Shopping in Athens
Since the onset of the current economic crisis, Athenians have curtailed the credit card shopping sprees they enjoyed during the first decade of the century. Retailers have suffered, and many shops in the city centre have had to close. Nonetheless, Athens remains a fine shopping venue for visitors on all budgets.
For everyday clothing and accessories, Athens' busiest shopping street is the pedestrianised Ermou, off Syntagma Square; pick up the season's latest clothing and accessories. The most upmarket shopping district - think designer boutiques and jewellers is nearby Kolonáki. It includes Tsakalof, one of the most expensive streets in the world. Touristy Plaka is where you’ll find the souvenir shops.
In Monastiráki, on the edge of Pláka, bazaar-style stores sell everything from combat army boots to second-hand books and fake designer sunglasses. Sunday mornings bring the Monastiráki Flea Market, with antiques and bric-a-brac. Kentrikí Agorá (Central Market), in a huge 19th-century metal structure near Omonia Square, is the place for fish, meat and fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are sold weekly in the Laiki (People's Markets) all over Athens.
The Mall, in the northern suburb of Maroussi, is a large shopping mall. However, no massive retail emporiums taint the city centre.
Small, family-run shops generally open Monday and Wednesday 0900-1430, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 0900-1330 and 1730-2030 and Saturday 0900-1500. European chain stores are open Mon-Sat 1000-2100.
Typical Greek gifts include hand-woven rugs, known as flokati, copper coffee pots, virgin olive oil and honey. Some museums have shops selling reproductions of Ancient Greek exhibits.
Visitors from outside the European Union who have been in Greece for less than three months can claim back VAT of up to 18% on purchases over â¬120. A 'tax-free cheque' will be issued in the shop to be presented along with the receipt to customs when leaving the county.