People flock to Greece to view its ancient ruins and explore its beautiful islands, but it is also a great place to immerse yourself in some good, old-fashioned shopping.
The capital city of Athens literally bursts with quaint shopping districts and unique finds; visitors can easily get overwhelmed and find themselves buying an extra suitcase just to carry their fantastic purchases home. Follow this expert advice to make sure your family knows what to get and where to get it.
The quintessential shopping district for tourists in Athens, Plaka is the ancient neighborhood directly underneath the Acropolis. While wandering the narrow streets in the shadow of the Acropolis, you can easily imagine Socrates and Plato walking the same path centuries ago. The neighborhood is a maze of little shops, cafés and restaurants offering all types of Greek handicrafts. It is a great place to pick up all of the souvenirs you want to take home as gifts and memories. Feel free to bargain here, but, if a store’s prices are fixed, the shopkeepers will be sure to inform you.
A visit to Plaka at night is a must, as all of the shops stay open late and the streets come to life with live music and tantalizing smells wafting from the neighborhood tavernas. While walking the streets or sitting in a restaurant or café, make sure you take the time to look up and admire the up-close views of the Acropolis, lit up nightly in all its glory.
This neighborhood is a denser extension of Plaka with more of a street market vibe. The narrow lanes are crowded with locals and tourists at all times of day, making it necessary to guard your purses and wallets. Street performers can be seen nightly in Monastiraki Squar,e performing next to an ancient church with the Acropolis in the distance. If you are looking for something in particular, this is the place to find it, as long as you aren’t too worried about the product’s authenticity. Prices are low in Monastiraki and, as with Plaka, don’t be afraid to bargain.
This downtown Athens street is one of the trendiest shopping neighborhoods in town. Athenians are a fashion-conscious people and the stores keep up with all the latest styles. The shops on Ermou Street offer all the latest designs and are a great place to find fashionable clothing for the whole family. The best times to shop here are during the months of February, July and August when prices are drastically slashed to make room for spring and fall fashions.
While you can purchase absolutely anything your heart desires in this amazing city, some of the classic “must haves” are stylish leather sandals, ceramics and unique jewelry. Kids especially love the handmade toys Greece is famous for, such as intricately designed and decorated marionettes. Local delicacies such as loukoumi (commonly known as Turkish Delight), olive oil, honey and herbs such as fragrant oregano are also great finds and make great gifts for friends and loved ones back home.