What would a vacation be without a souvenir? Without souvenirs for your loved ones?
In Athens the choices are vast, the abundance inexhaustible. Whether classic or traditional souvenirs here you can find everything.
As in any city, the landmarks and sights in Athens are available in any form as souvenirs. Whether as a cup, plate, glass, postcard, poster, T-shirt, bag, magnet, pocket knife, keychain, everything can be found.
But there are also the souvenirs that tell something about Athens and are typical of the city and the country.
We have collected a few ideas for souvenirs for you, some have an interesting story...
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1. Greek Wine
Udo Jürgens sang about it in his famous song, wine has been grown in Greece since ancient times. The country is ideal because, in addition to the mild Mediterranean climate, it has a mountainous landscape with calcareous and volcanic soil.
There are 5 quality classifications for Greek wine, among them "OPAP" is the highest, these wines have a red band on the cork, while the designation "Epitrapezios Inos" identifies the lowest, the table wines. They include, among others, the well-known resinous wine Retsina.
Agiorgitiko is considered one of the oldest wine varieties of the world and is the noblest among the Greek red wines. In addition, Kotsifali, Liatiko, Limnio, Mandilaria and Vertzami are also known.
Among the white wines, Aidani Aspro, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Roditis and Savatiano are very popular.
Komboloi are small necklaces of beads that are mainly held by men, who let the individual beads, strung on leather or synthetic threads, slide through their fingers. Komboloi have no religious significance in Greece. In the past, they were believed to protect against enemies, disease, or even natural disasters.
Today, they are still considered lucky charms. But be careful, for the luck to work, the number of beads strung must be odd....
Another theory is that touching the beads stimulates areas in the fingertips that have a calming effect in acupuncture.
The soul of the komboloi, however, whether they are made of stone, glass, plastic, wood, amber or any other material, is its music, the sound made when the beads meet.
A slightly different souvenir for the gentlemen at home...
3. Mati - "The Evil Eye"
The belief in the evil eye occurs in many cultures and dates back to prehistoric times. Even then, amulets in the shape of eyes were made to protect against the evil eye. It was believed that the eyes were the sources of harmful rays and thus could bring bad luck and misfortune on other people. According to a recent survey, 66% of all Greeks still believe in the evil eye and use talismans to protect themselves from jealousy and envy.
Mati are mostly made of glass, available in all kinds of shapes, individually, as keychains, as earrings or other jewelry, on chains or much more. The eye is always blue, as blue is considered a strong color and thus should be able to absorb the negative energy and protect the wearer of the talisman from the evil eye.
In some regions it is also believed that especially people with blue eyes have the evil eye and even hides the babies from people with blue eyes.
An interesting souvenir.
Among alcoholic beverages, ouzo is the Greek national drink par excellence. It is made from ripe grapes, which are fermented and distilled. Anise and fennel seeds are then added and distilled again. The drink has a licorice-like taste.
Ouzo can be enjoyed neat, but traditionally it is diluted with water and enjoyed with appetizers, known as meze. When combined with water, the anise precipitates and the drink turns milky white.
The clear liquor has an alcohol content of 40-50%. The most popular varieties are Ouzo 12, Plomari, Mini, Pilavas and Tsantali.
There are indications that tavli, which is very similar to backgammon, was played in ancient times. Definitely, however, it has existed since about 50 A.D. When the Church banned the game, which was played under various names throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, and ordered the burning of all boards, the collapsible board was invented, disguised as a book.
Even today, Tavli is very popular in Greece and is played by all ages on almost every occasion.
Maybe you'll feel like playing a round of tavli at home, too.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil was produced 8000 years ago. The oil is obtained by grinding whole olives and then cold pressing them. In Greece there are more than 50 varieties of olives and a very rich variety of olive oil.
If you like to recreate at home one or another dish that you ate on vacation, you should take a bottle of olive oil with you.
Bonus: Best Walking & Shopping Tours in Athens
- Acropolis and Parthenon Guided Walking Tour
- Acropolis, Olympian Zeus & Ancient Agora: Guided Tour Only
- Athens Street Food Tour (Bestseller)
- 4-hour Greek Food Walking Tour
- Nightlife Guided Tour with Wine Tasting & Cocktail
- Acropolis and Mythology Highlights Small Group Tour
7. Karagiozis Puppets
The Karagiozis belongs to the Greek culture and derives from the Turkish figure "Karagöz". They are figures from the shadow and puppet theater. Poor and hunchbacked with an overlong right arm and patched clothes, Karagiozis always appears barefoot. His main interests are eating and sleeping. Thus, he has various adventures in the plays. Although he is actually portrayed as an anti-hero, he is nevertheless sympathetic at the same time and is loved by the children, when things get dangerous, they call out in an icy voice, "Karagiozis watch out!"
A Karagiozis puppet is an authentic keepsake from Greek Culture that you can use to tell interesting stories to your children at the same time.
8. Leather Sandals
Leather sandals can be found almost everywhere in Athens, they are simply part of the street scene. In ancient times, people wore these sandals. Greece can look back on a long tradition in leather processing. There are still today specially handmade Greek leather sandals, possibly even inspired by the ancient myths.
9. Traditional Musical Instruments
Traditional original Greek musical instruments are of course not cheap, but maybe a replica of a bouzouki will be enough as a souvenir, which will remind you even at home of the often sad sounding typical Greek melodies and the wonderful hours spent there.
Small bracelets or necklaces, usually decorated with a symbol from Greek mythology can be found throughout Athens. The small stores in the side streets of Lisikratous Street near Hadrian's Gate offer a particularly large selection.
Also filigree jewelry made of silver or gold from one of the small boutiques or handmade ceramic jewelry are a beautiful and long lasting souvenir.
11. Greek Music
As different as the music of Greece may be from region to region, it has parallels in terms of rhythm and instruments. Folklore and folk music play a major role in Greece. Greek melodies often sound wistful and are full of longing, the lyrics often deal with the sorrows of simple people.
Nevertheless, it sounds good in the ear and is a nice memory of the melodies that you heard live and to which you may even have danced sirtaki.
12. Antique Items, Sculptures, and Plates
Imitation pottery and ceramics are a popular souvenir. Many a living room is decorated with the head of Hercules and many a garden with the bust of Socrates. Even if they are not originals, they still bring a part of antiquity into your modern home and remind you of times and cultures long gone.
13. Greek Honey
Even Greeks in ancient times bred bees and produced honey. Ideal climatic conditions as well as a diverse fauna give Greek honey its unique taste.
There are more beehives in Greece than in any other European country, and Greek honey enjoys the reputation of being the best in the world.
Among the different varieties such as flower, thyme, chestnut and fir honey, pine honey accounts for 65% of all Greek honey. It is characterized by its high mineral content and antioxidant content.
14. Olive Soap
The Patoúnis soap factory has existed since 1891. Today, it is the only factory in Greece that manufactures its products exclusively according to traditional methods. According to the manufacturer, all products are free of additives and one hundred percent natural they are made only from olive kernel oil or olive oil, soda, water and salt.
Olive oil is said to have a cell-protecting and regenerating effect on the skin, which helps prevent moisture loss.
15. Phallus Symbols
For thousands of years, the phallus has been a symbol of strength and fertility. In Ancient Greece it was mainly associated with Dionysus, the god of wine, joy, grapes, fertility, madness and ecstasy.
Today, souvenir stores usually offer brightly painted phallic symbols made of wood as keychains or the like.
It's a matter of taste...
August 10, 2023
August 9, 2023