If you like lingering over your coffee, Athens has something for everyone. All summer long, people of all ages spill from the city’s countless outdoor cafes, taking in some sunshine as they sip their freddos and frappes. When the temperature drops, though, the cafes become even more inviting. Here are some our favorites for enjoying a hot drink, some food or even a cocktail in good company, while cozying up next to a roaring fire.
Yiasemi is a familiar name for those looking for good coffee in the charming area of Plaka. Its fairylight-decked exterior, trailing jasmine vines and cozy interior give this place a magical feel no matter what time of year you visit. If you go there in the winter, you can enjoy some of their homemade desserts next to a blazing fireplace. Although it’s in the heart of the touristic district, this place is very popular with locals too, which is always a good sign. If you feel like something more than coffee and cake, have in mind that their salads are delicious, as is the pork with plums.
INFO | 23 Mnisikleous • Tel. (+30) 213.041.7937
2. To Kafeneio
This old-fashioned cafe with wooden interiors and adorably rustic lacy curtains doesn’t have a fireplace just to keep guest warm – they roast potatoes in the embers which are then served with Corfu-style butter and herbs. You can expect great traditional Greek coffee, but also ouzo, wine and meze, all while you chat next to their slowly burning fireplace. Their trademark dish is the meatballs in spicy red sauce, but you’ll also find yourself unable to put down the zucchini fritters, fried cheese drizzled with honey and their own panna cotta.
On sunny days, the chairs are set outside on the sidewalk in front.
INFO | 1 Epicharmou, Plaka • Tel. (+30) 210.324.6916
Named after the charming Athenian neighborhood above that resembles the Cyclades, this all-day establishment is actually located in Plaka, on the much-photographed stone steps of Mnisikleous. From the outside, it looks like any of the other cafe-restaurants in the area, but step inside and the secret is revealed – a large fireplace roaring from one wall in the salon. Their menu features typical Greek dishes, as well as selections of cold cuts and cheese, to be paired with wine either bottled or from the barrel. If you’re just stopping for a snack, try one of their desserts such as walnut cake, baklava and syrup sweets; they’re handmade by a local women’s cooperative and preservative-free. Anafiotika is a great place to warm your toes by the fire while sitting practically in the shadow of the Acropolis!
INFO | 24B Mnissikleous, Plaka • Tel. (+30) 210.324.4428
4. J Cocktail Bar
More winter-friendly than the downtown of Athens, the northern suburb of Kifissia boasts many cozy-and-warm places to have a sip or a bite. New York-styled J Cocktail, with its impressive, backlit bar, friendly staff, great cocktails and food, recently installed a fireplace too. An all-day hangout, this is the place to go in the northern suburbs for long chats with friends as you linger over their brunch, which they describe as something any visitor should try. From 8 pm until late the place switches to party mode, with regular live music events.
INFO | 6 Argiropoulou, Kifissia • Tel. (+30) 210.801.3896, Facebook: @Jcocktailbar
5. Aroma Plateias
Located just a 20-minute taxi ride from Syntagma, Nea Smyrni is one of the most lively “satellite municipalities” of Athens and its central square is bustling with activity day and night. A local institution is Aroma Plateias (scent of the square). Both trendy and cozy, its walls adorned with music memorabilia, this is a great place for coffee, drinks or a meal. Their fireplace is up and running for the winter, so head over to relax when the sun sets with a delicious cocktail accompanied with indie, britpop and rock sounds. Live music events are regularly held, so check out their Facebook page for more.
INFO | 19 Twenty-fifth Martiou • Tel. (+30) 210.935.7505, Facebook: @Music.Cafe.Food.Bar
If you are in the mood for something fancier, Zonar’s is your best bet. An Athenian institution since the late thirties and recently revamped, this grand venue serves food, coffee, desserts and drinks day and night and is a favorite hangout for anyone in search of some European sophistication in the heart of Athens. The desserts are presented on trolleys, with classical music playing in the afternoon. During the day, the curtains are open to inspire a sense of extroversion, while the lighting and music changes to reflect the passage of time. Come nightfall, the curtains are drawn to create a greater sense of privacy and a warm ambience. Get cozier still next to their fireplace, which crackles discreetly in a corner. Their cocktails are prepared by expert mixologists who will be able to tell you exactly what you should sip on while you curl up by the fire on these cold Athenian nights.
INFO | 9 Voukourestiou • Tel. (+30) 210.325.1430