Avoid Taxis In This Popular European Country (And The Best Way To Get Around Instead)

Taxis, as convenient as they are, are an inevitable way to get ripped off in a new or unfamiliar destination. Hailing taxis, especially to and from the airport, often gives obvious notice that you're a tourist. Yet, when we visit new countries, we naturally won't know our way around, and the easiest way to ensure we can get where we are going is to simply take a taxi.

While this is a common theme worldwide, there's one European destination that unfortunately has an especially notorious history of ripping off tourists when it comes to getting into a cab. Greece is a sought-after destination for many, and because of that, visitors need to add an extra dose of vigilance when it comes to common tourist scams. Nearing the top of that list is being overcharged in a taxi, especially in the city of Athens. How can you avoid overpaying? Well, the best way to get around both the scam and in general is via a rental car.

Why rent a car in Greece

Renting a car, whether in Greece or anywhere else in the world, comes with a plethora of benefits. The most obvious is that you can travel at your own pace. You won't have to worry about delayed trains, busses, or flights, and you can stop as many times as you'd like along the way from point A to point B. Driving around with your own set of wheels is a great way to see off-the-beaten-path destinations, to stop by that little hole-in-the-wall eatery on the side of the road, and to simply take in your surroundings without worrying about watching the clock.

Not to mention, renting a car in Greece is generally quite affordable. A small car rental in Athens averages $22 a day. Keep in mind that this does not cover anything additional, including car insurance, but either way, when you compare it to the price of taking taxis everywhere, it's a great way to visit Greece on a budget.

If driving a car in an international destination stresses you out, Greece is a good place to start. While major cities, like Athens, can get a bit hectic, the roads in Greece are generally well-paved and easy to navigate. There are some rough areas, but if you're feeling unsure, double check with locals or your hotel staff to ask them the best routes to take that meet your comfort level.

Road rules to abide by

When you're in another nation, you must abide by their rules. This includes rules of the roads. First, to ensure you can even drive in Greece, you'll want to double check if you need an International Driver's Permit (IDP). This will all depend on your passport of origin. For Americans, the U.S. Department of State website says  visitors do need an ID; however in 2021, the law was changed, and you now just need a valid U.S. driver's license (per the Consulate General of Greece in New York's Facebook post and ACE Car Rental).

In Greece, you drive on the right side of the road, just like in the U.S. If you're from the U.K., Japan, Australia, or New Zealand, this will take some getting used to. Manual cars are more commonly found at car rental agencies, but you can request an automatic. 

If you head off of the mainland to explore the islands, go for taking a ferry instead of a flight because you can bring your car onto most ferries. Alternatively, if you don't want to bring your car to the islands, you can opt for an ATV rental.

All of this is to say, there still might be a point in time when you do need to take a taxi. Should you find yourself needing to hire a driver at any point during your stay, remember to ask your driver to turn the meter on immediately and to get an idea of the total cost before getting in the car.