More than 2500 years ago Athens’ ancient core was built on a rocky plateau, today the focal point of the Greek capital as a bustling metropolis grew around it. Taking full advantage of this venerable centrepiece and a stunning backdrop on the city skyline, stylish rooftop venues have cropped up over the past few years and quickly turned into favourite nightlife hubs among locals. Here’s a list of the best rooftop bars to check out on Athens’ warm-weather nights.
The 5th-floor rooftop terrace of the boutique Herodion Hotel is the only one that provides views of both the Acropolis and the modern elegant lines of the Acropolis Museum, lit equally beautifully at night. The space is split between a Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant and a bar that serves ‘tapas cocktails’ – a combo of a cocktail and a little tasty side dish, both inspired by Greek flavours. Try the Olympic Flame which features Sailor Jerry rum and Bacardi and is served with a loukoumas (a traditional Greek doughnut) as its tapas counterpart.
This modern boutique hotel in Plaka neighbourhood’s Mitropoleos Square is named after Ernst Ziller, the German architect who beautified much of Athens in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has an equally modern rooftop terrace offering a direct view of the Acropolis, while the bar space is set among walls laced with hanging gardens. Creative cocktails are inspired by celebrities of Ziller’s time – such as the Queen Amalia which mixes mescal, grapefruit soda and vermouth. Apart from excellent nibbles, there’s a full dinner menu with Greek dishes like squid-ink trahanas (pasta with fresh cuttlefish and Florina pepper cream).
GB Roof Garden
One of the most elegant and refined rooftop venues in Athens is sprawled across the 8th floor of the classic luxury stay in Syntagma Square, the five-star Hotel Grande Bretagne. Boasting picture-perfect views of the Parthenon, Lykavittos Hill and the Greek Parliament, this bar and restaurant is also known for serving excellent wines in addition to its signature cocktails – the top choice is Tears of Chios, a mix of mastiha liqueur, vodka, lime juice, agave, muddled grapes and mint.
The Athens Hilton Hotel is not only a city landmark but home to one of the most impressive rooftop bars in the centre of Athens. A breezy outdoor terrace stretching across the length of the building is the high point for soaking in a panorama that not only includes the ever-present Acropolis but extends over the city skyline to the Athens Riviera with islands in the distance. Known for having some of the priciest cocktails in town, Galaxy Bar remains the classic and stylish option for a great night out. It’s also one of the city’s go-to restaurants for excellent sushi.
A for Athens
The top level of the centrally located A for Athens boutique hotel is a local favourite and a great choice for anyone in the mood for a coffee or a drink while taking in a postcard-perfect panorama of the Acropolis, the Plaka district and Monastiraki Square. Must-try cocktails include the Golden Flip, made with tahini and honey, and The Old Sport inspired by The Great Gatsby. There’s a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you can enjoy the views – with funk, soul or jazz playing in the background – throughout the day.
Another local favourite for stunning day and nighttime views of bustling Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis is Athens 360. This modern rooftop venue has a touch of industrial flair and comes alive when DJs spin an array of tunes including swing, jazz and funk. There’s a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu as well as a great cocktail list. Among the most unique and refreshing choices is the Milky Chance, a concoction of mastiha, vodka, vermouth, vanilla, yoghurt and strawberry cider.
The mood at this rooftop bar near Monastiraki Square reflects its name. City Zen is a simply designed, casual cafe-bar. The laid-back vibe is set by music which, depending on the time of day, changes from techno to lounge and pop. Guests can choose from classic cocktail favourites or opt for one of the seasonal drink specials, while a light menu features a range of simple Mediterranean salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes. With its pronounced view of the Acropolis, not much else is needed to impress here.
Simply finding the way up to this 3rd-floor rooftop bar is part of the experience. Couleur Locale is sort of hidden in the backstreets of Monastiraki – reachable via an elevator located in a nondescript arcade. But once you step out onto its wooden terrace, strewn with retro touches, the Acropolis seems like it’s just within reach. Relax with the view and an Instagram-worthy drink such as the After Beach, a mix of Greek liqueurs including mastiha and kitron from Naxos island.
This multi-levelled building is a cultural escape in Athens’ nightlife district of Gazi. It houses a theatre, an art gallery and a rooftop cafe-bar which serves up cocktails with interesting ingredients (ice-cream cocktail, anyone?). Its distinct urban industrial look matches the neighbourhood’s former identity as the gasworks centre of Athens; the panorama here is centered on Gazi’s historical gasworks tower (and, of course, the Acropolis).
Athenians who are into live indie music love the open-air terrace of Gazarte, right off Gazi’s main square. The space is a chic urban garden flanked by olive trees and potted plants. The bar with its wooden tables and comfy sofas affords a stunning view of the Gazi district, which – in similar fashion to Bios – features the old gasworks tower and the Acropolis. While here, you might also catch a multimedia exhibition, film screening or a theatre performance on another level of the venue.