A Nightlife Guide to Athens, According to the Experts

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus has been sitting beneath the Acropolis since the second century and still hosts performances today
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus has been sitting beneath the Acropolis since the second century and still hosts performances today | Courtesy of Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Photo of Eleni Vezyri
5 December 2019

Athens really does not sleep – the city is a haven for night owls, coming into its own once the sun goes down. Culture Trip speaks to Patroklos Pitsilis, co-owner of Rock n Roll bar, and local DJ Lefty D about the Greek capital’s diverse nightlife.

Beloved Athens nightclub Dybbuk has been a staple of the city’s nightlife since 2009 | Courtesy of Dybbuk

“It isn’t a myth,” says Patroklos Pitsilis. “We really do wrap up our night out with breakfast.” He notes that Athens has long been a night owl’s paradise, but that “the last 10 years have seen a significant increase in nightlife venues”, which range from electrifying underground clubs to rooftop bars. “With an avant-garde cocktail scene and live music that covers all genres, the city’s got you covered,” the bar owner explains.

Though Lefty D gives us the lowdown on the bar and club scene, he tells us that Athenian nightlife is not all about drinking and dancing to R&B, house or techno. The DJ highlights the Greek capital’s outstanding outdoor venues – Athens has been entertaining since the second century AD and knows a thing or two about al fresco performances. “On evenings when I’m not working, I like to take advantage of the city’s iconic outdoor venues. We are lucky. Our climate allows us to enjoy outdoor venues almost all year round,” he says.

Clubs

Dybbuk

Nightclub, Cocktails, Beer, $$$
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Dybbuk is all about techno and deep house
Dybbuk is all about techno and deep house | Courtesy of Dybbuk
Wherever Dybbuk goes, its worshippers follow. Since its opening in 2009, the much-loved nightclub has changed location three times, though always remaining in the heart of the city. “Dybbuk is a DJ’s playground!” says Lefty D. Techno and deep house pump through its Funktion-One sound system, and it has hosted the likes of Dennis Ferrer and Louie Vegawith top Greek DJs as residents. The black and gold interior gives the club a touch of glam. Don’t show up before 1am, and be prepared to dance until sunrise. Dybbuk is open from October to May.

Black Hole

Nightclub, Beer, Cocktails
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Black Hole has been labelled “the chicest underground club in Athens”. Featuring deep, dark and melodic techno and progressive house, it boasts an impressive list of resident and guest DJs. The underground space is divided into a main stage, a VIP area and a seated section decked out with sofas and tables. Of the music, DJ Lefty D comments, “It’s as dark as it gets.”

Cinderella

Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub, Beer
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Expect retro vibes at Cinderella
Expect retro vibes at Cinderella | Courtesy of Cinderella
It’s midnight, but no clock is chiming. Slide open the gold curtains, walk down the staircase, and you’ll understand why – time stopped moving here, sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s. It’s all disco balls, mirrored walls and beat-synchronised disco lights. Order your drink from one of the gold-clad mermaids walking around, and just dance! “It’s retro, it’s kitsch, but it’s bona fide good fun!” says Pitsilis, laughing.

Bars

Rock n Roll

Bar, Restaurant, Beer, Cocktails, Wine, $$$
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Rock n Roll hosts live music every Tuesday night
Rock n Roll hosts live music every Tuesday night | Courtesy of Rock n Roll
Some 32 years on and still rocking strong. Walk in and its grand chandelier and palatial wooden spiral staircase still wow you just as they did back in the day. “Rock n Roll had a reputation for hosting the most insane parties during the ’90s and early ’00s,” says Pitsilis. Times have changed slightly, but Rock n Roll still guarantees an unforgettable night out. Resident and guest DJs keep you dancing ’til the wee hours with timeless rock, as does the live band on Tuesday nights.

The Bank Job

Bar, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
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The Bank Job serves an array of innovative cocktails
The Bank Job serves an array of innovative cocktails | Courtesy of The Bank Job

As you sip on a signature cocktail named after one of 14 “gentlemen thieves” – try the Paul Batsios with Greek mastiha, Aperol and mango tea – you should know that you are doing so atop quite a bit of history. The premises were once where the Greek military kept its gold reserves, and before that, where the first king of Greece (King Otto) kept his horses. “I love this place. It’s classy with an overall great vibe and cutting-edge cocktails,” says Lefty D, who also rates the funk, house and hip-hop soundtrack.

Juan Rodriguez

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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Juan Rodriguez Athens
The El Diablo punch is among the most popular drinks at Juan Rodriguez | Courtesy of Juan Rodriguez

Lefty D tells us the story of Juan Rodriquez: urban legend has it that he was a slave from Panama who somehow escaped to Athens to fulfil his lifelong dream of opening a bar. “Totally made- up story by the owners of this exquisitely decorated bar/restaurant,” Lefty D laughs. Chandeliers, gold-framed paintings and velvet seats are some of the refined details of this bar, where the cocktail list is equally nuanced. Try a classic negroni or the El Diablo tequila punch.

Retiré

Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
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Close to Syntagma Square, Retiré is a wonderfully central rooftop spot
Close to Syntagma Square, Retiré is a wonderfully central rooftop spot | Courtesy of Retiré
Retiré (with the stress on the last é) means ‘penthouse’ in Greek. This rooftop bar, close to Syntagma Square, made its entrance onto the Athens bar scene in the summer of 2019 and was an instant hit. With a fabulous view of a lit-up Acropolis and cocktails curated by an award-winning cocktail bar, The Clumsies, how could it not be? Featuring lounge chairs and a bar set within a caravan, Retiré is the ideal spot for a laid-back drink.

Live music

Crust

Pizzeria, Contemporary
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Enjoy pizza and dancing at Crust
Enjoy pizza and dancing at Crust | Courtesy of Crust

Upon spotting the neon pizza slice sign of Crust in downtown Athens, you could be forgiven for thinking you were approaching a standard takeaway pizza joint. The loud music tells a different story: in the basement of this (highly recommended) pizza shop is a minuscule dance club, which makes up for in energy what it lacks in size. This underground venue hosts well-known DJs who spin techno, house and disco grooves, along with live-jazz performances.

Meal service:

All Day, Late Night

Atmosphere:

Casual, Nightlife, Open Kitchen, Modern

The Speakeasy

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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Finding this venue is half the fun. Though the address is not a secret, first-timers are in for a bit of confusion as they are confronted by a regular-looking Athenian apartment building. No sign of a bar, no people holding cocktails outside; you question whether you’re at the right place. You spot a few more wanderers looking just as confused as you. You’re very close, so you go to the door and wonder which button to press. Luckily, neighbours have stuck Post-it notes telling you not to press their doorbells as they are not The Speakeasy. If you’ve pressed the right doorbell, someone will eventually open the door and you’ll be led through a corridor and down a spiral staircase to another era. The space is minimal with quirky nuances, offers both classic drinks and signature cocktails and regularly hosts live jazz.

six d.o.g.s

Concert Hall
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Athens’s six d.o.g.s is a club, bar and gallery
Athens’s six d.o.g.s is a club, bar and gallery | © Georgios Makkas / Alamy Stock Photo
Just 10 years ago, this multifaceted venue changed the face of Athenian nightlife for good. It’s not exactly a club, bar or gallery, but a mix of all three. This is the go-to venue for live gigs, great parties and temporary exhibitions. Visit in the summer to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the secret garden.

Other venues

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Building, Theatre
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Nabucco - Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Artists to have performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus range from Frank Sinatra to Florence and the Machine | © Dimitris Sakalakis

This ancient open-air theatre has been sitting beneath the Acropolis since the second century AD. In antiquity, odeons hosted singing performances and poetry recitals, and for the past 60 years this architectural masterpiece has again staged the very best in theatre and music. It can seat close to 5,000 people, and a diverse range of artists have performed here, from Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti to Florence and the Machine. Be sure to snap up tickets as soon as possible – they go quickly.

Cine Paris

Cinema
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Open-air movie theatre Cine Paris is set in the Greek capital’s historic Plaka district
Open-air movie theatre Cine Paris is set in the Greek capital’s historic Plaka district | © Petros Giannakouris / AP / Shutterstock

One of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Athens is home to legendary rooftop cinema Cine Paris. “Watching a film with a view of the Acropolis is definitely a unique experience, even for an Athenian,” says Lefty D. “And the good thing is, unlike other European countries, films are not dubbed in Greece,” he explains, noting that this makes the cinema more accessible to international audiences. The cinema is open from May to October.

These recommendations were updated on December 5, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.