Must-visit Flea and Food Markets in Athens
Athens is so much more than just a giant museum, with monuments and noteworthy archaeological sites for every taste scattered all around. It is the place where you can find everything you were looking for and do anything you’ve ever wanted. One thing, however, that should definitely come to mind when considering of what to do while in Athens is visiting its marketplaces, those traditional flea and food markets that do have a lot to show you from Athenians reality and everyday life.
As part of the city’s local society, the markets give you a glimpse into not only the touristic side of Athens, but also the reason why Athens remains an important commercial center over the years; a hub of commerce from the past to the present. Let us take you to a trip to the markets you must visit once in Athens!
1. Monastiraki flea market
Just as you exit the Monastiraki Metro station, you will find yourself only a few steps away from the local flea market, one of the most famous and busiest places of Athens. Here, you will find people coming and going, buying or simply swift browsing souvenirs and many, literally many, more. The variety here is infinite: you can buy from souvenirs, depictions of different monuments of Ancient Greece, to garments, extra virgin olive oil, organic products, accessories and leather products (shoes, bags and sandals). All you have to do is put on some comfy shoes, schedule a nice visit to the market and get on a never-ending shopping spree, because even the tinniest shop offers unlimited possibilities. What the shops of the Monastiraki flea market might lack in space, they balance it with endless quantities of products under sale. It’s definitely a not-miss!
Read also: Top Things To Do In Monastiraki, Athens
2. Piraeus flea market
If you find yourself wandering around the southern part of the city, reaching Piraeus just to see what the fuss is all about or planning to take the ferry in order to get to some island of the Aegean, then this is also your go-to place for some good ol’ shopping. Unlike the Monastiraki flea market, here you won’t find a plethora of shops, but a large number of merchandisers who showcase their treasures on the street for you to browse through and perhaps locate something you weren’t expecting. This is also a great opportunity for you to practice your bargaining abilities, giving you a taste of the literary meaning of a flea market. However, do plan accordingly, because this flea market is only open on Sundays, from morning until afternoon, so chances are that you should add that to your to-visit list, if you ever want to try your luck and look for some small treasure; a rather unconventional memory of your trip in Greece, if mainstream souvenirs aren’t your kind of style.
3. Varvakeios market
Well, not much is to be said here. If you consider yourself a food connoisseur, the Varvakeios market is where you can test your abilities. Located on Athinas street, the market is at the center of the city, quite near the Monastiraki Metro station. A great variety of good-quality products is what you will find here. Meats, fish, cheese, herbs, spices are only a few things sold in the market, all of which are brought in one place from all over Greece. If you are not sure for something, all you have to do is ask the merchandiser to have a small taste, in order to decide if this is what makes your palate go wow or if it only looks yummy. What you’ll love there, nevertheless, is the abundance of powerful aromas covering the whole place, from cinnamon and nutmeg to curry and all the different types of pepper. Let yourself be taken away in this traditional market!
Visit Varvakeios market and try the most delicious Greek food!
4. Antique market
Another must-visit while in Athens is its market of antiques found on Avissynias Square, only a few meters away from the Monastiraki Metro station. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, this is the place for those of you looking to find a piece of history hidden among the treasures sold in each shop, a piece of memory of the people that used to own them. Here you can find almost everything: old furniture, books, CDs, appliances, home decorations, garments, even electronic devices.
5. Thisseio street vendors
Right after exiting the Thisseio train station, you are welcomed by a picture-perfect scenery and the never-ending vibe of the local street vendors, selling all kinds of souvenirs and handmade jewelry and stuff along the street leading straight to the Acropolis and its museum. Here you can browse the “merchandise” vendor by vendor and find some unique stuff to bring home with you, while interacting with the locals, who might tell you one thing -or two- about the city and which out-of-the-ordinary place to visit that you won’t find it in the travel guides.
Make your own Greek souvenir and surprise your friends back home!
6. Local farmers’ markets
Another interesting attraction for those visiting Athens for the first time is the local farmers’ markets found all over Athens, depending on the day. There you can find fresh fruit and vegetables to pick from, accessories and other ornaments to put in your house. If you are into organic products, then you can visit one of the markets selling only organic fruit and vegetables, a list of which you may find here (Unfortunately, the websites available are only in Greek, but, if I were you, I would contact the administrators to provide me with some information - firstname.lastname@example.org).
7. Plaka’s market
Last but not least are the shops lined up one after the other on the small streets of Plaka area. The market offers you a great variety of souvenirs and accessories of all kinds, but even if you aren’t willing to buy anything, this is an ideal place to spend some time and explore this side of the city. Alongside the sites of archaeological and cultural importance, you will find anything from shoes, sandals, clothes and jewelry to postcards, ornaments and other souvenirs to remind you of your time in Athens.
Bonus: Kypseli’s municipal market
The market was renovated in 2016 by the Municipality of Athens, aiming to create a new hub for locals to come together and create, in order to promote development of the local region. The place was created as a meeting point for locals and a pole of attraction for the Athenians and tourists who come to visit the area. With this aim in mind, the Municipal Market of Kypseli is not just a market, but also a place for innovation and promotion of the local entrepreneurship.
Whatever you do, make sure to combine this excursion with a visit to some nearby tavern, where you will taste the local cuisine, restoring your energy from the endless buying experience. If you consider yourself a shopaholic, these are exactly the places you should include in your to-visit list. Just don’t overdo it, especially if you don’t have enough space in your suitcase! Better be safe than sorry…!
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Have you visited any of the markets above? Let us have your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Text: Spyros Balesias