20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN ATHENS AT NIGHT
20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN ATHENS AT NIGHT, the largest and most powerful civilization in the centuries before Christ was the vast Greek Empire. In Athens, the nation’s capital, which has a population of over 3 million, almost 30% of the people live. It faces the Aegean Sea and is situated on the shore. Ancient relics can be found all throughout the city, which is the major reason tourists stay in Athens for a few days before travelling to the islands to enjoy the Aegean sun and warm waters.
While Athens now covers a large area, the ancient city was far smaller, so it is relatively easy to visit the major landmarks. The old neighbourhoods have much to offer, while there are plenty of vantage points from which you can get panoramic views over the city and the nearby Aegean.
Summer days are usually hot, and the best time for walking around and exploring the city is often in the evening. During the high season, you’ll need to plan your visit in advance and reserve your tickets to the city’s most popular attractions, or you may have to wait in long lines. You will easily find plenty of things to do in Athens at night, and here is a flavour of what is on offer.
20 THINGS TO DO IN ATHENS AT NIGHT
1- TAKE A GUIDED TOUR
One way to get to know Athens is to take a guided tour starting in the city’s heart.
The impressive Parliament building with its Presidential Guard is close to Athens’ top shopping area, with plenty of bars and restaurants.
Call in for a drink before heading past some beautiful Athens architecture; then, there might be time for another drink and dinner.
Tip: A tour that begins near a metro station and ends near another is convenient for visitors who can find their way from wherever they are staying to start and get back to the hotel equally easily.
2- EXPLORE KOUKAKI
Many images of Ancient Greece involve the grape or a goblet of wine.
Winemaking is an ancient culture in Athens, so learning more and sampling a glass or two makes perfect sense.
The oldest distillery is on your route on this tour.
Cheese is an excellent accompaniment to wine, and Greece has many varieties of cheese to try.
Don’t forget Greek spirits; Ouzo is its famous aniseed-flavoured spirit.
Rakomelo adds honey and spices to Greece’s types of brandy.
Souvlaki, eaten in pita bread or straight from the skewer, is a meat and vegetable mixture, an authentic Greek tradition.
Try a guided tour to discover local haunts, and you can expect to be taken to the best places in the Koukaki to try food and drink.
3- EAT THE BEST OF GREEK CUISINE
A tasting tour around old Athens is a great nighttime experience.
Starting below the Acropolis, you can enjoy a walk through Plaka and Anafiotika, two of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city.
When you think of Greece, the types of food that jump to mind are yoghurt, cheese, natural olive oils and a variety of meat.
Coffee is popular and strong, while soft drinks and something a little stronger is available with the food you sample.
Bakeries produce several different sweet and savoury snacks in these neighbourhoods.
Add the great bars and the views of the Acropolis under lights, and three hours of fun await.
4- SAMPLE THE LOCAL BEER
There are more than 60 local brewing companies and microbreweries in Greece, and Athens has its fair share.
You can take a tour to sample a few of the local brews with snacks available if you want them.
It is great fun to do this in a group; a way to make new friends.
You can expect a short introduction to brewing in Greece before starting to try them.
Each will have a suitable “snack” to accompany the different beers.
The different hops and grains used in brewing produce different flavours.
This experience is based in the centre of Athens, so it is accessible to all visitors to the city, wherever they are staying.
5- EXPLORE PLAKA
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guards ceremony are good starting points for exploring the neighbourhood of Plaka.
Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus’s ruins follow before entering Plaka’s old neighbourhood.
The floodlit Acropolis is in view most of the time, while history’s first shopping centre is the Roman Agora.
Plaka is a busy, bustling place by night with alternatives for dinner after you have finished your tour through history.
6- TASTE THE STREET FOOD
Pastries are a favourite in Athens, so you can start your tour of street food in a pie shop with something like traditional cheese pie, which locals regularly eat with a beer.
Other favourites to try are souvlaki, meat and vegetables in pita bread, while the juicy tomatoes are a serious treat.
Doughnuts and other Greek desserts like loukoumades, drenched in the finest honey and cinnamon, are lovely but very sweet.
Getting things straight from the oven at a local stall is an experience and good fun.
Ice cream comes in many varieties, some of which you may never have come across before.
7- ENJOY LOCAL COOKERY CLASSES
You may have sampled local food, but why not learn how to make it?
Cooking classes are available, including visiting a local food market to buy the ingredients.
A four-hour class will stretch into the evening, with your local chef in attendance all the way.
You will learn how to prepare local favourites that even a novice at cooking should be able to manage under expert guidance.
Once the class is over, you can sit down and enjoy the food you have made.
Copies of the recipes will be available to take away so you can impress your friends once you invite friends around.
8- VISIT THE MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS
By day, you may think visiting a museum is a waste of time, however, this museum opens until mid-evening and provides fun for all the family.
With 60 visual and interactive illusions, you will see holograms, infinity, inverted rooms, and more.
Learn about reality and how it is affected by stimuli such as vision, the sciences and perspectives.
The photos you take will be truly memorable, reminding you of your visit and how the museum challenged your imagination at every turn.
9- SPEND A NIGHT AT SIX DOGS
Six Dogs is a cultural and entertainment centre offering a range of activities in Athens at night.
There is live music each night and DJs playing the latest music.
You can take food away, but there is so much to do that you are more likely to use the café and bar for refreshments.
Enjoy an art exhibition or relax in the garden on a warm night.
After the sun sets, they light candles to create a great atmosphere. Events are published in advance, so check the programme once you arrive in Athens.
10- SEE THE LANDMARKS OF MONASTIRAKI
Monastiraki has existed for six consecutive centuries, making it one of Europe’s most important cultural neighbourhoods.
Its name is more recent, coined as the Greeks fought the Ottomans for independence in the 19th century and when a nunnery was established there.
Among the highlights of Monastiraki are the Ancient Agora, the Hadrian Library, the Roman Agora, and the Tower of Winds.
The Stoa of Attalos is a museum filled with Athenian artifacts.
The shops in the flea market sell most things you can imagine and is an atmospheric place to dine. If you’re tired of walking, one of the fun ways to tour Athens is on a private tuk-tuk tour of Monastiraki and other places.
11- HEAD TO PSYRRI
Psyrri has always been known as a neighbourhood attracting artists and artisans.
That began many centuries ago, and it remains the case today.
You will find plenty of craftwork to buy as the district has a tradition of being home to artisans.
Today, you will find art galleries with exhibits painted locally and locally made souvenirs.
While quiet by day, this neighbourhood fills at night, mostly the younger generation, so you can expect crowds.
If you want to shop, perhaps it is better to do that by the day before the evening crowds arrive?
12- ATTEND A CONCERT AT THE ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus dates back to 161 AD though it lay in ruins just over a century later.
Its capacity in its active years was 5,000.
Its renovation in the middle of the last century has allowed it to host famous performers, such as Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé, the Bolshoi Ballet, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Steve Harley, accompanied by an 80-piece orchestra, Jean Michel Jarre, Ennio Morricone and Jethro Tull.
It’s worthwhile checking in advance of your visit to Athens what is happening there before your holiday in Athens.
13- WATCH A FILM AT AN OPEN AIR CINEMA
Nights are usually balmy in the summer, and locals enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.
This has resulted in open-air cinemas popping up in many of the city’s neighbourhoods.
The first was built at the end of the 19th century when movies were projected onto a large piece of cloth.
Over the years, more cinemas opened, and cinemas are far more sophisticated these days. Now, there are over 60 throughout Athens.
The oldest open-air cinema, Aegli, is close to Parliament.
Food and drink are available at all the screenings, making it a good night out.
14- HEAD TO AREOPAGUS HILL
Areopagus is a hill northwest of the Acropolis, and it is an excellent viewpoint from which to see Athens under lights and the sea beyond.
This outcrop was where Athens’ governing council met many centuries before Christ.
The judicial council deliberated on important cases, including murder and religious issues.
Legend has it that the god Ares was tried there by his fellow gods for murdering Halirrhothius, the son of Poseidon.
In Byzantine times, homes, a church and a monastery were built on the hill.
15- TRY THE SYRTAKI DANCE
There are a considerable number of traditional folk dances in Greece but the most famous is undoubtedly Syrtaki, a recent addition.
It was the creation of Mikis Theodorakis for the movie “Zorba the Greek” starring Anthony Quinn.
Even after colour film replaced black and white, this black and white movie remained hugely popular.
It is a reasonably easy dance to learn with different paces involved and when performed in a circle or line, each dancer puts their arms on the shoulders of the person at either side.
You watch a performance but try it yourself as it’s easy and fun.
16- LISTEN TO REBETIKA MUSIC
Whichever neighbourhood you wander through Athens at night, you will hear music from bars and restaurants.
Sometimes the music is live and rebetika.
Rebetika is the Greek version of the blues, yet it did not originate in Greece.
Refugees during the Greco-Turkish War after the First World War brought their cuisine, culture and music to Greece.
Its themes were often about struggles and love, expressed in song.
Live performances don’t start until around 10 pm, with a show sometimes continuing to 4 am.
The district known as Exarchia is an excellent place to start, and you can expect to find a performance every day of the week.
17- PARTY IN A NIGHT CLUB
The nightlife in Athens is vibrant and ordinary bars stay open into the early hours.
Several nightclubs offer a range of styles for any taste.
You will find some clubs in the centre, Syntagma Square, and neighbourhoods such as Plaka, Thission and Monastiraki.
Their proximity to metro stations means you can get back to your accommodation wherever you are staying.
Whether you like rock, alternative or ethnic music, there is a place for you.
Some of the clubs have live acts, while others have DJs playing the latest music from the style it promotes.
18- GO SHOPPING IN PANDROSSOU STREET MARKET
This busy market in a narrow street has almost 100 shops, where you will find everything from simple postcards to memorabilia and souvenirs.
This is the first place to look if you want to take home something local.
You might even find antiques of significant value but make sure you do some homework first.
The market stays open until 10 pm every evening.
There will be crowds, so be aware of keeping your valuables safe.
Pandrossou Street is often a stop on one of the city’s walking tours, but you’ll have to return later if you’re keen on doing some serious shopping.
19- ENJOY A NIGHT AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE
Thomas Oikonomou founded the National Theatre in 1901 in Agios Konstantinos, a magnificent building.
The theatre closed briefly a few years later and took the title “National” in 1932.
An extensive schedule of shows is available on four stages.
Two of the stages are in the main building, with two others under the auspices of the National Theatre on other sites, including one that concentrates on performance appealing to youngsters.
There are some contemporary performances but the majority are classical in style.
If you do not find out anything to your taste during your visit, Athens has plenty of other theatres that may be playing something you might prefer.
20- TAKE IN SOME ROOFTOP VIEWS
The city’s terrain lends itself to beautiful panoramic views that you can admire from naturally high points.
A great way to spend an evening is with a relaxing drink in hand in a bar that offers all those views.
The Acropolis is visible from most parts of the city, and there are plenty of bars where the view features the Acropolis as a prominent landmark.
Anglais Athens is one of the closest bars to the Acropolis, and it is also one of the highest points in the city.
There are plenty of alternatives, making a rooftop bar crawl one of the memorable things to do in Athens at night.
During the summer months, even at midnight, temperatures are ideal for sitting outside.