From hip beach bars and star-studded clubs to famous fish restaurants, follow our insider’s guide to the best nightlife on the Athens Riviera.
By Amanda Dardanis
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When the evenings start to warm up and stretch out every year in Athens, it’s the signal for the city’s legendary nightlife scene to spread its wings and fly down to the glitter strip known as the Athens Riviera. From May until late September, tout Athènes gets into the summer spirit and stakes out the coastline’s most sought-after tables and bar stools. (A number of seaside restaurants and beach bars stay open all year.) Whether you’re in the market for cocktails on the beach, a romantic dinner by the sea, or a flirty night out dancing under the stars, here are some quintessential Athens Riviera experiences.
Sunset at the seaside.
Sundowners on the Athens Riviera
No night out on the Athens Riviera is complete without a sunset cocktail by the sea. With its parquet floors, high ceilings and potted palms, Ark on Glyfada’s Asteras Beach has a country club charm (minus the steep membership fees). Join the international set who make a standing order with Ark every Friday afternoon for sundowners on the waterfront terrace. If in doubt about what to order, go for one of their cocktails with a Greek twist such as the Mai Tai with kumquat from Corfu and bergamot from the Peloponnese, or the margarita made with smoked salt and bee pollen.
For equally smashing sunsets all-year-round, head to the next venue along the Glyfada coast, Balux House Project. You’ll find a Miami beach party groove that spills over from the glass-fronted clubhouse onto the sand, with DJ sets and regular theme parties. Next door, its seasonal sister venue, Balux Pool Seaside, has a more chilled, barefoot appeal. You can sprawl on bean bags on the lawn or inside the thatched, tiki-style bar. After sunset, they light lanterns along the shore. The cocktails and clubby tunes keep coming until 2am.
If moments in time could be frozen, would you choose this one?
Lounge around with a drink, take a dip, lounge some more.
Seaside dining in Vouliagmeni
Scattered all along the Athenian coastline, you’ll find waterfront cafés, tavernas, bars and clubs with restaurants for every mood and budget. But nowhere does dreamy (and pricey) dinner dates like Vouliagmeni.
If you were air-dropped onto Krabo Beach, you’d swear you were at a cool beach club somewhere in the Cyclades. There’s nowhere quite like it in Athens. An instant hit since it opened in 2018, Krabo is a wicker and wood hideaway on a secluded cove at the end of a pine-covered track. Book one of the tables right on the sand about half an hour before sunset to soak up the Astir peninsula views. You’ll catch the last of the all-day crowd, taking a last dip and polishing off their rosé. Pick a medley of appetizers and a salad or two for everyone to share, instead of ordering from the expensive mains. I keep coming back for the beef carpaccio with lime and pickled cucumber, the grilled Mastelo cheese with sweet chili jam and roasted pistachios from Aegina, and the marinated crab with apple, celery, lime and chili. Don’t rush off after dessert. Once the DJ fires up, Krabo (which is open from April to October) morphs into a cool beach club.
Seagulls wheeling against a setting sun. Wicker lanterns swaying to subtle bouzouki music. Occasional sea spray on your toes. Taverna 37 at the Four Seasons Astir Palace nails most people’s fantasy of seaside dining in Greece. Set apart from the main resort on a stretch of boardwalk just inches from the water, this contemporary taverna is perfect for a serene dinner date. The menu is refreshingly unshowy, given the location. There’s nothing you won’t find at your average neighbourhood taverna; what sets this place apart are the impeccable ingredients, smiling service, and sensational setting.
Kick off with a Paramana platter to sample some “Greek taverna greatest hits” like char-grilled aubergines, marinated octopus, and dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves). Follow up with the grass-fed paidakia (lamb chops) with lemon and oregano (so simple, so good) and the delectable galaktoboureko (custard in syrup-soaked filo pastry). Slowly enjoy a chilled bottle of Santorini Assyrtiko wine and watch the yachts light up the bay as night falls.
It may not be exactly by the sea, but the swoony setting of Nerõ, on the shore of Vouliagmeni Lake ranks sky high on the romance-o-meter. Savour sophisticated seafood (like red mullet tartare with caviar or roasted scallops with feta cream) on the smart teak deck that flanks this spectacular, mineral-rich lake. The water glows like liquid gold after dark, illuminated by the lit-up limestone cliffs behind it. From spring to autumn, you might also catch a live jazz or classical music performance to enhance your evening.
Another neighbourhood restaurant that wows everyone we take—from visiting parents to honeymooners—is Rafale, across from the Vouliagmeni Nautical Club. The whimsical decor makes it always feel like summer: you dine in a tropical garden on a white deck, surrounded by super-size white planters and flickering lanterns. The seafood pasta dishes are fantastic. Go for the tagliatelle with tuna, wine, garlic and mint; or the pappardelle with salmon, cognac and crème fraiche (it’s rich, so share). The always excellent monkfish with celeriac puree and spinach deserves a shout out too. Prices are a notch down from what you’ll pay at the area’s luxury hotel restaurants, and there’s a thoroughly drinkable wine list with a good showing of local labels. A favourite with the shipping set, you might find yourself sitting next to a Greek tycoon without knowing it.
Go bar-hopping in Glyfada
If Vouliagmeni is the place for romantic waterfront dining, Glyfada is the Riviera’s late-night playground. There’s no sea view. You go for the entertaining optics of the image-conscious locals gathering nightly to see and be seen on mood-lit pavements and in leafy courtyards. At times, it feels like one big film set. Especially on fashionable Kiprou Street, which runs parallel to the main shopping strip of Metaxa Street. Three of the hottest bars are easy walking distance from each other (yes, even in heels) and have quite different vibes.
Ease into your evening at Su Casa, a stylish haunt on Nymfeon Square that’s hip but still homey. Go around 8pm: a mellow window before most Greeks head out. Once a dilapidated house with overgrown scrub swallowing the footpath, it’s now one of Glyfada’s most atmospheric spots. It can be tough deciding where to sit. Outside on the street or garden patio, framed by fig trees and candlelight? Or inside, where they’ve retained the original dining room, library and lounge, filled with vintage bric-a-brac from the previous owners. It’s the kind of place where lovers and locals meet to catch up on each other’s news or round off a day’s shopping, and the music is accordingly chilled. There are pages and pages of cocktails, mocktails and premium spirits, ranging from the summery applesecco spritz to margarita pesto with black pepper. My go-to drink is their practically perfect passionfruit daiquiri. If eating is on the agenda, migrate to the restaurant and try the excellent spaghetti with crab leg.
Cocktails are king at relaxed Su Casa.
Courtesy: Su Casa
While Pere Ubu is queen of the scene in Glyfada.
Ramp things up at the eternally festive Pere Ubu Bar, about a two-minute walk away on Kiprou Street. Until 11pm or so, it’s all about the pavement scene at this industrial-design bar where a sleek, older crowd knocks back espresso martinis. After that, things ignite inside with DJ sets and the spectacle of Athenians dancing it up under the Le Corbusier lights. Wear black if you want to fit in, and book ahead for a table (you can do it online)—unless you like the idea of competing for elbow room. Order one of their terrific stone-baked pizzas to soak up the booze. The party burns bright until the wee hours.
Over on Laodikis—Glyfada’s second most happening street—Holy Spirit caters to a slighter younger, equally energetic crowd. With decor that might be described as “Caribbean on acid”, this trend-setting cocktail bar is where Riviera locals are most likely to end their night. Holy Spirit is famed for playful cocktails (yours could come in a little bucket with a spade). Rather dangerously, you can also upgrade to a large or extra-large cocktail. Make a beeline for one of the outside benches and order a Jack Sparrow (Cuban rum, chamomile, pear, ginger and pineapple). During summer, there’s a second pop-up Holy Spirit bar down at Yabanaki beach resort in Varkiza. It’s even more fun...
Party on the beach in Varkiza
... In fact, if beach parties are more your bag, head down to Yabanaki Beach where the post-sunset scene has taken off. There’s a whole swag of affordable seaside dining options—from burgers to Italian, sushi or Greek—and pop-up Latin dance parties all summer long. Yabanaki is open from May to October and entry to the resort is free after 7pm, so take your swimmers. For many Greeks, this is the best time of day to hit the water.
Join the post-sunset party crowd at Varkiza Resort (but don't forget your towel!).
Courtesy: Yabanaki Beach
Give it a twirl; Amigo's Salsa Night is a blast.
Dance until dawn
Most locals only consider summer in Athens officially over after Island has thrown its annual closing party in mid-September. There’s live music, fireworks and an armada of selfies. This celebrity-heavy, open-air venue tumbles down the cliffside on a stretch of unspoiled coastline in Varkiza. Everyone from Meryl Streep to Moby has partied on its whitewashed terraces. For the best experience, book a dining table—even if you only share a few starters—and opt for the earliest slot you can (usually about 9.30-10pm). It gets crazy crowded as the night wears on and getting your hands on a drink can feel like mission impossible. The buzz is worth it though.
The hottest ticket in Glyfada every Thursday night is Amigos, a Mexican bar and restaurant. Their Thursday Live Salsa Night has been a weekly institution for years and shows no signs of running out of gas. The food is almost an afterthought. It’s the electric kefi (high spirits) that everyone goes for. From 10pm, a Latin American squad leads a salsa masterclass and everyone’s invited to join in. Down a few margaritas for Dutch courage or watch from the sidelines as Amigos’ glam Latino regulars work the terracotta tiles like an episode of Dancing with the Stars. Take a breather outside on the recently revved-up pavement bar, a suburban oasis of painted pots and bougainvillea.
If you know any Athenians, ask them to take you along to one of the Riviera’s bouzoukia clubs on a Friday or Saturday night. Greeks come alive at the bouzoukia—flashy nightclubs with live Greek pop music—and you’ll have more fun in a pack. In the summer months, the bouzoukia scene migrates to the coast. Your chances of catching a famous headline singer at venues like Posidonio Music Hall are high. Bouzoukia may be expensive (a bottle of wine can set you back 100 euros), but it’s an “only in Greece” experience that you’ll smile about long after your holiday tan has faded. Expect light shows, airborne carnations and a dawn finish!
Bedtime can wait: Bouzoukia is an all-night sport.