Taxi… not Cab: In every European country, the proper term for a taxi is… taxi.
It Depends on the Country/City: I’m sure I’ll upset a few folks, but based on my experience you’ll generally find clean taxis with professional drivers in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway & Sweden). This is because taxis are highly regulated in these countries and the cultures lend themselves to providing good service. Once you get outside of these countries a taxi experience can become more “interesting” for one reason or another. I’ve never had a bad taxi experience in the above countries… but I have had at least questionable experiences in most other countries I’ve visited.
Ask Questions: In any country, you should be smart and ask reasonable questions before and getting into a taxi – this is especially important in the countries outside of the ones mentioned above.
Always Buckle-Up: This should be a no brainer, but once you’ve experienced a taxi ride with a Mario Andretti wannabe in Rome, you’ll understand the importance of this advice. J
Look Before You Leap: Ask the driver before you get into the cab, how much it will cost to go to your destination (approximately)? Get in only if it seems reasonable.
After You’re Committed: If there’s a meter in the taxi, ask the driver to start it as soon as you close the door. If they won’t, best to get out.