Athens in detail

Drinking & Nightlife

In Athens the line between cafe and bar is blurry. Most places segue from coffee to drinks, and maybe music and a DJ, at night. There is almost always food – although places that serve only drinks are more common in the economic crisis (in which case, you can bring your own snacks). The smoking ban is often ignored.

Cafe Life

Greek social life centres on large, comfortable cafes that cater to every possible need, no matter the hour. Want a quick Greek coffee to get you moving in the morning? A light lunch and a beer? An iced coffee to revive after a long day of walking? An expertly mixed cocktail and delicious snacks? Quite a few Athens venues are equally excellent in the early morning and late at night – so you just might be tempted to while away a whole day in one.

Summer Clubs

In summer, much of the city’s serious nightlife moves to glamorous, enormous seafront clubs radiating out from Glyfada. Many sit on the tram route, which runs to 2.30am on Friday and Saturday. If you book for dinner you don’t pay cover; otherwise admission ranges from €10 to €20 and includes one drink. Glam up to get in.

Top Nightlife Tips

  • Bars begin filling after 11pm and usually stay open until 2am, or 4am on weekends.
  • Transit stops or slows after midnight, but cabs are inexpensive.
  • Athenians drink plenty, but public drunkenness is rare and looked down on. If you're visibly intoxicated, you're a clear target for pickpockets or worse.
  • Gazi and Kolonaki tend toward slick and bigger-budget clubs. For cheaper drinks and live music, head for Keramikos or Exarhia. Monastiraki and north of Syntagma are the best central areas for more interesting bars.
  • For the best dancing in summer, cab or tram it to beach clubs along the coast near Glyfada – city locations close earlier.

Drinking Prices

Athens has some of Europe’s most expensive coffee (between €3 and €5 in popular neighbourhoods) – think of it more as the price of feeling entitled to sit for hours, as locals do. On the other hand, alcoholic drinks are relatively cheap, with beer and wine for €3 in many places. You can spend more on cocktails (€10 or so), but you'll want to, as Athens bartenders are gaining global attention for their creativity and devotion to craft.

Best Lists

Drinking & Nightlife

  • Six d.o.g.s. The epitome of Athens' bar scene: indoor-outdoor, rooms upon rooms.
  • Baba Au Rum This excellent cocktail bar takes umbrella drinks seriously.
  • The Clumsies Repeatedly cited for world's best bartenders.
  • Bios In winter, a ground-floor cafe-bar; in summer, add a fantastic rooftop.
  • Alphaville The Keramikos (night)lifestyle in a nutshell.
  • Romantso Swing your hips at hula hoop classes at this fab creative hub.

Local Bars

  • Ippo In the Syntagma bar zone, but with a loyal crew of regulars.
  • Chelsea Hotel Pangrati cafe-bar packed with cool kids.
  • Galaxy Bar Stylish old vintage space in a downtown arcade.
  • Nabokov Low-key literati spot on the edge of Exarhia.
  • Blue Parrot Soak up trendy Metaxourgio's vibe at this greenery filled cafe-bar.
  • Bel Rey Former corner garage transformed into Koukaki hipster hang-out.

Coffee & Tea

  • Taf Coffee Consistently some of the city's best coffee roasters.
  • Kaya The busy coffee connoisseur's choice, hidden in an arcade.
  • The Underdog Championship-winning baristas at a roomy spot with a shaded courtyard.
  • To Tsai Zen-calm heaven for tea lovers in Kolonaki.

Photo Ops

  • Couleur Locale The Acropolis looks close enough to touch at this rooftop bar.
  • Little Kook The view in this case is not the Acropolis, but the wild decor.
  • Yiasemi Look at you, sipping a drink on the most scenic steps in Plaka!
  • Noel Everyone looks photogenic in this beautifully designed cafe-bar.

Cafe Life

  • Veneti A newer name on a classic two-storey grand cafe in Omonia.
  • Little Tree Book Cafe Coffee, drinks and snacks with local literati.
  • Spiti Mas Sip your coffee in a mock-up apartment.
  • Upopa Epops Rooms filled with vintage furniture, plus a pretty courtyard in Petralona.

Wine Bars

  • Materia Prima Cool contemporary bar dedicated to artisan winemaking.
  • Drupes & Drips Tiny cafe-bar specialising in Italian wines.
  • Cinque Assorted Greek wines are the gems in this jewel box of a bar.
  • L'Audrion Sophisticated spot in Plaka for French wines and food.

LGBT Friendly

  • Beaver Collective Women-run coop cafe that's lesbian-friendly and great for cocktails.
  • Rooster Relaxed gay hang-out in the centre of the city.
  • Shamone Start your exploration of Gazi's gay-bar scene here.
  • BeQueer All shades in the rainbow nation are welcome at this relaxed club.

By Neighbourhood

  • Syntagma & Plaka Excellent cocktail bars, some hidden in shopping arcades, take over this business district at night.
  • Monastiraki & Psyrri A few super-cool multiuse spaces combine art, music and booze. Rooftop bars have Acropolis views.
  • Omonia & Exarhia Exarhia is a good bet for youthful, lively bars, many with casual live music.
  • Gazi, Keramikos & Metaxourgio Gazi has thumping clubs and a gay scene; bars turn more bohemian further east.
  • Kolonaki Shiny, sceney all-day bars, plus some classic old-school cafes.