You did it! You finally took a trip to Greece and we bet you had the time of your life. But a visit to Greece isn’t complete unless you leave with a variety of Greek souvenirs for you and your loved ones. If you stroll the Monastiraki square or the busy streets of the Plaka neighborhood in Athens, you will meet plenty of small shops, with everything you can think of, from fridge magnets and key accessories to mags and t-shirts with witty logos.
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However, in case you are looking for something more special, that will impress your friends and will be a great memento of everything you saw and learned about Greek culture and history during your journey, check our list of the top souvenirs from Greece.
Mati (Evil Eye)
Evil eye souvenitrs - credits: Mehmet Cetin/Shutterstock.com
While strolling through the Greek capital, you will most likely notice some deep blue jewelry staring (literally) back at you! That eye-shaped talisman is the Greek icon, ‘Evil Eye’ or ‘Mati’ in Greek, and it is said to protect the one who wears it from being cursed (the so-called ‘Matiasma’).
A stare from someone with malicious intent, usually due to envy, is believed to cause bad luck or even physical illness, such as headaches. So, not only does it look very pretty and elegant, the small talisman will protect you as well… What a deal!
Greek Delights 'Loukoumia'
Loukoumia - credits: http://www.my-city.gr
Well, you may know them as ‘Turkish delights’ too, or ‘loukoumia’ (lou-kou-mee-ah) as we call them in Greek. Though their exact origin is unclear, it is a sweet that has a distinctive flavor that will bring back memories from Greece. Syros is a Greek island famous for its loukoumia, but you can also find them easily at most tourist shops downtown Athens. Grab a gift set of Greek delights in various flavors -including rose, mastic, cinnamon, lemon, and more- to offer your loved ones a gift equally as sweet as your time in Greece!
Greek Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices - credits: www.thegreekfood.com
Oregano, thyme, cumin, and rosemary are some of the most popular Greek herbs and spices that you can buy as a souvenir, used in abundance in Greek cuisine. They are available in plenty of shops across the country, such as 'Bahar' in Sofokleous Street in Athens, where you can find a vast variety to choose from. It is a practical and useful souvenir that will help you keep the Greek magic alive a little longer, by sharing with you the secrets to the flavorful Greek cuisine.
Greek olive oil - credits: Lydia Vero/Shutterstock.com
Kalamata is a region of the Peloponnese and is widely known for its olive production. The dark brown olives are packed in wine vinegar and olive and they are a treat, especially when served inside a Horiatiki salad! Some authentic Kalamata olives will up your salad game, bringing the freshness of the Mediterranean cuisine right to your table.
The Wise Owl
Owl - credits: shop.getty.edu
The Greek wise owl is the symbol of the ancient Greek goddess Athena and can be the perfect gift for your children. Use the owl figurine as an opportunity to recount to them the story of Athena and the rest of the all-time favorite characters of Greek Mythology; kids always love listening to myths and fables! What's more, it's a tasteful piece of decor that will impress your guests and will remind you of your fun times in Greece!
Komboloi (Worry Beads)
Greek Komboloi - credits: http://www.greece-is.com
Greek Komboloi, probably known to you as worry beads, has been a part of Greek culture for centuries, a remnant of the Turkish occupation.
Traditionally consisting of between 23 and 33 beads, it is said that the sound produced from the dangling komboloi, as well as the fidgeting motions one demonstrates while holding it, acts the same way as a stress-ball, relieving one's anxiety and build-up tension. If you feel like bringing back to your country the Greek stress-reliever, you can do so for under 10 euros in most of the tourist shops around the country.
Depending on the materials, the prices can climb up to much more steep prices than that, with some of the most well-made komboloi costing hundreds of euros. If you want to pick a Greek komboloi from a wide selection of offerings, a visit to Kombologadiko in Syntagma is exactly what you need! There, you can find unique Greek creations for all tastes and budgets!
Greek Coffee and Coffee Pot
Traditional Greek coffee - credits: RUBEN M RAMOS/Shutterstock.com
Traditional Greek coffee isn't just a beverage, it's a whole experience; one you can recreate at home if you buy a traditional copper pot for Greek coffee, or briki as we call it in Greek. In Greece, it is believed that making your food and drinks in copper pots, makes them taste better.
You can test this theory yourself by buying copper pots all around Monastiraki and Psirri neighborhoods, either in vintage stores or in the few copper workshops still surviving. Just make sure there is no 'made in China' label at the bottom of your pot and you're good to go!
Tavli (Greek Backgammon)
Tavli - credits: iphotoclick/Pixabay.com
Greeks can’t possibly fathom Greek summer without a game of ‘Tavli’. Found in every traditional kafeneio and ouzo bar, Tavli is the Greek version of the western backgammon. Tavli means “board” in Greek and Portes, Fevga and Plakoto are some of the most popular versions of the game.
Besides the checkers and the dice, a glass of Frappe coffee is almost mandatory while you play! You need to play the game fast and smart and don’t be shy to get passionate about it, as it usually gets hectic and noisy pretty fast. Yelling or teasing the opponent is usually a must and all in good fun!
Replicas of Ancient Greek Artifacts
Ancient Greek figurines - credits: GregMontani/Pixabay.com
While visiting the Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon in Athens, you can’t help but be in awe of all the beautiful artifacts. Marble statues, ceramic vases, and bronze tools, all surviving through hundreds of years for you to admire them now. But did you know you can carry a small sample of the Greek culture and history with you, by buying a replica as a souvenir?
Statues of all sizes, recreating some of the most iconic figures of Greek mythology, theater, and history, and vases, whose red and black figures are narrating stories of heroes, gods, and monsters, will add sophistication and elegance to your home. They may not be ancient, like the originals, but this is your chance to write your own history.
Greek ceramic workshop - credits: marcelkessler/Pixabay.com
Besides their sandy coasts and bright blue seas, the Greek islands are also known for their Greek ceramic and pottery workshops. All handmade, with traditional styles and designs, you will find a wide variety for you to choose just the right one for you. Whether you opt for plates, coffee, and tea sets, vases, or ashtray, you will add a small touch of the Greek island beauty inside your home.
Greek Orthodox Icons
Greek orthodox icons - credits: analogicus/Pixabay.com
Whether you are religious or not, the beauty of a Byzantine-style icon is undeniable. The Greek orthodox icons carry a part of Greek culture and soul, so they certainly make a fine choice to bring back as a souvenir. You can find icons pretty much everywhere, especially in the center of Athens, but if you visit Meteora and their monasteries be sure to choose an icon from the wide variety of Byzantine icons, silver icons, and serigraphs, along with an elegant prayer rope, in Greek known as Komboskini.
Modern and Traditional Jewelry
A traditional jewelry shop in the heart of Athens - credits: user32212/Pixabay.com
The shops at Monastiraki square will take your breath away when it comes to their stunning variety of jewelry. Whether you like your jewelry modern or more traditional, you will feel like an ancient Athenian yourself, when trying necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and arm bracelets, in silver, gold, or other metals.
If you want to truly look like an ancient god/goddess, opt for jewelry with the Minoan snake, the archaic spirals, or the ‘meander’, a geometric ornament that ancient Greeks used to decorate their homes, floors, clothes, and pots.
Leather Sandals and accessories
Greek Leather Sandals - credits: Hans/Pixabay.com
Of course, if you need to finish the ancient Greek look and take it to another level, you need to purchase a pair of leather sandals. Sandals in ancient Greece featured many straps that securely fastened on the foot. Both women and men wore them, but the ones called ‘kothornos’, a type of boot sandals that rose above the middle of the leg were worn by men of rank and authority, such as tragic actors, soldiers, and hunters.
Both in Athens and the Greek islands, you will find plenty of shops with a wide variety of handmade sandals. All in different sizes, styles, and colors, you will easily find the right one for you to rock in the warm climate of Greece. Pair them with an elegant leather handbag, backpack, or even belt and you are good to go!
A Karagiozis figurine
Karagiozis - credits: athina984.gr
Karagiozis is the main character in stories narrated in shadow puppet theater and Greek folklore, which came to the Greek mainland, during the Ottoman rule and was Hellenized in Patra, by Dimitri Sardouni.
Karagiozis is a poor hunchbacked Greek, during the times of the Ottoman Empire, who lives in a small cottage with his wife and three sons. He is portrayed in rugs and barefoot, due to his poverty, and he’s always plotting mischievously in order to find money and support his family. The storyline is fun and comedic, as Karagiozis gets in trouble, yet manages to outsmart the Ottoman lords.
Kids interact with the puppet, making the show even more special. By bringing a Karagiozis figurine home, you and your children can recreate the -or create your very own- storyline, starring the favorite folklore character.
Bouzouki and other Greek Instruments
Bouzouki - credits: Corinna Huter/Shutterstock.com
The Bouzouki is the most iconic Greek Instrument, directly associated with Greek music, folk dance, and tradition. If you have the chance to visit a musical restaurant or ‘bouzoukia’, then you will definitely feel the significance of the instrument to Greek entertainment and cheery energy. But why stop there? With an authentic Greek bouzouki or its miniature brother baglamas, you can sing, dance, and have fun, all the way home!
Ouzo - credits: Utku Demirsoy/Shutterstock.com
The Greeks sure know how to drink, but if you’ve visited Greece, then you probably have already caught that! Greek meze is always accompanied by one of the most favorite Greek Spirits, whether that is Ouzo or Tsipouro. A bottle of a Greek spirit as a souvenir will be the perfect reminder of the carefree times by the sea when the sun was shining - or setting- and the traditional dishes of the Greek cuisine offered you a brand new culinary experience. Plus, I’m sure all your friends and loved ones will want to see if they can handle the spark of a traditional Greek drink!
Halvas - credits: Aksoy/Shutterstock.com
The traditional Greek sweet ‘Halvas’ is popular among Greek Orthodox as a fasting food, for fasting periods when they can’t have meat. However, you can enjoy it all year round, as many taverns even serve it as a sweet treat after lunch. There is a wide variety of types of Halva, with the most popular ones being the traditional Tahini based Halvas, which comes in many flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, honey and almond, Semolina based Halvas, and ‘Farsalon’, a version of the desert with a jelly texture. Whatever your preferences are, Halvas will satisfy the foodie inside of you, enough that you will need to grab some for the way home.
Mastic drops - credits: rawf8/Shutterstock.com
Mastiha -or mastic- is the most iconic product of the Greek island of Chios. Made exclusively on the island, mastic has a very distinguished flowery aroma, with a subtle, yet somehow powerful, taste. The best part is it comes in many forms and products. You can choose from a variety of liqueurs, mastiha ouzo, mastiha drops, chewing gum, cosmetics, perfume, supplements, and more.
There are plenty more souvenirs you can discover with just one walk through Athens center. Explore Adrianou Street, where most Greek souvenir shops are located, through our Best of Athens in a day tour. This 7-hour tour of Athens includes the highlights of the city, such as Syntagma Square, Plaka, Anafiotika, Monastiraki, and Psyrri, giving you the opportunity to get to know the city like the back of your hand!