An ancient capital with thousands of years of history, Gay Athens today is a mixture of affordable luxury, world-class archaeological monuments, grungy neighborhoods, and flamboyant nightlife. And don’t get us started on some of the most handsome and stylish men Europe has to offer…
Athens – much like the eternal city Rome – has the power to draw you in and leave you utterly enchanted: whether it’s the mythology, the drama, the creative energy or just the Acropolis views visible from almost everyone in the city – There is just so much to love here. Gay travelers in particular also flock here for the wild (if slightly hidden) nightlife, gay stories about the ancient Greeks, cruisy beaches and friendly locals.
Sure, Athens might not have the surreal beauty or gay mecca status of Mykonos but it is easily the most liberal city in Greece and for the most part, offers a progressive European mentality regarding the rights of its LGBT community. Gay travelers here will find Southern European hospitality wins out over the strong influence of the conservative Greek Orthodox Church. While many anti-discrimination laws are in place many locals Greeks do choose to maintain a discreet life behind closed doors rather than a ‘ loud, here and queer’ attitude you might find in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris or Lisbon.
This, of course, should not put you off visiting Gay Athens where you will find yourself welcomed wherever you go – just don’t expect colorful rainbow flags to be marking your way. Unlike much of the world, the modern Athenian LGBT scene is rapidly growing and finding its feet in the trendy Gazi neighborhood where most gay clubs and bars are located, but the city center is also experiencing a second-coming, so there is plenty of options.
So what are you waiting for, channel Zeus, the god of Destiny and Fate or maybe Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine, Pleasure, and Festivals, and lets yourself fall head over heels for Gay Athens.
Gay Athens Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Athens Greece
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Gay Athens
Naturally being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Athens during the day!
Athens is a relatively tolerant city, but public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum, especially if you do not have to draw attention. Outright hostility is unlikely, but many Greeks may be uncomfortable with homosexual displays of affections – especially outside tourism and recreation areas. Usually you maybe just get frowned upon by the older generation, but they are unlikely to talk to you directly about it. Our advice: Be a gay couple, don’t hide your love but be conscious of those around when you do.
Following this advice, you are unlikely to have issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city, where even the essential list of things do with keep visitors entertained for at least a couple of days -gay, straight or unicorn. Here are just a few of our favorite (outside of the gay village…we will get to that!)
- Hydra, Poros, and Egina– Head out of a Full-day cruise to these magical islands just a short trip from Athens. Explore each island independently at your town pace but do not miss the Temple of Aphaia on Egina island. Complete with a Greek lunch, served on board your ship and plenty of that Meditteranean sun – what could be more fabulous?
- Plaka – An adorable village-esque suburb tucked away in the shadow of the Acropolis complete with tapered cobblestone streets and small shops selling jewelry, clothes and local knick-knacks. Stop off at cute sidewalk cafes or wander into family-run tavernas, or if you have more energy continue on the whitewashed homes of adjoining Anafiotika neighborhood – basically Greek island vibes like Mykonos without …well actually going!
- Acropolis of Athens and New Acropolis Museum – Journey back to Ancient Greece with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Acropolis of Athens and the New Acropolis Museum. Visit the Theatre of Dionysus and Dionysus Sanctuary, stroll past the Propylaea gateway and the Temple of Athena Nike, then stand in awe before the grand ruins of the Parthenon, looking down over Athens below. After exploring the sprawling citadel, don’t skip the New Acropolis Museum where you can learn about the excavations as you browse more than 4,000 artifacts unearthed from the Acropolis.
- Kolonaki – Sophisticated Kolonaki is a hub for swanky shopping, where intercontinental fashion labels and Greek designer boutiques vie for face and customers with glossy concept stores and upscale galleries. If you are looking for the jet-set glitterati, this is where you will find them, handing out at fine dining restaurants or in any of the chic bars. The perfect place to stay in Athens if you don’t feel like confining yourself to the gay ghetto.
- Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour – Experience the best of Athens in one day and your own way, with this City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Athens bus tour. Travel around by open-top double-decker bus and create your own sightseeing itinerary. Learn about Athens’ history from the onboard audio guide and choose from three routes with 37 stops total. Perhaps visit the spectacular Acropolis, the cobbled streets of the Plaka, the New Acropolis Museum, or other top sights—you set the pace and choose where to explore on foot.
- Limanakia – The most well-known gay beach in Athens, but a 30-minute drive out of the city. Crystal clear waters, hot men and a very cruisy attitude – especially during the steamy summer months. It is a rocky nudist beach with plenty of hidden caves so bring flip-flops, and everything you might need are there are no shops nearby. If you are not hiring a car in Athens, you can also use the E22 bus that leaves from Syntagma square.
- Athens Highlights Tour – Sightseeing made easy! Enhance your experience of Athens on a 4-hour mythological tour of the ancient Greek city. Alongside an entertaining guide, visit significant landmarks like the Acropolis and the Olympian Zeus Temple and listen to the captivating myths that surround each monument. Hear tales that combine myth, legend and historical fact; admire the morbid majesty of the ancient Keramikos cemetery, and gain valuable insight into the culture of modern and ancient Greece on this educational tour.
- Dinner in the Sky Athens – Eat dinner in a revolving restaurant suspended in the sky during this 1.5-hour experience in Athens. From a bird’s eye view at 165 feet (50 meters) in the air, get pictures of the city of Athens lit up at night, including the illuminated Acropolis, as the table slowly rotates. With 22 dining companions, feast on a 5-course meal of modern and traditional Greek dishes with unlimited wine. Choose between Sunset Dinner or City Lights Dinner.
- All Day Cruise Luxury Sailing – Escape the urban energy of Athens for the day and set sail for the Saronic Islands aboard a large Greek sailing ship. Find your favorite spot on deck to soak up the Mediterranean sun while island-hopping to Agistri, Moni, and Aegina. From ancient temples and wild peacocks to pristine beaches and an optional bike ride, there’s something for everyone at each stop. A day full of highlights, but swimming and snorkeling right off the boat has to be at the top!
- Athens Food Tour – Indulge your inner foodie on this 4-hour gourmet tasting tour and sample the edible delights of Athens. Take to the streets for a walking tour of Athens’ cafés, markets, delicatessens, and street food haunts. Enjoy the undivided attention of your private food-expert guide as you uncover the secrets of Greek cuisine and learn more about the city’s culinary heritage. Stop along the way to sample local treats like sweet donuts, Greek bread, and regional cheeses, washed down with Greek wine and freshly brewed coffee.
- Santorini Experience from Athens – Discover the epic cliffs, whitewashed towns and beaches of Santorini on this 2-day independent trip from Athens. Ride a ferry across the Aegean Sea to this volcanic gem, and enjoy ample free time to enjoy the island as you wish, with no included excursions or activities. Explore sugar-cube villages, relax on the beach, catch a Santorini sunset — it’s your choice. Overnight 2-star superior, 3-star or 4-star accommodation, round-trip central Athens’ hotels’ transfers, and return ferry crossings are included. Upgrade to enjoy a 5.5-hour speedboat crossing for more time on Santorini.
- Delphi and Meteora – If you have more time on your hands why not discover two of the Greek UNESCO World Heritage sites in one overnight trip. Explore the archeological site of Ancient Delphi, be amazed by the Sanctuary of Apollo and learn all about the connection to the Greek god Zeus. Then visit two of the famous rock monasteries in Meteora – all while enjoying relaxing overnight 3- or 4-star hotel accommodation with dinner in Kalambaka, near Meteora. Easy!
- Athens Pride – A fabulous week-long celebration of the cities fascinating same-sex history, and a political protest demanding better treatment and acceptance of Greece’s LGBT / Rainbow community. In a country where homosexuality is still mostly taboo for many politicians and is actively opposed by the dominating Orthodox Church, Athens Pride is fundamentally necessary and an important as it gives at least one day a year where the queer community feel celebrated for just being themselves. Started in 2005 and held annually in June, Athens Pride attendance has skyrocketed in recent years and 50,000 people turned out in 2018 in last year’s parade which features queer bike rides, epic street parties, a giant parade, awareness lectures, and oh-so-many parties!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Athens
As you would expect, most hotels and hostels in Gay Athens can be considered gay-friendly – after all being a gay-friendly it not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms!
Having said that, everyone likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such there a few favorite hotels in Athens that are known hot spots for gay travelers to stay!
There are no gay hotels in Athens exclusively for gay men, but some have been a crucial part of the gay scene because of their location while others are just known as being exceptionally welcoming of gay guests. If you want gay hotels in Greece, you should instead explore the LGBT accommodation options in Mykonos, including the fabulous Elysium Gay Hotel. But for Athens, the following hotels are only the most popular with gay travelers can all be relied on for an extraordinary stay, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Athens if you don’t find quite what you are looking for.
Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap room to crash after a night of partying or a designer boutique option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Athens as something for everyone!
- New Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – One of the most unique and sort after hotels in Athens New Hotel offers a synergy of visual and tactile experiences in a prominent central city location. Hip, trendy and a real labor of love this hotel is exceptionally gay-popular, and it is easy to see why. A restructured modernist building with salvaged materials recast as living art, a place where design and culture fuse and guests feel like they are sleeping in some avant-garde gallery. Eclectic and funky, there is a happening restaurant, a lush wellness spa and a top-floor terrace with one of Athens best views. Frequently sold out, we think the New Hotel is probably the best gay hotel in Athens, although to be clear there is no hotel in Athens just for us queers…
- Electra Metropolis ☆☆☆☆☆ – Positioned on an energetic street lined with shops and restaurants, this classy hotel is only a short walk to a metro station and –even better – just a 15-minute walk from the ancient Acropolis of Athens. Very gay-popular, this brand new 5-star hotel in the heart of the city is modern Athens at its finest with an impressive atrium in the center of the hotel, a unique Roof Garden with a spectacular view of the Parthenon and the entire city and Retro Chic style apparent throughout in the interior architecture and design. The rooms are divine, as you would expect, many with incredible views plus there is also an elegant lobby bar, book-themed eatery and luxe spa to pamper yourself in.
- Hotel Grande Bretagne ☆☆☆☆☆ – With an enviable location, opposite Constitution Square and the House of Parliament, this luxury hotel dating from 1874 offers sumptuous rooms, stunning city views and a refined stay like no other. There is also a sophisticated rooftop restaurant/bar with those iconic Acropolis views, 4 bars, a fitness studio, and both indoor and outdoor pools. If you are in Athens to relax rather than explore the nightlife, this is the place to stay.
- Grand Hyatt Athens ☆☆☆☆☆ – The ultimate hospitality experience in Gay Athens with the perfect blend of history and edginess. A brand new collection of spacious, chic luxury hotel rooms and suites located in the heart of Athens, at Syngrou Avenue, there is all the latest amenities, impressive marble bathrooms, mouthwatering cuisine, and a sensational ambiance. And don’t forget the fabulous pool complete with bar and contemporary art pieces scattered throughout.
- Periscope ☆☆☆☆ – Set in the historic Kolonaki neighborhood, this award-winning architectural design hotel has chic minimalist rooms, beautiful public spaces, and fabulous service. A young, enthusiastic and seductive urban haven with affordable prices complimented by the latest technological advancements resulting in the sense of comfort and ease throughout your entire stay.
- The Zillers Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Am airy neoclassical building by German architect Ernst Ziller and recently transformed into a gay-popular boutique hotel. The Zillers Boutique Hotel offers an authentic city stay with elements of the past brought to today with style and absolute respect to the history and the significance of the Athenian principles. Featuring hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, Acropolis views, French balconies, and a complimentary breakfast this is a luxury stay without all the unnecessary add-ons that tend to push the price up.
- Coco-Mat Hotel Athens ☆☆☆☆ – A modish entry to the city’s most eclectic neighborhood, this fabulous hotel is all about understated luxury and design. Perfect for a relaxing sleep followed by a delicious homemade breakfast, there is also custom bedding, use of loaner bikes and sweeping views of Athens from the casual rooftop cafe/bar.
- Hotel Fresh ☆☆☆ – A trendy gay hotel in Athens, close to Gazi gay area and a short walk from FLEX Sauna. Ok, again it is not a gay hotel, but that can be hard to tell at times! An urban resort with an unconventional atmosphere and entirely personalized service, we loved enjoying a cocktail at the Air Lounge roof bar and the unforgettable feeling of calmness. Oh, and the low room prices helped too!
- Chic Hotel ☆☆☆ – A very affordable boutique hotel close to the Gazi gay village in Athens, and basically next-door to the gay sauna Ira Baths. Featuring hip, neutral décor and a complimentary breakfast buffet this is the perfect place to stay on a budget – or if you plan on not spending much time in your room!
- AthenStyle ☆☆ – A design hostel in the heart of Athens with a panoramic terrace where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Acropoli. If you are looking to stay cheap in Athens and don’t mind sharing a dorm this could be a great option – or just to meet friends to go out and explore the city with. There is also a free continental breakfast, laundry service, and locker rentals, but remember this is still a hostel at the end of the day…so results may vary.
Gay Nightlife in Athens
We are not even sure where to start as the wild gay nightlife in Athens took us by surprise, especially given the more conservative attitudes and lack of rainbow flags in Athens. Sure, in public the LGBT community might not be so ‘out and proud’ in Athens but in the relative safety of bars and clubs the gay Greeks sure know how to let their freak flag fly.
If you become as overwhelmed as we were, the only thing you really need to know is that most of the gay bars are found in the fashionable Gazi area …but Gazi by no means the only place to spend the night with your global queer family so don’t be afraid to explore a little further afield.
Athens has something for everyone from utterly over-the-top glitter queer club parties to relaxed pubs and chic cocktail bars, and that is without exploring all the LGBT-friendly options. If none of these gay venues seem for you, remember many gays in Athens don’t feel the need to segregate themselves and can somewhat discreetly be found at fashionable establishments all over town…
But with a gay nightlife scene as fabulous as this, you would be foolish to not sample at least a few of the LGBT venues in Athens…
Gay Bars in the Gazi Gay Village
- BIG Bar – Woof! Yes, BIG Bar was not only the first dedicated bear bar for bears, cubs, otters, wolves, and admirers but remains one of the most popular… Welcoming to all with a very jovial vibe, affordable drinks, and flowing conversation. A great place to start the night out, get the gossip or figure out where to head next in Gay Athens.
- Garage Bar – Another favorite bear bar in Athens though of course, everyone is always welcome. Casual and fun with a range of music heading back to the disco era and cheap-ish drinks. Great draft beer, modern fit out, and a friendly British owner.
- Enodia Café Bar – A casual yet cool bar with a relaxed terrace and plenty of private spaces for conversation. Arranging to meet a date or just actually want to talk earlier in the night? Enodia Café Bar is the place to go – just check their Facebook page for upcoming events beforehand. Later they play some of the best retro Greek remixes in town.
- Del Sol Café – Delicious cocktails, modern food, and relaxed streetside dining… Yes, please! Sure, Del Sol Café is not technically a ‘gay bar,’ but we couldn’t have told that when we visited as there are handsome men coming and going all day long. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but most popular in the early evening which is a nice change from most gay bars in Athens that frequently don’t open until 9 or 10 pm.
- TRAP – A small gay music bar with friendly service and a DJ pumping greek music until the early morning. A mixed crowd so better described as hetero-friendly with an entertaining atmosphere and excellent service!
- Dyari Cafe – A relaxed hybrid café and bar owned by two gay men who make sure everyone feels welcome with their eccentric sense of humor. Excellent coffee, a good selection of beers and fab cocktails in a cozy atmosphere.
- DAVID – A fun bar that basically transitions to a gay nightclub as the night rolls on, David is a new addition to Gazi gay nightlife but a very welcome one. Start with casual cocktails or maybe a coffee as the LGBT party here goes until 6 in the morning most weekends. More casual than other gay nightclubs in Athens, which is perfect if you do not want to dress up.
Other Gay Bars in Athens
- Rooster – What a name for a gay / café bar – but yes Cock (Rooster?) fills the void of gay venues in Athens city center by creating a buzzy all-day gay hangout. Perfect for people watching, starting the night before heading to the Athens gay district or merely gorging on pasta, pizza & comfort food – Carbs don’t count when you are on holiday right?
- Test Me – Technically a gay bar but a really just a gay-for-pay brothel with unprofessional escorts mostly from Albania and the Middle East. We don’t recommend going here, but if you do – be careful in the area and especially inside the bar. Wallets and cash can easily go missing…
- Koukles Club – The most reliable place to go for a drag show in Athens, this kitschy but fabulous cabaret bar is exactly what it claims to be: a small drag club with high camp fun and hilarious parodies. Shows generally don’t start until 1 am and even though they are frequently in Greek, you will still have a blast. Unique and something a bit different!
Gay Clubs in Athens
- Sodade2 – The place in Gay Athens to experience wild queer nightlife frequented by hot, younger men. There are two dance areas giving you a choice of deep house or pop music and is insanely popular on Saturday for there no school/work parties and Monday for Greek Night – but expect large crowds every day in summer. There is a €7 entry charge most nights, but strong drinks, cute bartenders and busy dance floors make this worth it.
- Bizzar Club – A gay dance club in Athens city center known for its money boys and downstairs play area. Playing modern Greek music with shows every Saturday night, Bizzar Club draws a crowd with an appetite for “fun.”
- Noiz – A fabulous gay nightclub in the Gay Gazi district fulled by style, beautiful people and a skilled DJ with a penchant for Greek and international music hits. Very fashionable, a great place to party until sunrise, chat and feel like one of the most trendy people in town…
- Moe Club – Another popular gay club in Gazi with a mixed crowd and frequent live music. Very cozy with a good atmosphere conducive to light dancing and actually enjoying music.
- BEqueer – A new queer club in Athens city center is quickly gathering a reputation for glamourous drag shows and an entertaining party environment. Check their Facebook page for upcoming themed events which are not to be missed… The Real Housewives of Athens or Female Icons – Pride Edition anyone?
- S-Cape – Another epic gay club in Athens ideally suited for hook-ups or just to let off some steam as it gets really wild. Certainly not for everybody’s taste but it is conveniently located in Gazi, has occasional open bar nights (great value) and frequent themed parties with hot as hell go-go dancers and large crowds.
- Shamone Club – A more relaxed gay club in Athens with plenty of space, nice music, and beautiful people who actually talk to each other. The seating outside gives Shamone an almost beachy vibe, and while there are fabulous parties most weekends, it is also worth looking out for their drag shows and Rupaul’s Drag Race screenings. Just don’t forget to take your drag queen merch to look the part…
Gay Sauna in Athens
Had enough of gay cruising in Athens – either in the bars or elsewhere? If you desire a bit more guaranteed action, the gay saunas in Athens will not disappoint you (unlikely all those faceless accounts on Grindr or the other hook up apps…).
In such a popular holiday destination you should have no issues visiting any of the Athens gay saunas, though it is always a bit of a lucky dip in terms of who you might find. Then again, this is half the fun right? If you are nervous or have not been before you could always check out our first-time gay sauna guide for some easy hints and tips.
- Alexander Sauna – The best gay sauna in Athens, found in the heart of the Gazi gay area just steps from the Kerameikos metro station. An ideal destination to start and finish your night out in Athens, with a strong commitment to diversity and welcoming all ethnicities, sexual preferences, age groups, and tribes. About as stylish and trendy as a sauna can get, there are four floors of fun cruising and relaxing spaces including a bar with coffee, drinks & snacks, garden, private cabins with TV, lockers, safe boxes, two saunas, steam room, jacuzzi, sling and steam labyrinth play-room. Alexander Sauna also boasts an X-Action Area (with Drag & Strip Shows, happenings & parties), the biggest darkroom in Athens, naked parties), free towels, slippers & condoms, and a mini-shop with the best gay underwear brands and any accessories you may need.
- Ira Baths – Basic gay sauna in the Omonoia area, offering a cruising experience more similar to the gay hammams in Istanbul, Antalya or Ankara. Still, there is a fun cruise area, relatively clean sauna and secluded rooms that have a loyal following of locals.
- FLEX Sauna – Located in the city center of Athens, this is a popular place for Greeks and tourists to come together for four floors of naughty fun. Recently renovated, but still, of dubious quality, Flex draws in an older crowd with its 30 person steam room, dark spaces, Jacuzzi, cinema, glory holes, rooftop garden, and free cabins. The longest operating gay sauna in Athens, opening for the Olympics in 2004 – if you are nearby why not give it a go?
Cruising and Fetish Clubs in Athens
If the bars or gay parties in Athens are too vanilla for you, perhaps these fetish clubs and cruise lounges are a better fit?
The gay fetish scene is not as wild as other places in Europe like Rome, Paris, Vienna, and Prague but still has something to peak the curiosity of those who dare to embrace their darker passions! For the uninitiated, this could be the perfect place to explore your curiosities and hidden desires…
- Attraxx – A gay cruise club in Athens conveniently located in the heart of the Gazi gay area. There is an extensive collection of films to watch in the cinema, private cabins, maze, glory holes, large cruise area and a sex toy shop. What more could you ask for really? A bit more hygiene and more of a crowd actually – since it never seems to get too busy here.
- Lamda Video & Cruising – The newest gay sex club addition to Athens spread across two floors. The jury is still out on quality but there is a cinema, private spaces and dark room if you want to give Lamda a try. There is also a very sexy store selling adults toys and underwear.