Sure, Athens is known for its millennia-old history and rich culture (not to mention lust-worthy beaches), but have you ever dabbled in Athens shopping? If not, you’re missing out. And if you’re planning your first trip to the city, be sure you set aside some time for browsing the many markets, shops, and malls that anchor Greece’s capital. To get you started, we’ve assembled some of our favorites, organized by area. Ready, set, shop!
Athens Shopping on Ermou Street
A hop, skip, and a jump from the Acropolis in downtown Athens sits Ermou Street, a pedestrian-only stretch lined with the world’s top brands, including the likes of H&M and American Eagle. Keep an eye out for some Greek-only shops, though, as these are the ones you likely won’t find elsewhere. We particularly like POP-AIR, a chic Greek clothing store with styles that range from lounge-y/comfy to avant-garde; Migato, whose stylized shoes – especially open-toed shoes – scream “Mediterranean”; and THE BODY SHOP, where fragrances (fit for both men and women) abound.
Bonus: Right around the corner from Ermou Street is Monastiraki Flea Market, where vendors hawk everything from handmade t-shirts to Nike rip-offs and figurines made by monks. We recommend “window shopping” here as most of what you’ll find isn’t worth buying. Still, it’s great for people-watching and absorbing local culture.
If you get peckish as you continue your Athens shopping adventure, consider stopping into nearby Café Avissinia just a block off Ermou and picking up some Greek coffee and a pastry. That shopping does take it out of you, are we right?
Athens Shopping in Kolonaki
Right across from the National Garden sits Kolonaki, a square with a healthy mix of old and new retail – mixed in with galleries, churches, and museums. On the one hand, you have classics like Gucci and L’Occitane, but you also have Greek mainstays in the mix, including Nikos-Takis, our haute couture destination of choice; Mizuno Kolonaki sportswear aficiando (not Greek, but still tops); quirky/edgy jewelers SOULFETISH ATHENS; and wine-with-your-quaffing salon GEORGIOS DOUDESSIS HAIR.
If you’re wanting a bit of enculturation whilst spending those Euros, consider dropping by the African-inspired art gallery Elefetheria Tesliou or the ever-vibrant landscape showcase Gallery Skoufa. For a deeper dive in Greek history courtesy of a once-was art collector, check out the Benaki Museum across the street from the National Garden.
As always, make time for a meal – or at least a snack. Philos Athens on Solonos Street makes a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast with some rib-sticking delights (like the Red Velvet Pancakes) while Papdakis Restaurant, just a few blocks north, makes for an elevated Greek-ish lunch or dinner (the Grilled Octopus with truffle purée has us gushing for hours). For something to sate your sweet tooth, head to Portatif Café where everything from gooey cinnamon rolls to sesame-studded pastries fills glass cases.
Athens Shopping in Plaka
Not far from the lures of Kolonaki – just to the west of the National Garden, in fact – sits Plaka. This area seems to have suffered from wonky urban planning, what with meandering streets and oddly-shaped buildings, but that’s what gives it its charm. You’ll find more hotels here than in Kolonaki (we’d even consider staying here as the neighborhood is so close to all the downtown hotspots), but otherwise the retail mix is similar: tried-and-true international brands mingling with smaller Greek boutique, museums, and other points of cultural interest.
Plaka is fun to peruse in the late afternoon and evening given its energetic vibe, so we recommend beginning your visit with a beverage at Brettos Distillery. Here is where you will find classic Greek spirits – like the famed ouzo – alongside worldwide faves like brandy. Consider nabbing a bottle to enjoy in your hotel room or when you return stateside. To snag the coolest souvenir, we recommend heading next to Hercules where everything from marble chess sets to exquisitely carved bronze statues tempt. For accessories to go with all the fine fabrics you purchase in Kolonaki and on Ermou Street, stop by Athens Protasis – the site for jewelry that makes a statement without screaming “expensive.” If you’re keen to buy just one more pair of shoes (for that beach walk later), make a pitstop at Sandal Mania – their inventory is simple, but everything is well-made and classy. Like the Greeks.
Time to fill your belly? There are plenty of places in the heart of Plaka were you can stop but most are just so-so. Our go-to is a little to the west: the Cave of Acropolis. Yes, it’s a little cheesy and does get busy, but we love the vibe and the food is delicious. Lamb with fries? Yes. Pork Souvlaki? Yes. Walnut-studded baklava? Double yes.
Other shops worth visiting
While we wouldn’t necessary nod to whole other neighborhoods in Athens for shopping, there are a couple specific shops that are worth checking out. First is the Attica Department Store off Stadiou Street. Yes, it’s a department store, but it’s also the most fashionable one in Greece – and a one-stop-shop for just about anything you can think of. Second is the Golden Hall, several miles northeast of the city. This is billed as a shopping mall, but it’s earned nods for service and offerings – like a food court with a French brasserie and a chocolatier. Heck, go for the food if for nothing else.
Have you experienced Athens shopping yourself? Did we miss one of your favorite shops? Send us an email at email@example.com and let us know.