Whether you live in Athens permanently or are here for a visit, it can be fun to venture off the most popular nightlife trails Syntagma-Monastiraki-Psyrri, or Gazi-Kerameikos-Metaxourgeio to Mavili Square, west of Ambelokipi. Lined with bars and a handful of stores, it’s known for its landmark fountain overlooking Vas. Sophias and its deliciously sinful ‘vromiko’ hot dog van (now a van in a wall, called Kantina Mavili).
The square is an upbeat party zone less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Megaro Mousikis metro (it’s close proximity to the Athens Concert Hall and the US Embassy also make it a popular hangout for concert-goers, orchestra members and embassy staff) and a 10-minute uphill walk to Lycabettus Hill. It is named after the poet Lorenzo Mavilis, in whose honour a bust has been placed in the square’s little patch of greenery. There are numerous bars to visit here but I’m going to focus on our top 3, which all actually stand in a row on Dorileou street.
The stylish ‘gentleman‘ of Mavili square, Kyrios is by far the most glamorous, elegant and high-profile bar-restaurant of the area. With a decor reminiscent of the 1920s but with a quirky contemporary edge, Kyrios’s leather bar-stools and comfy sofas are usually taken by 9pm on any given night of the week. Apart from its sophisticated, dimly-lit ambiance, the polite waiting staff wearing old-style aprons and an excellent choice of cocktails (the bar prides itself on its “non-shaking concept”) as well as bottled wines or wines by the glass, Kyrios caters to the 30-and-up crowd seeking something glitzy but not kitschy. The menu includes bar-food like bruschetta, cheese dishes and more filling dishes like burgers, foie gras with mixed mushrooms, salads, and pasta.
Once a casual bar selling beer by the bottle, Flower has in recent years raised its profile and become the area’s best pizzeria. However, its spread of outdoor tables (covered up during winter) also make it a great spot for sipping a drink with the sound of Mavili’s fountain in the background if you’d rather skip dinner. This is a great place to meet a friend as well as have a business coffee or even a family meal, with friendly staff and a great choice of foods and wines.
Briki has kept to its original style from when it opened over two decades ago as a real nightlife hot-spot - and when I say hot, I’m referring mostly to all the flirting that goes on in the lively bar’s tight spaces. The narrow layout, with little nooks and crannies, low lighting, provocative photos on the walls, the singular, unisex toilet that means you’ll probably end up chatting to someone in the queue, the strong, well-mixed drinks and feel-good, boppy music make it an ideal spot for 20somethings to adventurous oldies.