Athens by Night
Twilight Athens Tour, seeing Athens under a whole new light
Athens can be such a pretty city by day. Alluring, dazzling, gorgeous town to wander. Art and history all over the place and an interesting past to explore. However, at night, the city changes deeply. It unveils a magic atmosphere that will conquer visitors in search for some unexpected fun.
What to do in Athens by night
They say the Greek crisis has squeezed creativity resources from the locals, giving a further twist of imagination. Just as their ancestors, Greek people are in a boundless search for beauty and nights in Athens are a live proof: Alternative tribes of counterculture movements lighten up the atmosphere. They give new life to retro alleys and express authentic art in offbeat arenas.
Having already seen several angles of the city under the daylight, it was about time to peep into its dark alleys once the sun had set. I picked the Twilight Athens Tour offered by Athens Urban Adventures and I had the time of my life.
And…listen. For those wondering whether this still is a family travel blog or not, kids are welcome everywhere. They had as much fun as adults did and it was worth every minute of it. They were enthusiastic and loved every moment of it.
Athens Twilight Tour
Our appointment was at Syntagma Square, just after dawn, with Thodoris, a local guide with the right attitude for such an evening. It was immediate entente. He knows every palm of his city, but most of all, he loves it and enjoys showing it. #LocalsKnow, they say. And it’s so true! Thodoris was able to share with us that love he feels for his city, making us feel a bit Athenians ourselves, even just for a night.
We headed down what he called the street of chocolate, a sweet path promising the right kind of night ahead of us. The most refined and traditional chocolate stores in Athens, all dressed up for the upcoming Easter.
Among them, Matsouka Le Chocolate standing out with wonderful windows displaying the most exquisite chocolate figures, a feast for our imagination, a feast for the senses.
Our stroll went one with a wise lesson: Don’t ever be afraid of Athenian traffic, but most of all, don’t be afraid of drivers. Be careful, but also be brave.
Secret galleries, drives, and porticos showed us the way into hidden alleys of gone splendor, boasting a wonderful array of light and imagination.
Cafés, bars, and pubs crowded with eclectic people and more liberal decorations. Even a quick stop at a very ordinary door revealed itself as the gate to the only Private Bar in Athens, just a very anonymous entrance which would open itself to a night of excitement and great cocktails to those few chosen ones who know which bell to ring. It’ll be the beginning of exclusive parties and excitement that not many know about.
Through more porticos and stairs, a marvelous world opened to our eyes. Dark, narrow paths with amazing places where to eat/dance/drink or laugh the night away… your choice! These are just some of the places we visited, and the whole tour had me wanting to return.
Best bars of Athens
The first bar we entered, Artizan, is a laid-back place famous for its choices of coffee. Right after Artizan, it was the moment of Bar Tesera, where the classy atmosphere, warm colors and inviting scenario welcome visitors to stay for long hours just relaxing and having fun. Little tables populated by friends having late cups of cappuccino and rivers of conversation. Laughter and utter joy.
A few steps away, Booze Cooperativa, a unique blend of play zones for you to take your time. Smoking allowed, fun admitted. A magnificent to spend some time admiring all strange forms of art in every single zone. How do they define themselves? Well, like this …
A BRAIN HUB. TRIBES AND NATIONS IN CREATIVE DISRUPTION. TREND SETTERS AND MIND CLUSTERS COOPERATE IN FULL TIME
Go in, look up, and look around. You will love it.
Drunk Sinatra couldn’t be missing! Alternative music, cool cocktails and young people going about. I would definitely choose this space for a late night meeting with friends sharing drinks, mezedes and conversation.
It was now time for our first real stop, our first meal for the evening. This one was not a surprise to me, as it turns out to be one of the best places to eat in Athens. Mana’s Kouzina Kouzina once again proved the right pace where to eat when in Athens. Don’t go out just for gyros (please, don’t misunderstand me, by all means, go for gyros in Greece, but go for more too!).
A fantastic display of local mezes paired with top quality Cretan raki was the right way to introduce us to some more Athenian night and restore ourselves for a while. Mana’s is located in what has become a hot spot for Athenian nights, Sant’Irini Square, anything is there and everything takes place there. From refined restaurants to modern bars to tattoo shops. This is one of the places to be when in Athens.
Two more places followed our tour, The Holiday Bar, also known as Noel, a magical venue where despite the plethora of clocks hanging everywhere, time seems to have stopped to allow people live on an endless parallel world.
The beautiful underground garden that followed is house to Six Dogs. A mysterious entrance transports you into a city oasis, sandy floors, open terraces and trees, candles, animals and dimmed lights make out of this place a rightful contradiction. A gate to the sixties opening into the most extravagant nineties. Loved it.
Right after that, our second stop took us to enjoy a gyros wrap the way Athenians do, on the go. The chosen place was Sabbas in Monastiraki. I had to keep my mouth shut as my unconditional love for Thanasis, a landmark for gyros in the area was completely defeated by this place I have never tried before. Their food was really good!
Our journey kept going, as we walked through of Monastiraki Square. There, Thodoris introduced us to a secret feature that the city won’t even care to show you if you are not attentive enough: A tiny river flowing in the guts of Athens, covered by glass and barely seen if you don’t pay close attention. It’s the Eridanos. When in Monastiraki, try and look for it.
Through the entrance of the Monastiraki Flea Market, a completely different place at night. No shops, no crowds. An opportunity to see the local imagination in the closed doors, blinds, and shutters of the shops on the street.
Turning into what seemed a dangerous alley we made our way to one of the most beautiful, bizarre and extravagant places I’ve ever been to, I found the place alluring; its atmosphere, captivating; and the idea weird enough to tease you to return.
It’s Taf Monasthraki. What used to be a detention and interrogation place in the past has been turned into a multicultural space (they define it as metatematic) where drinks and a live atmosphere are not the only key features.
An impressive tour of what used to be detention cells, allowed us to see how they were turned into zones devoted to interactive forms of art, making use of sounds, video, and live animals!
I was really sorry to leave the place and I would definitely go back there as soon as I return to Athens.
Right across the end of the street, the most famous mannequin of Athens opens the gates to Psirri. Another favorite alternative spot in town, both day and night. Incredible street lamps lead the way to the heart of a vibrant area of Athens, so close to the center of town and so far from it in terms of vibes and visitors.
Psirri is definitely one of those places you do not want to miss when in town, choose any bar, pub or café and simply sit to see people passing by, enjoy a nargile or stop for a snack.
This famous alley, Pittaki street, has been decorated with lamps and artifacts donated by citizens to give new live – and light – to the neighborhood. The most eccentric decorations lead the way to the heart of a vibrant area of Athens, so close to the center of town and so far from it in terms of vibes and visitors.
The alley ends in The Little Kook a tea house, night bar, extreme imagination and so many other ideas are not enough to describe the concept of this venue.
From the outside setting, a reminder of Alice in Wonderland, to the way waitressesa dress…. all is an invitation to childhood reminiscences with a darker twist. Like going through the mirror and never coming back.
Psirri is a must-see. Just head there stop by at and make a pause at To Koulouri To Psirri. Choose a freshly baked treat and move on to reach a more alternative or traditional venue… The choice is endless.
We ended the night as most Athenians do, having a glass of wine. The place? A rooftop bar.
Rooftop bars have become the thing to do when in Athens during the last ears. However, we didn’t settle for the common thing to do. Thodoris chose a fantastic place, a magnificent rooftop bar in Athens Style, one of the hottest hostels in the city, where super convenient prices don’t even match the outstanding beauty of Athens at night when seen from above.
It suddenly started to rain, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the magic aura that surrounds the Greek capital, day and night. Wide skies boasting the profile of an illuminated Acropolis, Mt Lycabettus illuminated ancient sites under the rain.
A glass of red wine and great conversation with our tour mates. The perfect way to end a night with style, with glamour, with that bizarre touch only Athenians can bless you with. Every time I visit I love Athens more, there’s no secret about that. This time, I simply surrendered to the city. And I suspect my guide had a lot to do with my renewed love for Athens.
Honestly… can’t wait to go back.
Experience Athens in a different way, taste its traditions and get more than a grasp of the vibrant night atmosphere. Athens Urban Adventures proved, once again, they know what they are talking about.
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