Athens can bring out the romantic in you. So if you’re in the city with your significant other, here are some fun ideas for what you can do for a perfect date night, from seaside restaurants to candlelit dinners to midnight stargazing.
By Maria Kostaki
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Rooftop restaurants, sexy speakeasies, seaside sunsets and opera by moonlight, in Athens there’s romance for every kind of couple. Here are some suggestions for how you can impress, surprise, or charm your hot date.
It's all about the view.
Photo: Thomas Gravanis
The Cultured Couple
Are you the duo that gets fired up by art? Stroll around the stunning Acropolis Museum, looking for representations of Eros and Aphrodite as you wander among the statues in its glass-walled halls. The museum stays open until midnight on Fridays, with live jazz in the sleek modern Greek restaurant. Head up Rovertou Galli Street for dinner at Attikos Greek House, a rooftop restaurant with the Parthenon so close you can almost touch it. The roof garden is smaller and more intimate at Athens Was hotel nearby, but the menu is more sophisticated. The view from the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman amphitheatre built into the slopes of the Acropolis, is even more dazzling. Just have dinner first; the show doesn’t begin until after sunset.
The Bon Vivants
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” If you agree with George Bernard Shaw, then you’ve come to the right place. Athens is all about long nights sharing dishes paired with great Greek wines and cutting-edge cocktails. Get in the mood at Heteroclito, a cosy, romantic wine bar with a great-value selection of Greek wines by the glass. Feedελ Urban Gastronomy, a short walk away on a hidden, leafy square, is a champion of creative Greek cuisine (the chef is a judge on Greek Masterchef). Order as many dishes as you can: the menu is designed for sharing. For dessert, wander a few blocks to Le Greche, one of the finest spots for artisan ice cream in Athens. Try one of the specialty Greek flavours, such as baklava, layered with pistachios, honey and crunchy flakes of filo pastry.
Photo: As night falls, the city sparkles with life.
Athens' cocktail bars are hip and happening. Go on a hop.
Photo: Orestis Seferoglou
The Cocktail Connoisseurs
Your idea of a romantic date doesn’t involve food. Classy bar hopping is your poison. You’re in luck. The Athens bar scene is red-hot: Forbes recently nominated Athens as Europe’s most exciting cocktail city. For sundowners, head up to A for Athens or 360 Cocktail Bar, rival rooftop bars on opposite side of Monastiraki Square. Urban legend has it that Juan Rodriguez was a slave from Panama who escaped to Athens. Urban fact has it that somewhere behind the red velvet booths and hand-painted murals of this colonial-style bar in Psirri are wooden barrels where whisky, tequila, vermouth and rum are aged. Try a classic Negroni or the El Diablo tequila punch. For a nightcap, head to The Clumsies. Consistently rated one of the 50 best bars in the world, it also serves NoLo (non- and low-alchohol) drinks, in case you’re starting to feel the buzz. The cocktails in Athens are strong—we don’t do things in half-measures.
The Daylight Romantics
Got an early flight or ferry to catch? The glittering Athens Riviera will get your heartbeat racing any time of the day or year. If you want to impress your date, book a sunbed and a massage at Astir Beach—in Athens, it’s warm enough to sunbathe and even swim for at least six months of the year. (Adjacent Vouliagmeni bay is more budget-friendly). For a seaside lunch, head to Lambros for some grilled fish, thinly sliced octopus, and saganaki (fried cheese) or Blue Fish for seafood served on a deck suspended above the sea. Then head over to Krabo, a boho beach bar on secluded Zoska bay (next to Kavouri), to watch the sunset with an Aperol spritz with a twist of lime and watermelon.
Find a secluded beach.
Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis
You and me and a bottle of wine.
Photo: Thomas Gravanis
The Nature Lovers
You won’t find a more electrifying backdrop for a date than the Acropolis. Pack a blanket (or a couple of yoga mats), pick up some Greek cheese, charcuterie and dried fruits (or some takeaway from Ellinika Kaloudia or Pantopolion in Koukaki) and head up to Pnyx for a picnic with Parthenon views. This is where the ancient Athenian assembly met to debate the issues of the day. The entire hill is an archaeological site, but it’s rarely crowded—the perfect spot for practicing yoga or tai chi (outdoor classes are often held here). As dusk falls, wander down to the Athens Observatory, on the adjacent hill of the nymphs: it’s time for some stargazing.
The LGBT+ Vibe
Athens has been one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities since antiquity. Discover the city’s homoerotic history on a “Tales of Same Sex Love” tour with Big Olive. Then hit up Keramikos and Gazi, two of the most gay-friendly areas in Athens. Treat yourselves to an avant-garde tasting menu at CTC, Athens' recently Michelin-star awarded restaurant. A more casual affair, with tables spilling out onto Avdi Square, Mirovolos is especially popular with lesbians. It’s time to dance. Gazi has the highest concentration of LGBT+ bars and clubs in Athens. Hit the dance floor at Noiz (for the girls) or Shamone (for the both), or bump and grind at Sodade, the original Athens gay club. If you’re still not ready to call it a night, Koukles Club in Koukaki stages fabulous drag shows (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only) and closes at 6am.