Traditional cafés, or kafenia, have been an essential feature of Athenian social life since the 1830s. Men still spend hours at their neighborhood kafenion, talking politics or playing backgammon with a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Though cappuccino culture and gentrification have driven many of these old-school establishments out of business, you’ll still find plenty of classic cafés in Athens.
Still a traditional Kafeneio can be found in every Greek town, village, island and city and it’s not just a place where you go to grab a coffee, it’s a way of living and a big part of daily Greek culture.
On every corner of Greece, from the most buzzing spot in town to the most remote mountainous village, Greeks will spend long hours at the Kafeneio catching up with friends and family.
The Kafeneio dates back many centuries and was a meeting place for card games, Tavli (backgammon), Greek coffee, Ouzo, Raki, Tsipouro, and needless to say, lots of debates and heated conversations. The Kafeneio was traditionally a place where men would gather and spend their time chatting, drinking and relaxing. Women of course were also welcome, however it was more common for men to hang out at the local Kafeneio.
These days, the traditional Kafeneio in Greece is being taken over by the Kafeteria (modern café) where you will find an equal amount of men and women of all ages enjoying the coffee culture, however the Kafeneio will always remain a part of Greek history and tradition.
Today, we take a look at some Kafeneia that still remain original and have been serving coffee for over 200 years.
The oldest café in Greece is 242 years old, located in Lafkos village, South Pelion, it is still open every day, serving locals and visitors alike.
The Panelinion Kafeneio in Amfissa, Delphi is more than just a place that serves coffee, it has become an institution in this part of town.
Plagia Kafeneio is found on Ikaria, the famous island where locals live a long, healthy life thanks to the organic produce and plenty of cups of coffee a day!
Kafeneio tou Mougou in Astypalia, is one of the eldest cafes in Greece, which remains in its original condition and is still open every night of the week.