The open air cinema is one of the sweetest and breeziest pleasures of the Athenian summer. Audiences can escape the noise and heat of urban life Sitting under the stars in a pretty, verdant courtyard, sipping a cold drink and entering a different world on the silver screen.
The 1960s and the 70s were the golden age of outdoor cinemas when Athens alone counted 542 establishments. No matter how many years have passed, and no matter the technological sophistication of the film on the screen, nights at the outdoor cinemas still smell of jasmine, are colored by bougainvillaea and taste like popcorn, iced beer or ice cream, depending on your preferences .
Aigli Zappiou was the first outdoor cinema to open in Athens in 1904. Before that, outdoor screenings were organized by the cafes on Syntagma Square and they all began with a news broadcast. Located in the Zappeion gardens, between the Zappeion Megaro and the National Gardens, the cinema has a style and grace unlike any other.
There are open-air cinemas all around the capital (and the country), but if you are in the center of Athens, Below are some of our all-time favorites:
One of Athens’ most popular open-air movie theaters is located by the Ancient Agora on Apostolou Pavlou Street and naturally attracts many tourists who wish to enjoy a movie with a view of the Parthenon. The cinema, which first opened in 1935, has appeared numerous times on lists of the best cinemas in the world in the foreign media, including CNN, BBC and Time Magazine.
In its 52nd year, this establishment continues to pleasantly surprise visitors with its verdant garden, hidden in the heart of the densely populated city center (on 46 Valtetsiou, in Exarcheia). Most of the films screened are European, hence they are often accompanied by subtitles in two languages. The prevailing genre is classic cinema although certain movies that are more “mainstream” are also shown.
This cinema at Kolonaki’s Dexameni square offers nostalgic charm. It screens modern blockbuster films as well as other new releases as well as favoring French cinema. Its location, next to Dexameni café-restaurant makes it an ideal place to visit for a typical date night with dinner and a movie.
Also in Kolonaki, you’ll find Cine Athinaia, with its pretty garden and a breezily chilled vibe, tucked away on a pedestrian part of Charistos St (number 50). The cinema, which opened in 1979, screens new releases as well as art films. Its canteen serves delicious cheese pies.
Located in Ano Petralona (36 Tron), Cine Zefyros is another one of the city’s most historical cinemas, having opened in 1938. The theater, with an exterior terracotta plastered in old movie posters, screens old, classic films – without having previously announced what will be playing that night! The cinema also presents performances of Greek “Karagiozis” shadow theater.
While located at a busy street junction (Alexandras Ave & Mavromichali St), this venue’s relaxed, plant-filled courtyard still helps audiences escape into the world of the silver screen. The movie theater screens modern films throughout the summer months.
The beautifully landscaped courtyard art the Greek Film Archive, (48 Iera Odos & 134-136 M. Alexandrou) boasts screening of quality films at affordable prices. The movie theater has also shown in past years a creative approach to cinema with events such as silent movie presentations accompanied by live DJ sets or live music and has held themed events and festivals.
At Anesis (literally translates to “comfort”), viewers can relax in cream-colored director’s chairs, as opposed to plastic or metal chairs normally seen in summer cinemas. A rooftop cinema, it also has a wooden deck flooring not seen in other cinemas. Located in Ambelokipi (14 Kifissias Avenue) its central location makes it a great starting point for a nice night out – especially if you order a cocktail sold at its bar. The cinema screens European and US film releases, including kids’ films.
Athens’ brand new summer cinema: Cine War Museum
A new summer cinema has just opened in Athens (2 Rizari). the new cinema, Cine War Museum has 220 seats and is fully accessible for the disabled. It has a parking lot, for which special rates are provided upon presentation of the cinema ticket. A welcome drink is included in the ticket, which costs 12 euros (7 euros for a reduced price) on the first days of the cinema’s opening.