The shopping in Greece is some of the best in the world. The products are generally high quality and good value and there are lots of unique and interesting things to purchase. But working out which things to buy in Greece can be a bit overwhelming. This guide covers a huge range of things and something for everyone, whether it be a special treat or souvenir for you or a gift to take back home.
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Greek beauty products are really quite exceptional. They tend to be full of ingredients from nature such as oil, honey, and yogurt, feel wonderful to use, yield great results, and are fantastic value for money too.
There are 1200 plant species that are unique to Greece as well as rich micro-climates and unique conditions with volcanoes and the sea, so there is a huge depth of diversity to draw on. Add to that the intense regulation in the EU which bans 1400 ingredients compared to only 11 in the USA, and you can be sure the products you buy in Greece are some of the best in the world. Greece is the birthplace of Medicine and Homeopathy after all.
There are two brands that I particularly love and stock up on each visit.
Korres is the country’s most successful health and beauty brand and is now sold in over 20 countries. Started by a Pharmacist in Naxos the range now includes skincare, fragrance, and sunscreen and can be found across Greece in Pharmacies and Department stores everywhere. Their Golden Krocus Elixir and volumizing serum/moisturizer are divine!
The other fabulous brand is Apivita. The name means ‘the life of the bee’ in Latin and the products are all made from honey, pollen, royal jelly, and other products that come from Apiculture. Again, their products are found in Pharmacies and Department Stores across the country and they also have a fantastic five-story concept store in Athens.
Other brands worth checking out when in Greece include Kear, who do really beautiful organic balms, and Athena and Poseidon, a brand from the island of Kalymnos which do really lovely hair products including shampoos and masks.
The Greeks have been making jewelry since antiquity and it has been a respectable trade handed down through the generations.
You will find small artisan and jewelry shops all over the country and especially on the popular islands and the bigger cities. Even the smallest islands will likely have a jeweler, although he may also be the cobbler and watchmaker too.
There is a huge variety to choose from and a big variation in price points too. From small, inexpensive pendants with a Mati (evil eye) or Olive branch to the famous Santorini flower, where rings can cost in excess of $20,000, there is something for everyone.
If you are looking for a jeweler in Athens to perhaps make you a special piece then I recommend Adrian Jewelry in Plaka or LALAoUNIS in Kolonaki. I also have several pieces by Konstantino, an Athens-based jeweler who specializes in Byzantine-style pieces. He has several stores around the world and a stand at Athens Airport too.
Poniros Volcano Flower
Night Market Stall
Ano Syros Jewelry store
The Greeks invented the Kaftan so it stands to reason that they continue to master that style of clothing to this day with gorgeous and often very glamorous kaftans for sale on all the popular islands, many of which have evolved into other dress styles.
Fabrics in Greece are of a high standard and many garments are still made there. Greeks are stylish people who tend to dress fairly simply and the Greek designers are some of the best in the world. Of course, many of their designers have been copied and are often seen as cheaper versions in markets and chain stores, but it still pays to seek out unique local makers and garments.
Luxury labels that are considered some of the best include Devotion Twins, Karavan, Ancient Kallos, Zeus + Dione, and Pearl & Caviar.
Linen Clothing is particularly popular in Greece and is perfect in summer on hot, balmy days. Most men live in linen shirts and there are plenty of them found across the Aegean. There is a very successful brand called Haris Cotton that is stocked in many parts of the world and they have several shops in Athens and on some islands.
Like Kaftans sandals are something the Greeks have been making and wearing since ancient times.
Today they are still pretty obsessed with shoes of all kinds and have a huge number of shoe shops bursting with beautiful stock across the country.
Again the quality is good and the prices are reasonable.
You will also find old-school ‘sandal-makers’ on both the Mainland and many islands who will make you a custom pair of sandals that will fit you perfectly. Personally, I find them pretty uncomfortable as they are completely flat and have no arch but many people love to get a pair even just as a souvenir. In Athens look for Melissino Art – The Poet, who has become somewhat of an institution.
It won’t come as a surprise that accessories are everywhere and again are beautiful and great value. Scarves, hats, bags, hair clips, belts, and more are sure to find their way into your suitcase.
The evil eye is a popular motif of course as are things like donkeys, olive sprigs, and nautical patterns on the islands.
Sarongs and Turkish towels or larges scarves are also useful during your stay as both something to cover up or sit on at the beach as well as a cover-up to visit churches and monasteries.
Scarves & Bags
If you are a design tragic like me it’s hard to resist the wonderful homewares you’ll come across in Greece. Like their fashion, their interiors tend to be elegant and pared back with an emphasis on quality rather than trends.
There are so many excellent products to choose from. Handmade Turkish rugs, beautiful ceramics, and pottery ( several islands like Sifnos specialize in this), great quality linen bedding and napery, and products endemic to certain islands like the sea sponges and shells. Volcanic products are common in Santorini and Turkish towels and lacework are popular too.
You will often find local ladies selling handmade or embellished tablecloths, napkins, and pillowcases at local markets and stalls that are incredibly cheap given the work they put into them. The broderie-anglais curtains seen in the windows of island homes can also be found for sale as can lanterns, cushion covers, and decorative wall art.
Art is everywhere and can be modern-style posters right through to expensive one-off pieces by local artists. Galleries are common on islands like Hydra and Mykonos and in Athens and Thessaloniki.
I love you more than Luggage
Rugs & Homewares,
Gifts & Homewares,
Antiques and Bric-a-Brac
In Athens and Thessaloniki and some of the bigger islands like Crete and Rhodes there are some excellent markets and in particular flea markets.
The famous Monastiraki Flea Market in Athens is held each Sunday right next to the regular, permanent stall holders and is a treasure trove of old memorabilia, antiques, books, bric-a-brac, and more. You can easily spend hours rummaging through the vast array of goods on offer.
There are also many good antique stores in Athens including the Antique Centre and Lotus Gallery.
Food and Wine
Once you’ve tasted how fresh and delicious the food in Greece is – again home grown and with next to no processing or nasty intervention or modification, you will be desperate to bring some of it home with you.
Greece is the 3rd largest producer of olive oil but is considered to have the best quality as well. The oil, along with a largely plant-based diet, lots of incremental exercise, and a few other factors have meant that the Greeks are some of the longest-living people on the planet.
You will find the oil, and many oil-based products, for sale everywhere with a huge array of brands and packaging.
There are so many other food items too. Of course, you may not be able to take them all home but many can be consumed during your visit. We picked up some great wine in Momenvasia last year which was consumed on board our ship over the following week.
Other things you will find on offer everywhere include olives, honey, sweets and chocolates, jams and condiments, salt, herbs and spices, tea, coffee, pickles, and a huge array of wine and liqueurs.
If you are in Athens you must visit the Central market and the many specialty food stores around it as well as Ergon House, a modern agora ( market) and famous brand from Thessaloniki that also has an excellent hotel on top of it.
It’s great to see there is a new ‘Matika’ shop at the airport. Masticha is a product from the island of Chios that was originally used ( and much coveted) to make chewing gum and is now found in ice cream, toothpaste, and beauty products, and more and is a very popular digestif liqueur found across the country but especially in the Northern Aegean islands.
Of course, it is not always possible to take everything home with you but luckily there are a number of excellent websites that ship internationally, including food and wine.
When buying oil it’s important to always look for something that is sold in a dark bottle or tin and to store it that way too. Light is the enemy of oil!
If you can try and do an olive oil tasting. There is quite a lot to learn and a huge variation in flavor. Some are actually very spicy!
Premium Olive Oil
Rhodes Old Town
Tο Κελάρι (The Cellar)
Tourism is one of the primary industries of Greece so, of course, souvenirs are found almost everywhere.
There is a huge array of stock on offer – everything from the usual bottle openers, fridge magnets, and cheap Chinese-made bowls and trinkets to good quality T-Shirts, leather goods, home decor, and more. Many of the items mentioned in the categories above can of course also be souvenirs.
Almost everyone ends up with something with the Mati on it – the evil eye that is thought to ward off a curse or bad wishes. Wearing this in some form dates back to the 6th century BC! You will find it absolutely everywhere – in jewelry mostly but also on clothing, in home decor and even built into some buildings.
Another popular gift is Komboloi, the worry beads you see old Greek men carrying around and often flicking or ‘worrying’. There is a huge variety of these from cheap plastic ones to expensive handmade marble or precious stones. If you are visiting Nafplio be sure to pop into the small but interesting Komboloi Museum!
If you are visiting around Christmas time and tree ornament is also a great souvenir to take home. A Backgammon set is also a nice idea and a great gift.
People with a keen interest in music sometimes like to buy a Bouzoki or Baglama. Hard to get home on the plane but it can be done. Shoes with PomPoms, similar to those worn by the Evzones are commonly found and for children, there are entire outfits in Grecian style, some for adults too!
History and Mythology buffs will also find a lot of souvenirs like full-size replica Spartan helmets and breastplates, coins, statues, plates, and lots more.
I’m a big reader and love to pick up a few Greek books, especially cookbooks. If you are trying to master a few basics of the Greek language a children’s ABC type book can actually be quite helpful too!