Come summer, Athenians escape city life and travel to the Greek islands for some time by the sea. But if you’re staying in town, the capital of Greece offers fun activities aplenty – and since the early 1900s a favourite pastime has been watching a movie under the stars at an open-air cinema.
There are more than 60 open-air cinemas scattered around Athens, many of which open between May and October. Some screen new releases while others show classics or indies. But all offer the chance to watch a film al fresco, while snacking on popcorn, nachos or local delicacies, paired with a cocktail or beer. On board? Here’s our rundown of the best open-air cinemas in the Greek capital.
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Built in 1935, Cine Thission has long been a local favourite. Here you can watch anything from new releases to classic films while snacking on signature homemade delicacies. Among the highlights are a popular sour cherry drink and the tart cherry dessert. And when you’re not watching the screen, cast your eye to the gorgeous view of the Acropolis. Just outside, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street is perfect for a post-movie romantic walk under the moonlight – enhanced by the glow of the Parthenon.
Tickets: €6 Mon to Wed / €8 Thu to Sun
In the shadow of Lycabettus hill, you’ll find the ultra-classy Dexameni. Surrounded by jasmine and honeysuckle, this cosy cinema in the heart of old Athens screens mostly European films and some carefully selected American ones. Adjacent to the cinema is a cafe of the same name, which was once frequented by renowned Greek poets and writers of the early 20th century, such as Odysseus Elytis, Alexandros Papadiamantis and Nikos Kazantzakis. After the movie, sit in the quaint cafe chairs and order a glass of strong, sweet ouzo paired with a flavourful meze.
Tickets: €8 general admission / €5 for students / two-for-one at €8 on Wed
The most revered open-air cinema in town is Cine Aegli, which first projected a film in 1903. Alongside the neighbouring Zappeion Megaron – a regal building that’s promoted the arts since 1888 – it’s one of the last two remaining landmarks of the Belle Époque period in Greece. Aegli means glory or prestige in Greek, and this cinema lives up to that name. Part of the National Gardens, it screens new releases in a luxurious space surrounded by bougainvillea and jasmine. You can sit in the square, or in the private veranda where you can order from the à la carte restaurant menu. The hot dog from the bar is also a hit.
Tickets: €6 Mon to Wed / €8 Thu to Sun
For the ultimate laid-back movie experience, try Cine Anesis. With anesis meaning comfort in Greek, it doesn’t get more relaxing than this. The inviting lounge chairs in the front row will give you beach vibes, even though you’ll be sitting – or, more accurately, lying – on a rooftop just above a busy road. Order a mojito from the bar and try the gelato, arguably the best in town – the tsoureki flavour is a must. Cine Anesis screens all the latest hits and blockbusters.
Tickets: €8 general admission / €6.50 on weekdays for unemployed people, students, children up to 12 years old and adults over 65 / €5 general admission on Wed
The temperatures in the suburb of Filothei may be lower than further south in Athens, but this open-air cinema still allows movie aficionados to sit in comfy director-style chairs surrounded by towering trees. Watch the newest releases as soon as they hit the screen here. The bar speciality is popcorn, but it also serves colourful cocktails, hot dogs and traditional Italian ice cream.
Tickets: €8 general admission / €6.50 for students
In the picturesque Plaka neighbourhood, Cine Paris is a cinephile and tourist magnet. The cinema, dating to 1920, is found on a beautiful rooftop facing the Acropolis. You can sit among the little round tables of the square or in the upper circle and private balconies. The films screened here are usually on the indie side but, even if that doesn’t match your preferences, you’ll still be moved by the idyllic location and superb views. At the cinema bar, order refreshments, beer or whiskey, along with cheese pies, hot dogs, nachos and pizzas. Make sure you browse through (and purchase) some rare movie posters on the ground floor.
Tickets: €8 general admission (€6 on Tue and Wed) / €6 for students
This alternative rooftop cinema in Keramikos is part of the non-profit Greek Film Archive Foundation, whose mission is to preserve the heritage of Greek films. As a result, you’ll mostly watch national independent movies here. Lais also hosts innovative cultural events, such as silent film screenings accompanied by vibrant DJ sets and live music performances. Themed movie weeks, festivals and concerts are all part of the summer agenda.
Tickets: €7 general admission / €5 for students, children, and adults over 65 years old / two-for-one at €7 on Thu
With a name taken from the French écran (meaning screen), this nostalgic cinema opened in 1969 in Exarcheia, and will appeal to romantics and die-hard indie fans. The verdant courtyard, hidden behind semi-smashed urban streets, serves as a refreshing oasis in the middle of downtown Athens, while still blending with the industrial cityscape. The cinema screens European films – with a preference for Russian, French and Scandinavian – along with new releases and old classics.
Tickets: €7.50 general admission / €6 for students, children and adults over 65 years old / €6 general admission on Wed
The most summer-appropriate of the open-air cinemas in Athens has to be Cine Flisvos. Located next to the scenic Flisvos Marina, this coastal movie theatre has a Greek island atmosphere. The front-row lounge chairs and sea-salt scent on the air are more than enough to make for a lovely outing on a warm summer eve. Cine Flisvos has an excellent sound system and regularly hosts 3D screenings. Try the delicious pizza and nachos, then end your night with a soothing stroll by the yachts in the marina.
Tickets: €8 general admission / €6 for children / €6 general admission on Tue
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