About us

A word from our founder…

The Way to Discover Athens

It was 2004. Back then, you could only book bus tours and I was guiding them.

From behind the constraints of those elevated tour bus windows, I always did my best to tell the stories, facts and vignettes about the Greek capital as the colors and energy of the city whizzed by at a pace that depended on the traffic of the day.

Although I loved my job, the urban noise, the commutes, being cooped up on a stuffy dark bus on beautiful sunny Mediterranean days and the long hours away from my family were getting to me. I thought for a moment that my tour guiding career, which I loved, was somehow sadly reaching a breaking point. As I pressed my complaints on my fantastic husband and business partner, Yiannis, he opened my eyes to another way to show groups the best of our city.

Walking.

Other cities, he explained, were offering walking tours and why shouldn’t Athens? My mind began to race. Yes! Why shouldn’t our city see Athens by foot?! It made sense. I loved walking the city in my spare time. It truly was the best way to discover its charming hidden and not-so-hidden corners. In a place of ancient and modern sights, walking the city - rather than seeing it fly by behind a bus window – would be the best way for any visitor to really understand the pulse of Athens.

The New Idea: Walking Tours in Athens

I began to map out walking routes and dream of the possibilities. That’s how my enthusiasm for my work rekindled in a new way and the beginning of our new company Athens Walking Tours.  

We created brochures, leaving them at hotels and hoping for the best. There wasn’t a response. No one had heard of such a thing called a city walking tour yet.  

I wanted to push things forward. That’s what prompted me to create a website for Athens Walking Tours.  I had a feeling getting online would get us the publicity we needed. I considered myself completely computer “illiterate,” so getting that project done was one of the biggest challenges in my career. It paid off.

The payoff came in the form of our first walking tour clients. Frank and Ann from Boston, and Rellie and Patrick from Oregon found us online. I asked them how they came upon my tour guiding services and they mentioned a site I hadn’t heard of yet called TripAdvisor.

There I was standing in front of my first clients less than one year after my husband sparked the idea that Athens could have walking tours and that our company could offer them.  With excitement in my heart, I took those two American couples on my first official (and the city’s first) walking tour of Athens. They loved it. Their gratitude ended my work day with a sense of incredible pride and accomplishment.

More Guided Walks to Come

I would end up guiding dozens upon dozens more tours myself that first year which was the year the Olympic Games were held in Athens. With hard work, more positive reviews came and so did amazing thank you emails. Our company received rave reviews in magazines and guide books.  By 2008, I couldn’t do it alone. In fact, we hired ten more guides to meet the demand.

I’m proud to say that Athens Walking Tours now consists of a dedicated, enthusiastic and talented team of 20 licensed tour guides. Thanks to our group efforts, we are ranked as the number one activity in Athens on TripAdvisor.  Behind the scenes, there are seven more members of our company handling marketing, operations and accounting duties to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The Best Way to See Athens

Looking back, I am grateful for my diverse experiences guiding tours through Athens.  After more than three decades, I can say that I love my work and how it has evolved. It is an incredible feeling to witness visitors from all over the world discover the beauty, history, culture and energy of Athens in the only way a guided walking tour can.  

After many successful years, I still see Athens Walking Tours evolving and growing. After all, it is my “baby.” By mentoring our dedicated staff, constantly improving our operations and understanding the ebb and flow of the city I love while appreciating her ancient wonders, I know that I can offer the best cultural experience for visitors during their stay here. These are the values I hold dear and I know that my entire team holds dear.  

Thank you for letting us show you our amazing, unique and incredible city, a city unlike any other place in the world.  

 

Despina Savvidou
Founder of the Athens Walking Tours and Licensed Tour Guide
 

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