Athens for Party Animals
Athens for Party Animals
Traditional Greek entertainment, world-class clubs, cafe/pubs, beach bars, and even festivals compose the jigsaw of the vibrant scene of Athens nightlife.
Athenians are night owls. That's the reason why there's traffic even late at night (another is that they love their cars so much). People will usually commence their evening in a restaurant and continue for drinks late into the night. The city offers an endless and ever-changing assortment of bars.
Each neighborhood in central Athens attracts its own "tribe", with fashionistas hitting the area of Gazi and Psiri like a hurricane, while students and intellectuals inhabit Exarcheia. Rooftop bars in Plaka, Monastiraki, and Thissio attract an even mix of tourists and casual crowds, while label-chasers exchange compliments in Kolonaki.
Another significant nightlife trend is the amalgamation of a cafe, bar, and restaurant under one roof. You can sit for a quiet lunch and before you know it it's midnight and the wine in your hand has been replaced by a mojito. Such venues are multiplying and are mostly concentrated in areas like Agias Irinis Square or Koukaki. For those who prefer the neighborhood atmosphere, Botanikos and Metaxourgeio offer plenty of choices at reasonable prices. Not to mention that these areas have attracted a large number of galleries and independent theater groups.
Summertime is the season when nightlife shifts to the southern suburbs, as their proximity to the sea makes them an ideal hangout spot. As the heat takes over, Athenians hit the city's coolest nightspots to get that holiday feeling. The seaside neighborhoods between Paleo Faliro and Glyfada are where you will catch people strolling past the numerous marinas, bars, and seafront cafes in the evening.
The bars in the city live double lives - in the winter they are trendy spots with lounging couches, packed to the point of madness. Then summer comes along and the spaces double, as owners make the most of terraces, rooftops, courtyards, balconies, and pavements. Though seaside clubs attract most of the attention, city bars are beginning to fight back by opening their venues up to unexpected oases and hosting cultural events.
Clubs & Bouzoukia
There's no better way to take in the party vibe of the city than to head to one of its mega-clubs, grab a drink, and dance till you drop. There are generally 2 kinds of clubs in Athens: the big bouzoukia joints - large venues where popular Greek singers perform live, and the massive open-air venues playing electronic / dance music.
Bouzoukia are the ultimate frontier in Greek entertainment. If you want a taste of Greek subculture, this is it. These are large concert halls whose "arena" (pista) is packed with tables for seated customers. There's also a bar area for those who prefer to stand, or want to avoid the steep booking price for a table. The shows usually include sets by flashily dressed singers that alternate with dance act interludes. This popular entertainment option for the Greeks has transformed and progressed rather bizarrely from the older typical music scene to Greek pop performed by celebrated artists like Sakis Rouvas, Anna Vissi, Helena Paparizou, and Antonis Remos. The name bouzoukia originates from the traditional Greek string instrument, the bouzouki, which gives Laika (popular) songs an oriental feel. The new venues have kept the oriental elements and the sound of the bouzouki but they have added faster beats and loud mainstream pop tunes like Europop, R&B, or even hip-hop & rap, along with extensive use of the words "baby", "love", "miss", and "divorce". Expect dancing on tables, flowers thrown everywhere in appreciation, and lots of clapping. When spirits are at their highest, customers take over the stage and indulge in a popular type of belly-dancing, while the singer (male or female) is showered with baskets of cut carnations or roses. Note that, despite popular belief, smashing plates is a thing of the past. The action starts after 23:00, and the entrance fee plus a drink at the bar might set you back about 15 Euros. Booking a table (which includes bottle service) costs approximately 100 Euros. There's no such thing as overdressing, so be creative. Reserve early and be ready for an awkward night out which won't begin before the late hours.
With exception of a handful of large clubs found downtown, most are located in the southern suburbs of Athens, from Paleo Faliro to Agios Kosmas, Elliniko and Glyfada during the warmer months. Some nightclubs also have a dining area so patrons can eat first then move on to the dancefloor. The music in these venues is usually mainstream, meaning they play mostly successful radio hits in an attempt to please everyone, while after 03:00 there's a good chance the playlist will switch to modern Greek. However, electronic music is still alive and kicking in the city and by the seas. Besides the clubs, balmy weather also draws people onto street parties. Many world-renowned DJs such as Little Louie Vega and David Morales still pick Athens as their top place to hit the dexx alongside beloved Greek residents!
Indeed, Athens isn't New York or Amsterdam but overall it is a fairly tolerant place. This level of "tolerance" in Greek society can be recognized by the numerous gay bars and clubs. It is as if the members of this community feel better and more protected in places where they can all hang out in a homogenous environment of sexual orientation. Greek society is moving decisively towards a more open-minded view of gays and lesbians. In the past few years, Athens has developed an increasingly vocal and active LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (or: queer), intersex) community, with most of its activities revolving around the urban Gazi neighborhood. When the area's gentrification projects started over a decade ago, the first openly homosexual bars and clubs popped up and have since enjoyed great success (previously there were only a couple of bars in the area of Makriyanni). Yes, Mykonos is the absolute gay destination of Greece, but definitely, Athens has its equivalent. Though there are a few venues open only strictly to LGBTQI, most establishments in the city are gay-friendly and open-to-all, making Gazi the friendliest 'hood in town.
Lastly, the "Athens that never sleeps" invites all of its party animals to the after-parties usually taking place on Saturdays and Sundays...
Working hour: 09:00 - 17:00
Happy hour: 18:00 - 21:00
Rush hour: 22:00 - 02:00
After hours: 03:00 - 06:00
(Get a shower?)
• None of the bars charge entrance fees; you only pay for the drinks you buy. Affordable music tavernas and smaller bars have casual dress codes.
• Fancy bars, clubs, and bouzoukia venues have a strict dress code and a minimum cover charge.
• On July 1st, 2009, smoking was banned in all public and private areas where people gather like restaurants, bars, public waiting areas, and taxis. However, Greeks are the heaviest smokers in the European Union and you'll often find that these rules may be flouted.