The birthplace of democracy, the ancient land of Gods, and the forever land of resplendent light, Greece is all these and many more that will capture your heart in the blink of an eye. Its famed capital, Athens, is a place that many would like to visit thanks to its long, fascinating history, its eclectic architecture, and also to some of its coolest neighborhoods of the world that will blow your mind away. While wandering around the center, you will encounter heaps of local eateries and bars that serve absolutely gorgeous food and drinks, but also a great number of shops selling, literally, anything you might want to bring back home. So, have a look at the top 10 things to buy in Athens, Greece, to keep your memories alive and your friends happy!
1. Kumquat Liqueur
This splendid drink is quite a popular one in Greek houses, and very suitable for serving when friends pay a visit. This rather rare citrus fruit called kumquat (aka golden orange, in Chinese) grows in one single place in Greece since 1924, the island of Corfu. It is, therefore, a product of a protected geographical area. The tree is no taller than 2.5m (82 ft), and its fruit somewhat smaller than a mandarin, but a bit bitter in taste. That is exactly why it is ideal for jams, liqueur, and spoon sweets. It makes for a great gift to bring back home.
Store: Kerkiraika and greek products
Address: 12-14 Hatzikonstanti street, near metro station Panormou, Ambelokipoi, 11524
Price: About 10 EUR (12 USD) for 500ml
2. Greek honey
Honey has existed since the existence of people and it is actually the first sweetener in our diet, but also the most important sweetener in the so-called Mediterranean diet. Greek honey is considered one of the best kinds of honey in the world; a number of reasons are responsible for this. The variety of Greek flora, the dry-heat climate of the country, along with the unprocessed and unadulterated apiculture techniques, create honey of exceptional quality. Different varieties with distinct characteristics are produced in different areas in Greece.
Address: 40 Kallidromiou street, Exarcheia, 11473
Price: About 10 EUR (11.50 USD) 1kg
3. Bouzouki miniatures
One of the most representative musical instruments in Greece is undoubtedly the ‘bouzouki’. It became rather popular after the 1922 war in Minor Asia between Turkey and Greece when many immigrants were forced to relocate to Greece. Later on, it became a synonym of the rebetiko subculture, since it was the main instrument of this music genre. Bouzouki is certainly a beautiful present for someone who appreciates musical instruments from different countries, however, it might be difficult to carry. In that case, there is always the miniature version!
Store: The bouzouki shop
Adress: 31 Pandrossou street, Monastiraki
Price: starting from 8 EUR (9 USD)
4. Waks candles
Waks Limited and waks classic in autumn colors.Posted by Waks Candles Greece on Sunday, 17 September 2017
The Waks candles were first created in 2005 by award-winning designers in Greece. The elegant yet simple products beautifully decorate your home, either for more romantic and peaceful moments or more intense gatherings. The ingredients used for their preparation are fairly pure without any adulteration, while they are also environmentally friendly. The most exciting thing about them is the very slow burning (45 hours!) and also the diffuser version if you prefer the sticks. Their aroma is rather distinctive and clear, making it a perfect souvenir to bring back home.
Store: Forget me not
Address: 100 Adriannou St., Plaka, 10556
Price: Starting from 13 EUR (14.80 USD)
5. Flokati rugs
This very special greek rug was originally made in the Pindus mountains from the Vlachs, who used to make it to keep warm in the low temperatures. The original ones are made from 100% wool, although today they do produce synthetic ones as well, of lower quality. After traditionally weaving it on the loom, the rug has to be ‘beaten’ and washed down in cold water, so the yarns and knots bond well together. The original color of a flokati rug is off-white, but it can be dyed different colors, and nowadays it fits well in modern or even rustic settings.
Store: Dimitris Koniaris Carpet Center
Address: 35 Kifissias Avenue & Pentelis St. 35, Marousi, 15126
Price: Starting from 20 EUR (23 USD)
6. Kompoloi (worry beads)
Kompoloi as an object which dates back to ancient times when monks in Mount Athos used to make it in order to say their prayers to God. However, since the middle of the 20th century, it’s being used to symbolize the social status or simply for anxiolytic and fun purposes. Kompoloi is made with any types of beads, but most common is the amber or coral beads. It is also a very characteristic symbol of the greek laid-back mentality and can be seen widely in local cafes (‘kafeneia’) used predominantly by men.
Address: 9 Amerikis street, Kolonaki, 10672
Price: Starting from 9 EUR (10.20 USD)
7. Tavli (Greek backgammon)
An extremely popular game among youth and older people, tavli is quite a pleasant way to lazily kill your time while hanging out with your friends. People usually play it in cafes (and ‘kafeneia’ alike) alongside a cup of coffee, and it can last for hours if you are really into it. The backgammon set consists of a wooden frame with 30 checkers of two different colors and two dice, while in most games, winning a match depends both on luck and technique as well. Backgammon is one of the oldest living board games and it is used extensively in Greece and Cyprus.
Adress: 11 Ifaistou street, Monastiraki, 10555
Price: Starting from 35 EUR (40 USD)
8. Olive oil soap with mastc
Both olive oil and mastic are two very important Greek products known for their very beneficial properties. When combined, they can do miracles. For example, a soap made from pure olive oil and natural mastic is able to eliminate the dead cells and create new, healthy ones, while keeping the skin hydrated, without irritating the scarf-skin. It is ideal for every type of skin (body and face) and actually reveals a mastic aroma. Original mastic soaps last long, make lots of foam and don’t melt easily.
Olive oil soap with mastic
Address: 4 Fokionos & 41 Gounari St., Piraeus, 18531
Price: 1.95 EUR (2.20 USD)
9. Mati (evil eye) and local jewelry
If you wander around the small touristic streets in the center of Athens, you will certainly notice this blue bizarre talisman with the shape of an eye. According to the Greek folklore, it is used to protect the one who wears it from the evil eye and it is still believed by many in the country. It basically works like this: When someone gives you a bad glare due to jealousy, anger or even admiration, he actually sends you misfortune. However, if you have the mati, you counteract the look and send the evil thoughts back to the viewer. Mati comes in numerous types of jewelry.
Market: Monastiraki Flea Market
Price: From 4 EUR (5 USD)
10. Greek cheeses
Besides the world-famous feta cheese that is protected as a product with Designation of Origin, and connects the Mediterranean cuisine with the rest of the world, there are numerous other types of cheese produced in different places in Greece. Depending on the area that the cheese is made, it can be soft or hard, whitish or light yellowish, with or without casing, very or a little salty, while it is made of cow, sheep, or goat milk or a mix of these. You actually need to try a variety of them to realize which taste suits you better.
Market: Monastiraki Flea Market
Price: 8 EUR (9 USD) per kg
A heaven of memorabilia
If you ever decide to visit this sunny land, rest assured you will fill your bags and hearts with tons of memories from different corners of its capital, Athens. You can’t probably buy all of these souvenirs, but even a few of them will make for beautiful gifts or simply for your own home decoration. Don’t miss them!
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