Greece is well-known for its production of tasty and healthy products, as well as local souvenirs and handicrafts. Of course, like in every tourist country, the best places to buy good quality products are the small villages and islands. Nevertheless, Athens also has some places where you can find what you are looking for.
Carpets and rugs
The fluffy-looking and brightly colored flokati rugs have been part of Greek tradition for centuries. They were handmade by the Greek shepherds from the mountainous areas of central and northern Greece, to warm themselves and their families during the cold winters. The way of fabricating flokati is to take the wool from their sheep and goats and turn it into clothes and rugs. The actual main production areas are those around the town of Tripolis in the Peloponnese and the villages from around the towns of Trikala and Karditsa in Thessaly.
Carpets are also a part of Greek history and mythology. You will find a lot of references to the art of making carpets in the epics of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, like the carpet that Penelope was weaving while waiting for her husband Odysseus to come back from Troy. Today, the most important centers of hand-weaving are in Lefkada (Ionian), Anogia (Crete), and Metsovo (Epirus). The good rugs and carpets for which Greece is famous can be found in the district of Plaka where a large range of shops offer a great choice of hand-made, industrial carpets and flokati rugs.
Greece is the country of quality leather. Athens has some places where you can buy some good items at a wide range of prices. The city also offers a vast selection of shoes and bags. For expensive shoes and handbags, take a look at the boutiques of the Kolonaki district or on Ermou Street. The neighborhood of Psiri is mostly dedicated to leather and you will be able to find some nice and affordable handmade gloves, hats and handbags but only a few leather shoes (most of them are synthetic). For purchasing the famous Greek handmade sandals, heading to Plaka or Monastiraki is advisable.
In the Plaka district, you will be able to admire knotted carpets, embroidered cushion covers, woodwork and much more. You will also be able to buy some of the most amazing handicrafts. The flea market of Monastiraki is a place to discover great traditional handicrafts, too. Wander around the small streets around the local market and Athinas Avenue to discover some little shops with rare items and great things to buy.
If you like the sound of rebetiko, a music that comes from the Greek emigrants who lived in Smyrna Asia Minor, you should consider buying, or at least admire a bouzouki or any other of the many Greek traditional instruments. Plaka and Monastiraki are once again the places where you will be able to do that. Some shops specialize in handmade musical instruments and are worth a visit. They are mostly located in Stadiou Street and the district of Kolonaki.
You won't be able to find ancient Greek antiques to buy in Greece because it is illegal. The option would be to look for souvenir shops, where you can buy some imitations of ancient statues or pottery. Nevertheless, you still can discover some nice one or two-century-old antiques at the flea market in Monastiraki, in the district of Kolonaki, or at the market of Piraeus.
The famous jewelry stores, such as Ilias Lalaounis, Bvlgari and Kessaris, are located near Syntagma. You will also be able to buy some amazing jewelry in the other shops selling high-quality gold, which are concentrated on Stadiou Street and Voukourestiou Street. You will also have the option of buying reproductions of ancient Greek jewelry and ornaments in gold and silver in Museum shops such as the National Archaeological Museum outside the Acropolis, the Benaki Museum, or the Cycladic Art Museum. This type of jewelry will be a wonderful souvenir and, of course, an ornament. To find some more affordable silver jewelry you should look for the shops or the street vendors in Plaka and Monastiraki.
Food in Greece is a very important issue. It is well known for its high-quality products and unique taste. The coffee lovers should definitely experience the Greek coffee in one of the traditional kafenion in the center of Athens. To buy high-quality Greek coffee, try to find one of the coffee shops around Syntagma or near Athinas Avenue. The Central Market on Athinas Street will fill your senses with amazing colors and odors. There, you will find a delectable range of culinary delights such as sweets, plump olives, cheese, nuts, colorful spices, herbs, amber honey and bottles of the famous pure Greek olive oil.
Street vendors selling fresh or roasted nuts (pistachios, almonds, and walnuts) can be encountered at every corner of every street. Even though you should buy them in small specialized shops, you can, of course, find all of those products in the supermarkets.