Introduction

Gazi's story is a typical contemporary urban one: abandoned industry – here, a former gasworks – is revived by artists and bar owners. A decade passes, the edge becomes the centre, and the transformation continues in surrounding areas. Currently, adjacent Keramikos and Metaxourgio, east of Gazi, are where new scruffy-cool bars, theatres and cafes are popping up, alongside derelict mansions, moped dealerships and Chinese wholesalers. Come to this area at night, certainly, but also by day for the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos, as well as a couple of good museums.

Explore

This is almost entirely a nightlife district, unless you're into street art, in which case a daylight stroll is rewarding (fold in a walk through the old gasworks too). The only other daytime sights are the Kerameikos site – go early in the morning, because there's no shade – and the two Benaki outposts, one museum for contemporary art, and one for Islamic art. These require a little planning, as they have more limited hours and, in the contemporary space, rotating exhibits that may or may not be of interest.

Central Gazi, around the Kerameikos metro stop, is a virtual ghost town by day. Some cafes and restaurants are open, but there is very little street life; the area just feels like it's biding its time till sundown. So for a break after the Benaki Museum Pireos Annexe, you could eat at its very nice (if somewhat pricey) cafe, or head across the road to livelier Petralona.

When you do come back in the evening, where you settle in depends a lot on your taste in bars. Stay in Gazi for bigger clubs and louder lounges; check the schedule at Technopolis in advance, in case a band or DJ you like is playing. If you prefer a slightly quieter spot, head east of Iera Odos. But even if you're not into the high-volume Gazi scene, it's fun to at least stroll through the main square, where people meet to preen and decide which place to hit first.

Highlights

  • Museum of Islamic Art Feasting your eyes on the treasures of shahs and sheikhs from centuries past, then sipping coffee in the little upstairs cafe.
  • Technopolis Rocking with the crowd at this large outdoor music venue that draws big-name Greek singers and touring international stars.
  • Kerameikos Paying respects to the ancient dead, amid beautifully carved grave markers, and strolling the wildflower-covered ruins of Athens' old city gates.
  • 138 Pireos St Learning about Greece of the 20th and 21st centuries via the eclectic, ever-changing art exhibited at this modern outpost of the Benaki museums.
  • Offbeat performances Stumbling on a dance show in a train car at Treno sto Rouf, for instance, or experimental theatre.

Top Tips

The east end of Metaxourgio is what gives the neighbourhood its somewhat dodgy reputation. Better not to stray into the smaller streets east of Plateia Avdi, where there's open-air drug use, as well as two blocks of lowest-budget brothels. The pink 'Studio' neon signs, dotted around Gazi and Keramikos, mark brothels as well, of a more upscale sort.