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Most drivers in Athens speak basic English. Although you can find an empty taxi on the street, it's often faster to call out your destination to one carrying passengers; if the taxi is going in that direction, the driver will pick you up. Likewise, don't be alarmed if your driver picks up other passengers (although he should ask your permission first). Each passenger pays full fare for the distance he or she has traveled.
Taxi rates are still affordable compared to fares in other European capitals, but prices are steadily climbing. Get an idea from your hotel how much the fare should be, and if there's trouble, ask to go to a police station (most disagreements don't ever get this far, however). Make sure the driver turns on the meter and that the rate listed in the lower corner is 1, the normal rate before midnight; after midnight, the rate listed is 2.
Taxi drivers know the major central hotels, but if your hotel is less well known, show the driver the address written in Greek and make note of the hotel's phone number and, if possible, a nearby landmark. If all else fails, the driver can call the hotel from his mobile phone or a kiosk.
Athens has thousands of short side streets, and few taxi drivers have maps, although newer taxis have GPS installed. Neither tipping nor bargaining is generally practiced; if your driver has gone out of the way for you, a small gratuity (10% or less) is appreciated.
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