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Once you've been in Athens for a couple of days you will begin to embrace the various ways of getting around in Athens. Firstly, there is the tram. This is a service linking the central point of Parliament square / Syntagma Square with the beach areas along the coast, local residential areas and some of the local markets. There are 5 lines in total with line 3 operating exclusively along the seafront promenade from the glitzy shopping and eating areas to an area presently being built in preperation for new hotels. All other lines run from Syntagma Square just above the underground station.
It's well worth noting here that the tram costs just 1.40 EUR for unlimited travel on all transport modes valid 90 minutes. Within that time you could easily reach the locals market then the large and amazingly cheap 'Eurospar' supermarket and onto the beach for a cool drink - all for 1.40EUR!
Day- and weekcards are available at most major metro stations.
An insider tip would definately also be that the tram route is by far the cheapest, spotlessley clean and quick way to access the city centre and beach so if you choose a hotel en route, you would be very well placed for all Athens has to offer.
Next is the underground. It can be troublesome to navigate the system as the layout isn't the best although the system is very quick and costs just 1.40EUR (changing lines allowed) for an Adult to all areas except the airport which is 8.00 EUR.
The underground is similar to the UK. It can get quite hot and crowded so not good for carrying shopping. There are escalators and lifts at the end of each platform but do consider that the line linking Syntagma Square to Omonia Square is 3 levels down and very popular with the locals at rush hour.
Nevertheless, it's been superb for getting to areas such as the 'bartering' or 'haggling' shopping district of Monistiraki and hopping quickly between main points in the city centre.
A major benefit of both the tram and the underground is that there are both automated ticket machines and staff who speak English. Operating times are 05:00 - midnight.
Next are the taxis. There are two types (both yellow in colour). Firstly, radio taxis are similar to minicabs in principle. You call them, they arrive. They have company logo's on the drivers door and will never stop in the street unless you have booked them. They do charge a premium presently of around 3.00 EUR upon arrival and the cars are usually luxury and relatavely new. Drivers do try to speak English but don't expect to have a conversation with them. They are ideal for lots of shopping and to / from the airport or if you need a guaranteed destination very quickly.
The second type of taxi is the more common, the street taxi. These are taxis which you flag down in the same way we would with a bus in the UK. However, they choose whether to stop or not and will often already have a passenger. You shout your destination to the driver and they choose whether to accept you as a customer or not. This does take some getting used to and I would definately advise not to use these with lots of shopping bags as the cabs will stop and block all traffic in the road which causes a lot of tooting horns behind you!
Another tip with street taxis is that if they stop, try to give a main road as your desintation as if the driver dosent understand or recognise the destination you have given, they will just drive off. They might still take off when they ae not going in your general direction and some pick up other passengers on their way.
Peak period for street taxis are during morning and evening rush hour so you will find in the centre of the city 15 or 20 may pass you until you get an empty one.
The mostt reliable way to get a taxi is an app called TaxiBeat (Ios/Android) which ensures you are not overcharged and being driven around in circles as you can rate the driver after your ride. It shows you the nearest taxis on a map and you can choose the driver.
You may be wondering what benefit these taxis are by now - well, they're a lot cheaper. I criss crossed the city for a week and never paid more than 5.00 EUR with a street taxi. Yes, these cabs are older, yes the drivers hardly speak English and you must not take it personally if they just drive away from you when you give your destination, it's just their culture and gets to be quite a game of wits after the first few times.
One important note is regarding Athens Airport. Some travel agencies charge 55.00 EUR at least for an airport transfer. The drivers have to pay a toll and the distance is well out of the city so expect to take about 45 minutes not counting any delays. There is a fixed fee from the airport to the city center of 35.00 EUR if you take a taxi from the taxi rank at the airport..
Finally there are the buses and trolleybuses. Both allow cross ticketing from any of the public transport networks so if you have a metro ticket, you can use it on the buses in the city centre but be warned, their destination is purely in greek and unless you have studied a bus guide you may well find them very confusing.
So, to recap. You have the Tram, Underground, Radio Taxi, Street Taxi, Bus and Trolleybus! All competing for space in a crowded city, it made for a fascinating and visibly unco-ordinated competition around Athens. I would personally advise the tram wherever possible. It's clean, passes some good hotels, amazing shops, markets and of course the beach.
Have a great time in Athens, one of the most amazing cities I have ever visited.