I’m not going to lie. After over a year of COVID lockdowns, I thought that my days as the partying traveler were over. It had been a long time since I’d gone on a bender, and I started thinking I was content to have quieter, more relaxing traveling experiences. Ha, psych. Greece was the first country I visited after waiting out the pandemic in Mexico. After a few days recovering from jet lag, life came at me quick.
I went on a several week long bender that made me feel like I was back in my college days. Something about that Mediterranean sun and 5 euro bottles of ouzo, hey? God, even typing the word ouzo makes me feel a little hungover. If you’re looking to party, Greece is the place to do it.
Of course, it can be a little overwhelming choosing where exactly you’re going to party. Greece has over 6,000 islands. Of course, only a handful of those are actually inhabited, but even narrowing it down from those couple hundred can be difficult. That’s where ya boy, the partying traveler, comes in. Keep in mind that this is a travel blog, specifically, one that caters towards young backpackers. Our ideas of a good party might differ, but I think regardless, this list is a great starting point.
Let’s get down, let’s get down to business.
I left Mykonos with a grand total of three brain cells. It was a bender unlike any that I’ve gone on since my “study abroad” days of college. Each night, I told myself that I’d have a chill night. A few hours later, I’d end up at Tropicana. It didn’t help that ouzo was so cheap. The first time I drank ouzo was in Mykonos. I downed a small bottle, and thinking it wasn’t hitting, decided to go for another one. Next thing I knew, I was skinny dipping on the beach several hours later. I had no recollection of even being at the club where I apparently spent the last few hours.
Ouzo is a powerful thing that you don’t want to mess with. Until you see just how expensive it is to party in Mykonos. Get that bottle of ouzo to pregame, or pay twice as much per beer at the club? Ouzo it is. Mykonos is pricy, but damn, does it know how to party. If you want to come to Greece for a calm, cultural experience, honestly, skip Mykonos. There are better islands that will hurt your wallet far less.
For backpackers, Athens often serves as nothing more than an entry point in Greece. At best, backpackers will make their way up to the Parthenon and bounce. I spent a week in Athens, but most of the first few days were spent sleeping and recovering from jet lag. Thankfully, I was revived by the time the weekend rolled around. A friend linked me up with two of his local friends and we had ourselves a night at the poppin’ district of Psyrri. After a few charming days in the Insta-friendly neighborhood of Plaka, Psyrri was a wild and pleasant change. The energy here is electric. There are so many bars and clubs to choose from. You are bound to find something that fits your music taste and crowd. Hell, even just walk around with a beer taking it all in. That’s the way to do it.
As Greece’s capital and largest city, it’s no surprise that Athens has some of the country’s best nightlife. Don’t underestimate Athens as a party destination. It is poppin’ up here.
Crete is a huge island. It is the largest in Greece, and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. Granted, that means there will be somewhere on the island that knows how to party. Lucky for you, there are plenty. Malia Beach is notorious for its parties. It’s extremely popular among the Brits. Well, all of Crete is, but Malia especially. Heraklion is the capital and largest city of Crete, and has a buzzin’ nightlife scene as well. The nightlife here feels a lot less touristy, and you have a variety of options. However, most tourists will gloss over Heraklion in favor of Chania or Rethymno.
Rethymno is a lively city with a young crowd ready to party. Rethymno’s Riviera was surprisingly bougie. Some of the nicest bars and clubs in Crete can be found along Rethymno’s coastal strip. Rethymno edges Chania and Heraklion as my favorite nightlife spot on Crete. Chania has some great nightlife as well, but it definitely caters more towards tourist. I did end up at a crazy party in Chania though that lasted well into the morning and at its peak, had thousands of people. All this for an anniversary party? The Cretans know how to party. While I enjoyed Crete more for its natural beauty, beaches, and hiking, there is also plenty of partying to be found here.
Consider Ios a more budget-friendly Mykonos. The drinks are cheap, but the parties on Ios are every bit as wild. Ios is a popular destination for travelers on their gap years, so the crowd is significantly younger than elsewhere in the Cyclades. The prices reflect that, though. If you want to get drunk without blowing your entire travel budget, then Ios is a can’t-miss island. It’s really easy to get to from elsewhere in the Cyclades, so if you’re already in Paros or Mykonos or Santorini, then Ios can’t be missed. Stay at Francesco’s, meet a fun group of people, and then take on Ios’ insane nightlife together.
Corfu is an island that caters to many different types of travelers. It is a pretty big island, so it’s not hard to find your scene. But if you’re reading this, I know you’re here to party. Let’s start with where to stay. The Pink Palace Hostel is infamous for its wild parties. The stories I’ve heard from this place at its peak are… troublesome to say the least. Want to know what I mean by that? See for yourself. Apparently, the parties were so wild that they’ve actually been forced to tone it down. I unfortunately wasn’t able to make it to Pink Palace before they were forced to tone down, so the stories will remain stories for now. Their sister hostel, Corfu Beach Backpackers, is on the same property and is slightly cheaper, but has all the same amenities and wild parties.
However, that’s not to say that the parties aren’t still wild. The Pink Palace has a can’t-miss booze cruise, to go with a slew of other “social” activities for their guests. I mean, there’s literally a nightclub on the premises of this huge property. Of course, there is more to Corfu’s nightlife than just Pink Palace. Corfu Town is the main hub of this huge island, and if you want options for nightlife, it’ll be your best bet. However, Kavos to the south of Corfu will be where the best clubs and wildest parties are.
Like Ios, Zakynthos is a party destination that is popular among a younger crowd. Often called Zante for short, the party atmosphere here is absolutely electric. This island in the Ionian Island chain is known for its beaches, beauty, and bangin’ clubs. Explore Shipwreck Beach, check out some sea turtles, then catch a stunner of a sunset from the cliffs before kicking the night off. If you’re looking to party, then the best area to stay in would be Laganas. This is where you’ll find the epic beach parties that Zakynthos is notorious for. There aren’t many hostels in Zakynthos, so it’s better to roll up with a squad ready to party.
Santorini is better known as the island for honeymooners and romantics, but who says Santorini can’t party too? While the iconic sunset village of Oia is Santorini’s most famous spot, the cliffside town of Fira knows how to get down. This is where the nightlife of Santorini is centered. Go hit up a bar with a view to pregame for the night. The prices were surprisingly not too bad, and you can get cocktails for about 5-7 euros depending on the place. Sure, it’s still pricy, but it ain’t Mykonos pricy.
Once you’re nice and juiced up, hit up the bars and clubs of Fira. The party goes on pretty late, and most people will flock to Fira’s bar street from all over the island. Murphy’s and Highlander are popular spots to start off the night. Things will eventually get crazy and you’ll inevitably want to dance. Enigma is a poppin’ club, but most people will cap off their nights at Koo Club. Don’t limit yourself to these options, though. There are plenty of parties to be found in Fira. Make sure to pick a hostel in Fira so that your drunk walk home isn’t too bad.
And hey, I’m not one to disregard day drinking. On the black sand beach of Perivolos, you will find your pick of the litter of day clubs and beach bars to choose from. Whether you prefer partying during the day or dancing the night away, Santorini is not a party destination to be overlooked.
The island of Paros can be deceiving. During the day, it was quiet and charming. Once the sun set and the drinks started flowing, Paros became a different animal. The fun thing about Paros is that there really aren’t that many options for nightlife. That means everyone congregates at the same nightlife venues. Paroikia and Naoussa are the two towns where you’ll find the most options for nightlife. However, I recommend sticking around Paroikia. As a backpacker, you’ll probably stay at Paros Backpackers.
Most travelers stay here, about 10 minutes walk away from Paros’ main hub of Paroikia. At sunset, all the guests head up to the rooftop for drinks and golden hour views. Once George starts shutting the show down around 11, everyone heads for the bars together. It’s a straight up backpacker takeover, and in high season, you’ll often be rolling with a squad of at least 30-40 deep. You bring the party with you, so it doesn’t really matter where you end up.
In the Dodecanese chain of islands, Kos stands out as the liveliest and most bumpin’. There are a lot of bars and nightclubs suiting a variety of musical tastes and party styles. The party atmosphere in Kos is absolutely electric, especially during the summer. It’s a popular destination among young people looking to have a good time, and is definitely the party capital of the Dodecanese. The nightlife usually centers around the neighborhoods of Kos Town and Kardamena, where you’ll find most of the bars and clubs. Just take a stroll through Bar Street and you’ll find something that suits your taste.
Of course, don’t limit yourself to just these nine destinations. There are plenty more places to party all over Greece. You’ll always find a good party in the big cities, but I know most travelers visiting Greece are looking for some sun and sand to go along with their holiday so I stuck mostly to the islands this time.
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