With Athens being the cultural center of Greece, it is only natural that it hosts the strongest music scene of the country. Apart from many international musicians performing every year here, local acts can be enjoyed year-round in one of the many music venues Athens has. Here, we present to you the best places to listen to live music in Athens; a good gig is essential for a good holiday!
Megaron - Athens Concert Hall
Athens Concert Hall - credits: Lazaros Papandreou/Shutterstock.com
Let’s start with the most formal of the lot. Megaron, or Athens Concert Hall, is Athens’ cultural Mecca with its itinerary including opera, dance, theater, cinema, and visual arts, in addition to contemporary music of most genres. It displays, supports local artists while highlighting Greek artistry and giving a platform where younger creators and performers can thrive. It is the largest congress center in Greece, which can host from international conferences to social events, and it consists of a number of halls with varying capacities. Since its establishment in 1991, the Athens Concert Hall has always been a pioneer in the application of new technologies both in regard to music and in regard to issues related to its smooth functioning. Namely, Megaron is the first organization that established the sale of tickets online. If you plan on enjoying a music concert there, make sure to dress in your Sunday’s best, as the environment is formal - you didn’t pack all these clothes for nothing after all!
Concert Hall Gardens
In the summertime, the Athens’ Concert Hall opens its gardens for local and international music acts to perform in a much more relaxed environment. The gardens are open to the public from 10 am to sunset on a daily basis, with the luscious greenery becoming a hotspot for people of all ages, as they make up for the perfect setting for a relaxing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The gardens of the Concert Hall have been known to host some of the biggest names in the music industry, with the concert by the Vienna Philharmonic that hosted no less than 4,000 people being only one example of the venue’s highlights. In planning the vegetation of the park that stretches across 4.5 acres, preference was given to indigenous species that would thrive in local conditions with the addition of some exotic plants of special aesthetic appeal, able to adapt to the bio-climatic conditions of the site. All in all, the Concert Hall gardens offer the public a small paradise perfect for reflection, leisure, cultural and educational activities that no visitor should miss.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus - credits: Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock.com
The stone theatre located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, is one of the most historical places of Athens and it is still in use today, hosting some of the best live music acts of the world. Since antiquity, it has been used as a venue for music concerts and theater performances with a capacity of 5,000. Its incredible acoustics, something its being famous for since its establishment, allow for the audience to experience a unique spectacle, while the unusual ancient Greek setting offers an awe-inspiring vibe that cannot be duplicated or communicated adequately unless you experience it for yourself. Throughout the years, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus has hosted some of the most important names in the art industry, with Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, and Patti Smith being only a few of its guests. If you have the opportunity to watch a performance in this historic theater, don’t pass it up; it is a once in a lifetime experience.
Faliro Olympic Complex
Faliro Olympic Complex - credits: photo stella/Shutterstock.com
A personal favorite due to the openness of the stadium and the incredible acts it gathers every year, with the Cure and Iggy pop being only some of the big music names of the recent past, Plateia Nerou as the Faliro Olympic Complex is often referred to has become a cult-classic music venue during recent years, resembling music venues of international caliber abroad and hosting some of the most important music festivals of the country. Located right by the sea in the southern part of Athens, the salty air adds to the liberating vibe one can experience while visiting the site. The sheer size of the Olympic Complex ensures a comfortable and relaxed experience while the many cantinas you will find upon arrival both outside and inside of the complex will keep your tummy full with delicious Greek street food and your spirits high with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The Faliro Olympic Complex is arguably the spot to be for live music during summer!
Gazarte and Gazarte rooftop
Cozier than most on the list, Gazarte is the one to go if you're after a casual and intimate vibe as you’ll probably end up being within an arm’s reach from the performer on stage. Located in the middle of the main square of Gazi, one of the most lively and vibrant neighborhoods of Athens, it is nestled among tasteful bars, offering its visitors the opportunity to wander around the area and get to know one of the most local-favorite spots of the city. Most local musicians prefer it due to its snug and warm character, while it has been known to be preferred by the more alternative and culturally-engaging artists. Whether you visit one of its main halls in winter or its rooftop in summer, you won’t be disappointed; it’s acoustics are great, its staff extremely friendly, and its bar rich.
Arguably the smallest on the least, Afrikana is not compromised in quality. Located in a secluded corner of Gazi and almost invisible to the uneducated eye, Afrikana can only be described with one word: fun. Usually hosting Jazz gigs, it is small tiny but incredibly vibrant and it manages to put you in a good mood as soon as you set foot on its premises. Being a regular bar most nights of the week, the vibe is always relaxed and casual and the crowd it gathers consists of mostly music-loving locals. Despite being housed in a traditional Greek stone house, its decoration is inspired by the African aesthetic, which is apparent in the selection of exotic cocktails it offers. Within Afrikana’s premises, you will also find the in-house boutique of the Nunu clothing label, designed by bar owner Nafsika. Visit Afrikana for an all-encompassing cultural experience and see what the locals get up to day-to-day in regard to their night entertainment.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation - credits: Pit Stock/Shutterstock.com
A rather new addition to the music scene as its construction was completed in 2016, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) has been proved to be one of the most interesting musical venues of recent years, with countless acts taking place almost on a daily basis. And the best part? Most of the events hosted there are for free! The green landscape, relaxed vibe and unmatched ambiance of the location make SNFCC one of the top choices for your summer concerts, while the music set it diverse, ranging from classical to rock and everything in-between. SNFCC is located in the bay of Faliro in Athens and houses the new facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, as well as the 210,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park. You can visit the area for food or coffee, as well as for a relaxed walk during the day, but if you have the opportunity to see it during the night lit up gloriously, take it! It has swiftly become a local-favorite spot year-round but is particularly excellent for those summer concerts that make a summer’s night noteworthy.
Emblematic and dearly beloved by the locals, Faust is a very unique venue and ideal for your cultural outings, especially during winter. Brilliantly alternative and gloriously unusual, the three-story historic center that houses Faust has been transformed into an atmospheric theater music bar of unique aesthetics, with a theatrical, cabaret inspired décor, that has been attracting even the most demanding of audiences since 2011. Offering a selection of delicious drinks that vary from the most basic ones to intricate cocktails, your experience in Faust will be thoroughly improved with the beautiful jazz, swing, funk and rock music one can enjoy. Matching its distinctive atmosphere, Faust houses some of the best -and most underground- live music acts. Although hosting international acts from time to time, the local artists are Fausts’ strong card while there are no genre limitations: from hip-hop to rock, you can find a wide selection of excellent performances!
Stavros tou Notou
If you want to listen to some high-quality Greek music, then Stavros tou Notou is the place for you. Literally translating to ‘The cross of the south’ due to it being located on the southern side of Athens, there hasn't been a respectable Greek artist that hasn’t performed on its premises. Ideal for your winter musical endeavors, Stavros tou Notous has been a high-quality musical venue since 1995, welcoming both well-established and new artists for memorable performances. Although not the biggest of venues, it has the biggest reputation among locals. It is divided into three halls: Stavros tou Notou Main Hall, Stavros tou Notou Club and Stavros tou Notou Plus, to satisfy the needs of the diverse audience it gathers. Make sure to catch a performance in whichever stage tickles your fancy and you’ll be rewarded with excellent music and an unmatched vibe!
One of the most alternative stages of Athens, in Six D.o.g.s you can often enjoy bands from the underground Greek scene. Here, you won’t find the artists you’ll find in the rest of the venues on the list. What you will find, however, is a bunch of vibrant unconventional music acts, some more popular than others, that the mainstream music scene has yet to discover. Hidden in a small alley in the heart of Athens, Six D.o.g.s counts its 10th year and has helped showcase many artists, creating a solid core of house DJs and techno stage, among others. For the summer months, the venue offers a beautifully decorated garden that looks like it has come straight out of a movie. There, you can sip your refreshing cocktail while listening to good music and mingling with the locals. Six D.o.g.s is neither a cafe nor a restaurant, bar or typical music stage, it is a concept, multifaceted venue that has managed to be extremely popular while retaining its underground, unconventional and alternative elements.
As you can see, Athens is not short of opportunities for you to enjoy a good music concert. Live music is the favorite pastime of many locals and by following our advice, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the best shows the city has to offer. What are you waiting for? It’s time to book your tickets!