Before you get in a taxi from the airport to the centre of Athens, ask how much approximately it will cost you, and make sure that the taxi driver knows well where to take you.
If you realize that he is taking you round and round, the moment you get to the hotel, avoid giving him the money, but call the police.
This seldom happens, but you should be alert.
So you have heard the horror stories of the TAXIS in Athens well here is the whole truth:
Taxis are OBLIGATED to use a metter when you flag them down. The minute they see you are a tourist they try to negotiate a flat rate with you .. without using the metter... this is illegal and it goes against the traffic departments regulations.
Always show them the TAXIMETER and say ON ..... or "Anapseto" it means Turn it on in Greek.
Once on ... you are not in the safe zone yet ... You will notice a small number 1,2,3,4...
on the upper left hand or right hand corner.
THIS IS THE TARIFF CHARGE:
1 - Means normal tarrif and it should be used 18 hours a day from 6:00 am - 12:00 am
2- Night Tariff - It should be used between 12:01 am - 5:59 am (This is DOUBLE PRICE)
3 - Tariff for special occasions .... out of city travel (Going from Athens to a Village)
4 - WARNING ... TARIFF 4 doesnt exist .. if you see Tariff 4 it means that its a special scam program that the driver has installed and is robbing you blind.
RULE OF THUMB - If you flag a TAXI on the Street .. they need to have the meter on and the tarif should be 1 or 2 depending the times above.
AIRPORT - So you got of your 17 hour flight to beautifull Athens, insist to have the metter on ... and if the taxi driver says NO ... Flag the Tourist Police Man ... blue uniform with white diagnal leather stripe accross his chest... They speak english and will help you.
Be brave with the Drivers... they will try to dupe you any way they can.
Dont show all your money, and dont offer them a wad of cash and say "here take what you want" believe it or not I have seen that happen :)
SOMETHING TO ALSO KNOW - Taxi drivers once they have a customer inside tend to double up on rides going the same way. This although an illegal practice, it is the norm so do be allarmed if you are in the Taxi and he is stopping to ask other customers where they are going. He is trying to double up the ride.
SAFE TRAVELS FRIENDS
When you see the taxis lining up for clients at Syntagnma square you will often see that the first couple of taxis in the line do not have their "vacant light" on the roof on.
That is cause they don't want to drive local people but only tourists who they can rip off.
These guys with the light off will never use the meter, but always quote you a price before the trip that is way too high for the distance driven, but many tourists don't know that and will take the cab anyway.
Make sure that whenever you take a taxi in Athens and in particualr at Syntagma square that you make him use the meter.
If he refuses to do that then get out and take another cab or you will be paying much more than you should for the ride.
We had learned at the excellent www.athensguide.com that the taxi ride from the airport to the city would cost around 18EURO, and the first driver we found said it'd cost about 40E. We said no, CALLED THE POLICE and the policewoman told us it comes to about 18, again, and that's what it was.
The taxi drivers outside the airport of Athens, "Eleftherios Venizelos", usually follow all the rules and don't overcharge anymore the tourists as many times in the past. However, be careful if you still meet such a bad professional.
My hotel manager/reception guy offered to ring a taxi for me but Id seen them on the main street not far from where I was staying and thought that might be quicker, easier and cheaper - he didnt stress anything different - but what a hell of a time I had by doing that!!
I was told the price should be about 15 euro - and not far to Piraeus ferry terminals - but when I got to the taxis on the main road a few of them together were adamant there was a new price now of 25 euro - and otherwise I had to walk down the road 'about 10 minutes to other taxis for Piraeus'.
I walked off down the road trying to find these other taxis with nothing in sight and the worry that I had a ferry to catch - and taxis I tried to flag down wouldnt stop - I asked a few people along the way and they kept pointing down that way - until really it was ridiculous - still no taxis would stop - or one or two did and asked me where I wanted to go and replied no, no to my destination - by then it was just a nightmare and I could see I was going to miss my ferry - it was too late to walk back to my hotel - I actually had phoned my hotel and he had said keep trying to flag a taxi down.
Eventually a taxi - with another passenger - stopped and explained that these taxis just dont want to go to Piraeus unless theyve got other passengers going in the same direction so they can make as much money as possible - especially from tourists.
And the journey is only about 15 minutes!
I missed my planned ferry but had the bonus of finding an excellently helpful agent where I bought all my island hopping tickets from along with a hotel at a fairly good price for my time on Santorini the next night as well as all sorts of info and recommendations. Was able to leave my suitcase with her and walk off down along the main drag of Piraeus in the early evening sun, get some photos, some food and drinks from a Carrefor supermarket and spend an hour in an internet cafe. So I probably ended up with a better deal by going on an overnight ferry - with bed included for only about 30 euro.
When I was headed for my 1030 pm ferry that night though I came across price lists for taxis to Athens!.......
I live in Athens and the worst thing to avoid are the taxis. Taxi- drivers are rude, trying to take more money from you, drive like being in hell! My advice is DO NOT TAKE TAXIS IN ATHENS! Try the metro station, which is quick and safe. The last time I took a taxi from the port of Piraeus, the driver tried to take the double tariff from me! I really wanted to break his head! So, please tourists have in mind that maybe a taxi-driver will try to steal money from you...
Taxi drivers are hustlers! They will try to rush you into
their car, then make small talk about the relatives they
have in whatever country you come from, then rip you
off when you arrive. ALWAYS ask "how much to___"
If he tries to change the price when you arrive due to
traffic or whatever, stand firm. If that doesn't work, get
out a piece of paper and start writing down his vehicle #
and license # then threaten to call the authorities. He
will then jump into his car and drive away. TRUE STORY.
BEWARE!!!! The taxi's in Athens are not base solely upon distance, but also upon time in the taxi. Its completely to the drivers advantage to get stuck in traffic. Additionally, we were in a taxi on only 3 occassions and they all tried to charge us for more than the meter stated, and I mean for something like 20Euros more! It was horrid. Our taxi from the airport to the hotel tried to charge us 45Euros when the meter said 22. We had the same drive from the hotel to the airport a few days later and they tried to charge us 55Euro!!!
The metro however, was easy and a great alternative to the taxi's!
Trying to catch a taxi can be a very annoying sporting event! I asked a parked taxi if he could take me to my hotel and he replied that it wasn't that far away and that he was waiting to collect someone. I couldn't recall where my hotel was and was in what I can only describe as the Piccadilly Circus equivalent of Athens, where there were plently of taxi's driving by.
I found that you had to run alongside the taxi as they wouldn't stop for you just slow down and shout out you destination, if it's not a decent fare they drive off. There were lots of dodgy characters about and slowly getting closer and me getting more stressed, the original driver came over and saw what was going to happen and took me back to my hotel thankfully!
The same principle goes for any city but obviously be vigilant all the time, Athens is a very busy hustle and bustle city and for some reason I never felt entirely safe. Pick pocketers like to especially operate on the tube, young kids are the main thiefs.
If you are going to visit the Acropolis make sure your up very early in the morning. Athens can get as hot as 40 degrees by midday so its best to get there before eight or so to avoid the heat when climbing to the top.
Most of Athens' taxi drivers, also known as scam artists or other more harsh words, are the cream of the crop. They are to be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary. I stopped taking taxis in Athens, although I will admit not all of my experiences were negative.
Some taxis will rip you off by driving around through the maze of streets to run up the meter. One time on what was supposed to be a shorter drive than it turned out to be, I asked the driver "Eimaste konta?" (are we close?). He assured me we would arrive soon. When I finally got to my destination, my cousin told me the driver took the scenic route.
For other drivers, Ohi Day (No Day) is every day, not just on 28 October. If you tell the driver where you want to go, sometimes he will simply say, "ohi", or no, and leave you to find another taxi. I have had drivers refuse me because they "didn't feel like driving to that part of Athens" or their shift is "almost over and they have to go the opposite way to get home". Thanks for nothing.
We had one day in Athens from a cruise ship. At the harbor there was a taxi stand, and because we were a party of six, we hired 2 taxis at 15 Euros each to take us to the Acropolis. Instead, they took us to an isolated location where they asked us to get out of the taxis and gave us a high-pressure pitch to hire them for the day. Four hours and $160 Euros later they abandoned us at a place we did not ask to go to, and we had to hire two more cabs to get back to the ship. We got to see the Acropolis, but that's all we saw.
An airport taxi is probably the most necessary taxi you will take in Athens and the easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel with all of your bags. The queue can be long, but stay in it. If someone approaches you and offers a ride, don't follow them. This happened to my parents.
2 men approached them not knowing they were also Greek and said if they didn't want to stay in line and wait they had a taxi for them. They walked to the "taxi" and it turned out to be a box truck. My mom caught them by surprise when she started yelling in Greek and the men backed off and left. Who knows what could have happened?
The taxi stand is at the airport for a reason. The drivers who frequent it are less likely to overcharge you. If you are a woman you have no doubt heard about the kamaki- greek men whose sole purpose is to woo tourists. I was more concerned about the Aussies!! I had two unfortuante experiences in Athens. The first was being assaulted while walking alone through a deserted section of the National Gardens. My assailant grabbed my arm so forcefully that he left a bruise in the shape of a handprint. When I finally located a policeman he was less than helpful. The second was having my airline vouchers stolen from luggage storage at the hostel(I was traveling as a guest of a flight attendant without a actual tickets-the vouchers allow you to fill in a destination and go)Both of these situations could have been easily avoided if I'd used my head a bit more.
Everyone's (?) warning about taxi drivers and how they try to 'rob' you since you're a tourist. We were 4 women who took a taxi to Varkiza some 30 km south of Athens, and another one back in the evening --and had no problems :)