6 of the Top Shopping Destinations in and around Athens

Athens offers travelers a wide range of exciting activities, from seeing monuments and eating at world-class restaurants to a wide variety of different types of shopping. Most people think of Greece as a country of islands, natural beauty, and rich history. The country also has some incredible shopping opportunities for people who enjoy hunting out deals and looking for truly unique items.

In recent years, many of the markets scattered throughout Athens, as well as in other parts of the country, have exploded in size. They now offer an astonishing range of items. People have even been known to fly to Greece with empty suitcases and the intention of filling them during their stay.

Some must-visit shopping areas in Athens and elsewhere include:

 

  1. Central Market

Located along Athinas Street in Athens, Central Market is a colorful place for shoppers to visit with a history that dates back to the 19th century. The market, which also goes by the name Varvakios, sells a range of items, including fruits, seafood, cured meats, and spices.

Some of the most popular items at the market are cheeses, many of which are made by hand, as well as fresh olives. Individuals will also find some of the freshest herbs in the city here.

While the market is closed Sunday, it is open every other day and an absolute must for food lovers and chefs. Also, individuals should note that the market is actually divided into two sections, one that is purely vegetarian and another that has meet. Generally, the sellers stick around until late evening.

 

  1. Piraeus Flea Market

Individuals in Athens, whether shoppers are not, should make time to walk through Piraeus Flea Market. It provides a purely Greek experience. The flea market only operates on Sundays but is open from the very early morning hours until the evening.

While here, people will come across some incredible deals on virtually everything, from shoes to bedsheets. Many people who collect books have luck finding first editions here.

Visitors should always make sure they keep their belongings secure as they explore the market as it can get quite crowded. Also, bargaining is encouraged, so individuals should always try to talk down sellers from the originally stated price to get the best deal possible.

 

  1. Mykonos Town

People probably think mostly of relaxing on the beach when they imagine Mykonos. However, the island has emerged as a top destination for fashionistas.

Many of the shops can get quite expensive, but they offer unique and stylish clothing that cannot be found anywhere else. Plus, the stores here stay open late into the evening so individuals can wander around once they have left the beach.

In the town, individuals will find everything from traditional Greek textiles to international designer labels. Starting in August, many of the shops have end-of-season sales. The island also has many kitschy souvenir shops.

 

  1. Ermou Street and Kifisia

Perhaps the most famous shopping district in all of Athens, Ermou street features all of the top international brands, from Zara to Bershka. Because of the financial situation in Greece, these shops tend to sell clothing at prices much cheaper than in other parts of the world, so travelers can find great deals.

The street has a number of local stores and shops with unique collections. Some of the top-rated shops along the street include Fokas and Attika. While not everyone will enjoy a stop on Ermou Street, people who enjoy upscale shopping will be sure to have a great time.

Another spot for checking out luxury brands is Kifisia, which is the Athenian version of Fifth Avenue. Virtually all high-end brands have representation between these two spots.

 

  1. Eleftherios Venizelos

On Crete in the Heraklion district is Eleftherios Venizelos, a square with some of the best shopping in the country. Here, individuals will find an impressive array of designers, as well as incredible jewelry, quality leather craft, and even fine antiques.

This spot is great for getting a sense of traditional Greek leatherwork and jewelry. This means it has some of the best examples of both. As a result, the items can get quite pricey.

Nearby is Chania, another district with leather pieces and jewelry that is meant more for souvenirs and thus has a lower price. Chania also has some beautiful handmade textiles, pottery, and art. This area also has some weekly pop-up markets with clothes, produce, and more.

 

  1. Aeolou and Agios Markos Streets

One of the most famous shopping areas in Athens outside of Ermou and Kifisia, Aeolou and Agios Markos Streets are home to a number of unique shops with clothes, yarn, fabrics, and more. What makes this spot so special are the cheap prices, even on typically expensive fabrics like silk and linen.

This area is always crowded with both tourists and locals. Shoppers are encouraged to bargain with the sellers as virtually all the prices can be negotiated down. As an added bonus, individuals can head over to the nearby Agia Irini Square, which is known for its pubs and is a great place to have a drink, relax, and cool down after a shopping adventure.

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sailing

What You Need to Know before Booking a Sailing Holiday in Greece

One of the best ways to explore the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and hit some of the hidden spots among the Greek islands is by sailing. Greece has emerged as a premier yacht charter destination as a result of its more than 3,000 islands, each of which has a unique culture and heritage. By sailing, individuals can see the gradual changes in vegetation, climate, architecture, and customs as they explore these many islands. Some of the common destinations for sailors include the Cyclades, the Ionian Sea, the Dodecanese, and the Saronic Gulf. Both the Saronic Gulf and the Ionian Sea have gentle waters that are ideal for beginners, whereas areas such as the Cyclades are best left to the seasoned professionals.

 

What Is the Basic Breakdown of Sailing Regions?

The Ionian Sea has emerged as perhaps the most popular destination for a sailing holiday, although rough winds can peak at the end of summer. The destination offers a wide range of traditional foods, some of the best wines in the country, and countless gorgeous bays and harbors. South of the Ionian Sea is the Peloponnese, which is known for ruins that date back to some of the oldest cultures in all of Greece, as well as breathtaking mountains. Near the coast is Crete, the largest island in Greece. Crete has picturesque beaches and a rapidly changing landscape. From here, people can move into the Aegean Sea, which include the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the North Aegean.

The Cyclades are ideal for sailing and putting many miles on a boat each day. Visitors will find some islands that possess very few inhabitants and others renowned for their nightlife, such as Mykonos. The Dodecanese, which is located near the border with Turkey, features tiny bays and ancient cities that can be seen from the water because of their fortifications. North of all this is the Sporades, which is similar to the Ionian Sea with some wonderful conservation areas and numerous ruins. The Sporades is an ideal destination for a short sailing trip with crystal blue waters and sandy beaches.

yacht Greece

 

When Is the Best Time to Sail in Greece?

People who are thinking about taking a sailing trip throughout Greece should know that the typical boating season begins in April and ends in November, although the peak season is from late June to September. During the heart of summer, ports and marinas can get very busy, and sailboats may be forced to anchor rather than dock on the islands themselves. However, these months are also when the majority of charters happen. Sailors should understand that the Greek summer is extremely hot and dry. Winds, especially in the Cyclades, can reach very high speeds, which may then prevent chartered boats from leaving the harbor. Many people enjoy sailing most just before or just after the peak when prices are low and the weather is more moderate.

 

What Options Exist for Chartering a Sailboat?

Before embarking on a sailing adventure, individuals should figure out the islands that they hope to hit along the way. While it is fine to make some unexpected stops along the way, a basic itinerary is critical for understanding what kind of boat to rent and where. In Greece, experienced sailors can pursue a bareboat yacht charter, although those people with less or no experience can still enjoy a sailing vacation by getting a skippered yacht. A skipper will take full responsibility for the yacht, which includes undertaking all sailing maneuvers and handling itineraries. Individuals should seek out a skipper with knowledge of the islands that they wish to visit so that they can get recommendations and help in becoming familiar with local customs.

Another option is to rent a crewed yacht. The crew will consist of a professional skipper and a host, who sometimes also acts as a cook. The crew may include a dedicated cook apart from the host. Larger boats may also have a deckhand, who helps with ropes and sailing maneuvers. Great crews will offer some insight on local history and culture by giving tours of the island. One of the most common crewed yacht charters in Greece is known as a gulet, a large, wooden sailboat. These boats are wide for maximum comfort, even with a lot of people on board.

sailing in Greece

 

How Much Does a Sailing Adventure in Greece Cost?

The yacht charter industry in Greece has relatively low prices compared to many other countries. Marinas and ports charge by the length of the yacht, so larger boats will involve greater expense. Even so, a sailing trip in Greece is often a fraction of the cost that one would pay for a similar trip in other Mediterranean countries. However, marinas can quickly become crowded, so it is advised that boats have a good anchor setup, as well as a backup. Also, individuals are responsible for the well-being of their crew, so they must ensure that the skipper and any other employees receive meals.

 

beer

9 of the Best Beers to Try in Greece

While many people may know that Greece produces some distinctive, flavorful varieties of wine, they may not be aware that it also has a rich beer heritage. Beer is particularly refreshing during the hottest summer months while people relax on the beach. Various regions of the country have their own go-to beers, and great examples of lagers, ales, and more are now brewed in Greece. The following are some must-try drinks for fans of beer who are traveling in Greece:

 

1. Nisos

In 2014, Nisos won the second prize at the European Beer Star competition, an impressive feat. Nisos is brewed on Tinos, a small island, by Cyclades Microbrewery. This beer is a pilsner that has several spices and herbal aromatics, adding to the complexity of the flavor. Several different flavor varieties are available, including a Beaufort edition that has heavy caramel notes and a high ABV (alcohol by volume), as well as one with the refreshing taste of green apple and lime. All Nisos beers are produced with organic ingredients and made in small quantities. These options are all designed as a great complement to a warm beach day.

 

2. Vergina

For more than two decades, Macedonian Thrace Brewery in Komotini, a small town near Thessaloniki, has produced truly distinctive brews. The brand has emerged as among the most popular in Greece and is definitely worth a try. The Red Vergina has a strong caramel taste, while the white variety offers much fruitier notes for those who want something lighter and sweeter.

 

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3. Septem

Two brothers, an economist and a chemist, founded Septem about a decade ago on the island of Evia in Orologio. The founders aimed to create a refined beer that would stand up to the distinctive wines of Greece. The duo applies many philosophies gleaned from the wine industry to the production of their beers, which include award-winning pilsners and pale ales, as well as seasonal varieties. Visitors who make their way to Evia are welcome to check out the brewery and try some of its great options, and travelers can simply look for beer options at different tavernas as they explore the country.

 

4. Corfu Beer

A family-run brewery, Corfu Beer is located in the small village of Arillas on the island of Corfu. Brewer Claudio Mouzakitis leads the operation and specializes in ales, along with some limited-edition runs. Corfu offers a wide range of different options, from a ginger beer to a fruity Weissbier. The brewery also offers some more bitter varieties, along with a red. The island of Corfu has demonstrated a strong affinity for ginger beer since the British brought the drink to the island in the 1800s, so it is something that travelers will find in several spots. However, this brewery’s version is one of the best.

 

5. Kirki

A microbrewery located in Halkida, Kirki is a newcomer and has operated only since 2015. Now, the brewery offers two celebrated options. One is the namesake Kirki, a cloudy pale ale that does not get filtered, and Pikri, a very light ale. Despite the young age of the brewery, Kirki has created quite a name for itself and will likely continue to grow rapidly in the future.

 

6. Piraiki

Pharmacist Alexander Koumantou launched Piraiki in Drapetsona, Piraeus, a part of Athens, in 2005. The brewery relocated to central Greece five years later so that it could increase production and change some of its methodologies. Piraiki maintains a commitment to authenticity and actually follows Reinheitsgebot, the German law for beer purity, in addition to using organic ingredients. These beers contain no additives or preservatives. Focused largely on German varieties of beer, the brewery produces pilsners, lagers, and pale ales.

 

7. Volkan

The name of this beer comes from the eruption that occurred in Santorini in 1600 BCE. Volkan produces beers with many of the most distinctive Greek flavors. For example, the Black beer highlights honey and citrus while the Gray beer has orange and bergamot notes. Travelers should find out if there have been any other unique additions to the Volkan lineup in the tavernas that they visit.

 

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8. Zeos

Produced under the claim of being the “beer of the gods,” Zeos has a distinctive blue label that visitors may quickly begin to recognize during their time in Greece. Individuals should try all of the different varieties to see which one is their favorite. One of the most unique options is the Black beer, which has the flavor of honey, brown sugar and grape. Another option combines orange and lemon for a very refreshing experience. Many Greeks enjoy the Weiss, a white beer that subtly combines the flavors of fruit and spices.

 

9. Bios 5

Featuring Demeter, the goddess of earth, nature, an agriculture, on the label, Bios 5 is a brew that attempts to replicate what the first beers produced would have tasted like. The brewery behind the drink uses only five ingredients, which is what inspired the “5” in the beer’s name. These ingredients are rice, corn, rice, wheat, and barley.

island Paros

8 Wonderful Destinations off the Beaten Track in Greece

When people think about exploring Greece, they usually plot out itineraries that include popular destinations such as Athens, Mykonos, Thessaloniki, and major archaeological sites such as Delphi. However, there is much more to Greece than these commonly visited sites. People who wander off the beaten track will get a much better sense of what Greek life looks like and discover some of the real charm of the country. For this reason, tourists should consider including some of the lesser-known destinations in Greece in their itineraries. Some of these excellent options include:

 

1. Evia

A common weekend destination for Athenians, Evia remains relatively unexplored by foreigners. Evia is the second-largest island in Greece and easily accessed by two bridges that connect it to the mainland. While on Evia, individuals should check out Edipsos, which has healing thermal baths. In addition to this attraction, visitors will find some charming beaches with a much milder climate than many of the other islands. In addition, Evia offers great local cuisine and various landmarks for visitors to explore.

 

evia

 

2. Ioannina

The capital of Epirus, Ioannina is located right on Lake Pamvotida, and visitors will catch a wonderful glimpse of the water throughout the town. What makes Ioannina truly unique among Greek cities is its blend of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian influences in its architecture and design. Some of the top attractions include the Veli Pasha Mosque and the House Matei Hussein. In addition, travelers will come across a number of gorgeous Byzantine churches as they explore the town.

 

3. Kavala

Located in Macedonia, Kavala has a unique amphitheater-like shape. Situated at the base of Mount Simvolo, the town boasts several great attractions, such as Suleyman the Magnificent’s aqueduct, the church of Virgin Mary’s Assumption, and the Mohamed Ali Pasha Square. The oldest part of Kavala is known as Panagia. People have consistently lived in Panagia since the 7th century BCE. As a result, the whole area has a very unique culture influenced by the many different peoples who have called it home. Moreover, Kavala offers tourists some very relaxing and quiet beaches.

 

4. Kastellorizo

An island that located is near the southern coast of Turkey, Kastellorizo also goes by the name of Megisti. Visitors will initially notice the beautiful harbor dotted with colorful mansions lining the coast and climbing up the hills. Despite the crowded appearance of the port, the island has some great wildlife and dense flora to be explored on hikes. While there, individuals should not miss the Old Mosque, which the Turks built when they occupied the island. As with many of the Greek islands, Kastellorizo also has breathtaking beaches.

 

5. Lemnos

Most tourists stick to islands in the southern part of Greece, but Lemnos is located in the Northern Aegean, which makes it much more quiet than other options. At the same time, Lemnos has very exciting attractions, including the Castle of Myrina, which is located on a hilltop above the main town. Lemnos remains a great place to learn how to kite surf due to the lessons offered at Keros Beach. Tourists should also check out Varos Village, a town that was once quite dilapidated, but which has since been rejuvenated as a luxury resort spot with breathtaking views of the surrounding water.

 

6. Paxi

Because Paxi is located so close to Italy, the island provides visitors with a unique amalgamation of Italian and Greek cultures. Paxi is the smallest island in the archipelago that includes Corfu. On Paxi, visitors will find gentle hills, pristine beaches, and underwater caves. The island has several cute villages nestled among olive groves with many hiking trails. While there, individuals should sample the local black wine made from local vineyards and explore Orkos Beach, which is one of the most beautiful among all the Ionian islands. Paxi also hosts several music festivals throughout the summer.

 

Paxi

Image by Dom Crossley | Flickr

 

7. Folegandros

A small island situated on the southern side of the Cyclades, Folegandros is a rocky isle with a main village called Chora that has been consistently recognized for its beauty. Many people think that Chora is more charming than even Santorini. While on Folegandros, tourists will need to charter boats to take them to various caves, coves, and beaches since they usually cannot be accessed by land. However, this makes for a very unique experience. For a bit of luxury, individuals can check out Anemi Hotel, which has large suites and a wonderful infinity pool overlooking the water with a nearby pebbly beach.

 

8. Methoni

Mythology buffs may recognize Methoni as one of the seven cities that Agamemnon offered to Achilles. The city is on the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese. The top attraction is Kastro, a fortress and castle that dates back to the 15th century and offers a perfect example of Venetian architecture. Visitors will also find a number of great tavernas serving traditional food and a beautiful beach located very close to Kastro. This beach offers an ideal place to cool off during the hotter summer months.