One of the great joys of traveling is immersing yourself in the local culture. Wandering off the beaten track, getting away from the tourist traps and the glossy front, and really lose yourself in the country you’re visiting. There’s nothing like rubbing shoulders with the locals, eating at authentic restaurants, and truly embracing the genuine heart of the area, warts and all. One of the best ways to discover a new city or country is by embracing the local nightlife.
Sampling the local spirits, frequenting truly ‘local’ bars, and getting drunk as the townsfolk do is key to discovering the beating heart of any location, and Greece is a country where the nightlife is a tale of two halves. On the one hand, it’s renowned as the home of notorious ‘lads-on-tour’ party spots such as Faliraki and Malia. Here’s where you’ll find the footy teams on stag weekends, the hen nights with L-plates and devil-horns, and the matching printed ‘MALIA 2012’ t-shirts on display.
Yet beneath the obvious ‘Brits Abroad’ nightlife lies the authentic and original ‘Greek’ way to the party, and they definitely know how to have a good time. From major cities such as Athens right down to the smaller islands such as Rhodes, Kos, and Skopelos, if you know where to go, your backpacking holiday across Greece and her islands can be about so much more than just dodging the club reps on the Faliraki strip.
One of the most obvious ways to get up close and personal with the local drinking habits is by skipping the larger clubs and heading straight to the smaller and more authentic ‘bouzoukis’. These are lively and crowded places where the local young people come to meet and mix, and the atmosphere progresses from sedate village pub to rowdy speakeasy fairly quickly.
Although you don’t see too much plate-smashing these days, the Greeks still love a spot of dancing on tables before the night’s through. ‘Bouzoukias’ are located in almost every Greek town, so ask behind the front desk at your Rhodes hotels and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Heading to Greece’s capital of Athens, one would think that it would be even harder to avoid tourists and fellow backpackers, but there are just as many authentic Greek boozers here in the big city. Suggested venues include Stoa Athanaton in the Central Market, a great venue for live Greek music, and from there you can progress on to Lido Palace for some hot and frenzied dancing. As with the rest of the country, Athens has plenty of accommodation options and you’ll have no trouble finding hotels in Greece to stagger back to when the night’s through. But beware, this may not be until 4 or 5 in the morning, as the parties often last long into the night.