An all-out Athens public transportation strike is coming up tomorrow, January 31st. That means another day of hoofing it through the cold, that is unless you book yourself a private driver. I’ve listed in posts of late that it’s a good investment because not only are you enjoying the luxury of being chauffeured, free to settle into the backseat and watch the city pass by the window, free from the stress of hailing taxis or watching meters- you’ve also got a genuine Athenian character who may prove to be your friend, ally, and translator.
Here are a few basic services most companies provide. Know that the prices listed are the total prices (not per person) and can be higher or lower depending on the driver and the distances driven.
The driver’s role:
- be aware of the status of your flight
- be holding a sign with your name on it when you emerge from baggage claim
- offer luggage assistance once you’re out
The average cost is around €40-€50 for a taxi and €100-€120 for a twelve person minibus. Compare that to the new standard rate of €35 for a cab, €6 for the metro, and €3 for the x95 bus.
A City Tour:
- Picks you up from wherever you tell him (cruise ship, boat, hotel, house) and returns you afterward.
- Drives you to the Athens highlights such as the Acropolis, temple of Zeus, Ancient Agora, the historic center of Plaka, flea market of Monastiraki, a change of the guards in front of Parliament, etc. and recommends a place for eating sometime in the middle.
Almost all driver guides have the same program. Some are a little more carefree and will show you some out of the way sights if you express an interest, have been to Athens before and want to see something new, or you’re just lucky. Most are very used to dealing with tourists, speak fairly good English, and add their own charm into your day.
The average price for a city tour is between 150-180 for a cab and for a 12-seat minivan is between €350-€450. A half day is half of the time and 3/4 of the price.
Day trips –
Most driver guides have the option of going to places within two-three hours of Athens: Ancient Corinth, Nafplio, Ancient Mycenes, and Sounion are the most popular. The oracle of Delphi is one of the farthest points that you can reach, visit, eat, and return home within the same day.
driver’s role: See city tours
Average prices are slightly above those of city tours because of extra mileage and toll fees.
For any driver-guide tour expect good service and safety, but know that the driver’s version of a tour isn’t as in-depth as hiring a professional tour guide. Some driver-guides have a good handle on history and local stories, but by law is not allowed to accompany you into museums or onto ancient sites.
As a final option, should you be someone with a varied agenda such as having business meetings, a family reunion in a remote village, or just a very long to do list, most drivers arrange an hourly disposal rate.
- Pick you up from the point that you tell them,
- drive you to all of the places you need to go
- Wait for you at each point
- Return you home afterward.
Average price: It depends largely on what you’re doing, but most taxis want about 30 euros an hour.
Drivers may not work more than eight to nine hours as there laws restricting them to nine hours of driving a day followed by an eight hour rest. Anyone who has ever gotten sleepy on the road knows that this is best for everyone and drivers face big fines if not losing their license should they get stopped or controlled.
As of now there are laws restricting the size of professional vehicles. Should you not fit in a taxi, your options are limousines, 12 or 17 seat minibuses before graduating to the big buses. Be aware that if your driver is driving a common minivan or a car that is not a yellow taxi, it’s considered an illegal vehicle. If someone is advertising you a crazy low price, it’s likely the vehicle isn’t licensed.
We’ve composed a top ten list of transfer companies on NileGuide for your viewing pleasure. For the rest of us, let’s put on our walking shoes.