When visiting Athens, souvenir shopping is part of the enjoyment of exploring the city and a great opportunity to bring souvenirs back home that will remind you of your Greek holiday. Souvenir shops are all around the historic center of Athens and you can find both beautiful and also tacky things to bring back home: from Acropolis miniatures to contemporary jewelry, artistic creations inspired by Greek folk art, leather shoes, bags, belts and anything that you can imagine. Here is a list of the top 5 souvenirs to bring back from Greece.
1. Buy stylish handmade leather sandals from Monastiraki
Maybe the most iconic and best thing to buy from Greece is the handmade leather sandals. Those sandals that are reminiscent of personalities from Ancient Greece are really cool and comfortable. While roaming around the historic center of Athens, especially in the tourist areas of Plaka and Monastiraki, you will pass by loads of shops. Find unique styles, colors and patterns that will accompany you during summertime. Visit Melissinos Sandal Shop located on Agias Theklas 2 in Monastiraki. It is very easy to find it, just off Ermou Street in Monastiraki Square. It is a nice little shop selling leather sandals, belts and bags since 1920. You can have a look at their website (see below) and check the wide variety of leather products that they offer.
2. Be protected wearing jewelry with the blue eye
Tradition in Greece believes that if you wear a blue eye on you, it will protect you from the evil eye. Evil eye is the belief when a person is affected by someone because of envy or just a glance. The world-known talisman of the blue eye is believed to protect the person who wears it. In Greece, you will find different variations of it, mostly in jewelry but in other forms as well. Shops in the Plaka area are full of the blue eye and you will find bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings. Check out jewelry shops; in the tourist shops you’ll find more versions of it: printed on t-shirts, bags etc. Prices vary according to the quality and style. In the Plaka area, the historic center of Athens, find the commercial streets Adrianou, Pandrosou and Iphestou and get lost in an amazing shopping spree. Little shops with Greek treasures are waiting to fulfill every taste. Pay a visit at the cute little shop Protasis located on Adrianou 136 and find affordable jewelry. If you have a more eclectic and expensive taste, visit the jewelry shop Nakas on Kydathinaion number 31.
3. Learn to play a komboloi and then buy one
Worry beads, komboloi, is a number of beads bound together on a string. Traditionally, Greek men used to have komboloi in their pockets to keep their hands busy. To play komboloi, you move the beads between your fingers, making noises as the beads turn around and hit together. Today, it is mostly used for decoration and as a souvenir reminiscent of the old times. There are various types of komboloi depending on the material and the size of beads. Usually, beads are made of amber or coral as these materials are better to handle than others such as metal or plastic. It is a really nice remnant of the Greek culture; you may see some old men in the villages still playing them. In the touristic area of Athens, mostly in Plaka, you will find shops selling various types of komboloi. Walk along Kydathinaion in Plaka, find Greko souvenir at number 16 and Nakas at number 31 and many more along your way. Admire the great variety of different types of komboloi and if you want a piece of the Greek tradition at your home, then definitely this is it!
4. Beauty products based on Greek olive oil and herbs
Organic products made by pure Greek herbs are a must when you visit Greece. You can find face creams, hand creams, shampoos, body lotions, lip balms and more cosmetics in big department stores and pharmacies in Athens. Search for the famous, great quality Greek brands Korres and Apivita. Visit Apivita Experience Store on Solonos street in Kolonaki. You will find a four floors where you can see, smell and try the company’s products. You can also find organic products at Forget Me Not shop located in the Plaka neighborhood, on 100 Adriannou.
5. Exquisite art at Benaki Museum and Cycladic Art Museum
If you are a fan of contemporary art, then you should not miss two of the best museum shops in Athens. Traditional souvenirs with a modern twist, beautiful paintings, bags, t-shirts and exquisite copies of Greek folk art are only a few things that you will find at those two museum shops. Benaki Museum and its shop are located at 138 Pireos, just a ten minute walk from the metro station Kerameikos. You can visit the museum shop without it being necessary to visit the museum. It is one of the best museum shops where you will see locals buying art to decorate their homes. On the other hand, Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art located at Neofytou Douka 4 in Kolonaki, just 6 minutes walking from Evangelismos metro station, offers more luxurious and traditional art. At its shop you will be amazed by the variety of the iconic Cycladic figures. Reproduction of Cycladic statues, ancient Greek jewelry replicas, handmade homewear, etc. all inspired by Greece’s history.
Souvenir shopping can keep memories alive
Buying a souvenir from a place you visit is a must! But when in Athens, you can buy more than a postcard or a magnet for your fridge. Greek history and culture are reflected in the Athenian souvenirs that make them unique and also useful. The areas of Monastiraki and Plaka are a heaven for tourist shopping and you can find famous leather sandals, the world-known protective blue eye, oil products, komboloi and much more. If you have a more modern taste, then you can find contemporary and luxurious art from famous artists at Benaki Museum shop and Goulandris Cycladic Museum shop.