaches of Karpathos. Especially in the after season it is very quiet there and there are no parasols or beach beds! The beaches are located next to each other (even though it’s a bit of a drive through the mountains from beach to beach) and are therefore perfect to combine.
Lefkos & Messochori
On the west side of Karpathos is the village of Lefkos. A beautiful place with beautiful beaches and nice restaurants. You will also find several archaeological excavations here. Near Lefkos is also Messochori. This village is also worth a visit and don’t forget to pass by Kafe Skopi!
A visit to Olympos should not be missed when you go to Karpathos. From the capital, it is about 1-hour drive. Although the road used to be unsafe, it has been tarmacked for a few years and is now perfectly doable. The road leading up to it is also beautiful. Do go early because after 11.00 it becomes (too) touristy in Olympos.