Though not typically known as a gay destination, Athens is very well known to all kinds of travelers who come to immerse themselves in the city’s renowned history. Many LGBT travelers may simply pass through the city on their way to more gay-friendly Greek destinations like Mykonos, but they’d be mistaken to skip Athens entirely or only drop in to catch a glimpse of the Parthenon on their way to a more relaxing beach town. Gay travelers should be sure to discover the real Athens by using these tips in order to experience Athens like a local.
Find local gay guides
First and foremost, the best way to get to know Greece’s capital city through the queer eyes of a local is to… well, find a queer local! Don’t open Grindr quite yet. There are better ways than having to resort to a gay hookup app. Dopios is a company that offers specialized tours from locals who can show you their expertise in the city. They specifically offer a Meet the locals! Gay Tour and a Gay Night Out at €35 and €50 respectively. A more budget-friendly option is to check out This is My Athens tour at no cost. You simply create a profile online and within 48 hours an Athens local will contact you. These are not professional tour guides but rather enthusiastic locals willing to share their time and tips with you. We had a wonderful experience exploring Athens with our local gay guide Alexandros.
Gazi is one of the more popular neighborhoods and you’ll find plenty of gay and gay-friendly venues in this area. Over time, it has become slightly less gay-focused as it’s become gentrified but as a first-time visitor, it’s still the place to start. It’s important to note that the gay scene in Athens is less public compared to gay hotspots like Mykonos. Equally so, the scene here is much more regular and local as opposed to seasonal and tourist driven like you’ll find in the islands with great restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs. The Apartment is a popular gay club with go-go dancers and shirtless staff. Kouckles Club is a cabaret bar with drag shows. For a gay cafe there’s Rooster Cafe serving up coffee, food and drinks. And for the ladies, head to Beaver – a female collective owned by local girls and actually one of the very few alternative lesbian cafe/bars in Gazi serving up brunch every Sunday.
Pro Tip: Check out our full Athens Gay Travel Guide here!
Attend Athens Gay Pride
Pride in Athens is not the biggest or most progressive pride you’ll find in Europe like those of Stockholm, Madrid or Berlin. It’s still at that cross between being a political event and a celebration of LGBT equality. However, it’s a fun and interesting event worth planning a trip around if you have some flexibility. Held in early June, it’s been going on now since 2005. The parade is modest in size and the highlight of the weekend takes place Saturday evening. You’ll also find several morning activities on Saturday followed by a large outdoor show and party after the parade with Greek and English entertainment. The number in attendance is about 20,000 and even the mayor of Athens attended in 2014 for the first time, a big milestone for the local Athenian LGBT community.
Sunbathe at Limanakia Gay Beach
Yes, Athens does have a gay beach. It may not be close to the center and it may not have soft sandy beaches, but it exists and it’s a place gay locals and visitors go to cool off in the warmest months of the summer. It’s about 35 minutes outside the city by car or alternatively, you can take the E22 bus there from Syntagma Square. This is both a gay and nude rocky beach (aren’t they always?) with clear waters and some secluded corners for those looking for that sort of adventure. This is a great place to sunbathe, relax and spend some time outside the city.
Get familiar with LGBT rights
Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Greece since the 1950s and anti-discrimination laws for employment have been around since 2005. Most recently, civil unions were approved in 2015 and the Athens' Mayor Giorgos Kaminis conducted the first one in January of 2016. These unions allow same-sex partners to have many, but not all of the same rights as their married hetero counterparts. For example, it does not include adoption by same-sex couples. Overall, it appears that Greece is making strides in the right direction toward LGBT equality.
Why would you like to visit Athens as an LGBT traveler? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: Our visit to Athens was provide as part of a FAM Trip hosted by the City of Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau, however rest assured all opinions are 100% our own and we would never sacrifice our integrity for a sponsorship. Actually, it's our 3rd time to Athens and we really enjoy it!