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Greece Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Greece

Special purchases include lace, jewellery, metalwork, pottery, knitwear, rugs, leather goods, local wines and spirits, olive oil and objects made from olive tree wood. Athens is the centre for luxury goods, and local handicrafts and international brand names and high street stores. The Sunday morning flea market in Monastiraki, below the Acropolis, is crowded in high season. Athens' Central Market, a series of halls lined with colourful stalls plying fresh seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, is also well worth a look in. Regional specialities include silver from Ioannina; ceramics from Sifnos and Skopelos; embroidery and lace from Crete, the Ionian Islands, Rhodes and Skiros; alabaster from Crete; furs from Kastoria; and flokati rugs from the Epirus region. Other popular buys include olive oil based eco-friendly toiletries (soaps, shampoos, face creams etc), and mastiha products (cosmetics made from mastic resin, produced on the island of Chios).

Shopping Note

(a) Visitors should be aware that many 'antiques' sold to tourists are fake; information on exporting antiques can be found at www.law-archaeology.gr (b) Non-EU citizens can get a refund on Greek VAT (which stands at 23%) on purchases worth more than €120; the process is fairly complex, but well worth it. Ask store owners and tourist information offices for details.

Shopping hours

These vary according to the season, location and type of shop, but a rough guide follows: Mon, Wed, and Sat 0900-1430; Tues, Thurs and Fri 0900-1430 and 1730-2030. Most holiday resort shops stay open until late in the evening. In Athens, several big new shopping malls in the suburbs are open Mon-Fri 1000-2100, Sat 0900-2000.

Nightlife in Greece

Greece's nightlife is centred in main towns and resorts with late-night bars, dance clubs and live concerts. Athens' nightlife is among the best in Europe, with many local tavernas, particularly in the Plaka area, and ouzeris (typical Greek bars), plus a plethora of trendy bars and small clubs in the fashionable night-time districts of Psirri and Gazi playing international music.

In summer, many of Athens’ big clubs move out of the centre to the beaches at Voula, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza, for big open-air cocktail bars, DJ-music and endless sea views. Nightclubs featuring live Greek bouzouki music are also extremely popular in both Athens and Thessaloniki – think glitzy clientele throwing carnations and dancing on the tables.

Through summer, the Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Santorini are also noted for their exceptionally glamorous and up-market nightlife, while Corfu, Zakynthos (Zante), Rhodes and Ios attract youngsters in search of cheap alcohol and all-night discos. Couples in search of a romantic escape would do better to head for lesser known islands such as Milos, Folegandros, Patmos or Ithaca.

Greece has some casinos, such as the Mount Parnes Casino in Athens, the Casino Achilleon in Corfu and the Casino Rodos at the Grande Albergo delle Rose in Rhodes. For more highbrow entertainment, regular classical music concerts and international theatrical performances are held at the stunning open air second-century AD Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens during the Hellenic Festival (Jun-Sep).

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