My family and I will be in Athens for a day as a cruise port of call. We are trying to decide whether to pay for a guided tour of the city or use public transportation to tour the city on our own. Does anyone have experience with the various tours that are advertised in internet searches? Another option is for us to just pick-up a tour guide at the Acropolis. Does anyone know how much these guides cost? Thank you!
In addition to any answers you get here, be sure to look at Cruise Critic dot com. Here's their Athens port review page: http://tinyurl.com/cs3tgcj Here's their Greek ports forum: http://tinyurl.com/ax6ys4a And here's where you can sign up for a Roll Call for your sailing, so you can join up with others for a private tours (reduces costs if you share it): http://tinyurl.com/ap7h55m
To give a better answer, we need more information. I.E., when you say "family" how many people? 3? 5? When do you get off boat, when must you must be back? The Metro from Piraeus to Central Athens is just 30 minuts BUT From the cruise dock, it is nearly a mile's hike to the station, so a taxi would be a better choice. As for picking up a tour guide at the Acropolis gate, that can be chancy. Where did you hear about this? Sometimes licensed guides are there, sometimes not. If u are lucky and there are some, they wait to collect 10 or 15 people then start, and charge each 15€ or so. It's a chance you take. WARNING! "Tour" ads on internet are not really tours you are basically hiring a taxi-driver, for €250 - €300. He will speak ENglish, drive you around, supply history "anecdotes" and brochures, take you to a lunch place (probably owned by his uncle). He will NOT be a licensed guide, and is legally FORBIDDEN to escort you in museum or ancient site. You would be ON YOUR OWN, UNguided. Also, key landmarks are clustered, walking distance, maInly on no-car streets or lanes. So you'd be stuck in traffic on major avenues. Same problem with sightseeing-busses. I love sightseeing busses in London not in Athens. A 3rd way is a private guide (share with other cruisers?). This excellent website http://tourguides.viator.com/Listing.aspx?type=tourguide&Country=Greece&Region=&City=Athens gives full guide profiles, prices, reviews & you choose. Typical price €60-70 per hour for 1-10 people, minimum 3 -4 hours; you'd meet him/her at Acropolis. U can contact guide before booking and specify EXACTLY what you want to see/do.
I've been to Piraeus/Athens via cruise twice. You have several options for getting to/from/around Athens if you don't want to do the ship's excursions. 1) DIY (least expensive). After exiting the ship, you cross the street, buy bus/metro tickets and take the bus to the metro (I don't have my notes anymore to remember exactly what bus numbers go there.) I've done this and it's not hard, but takes a long time. And buses weren't running as frequently as they should have (or we had looked at weekday schedule and not weekend) and when it came time to get back to the ship we were getting nervous and about to get taxis when the bus came. 1a) You can combine with a walking tour of Athens if you'd like something added. (We did Athenswalkingtours 2 years ago and it was AWFUL - walked away from a prepaid tour because it was THAT bad.) 2) HO/HO Bus. There are two companies that run from the port. In hindsight, I sorta wish we'd done that at least once. I don't feel we got a good overview of the city, as each time we DIY we concentrated on just a little part. 3) Private tour. Sign up for your Roll Call on Cruise Critic and you are likely to find others willing to share a private excursion with you. I set this up for my parents. I found 10 other people to share the 300€ transporation and 180€ guide cost. That was only 40€/person for a fully guided full day tour (food and museum admission not included). My parents raved about the tour and said it was one of the best days of our cruise, and certainly the best value. I used athensbytaxi.com and based on their experience (I didn't take the tour) would recommend it.
Thank you all for your input! Harold, I am a member of cruise critic, but had not considered the "roll call" option. I appreciate the idea. Janet, I was aware that most (all) of the cars-for-hire do not include a guide. I had read on cruise critic about people getting guides near the Acropolis ticket office. Regardless, we have downloaded audioguides and plenty of other maps and materials, and have decided to do a self-guided tour. I just hope there are no impending public transportation strikes!
We just got back from Athens. We downloaded the Rick Steves audio tours for the Acropolis, Athens Walking Tour, the National Archeological Museum and the Agora. They were great!