Another day another market to visit in Athens
Visiting flea markets in every city that I go to is one of my favorite activities! Luckily for me, Athens has some of the best markets I have seen and they are my go-to place for shopping. All flea markets have something special, maybe it is how vibrant the sellers are, the place that they are located in or the fact that they have become something of a ritual for weekly shopping. In any case, they are unique, they are colourful, they are beautiful and they are unforgettable for those that visit them! So, here comes a list of the must-visit markets in Athens; read it wisely and plan accordingly.
Thissio Flea Market in Athens
When you step out of the metro station in Thissio, the first thing you see, are countless small benches with hundreds of items upon them. Located in one of the most central and most visited spots of the capital, this market extends all over the pedestrian area of Thissio, starting from the metro station and going all the way up Apostolou Pavlou street. The hours depend on the season and on the day of the week. What can you shop for there? Antique items, amazing leather bags, unique handmade jewellery (which are the most numerous and if I can say so, the attraction for most of us) and gorgeous decorative stuff. A walk through the market is perfectly combined with a visit to the Thissio historic area, or a stop at one of the cafes or restaurants under the Acropolis and around Andrianou street. The centre of Athens is easily explored on foot and there are many monuments to discover when walking around.
Monastiraki Flea Market in Athens
Located in one of the most central parts of Athens, this one is hard to avoid! Although it is not technically a flea market, it has the essence of one. The street is called Ifaistou and here you can find literally everything. My personal favourite thing is handmade sandals and leather bags, which you can find in every size or style. Most of the sandals are designed in the ancient Greek style and you can even watch some of them being made on the spot, by local artisans. What could be a better souvenir to remember Greece by?
Apart from the above, you will find stores with, clothes (also in the ancient Greek style), stalls with antiques, ice-cream shops and street merchants selling books and paintings. A huge variety of cafés and restaurants are also scattered around the area. So, if ever you find yourself in Monastiraki, walk around its colourfull markets and get your souvenirs!
Laiki agora in Kallidromiou street
One of the best experiences, in order to live the Greek shopping reality, is to get yourself to a ‘laiki agora’. The term is translated in English as a farmer’s market. That is the place that we do our weekly fruits and vegetables’ shopping at. Every neighborhood has its own, where producers from nearby places go to sell their goods. The prices and the quality are much better than the food in the supermarket. If you want to taste the local products, which is highly recommended especially during the summer, go to a laiki agora. I suggest the one in Kallidromiou street in Exarcheia. The neighborhood has a troubled background and the countless graffiti adds to the urban vibe. Here you will find everything that you are searching for; nuts, herbs, fruits (dry and fresh), vegetables and household goods. Do your shopping in this flea market and you will have an unforgettable experience. Plus, in Exarcheia you can find really good restaurants and cafes!
Piraeus Flea Market
Every Sunday, behind the metro station, Piraeus flea market is open from (really!) early morning till late in the afternoon. The style might remind you of a bazaar in the Middle East; bargaining is totally acceptable and the crowd is huge (you might need to push someone to walk through!). What can you find there? Everything your heart desires! Clothes, books, household items, tools, electrical devices, cooking equipment, and even furniture! Before hopping on the ferry to your island holiday (Piraeus is the port of Athens) wander around this market.
A small square next to Ifaistou street in the Monastiraki area. During the weekends, an antique flea market occupies this square and extends from Ermou street all the way to the Thissio metro station. In this one you can find every antique item that you can think of; furniture, coins (the old Greek coin before euro, the ‘drachma’), vinyl records, jewelry, books, ornaments, etc. As you may remember by now, this neighborhood has plenty of options for food and drinks.
This is the main central market of Athens and a place that attracts both locals and tourists. Varvakeios is a meat fish and fresh produce market, open from Monday to Saturday from early morning till late in the evening. This is not the place for those unaccustomed to strong smells or the sight of suspended meat carcasses. Wearing closed shoes comes heavily recommended. People come here for their weekly shopping from all parts of Athens. The produce is fresh, the options countless (but most will have their favourite and most trusted stalls) and the atmosphere is hectic but lively. The rhythm of the everyday people of Athens can be observed here by anyone who wanders inside the bustling alleys. A small taverna called Epirus, operates inside the market that is famous for serving some of the best tripe soup in Athens. Do explore!
Even though it is not a typical flea market, the edge of this beautiful part of Athens has plenty of small boutiques which may be the best place to do your souvenir purchasing. Small, stylish stores, in which you can search for your perfect gift, are hidden in the tiny alleys. Art items and handmade painted postcards can be found along with clothes (a lot of which have the ancient Greek cut), shoes, bags, and jewels.
Schisto Flea Market
This time we go out of Athens. In Schisto, a suburb in the west of the capital, every Sunday morning, people from all over Athens and other cities too, gather in this enormous flea market. By enormous, I mean that some of the items on sale include second-hand cars and motorbikes, animals for farms (e.g. chickens), carpets, tools, and of course the most common clothes. A 3 km line of counters is spread next to the highway. Among all this stuff, quite often some collectors find rare treasures. In Schisto, bargaining is not only acceptable, but the usual way to complete a purchase. So, if you are heading on a road trip, make the stop and give yourself this experience! Last but not least, many wandering food sellers camp out every Sunday in Schisto, to provide the hungry crowds with street food.
Evripidou Street Market
A street in the heart of the city, with some really old and historical shops like Mpachar and Chatzigeorgiou. The main merchandise is everything that gets dried! Greek herbs like tea, chamomile, linden tea, mint and dry fruits such as mango, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, dates, plums and raisins. Try something that comes from Mt Olympus or Taigetos!
Another specialty to try is dairy products. In order to taste the traditional feta and kasseri cheese from Greek producers, pass by the grocery stores. Finally, if you want to experiment a little bit, try the salted fish like hake and herring.
Piraeus Central Market
Another version of Varvakeios for those who live in the southern suburbs. If you find yourself in the south of Athens and in need of some fresh food, do not hesitate to pay a visit to this market. In the port area of Piraeus, on Gounari street, the city’s central market offers a compilation of commodities from local producers. You can also find some imported goods. After having done your shopping, wander around and find yourself a small taverna (Greek restaurant). In this area, there are a lot of traditional ones; an ideal stop for a meze (Greek appetizer).
- These are just some of the markets in Athens we recommend you stop by during your next visit! Any other hidden gems you recommend?