Taking a taxi in Athens

15 Oct

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in September and October of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

We debated if we wanted the hotels on this trip to help us with airport transfers.  In Crete and Santorini we did, just to make things easier because the airports looked very small but for Athens we decided to just wait for a taxi at the airport.

Taxis were plentiful and some of them were even Mercedes – very posh.  Li had done research and there should be a flat fee of 35 Euros that you pay for any trip from or to the airport from the center of the city.  During our four rides to and from – we never paid 35 Euros.  We had four taxi rides because the first and last days of our vacation were spent in Athens.

The Mercedes taxis made us think about Greece’s economic melt-down.  A country that can spend that much on a taxi must be very well off.  We wondered if all the cars had been purchased in full or people were still trying to pay down loans.

Despite the large sign by the taxi stand, no taxi driver admitted that was the correct price.  The first driver tried to charge us 39 Euros which we eventually paid after the hotel refused to help us negotiate.  The second driver charged us 40 Euros – after insisting there was an “electronic booking fee” because the hotel had called a taxi for us.  Funny how the hotel never mentioned the fee?

Coming back to Athens we were nervous waiting in the taxi line at the airport again.  We didn’t know what would happen or how much money they would ask for.  The third driver took the cake – he said that we should pay 49 Euros.  He kept giving us tips as he drove us into the city center and I think he was trying to butter us up with a very high taxi bill.  We finally paid 40 Euros – claiming we had no more money.

Before the final taxi ride to the airport I tentatively asked the bellman how much he thought it would cost.  He said – 38 Euros – all taxis from here to the airport are 38.  I told him that we hadn’t paid that amount before.  He said he would speak to the driver.

The last driver was a woman – she charged us 38 Euros.  We were relieved – but we never did pay the stated price of 35 Euros.

I don’t know why it is so acceptable to rip tourists off in Athens.  It created the only bad taste in our mouth we had from a beautiful city.  If I were to go again I would arrange hotel transfers.  I may pay a little more money but I would know the price before and not have to worry about the drivers.

Has anyone else visited there and had the same thing happen or were we just really unlucky?  Any taxi stories?  Please share yours.

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11 Responses to “Taking a taxi in Athens”

  1. Jennifer Avventura October 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    We met a handsome young lad who has a restaurant close to the Acropolis. We befriended him and he ended up being our driver and tour guide for the entire time we were there.

    • gkm2011 October 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      Sounds like a happy accident! We only needed a ride to and from the airport, but sounds like you had a great trip. There are some places where a guide would have been nice for sure.

  2. loganmurphy1984 October 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Wow! I much prefer the taxi rates in Taiwan! Sorry for your bad experience, I had some pretty bad experiences with taxis in Thailand, they always want to take you to some store where they have an arrangement with the owner to get gas vouchers for bringing in foreign suckers. I had to yell at a guy for not taking me where I wanted to go!

    • gkm2011 October 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      The taxi drivers in Taipei were very helpful, but of course I speak mandarin. Maybe if I spoke Greek it would have been better? Your experience in Thailand sounds rough.

      • loganmurphy1984 October 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

        Yea, but I learned a lot from it. You can’t always expect people to be welcoming and honest with you, though I still feel most people are. I’ve been spoiled in Taiwan, though I also speak Mandarin too and that helps, but I find that people here are generally warm and welcoming to foreigners. I once had someone chase me down the street because I had accidentally overpaid for my food by 5NT! I can’t imagine this happening in most places. Good luck with your travels!

  3. nancy@jamjnr October 16, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    We just got back from Sicily where we felt completely ripped off by the taxi at the airport. We arrived late at night so I booked a hotel just 3.5kms from the airport because we had to return the next day to pick up the hire car. We got in the taxi and there was no meter running so we asked how much and he told us 45Euros. Jetlagged, tired and confused we had no choice and gave him 40Euros after much shouting. The next day it was 30Euros to return to the airport.
    It just left a really bitter taste – there’s nothing worse than feeling ripped off as soon as you land. Luckily the rest of the holiday made up for it.

    • gkm2011 October 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      I understand completely how it can put a bad taste in your mouth. Glad to know the rest of your trip balanced it out!

  4. Valerie October 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    YES! I had a similar experience in 2002 and I still have that bad taste in my mouth after reading your experience. So we had a taxi ride, handed the bill over to the driver and we needed change, the driver did a swap of the bill (we handed a $50 and he threw up at $10 in our face) and started shouting that we better pay the bill in full. He wouldn’t let us out of the car until we paid again. It was horrible and will never forget that cab experience. It actually really made me have a distrust for the way things operate in Greece (sad to say – we had other experiences with purchasing goods). While the country was beautiful — not sure if I would go back knowing I would have to deal with how they treat tourists.

    • gkm2011 October 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      We only had this problem in Athens – the other cities were much more friendly so I don’t know if it is country specific or city specific. Funny how one event where you feel completely out of control can color so much of an experience. Amazing anyone does things twice!

  5. sarahinguangzhou October 19, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    Airport taxis are always rip-off merchants I think. I never argue because I hate arguing about money but then I get angry later, mostly with myself for not standing up to them. It’s always worse when you just get somewhere, because you’re trying to figure the money conversions.

    • gkm2011 October 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      Yes, it can be very confusing not only the conversion but the bills themselves are new and you aren’t sure if you tip or not or exactly where your hotel is.

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