How Athens Walking Tours started!


Despina Savvidou - founder of Athens Walking Tours

It was back in 2004 when I was sitting in my husband’s office, tired after a city bus tour in German. I put my fist on the table and said “I do not want to do this any more, it is too long, too tiring, too boring”. I had completed 26 years of tour guiding in Athens and around Greece, being away from my family –kids and husband for many days or stuck in Athenian traffic, sitting behind the dark glass of a tour bus, trying to bring Greek history to life. My husband looked at me in astonishment not believing I would give up on my big passion which was guiding, so he suggested I do walking tours like the ones we had experienced in other cities.

I liked the idea; I love Athens and its history so it was a pleasure for me to sit down and work out some walking programs where at last I could show visitors the real Athens. I day dreamed how nice it would be to walk with them, show them the secret corners of this ancient city where they could feel the pulse of the city.

So we printed some brochures and placed them in the hotels where the response was minimal; obviously my idea for creating cultural walking tours in Athens was still quite premature for the Athenian travel scene.

But I did not loose faith and instead decided on creating a web site, even though I felt like I was in another universe when it came to computer skills; I had been a tour guide all my life, I hardly even knew how to use the “mouse”. With the help and encouragement of my family, and the patient hours of computer lessons they took turns offering, I soon began to get a grip on things.

Frank and his wife from Boston, Rellie and Patrick from Oregon, were my first on-line clients to book a walking tour and I was overwhelmed with happiness and excitement! When I asked them how they found me they said they had seen a review on Trip Advisor which at that time I had no idea what it was.

I realized that a new era had begun for me. From 2005 to 2006 I personally guided every single Athens Walking Tours guest, I rejoiced when I received “thank you mails” or reading all the rave reviews on forums, papers, magazines or guide books. Thanks to these reviews our business increased and by 2007 I hired two more guides. By 2008 that number had increased to 10. Today, the Athens Walking Tours is proud to have a team of 20 excellent licensed tour guides, is ranked as the #1 activity in Athens on Trip Advisor and is a thriving company with a full time staff of 7 employees in the marketing, operations and accounting departments.

I am extremely proud of this accomplishment and I still see the company as “my baby”. I still love to guide and offering our Athens Walking Tour guests a high quality cultural experience during their stay in Athens; this will always be my number one priority.

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

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