The Gazi (the name of the trendiest area of town) is the centre of gay nightlife in Athens. We visited this European ‘hot spot’ several times during our stay in the city of the Greek Gods.
Formerly the old Athens gasworks area, the Gazi is well known for nightlife with dozens of bars, straight and gay (who knows which is which in this city). You will also find restaurants and cafés of every price range in abundance. To get to the Gazi it is about an 8€ taxi ride from the Plaka or catch the Metro to Keramikos station. In the evening from 11:00 pm onwards, and especially on the weekend, the Gazi is packed with locals, as well as Greek and international tourists.
Our first drinks at around 9:30pm (not too many out before that) were at Del Sol Cafe/Bar. This chilled bar facing the small central square is a bee hive for the local gay community. It is one of about half a dozen bars along the same strip but this one is the most gay friendly, attracting men who like to be seen, and you might also see a little bit of Greek attitude on display. The waiters are very attentive, handsome and a mixed drink (eg. Whiskey and soda) is around 7€, although most people seem to order the national Greek drink, espresso frappé. 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 Butcher and Sardelles. Originally, the Butcher Shop was well known as a ‘roast house‘ specialising in meats including juicy pork chops and a wide range of steaks and sausages. This delightful eatery combined with next door, the equally famous Sardelles, which now offers outstanding market fresh seafood as well.
What attracted us to this restaurant was the huge Octopus in the window. We made our way to the garden area at the back and ordered grilled octopus, a Greek salad, the special lamb cooked in ouzo and a bottle of dry Chardonnay, all were delicious.
(Update-August, 2017) Three years later we returned and the food was still sensational, the grilled sardines, small squid and the boiled seaweed in lemon juice and olive oil just reminded us why we return to Greece so often. The very reasonable prices and outstanding service at Butcher and Sardelles are all good reasons to revisit our favourite Athenian restaurant. Don’t miss enjoying the complimentary shot of Mastika at the end of the meal.
After an excellent dinner we walked through the Gazi gay village where there are several bars to choose from. We dropped into our favourite, Enodia Café Bar. In the heart of the Gazi this Bar was perfect for us, small, modern, men of all ages and very friendly. The music in the main bar is a mixture of Greek and Western and it has a large video screen. Enodia also has a beautiful relaxed cocktail/garden bar which is perfect on hot summer evenings and for a break from the smoking in the main bar area. We were lucky enough to meet handsome bar owner George who made us feel very welcome and provided his best tips for our forthcoming visit to his favourite Greek island, Skiathos.
Next door to Enodia Bar we discovered the Bears Garage. Unfortunately we did not make it in this time but, where there are bears there is fun and we look forward to a future visit.
Sodade2 is one of the coolest gay clubs in Athens, with an entry fee which includes a drink. The front bar on a weekend is packed with young hot Athenians talking, smoking and dancing to loud music. Just off the main bar, separated by a glass wall, is 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. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Solade2 and each time we visit we meet new friends who share more knowledge with us about their vibrant city.
On another night we ate very late in the Gazi, around midnight (not unusual in Athens) at an outdoor restaurant called MyPlace bar/cafe. We had two main courses and wine for 30€. The food was very fresh and the meat nicely BBQ‘d. This is a great place for something quick and cheerful but there are so many to choose from around this area.
We also briefly visited S-cape Bar which also has an entry fee and a drink included. The bar itself is interesting with a drinking area and dance floor downstairs, while upstairs is decked out with bar stools overlooking the dance floor. Even though this bar, with its very loud music, was not the right place for us, we found the young, mixed, mostly LGBT crowd downstairs, was having a blast. In the Gazi you are spoilt for choice. There are so many small local bars and restaurants in the alleyways and don’t miss the chic open-air rooftops bars.
Alexander Sauna is a ‘hot’ choice for those who want to combine cruising spa fun with entertainment in the Gazi. We were also told by some locals that The Apartment Club was possibly the biggest and best club in the Gazi but unfortunately while we were in Athens during August it was shut for the summer. Why? “Welcome to Greece!”
For more details about the gay scene in Athens check out this helpful site: http://www.gayguide.gr/en/.
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 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 have never 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.