It will come as little surprise to any Athenian. Or any regular visitor to our non-stop city for that matter.
Our legendary metropolis of night owls and barflies has just been crowned the second most “awake” city in the world, after Cairo (if there were any raised eyebrows, it was that we didn’t nab top spot!).
Want to dine beneath the Acropolis at midnight? Not a problem. We rarely sit down to eat before 10pm. Groove ‘til dawn at an after-hours underground club or the bouzoukia? Done! What about when those early morning snack cravings hit after a big night out on the booze? Easy, just head to one of the late night canteens that are a staple of Athenian urban culture.
The recent “Sleepless Cities” survey, by global shopping review site Simple Ghar, looked at the average closing times of bars, clubs, cafés, and restaurants in 78 major world cities (by using data listed on OpenStreetMap and Tripadvisor’s nightlife section). They then converted them to a total score out of 100 in order to rank the destinations for non-sleepability.
Contrary to popular opinion, New York gets far more shut eye than its “City that never sleeps” fame suggests. The study revealed there were nine other cities with a stronger claim to all-night culture and that Miami was the world's top dog when it came to late nightcaps (with an average bar closing time of 3.41am, compared to Athens at 2.26am).
An all-night culture is a boon for destinations like Athens, found the report, saying it “created a parallel city for non-mainstream groups, from queer communities to insomniacs to political outsiders.
“A thriving nightlife pulls a city together and boosts its reputation and economy,” said the report's authors.
Athens came in just below Cairo on the Sleepless Cities index (they tallied 98.3 against our 97.4), with a wider gap between us and number three on the list, Belgrade (which came in at 88.6).
The study found that Athenian cafés close on average at approximately 11.48 pm, a full hour later than the global average, making us the world’s uncontested champions when it comes to late-night dining (take that Spain!). That said, it’s not difficult to find restaurants, tavernas or neighbourhood souvlaki joints in Athens that will let you linger much later than that. Especially once the ouzo starts flowing and there’s live music involved (or the owner decides to pull up a chair and join you).
“Greek flavours already taste like a celebration in your mouth, and once you add the social aspect, nobody is in a hurry to finish (in Athens),” said the report. “Greece is the homeland of Epicureanism and, since ancient times, dinner has been the most important meal of the day for savouring both long-prepared meals and lively discussion.”
Are you ready to get Sleepless in Athens? Here’s where to eat and drink after hours in the Greek capital and soak up our famous nightlife.