Greek nightlife has a reputation for just getting started when the rest of Europe has already gone to bed. It's true. The nightlife in Athens is sophisticated and varied. From large clubs by the beach to trendy lounges in Kolonaki, Neo Psihiko, and Panormou street, to indie and intimate bars in Karitsi Square and Psirri to clubs and red-hot bars in Gazi, this is a city that never sleeps. Apart from a few waterfront choices, visitors will find most places located in the center. For those wishing to visit the beach clubs, keep in mind the tram runs on a 24-hour schedule during the weekends, making getting to and from the coast easy and inexpensive. Some of the best lounges/bars in the city these days are in hotels. Don't forget to have a drink at the top-floor Galaxy bar at the Hilton hotel for an amazing city view. For the best Acropolis view head to the Hera Hotel's Peacock Lounge; for the most happening scene visit the Frame Bar-Lounge at St. George Lycabettus Hotel and Ochre & Brown lounge.
(For Plaka Metro: Syntagma/Acropolis. For Makrigiannni Metro: Acropolis)
Athens Sports Bar, 3a Veikou, Makrigianni (tel. 210/923-5811; www.athenssportsbar.com), is just that, with snacks, projection screens, karaoke, and theme nights; happy hour is nightly 7-8pm. Brettos Bar, 41 Kydathineon, Plaka (tel. 210/323-2110; www.brettosplaka.com), with its backlit wall of bottles, has been an Athenian landmark for over a century. Chandelier, 4 Benizelou, Plaka (tel. 210/631-6330), is a cozy and laid-back lounge with a jazz soundtrack on the ground floor of a neoclassical building. Duente Bar, 2 Tzireon, Makrigianni (tel. 210/924-7069), is an elegant old-world brasserie with a Rat Pack soundtrack, ideal for quiet evenings. Melina Café, 22 Lyssiou 22, Plaka (tel. 210/324-6501; www.melinacafe.gr), is a charming cafe/bar that celebrates the life of Greek actress and politician Melina Mercouri and is popular with the French tourists. Tiki Athens, 15 Falirou, Makrigianni (tel. 210/923-6908; www.tikiathens.com), as the name suggests, is a fun and funky place with '50s exotic decor, Asian-inspired cuisine, and infectious good times.
Dude, 14 Kalamiotou (tel. 210/322-7130; www.thedudebar.com), is named after the cult-favorite character from The Big Lebowski and is a funky bar where the dude himself would abide. Gallery Café (cafe/bar), 33 Adrianou (tel. 210/324-9080), on busy Adrianou, is a delightful and edgy cafe serving breakfast and snacks throughout the day. At night, the lights dim and it morphs into an equally charming bar. When electronica-loving hipsters bought Inoteka, 3 Plateia Avyssinias (tel. 210/324-6446), they redid the space into a funky bar. During the summer, the candlelit tables spill out on the plateia -- a great place to linger at all night long. Keyser Soze, 12 Avramiotou (tel. 210/323-4341), is named for the enigmatic character from The Usual Suspects and has an inspired and intriguing film noir theme: old detective novels adorn the walls and there's even an outlined body on the floor as a rock soundtrack and weekly theme parties add to the fun. Magaze, 33 Eolou (tel. 210/324-3740; www.magaze.gr), is an all-day cafe and laid-back evening bar with a mixed and friendly crowd on pedestrian Eolou. TAF -- The Art Foundation includes an art bar at 5 Normanou (tel. 210/323-8757; www.theartfoundation.gr). Off Ermou Street, in a seemingly abandoned alley, the blink-and-you-missed-it door leads into a restored neoclassical building complex from the 19th century that houses the Art Foundation, a series of galleries, music, and theater showings. In the middle of the complex is the lively courtyard bar.
Cantina Social, 6-8 Leokoreiou (tel. 210/325-1668), is a bar directly across from the "Ochre & Brown" boutique hotel, inside an old arcade. This unconventional bar has flourished due to word of mouth, in a space (including a "courtyard") between abandoned buildings. Old movies play on tarnished walls, the crowd is alternative and friendly, the music fun and the drinks (5€-7€) a real find. Cubanita at 28 Karaiskaki (tel. 210/331-4605; www.cubanita.gr) offers, hands-down, one of the best nights to be had in the city, where Latin beats and excellent Cuban cuisine combine to make a great place to party until the early morning hours. On some nights there's live Cuban music. El Pecado, a bar/restaurant/club at 11 Tournavitou (tel. 210/324-4049; www.elpecado.gr), came about from the unorthodox union of a medieval Spanish-style church and erotic murals inspired by Bible themes. Confused? Don't be. Follow the fun into this sinfully enjoyable venue (cover is 10€).
Athinaion Politeia (cafe/bar/restaurant), 30 Apostolou Pavlou and 1 Akamanthos (tel. 210/341-3794; www.athinaionpoliteia.gr), is in a grand restored building (a grocery store in the 19th c.) right on the Promenade, with views of the Acropolis and passersby. Dust, 3 Irakleidon, (tel. 210/342-6794), is a wonderful all-day cafe and cool bar at night with DJs, live performances, and weekly art events. Loop, 3 Plateia Agion Asomaton (tel. 210/324-7666), features industrial decor, rotating DJs, and a fun crowd.
And here we are: nightlife central. Trying to pick a place here is tricky because most of the bars and clubs in Gazi are good. For starters, take a stroll to scope out the scene. Walk down Persefonis Street and Triptopolemou in either direction: The Kerameikos Metro station is a landscaped plateia (Gazi Sq.) that covers an entire city block and is surrounded on either side by extremely popular bars, cafes and eateries. Once the bars reach full capacity, patrons head to the street and the plateia, drinks in hand.
There is always something cool going on at Bios, 84 Pireos (tel. 210/342-5335; www.bios.gr), an art-space/cafe/bar/club, from avant-garde performances to exhibitions and foreign art film showings. A basement nightclub sways to a mostly rock soundtrack. The oldest bar in Gazi, Gazaki, 31 Triptopolemou (tel. 210/346-0901), remains one of the best. The music is always excellent, as are the drinks. The no-pretense mixed crowd makes this a sure bet for any night of the week and the roof terrace is another plus.
Across from Gazaki, you will find Dirty Ginger, 46 Triptopolemou (tel. 210/342-3809; www.dirtyginger.gr), a bar/restaurant with table seating on one of the most active streets in the city, a palm tree-lined garden, and excellent Mediterranean cuisine and pumping soundtrack. Eighth Sin, 141 Megalou Alexandrou (tel. 210/347-7048), is a beautiful space, smartly decorated, with a mixed crowd and excellent cocktails based on, you got it, the seven deadly sins, plus an eighth one: the delicious and potent namesake's signature cocktail. Gazarte, 32-34 Voutadon (tel. 210/346-0347; www.gazarte.gr), is a three-level urban chic space with various weekly art exhibitions, a good restaurant, and a lovely bar on the roof terrace with sweeping views. Hoxton, 42 Voutadon (tel. 210/341-3395), is a hip bar with a seriously addictive rock/new wave soundtrack. At Tapas Bar, 44 Triptopolemou (tel. 210/347-1844), the action begins with light snacks and a jazzy soundtrack that segues into Latin beats as patrons down the margaritas, mojitos, and rum-based drinks.
K44, 33 Leof. Konstantinoupoleos (tel. 210/342-6804; www.k44.gr), is a multilevel warehouse that is a popular cafe/bar with live music performances on the ground floor and art exhibitions upstairs. Nipiagogio (Kindergarten) at Elasidon and 8 Kleanthous (tel. 210/345-8534) is a former elementary school has been turned into one of the hottest bar/clubs in the city. On Saturday nights the former classrooms and playground stay hot until 6am! Villa Mercedes, Andronikou and 11 Jafferi (tel. 210/342-3606; www.mercedes-club.gr), is an impressive nightclub with many rooms and an internal courtyard (plus a restaurant) that's always hopping. (Cover is 10€-15€.) Tip: Any night you're in Gazi, stop by Mamacas bar/lounge (inside the popular modern tavern) and have a drink at the bar to check out the scene. Something interesting is always going on here.
(For Zappeio/Syntagma metro: Syntagma)
Banana Moon, 1 Adrittou (tel. 210/347-8716), is an all-day cafe and evening bar/club in the middle of Adrittou avenue (formerly "On the Road") across the street from the Old Olympic Stadium, with great music and decor and a wonderfully rowdy atmosphere. Booze Cooperativa, 57 Koloktroni (tel. 210/324-0944; www.boozecooperativa.com), is an all-day hangout cafe with art exhibitions, screenings, and performances, and a lively bar at night. Inside the Aigli complex you will find the Lallabai lounge/club, 9 Zappeion (tel. 210/336-9340). Tastefully decorated, this is a great place to soak up the serene garden surroundings or the boisterous scene as the lounge turns into a club. (Cover is 10€.) Six D.O.G.S., 6-8 Avramiotou (tel. 210/321-0510; www.sixdogs.gr), is an all-day cafe and gallery space, with live music performances and energetic bar in the evenings. Kalua, 6 Amerikis (tel. 210/360-8304), a bar near Syntagma Square, packs partiers into one of the city's most outrageously fun spots. Stin Priza (Plugged In), 1 Christou Lada. (tel. 210/324-4101), a popular bar on Karitsi Square (decorated in sockets -- thus its name), is mellow during the day but picks up serious heat after 9pm and still manages to feel more like a friend's party than a bar. The Gin Joint, 1 Christou Lada. (tel. 210/321-8646), is a bar that explores a U.S. Prohibition-era "speakeasy" style, showcasing its bottles behind fenced windows and sways to a jazz and swing soundtrack. The Seven Jokers, 7 Voulis (tel. 210/321-9225), is a quiet cafe during the day, intimate bar in the early evening, and insanely busy after-hours bar with a serious crush on the Stones.
Circus, 11 Navarinou (tel. 210/361-5255; www.circusbar.gr), is a bar on the border of Kolonaki and Exarheia, where posh meets bohemian. Decadence, 87 Emmanouil Benaki, Exarcheia (tel. 210/381-3685; www.decadence.gr), is a landmark Athenian rock club in a beautiful neoclassical mansion that used to belong to royalty. It's popular with all ages and touring bands that stop in after their shows. Recital, 64 Eressou (tel. 210/380-5556), is a club in an ivy-covered mansion that hosts live performances by Greek and foreign rock bands; you can also hang out on the terrace. Catch a rock concert at Gagarin 205, 205 Liossion (tel. 210/854-7601; www.gagarin205.gr), a large indoor space in Athens in the winter, or its other space on the coast in the summer.
(Metro for Kolonaki: Syntagma or Evaggelismos; for Ambelokipi: Ambelokipi)
Balthazar, 27 Tsoha and Soutsou, Ambelokipi (tel. 210/644-1215; www.balthazar.gr), has been a favorite Athenian destination since the '80s, and has a fine restaurant, but it is the bar in the mansion's lantern-lit courtyard that's the nightlife spot. Show up late (after midnight) for drinks in this romantic location with the pretty people. Baraonda, 43 Tsoha, Ambelokipi (tel. 210/644-4308; www.baraonda.gr), features red velvet curtains, candles, stone and tiled walls, chandeliers, two bars, a VIP section, summer courtyard, a stylish clientele, and tasty Mediterranean cuisine. Mike's Irish Bar, 6 Sinopis, Ambelokipi (tel. 210/777-6797; www.mikesirishbar.gr), is a popular pub that's packed with expatriates and locals alike. Mai Tai, 18 Ploutarhou, Kolonaki (tel. 210/725-83062; www.mai-tai.gr), is an all-day hangout place, with a tasty menu, good drinks, and an attractive 30-plus crowd. Mommy Open, 4 Delfon, Kolonaki (tel. 210/361-9682), offers an impressive space -- with a smart decor, art exhibitions, an excellent Mediterranean menu, and great drinks. It gets pumping after midnight, and also has an excellent Sunday brunch. Scala Vinoteca, 50 Sina, Kolonaki (tel. 210/361-0041), is a beautiful, stylish wine bar/restaurant tucked between the stairs ascending to Lycabettus mountain, a perfect spot to begin the evening.
Akrotiri Club Restaurant, Leof Vas Georgiou B5, Agios Kosmas (tel. 210/985-9147; www.akrotirilounge.gr; tram to Elliniko stop), is a massive (capacity 3,000), beautiful and stylish open-air club next to the beach, with an elegant tropical decor, a huge pool, dance floors, deck seating by the beach, sea views, excellent (but pricey) Med-fusion cuisine (50€-70€), which has been popular since the '80s and shows no signs of stopping. (Cover, including a drink, 11pm-5am Mon-Thurs and Sun is 10€, Fri-Sat 15€.) B.E.D., 58 Leoforos Poseidonos (tel. 210/894-1620; tram to Plateia Glyfadas then 5-min. walk), is inside the Asteras Glyfada complex, and you can party right by the waves and the pool. (Cover, including drink Wed-Fri and Sun 11pm-5am is 10€; Fri-Sat 15€.) Sea and City, 14 Karamanli, Voula (tel. 210/895-9645; tram to Plateia Glyfadas, then bus no. A2 or a taxi), is in a beautiful seafront mansion with a terrace right above the waves. It's a trendy cafe during the day that slowly morphs into a lounge/restaurant until its final reincarnation as a pumping club. Romantic Island, Limanakia Vouliagmenis (tel. 210/965-3563; www.islandclubrestaurant.gr; tram to Plateia Glyfadas and from there take a taxi or bus no. 114 and get off at Limanakia), is out of the way but worth the trip. Set on a cliff-top with sea vistas, where you can enjoy excellent finger food, sushi, and Mediterranean dishes, this is the quintessential Athenian summer nightspot. Things get louder after 1am. Show up early or make dinner reservations -- prices are moderate to expensive (20€-70€) -- or you can enjoy tapas at the bar. The door policy is annoying -- if you arrive on foot you won't get in unless it's very early (10pm) or you have dinner reservations. (No cover with dinner reservations, 15€ without.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.