Shopping in Athens - A Detailed Guide on Shopping in the Greek Capital

Vibrant, hip, unmatched, and full of culture. Street shopping in Athens is a ritual on its own. With countless big and small flea markets scattered throughout the city, it will be a surprise if you return empty-handed without stumbling upon some Greek gem. Here is a guide on shopping like a local in these markets and returning with a bag full of perfect memorabilia. 

1. Athens Central Market

athens central market

Popularly called Varvakeios Agora by the locals, the Central Market of Athens houses the biggest collection of local fresh produce under a single roof. Lying on Athinas Street toward Omonia Square, this farmer's market has captured the eyes of vendors, restaurant owners, residents, and tourists alike. It is the one-stop destination for everything one needs to complete a Greek kitchen. Covered by a glass roof, it is one of the oldest markets in Athens, dating back to early 1886. The market is spread across the street and can be divided into three sections. The first is the fish market, where recent captures from the Aegean sea and imported varieties are brought fresh early every morning. Next comes the meat market, where you will find the splendid sujuk, obtained from beef or lamb, and the savoury pastourma, a delicacy prepared using goat or beef meat covered in cumin paste and spices. Lastly, the fruits and vegetable market, where you will come across many products like herbs, spices, feta cheese, olives, nuts, and seeds, to name a few. For a quick break, you can hop into the taverns and grab a cup of classic Greek coffee, a traditional coffee brewed in Hovoli on hot sand. 

Location: Athinas, Athens 105 51, Greece
Timings: Monday to Saturday from 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Closed on Sunday
Must Buy: dried figs from Smyrna, olives, pickled skoumbri, pistachios from Aegina

2. Monastiraki Square

shopping in Athens

Near Ermou Street, towards the end of Pandrossou Street, you will stumble upon a lively scene of a rainbow of products displayed across countless stalls. This is the iconic flea market of Monastiraki Square. Perfect place to absorb the culture, crowd, and energy of the city. It is a flea market in the true sense, especially on Sundays, when you can stumble upon fascinating artworks among piles of Greek treasures. So yes, as an exception to the other markets of Athens, this place is open on Sundays. You will come across all kinds of stuff here, each making a unique, fun souvenir for your trip. There is handmade jewelry, bohemian accessories, miniature replicas of famous artefacts and monuments, traditional worry beads, ancient bottle openers, and even icons painted by monks. The challenge is to spot fakes from authentic ones. Broad alleys with graffiti on walls and the ruins of the Acropolis visible in the distance provide the perfect background for Instagram pictures.    

Location: Ifestou 2, Athina 105 55, Greece
Timings: Every Day from 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Must Buy: vinyl records, handmade gold and silver jewellery, products made from olive oil

3. Ermou Street

ermou street

From Syntagma Square stretches a pedestrian street lined with cobblestones. With renowned brand stores and legendary local shops scattered on both sides, this 1.5 km stretch of shopper's paradise is called the Ermou Street market. It reminds one of a typical high-end street market, where you go to purchase quality products. Stores of all the big names are present here. Sephora, H&M, Zara, Mac, Flying Tiger, Marks and Spencer, Benetton, if you can name it, you will find it here. The local favorites are scattered between these commercial outlets selling some of the best Greek souvenirs. An interesting visit to get a taste of the local scene is Fokas, a Greek departmental store. The highlight of this street, however, is the picturesque Kapnikareas Church. Right towards the end, in the alleys winding next to it, you will also come across various taverns and bars. Even if you don't intend to shop, this street is worth taking a refreshing stroll and enjoying the performances by talented musicians and dancers. 

Location: Ermou Street, Athens 144 52, Greece
Timings: Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Some shops are closed on Sunday
Must Buy: Shoes and leather jackets from Spiliopoulos, cosmetics from Hondos Centre

4. Avissinias Square

sopping in Athens

An extended part of the Monastiraki flea market specializing in antiques is the market at Avissinias Square. It can be reached via Ermou Street by walking south or Hephaestus street by walking north. Stalls here are mainly set up by villagers, localities, and gypsies. The bohemian setting of this place is highlighted by the rustic and colorful vintages cluttering the table counters. Antiques from all periods can be found here. Be it vinyl records, jewelry, coins, stamps, cards, fancy trinkets, decorative pieces, or even graceful furniture, there is no end to what you can find in the piles displayed at each stall. Though, due to the endless options, you might have to look around the scrap for some time before finding the priceless gems. All this is available at thrifty prices. Just remember to bargain to get the best deals. It is particularly crowded on Sundays, so exploring the narrow street might become difficult. Remember to stop by Cafe Avissinias for a quick brunch. 

Location: Pl. Avissinias 10, Athina 105 55, Greece
Timings: Open 24 hours every day
Must Buy: Stamps, traditional ornaments, old Greek coins

5. Kolonaki District 

kolonaki Athens

Another destination for luxury street shopping, like Ermou Street, is the neighborhood of Kolonaki. A stroll away from Omonia Square, it is nestled close to Lycabettus hill. It is an affluent district, so everything, from its shops and bars to its cafes and restaurants, is upscale. It is the abode of high-end labels, international brands, and rising Greek designers. Hence, though the boutique merchandise will burn a hole in your pocket, you will get comparatively good deals on first copies and second-hand items from luxury brands like Hermes, Chanel, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Stella McCartney to name a few. The shops are the contemporary part of this tranquil neighborhood. Its other side, the historical side, comprises grand museums and art galleries. On Fridays, the street transforms into a farmer's market. From 7 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon, it will be swamped with vendors selling freshly produced fruits and vegetables alongside fish, honey, flowers, and handmade delicacies.  

Location: Kolonaki, Athens 115 21, Greece
Timings: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM, Closed on Sunday
Must Buy: Second-hand luxury brand collection from Preloved

6. Shopping Malls in Athens

shopping in Athens

If you get exhausted from wandering around the street markets and simply wish to shop without tiring your legs out, you can head out to one of the opulent malls in the city and complete your shopping spree. A piece of good advice will be to begin at The Mall Athens in Marousi. The largest shopping center in the city, so it's the complete package. Spread across four levels, it has numerous international and emerging Greek brand outlets, a bowling alley, an arcade, big screen theatres, food courts, and Athen's one and only Lego Play Factory. Next on the list is the outdoor mall of McArthur Glen, the perfect place to get the best prices on luxurious brands like Versace. Another hot favorite is Athens Metro Mall. It is located next to Agios Dimitrios metro station and houses over 80 commercial shops, including brands like Zara Home, Toi et Moi, Oysho, and a grand footwear store called Tsakiris Mallas.

If you think this is where the list ends, you are wrong. There is a flea market in Piraeus that is held every Sunday. You can explore the alleys of Plaka, where you will find cute little shops selling hand-painted bags and postcards. Then there is the food market on Evripidou Street, where you will find dried fruits and herbs. What other agoras did you find worth exploring? Drop a comment below!

This post was published by Sonali Garg

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