As a teenager I could never understand why everyone was always so anxious to leave Athens in the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting away to an island or two for a few weeks but I always looked forward to getting back to the city, because I am a city girl through and through.
For me, Athens is wonderful in the summer, especially in August when the city dwellers take their leave of the city for their villages and summer breaks. The streets are less congested, downtown parking is a breeze, and music fills the streets from the open windows and balconies. But, by far, Athens’ best summer attraction is the outdoor cinemas which open their doors usually within the first week of June.
Every year I look forward to those fragrant nights among the jasmine bushes, stray cats and my favorite Hollywood stars under the moonlight with a cold beer in one hand and a box of popcorn in the other. Outdoor cinemas can be found in almost every neighborhood in Athens, and if there isn’t one in your neighborhood you can be sure that you will not have to travel far to find one.
Recently voted by CNN as the best outdoor cinema in the world the Cine Thiseio is perhaps the most famous of all outdoor cinemas in Athens for its magnificent view of the Parthenon. It is the oldest outdoor movie theater in Athens, built in 1935, and is usually open from April to October. It is a family owned business and during intermission the snack bar offers homemade pies and Tsipouro ( a distilled spirit which resembles Grappa) from the family village as well as other favorites such as hot dogs, popcorn and a large variety of soft drinks and cold beers.
So if you are in Athens during the summer don’t miss this super treat. Some of my favorites in central Athens are: Cine Athinaia in Kolonaki with the best cheese pies in the city, Cine Paris in Plaka with a superb view of the Acropolis, Cine Thiseio, Aigli in Zappeio with private viewing balconies and 5 star service, and Vox and Riviera in Exarcheia (lots of old city charm here).