One of my favorite summer – and autumn – evening activities in Athens is the outdoor cinema. Most Americans are familiar with our version, the drive-in theater – but in Athens you don’t need a car to enjoy the silver screen under the light of the silver moon.

An evening at the outdoor movies isn’t merely about what’s showing on the screen. For the Greeks, a trip to the cinema in summer is a family affair. Mom, dad, the kids, grandma and grandpa and maybe an aunt or uncle or two, some cousins … you get the picture. Some families pack a picnic, snacks or even mezedes and head to a park or square where outdoor cinemas screen mostly American films in English with subtitles. Occasionally you’ll find a theater with an early screening, usually a cartoon or child focused film. These will often be dubbed, so prepare yourself for missing the whole point of the film. Your kids, of course, won’t miss a thing – cartoons speak a universal language.

Here’s a list of outdoor cinemas in the downtown area of Athens (there are more than 50 outdoor movie theaters in the Athens area, the list below are the most central:

Thissio Cinema – Thissio – 7 Apostolou Pavlou Street, south side of the Acropolis
Tel 2103470980 (If you are bored with the movie, enjoy the view of the Acropolis)

Aegli cinema – In the Zappieo Gardens (between the National Gardens and Hadrien’s Arch/Temple of Zeus

Aphrodite cinema – Gazi- 7-9, Andronikou Street,
Tel 2103425890

Aleka – Zografos – 3rd Or. Taxiarchias Street
Tel 2107773608 (Garden with tables)

Athinaia Ericsson – Kolonaki – 20 Haritos Street,
Tel 2107215717 (Garden with tables)

Cine Pari – Plaka – 22 Kydathinaion Street,
Tel 2103222071 – Terrace with tables

Cine Psyrri – Psyrri – 40-44 Sarri Street
Tel 2103212476

Dexameni Cinema – Kolonaki – Dexamenis Sq. Across from the St George Lykavittos Hotel
Tel 2103623942

Elena Cinema – Ilisia – 47 Antifyllou Street (Hilton area)
Tel 2107789120 (Garden with tables)

Oasis Cinema – Pagrati – 7 Pratinou Street, Pagrati
Tel 2107244015 (Garden)

Palas Theater – Pagrati – 109 Ymittou
Tel 2107511868 (Early children shows often)

Riviera – Exarchia – 46 Valtetsiou Street
Tel 2103837716 (Garden with tables)

Zefyros – Thissio – 36 Troon Street
Tel 2103462677

For a complete list of outdoor cinemas and traditional year round movie theaters in Athens and the surrounding suburbs, visit the Athens Info Guide, and for current movie listings in English, searchable by movie title, neighborhood or theater visit ExPat Athens.

* A bit of an update on this since I recently went to a suburban summer cinema, one I had never been to before. Seems they’re starting to get North American movie theater saavy – hot dogs, nachos with doritos and something that resembles liquid cheese, along with a selection of imported beer and blue margaritas were available for purchase. I missed having a souvlaki and ice cream, but at least the truly Greek garden setting, AND the intermission, have not changed a bit.