Ah, Thursday night — the only truly social night of the week. It’s the night when babysitters are booked, friends convene, and drinks are imbibed. There are no family obligations to fulfill, no amateurish weekend crowds to elbow through — and the possibilities are endless. The night starts after work and ends whenever you want. In any city. All over the world. This week, we’re presenting the perfect Thursday night in Athens, Greece.
Now is the time to visit Athens. After years of economic uncertainty and unchecked urban sprawl, the ancient city is finally figuring out who it wants to be when it grows up.
Too many visitors see Athen as just a stop-over, maybe worthy of 24 hours to see the ruins on the way to one of the country’s picturesque islands.
Those visitors are wrong. Still, if you are going to spend just one night here, can we recommend a Thursday? Old and new alleyways are electric with a newer, hipper spirit. The locally owned and operated shops, restaurants, bars and clubs are bustling until the wee hours of the morning and we promise that most Athenians just want to make sure that you have a good time.
Start the night early to get in a little sight-seeing before indulging. (Photo: Thinkstock)
4 PM: Head to the Acropolis at 4 pm to give yourself about two hours to explore the ancient site before it closes at 6 PM. Stroll around the original Parthenon, dedicated to the city’s the founding goddess of Athens, but don’t get too sassy with your selfies. The guards take any kind of funny behavior around their ruins very seriously and will not hesitate to admonish you for straying beyond the boundaries or causing any kind of ruckus.
6 PM: Finished in 2009, the new Acropolis Museum is one of the top museums in the world right now. Housed in a spectacular modern building designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi that sits at the foot of the Acropolis, the museum’s collection consists of sculptures found in the original Acropolis, many of them recovered from other museums throughout the world and reunited for the very first time.
The earliest Korai and Kourai schulptures date from the fifth and sixth century BC. The reliefs of the Parthenon frieze, showing 600 figures in a Panathenaic festival across a length of 525 feet are worth a long look and the price of the audio tour.
7:30 PM: Pop into Flamme Rouge’s Cycle Café in Gazi for a quick coffee and cocktail to keep you going. We love the chandeliers made of bicycle wheels and foot rests constructed from old pedals. Wander around the corner to one of the chic bars on Voutadon Street like WS (Why Sleep), Soho or Del Sol and chat up the hip young Greeks in their skinny jeans and nerdy glasses. Remind yourself that you are indeed in Greece and not in Brooklyn.
Sidle up to a bike and have a coffee and a cocktail. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
8 PM: Head over to the newly constructed Technopolis, an art installation space carved out of the abandoned Athens Gas Works in Gazi. Starting on Thursday night and through the weekend, this is hands down one of the best spots to hear live music or see avant guard art performances in the city.
This restaurant delivers on its bold name. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
9 PM: You’ll want to have two dinners tonight, or at least copious appetizers followed by a second stop off for your main course. Athenians dine as late as Spaniards and don’t typically begin their dinner until at least 10 PM. But you’re American, you will be hungry. Head to the Butcher Shop for appetizers—sausage and cheese.
WATCH: 24 Hours of Eating in Athens (In Less Than 30 Seconds)
Try the three-meat sausage (veal, pork and beef) or the pork sausage with leeks or the gently fried veal sausage. True to its name, no one in Athens knows meat better than the Butcher Shop.
Just a little meat and fried cheese to get the evening started. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
10 PM: Settle in for the best French food Greece has to offer (yes, French!) at Polly Magoo. There’s only one menu here written on a wipe board and it is written in Greek. The waiter will read it to you and he is loath to repeat the offerings so pay attention the first time. On offer the night we visited was a delicious slow-cooked pork that melted like butter when it hit our tongues, savory lentils simmered in a spicy broth and covered in a fried egg and one of the most decadent chocolate and caramel cakes I have ever experienced.
Midnight: Gather all the president’s men and head to Bar Nixon on Agisilaou Street for the best martini in Athens. Named for the disgraced American president, photographs of Tricky Dick adorn the walls. The menu is a magazine cover of Nixon and the bathrooms are affectionately referred to as Watergate.
You’ll hear everything from Nirvana to Iron Maiden to Journey inside this down and dirty rock bar. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
2 AM: Where else would you want to go at 2 AM after a night of eating sausage, noshing French food and vodka than a rock metal bar. The Intrepid Fox is simply the best. It is even better after 2 AM. It’s better if you don’t even tell the bartender what you want. At this point just ask him to guess and take what he gives you. It will likely be ouzo and we promise it will be delicious. The Intrepid Fox has no closing time. Ask what it is and they’ll tell you—late.
Most of the city is easily accessible by Metro and cabs across the city cost only about $5 Euros. We used the same taxi driver for our entire trip, Spiro, Panagiotopoulos. Give Spiro a ring at 6977682070 (or hit him up on What’s App: 6975468685).