On Karpathos you can, of course, choose a hotel in Pigadia without a car. Just relax for 8 days at the beach nearby. Nevertheless, we think that is a shame because Karpathos has so much to offer. Rent a car on Karpathos. It’s a must!
Rent a car on Karpathos | Should you?
YES! Renting a car on Karpathos is 100% recommended! No car hire on Karpathos is really a shame, because there are so many beautiful places! And on an island like Karpathos the distances are small, so you’re never in the car for hours. Renting a car on Karpathos costs some extra money, but try to go in the low season like May, early June and from mid-September, then the prices are lower. You can also choose to rent a car on Karpathos for a few days instead of for the entire holiday if you want to save some money.
Where can I rent a car on Karpathos and what does it cost?
If you are going to rent a car at Karpathos, we advise you to do so at a local. Often a travel organization gets a decent percentage and then you better not sponsor a local? We have been renting the car 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 arranged and Michalis and Sophia are very sweet people. Over the years, it really became friends of us! We usually rent a small car, but they have many choices in terms of cars. Recently they have also opened a branch in Pigadia. You find this on the long road towards Aperi opposite hotel Romantica. Although the company is from Michalis and Sofia it has a different name: AutoUnion. This location belongs to a much larger car rental company. AutoUnion car rental is currently one of the largest car rental companies in Greece!
You usually rent a car for € 30 to € 50 per day. This depends on a number of factors such as the size of the car, the number of days and the period.
Distances on Karpathos
Karpathos is a small island. Therefore if you rent a car everything will be so much easier and it won’t be long drives you need to make. One of the longest distances is from Pigadia (the capital) to Olympos. This takes a bit longer than one hour. Furthermore, everything is actually reachable within 20 minutes. Below is a handy schedule with the distances between each important hotspots on Karpathos.
|Pigadia||Kyra Panagia||30 minutes|
Stop along the road
On Karpathos, there are many small unpaved coves in the road, especially between Afiartis and Amoopi. Here you can easily stop to take pictures of the view. What you really must pay attention to is the wind. When the wind blows, you better stay in the car. The hard falls from the mountains can suddenly give a jerk and that is dangerous at such a point along the road.
Refueling is not possible in many places on Karpathos. In Pigadia you will find 3 tan stations. Two at the end of Pigadia (on the way to Aperi) and one at the beginning of the city (from Amoopi). You can also refuel in Arkassa. This petrol station is located- seen from Afiartis – before entering Arkassa. You do not refuel yourself when you rent a car at Karpathos, they do this at the petrol station in front of you. The costs of petrol are usually around € 1.90 – € 2.00. In July and August, it is wise to provide extra petrol in the car or to refuel if possible. It can sometimes happen that the boat does not arrive with petrol and you have to wait a few days. Fortunately, you can in some cases also go to the car rental company for some extra petrol in case of emergency.
They do not know parking costs on Karpathos. So that saves you a lot of money. On Karpathos, parking places (with experience) are not self-evident. In the villages, you usually find fixed parking places, but at beaches generally just parked along the road. Bear in mind that – especially in high season – beaches like Apella and Kyra Panagia are very busy. So go early to score a (normal) spot for your car. Also useful to know is that cars in the capital of Karpathos, Pigadia, after 7 pm no longer allowed to enter the boulevard/harbor. This is also indicated at the beginning of the boulevard/harbor on a sign and after 19:00 there is also a fence here.
Do I need navigation?
A navigation on Karpathos is basically not necessary. The island is small and there is actually only one, the real main road over the island. You can not get lost;). A ticket (or via Google Maps) it is useful to know where the villages are located.
Safety is above everything else. Therefore, here some questions answered safety concerns when you choose to rent a car on Karpathos
Are there any traffic rules?
Karpathos has few ‘real’ traffic rules. Traffic lights and roundabouts are not there and there are also few crossroads. On Karpathos is also just right driven. On Karpathos you obviously can not call while driving and must always be your belt, although we are used to that in the Netherlands you will see that the Karpathians have a lot of trouble with this;). There is police on the island, but not the same as we know this in big country’s in Europe. Also, there are speed cameras, there is even not really a speed limit on Karpathos. Most will drive between 50 and 60km (the Greeks themselves much harder, that also applies to the taxis and buses haha!). Yet it is just a bit of a sense of how hard you can drive somewhere. In a bend, you will have to brake a lot and have to go through the bend, but at Afiartis and Arkassa there are sometimes roads where you can drive well over 60 km per hour. Just feel it yourself, then it will be fine!
Do I need a 4 x 4?
When you rent a car on Karpathos you do not necessarily need a 4 × 4. Actually, all roads are just fine with a normal car. Also a beach like Diakoftis, where you come via a long, unpaved road, you can simply reach with a normal car. Kato Lako is one of the few beaches where you really can not come without a 4 × 4, but you can also choose to rent a quad on Karpathos for that day or to put the car upstairs and then down walk to this beach.
Driving during the evening/night
Driving a car at Karpathos in the evening can take some getting used to. In the villages, you have lights thanks to hotels, restaurants etc, but there is no lamppost outside (yes, there is a whole row near the airport, but they are never on). In the evening, therefore, much is driven by the big light. We are not necessarily supporters of this. Try to drive with normal light as long as possible, until it really can not or does not feel safe. When you drive directly with high light and you have to take it off on oncoming traffic, your eyes have a lot of trouble to suddenly switch back to the dark. The road between Arkassa and Afiartis is a lot nicer ride than to or from Pigadia. This road has cat eyes on the road, that makes it a lot finer drive!
Nice routes on Karpathos
If you rent a car on Karpathos it gives you countless advantages. But especially freedom is the most important one we guess! When you rent a car on Karpathos then this are some nice routes to take.
Vincent and I discovered the beach Kato Lako in Augustus 2017. The beach is now at the top of our list ‘Most beautiful beaches on Karpathos’. Do not forget the beautiful cave on the left. Important to know is that this beach is not accessible by a normal car. You can go on foot (20 minutes) or rent a 4 × 4 (or quad).
Ahata, Kyra Panagia and Apella
The above beaches are surely the best known and most beautiful beaches of Karpathos. Especially in the after season very quiet and then there are no parasols and beach beds! The beaches are next to each other (Although through the mountains it will take some time) and are therefore perfectly compatible with each other.
Lefkos & Messochori
On the west side of Karpathos, you will find the village of Lefkos. A beautiful place with beautiful beaches and nice restaurants. You will also find several archaeological excavations here. A small village called Messochori is also close to Lefkos. This village is also worth a visit and do not forget to visit Kafe Skopi!
A visit to the authentic village Olympos should not be missed when you go to Karpathos! It is about a 1-hour drive from the capital. Although the road used to be unsafe, it has been well paved for a few years now and the road is now easy to drive. The road to Olympos is also beautiful. Go early early, because after 11 am it will be (too) touristy in Olympos.