Athens is an intoxicating collection of ancient history, authentic and untouched neighborhoods, affordable luxury and a unique gay scene. The city has long been regarded as one of the most culturally and historically significant places on the planet and attracts millions of visitors every year.
Greece sits at the meeting place of Europe, Africa and Asia it has been continuously shaped by the cultures around it and the empires that have run it. Having existed through the Byzantine Empire, four centuries of Ottoman rule and Classic Greek civilization, Athens has one of the most unique and diverse histories in the world.
The gay scene in Athens is not as loud and obvious as in other European cities, but it is undoubtedly the country’s most liberal city and has the biggest gay population in Greece. The gay community in Athens tends to be more discreet and subtle but this doesn’t mean that the destination is any less fun for gay travelers.
Most of the gay bars and clubs in Athens can be found in Gazi, and whilst venues may not always be clearly marked as gay-specific, most have an exciting and lively atmosphere.
BIG Bar was the first bear bar to open in Athens and has been a favourite amongst the local gay community ever since. BIG is known for its friendly atmosphere, reasonably priced drinks and great music. The bar is only a 5-minute walk from the nearest metro station and is a popular warm-up destination for those looking to move on to the city’s bigger clubs.
Sodade2 is Athens’ most famous gay club and is also the city’s largest. Spread over two dancefloors with live DJs and multiple bars, Sodade2 is at the beating heart of the gay scene in Athens. The club gets especially busy on the weekends and patrons can often be seen spilling onto nearby streets.
Boasting a diverse crowd and unique interior, Shamone is a popular venue because of its drag shows, nightly live performances and regular themed nights. The club also has amazing drink deals and guests can enjoy the bustling atmosphere when it’s particularly busy. Read More: Gay Nudist Beaches in Greece.
The Central Athens Hotel is located in the heart of the Old City of Plaka. The hotel is fantastic value for money, with guest rooms elegantly and stylishly designed and a rooftop terrace offering unparalleled views across the Athens skyline. The hotel is located close to the iconic and incredibly popular Acropolis which can also be viewed from the roof.
The great-value Chic Hotel is the perfect destination for gay travelers wanting to stay close to the action of the Gazi gay village. Offering a boutique experience, each room is decorated with a modern and clean style and guests have access to the in-house restaurant and bar.
Taking its name from the Ancient Greek character of the same name, the Electra Palace Athens is conveniently located in the city’s old town, close to many of the most popular attractions. A variety of rooms and suites are available to guests and all are well furnished and fully air-conditioned. The hotel also boasts a stunning rooftop pool, gym and spa.
Athens is crammed full with references and evidence of its ancient history and the location of the founding of democracy. There is a range of iconic historical landmarks littered throughout the city.
The Parthenon is arguably the most famous and striking image of ancient Greek civilisation. Built in 432 BC in dedication to the goddess Athena, the Parthenon has had many functions including periods of both Islamic and Christian significance, having been a church and mosque. The Parthenon is the focal point of the universally recognised Acropolis, and eager travelers should explore the full Acropolis citadel in order to discover all that this unique location has to offer.
The Kerameikos Cemetery is located in downtown Athens and is only a short walk from the Acropolis. The cemetery was named after the community of potters and craftspeople who lived in the area prior to its development as a cemetery. The site includes the remains of multiple ancient structures and relics, including a city wall built in 479 BC. Read More: Things To Do in Athens.
Built during the Roman period, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a large open-air theatre that was meticulously restored in the 1950s. The theatre was originally built for the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who believed the structure to be one of the finest of its kind. Travelers can still catch a show at the Odeon which has played host to the likes of Patti Smith, Liza Minelli and Florence and the Machine.
Greece is famous for its ancient gay-friendly heritage, however, the modern-day situation is slightly different. Same-sex marriage is illegal in the country and whilst civil unions do exist, they offer little in the way of equal marital rights. Same-sex couples are also unable to jointly adopt children. However, legislation exists that protects LGBT+ people from discrimination in work, healthcare and private business on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite the conservative legal situation faced by LGBT+ people in Greece, gay travelers in Athens are likely to have a comfortable and stress-free visit, with locals tending to be polite and respectful towards gay travelers.
Apart from Athens, many people will combine this city with Mykonos and other Greek islands. Mykonos is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous gay-friendly destinations, a mecca for gay travelers globally who flock there every year for its divine combination of both luxury and island life.
by George Pizani | More: Gay Athens