Where are the hotspots for shopping in the capital of Greece? Discover the best local markets in Athens, where East meets West in a unique way.
Athens isn’t just famous for the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and its significant legacy of Ancient Greece.
It’s a city with many different faces.
It’s the only European capital where the East meets the West in such a distinctive manner, and this is vividly reflected in its colorful markets.
Here, you can shop for anything you can imagine.
Join me on a walk through the wonderful and diverse local markets in Athens.
From Ermou Street (the central pedestrian road for shopping in Athens) up to Monastiraki’s famous flea market, Plaka shopping area, and the central food market of Athens on Athinas Street.
Shopping in Athens local markets is a unique experience.
Ermou Street: The Athens Shopping Hotspot
Our journey through Athens’ local markets begins at Syntagma and the famous Ermou Street.
It’s the main commercial pedestrian road in Athens, full of shop windows on both sides.
Primarily, these are clothing and shoe stores.
Well-known chains (such as Zara, H&M, and Benetton) and various Greek and international mid-range brands offer options for all budgets.
Among them, you’ll also find some pricier shops, jewelers, opticians, and cosmetics stores.
Although we’ve just started our tour of the Athens local markets, note that on the small streets to the right and left of Ermou Street, you’ll find lovely cafes and wine bars for a quick break from shopping.
Of course, you always have the option to buy roasted chestnuts or corn (depending on the season) from the street vendors on Ermou Street.
I would definitely recommend this.
Descending Ermou Street from Syntagma towards Monastiraki, halfway there, you’ll see the beautiful church of Panagia Kapnikarea.
This is a small Byzantine church from the 11th century, built on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple.
Another unique feature of the Ermou Street market in Athens’ center is the various street musicians and jugglers.
Groups of musicians play foreign and Greek tunes, and magicians perform their tricks, adding a different color to your shopping experience.
And while Ermou Street resembles a typical commercial pedestrian road of a major European capital, as you approach Monastiraki Square, the scent of the East becomes increasingly intense.
Monastiraki Flea Market
Monastiraki Square is a melting pot of cultures.
Here, people of different races and nationalities come together, giving it a distinct multicultural identity.
During the Ottoman era, this was the center of Athens’ market.
Today, it remains the city’s largest flea market.
On the square, right in front of the metro exit, there are always some kiosks selling fruits.
Here, the scene is more reminiscent of Eastern bazaars.
Clothes, jackets, and bags hang from shop fronts next to shoes, sandals, hats, and souvenirs.
Outside the shops, people invite you to discover their merchandise.
T-shirts with various prints, soaps, leather goods, faux jewelry, miniatures of ancient statues…
Ifestou Street was once considered the hotspot for buying cheap shoes.
To some extent, it still is today if you’re willing to negotiate to lower the price.
However, don’t forget that the area is highly touristic.
It’s not a hidden bazaar with incredible deals.
An exception are the old record shops you’ll find on Ifestou Street.
Records of all kinds for every taste — NewWave, Gothic, Hip-hop, Jazz, Blues, Soul, and of course, Greek music at very good prices if you’re patient enough to look around.
The Famous Avissinias Square Flea Market
Continuing along the flea market on Ifestou Street, you’ll come across Avissinias Square.
Every Sunday, Athens’ grand bazaar, the so-called ‘Yousouroum’, is set up here.
It’s a large open-air market filled with antiques, furniture, paintings, decorative items, old books and toys, jewelry, musical instruments, second-hand clothes, and many, many more.
Around the square, you can find the regular antique shops, which are open all week.
But on Sundays, the bazaar takes on its true character.
According to history, the market got its name – ‘Yousouroum’ (a Turkish word) – from the antique dealer Elias Yousouroum, originally from Izmir.
After a sudden rain in the late 19th century, Yousouroum hung his clothes outside his shop to dry.
Passersby thought they were for sale and started to inquire about the prices.
This gave him the idea and started the story of the most famous Athens flea market.
Thissio Flea Market
Our walk through the Athens local markets continues with another open-air market, outside the Thissio train station.
At the beginning of the beautiful Apostolou Pavlou pedestrian street, a row of vendors set up their stalls, selling various handmade jewelry, decorative items, and souvenirs.
In the summer, you’ll find them there every day, with most gathering in the afternoon when people take their walks.
In the winter, Sunday is the best day for a complete experience.
Climb up the road, and soon you’ll see the Acropolis emerging before you.
This is a marvelous walk worth continuing even after the vendors’ stalls end.
And just like that, to your left, begins Athens’ most beautiful neighborhood: Plaka.
Shopping in Plaka
Known as the “neighborhood of the gods,” Plaka is famous for its small, picturesque alleys, low-rise houses harmoniously coexisting with old mansions, and dozens of ancient and more recent monuments.
It’s a chance for an unforgettable stroll and, why not, some shopping…
The main commercial street of Plaka is Adrianou Street.
Here, you can discover one of the most beautiful local markets in Athens.
The shops sell similar items to those in the Ifestou Street market, but the environment is much more refined here.
All the stores resemble fashion boutiques with the right decor.
Clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, traditional Greek products – all are priced for a tourist hotspot.
Descending Adrianou Street towards Monastiraki, just before Agora Square, it’s worth turning left onto Mnisikleous Street.
Ascending the stairs, you’ll find yourself in a beautiful, timeless neighborhood of Athens, Anafiotika.
Here, there are no stores for shopping, but you will find picturesque cafes for a wonderful brunch or lunch.
I recommend Yasemi.
If it’s summer, sit outside on the street steps and enjoy the glory of old Athens.
Walking in Athinas Street
Leaving Plaka behind, you return to Monastiraki Square and proceed to Athinas Street.
Here, the tranquility of Plaka gives way again to the bustling East.
People and cars come and go, horns make noise, and don’t make the mistake of thinking you can carelessly cross the street.
Various shops line both sides of the street, selling everything from clothes to tools, specialized equipment, or something to eat.
A colorful Athens market that buzzes with life.
Varvakios: The Athens Central Food Market
Walking along Athinas Street towards Omonoia, you reach the famous Varvakios Market: the Central Municipal Market of Athens, also known as Athens Food Market.
If you’re not accustomed to similar markets of the East, it’s truly an experience to discover it.
Operating since 1886, here you can find “everything, even bird’s milk,” as a Greek saying goes.
Fresh meats and fish, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, sausages and cold cuts, herbs and nuts, flours and pasta, legumes, honey, and sweets.
The Athens Food Market is divided into various parts.
Athens Meat Market
Entering the Meat Market – either from Evripidou Street or Athinas Street – you’ll find yourself facing all sorts of slaughtered animals hanging from hooks.
Whole lambs, chickens, turkeys, large pieces of pork and beef.
But also entrails, tongues, brains, and lungs.
Nothing goes to waste.
Visitors, mainly from Western Europe, gaze in horror at the chopped-off lamb heads in the baskets.
Some shout “Oh my God!”, others take photos.
No, the Athens Meat Market is definitely not a place for vegans.
The vendors won’t leave you in peace.
They all try to sell you their goods.
Athens Fish Market
A similar set up prevails at the neighboring Athens Fish Market.
Fresh fish from Greek seas alongside octopuses, shrimps, squids, and shellfish from every corner of Greece.
Don’t be surprised.
Yes, all these are considered delicacies in Greece.
Be careful not to slip, as the floor is wet from the melting ice on the counters.
The smell of fresh fish is more than intense.
It might not be particularly pleasant, but it’s worth experiencing.
Outside the Central Building
Around the Athens Food Market, on Athinas, Evripidou, and Sofokleous streets, you can find various small shops selling everything from eggs, cheeses, and cold cuts to herbs, nuts, olives, honey, and more.
All of them are traditional products from various corners of Greece.
An incredible variety of Greek cheeses, fresh butter, deli meats and sausages for every taste.
Dried fruits, nuts, and legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas) in sacks.
Honey, various sweets, and halvah (a traditional Greek vegan sweet with tahini, honey, and cocoa).
Every imaginable herb (thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, etc.).
On Evripidou Street, from the lower side of Athinas Street, you’ll find a spice paradise.
There’s nothing you might want that they don’t have.
After all, spices are an essential part of Eastern cuisines and, consequently, Greek cuisine as well.
Athens Fruit Flea Market
Across from the Athens Meat and Fish Markets, the Athens Fruit Flea Market begins.
Various vendors line up their counters with fresh fruits and vegetables to suit all tastes.
Apples, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, bananas alongside zucchinis, eggplants, tomatoes, green beans, depending on the season.
Here too, you’ll find nuts, olives, and halva.
If you’re hungry, in the Athens Food Market, you can find authentic small taverns where you can eat.
At Hasapika Central Market, you’ll enjoy fish soup and seafood pasta.
Patsas is a traditional Greek dish, a soup made from parts of lamb or beef stomach and feet.
Some love it, others despise it.
After completing your exploration of the Athens Food Market, you arrive at Omonoia Square, the second most central square after Syntagma Square.
Although several cool hotels have opened around it recently, Omonoia has yet to regain its former glory.
The scene is quite downgraded.
In both, you can find a wide variety of perfumes, cosmetics, men’s and women’s fashion, household linens, and home goods.
All bearing the signature of well-known brands and not particularly low prices.
On the top floor of Hondos Center, there is a cafe and self-service restaurant where you can eat and enjoy your coffee while admiring the unique view of the Acropolis.
Kolonaki Athens Market
And we conclude our shopping tour in Athens with the aristocratic neighborhood of Kolonaki.
Leaving Omonoia behind, walk along the central Panepistimiou Street, passing in front of the impressive building of the Old University of Athens.
Just before Syntagma, you’ll encounter perhaps the most famous shopping mall in Athens, Attica.
It follows the concept of Gallerie Lafayette in Paris and other luxury shopping centers in Europe.
A huge variety of brands (over 860) in clothing, shoes, cosmetics, home goods, and decor inside a building that covers an entire city block.
The building, also known as City Link, crosses a historic arcade, Stoa Spiromiliou, with a glass roof and interwar decor.
There, you’ll find modern cafe-bars, high-end jewelers, and tobacconists that require deep pockets.
Stores in Kolonaki, extending from City Link up towards Lycabettus Hill, follow a similar concept and aesthetic.
Well-known brands and high-fashion designers have their own boutiques here for shopping that require a full wallet.
Among them are beautiful cafes and bistros with equally high prices for a coffee or lunch break.
Kolonaki is the most expensive neighborhood in Athens.
But even if you’re not in a position or mood to shop, a walk in the area up to the central square is always pleasant.
More Ideas for Your Trip
For even more exciting ideas for your trip, check out our reviews of the best tours in Athens, including wine tastings and cooking classes.
Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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