Athenians consider every musical event an opportunity for a singalong, which can make the most formal concert venues feel wonderfully chummy (even if you don't know the words yourself). Options vary seasonally: most indoor venues close or scale back programming in the summer, when the open-air theatres and cinemas take over.
Athens has great rembetika (Greek blues) and laïka (urban popular music). Clubs operate September to May, start around 11.30pm and do not have a cover charge (though drinks are pricier than in bars). Year-round, bars and tavernas – especially in Plaka, Psyrri and Exarhia – host bands evenings and Sunday afternoons.
Theatre & Performing Arts
As the birthplace of live theatre, Athens has an excellent scene. But English performances are not common, except at the National Theatre and the Greek National Opera, both of which offer surtitles. In summer the main cultural happening is the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, which includes dance and music programming; book tickets online, or buy at the festival office.
Greece’s top football teams are the Athens-based Panathinaikos (www.pao.gr) and AEK (www.aekfc.gr), and Piraeus-based Olympiacos (www.olympiacos.org), all three of which are in the European Champions League. Check club websites, English-language press or www.ticketmaster.gr.
'Basket' (basketball) is one of Athens' most popular sports, with a number of men's and women's pro teams in Athens (Panathinaikos and AEK are the biggest) and Piraeus (Olympiacos). For schedules, see the website of the Hellenic Basketball Federation (EOK; www.basket.gr). Games are often held at the 18,000-seat stadium at the Athens Olympic Complex.
One of the delights of Athens is the enduring tradition of open-air cinema, where you can watch the latest Hollywood or art-house flick in the warm summer air. The settings are old-fashioned gardens and rooftops, with modern sound and projection. Cinemas start up in early May and usually close in September.
English-language entertainment information appears daily in the Kathimerini supplement in the International New York Times. Athens’ thriving multiuse art spaces host all manner of goings-on. For comprehensive events listings, with links to online ticket-sales points, try the following.
- www.thisisathens.org Athens tourism site.
- www.athensculturenet.com English listings of events and performances.
- www.elculture.gr Arts and culture listings (in Greek only).
- www.viva.gr Major ticket vendor, including for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.
- www.ticketmaster.gr Also has sports matches.
- www.hunteragency.gr Rockwave and other festivals.
- www.ticketservices.gr Range of events.