In addition to having significant historical importance, the city of Athens, in the beautiful country of Greece, also boasts an amazing nightlife, hosting bars, restaurants and nightclubs that cater both to the local residents and the millions of tourists that descend on this majestic city each and every year. The hundreds of bars in Athens come in a variety of categories and styles. From the chic and trendy hotspots of Kolonaki to the Bohemian hippie-style bars around Monastiraki to upscale and avant-garde locales around Karytsi and Syntagma, Athens certainly has no shortage of places serving up traditional ouzo and other alcoholic favorites.
To illustrate this rich diversity of evening haunts, below we will profile several of the most popular and well-attended bars in Athens, and explain the various amenities and styles that make each one of these destinations so adored by locals and visiting tourists.
Rock and Balls
Located in the Agias Irinis Square in the Monastiraki part of Athens, Rock and Balls is a well-loved local hangout that boasts an industrial design. The bar features the finest Greek-style beer and wine, original cocktails and a very imaginative menu, all of which lure scores of customers each day to its welcoming doors. Rock and Balls is open early in the morning—for coffee and epic people watching—and during lunchtime for a quick and tasty meal. However, the bar really comes to life when the sun goes down—when partygoers crowd the bar for great conversation and dancing to DJ music or a variety of live bands. The menu includes Greek and Asian favorites, such as its popular paprika beef, chicken chili, pork chorizo and any number of great vegetarian dishes.
Located in the Kolonaki neighborhood in Athens, Ippopotamos is the oldest functioning rock bar in the city, and can still be found in its original location where it first opened in 1978. Ippopotamos is situated on the ground floor of a neoclassical structure dating back to the early 20th century, featuring a courtyard with vintage black and white tiles, a palm tree and a very airy and unique atmosphere. Since its founding in 1978, Ippopotamos has been a favorite stopover for locals and tourists, particularly for students of the nearby university, artists, and intellectuals, who are always willing to talk about Greek history and the Socratic Method.
The laidback, almost alternative vibe of Ippopotamos, as well as its separate rooms, makes it a very comfortable and casual destination. Music is always a mainstay of this club, but the musical styles vary greatly in type and genre. Jazz, blues, soul, funk and even rockabilly are just some of the types of music you will hear at Ippopotamos; and its terrific menu, cool cocktails and friendly servers will always make you feel right at home.
Jazz in Jazz
Taking a cool walk on Deinokratous Street, as you make your way up to Lycabettus Hill in the Kolonaki quarter of the city, will lead you directly to the bar known as Jazz in Jazz, an eclectic club in an eclectic neighborhood.
Jazz in Jazz is a family owned business, a bar that originally opened at Agra Galini in Crete, until it moved to Athens back in 1996. Since that time, the bar has become uber-popular and one of the most oft-frequented destinations for fun in the city. Boasting a buzzing, friendly atmosphere, and created with love for the original Jazz culture, Jazz in Jazz is well-attended by customers who share in this passion and long to be surrounded by it.
Jazz in Jazz is not a cocktail bar, as it serves only straight drinks, including single malt scotch, and several varieties of rum, beer and wine by the glass. The décor of the bar is reminiscent of New Orleans, with many photographs of Jazz musicians, musical instruments and other memorabilia of this bygone era. A great place to simply relax, unwind and take in the music of today and yesterday, Jazz in Jazz is definitely a must-visit locale when touring Athens.
If the name of the 42 Bar perks your interest, you are certainly not alone. Situated in the Syntagma section of Athens, the 42 Bar is named after the answer to “the ultimate question of life”—42—as put forth by Douglas Adams in his book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe.” Located in a quiet alley shaded by trees, with an intimate interior design, the very successful 42 Bar has become a favorite among locals.
The 42 Bar is known for its professional expertise. Its extensive cocktail menu is modified four times a year, each year, in order to add and detract drinks according to season. The bar makes its own syrups, serves 5 different kinds of ice depending on the drink order, and presents its cocktail creations in glassware of different sizes and shapes to enable customers to get the most out of every sip. Finally, the 42 Bar serves up drinks that are wildly creative, using a variety of herbs and other ingredients to accentuate flavor and the overall customer experience.
The Gin Joint
In Athens’ city center, the Gin Joint is a small bar with a reputation for catering only to “serious” drinkers. It is situated on one of the most picturesque corners of the city, and features a beautiful marble-tiled floor, antique wall lights and a massive painting of American actor Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar in the movie Casa Blanca.
As its name suggests, the drink menu at the bar is heavily influenced by Gin. The Gin Joint serves up over 90 different labels of fine Gin, and prides itself on creating the perfect Gin and Tonic, albeit in many different versions. Like its gin drinks, all the cocktails served here are created from Top-Shelf spirits, house-made infusions, liqueurs and syrups, and some of the most aromatic Greek herbs.
Voted as one of the “Best Cocktail Bars in Europe” in 2012, the Gin Joint should definitely make your to-do list when visiting Athens.