With ancient wonders scattered around, the Athens skyline is like an open-air museum. And the best way to view it is with a drink in hand at one of these rooftop watering holes, with the very best ones angled towards the Parthenon, which sits centre stage above it all, prettily illuminated after dark.
Warming up in spring and staying sultry well into autumn, Athens is a great city for al fresco dinners and drinks. Its cityscape is a scenic patchwork of crumbling temples and low-rise, trendy neighbourhoods punctuated by rich green hills and parks of olive trees and cypresses. Take it all in from a rooftop bar, where cutting-edge cocktails are served until the small hours.
Copper lanterns hang from the tiled bar at this rooftop wooden deck, with gnarled olive trees set into high counters and tea lights flickering in glass ramekins. Like many of the well-crafted rooftops in the city, it’s attached to a boutique hotel of the same name. Here, join the pack of well-dressed twenty- and thirtysomething professionals who don’t mind paying a little extra for a great cocktail with an even better view. Order the Kallos for a taste of the Greek spirit mastiha, made from mastic tree sap, as well as a locally made vermouth.
Work your way through the time-warp alleys, churches and cottages in the neighbourhood of Anafiotika before winding your way down to this cafe-bar on a sleepy street. Cool off on its breezy, low rooftop patio – a shady haven of parasols, cushioned benches and frosty iced teas. It’s as laid-back and unpretentious as a rural Greek cafe. If you like the vibe, come back later on for a mellower brand of rooftop beers – this peaceful spot is open until 1am.
Bios, between arty Keramikos and bohemian Psyrri, is a mixed-use arts venue where you can catch an avant-garde theatre production or a puzzling art installation. This industrial building also has an unflashy, neon-lit rooftop, where abstract animations fizz on a big screen above the bar – drop in to mingle with the young, alternative crowd sipping beers and negronis.
This simple boutique hotel’s location is spot on for first-time visitors to Athens. It’s on the edge of Monastiraki and at the gateway to Psyrri, home to some of the best restaurants and bars in town. The hotel’s rooftop – a sheltered balcony terrace with panoramic views of the Acropolis – is a sought-after watering hole, too. It serves passion fruit and salted caramel martinis or rum punch laced with edible suntan lotion. It’s always busy and one of the more tourist-heavy spots on this list, but it delivers on buzz and beverages.
Built around the city’s old gasworks, Gazi is the newest area in Athens with a thriving nightlife scene. Here, you’ll find Gazarte, where live music often rings out over this large-scale roof garden, peppered with illuminated olive trees; it has the feeling of an indie festival. Whether a retro swing band or an iconic Greek singer-songwriter, everything programmed here adds atmosphere to cocktails served in mason jars and skull-shaped glasses. Buy a ticket in advance to guarantee a seat.
In the hip neighbourhood of Mets, this trendy bar is a great place to have a few aperitifs and people-watch around sunset. The wealthy and creative come to dine on dim sum and quinoa salads, sitting in cushioned nooks and gazing out over the city lights, but you can pop in for a reasonably priced cocktail, too. The rooftop is often rented for events, so check that it’s open to the public before heading over.
Every city has a luxurious five-star hotel, and for Athens, it’s the Grande Bretagne – a palatial pad off central Syntagma Square. Room rates here are out of reach for most, but it’s worth visiting for a martini on the rooftop, giving you a taste of that VIP life. The patio is intimate and comfy, with plenty of luscious greenery and a great angle for city sunsets. Blankets are on hand in cooler months, making this a year-round rooftop experience.
Fill up at one of the best Greek restaurants in Athens after seeing the most fascinating historical sites the city has to offer, or even sit by one of the gorgeous beaches for the day. Opt to stay in one of the best hotels in the Greek capital, including some fantastic boutique options, bookable now with Culture Trip.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by India Doyle.