When in Athens, taxis can be a cheap way of touring around the city provided you do not get stuck in a traffic jam. Canary yellow taxis are a common sight in Athens for which the starting fee is €1, after which the meter ticks up at €0.34/km (“rate 1″) or €0.64/km (“rate 2″), with a minimum fare of €3.10. The tariff rates in Athens go as:
1 – Means normal tariff and it should be used 18 hours a day from 6:00 am – 12:00 am
2- Night Tariff – It should be used between 12:01 am – 5:59 am (This is DOUBLE PRICE)
3 – Tariff for special occasions …. out of city travel (Going from Athens to a Village)
4 – WARNING … Tariff 4 doesn’t exist .. if you see Tariff 4 it means that its a special scam program that the driver has installed and is robbing you blind.
Legal surcharges apply for calling a cab by radio (€1.60), trips to or from the airport (€3.20) and heavy bags (€0.32). Tipping is not necessary, although it’s common to round up to the nearest full euro.
Though taxis are a common and cheap means of transport in Athens, be sure to avoid a taxi fraud by insisting on the meter and making sure the rate is correct. Taxis are obligated to use a meter when you flag them down. The minute they see you are a tourist they try to negotiate a flat rate with you or set a rate that is ridiculously high (e.g. 20€ for a short trip). In these cases it is best to find another and again insist on the charge shown on the meter. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171.
In busy tourist locations such as Syntagnma square you will often see that the first couple of taxis in the line do not have their “vacant light” on the roof on. That is because they don’t want to drive local people but only tourists who they can rip off. The drivers with the light off will never use the meter, but always quote you a price before the trip that is way too high for the distance driven, but many tourists don’t know that and will take the cab anyway. Do not get duped here and insist that the taxi drivers use a meter.
You can also expect to share the ride in a taxi during rush hours if you can find one, and at night after the Metro has shutdown. As such if you hail a taxi which is already occupied (Free Taxis have a brightly lit TAXI sign on top of the cab) the driver will ask where you want to go to before he will let you in to join the other customers. Strikes by cabbies and public transit are common so be prepared and watch the local news.