We enjoyed walking around in the Plaka area of Athens in the evenings. I did my souvenir shopping during this time. I always try to pick up something that my friends, family and coworkers would really like to have. So, I bought several bottle openers and Mati charms. Since, the owners of where I work are Greek, they appreciated getting the Mati charms. The Greek Orthodox priest would bless them and these are then kept in their homes to ward off the "Evil Eye". Some other items we saw where hand made instruments and lots of clothes.
I found this to be very humorous. So, I couldn't resist taking a picture. And no, I did not buy any! The bottles were designed to represent the ancient, historical depictions represented on Greek artifacts.
What to pay: I don't remember the price
No trip to Athens is complete without a visit to the Plaka. The location unfortunately has become very tourist oriented over the last 50 years but such is "progress." Instead of reproductions of ancient artifacts, tourists of today are deluged with everything from the preverbial "t-shirt factory" to local crafts.
What to pay: Prices are all over the place, but typically higher than if you do a bit of searching for the same items.
Greek Fashion Designer Ioanna Kourbella has a unique modern style with obvious respect to greek culture and creates multi-functional clothes to embrace different feelings, expressions and moods and accompany our busy lives
What to buy: The most unique, top-seller, top-loved, multi-functional and ultimate greek-style piece is this cardigan:
What to pay: Rather expensive but with special on-line offers, very good sales/promotions on past collections
Plaka is a hotspot for shopping and people watching at night in Athens. Vendors set up blankets in the middle of the avenue and lay out their offerings of fake designer purses, belts, wallets, watches and so on and so forth. Lots of souvenir and specialty shops are in the area as well. Street performers are often occassioned on as well. I really enjoy walking through the streets and doing some shopping, however you must questions the quality of some of the items and always just assume that designer items are counterfeit if sold by an unofficial store.
i like wandering around this area. it is rich of the folk experience with a touristy touch
What to buy: art crafts, paintings by local artists, greek souviners and clothing, music and what you need to get away with you from athens.
some vendors can be picky and stubborn but others are open to negotiation and bargaining. always try that.
What to pay: everything here is about the average
i bought a very good darbouka drum, about €15. there were shops that offered them at a much higher price of €65. you got to be careful about that and keep looking and comparing prices.
This AMAZING shop sells very fine jewelry, as well as silverworks, and gold emamelled items (almost anything you can think of... goblets, decanter/wine sets, perfume bottles, etc, etc). The manager of the store is a lovely gentleman by the name of Nikos, who we even keep in contact with now that we are back home.
What to pay: The product is amazing, but be prepared to spend a bit of money. But it is well worth it.
This shop is run by the nicest guy named Theo and his cousin. His items are very high quality and very reasonably priced for what they are. On our honeymoon we bought five carpets, five tapestries, and a table cloth and seat cover set from them. He even shipped everything to our house in Canada via UPS, and obsorbed the costs of same.
What to buy: The Loom has all sizes of silk carpets, as well as table cloths, seat covers, pillow covers, pillows, and wall tapestries.
What can I say! I loved PLAKA. I know it's touristy! I found the narrow, crowded streets so wonderful. I loved looking at the shops there. You could just about find anything you want - quality traditional Greek Art, prints, paintings & Icons. Leather items like purses, wallets, belts. Souvenirs - I like buying calendars - useful & so pretty with local scenes on them. Jewellery, earrings - got a kick out of the tacky "Evil Eye" jewellery - they were everywhere and cheap. T-shirts "It's all Greek to me" hehe! Food items - bottles of Ouzo, jars of yummy honey, olive oil. Woohoo!
What to pay: Haggle - don't always pay the asking price especially for more expensive items
This is a little shop with some really great items. I love to cook, plus I make all my own salad dressings, so this was like heaven to me. Lots of olive oil seasoned with a variety of fresh herbs, and balsamic vinegars also seasoned with a variety of spices. You could also get them plain. There were also some bath type products, and wines (I think). I just got lost looking at all the neat ideas for vinaigrettes that I lost track of the other things in the shop.
Nice helpful staff/owners as well.
What to buy: The Oils and vinegars were very tasty, most of the other travelling with us brought back ouzo, but mostly the Plaka turned out to be a wonderful place to window shop. I've heard of people being hustled, but we really didn't have a great problem with that. A bit, but nothing we couldn't manage. Lots of shopkeepers where very welcoming when they noticed our Canadian flags. We always travel with Canadian flag pins and Nova Scotia flag pins. We give them out to anyone who seems interested in a gift from our part of the world.
What to pay: Prices varied widely depending on the size and quality. This shop is not cheap, but neither is it a rip off. Some things were as low as 2-4 Euro. Nice salad ingredients were 8-10 Euro.
Athens and even the whole country is plenty of art shops offering reproductions of ancient masterworks or new pieces based on the classic hellenic style, but as you will see mostly of them are of low quality or not too "artistic".
The Athens Gallery should be included on the High Quality and Good Taste side, excellent reproductions, original masterworks, jobs of modern greek artists and beautiful paintings are exposed making the choice a hard task. Of course, it isn't cheap, but don't expect low prices if you're looking for quality and true arts.
What to buy: In Athens you can buy a wide range of things, from clothes, antiques, IIWW trash, reproductions, etc.
But I blow off with the sculptures of the precicladic and hellenic eras. Of course I do appreciate too the modern greek art. In 2001 I bought an incredible bronze marble original sculpture at The Athens Gallery. This piece was created by a popular greek sculptor (He does live yet, I should look for his name among my old papers), a pic of this ethereal piece coming soon.
What to pay: I've payed u$s 300 for the sculpture, there are less expensive things, or even if you want spend u$s 5.000 or u$s 20.000.... well, get the money buddy!
If you want to buy a few gifts for friends and family at home or a souvenir for yourself, Plaka is the place to be. You will find a lot of shops that sell the same things and you can compare prices but you will find they do not differ much.
There are a lot of vases, statues etc you can buy and you will find that the price of exact copies of the original are more expensive. These always come with a certificate. There also is a price difference in handmade or factory made pottery.
What to buy: Apart from a few knick-knacks you want to put in your living room to show off to your friends, you may want to consider buying a good photo book on Athens. It always is nice to read up afterwards on the history of the things you have seen. These book are available all over Plaka in different languages. Some (internet) research before you visit the home town of the Greek Gods, can't hurt either. The very best souvenirs one can bring home however, are good memories.
The Plaka was my favorite section in Athens (aside from the various ruins). It reminded me a little of the East Village in NYC. It has a lot of cute little restaurants with outside seating, and many cafes. There was also a lot of opportunity to shop here and you can get some good deals on leather items such as purses, jackets and wallets and art work.
What to buy: I was told that when in Greece, you should shop for leather. Not sure if that's true or not, but I ended up buying a couple of purses, and my husband bought a wallet (to fit the EU bills in because they don't really fit in American wallets). Jewelry stores abound in Athens, as well as the other places we visted, so I'd say that jewelry is also a hot item to purchase. I got a necklace and matching earrings made from authentic Santorini lava - pretty cool ;)
What to pay: Prices vary for everything, and you should try to haggle at the stores in the plaka.
Plaka is full of all kinds of stores, but the best deals I got were on gold jewelry. You can find great prices, just make sure to bargain and shop around. Other stores sell souvenirs and lots of crap.
What to buy: Jewelry
There are plenty of shops in Plaka which are crammed full of stuff for the pretty price. But there are some that are more eclectic than others that sell antiques, hand painted icons, wood carvings and paintings.
I recommend you to find amazing postcards that you can send home and make all your friends jealous.
There are lots of jewelry stores. Most of them buy from factories and have the same stuff for about the same price. But there are a couple that are artist-owned which have hand-made original pieces and also copies of ancient museum pieces.