So, you’ve made it to Athens and now want to think about leaving — as in, what souvenirs will you bring back home with you?
Recently, I embarked on the very same quest to find the perfect souvenir with a friend to remind her of her trip here. And let me tell you, if you are looking for hidden treasures, Athens is surely the place to find them. This city is filled with so much history and hidden gems are all around us.
The best thing about souvenirs in Athens is that finding the perfect one is an adventure in itself and can be as exciting as checking out all the sites. But knowing where to begin can be overwhelming — which is why were’ here to give you some #localsknow tips! (We can also take you around to some of our favourite shops on our Made In Athens shopping tour!)
Start your journey where my friend and I did, in Kotzia Square, where you can delve into the heart of Athens. On your way to the markets, you’ll pass by some of the local merchants who have stores that sell a wide variety of items. A good thing to note is that there are many stores here from which you can buy almost anything for EUR 1 to 5, which is good if you’re looking to buy gifts for a lot of people.
Because I didn’t want to look for the usual “touristy items,” we ventured down the following streets:
If you are looking for local products and food as gifts, then the open markets on Athinas Street are the perfect places to hunt! You’ll find everything from olives and olive oil to herbs, spices, and just about everything that’s Greek you could imagine. There are shops and food everywhere, and you can chat with local merchants and really get a sense for all the tradition that goes into producing these authentic Greek products.
Some delicious items to consider would be packaged olives (choose whichever is your favourite — they’re all amazing!), Greek herbs for making teas, or some fresh Greek honey. Greece is famous for its honey production and this will definitely be a “sweet” gift!
Now, keep in mind that if you are going to buy food or perishable souvenirs, always double-check the rules concerning your flight, and customs in your home country. You don’t want the customs officers enjoying your honey instead of your family and friends!
The market is also a great place to spend half a day just walking around, enjoying the atmosphere, and getting a feel for the local people and products. Most of these shops have been around since the 1920s.
The souvenirs that I liked the most are from a shop called Elixir Herbs and Spices. This is a neat store where you can find herbs and spices from all over Greece, as well as handmade soaps and other skin care items. The owner is very friendly and will talk to you about anything you would like to know. The handmade soaps are made from 100% natural Greek products and are made locally. You could also pair the soaps with a loofah, and why not give some donkey milk products a go, too, if you’re looking to feel like a real Cleopatra?
Good souvenirs to buy here: herbs and spices, olives, olive oils, natural skin care products, Greek honey.
Pandrossou Street is a souvenir heaven in Athens! It is located right off Monastiraki Square in the centre of the city. On this very crowded street, you’ll find a variety of vendors and merchants side-by-side that sell everything Greek.
What makes this street so amazing is the variety of items that are sold here. This is the place where you can buy the traditional Greek souvenirs like t-shirts with Greek logos, handbags, ceramic fridge magnets, and various products made from olive wood — and that isn’t even half of what they sell! Most of the stores are large, so you can walk around and browse through items and try things on. The vendors here won’t haggle you, and will instead let you browse at your own leisure while they tell you about the items in their stores.
If you’re after something more unusual, like my friend wanted, head to the Pegasus Music Store for a handmade traditional Greek instrument. The company was established in 1972 by Ioannis Chatziperoglou, who wanted to promote historic Greek artifacts. Take a look around his store and maybe you’ll leave with a bouzouki in tow!
Now, if a bouzouki is a little too much, I would suggest buying olive wood products. These handmade souvenirs can be used in your home or in a loved one’s home for many years to come. You can buy a variety of items from bowls to utensils, salt and pepper shakers, crosses, and other decorative items that can be placed throughout a home for you to remember your time in Athens. A gift that keeps on giving!
Good souvenirs to buy here: leather bags, worry beads (kompoloi), t-shirts, hats, accessories, traditional Greek musical instruments, and items crafted from olive wood.
If you are looking for more offbeat souvenirs, then this place is definitely the place for you. Just like Pandrossou Street, you can enter this market right from Monastiraki Square. This market does not disappoint when it comes to great souvenirs, and you can really find some hidden gems that you cannot find anywhere else — but you’ll find handmade jewellery, leather sandals, and classic souvenir shops, too. You can also buy local Greek art, which is beautiful and colourful, and a creative memento of your time here in Greece.
The Monastiraki Flea Market is a must-see for anyone visiting Athens, as it is filled with shops, food, and antique items. It is a great place to visit on Sundays because locals bring other items to sell, such as antique furniture, musical instruments, paintings, and all sorts of items dating back to the early 1900s. It’s a slice of Athens that takes you back in time and can be a great place to find a piece of history that you can take home with you.
Good souvenirs to buy here: antique items (rugs, paintings, older unique items), handmade sandals, and handmade gold and silver jewellery.
If you want something that’s more than a souvenir, perhaps something you can wear daily, then the fashion and jewellery options in the city will blow your mind.
Head to the well-hyped neighbourhood of Kolonaki for a shopping spree that you’ll never forget! My friend found the Best. Dress. Ever. at Vassilis Zoulias. This designer creates shoes, bags, and everything you can think of under the label ‘Vassilis Zoulias Old Athens.’
For amazing handcrafted jewellery, visit the neighbourhood of the Gods, Plaka. In a historic building you’ll find Olympico Jewellery. They manufacture modern, contemporary jewellery, as well as copies of ancient Greek jewellery that are both super-trendy and will appeal to any history buffs out there!
Have fun hunting for your little token of the city!