Guides to Athens Car Rental Greece - Getting Around - Transportation

Hire a car in Athens at your peril. You'll need nerves of steel, an aggressive personality and a talent for gesticulating and hurling abuse at fellow drivers. Athens makes London driving seem like a gentle potter across the Yorkshire Dales.

The traffic jams start at around 6.30am and continue until late at night. Even those who've lived in the city all their lives find driving around it to be hell on wheels. Helmet-less scooter riders weave in and out of the cars at a terrifying pace and pedestrians plunge into three lanes of fast moving traffic as though this were the fastest and most effective form of suicide ever invented.

As an uninitiated foreigner you'd be mad to hire a car in Athens and the only possible excuse for such reckless behaviour would be that you need a car to get out of the city.

The public transport system, particularly with the advent of the metro extension, is so good that getting around by car just doesn't make any sense.

Use the metro wherever possible - it's fast, efficient, clean and good value. If you're planning to do several journeys over a 24-hour period buy a special discount ticket which allows you to travel as many times as you like on the metro, trolleybus or bus services as often as you like in that period.

Local tourist information offices provide excellent maps of the city with metro and bus routes. When you buy a metro ticket don't forget to validate it at one of the machines that you'll find at the entrance to the platforms - failure to do so will result in a hefty fine.

Taxis are another option but unless you get your hotel to pre-book one for you (and this carries an extra charge) it's a serious challenge trying to get one to stop for you in the street. The best you can hope for is that one will slow down long enough for you to screech your intended destination through the open window.but if the destination doesn't suit the driver he'll simply drive on without giving you the time of day.

If you can brave an attempt at driving yourself out of the city, there are some wonderful sights to see and places to explore within easy reach of Athens and a hired car is the best way to do it. Talk nicely to your local car hire firm and a representative may even drive you to an easy exit point.

The Delphic Oracle and Sanctuary of Apollo is an easy two-hour drive to the north west of the city. Its history is fascinating, the location is nothing short of spectacular and there are plenty of delightful hotels, pensions and tavernas to make an overnight stay worthwhile.

Visit Nafplio, about one and a half hours drive to the west of Athens, where you'll find one of the loveliest towns in the whole of Greece. This is a peaceful seaside resort with impressive Venetian architecture and neoclassical mansions. Dominated by the 18th century Palamidi Fortress, the town was chosen as the first capital of independent Greece after the country's liberation from 400 years of Turkish rule in 1827.

A trip to Olympia, on the western edge of the Peloponnese, is well worth the four-hour drive from Athens if your holiday to Greece allows. Here you'll find the home of the first Olympic Games which according to legend were a contest between the gods and heroes of Greek mythology. These days young tourists race up and down the ancient athletics track where the evil emperor Nero declared himself the winner of a chariot race.even though he rigged it in his favour and over-turned his chariot.

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