You might think that you will find huge markets in Athens with different shops and vendors that offer treasures and artifacts from the known Greek history. You will indeed find that, if you decide to venture into the most touristy areas in Athens.
However the city of Athens offers a vast variety of shops selling anything from low priced souvenirs to precious jewelry and authentic antiques. In most cases, prices in Greece are comparable to those of the EU countries but you should expect slightly higher prices in everyday goods. However, during the winter and summer sales in Athens you can find an array of goods at strongly reduced prices, especially when shopping for shoes and clothes.
You can find a variety of items from all over the country in the center of Athens. You can find leather items such as jackets, bags, sandals and other goods anywhere in downtown, as well as in the southern suburbs. The lovers of silver and gold can also find an impressive variety of items, choosing from items designed based on ancient and Byzantine patters, or buying copies silver and gold jewelry.
You can also find amazing pottery and ceramics to take back as souvenirs or as gifts to your friends. Another great gift idea is icons which are usually painted on wooden panels in the traditional Orthodox way.
Hand woven fabrics and carpets are a great choice as well, however, if you wish to remain classic and buy small copies of Greek statues in marble or plaster, you can find them in downtown or at the museums’ shops. In any case, though, do not leave Greece without buying something of Greek music to bring with you back.
Shopping in the center of Athens
Downtown Athens is now pedestrianized and streets are opened to shops and shoppers. If you know what you want, downtown Athens usually has it. There are street merchants all over selling cooking devices, clothes, bags, scarves and even watches.
Shops in downtown Athens try to make competition usually, so if you are looking for clothing shops you can go to a main district and look there. Usually there is a district for everything in Athens – you can find spices at Athina’s street or clothes at Ermou street.
Shopping in Kolonaki
Shopping in Kolonaki should be atop of the must do things in Athens, especially if you have a taste for fine things. In Kolonaki you will find some of the most posh designer shops from the international and Greek fashion scene. You will find some of the greatest designers offering their clothes and style suggestions.
Shopping in Ermou Street
Ermou Street is considered the women’s paradise, one of the best places for clothing shopping in Athens. Ermou street starts from Syntagma Square and culminates in Monastiraki Area. It is a convenient place to be because it is fully pedestrianized and offers a vast selection of mainstream and designers’ outlets and shops.
You will find all the goods you want in Ermou street, ranging from shoes, clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, gifts and everything that make this street a haven for shopping.
Shopping in Plaka
Plaka in Athens is the best place to shop for art and souvenirs. In Plaka you can find nice prints, modern paintings and numerous ancient artifacts in copies. There are also many jewelry vendors in Plaka, offering you fine species of the famous Greek gold jewelry. You can find fine Grecian art, nice prints and modern paintings. There are numerous leather shops where you will find original handmade products.
Plaka is a tourist area, so you should be careful when buying things, to ensure that you are buying an original and not mass produced items.
The Central Market in Athens
This place has to be one of the most important places to be when you are a tourist, but it’s also a great fun. The Central Market of Athens is a place to buy food and spices; there are two main inside corridors, one for meat and one for fish.
The fish market has many sea and river animals, while the meat market is also big with a vast selection of meats. You can also find vegetables, spices and fruits and nuts to bring back home. You can also find some of the most traditional Greek cheeses and baked goods in the nearby shops.
Shopping in Athens Malls and Department Stores
If you’re the type of shopper that likes huge malls and department stores, you have the chance to choose between some great and impressive malls in Athens.
The international trend towards shopping in large stores and malls was not very evident in Greece during the past few years, since the Greeks tend to hold on to their own way of shopping. However, things change and today the malls in Athens are truly amazing and will give you the chance to find anything you might want.
The Athens Mall is the largest mall in Athens, featuring more than 200 different stores for shopping, food and entertainment, changing the idea of shopping in Athens. Some of the most famous brands are found here, along with commercial food chains, and innovative cafés. There are also movie theaters, and recreational areas for the entire family.
The Athens Mall has a modern layout and architecture, offering a safe, convenient and fun shopping experience to the Athenians and their guests.
Attica is housed in downtown Athens, very close to Syntagma Square. It is housed in a historic building, combining elegance with modern aesthetics. it occupies an area of 25.000 square meters, 350 shops and 850 brand names, giving you the chance to find pretty much anything you might want. There are different sectors for men, women and children fashion, cafés and restaurants. Attica is a nice place to visit when strolling down Panepistimiou Street and is considered one of the most glamorous department stores in Athens…
Golden Hall is a relatively new shopping center in the Maroussi suburb in Athens, with its 41,000sqm in 3 levels. You can find 130 international and national brands, cafés and elegant restaurants. Golden Hall is one of your best choices for shopping in the northern suburbs of Athens.
Practical Information about Shopping in Athens
Credit cards: All the major and popular international credit cards are accepted in stores and boutique shops in Athens. You might have a hard time using them in kiosks or small neighborhood stores, but you should definitely double check before buying anything.
Opening hours for shops in Athens: Many shops in Athens are open from 9 am to 9 pm from Monday until Friday. On Saturday shops close at 3 pm usually, while on Sunday you will find open shops in Plaka and other tourist areas.
Sales in Athens: Winter sales in Greece run usually from mid January up to mid-February but you can find great offers all winter long. Summer sales run usually from mid July or early August till the end of August.
Local shopping culture: Greeks are known as big spenders and are great fans of famously branded items. They like accessories, sunglasses and mobile phones. They can shop endlessly when possible. You are in Athens, and this city loves to shop.
What to avoid when shopping for souvenirs in Athens
Shopping in Athens offers many delights, but it is important to be aware of what to avoid when shopping for souvenirs in Athens.
Shopping for Antiques in Athens
Authentic handmade ancient Greek Urns, any other items of this sort, should be accompanied with either a serial number claiming that it is a replica. Of course, the store may have a certificate explaining where the item was made and by whom.
Keep in mind that Museum shops provide great buys, on well crafted copies of ancient and Byzantine Greek art. You can find numerous souvenirs in various sizes and shapes, ranging from statues to ancient replicas of kitchen ware reproductions exhibited in many museums in Athens.
Buying jewelry in Athens
It is important to know what to avoid when shopping for souvenirs in Athens where jewelry is concerned. Athens is famous for its elaborate and glamorous world renowned jewelry stores. Window displays dazzle travelers, just at a glance and the best ones are found downtown at Voukourestiou street. The collections of jewelry existing in these stores and others found in Plaka, are inspired by Classical and archaeological sources.
What to look for when shopping for gold or silver jewelry in Athens, is to make sure a certificate of authenticity regarding the karats, accompanies your purchase. This way you can be sure to avoid any mishaps, such as paying for something that is not what it is said to be.
Vat and Tax-Free Shopping in Greece
Whenever you buy something in Greece, the FPA tax is always included in the price. This is about 23 per cent in Greece, and is equivalent to the VAT tax.
Travelers from outside the EU, staying less than three months, can claim this money back on purchases over a certain amount, from customs upon their departure.
Remember that you might be asked to show your receipts or goods bought, as a proof of purchase.