In Greece, as everywhere, unscrupulous taxi drivers sometimes try to take advantage of out-of-towners. All taxis must display the rate card; it's usually on the dashboard, though taxis outside the big cities don't bother. Ask your hotel concierge or owner before engaging a taxi what the fare to your destination ought to be. It should cost between €35 and €50 from the airport (depending on whether you are traveling with Rate 1 or Rate 2 taxi charges) to the Athens city center (this includes tolls) and about €10 to €20 from Piraeus port to the center. It does not matter how many are in your party (the driver isn't supposed to squeeze in more than four); the metered price remains the same. Taxis must give passengers a receipt (apodiksi) if requested.
Make sure that the driver turns on the meter to Rate (Tarifa) 1 (€0.60), unless it's between midnight and 5 am, when Rate (Tarifa) 2 (€1.05) applies. Remember that the meter starts at €1.05 and the minimum is €2.80 in Athens and Thessaloniki (€3 for the rest of the country). A surcharge applies when taking a taxi to and from the airport (€3.40) and from (but not to) ports and bus and train stations (€0.95). There is also a surcharge of €0.35 for each item of baggage that's over 10 kilograms (22 pounds). If you suspect a driver is overcharging, demand to be taken to the police station; this usually brings them around. Complaints about service or overcharging should be directed to the tourist police; at the Athens airport, contact the Taxi Syndicate information desk. When calling to complain, be sure to report the driver's license number.
Taxi rates are inexpensive compared to fares in most other European countries, mainly because they operate on the jitney system, indicating willingness to pick up others by blinking their headlights or slowing down. Would-be passengers shout their destination as the driver cruises past. Don't be alarmed if your driver picks up other passengers (although he should ask your permission first). Drivers rarely pick up additional passengers if you are a woman traveling alone at night. Each new party pays full fare for the distance he or she has traveled.
A taxi is available when a white-and-red sign (elefthero) is up or the light is on at night. Once the driver indicates he is free, he cannot refuse your destination, so get in the taxi before you give an address. He also must wait for you up to 15 minutes, if requested, although most drivers would be unhappy with such a demand. Drivers are familiar with the major hotels, but it's good to know a landmark near your hotel and to have the address and phone number written in Greek.
You can download the popular TaxiBeat or Uber apps from home, which let you order a nearby taxi that is equipped with GPS (to easily find your destination), and choose your taxi driver based on languages spoken and customer rating. The driver will come right to your destination, recognizable by his license plates. The service is at no extra cost and is available in Athens and Thessaloniki (Athens only for Uber).
On islands and in the countryside, the meter may often be on Rate (Tarifa) 2 (outside city limits). Do not assume taxis will be waiting at smaller island airports when your flight lands; often, they have all been booked by arriving locals. If you get stuck, try to join a passenger going in your direction, or call your hotel to arrange transportation.
When you're taking an early-morning flight, it's a good idea to reserve a radio taxi the night before, for an additional charge of €3 to €5 (depending on whether it is daytime or night tariff). These taxis are usually quite reliable and punctual; if you're not staying in a hotel, the local tourist police can give you some phone numbers for companies. Taxis charge €9.60 per hour of waiting.
Taxi Complaints in Athens
Taxi Syndicate. 210/523–6904; 210/523–9524; www.satataxi.gr.
Tourist police. 1571.