Greece is known for food, beaches and history, but it’s also a great place to go shopping. Here’s the best souvenirs from Athens to capture the memory of the capital city.
Athens is the capital of Greece, steeped in history and famous for everything from Greek mythology to ancient civilisations. There is so much to see, do and appreciate for a visiting traveller that you will be spoilt for choice.
As one of the oldest cities in the world dating back thousands of years, Athens has instantly recognisable landmarks such as the Acropolis and the iconic Parthenon. But as well as having some of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, Athens is home to great culture, art and food. From moussaka to baklava, Greek food is arguably one of the best cuisines around.
If you don’t believe me, check out my blog on Greek food you have to try!
Thankfully, you can take some what Athens (and Greek culture generally) has to offer back home. My list of the best souvenirs from Athens covers a good range of gift ideas, cheap keepsakes and other unusual things to buy from the city.
12 souvenirs to buy from Athens
From unusual Greek souvenirs to great gift ideas, here are the best things to buy from Athens.
1. Komboloi (worry beads)
Some of the best souvenirs from Athens, or any holiday, are the ones that are unique to the place you’ve visited – and Komboloi are just that. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are strings of beads made from different materials such as amber, coral, wood or semi-precious stones. In the modern world we could all use something to help us with stress and Komboloi are designed to aid relaxation by running them through your fingers and ease your worries.
You’ll often see men carrying a set and they are often given as a gift so they’d be perfect to gift to a man in your life too. It’s been said that they derived from monks’ prayer beads but became secular in more modern times. Another thing that makes them one of the best souvenirs from Athens is how portable and easy to pack in your suitcase they are, plus how easy they are to find – they can be found in many shops and markets throughout Athens.
2. Backgammon/Tabli from Athens
One of the most beloved games in Greece is backgammon, or Tabli as it is known in Greek. As it is so popular, Athens is a great place to purchase a high quality backgammon set as a unique Athens souvenir.
Going in search of a set is perhaps even more fun than the game itself as there are so many wonderful places to visit. The Monastiraki Flea Market; Plaka, a district with lots of artisan shops or Ermou Street which is one the most popular places to go shopping, would be another place to pick up a set.
3. Olives from Athens
As we all know, Greek cuisine is delicious and eaten all over the world because of how wonderful it is. One of the staples of Greek cuisine is of course olives. So why not take home genuine, Greek-grown olives with you to keep the trip alive when eating back at home.
Enriched with the climate, European sun and memories of holidaying in a fantastic place they make a simple, affordable and easily packable souvenir from Athens.
4. Greek pottery
IYou can purchase contemporary pottery paying homage to the past or even antique replicas.
To come home with beautiful pottery to show off to your friends or gift to a loved one would be one of the best souvenirs from Athens I could suggest.
Due to the climate it is not surprising that Sandals are very popular in Athens and they can be found almost everywhere – so they’re a very convenient gift from Athens to purchase!
They are more than just practical, people have been wearing leather sandals here from back in ancient times. They really are symbolic of the region and therefore are one of the best souvenirs from Athens because they hold the history of the place in them.
Greece also has a culture of working with leather and so the artisans really know what they are doing – the quality can be very high. Treat yourself!
6. Greek honey
The foody delights of Greece just keep coming and this time it’s one for the sweet toothed amongst you. Honey, made in the glorious Greek climate and imbued with the atmosphere and history of the land, gives Greek honey a worldwide reputation for being unbelievably brilliant.
Different varieties are available such as thyme, chestnut and pine honey.
Again, easily transportable and a great idea for a gift that won’t take up all the room on your return luggage makes Greek honey one of my best souvenirs from Athens.
7. Ouzo from Athens
I’m guessing that most of our taste buds have frequented, or at least tried, Ouzo. Ouzo is the Greek national drink – a strong alcoholic drink made from ripe grapes. You may recognise the taste as being liquorice-esqe and that is because anise and fennel seeds are added before it is distilled again.
Most Brits will go to drink this as a shot but you should dilute it with water and enjoy it more slowly (and calmly).
Buying a bottle of this traditional Greek drink would be one of the best souvenirs from Athens to spice up those dinner parties when back home and regale friends with tales of your times in Athens!
8. Greek olive oil
Whilst of course you can eat the delicious olives from Greece, there’s also the beautiful olive oil to be enjoyed. Amongst some of the highest quality in the world, the extra virgin olive oil is said to be the purest variant and packed with the most flavour.
Every salad you have once home can transport you back to your Athens trip which is why it’s one of my best souvenirs from Athens.
Don’t forget, if you aren’t a fan of olive oil then there are olive oil products also available such as olive oil soap and organic toiletries – sounds like a great Athens souvenir to me!
9. Evil eye talismans
Also known as ‘Matiasma’ or ‘Nazar’ these charms are designed to protect against negative energy and are very popular in Greek culture. They are almost always made of glass and are blue and white with a black dot in the middle – this symbolises the evil eye.
There’s a superstition that envy and malevolence comes from the eyes, specifically other people looking at you in such a way, and that the talisman can protect you from this harmful gaze!
These talismans are so prevalent that you can get them in a huge variety of ways; from earrings, bracelets and car ornaments to homeware you can adorn your doorway with at home.
With such a fascinating history and meaning behind them, plus the fact they are so easy to transport home, I’d say they were one of the best souvenirs from Athens either for yourself or for friends and family.
10. Local wines from Athens
Just like with olives, the Greek climate is perfect for producing wine and has been doing so for over 4,000 years. You’ll have heard tales from ancient Greece about them having wine which proves just how imbued the Greek culture is with wine making – and enjoying!
They produce everything from red, rose and white wines from the very highest quality to general table wines.
Some well-known local Athens wines come from Agiorgitiko grapes, pictured above. They are indigenous to Greece so make for a typical but unique souvenir from Athens you won’t find in other countries.
11. Local art and crafts from Athens
Athens has a thriving arts and crafts scene. You can find unique and locally made artworks, ceramics and textiles from local artists and artisans, often reflecting contemporary Greek culture and traditions.
Jewellery inspired by ancient Greek designs is available in Athens too. Look for pieces featuring motifs like the Greek key pattern or ancient Greek coins, often made from materials like silver or gold. Antiquities Street Market in Athens (above) is a great place to go hunting!
12. Icon art
You may be aware of Eastern Orthodox Christianity which is part of the Greek cultural heritage. Greece produces some gorgeous religious images, sometimes on wood panels with lots of use of gold leaf, which would make for a beautiful gift.
Usually depicting saints such as the Virgin Mary and painted by highly skilled artists, these glorious artworks are definitely amongst the best souvenirs from Athens as they are so linked to the traditions of the land and are so beautiful.
These are of course a little harder to transport back, but Athens is also abundant in Greek statues of famous philosophers, figures and icons. Just might be a little odd to take with you on the plane.
What are the best things to buy in Athens?
There is so much to choose from when deciding what are the best souvenirs from Athens, especially if you’re a foodie. You may need to bring an empty suitcase with you for the journey home – all the different Greek wines, olives, oils, honeys and sweet treats could fill a bag on its own.
If you’re more of an art lover then the religious art, pottery, talismans or unique backgammon boards will be right up your street.
Cheers guys *reaches for the Ouzo*!
Quicklist of souvenirs from Athens
- Komboloi (worry beads)
- Greek pottery
- Greek honey
- Greek olive oil
- Evil eye talismans
- Local wines from Athens
- Local art and crafts
- Icon art
Are things cheap in Athens?
The cost of things in Athens can vary widely, much like in any major city. While it’s renowned for its rich history and culture, the city’s prices can be quite reasonable, especially when compared to other European capitals. Dining out, for example, can be quite affordable, with lots of tavernas offering delicious Greek cuisine at reasonable prices. Public transport is also quite cost-effective, and there are numerous historical sites and museums with modest entry fees.
What is some things Athens is known for?
Athens is most famous for its incredible historical and cultural heritage. The city has so much ancient Greek architecture to wander around each day. Athens is also known for its vibrant neighbourhoods like Plaka and Monastiraki, where you can wander through charming streets and discover a mix of traditional and modern Greek life. The city’s culinary scene is another highlight, with an array of traditional tavernas and modern eateries offering delicious Greek cuisine.
What souvenirs can you buy from Athens Airport?
If you’re flying from Athens Airport, you’ll find a variety of souvenirs to buy at the departure lounge. Greek olive oil and olives are popular choices, as well as Ouzo or Metaxa, make for great gifts. Don’t forget the classic souvenirs like keychains, magnets, and postcards featuring iconic scenes from Athens. The airport shops typically offer a curated selection of these items, making it convenient to pick up last-minute gifts or keepsakes