Should you rent a car in CorfuGreece>Corfu

Greek islands might not initially look like the sort of places where a hire car is a particularly good idea, because nowhere is particularly far from anywhere else, parking is always a challenge, and the major places to visit tend to be relatively closely spaced along the shoreline. Local buses are also usually reasonably widely available, they tend to be fairly cheap, and they operate throughout the day. Yet Corfu is also large enough for the failings in the local bus system to become apparent.

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For  independently minded travellers, Corfu is also a natural place from which to start a trip onto the Greek mainland and beyond by ferry. This sort of journey might mean you will already be continuing onwards from Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

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Firstly, there’s always the complex question of congestion – at busy times do you want to be rammed into a bus that is standing room only, or would you rather be sitting and choking traffic, but within the space of your own rented car?

  • Buses are often slow, unreliable and inconvenient – even on a small island like Corfu.
  • Unless you are staying in Corfu town, many bus trips will need a change.
  • As a rule of thumb, the most distant points from Corfu town will take around one hour to drive, in low traffic. Needless to say, you can add to that considerably if you want to travel by bus.
  • There are no bus lanes, no bus priority routes of any kind, and of course there’s no railway or tram either.
  • Corfu is an island where tourism has developed around the car, even if parking problems can be horrendous! [See below].
  • Fuel prices in Corfu are roughly in line with the Greek average.

Corfu fuel notes

Think how much you are going to use first, then worry about the price!

There is a small difference in fuel cost over mainland cities like Athens. in July 2018, this was around €0.03 per litre. Fuel costs are unlikely to be a major concern when driving on Corfu, as driving distances are still low.

It’s far more important to get a good car rental deal, if you feel you need one at all, and to watch out for return empty fuel polices. These are becoming less common, but they are still the norm with some providers. If you have to start with a full tank, you may well find that you don’t end up returning it empty, so the rental company keeps the fuel – watch out for this one, given the small size of the island!

James says - a few trip notes:

My personal view is that I’d take the bus any time, but many people would prefer to sit in their own private metal box. Then there is the reality that as with many Greek islands, the buses are almost completely focused on going in and out of Corfu town. This means that to get between any other points on the island that aren’t on a direct line in or out of Corfu town, you will probably have to change bus. Soon this starts to mean a lot of hanging around.

If your accommodation is situated anywhere other than on the routes the buses serve, then you will also need to add time to walk to and from the bus stop, and they tend to be much further spaced apart in Greece than they are in many northern European locations. You can also forget about real time running information when taking Greek local buses anywhere outside major cities like Athens or Thessaloniki.

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Corfu is absolutely not the sort of location where a hire car is strictly necessary, nor is it particularly desirable to have one if you think you can do without. It’s also the sort of destination where if you are just sticking to the island itself, you’d be unlikely to save any money by getting a rental car and splitting the costs between even a group of even five people, because the buses will usually be a great deal cheaper. If you are in a large group anyway, it would be quite easy to make a few taxi rides and split the costs – then at least, parking isn’t your problem.

Corfu driving problems

  • Roads in Corfu can become very congested during the peak holiday season.
  • Parking in Corfu is an absolute nightmare, especially in Corfu town.
  • Watch out for streets where parking is common, but from time to time, fines still get issued. You will still be liable in a rental vehicle. Disputing a parking fine on a Greek island is a long drawn out process, and you won’t expect much help from the rental company.
  • If you are here in the peak holiday season, when buses tend to run a little bit more often, and you need to be up at dawn to find that one remaining parking space in Corfu town, then the pendulum tends to swing more towards not getting a hire car in Corfu

Buses in Corfu

  • Long distance buses now depart from the modern bus station – but it’s still not that well linked with Corfu town services. Corfu bus times & info – green buses.
  • Going by bus won’t take you away from the congestion, but it will relieve you of the driving stress!
  • You can easily continue elsewhere in Greece by bus from Corfu.

Visiting islands off Corfu or the mainland by ferry

  • There are lots of islands to explore, using boat launches from either Corfu town or Agios Stefanos.
  • However, the latter isn’t so easy to reach by bus as there are only around 3 services per day.

Other notes

  • Corfu is one of the few places in the world where you can actually walk from the airport straight into town – but you probably won’t want to if you are arriving in the day time and you have a heavy bag. Allow aorund 30 minutes between airport terminal and town centre, or 45 to the harbour.
  • Taxis are reasonably well priced, especially when compared to northern European rates (check locally for latest tariffs).

However, when it comes to convenience, a car still might be worth considering, especially for a family, and especially if you are staying in a villa outside the main towns in Corfu. It’s also possible to pick up a hire car in Corfu and then start a road trip into mainland Greece.

A car makes a lot of sense for heading towards the spectacular rocky outcrops of Meteora, but only if you return it to the place where you hired it from.

What about one way car hire from Corfu?

Is it worth hiring a car in Corfu and then dropping it off somewhere else?

Corfu one way car hire price sample was looked up by comparing low season prices between different pick up and drop off points, where the rental company would allow a one way rental to or from Corfu. Corfu one way rental prices are compared using Avis, due to their simplicity of pricing. You may find better deals through firms who specialise in dealing with a lot of one way rental traffic.

The problem with any kind of one way rental deal from Corfu is that because you will be picking the car up on an island, the rental company is going to incur a substantial cost to get it back to the original car hire office, unless they can match your Corfu car rental up with someone coming back the other way. 

Corfu one way rental sample prices

  • The base price for a one week car hire in Corfu was £152.
  • Even if you just wanted to drive around the mainland, and drop your car back at the mainland port of Igoumenitsa, your car rental cost increases to £270.
  • This price shoots up to £348 if you want to drop the car off in Thessaloniki. This would be an ideal place to head out from if you wanted to visit Meteora.
  • A one way car hire from Corfu to Athens would cost only a little more at £370.

Clearly, one way rentals in Corfu are not particularly good value, and this is a combination of Greece not being a particularly good place for one way rental deals in the first place, and the extra costs of Corfu being an island added on top of that.

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Our Corfu car hire advice is based around people who are asking the question “should we hire a car in Corfu” rather than at looking at what we think the majority of people would do, Hence the chances are, if you are thinking about getting a car here, you will probably still find it’s best to do so, but it really would be a very marginal choice.

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Author: Carometer

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