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 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.
However, the Greek Orthodox Church continues to denounce homosexuality as a sin. Coming out can still be a challenge for many gay people. According to a 2016 report by ILGA-Europe on LGBT rights, Greece came 15th out of 49 countries in Europe.
The gay scene in Athens has developed rapidly over the past few years. Most of the scene is located in the Gazi district, which has become known as the ‘gay village’ (located near Kerameikos / ΣΤ.ΚΕΡΑΜΕΙΚΟΥ metro station).
Nightlife starts late in Athens. With a couple of exceptions, most gay bars don’t open until 10pm and things start to get busy around midnight.
General attitudes can be quite conservative, so you will not see many rainbow flags flying. 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 17 miles (27 km) from the city centre. The airport is connected to Athens metro system (Line 3 – Blue Line) with trains running every 30 minutes between 6:30am to 11:30pm. Tickets cost between €5-10.
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 destination.
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.
Athens is a huge city, but most of the major sights and popular shopping areas are in or near the central areas of Plaka, Monastiraki and Psiri. Most of the sights in these central areas are within walking distance of each other, although this depends on your tolerance to heat.
The metro system is an easy way to get around Athens including to and from the Gazi gay village (Kerameikos Station on Line Three). Fares are good value and metro trains are punctual, safe and clean.
A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes and costs €1.40. A day pass will cost €4.50 (for both metro and buses). Ticket machines operate in both Greek and English. After purchasing your ticket you must validate it for use.
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 and airport. 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.
prices correct as at June 2017
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 filled with temples, monuments and sites oozing history and legend.
Acropolis – this rocky hill rising 156 meters above sea level dominates central Athens. It is home to a number of famous temples, many dedicated to the goddess Athena, after whom the city is named.
Acropolis Museum – modern, well laid out museum that contains many archaeological treasures.
The Ancient Agora – center of ancient Athenian democracy, public life and its marketplace.
Temple of Hephaestus – remarkably well preserved temple overlooking the Agora.
Temple of Zeus & Arch of Hadrian – whilst just 15 of the 104 marble columns remain, the temple ruins are still an impressive sight.
The Panathenaic Stadium – enormous marble stadium that was the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1894. A vaulted tunnel at the far end leads to a display of torches used in the games of the last 75 years or so.
Greek Parliament – watch the changing of the guards.
Museum of Cycladic Art – private cultural institution in the heart of Athens.
Plaka – this historic neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis is full of interesting shops and restaurants;.
Monastiraki – lively flea market neighborhood with lots of small tavernas serving local snacks.
If you have time, consider a trip to nearby Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon or the Corinth Canal.
Tickets and visit times
The best time to visit the Acropolis is early morning (8am to 10am) or late afternoon (after 4pm). Between these times expect very long queues. Even with an entrance ticket, it can be impossible to pass those waiting to purchase a ticket.
Special ticket packages are available for 30 euros that cover the Acropolis and The Agora. These can be purchased at the entrance to the Agora and Acropolis.
Athens has a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine. Summers are dry and hot with average temperature between 22 °C (72°F) and 32°C (90°F), although they can reach 40°C.
The city gets 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 very hot and humid temperatures.
Winter temperatures range from 7°C (44°F) to 15°C (55°F), with some rain and occasional snow. May and June is considered the ideal time to visit as its mostly sunny days with milder, pleasant temperatures.
Athens offers an abundant choice for shoppers from flea markets to department stores. Ermou Street is the main pedestrianized shopping street, which runs from Syntagma Square to Monastiraki Station.
For shopping under one roof, try 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.
Greece is part of the Eurozone. Cash dispensers are widely available, although many charge a fee if you use a foreign card. Credit & debit cards are widely accepted. Foreign exchange booths are easy to find. Exchange rates are not particularly competitive.
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