The 10 Best Bars in Athens, According to Local Mixologist Eleni Lymperopoulou
Let It Bee is a prime spot for classic cocktails in Athens | Courtesy of Let It Bee
With the city’s abundant ancient architecture providing an unparalleled backdrop for an evening drink, Athens has an impressive range of bars. Local mixologist Eleni Lymperopoulou shares her pick of the Greek capital’s best bars for beer, cocktails, wine and live music.
Athens’s growing bar scene spans speakeasies, legendary wine bars and alternative music venues. Eleni Lymperopoulou, the co-owner of café and cocktail bar Let It Bee, is one of a new generation of trailblazing Athenians opening small, independent and highly original drinks venues. A chemical engineer by day, Lymperopoulou takes a hands-on approach as a barista and bartender during her evenings and weekends. Now she has the science of making a classic cocktail down to a fine art – her Aperitivo Saturdays are quickly becoming the go-to destination in town for the perfect Aperol spritz. Knowledgeable on both edgy new openings and the oldest, most legendary establishments in the Greek capital, Eleni Lymperopoulou speaks to Culture Trip about the most unmissable bars in Athens.
Bock Beer Bar Restaurant
Bar, Beer, $$$
Lymperopoulou points out it’s “not common to find the combination of a beer bar and restaurant venue in Athens”, especially, as she puts it, “with an interior aesthetic similar to a UK gastropub”. Bock Beer Bar Restaurant has a nostalgic feel, playing ’80s rock music and serving up a menu of comfort food, from schnitzel to burgers, in generous-size portions. Lymperopoulou rates its “international variety of draft beers”, which includes Greek IPAs, and its location in the cool Koukaki neighbourhood within walking distance of the Acropolis metro station as strong points.
Strange Brew has one of the best selections of craft beer in Athens | Courtesy of Strange Brew
Opened in 2015, Strange Brew is also in Koukaki. Lymperopoulou thinks “there isn’t any other bar like this in Athens”. She enthuses about the craft beers Strange Brew creates in-house and the vision the owners share for modernising the beer scene in Greece. Alongside its flagship Jasmine IPA, a selection of stout and IPA beers are hand-picked from microbreweries across the world. Strange Brew combines a stripped-back industrial-style space with a warm atmosphere, with informative staff on hand to guide you through the ever-evolving beer menu. If you’re looking for the ultimate local craft beer experience and like the idea of getting off the tourist track, this place fits the bill.
One of the best cocktail bars in Athens happens to be hidden in plain sight, only minutes from the prominent Syntagma Square. This bar operates as a true speakeasy, with no sign or number. Those in the know enter by ringing the bell outside what appears to be a grey apartment door, finding a staircase leading to an underground den. When asked what she likes about this place, Lymperopoulou gets straight to the point: “I highly recommend the cocktails.” The diverse menu includes classics, such as the moscow mule, and changing seasonal offerings. The dimly lit interior of this Art Deco-style venue makes the ideal setting for an intimate midweek nightcap or decadent weekend drinks.
Cocktails are served in an elegant setting at this all-day bar located on Mavili Square in Central Athens. KYRIOS is a popular spot for unwinding after work, and Lymperopoulou vividly describes it as “an old-school bar that reminds me of another era”. She likes the “depth” of the long bar and mirrored ceilings. Unlike other establishments on the Athens bar scene, the staff here create their cocktails by stirring, following a strict ‘no-shaking’ concept. Twists on classic cocktails are what the mixologists here are known for – try, for example, the cucumber martini with cucumber syrup and pepper – alongside artisanal wines and up-scale cuisine with a French flair.
According to Lymperopoulou, Upapa Epops is “one of the best places in Athens for signature cocktails”, along with an all-day brunch that is “spot on”. It can be found in the cosmopolitan Petralona neighbourhood, housed in a renovated 1930s building, with many of the original Neoclassical features still intact. Lymperopoulou recommends enjoying drinks in the charming courtyard, recognisable for its black-and-white tiles and pops of vibrant colour.
Lymperopoulou points out that Au Revoir is “the oldest bar in Athens”, having opened in 1958 near the National Archaeological Museum. Packed with character, the bar is legendary among Athenians. Inside, the original 1950s interior remains unchanged, and it’s still as popular today as it ever was. Lymperopoulou enjoys this bar as it’s great for catching up with friends over affordably priced wine or simply people-watching – the bar attracts an eclectic crowd.
The owner of café-bar Drupes and Drips can often be found mingling with the customers, who spill onto the sidewalk from this intimate bar set in a picturesque alley in the Thissio neighbourhood. Lymperopoulou says it stands out for serving “unique spritz cocktails and cold cuts close to the Acropolis”. Indeed, it makes the perfect afternoon pit stop, whether you’re visiting the nearby Acropolis Museum or looking for a laid-back interlude before heading out on the town. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an Italian cicchetteria, where you can linger over inexpensive meat and cheese platters washed down with wine.
You may stumble across an impromptu live performance at Lymperopoulou’s wild-card entry, the Batman Bar, where many of the regulars are artists and musicians. “This is a cult bar,” she explains. “It’s an after-hours bar – best to visit after 3am – in a small, dark basement that plays traditional Greek music.” Since it opened in the Neos Kosmos area in 1989, it’s been a one-man operation, where charismatic owner Giorgos Nasios is the resident barman and DJ rolled into one. Expect reasonably priced spirits and a night to remember.
When Bios opened in Athens, Lymperopoulou says that it “reminded [her] of Berlin… an alternative bar, very different from other places in the city”. More than a bar, the hybrid destination encompasses a casual rooftop with Acropolis views, a community space and venue for gigs, often showcasing electronic and alternative music. Housed in an industrial building in Downtown Athens, it’s the go-to place for grabbing a beer, seeing live music and exploring some of the cities more underground urban culture.
If jazz is your thing, there is a good chance you will enjoy the live music at Jazz In Jazz in the upmarket Kolonaki neighbourhood. Lymperopoulou notes “jazz lovers in Athens are very enthusiastic about this bar”, which operates a jazz-music-only policy. The small ramshackle nightspot, jam-packed with vintage memorabilia, features cosy communal seating and a wide selection of whisky and rum.