5 Great Bookshop Cafes in Athens
Amanda Dardanis joins the slow living movement and retreats from the mad whirl at one of these comfy-cosy and welcoming book nooks where you can easily while away a morning or afternoon, lost in a world of words.
Poems & Crimes Art Bar
A quaint and chameleon-like literary den that evolves with the hour. Walk into Poems & Crimes, in buzzy Agias Irinis, in the morning and you’ll smell coffee and books (one of life’s great olfactory mergers!). At noon, you’ll encounter tempting aromas of home-made soups and oven-baked pies wafting from their kitchen. Hang about until the evening and the ground floor bookstore morphs into anything from a chilled jazz nook to a robust rebetiko space. As for the books? You’ll find a wide collection covering psychology and the arts, Greek and foreign titles, philosophy and more.
The graffiti-anointed courtyard in the pack is a real escapist gem with soothing potted palms and raised wooden floors. This historic multi-storeyed building is also HQ for Gavrilidis editions.
Agias Irinis 17, +30 210.322.8839, www.poemsandcrimes.gr
Looking out for us rather neglected bookworms in the southern suburbs are the wonderful Agis and Katerina who have united their mutual fetish for the written word to create this homey and cheerful hangout in Palaio Faliro. You’ll feel equally at home at Booktalks whether you’re flying solo or come with a crowd.
Enjoy a coffee and tasty morsel over a James Joyce or Karagatsis; settle in with your own current read or your laptop; or come to take part in the regular Reading Club that takes place in the cafe. With an inviting ambiance that transmits the “old neighbourhood” mood, this is one coffee date you’ll be in no hurry to wrap up.
Artemidos 47 & Agiou Alexandrou 58, Palaio Faliro, +30 210.980.2520, www.booktalks.gr
Free Thinking Zone
Are you a literal or a lateral thinker? Or more of a liberal thinker? All strains of brain will find much to enjoy at this unique bookshop concept that also functions as a coffee shop, bar and arts gallery.
Channeling the spirit of Plato’s Academy or the more modern-take intellectual salon, Free Thinking Zone hosts a broad spectrum of events and book presentations – across many current issues – each month. Go to join the discussion over a tea or coffee, meet new people, or spend a quiet afternoon browsing the permanent and periodic collection of fascinating publications.
Skoufa 64 & Grivaion, Kolonaki, +30 210.361.7461, visit their Facebook page to find details of various topical events.
Polis Art Café
You’ll feel more cerebral just by the mere act of walking into Polis Art Café. That’s because this studious space is located on the picturesque terrace of a landmark urban arcade devoted entirely to intellectual pursuits and the written word. The whimsically-named “Stoa Tou Vivlio” – or The Book Arcade – aspires to bear witness to the ideas of the past, present and future through books and cultural events (like the annual European Literary Walk).
This must-see arcade is housed in an airy retail complex built onto the back of the neoclassical Arsakeio Mansion, behind Panepistimiou Square (the annexe was once a cinema and a boarding school for girls). You’ll find bookstores with works from 60 publishing houses, both Greek and foreign press – and a tangible air of inquiry. Polis Art Cafe hosts regular book presentations, talks, musical events and exhibitions.
Pesmatzaglou 5, +30 210.324.9588, www.stoabibliou.gr
Those stylish purveyors of books, Ianos, have created a popular social hub in the elegant lobby space overhead their Stadiou Street branch, across from Panepistimiou.
Scholarly types and urban book lovers of all persuasions head there year-round to join in the vigorous intellectual life on offer; to peruse the micro-gallery’s latest art installation; or to make a start on their latest literary purchase over a drawn-out coffee or light meal. The speedy wifi also goes down well with students and regulars.
Stadiou 24, +30 210.321.7426, www.ianos.gr