Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world with a recorded history that spans over 3,000 years. Regarded by many as the birthplace of civilisation, the city is brimming with symbols of history, culture and a treasure trove of archaeological monuments.
Today, the city is the metropolitan capital of Greece.
Gay sex was decriminalised in 1951. Male prostitution has been legal since May 2006. Wide reaching anti-discrimination laws came into effect in 2014, adding to limited protections that had been available since 2005.
The age of sexual consent is 15 for everyone.
On 24th December 2015, same-sex cohabitation agreements came into force. These same-sex civil unions grant all the rights of marriage except adoption.
According to a 2016 report by ILGA-Europe on LGBT rights, Greece came 15th out of 49 countries in Europe.
Whilst gay sex in Greece was decriminalized in 1951, until quite recently, the LGBT community had few of the legal rights and protections that are available in most other European countries.
The Greek Orthodox Church continues to denounce homosexuality as a sin. Coming out can still be a challenge for many gay people.
Notwithstanding this, the gay scene in Athens has progressed rapidly over the past few years. Most of the scene is located in the Gazi area of Athens, which has become known as the gay village (located just north of Kerameikos/ΣΤ.ΚΕΡΑΜΕΙΚΟΥ metro station).
General attitudes can be quite conservative, so you will not see many rainbow flags flying or lovers walking hand-in-hand. The scene is not underground, but a little less in-your-face compared with other major cities in Europe.
However, Athenians are very friendly and welcoming. Gay travellers can expect the same treatment as anyone else in shops, restaurants and hotels.
Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) is located around 17 miles (27 km) from the city center. The airport is serviced by numerous airlines with connections to most other European capital cities and beyond. The airport is also connected to Athens metro system (Metro Line 3 – Blue Line) with trains running every 30 minutes between 6:30am to 11:30pm. Tickets cost between €5-10. This ticket is also valid on the suburban rail
The X95 bus route runs from the airport to Syntagma Square in the city center every 15 minutes and costs €6.
A taxi from the airport to the city will cost between €40-60, depending on time of day and location.
The port of Piraeus, Europe’s largest passenger port, connects Athens to Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. There are frequent ferry services to the Cyclades (including Mykonos), Crete etc.
The city center is relatively compact and most of the major sights can be reached by foot.
The metro system is offers a quick and easy way to get around Athens (including to and from the Gazi gay village). Fares are good value and metro trains generally have a reputation for being punctual, safe and clean. These trains are a relatively new concept for Athens being built during the 1990s and opened in 2000.
The Red Line (line 2) runs from Anthoupoli to Aghios Dimitrios and the Blue Line (line 3) runs from the western Egaleo station through the central areas of Monastiraki and Syntagma and to the north eastern suburbs. Maps can be picked up in any station and are generally easy to understand.
The main bus network is run by Ethel (Greek = ΕΘΕΛ). Three hundred routes span the city. An electric bus network has 48 tram stations across the city.
Day passes on all modes of transport cost €4.50.
Temple of Zeus – Athens
For our list of recommended hotels in great location for exploring the sights and the gay scene of Athens, visit the Gay Athens Hotels page.
Athens is famous for its heritage and archaeological wonders. The city is filled with ruins, temples, monuments and sites oozing history, myth and legend.
Acropolis – a citadel which stands proudly on a hilltop overlooking the city. Lit up at night, this stunning beacon and landmark must be visited, as well as the Acropolis Museum with its ancient Greek statues and artefacts.
Parthenon – dates back to 447 B.C and is considered the most important building to have survived classical Greece.
Hephaistion – an ancient Greek temple, located on the Acropolis and dedicated to Hephaistos, god of the forge; one of the few temples to be almost entirely preserved.
Plaka – historic neighborhood located at the base of the hill topped by the Acropolis.
Odeum of Herodes Atticus – second-century theater built into the hillside.
Museum of Cycladic Art – private cultural institution in the heart of Athens.
Monastiraki – lively flea market neighborhood with lots of small tavernas serving local snacks.
Athens has a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine, mild temperatures and very little rainfall.
Summers are dry and hot with average temperature between 22 °C (72°F) and 32°C (90°F). The city can get uncomfortably hot during August which is usually when the locals leave for their own holidays. It’s a good time to visit because there may be fewer people, but expect hot and humid temperatures.
Winter temperatures range from 7°C (44°F) to 15°C (55°F), with some rain and occasional snow. Spring is considered the ideal time to visit because of the perfect combination of sunny days with milder, pleasant temperatures.
Athens offers an abundant choice for shoppers from flea markets to department stores. The place to go for shopping under one roof is the Golden Hall in the Maroussi district.
The Mall, located next to Nerantziotissa train station on the Attiki Odos has more than 200 stores, places to eat and entertainment facilities. Attica, a huge department store in Panepistimiou, is the largest in Greece with over 360 shops.
For a more colourful and sensory shopping experience, check out the local market scene. The Monastiraki Flea Market is a great place to wander through with an eclectic range of goods; expect to find anything and everything from furniture to clothes, collectibles to vinyl records.
The Athens central market (Agora) is a hive of activity with a wonderful range of olives, cheeses, spices, meat, fruit, vegetables and local specialties. It’s a real treat for the senses.
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