What's it really like?
Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, its history spanning from the glory days of ancient Greece to the present. The sight of the Parthenon perched on top of the Acropolis has dominated the city’s skyline for thousands of years and continues to be one of the most iconic views in the world. However, Athens is much more than ancient history: years of political and economic changes, combined with an enduring love of art and culture, have made it a city charged with unique energy and creativity.
Some of the world’s best street art can be found here, as well as cutting-edge art shows and one-of-a-kind performances. Ancient ruins mingle with Ottoman relics and elegant 19th-century structures, while in other parts of the city a grittier, industrial vibe reigns. It’s in one of these more modern areas that you’ll find Gazi, the trendy post-industrial neighborhood that serves as Athens’s main gay hub.
In Gazi, you’ll find everything from gritty basement bars to relaxed terraces, with gay bars and nightclubs in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. BIG and Garage, two bear bars in the area, are among the most popular. Several bars stay open until late, so you can spend your nights chatting and drinking or, if you feel like dancing, clubs like Sodade 2, Moe, S-Cape will help you cut loose.
That said, not all of Athens’ gay venues are in Gazi. Monastiraki, known for its bustling market and its ancient landmarks, is home to a few beloved gay hangouts like Rooster Cafe and FLEX gay sauna. Since it is more central than Gazi, many gay visitors choose to stay closer to this area and take a metro or taxi to Gazi.
Despite its astounding history, Athens consistently manages to be one of the coolest, most forward-thinking cities in Europe. Combine this with breathtaking views, a vibrant gay nightlife, and easy access to sun-soaked beaches and islands, and you have yourself the perfect base for your own gay Greek odyssey.
The main gay area in Athens is trendy, industrial Gazi, on the western edge of the old city center. There are not many hotels in this area, so most of the gay-friendly hotels in Athens are located in the city’s other gay area, Monastiraki. This neighborhood is most famous for its Flea Market and ancient ruins, but it is also home to popular gay saunas and hangouts. Among these, Rooster cafe is probably the most popular, and one of the best places to meet other gays in Athens.
All of the recommended hotels are within walking distance of the Monastiraki gay scene. If you’re in town for clubbing, you may want to look out for those close to Monastiraki Metro station, since this provides a direct 5-minute connection to the Gazi gay clubs.
Greece is one of the most progressive countries in Southeast Europe when it comes to gay rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1951, gay marriage since 2015, and its hate speech and hate crime legislation is among the most comprehensive in all of Europe.
The country is a popular LGBT destination thanks to famous gay island getaways like Mykonos and Lesbos (for the ladies). This has helped create a welcoming environment for gay visitors throughout the country, especially in large cities like Athens.
The city as a whole is gay-friendly, with the area surrounding gay Gazi especially so. That said, Greek society has less of an “out and proud” attitude than others, so you may raise a couple of eyebrows with public displays of affection outside of the immediate gay and tourist areas. Relax and be yourself, but be mindful when in more local areas if you want to avoid attracting attention, especially when surrounded by an older crowd.
Checkpoint Athens provides free and confidential HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B testing. It is located in Monastiraki, close to several gay-friendly hotels and gay bars like Rooster and FLEX Sauna Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 to 20:00. You can book an appointment online or by calling (+30) 210 33 10 400.
HIV cases in Greece reached a peak in 2012, but numbers have been steadily going down since. Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for over 45% of cases – make sure to practice safe sex in all your encounters in Athens.
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