While most tourists touch down in Athens and head straight to an island, there are plenty of reasons to linger in the Greek capital beyond the Acropolis. And many of said reasons have to do with wine and ouzo. Read on for the city’s top places to while away an evening, or a day, or both!
These are the six best bars in Athens.
Bridget Bardot and Jackie Onassis were among the regular patrons frequenting Athens’ legendary Astir Palace hotel in its heyday. Today, an equally glam crowd turn up to see and be seen at the beachside property, now a Four Seasons—the first of its kind in the country. All restaurants and bars here are outstanding, but for pure fun in the sun, it’s hard to go past Helios. Muslin-draped cabanas ring an enormous pool and private beach, and there’s also a semi-open lounge area where you can sink into oversized sofas and order soft-shell-crab tacos and ceviche to go with your cocktails. The selection of Greek wines available is impressive too.
An intimate bar set in a cave in the historic heart of Athens? It’s a thing at Heteroclito. The goal here is to demonstrate just how amazing and diverse Greek wines are, whether the grapes are sourced from volcanic-soiled Santorini or the mainland. There are more than 200 labels on offer from around the country, with a focus on natural and biodynamic tipples. There’s also a small menu of bites to pair with your bottle of choice – Greek cheeses, local salumi and olives are the perfect accompaniment. If you’re looking for one of the best bars in Athens, you’ve found it.
Unusual name, excellent (and award-winning) cocktails. Not to mention a highly polished bar area that nods to speakeasies of yesteryear: think, glossy wood and leather, a fireplace and shelves of books and vinyl LPs. The mixologists take their alcoholic concoctions seriously (they have a lab where they experiment and refine liquid ingredients), creating drinks that sing of the region. Try the Mediterranean Gimlet, which unites gin with the flavours of a Greek salad—it works, trust us!
A colour explosion, Blue Parrot is the kind of place you want to drink at when the sun is shining—the chairs and tables are painted eye-popping turquoise, and there’s enough greenery to create a mini-rainforest. At night, the space is lit by lanterns, and there’s live music to accompany your creative cocktail. The location in Athens’ oh-so-cool Metaxourgeio neighbourhood means you can enjoy a sip or two before heading out to dinner at an equally hip hangout.
For more Acropolis views, make a beeline for City Zen, housed on the top two storeys of a renovated building in the heart of the city. The fit-out on the lower floor is as quirky as they come, with vintage objects on the walls and installations featuring old sewing machines and record players. Still, the real reason to come here is for the rooftop, where cocktails are as pretty as they come—try the Med-inspired Red Snapper, with gin, strawberry shrub, agave nectar, lime, tomato juice, spice and smoked paprika. This bar is an absolute must do on your next visit to Athens.
360 Cocktail Bar
No points for guessing what this bar stands out for—its astounding views, extending all the way to the hilltop Acropolis, are hard to beat. After a day exploring the boutiques of hip neighbourhood Plaka, head upstairs to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of streets you’ve just wandered. The establishment’s white sangria with peach and citrus does a brisk trade during summer months, as does the Med Fresh: a muddle of vodka, cucumber, ginger and lemon. The wine list is small, but entirely dedicated to Greek vintages.
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Image Credit: Four Seasons, City Zen, 360 Cocktail Bar, The Clumsies