The Gazi (the name of the trendiest area of town) is the centre for gay nightlife in Athens. We visited this European ‘hot spot’ several times during our stay in the city of the Greek Gods.
The Gazi, formerly the old Athens gas works area, is now the centre for dozens of bars straight and gay (who knows which is which in this city). Restaurants and cafés of all price ranges are everywhere. To get to the Gazi it is about a 6€ taxi ride from the Plaka (we recommend staying at the Royal Olympic Hotel) or catch a train to Keramikos Metro station. In the evening from 11:00 pm onwards, and especially on the weekend, the Gazi is packed with people made up of locals, Greek tourists and a lot of international tourists.
Our first drinks were usually at around 9:30pm (not too many out before that) at a place called Del Sol Cafe/Bar. (Number 15 on the Gay Map) This chilled bar has rows of chairs and tables facing the small central square. It is really one of about 5 bars along this strip but it is one of the best and it attracts mostly gay men who like to be seen and here is where you will see a bit of Greek attitude on display. The waiters are very attentive, handsome and a mixed drink (eg. Whiskey and soda) is around 6€. Most people seemed to drink the national Greek drink of coffee frappe. The music is upbeat and moves into overdrive later in the evening.
After 10:00pm, when most people in Athens dine, we found a restaurant called the Butcher Shop. This well known ‘roast house‘ specialises in meats including juicy pork chops and a wide range of steaks and sausages. What attracted us to this restaurant was the huge Octopus in the window. This restaurant seems to have combined with its equally well known next door neighbour, seafood restaurant Sardelles. We made our way to the garden area at the back of the Butcher Shop and ordered grilled Octopus, a Greek Salad and the special lamb cooked in ouzo and we also ordered a bottle of dry Chardonnay. All were delicious. This is not a budget restaurant but it exudes good quality, both in food and service standards. The potted trees in the back garden section gives the restaurant a trendy look and we enjoyed the complimentary shot of mastika at the end of the meal.
We then went for a walk through the Gazi gay village where there are several gay bars and we dropped into a new bar called Endonia Cafe Bar. This bar is in the heart of the Gazi and it was perfect for us, small, modern, men of all ages and very friendly. Some of the guys we met let us join their group and took us with them to other bars that evening. The music is a mixture of Greek and Western and it has a large video screen. It also has a garden which is great on hot summer nights and for a break from the smoking in the bar area.
At about 1pm we ended up at Sodade2 Club. This place is one of Athens coolest clubs and with a 5€ entry fee which includes a drink, it is a bargain. The front bar on a weekend is packed with young hot Athenians talking, smoking and dancing to the loud music. Just off the main bar, separated by a glass wall, was a much more comfortable and slower paced bar where you can chat and drink and be heard. There is another dance space at the back of the club which gets going about 2pm. This really is a top club that we very much enjoyed.
On another night we ate very late, around midnight (not unusual in Athens) at an outdoor restaurant called MyPlace bar/cafe. We had two main meals and wine for 24€. The food was very fresh and the meat nicely BBQ‘d. We also briefly visited S-cape Bar. The entry fee again 5€ with a drink included. The bar itself is interesting with the bar and dance floor downstairs and an upstairs drinking area with bar stools over looking the dance floor. Even though this bar with its very loud music was not the right place for us, the very mixed, young, mostly LGBT crowd downstairs, was having a great time.
There are many other gay bars in this area and in the alleyways people are having drinks or dinner and even some rooftops have been turned into bars. There is something for everyone in The Gazi. Alexander sauna is good for those who want to combine cruising spa fun with entertainment in the Gazi. We were told by some locals that The Apartment was possibly the best bar in the Gazi but unfortunately while we were in Athens it was shut for the summer. Why? “Welcome to Greece”!
For more details about the gay scene in Athens check out these two helpful sites: gayguide.gr and http://issuu.com/deonguide/docs/issue13-14b?e=1905022/1746954.
Finally, we just want to tell a little traveller’s tale from our past. The very first time we came to Athens (2000) we met a really lovely young Australian woman at the (old) Athens airport. She asked us if we had been to Greece before. We replied that this was our very first time in this country. She said she had been here many times and her advice was to not even bother going into Athens. “Just get on a plane or a ferry and go straight to the islands.” If we had followed this advice we would never have experienced the beauty, wonder and hospitality of this amazing city. We have now visited here about 5 times and each visit uncovers more of its hidden treasures. Whatever you do, don’t miss Athens.