Living in the South of the Mediterranean certainly has its perks. Not least the fact that you can wager that every evening will be warm and dry throughout the summer, giving you a wealth of options for how to spend your evening. An absolute must-do is to join the locals and head to an open-air cinema. Films, old, new, classic or indie, are incredibly popular with Athenians and this is why so many large cinema companies operate in Greece. Whether it is on the weekends or on a weekday evening after work, people of all ages love to escape for a couple of hours of cinematic entertainment. You may be thinking that it is no different from your country's approach to the movies, however, you will discover that an outdoor cinema experience is much more than just watching a film outdoors.
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Open Air Cinemas in Athens
Visiting an open-air cinema in Athens is one of the most romantic experiences you can enjoy in the city and it doesn't even require a date! Under the starry Athenian sky, reclining in a retro deck chair, with a wine/beer or coffee, a delicious snack and (if you're feeling like Humphrey Bogart) a cigarette, you can truly unwind after a long day. The combination of these luxuries creates quite a unique cinema experience, which is why this is one of the most beloved outings amongst locals. Whether you want to watch a brand new movie or a timeless classic, visiting an open-air cinema in Athens is definitely worth taking the time to experience. There s a vast collection of open-air cinemas to choose from, with almost every neighborhood having one, but here are our top picks to get you started.
Cine Paris, Plaka
Cine Paris - credits: Travel + Leisure
Offering incredible views of the Parthenon and with a classic Hollywood feel, Cine Paris is perhaps the most romantic of cinemas, open-air or not. It even featured in a film itself, Enas Allos Kosmos (World's Apart) by the illustrious Christopher Papakaliatis and you can see why. With its Parisien feel and dramatic backdrop of the Acropolis illuminated in all its glory, it's difficult to know whether you should be looking at the screen or at the view! The cinema itself dates back to the 20's when a Greek hairdresser, having recently returned from Paris, built the first open-air cinema in Athens and named it after his former hometown. During the 60s, the doors of the cinema closed due to an economic crisis in the city, but in 1986, Cine Paris reopened to the public. Nowadays, the cinema plays mostly classic films and films from France, Spain, and Italy. For a night at the movies, forget your indoor mall cinema, this is the place to be!
Cine Thisseion - credits: The Telegraph
Cine Thisseion is advantageously located on the sweeping cobbled street of Dionysiou Areopagitou. According to CNN, it is also one of the world's most enjoyable movie theaters. Then again, you hardly need that stamp of approval when the Acropolis and all of Plaka is your setting for watching your movie of choice. By night, it is truly breathtaking, with the perfectly lit surrounding monuments and the comforting sounds of cicadas on the warm summer air. Along with an ice cold beer or a glass of wine, why not try one of the on-site hand-made tiropitas (cheese pie) or a classic hot-dog enjoying your film in a truly wondrous setting? And as if that wasn't enough, that's not the end of the culinary delights to be had here. Due to the cinema being family-run, it also sells its very own sour cherry sweet preserve and rather marvellously, their own tsipouro! What's there not to love?
As you take a morning stroll with us through the most historic and picturesque neighborhood of Athens, see if you can spot Cine Thisseion before heading to the lively and diverse Monastiraki Square. If the sound of the cheese pie got you more excited than the prospect of a film, then we recognize a fellow foodie when we see one! Discover the superb Athenian foodie scene with our Athens by Night Food Tour & Wine Tasting, and taste some of the most incredible wines that the Hellenic Isles have to offer!
Cine Aegli Zappiou
Cine Aigli - credits: Digital Life
In the leafy, tranquil setting of Zappeio Garden, Cine Aegli is tucked away, surrounded by bougainvilleas and jasmines, and has the perk of great acoustics. After a walk in Zappio Garden or Syntagma Square, you can watch a classic movie or a new blockbuster and relax in a canvas chair, enjoying a refreshing drink or a hand-made snack from the Aegli bar.
Cine Flisvos - credits: cineflisvos.gr
As hard as it may be to tear yourself away from the romantic ruins of the ancient center, if you can bear to leave the Acropolis behind for one evening and you're looking for a coastal setting, Cine Flisvos is a worthy candidate. Set in the greenery of a charming park, right next door to the swanky Flisvos Marina and right by the sea, the cinema has a beautiful cafe outside to welcome you, where you can wait for your screening with a pre-show beer. Offering an extensive drinks menu, fresh popcorn, nachos, delicious souvlaki meat skewers, and all sorts of bright-colored confectionary, which will no doubt keep the children (or your inner child) happy, the cinema focuses on showing new blockbuster films unlike it's more retro competitors. It's also worth mentioning that Cine Floisvos, as all outdoor cinemas, usually offers a break or two to give you a chance to top up on refreshments!
Cine Filip - credits: http://www.cinesporting.gr
If after reading our post on Nea Smyrni you were inspired to visit one of Athens' lesser known, but not any less lovely, neighborhoods, then let me give you another reason to visit. Cine Filip is a charming cinema, easily reached by tram, close to Megalou Alexandrou tram stop. With a cozy feel, wooden tables and canvas covered deck checks, this cinema has a lot of character and loyal attendees. There is a small bar with refreshments and snacks and the staff is friendly and wonderfully upbeat. Dogs are allowed in it, and with people of all ages coming to see the latest showing it has a real community atmosphere. If you truly are the traveler who wants to experience their destination like a local and see what it's like to be an Athenian, then this is the open-air cinema for you.
Zefiros New Art Cinema
Zefiros New Art Cinema - credits: http://reel.gr
For the trendier hipsters among you who abhor the modern blockbusters and endless reworkings of a rom-com plot that fits all, then the Zefiros New Art Cinema has you covered. Situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Petralona ( mentioned in our 3 local Athenian neighborhoods that you must visit post) the cinema welcomes you with antique, red velvet curtains on the doors as a nod to the numerous black and white, classic films they offer. However, the cinema is so much more than just a screen. They regularly host art exhibitions, literary evenings and theatre performances. So if you're an art lover, book worm, budding thespian or feel like emulating all three, then a trip to Zefiros is an absolute must for you.
Combine culture with entertainment and the setting of an authentic Greek summer with a visit to one of the many Athenian open-air cinemas! It's a local-favorite experience that will create the most wonderful of memories!