Shopping in Athens
A break from history and culture
by…..shopping in Athens!
I love history. And I am finding it fascinating. I like to wander around the archaeological ruins, remains and sites. Buuut… whenever you need a break, you can go shoppiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Shopping in Athens downtown is very interesting and fun. Inasmuch it is divided in many areas according to your taste and most important……your budget. If you are a shopaholic’ then I can assure you that shopping in Athens will be a pa-ra-di-se on earth for you.
At the center of the Greek capital there is located Ermou street. It’s a 1,5 kilometer road that stars from Syntagma square and ends at Peiraeus street. In Greek: Οδός Ερμού, Odos Ermou, “Hermes Street”. It derives its name from Hermes, messenger of the gods of Mount Olympus and protector of trade. It ended up at some point to be among the world’s top 10 most expensive shopping retail streets around the globe, 14th in 2019 according to real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield, out of a unique global proprietary data set of 448 high street retail rents, which they rank the top shopping streets by their prime rental value. Now we are waiting to see what the list will reveal for 2020, since we are in the midst of the economic-covid19 crisis.**
Retail trade section
Ermou is connecting Kerameikos archaeological site with the Syntagma Square through Monastiraki, Psiri and Thiseio. Through Syntagma square to Monastiraki square it’s the pedestrian zone for the retail trade. Whilst the rest of the street belongs to the wholesale.
About halfway, you will meet the Byzantine Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea because it is one of the oldest churches in Athens from the 11th century. As a result it is lower than the street level, but with beautiful red roof and stoned.
On Ermou Street, you will find everything. Many international brand names and big commercial chain stores, like Gucci, Fendi, Salvatore Feragammo etc, while the rest of them are at Kolonaki district (1,2km & about 15min walking from Syntagma square). As well as Zara, Gap, Sephora, Marks&Spencer, H&M, Lee, Benetton, Mango, Puma etc. Additionally, you will find a large unique variety of local designers and brands.
There are many streets around Ermou if you do not want the famous brands and you are looking for something local and more budget-friendly. Over there you will shop like a local. The famous vibrant road branches off with many others less fuzzy and cheaper roads. Aiolou and Agiou Markou street are two of them. These two, they host cute little independent shops with Greek industry’s merchandise. Clothes, shoemakers, candle makers, rare books, hand-made jewelry, cosmetics and all the appropriate materials for your DIY projects. And always they are welcoming you with a big smile on their faces.
Monastiraki square where the train from the airport will disembark you.
Continuing your promenade to Ermou and at the end of the pedestrian section, you will soon reach Monastiraki square. At your left hand is located the flea market with many traditional souvenirs and memorabilia for your family and friends. Goddess’s Athena statues, T-shirts with Zeus, trifles, natural soaps with organic Greek olive oil. Moreover, do not forget the leather products such as bags-sandals-jackets, trinkets and handmade jewelry. As well as, there are many antiques-vintage stores in here where you can bargain your variety of findings. So far, so good about the shopping in Athens? Inasmuch you can buy there from second-hand books and furniture to Byzantine jewelry and vinal discs. (Fact: The flea market is open until 00:00 at night every day. And remains open on Saturdays and Sundays.). You can have a glimpse of Monastiraki square at your first day of arrival. Because, the blue line of metro from the airport of El.Venizelos it reaches here and you will disembark also.
Buuuuut, now (at the end of the pedestrian Ermou) -I propose- to turn right at Athinas street, opposite of Monastiraki square. At your right hand there is Athinas street and its branches, where you can find hardware stores, military-police clothes and souvenir shirts with funny memes. On Vissis street (one of these branches), you can find doorknobs and Voreou street is full of hats. Α little further you will meet Athinas 42nd where Varvakios Central Municipal Market is. Over there you will find fresh raw fish and raw meat, along with traditional Greek delicacies. You can taste many varieties of cheese, spices, vegetables and street food.
Psirri & Thissio
You are now above the Psirri/Psyrri area, one of the most vibrant up-coming neighborhood of Athens. It has this epithet, since there are many trendy diversity choices. Choose among bars, live music Greek tavernas, restaurants, cute little boutique hotels and many-many caaaaaaandy-sweeeeeeet shops (OMGGG!!! I believe that you already understood that I have a sweet tooth.). In addition, you will find handmade sandals and quaint/worry beads called “kompoloi”. It is made from real amber. The shops are scattered around the Iroon square. And of course you will see many-many theaters (fan fact: Athens has about 148 theatrical stages. Our tradition of theater dates back to the time of Athens’s first democracy. In short, there are more than the West End and Broadway combined.).
Continuing to Psirri and taking for granted that you are friend of music’ you will find many Greek instruments of bouzouki and baglama
at Nika street. The whole area has many street-art graffities on the outdoor walls. Even on the public services buildings, since the municipality is trying to modernize the area. Psirri was within the first 5 neighborhoods of Athens. The district considered sooooo historic that even Lord Byron was accommodated in here and wrote the poem “Maid of Athens”. The most famous Greek inhabitant of Psirri was Alexandros Papadiamantis, an influential Greek novelist, short-story writer and poet.
Going out the Psirri area you will cross over Ermou street. Over there you will be found at a picturesque stoned pedestrian’s road called Apostolou Pavlou. You are now at Thissio. You do not have to be terrified from all this walk. Thissio/Thisseio is only 2km from Syntagma square (about 22minutes walking). And 650m (8minutes) from Monastiraki square. Over there you can have a rest. Drinking a greek coffee/chocolate gazing at the rock of the Acropolis or shopping jewelry at the craftspeople. You can even eat cotton candy and hot chestnuts from the street vendors.
Plaka & Anafiotica
Start walking along the train tracks from Thissio to Monastiraki at Andrianou paved with cobblestones street. Lots of taverns, candy shops-ice cream and coffee places will amaze you. Reaching the remains of Hadrian’s Library from 132a.C. you will turn right and you will continue up to the ancient center of Athens. The ancient center, knowing as Plaka and up on the hill is the district of Anafiotica. Both these neighborhoods are located on the northeast side of the Acropolis rock. Both were built following the architecture of the islands of Cyclades with many steps. I am quite sure that you will be !dazzled! from the architecture and all these graphic little greek taverns. So, have fun exploring the streets and alleys of this unique area with taverns, jewelry and fur shops.
If you liked the walk at the above area, then read this article Basics 101 to find what else you can do except shopping.
Εscaping a little from the downtown center
Shopping in Athens is not only flea markets and local shops. So, considering that you are keen on luxury and haute couture, you could shop at Kolonaki neighborhood (only 1km from Syntagma square). Voukourestiou, Tsakalof, Valaoritou and Skoufa are the main streets. You can find Dior, Chanel, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney etc and many Greek’s high standard creations. (Fact: At Aristippou 1 you can embark at the funicular-cable car. This will lead you all the way up at the Lycabettus hill. Over there you will have a seamless view of the whole Athens and a refreshing orange juice at the restaurant. This will give you strength to continue walking around Athens.).
In contrast of the glamorous world of Kolonaki there is Exarcheia district. If you like vintage clothes, then you should definitely visit this region. 1,8km from Syntagma square or 1,5km from Kolonaki. You will find unlimited choices on clothes, bags and jeans in super-low prices. Ιf anything, you will cackle with all these hilariously naming shops (like skoros, which mean clothes moth and many more shops).
Are you a mall-person? Then you are looking for all the shops together. With food and cinema and games and coffee along. Without walking around the whole Athens under the hot greek sun. Xmm…Ι believe that you will not be disappointed. We have also some of them in here. Only 4 actually. The Mall Athens is located at Maroussi and the Athens Heart at Peiraeus street in Tavros. The Athens Metro Mall at Agios Dimitrios and the Attica at Panepistimiou 9 (300m from Syntagma square). All of them have access by metro/train.
Shopping to other areas in Athens
And of course, there are many other shopping areas inside Athens -not that far from the city center. Only 8stops from Syntagma square with the Tram is my favorite Omirou street and Agias Foteinis square at Nea Smyrni. You can shop at Zara, Sephora, Oysho etc or at local shops. Bonus: shopping in this area of Athens is done around the pedestrianized square without cars annoying you. And you can have a coffee, crepes, ice cream and souvlaki around the refreshing fountains of the square. Or else check Glyfada’s (North suburbs) and Kifissia’s (South suburbs) shopping areas.
At the end, I hope you will savor your shopping in Athens. Whatever direction you choose’ whether you’re into the high-end fashion or not. I strongly believe that you won’t regret it, since the majority of Greek sellers are welcoming and friendly.
Enjoy shopping in Athens!!!
*Travel tip: At the beginning of Ermou street departs the free shuttle bus to SNFCC (Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center). You can rest at the Opera House or read at the National Library. And you can express your energy by playing outdoor activities. The Labyrinth and the canoe kayak will be expecting you. All of them around the canal with the dancing fountains and other attractions.
**Fact: Ermou Street is twinned with the Okurayama Street in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan since August 1st of 1988.
*At the above photo, you can see the section of Ermou street near Syntagma square and the Greek parliament at the background.
Ohh, and do not forget to check out more energetic activities at: Activities for families with children ….. or without!