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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. 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.

The Athens taximeter starts at €1.19 and, even if you join other passengers, you must add this amount to your final charge. The minimum fare is €3.16. The basic charge is €0.68 per kilometer (½ mile); this increases to €1.19 between midnight and 5 am or if you go outside city limits. There are surcharges for holidays (€1), trips to and from the airport (€3.84), and rides to (but not from) the port, train stations, and bus terminals (€1.07). There is also a €0.40 charge for each suitcase over 10 kilos (22 pounds), but drivers expect €0.40 for each bag anyway. Waiting time is €10.85 per hour. Radio taxis charge an additional €2 to €5.65 for the pickup, depending on time of day requested.

Contacts

Athens 1 Intertaxi (210/921–2800. www.athens1.gr.)

Ermis Taxi Service (210/411–5200.)

Radio Taxi Hellas (210/645–7000 or 181 80. www.radiotaxihellas.gr.)

Parthenon Radio Taxi (210/532–3300. www.radiotaxi-parthenon.gr.)