Currency in Athens
Athens has a lively nightlife scene that takes place in the hundreds of bars, tavernas and clubs, as well as in the streets. The most ‘happening’ area of town is Gazi, though thanks to the opening of Kerameikos metro station, which has made it infinitely more accessible, it is no longer considered an “alternative” neighbourhood . Closer to the centre, Psirri also caters for mainstream tastes. To rub shoulders with the Athenian elite, try the upmarket area of Kolonaki. Or for a drink under the stars with an Acropolis view, head to the open-air cafés lining Apostolou Pavlou in Thissio and Adrianou near Monastiraki. Other vibrant areas include grungy Exarhia (the bohemian student quarter), Syntagma and Thissio.
During the summer, the Hellenic Festival offers open-air concerts, dance and theatrical events. Tickets for all performances included within the Athens Festival and the Epidaurus Festival are sold at the Hellenic Festival Box Office, Panepistimiou 39 (tel: 210 327 2000; www.greekfestival.gr).
Bars in Athens
“A” for Athens
Hotel bars are rarely frequented by locals, but this one is different. Centrally located in Monastiraki, this sixth floor cocktail bar affords fantastic views of the Acropolis, floodlit at night. With a spacious terrace, minimalist design, DJ music and great mojitos, it’s one of Athens’ most popular venues, and gets so crowded after midnight at weekends that it feels more like a club. To enjoy the view without the rabble, come early for a sunset aperitif.Address:
Tel: 210 324 4244.
In pretty Plaka, this old-fashioned distillery dates from 1909. The cosy and much-photographed interior combines a wooden bar lined with stools, and walls stacked with shelves of coloured back-lit bottles. The liquors on offer are their own creations, numbering over 30 flavours, based on various Mediterranean fruits, herbs and spices. They also serve a fine selection of Greek wines by the glass.Address:
Tel: 210 323 2110.
The most popular bar in Gazi by far is Hoxton, a former warehouse converted into an industrial-chic lounge-bar. Frequented by the 20 to 40-something age group, it’s all about polished concrete walls, old sofas, low-level coffee tables, and occasional painting and photography exhibitions. The music is an eclectic mix of electronic, lounge, jazz and rock. In summer, clients spill out onto the car-free piazza.Address:
Tel: 210 341 3395.
Clubs in Athens
Athens’s clubs change names and venues frequently, but many of the liveliest clubs are located in Gazi. “W”, occupying the space that was previously known as Venue, is currently one of the mainstream favourites. Athenian 20 to 30-somethings come here enjoy a little glitz, to flirt and listen to R&B and Greek commercial pop. In summer it moves to Glyfada on the coast.Address:
Tel: 210 341 1410.
Island in Varkiza is another club by the beach to look out for in summer. Glamour reigns here, with a whitewashed wooden deck affording stunning sea views, and a background of ambient and lounge music. Inspired by the romance of the Cycladic islands, there’s chill-out area with scatter cushions, potted plants and flickering candles, and a restaurant serving creative Mediterranean cuisine plus sushi. Romantic and effortlessly chic.Address:
Tel: 210 965 3563.
Live music in Athens
Rock music enthusiasts might prefer the more informal Gagarin 205, staging live concerts in a former cinema space – the seats have been taken out, but the sloping floor means you can see the stage, even from the back. Attracting international names from the world of alternative music, the 2012 line-up included avant-garde post-punk Manchester band, The Fall, garage rock band from New York, The Fuzztones, and Dublin’s rock old-timers, Thin Lizzy.Address:
Tel: 215 540 0888.
Halfnote Jazz Club
For the best jazz in town, visit Halfnote Jazz Club in Mets. On the go since 1979, it’s a classic jazz dive – cramped but cosy, with a small stage and a smoky bar area. It attracts an impressive line-up of international names, with recent performers including legendary blues musician Otis Taylor from Chicago, and the Curtis Fuller Sextet, lead by jazz trombonist Curtis Fuller from Detroit. It also offers a platform for local talent.Address:
Tel: 210 921 3310.
To hear authentic rembétika (blues sung by immigrants from Asia Minor who came to Greece in the 1920s), try the Stoa Athanaton, in the arcade inside the meat section of the Central Market. Founded in 1930, this atmospheric venue gets packed with locals, both old and young. A flower lady sells carnations, which the audience throw to the musicians during their favourite songs. It warms up around midnight with singing and dancing till 0400.Address:
Tel: 210 321 4362.