Let me give you the short answer first. Yes and No
Now to the long answer:
- Yes, if you use an App or grab it directly at the airport cue;
- With caution, if you raise your hand randomly in the street or get it at the port of Piraeus and tourist attractions;
Just to be clear, it’s not that you are in physical danger; yet you risk overpaying, wasting time, and wrecking your nerves.
So, let’s examine your alternatives.
Use a taxi-hailing app in Athens
Your best option, hands down, is to request a taxi in Athens through BEAT, everybody’s favorite taxi-hailing app.
Use the BEAT app
Formerly known as Taxibeat, this cab service aims to provide a smooth passenger experience at no-extra-cost.
The associated taxis are clean, the drivers are polite, and the cars are newer, with infrequent exceptions that is.
To give you the picture, I never grab just any taxi from the street.
Only on rare occasions when the app cannot find any available taxis do I raise my hand.
BEAT is the preferred way to ride taxis for many Greeks and me.
For your convenience, I have listed the download links to the Android and Apple stores
Use the Uber app
Alternatively, you can use the Uber app, which is likewise a good option, especially if you already have the app installed on your phone.
I have the feeling that the Beat app has a larger fleet, but I believe the best practice is to have both apps installed.
An added advantage of using the apps is that you can pay through them.
Save your payment details in the apps, and you never need to find change for taxis again.
What if the Athens taxi apps don't work?
Now, let us examine that case when you are stranded somewhere the apps are not sending you any taxis, what do you do?
Well, in this case, go on and raise your hand; you just need to be cautious.
Read further down on how to do it without problems by following some simple steps.
Hey, it’s not that we are in a third world country; nothing like that.
And the actual risk is merely financial, and I do not even mean robbery.
What can happen is that the taxidriver overcharges.
He can do that by using a variety of tricks as taking a longer route, having a rigged taxi meter, or requesting a fixed fee.
These tricks will result in losing your time, your money, and probably messing up with your nerves.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to raise your hand in the street, then follow the simple rules I have listed below:
Here are the steps to follow when hailing a cab in Athens
To start, ideally, raise your hand on a nice looking taxi, damage-free and clean.
Next, you should always check if there is another passenger already sitting as this is an old tactic that still holds. If yes, do not hail that taxi.
Once you have performed your vehicle check, look at the driver’s face. Usually, the crooks look like crooks. Listen to your gut feeling here.
Now you can raise your hand but don’t jump in just yet.
Smell the vehicle. Is the driver smoking? If the car is smelly, then you should not get in.
Now, lastly, and before you get in, ask the driver to set the meter. He will probably do it by himself but be alert and make sure he does.
You know what they say: “the opportunity makes the thieve.” Be alert; show that you know. The more knowledgeable you appear, the less the chances a taxi-driver will think of taking advantage of you.
Undoubtedly, if at any instance you sense something dodgy from his part, close the door and leave. He will not go after you, no need to worry.
If all feels right, then say “kalimera” (good day), sit at the back, and buckle-up.
You are off for a nice ride.
Before I end this, I have compiled a useful checklist for you (I call it the Rules of Engagement) for when grabbing a taxi from the street.
Rules Of Engagement - Hailing a cab from the road
* My father in law once got into a taxi at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, which the concierge hailed for him. He was charged 50 euros for a ride that should be less than 10.
What about yourself, how has your experience been with taxis in Athens?
Share below; the other readers and I can greatly learn from your experience.