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Is Athens the true city that never sleeps?

Is Athens the true city that never sleeps?

It may be a slogan for NYC, but night owls local to the Greek capital know to adjust their expectations when traveling there just like anywhere else in the world, because evenings out in any other city never seem quite long enough when you’re used to one that, truly, never sleeps.

In a recent study, Athens was found to be the second most “awake” city in the world, after Cairo, Egypt. However, many would argue that it belongs in the first place. Whether you’re looking for something to eat or drink, a party, a kiosk or a pharmacy, you can find it all through the night in Athens.

The study in question, conducted by SimpleGhar, looked at the listed closing times in 78 large cities around the world for cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs listed on OpenStreetMap and in Tripadvisor’s nightlife section. Once they had their data, they converted it into total scores out of 100 for each city.

Athens scored just below Cairo, with a much bigger gap following to number three on the list, Belgrade. According to listed opening hours, Athens cafés close at approximately 11.58 p.m., while clubs and bars stay open until 2.26 a.m. Meanwhile, it’s ahead of every other city in the world when it comes to late-night dining, with restaurants closing at 11.48 p.m., on average. As anyone who’s spent time dining with Greeks knows, dinner here is not only the most important meal, but one that begins late, and can last for hours.

An important point to make is that listed closing times in Greece are more often than not only indicative. While 2 a.m. is commonly posted as the closing time for bars and clubs online, most establishments will stay open much longer depending on customers – some until late in the morning, or until the party naturally ends. Also, as SimpleGhar’s report points out: “Grabbing some food after the party is part of the Athenian lifestyle.”

A temporary midnight curfew imposed on cafés, restaurants and bars by the Greek government, as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus, was lifted at the end of last month, and according to a statement by officials today, standing (and dancing) customers will also be allowed again from Saturday. Hopefully, the famous Athenian nightlife will soon return to its pre-pandemic glory.


This article first appeared in Greece-Is.com, an English-language publishing initiative by Kathimerini.