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Licensed guides or drivers


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I'm trying to decide if we would need licensed guides or a driver on shore excursions in the Med. I know a licensed guide would be more expensive, but is there a need for them, or would a driver be almost as good. Anyone have any experiences with licensed guides? The ports I'm debating are Ephesus and Athens.


Mary Lou

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The rules about licensed guides are very strict. If you have a driver who is not a licensed guide, basically he just drops you off at the gate and waits for you to come back. Any touring of the site is strictly on your own, with whatever guidebook you have.


We were very glad we had licensed guides in both Ephesus and Athens, particularly at the Acropolis. It is a big place and you could wander around quite a bit just trying to find something. Also, there are a number of places like the Agora, the Pynx, the Aeropagus and so on that are visible from the Acropolis but picking them out without a guide might be difficult.


It just depends on how independent a spirit you are. I pretty much figure that if I only have a few hours in a port I want a licensed guide to show me the most important stuff fast!!



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Mike: Which licenced guides did you use? How can I conctact them? Web sites?


In Ephesus we were on the ships tour, which of course uses licensed guides.


In Greece we were very happy with Greece Ala Carte. They are a "destination specialist" and we booked through our Travel Agency, but you can also contact them at the website. They created a special combination tour for us and it went very well.


Check our Med report at

The Hall's Med Cruise

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  • 3 weeks later...

There is difference between a driver and a licensed guide. When in Italy the wide use is driver-guides.

But they are not guides, just drivers and they drop you to the spot( historical site etc) and inside you have to take a licensed guide.

As for your question in Athens we did not use any, were on our own. When we were this summer in Turkey we used a licensed guide, both in Istanbul and Izmir- Ephesus, his name Mesut YILMAZ very knowledgable.

I take the opportunity to thank him for the unforgetable time in Istanbul and Ephesus.

Actually all the guides have special knowledge about the historical sites and other matters related to country culture, economy, history or other matters, which can not be given by the drivers.


Hope this small information helps,



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Let me give you a different perspective. In Athens, I used Paul of Greek Taxi. He was wonderful. He is only a driver. But he is completely knowledgeable about Athens, Greek History, myths, etc. He told us exactly what to look for when we went to the Acropolois, what was important, what we could see from the top, etc. He even ran over to a book store and bought us a guide so we could take it with us when we went to the Acropolis. He talked non stop throughout the day about Athens and Greece and the sights and the history and stories behind them. I didn't at all feel cheated by not having a licensed guide. And the cost of hiring Paul was much much cheaper than hiring a licensed guide. My party agreed that of our 9 ports, Paul was far and away the best guide through the cruise. He went above and beyond to show us all of Athens!

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IMO, it really depends on the port.


We had a driver the day we were in Naples that took us to Sorrento, Positano, Ravello and Amalfi. Later in the day, he dropped us of at Pompeii. We felt that a driver was great to show us the area and then we had the option of hiring a guide for just the Pompeii portion of the day.


In Ephesus we had a driver and a guide since we wanted someone to actually walk through the site with us and tell us about what we were seeing. In Athens we did the ship's Historical Athens tour since we wanted a guide there also.


In Rome we had a driver that was wonderful. He took us to all the sites we wanted to see. WHen we got to the Vatican he had prearranged for a guide to meet us. It was wonderful having her there since I think we would have missed a lot of the "inside" stories.


Have a great trip!



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There are three categories:



Licensed Guide


Driver does just that. Drives with no commentary or most times very little to give you information at the historical sites you will visit. They do not go into the site with you.


Driver-guide drives but also provides commentary on the sites you will see and is very knowledgeable about the history of the sites you will visit. They will also know the in's and out's of getting around and keeping you from standing in line.They will prearrange tickets for entry to sites but cannot go into the sites with you. They can arrange for licensed guides inside any site you may wish a tour guide for.


Licensed guides may be your driver as well but they can actually go into each of the sites with you and explain the history/significance of the site.

Some licensed guides are good and others were a waste of money. Good to ask for specific names of guides to avoid the bad ones. Also, your paying for this person for an entire day typically which is more costly.


For the money, go for the driver-guide and then request a licensed guide for specific sites. Don't pay for a licensed guide for a full day when you may only need them for a certain site.



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