Lifestyle & Culture

Christina Hudson: Here’s my expat guide to shopping in Athens and beyond

Athens Remembers Fashion

Shopping is Athens much like that in any other major metropolis, though of course we have some local variety. There is something for everyone and every taste. We have all (or most of) the fast (and eco-unfriendly) fashion that can be found in most capitals and which makes us all look the same, whether we are in Athens, Ancona or Amsterdam.

All that (H+M, Zara and so on) can be found on Ermou Street, just off Syntagma (Constitution) Square. We also have some unique shopping streets such as Athinas Street (Just off Ermou Street) where you can find any specialty shop you could imagine, from hardware and hiking boots to suitcases and soccer jerseys.

Farther down, you can spend hours browsing Aghios Markos and Aiolou Streets for yarn, ribbons, buttons, underwear, pajamas, purses, slippers, semi-precious gems, stationery and much more. Honestly, if you can think of it, you can find it on one of these streets.

This is the real Athens and it can be fun to walk down the streets and just take in the vibes, even if nothing floats your boat. 


For the body (Downtown Athens and suburbs)

Kolonaki and Kifissia

These are the high-end shopping havens of Athens … the centrally-located and elegant neighborhood of Kolonaki and the leafy northern suburb of Kifissia are where you will find a large concentration of international luxury brands for clothing, shoes and jewelry.

At one of the area’s “all day café-bars,” you can have a meal, sip a caffeinated beverage or enjoy a cocktail, all under one roof, which is especially useful if people in your party have different wants when you decide to take a break.

For a historic pick-me-up when in Kifissia, head to Varsos (founded in 1892). There you can enjoy a traditionally-prepared Greek sweet, a thick yoghurt (prepared on site) or a wonderfully savory classic
cheese or spinach pie. The garden in the back is charming if the weather allows.

Glitzy Glyfada by the sea (South Athens)

Glyfada is a southern suburb which is über trendy and super glossy, with tall palm trees and fashion boutiques in abundance. Shop, sit at one of the many cafés where people go to see and be seen and enjoy a fancy fish meal down by the water.

Some would say that LA meets Miami in this part of town.

Contemporary and Second-hand (Exarchia, Athens)

Whether you are after independent bookshops, funky jewelry stores, affordable local designers’ stuff, quality pre-loved garments, handmade shoes or just a really cool T-shirt, the neighborhood of Exarchia is where you need to be. Do budget a little time to walk around as well and take in the vibes of Exarchia, which is home to a lot of Greek intellectuals, alternative, anarchist and other counter-culture figures.

The area is changing fast as the government is – contrary to the wishes of most locals – paving the way for gentrification, so visit before Exachia’s unique and friendly local and independent ambiance changes.

Athens Remember Fashion

Downtown Athens: Monastiraki Flea Market, Plaka and Pssiri neighborhoods

For classic Greek souvenirs and other bric-a-brac and perhaps a historic punk shop stop? Located in the old city, right under the Acropolis, this area has its own atmosphere and is fun for all ages, even if you aren’t shopping.

Plaka is a beautiful and colorful neighborhood—a long time ago, it was Athens itself! Wander around and enjoy the lovely candy-colored old buildings. Stop for a cool drink or snack and then onward to look at the old coins, vintage postcards, photogravure keepsakes, antiques, vinyl records, handmade sandals, folk art objects, jokey t-shirts and souvenirs galore.

The narrow streets are picturesque and every once in a while when you come to an opening you will run into some elegant ruins or look up and see the stately Parthenon which, in the right light, will definitely take your breath away.

If you want a hit of edgy, punk, indie, counter-culture art fashion, just take a short walk across Monastiraki Square and you will find the iconic Athens Remember Fashion store, which opened in the late 1970s. Debbie Harry, Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, The Clash and Chloë Sevigny are among the many (counter) cultural icons who have nabbed unconventional wearable art and rock apparel when visiting the Greek capital.

Museum shops

These world-class Athenian museums have shops offering things like high-quality art replicas, exclusive jewelry by contemporary Greek designers, unique children’s toys, art objects and art books, posters and prints, one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories.

As is the case in most museums around the world, you will also find the Monet mousepads, Courbet coasters, socks colored and arranged like sushi—you know the deal. We take the good with the silly.

These three also happen to be fantastic museums, however, so I highly recommend you don’t just stop and shop but also visit the museum collections.

Museum of Cycladic Art (Neofitou Douka 4, Athina 10674)
Benaki Museum (Pireos 138, Athina 11854)
Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation (Eratosthenous 13, Athina

Mall if you must!

Golden Hall

Located in the north Athens suburb of Maroussi, this mall is less mall- like than most malls, which, in my book anyway, is a good thing. It is as flashy as its name implies, however, with lots of medium- and high-end fashion stores. It also has a nice bookstore with a comfy sitting area, some home goods shops and more.

Golden Hall also houses an aquarium, a children’s play area and the Athens Olympic Museum, which makes it something more than a mall. When you need some fresh air, you can step out the back entrance and find yourself looking at the Calatrava-designed Olympic Stadium built for the Athens 2004 Summer and Paralympic Games.

Fill your cart with the basics (All around the nation)

Farmers’ Markets (Laiki Agora, pronounced La-ee-key Agh-oh-rah)

Once a week, in most every town and city in Greece, you can find a farmer’s market. Some towns host both conventional as well as organic markets. Here you will find not only a wide array of delicious fresh and seasonal Greek fruits and vegetables but also fish, beans, nuts and such.

These markets price items more competitively than supermarkets because they typically leave out the middleman who tends to take a very large cut in Greece.


Alpha-Beta Vassilopoulos

Founded in the late 1930s, this formerly Greek supermarket chain is now owned by the Dutch-Belgian multinational Ahold Delhaize. There are more than 500 Alpha-Beta stores around Greece and they stock good quality items in all their departments.


Sklavenitis is the second-largest supermarket chain in Greece. It is Greek-owned and emphasizes keeping its prices lower than others and working with Greek suppliers as much as possible.


Based in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, Masoutis has stores around the country and was founded in the 1970s. The company claims to use as many Greek suppliers as possible and organizes events to support important environmental and social issues.


This German discount chain is quite popular around Greece, not just for its food items, but also its ever-changing selection of clothing, toys and gadgets. The quality is sometimes questionable, but the lower prices have been welcomed here in Greece, especially in these times of low salaries and high costs of living.


If you are craving a special gourmet cheese or cold cut, a particular Asian sauce, some fancy chocolate, exquisite marmalade or an exceptional bottle of wine, check out one of the three locations of Thanopoulos supermarkets (all of which are located in the Kifissia area, just north of Athens).

This rather pricey supermarket stocks all the basics, but also carries lots of high-end products (many of which are imported). It also carries (albeit with absurd mark-ups) many American and British products for when an expat sometimes just has to have that taste of home.


Read more about Athens here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more from Christina here.

Website | + posts

A Pittsburgher by birth, Christina T. Hudson is also half Greek and has – so far – spent most of her life in Athens, the chaotic but captivating capital city of Greece.

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