Monastiraki Gift Shops, Athens (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Athens without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. As an ancient city, rich in culture and traditions, Athens certainly has something interesting to offer its visitors, including something one may take home. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that can be purchased in the shops of the famous Monastiraki Area.
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Monastiraki Gift Shops Map

Guide Name: Monastiraki Gift Shops
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Author: Daniel
Elia Olive Tree

1) Elia Olive Tree

What to buy here: Olive wood handicrafts: Take home the colors and textures of Greece with these handcrafted olive wood products, made on the island of Crete from environmentally harvested old olive trees. The wonderful grain of the olive wood is featured in a vast range of products including wine stands, wine and bottle openers, honey spoons, olive spoons, lemon squeezers, pestle & mortars, chopping boarders, salad servers, butter knives, egg cups and letter racks. These pieces are not only beautifully crafted but also very handy in the kitchen! Prices vary and start from 10 euro. The last piece I picked up was a spaghetti measurer. It is about 20 cm long and looks something like a flat baseball bat and has 4 holes of various sizes, measuring meals for 1 - 4 people! You can pick up products like these and more in the Plaka and Monastiraki districts. A favorite shop being Elia Olive Tree, located at 67 Andrianou Street, Monastiraki. Hours: Monday - Sunday 10:30 am-9:00 pm.
Anastasios Vobirakis Religious Items

2) Anastasios Vobirakis Religious Items

What to buy here: Religious items and decorative silverware: Greece is well known for its quality of silver products. Silver, gold and other precious materials have been used to decorate religious icons for over a thousand years. Initially done to protect the icon from human handling in devotions, it later became a way to enhance an icon's beauty. Buy handmade Byzantine silver icons, ecclesiastic and decorative items hammered by hand as well as a range of silver fruit bowls, vases and plates. Pick up handmade religious icons with sterling silver trimming starting at 12 euro or all over silver up to 300 euro. Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver and is referred to as 925 degree silver. Silver work is finished by hand to create the fine details that can be seen in the icons. These icons are beautiful pieces of religious art for gifts or your home. You can find these silverware specialty shops in the Monastiraki and Agiou Markou districts. A local favorite is called Anastasios Vobirakis Religious Items and it's located at 29 Pandrosou Street, Monastiraki. The owner can find even the most obscure icon for you!
The Bouzouki Shop

3) The Bouzouki Shop

What to buy here: Musical instruments: Music and dance are a major part of Greek culture. Some of the most popular string instruments include oud, laouta, tamboura, bouzouki and baglama and make exclusive gifts for music lovers and enthusiasts. The bouzouki is one of the more popular instruments of the lute family (which is the tamboura family in Greek). This instrument can be dated back to the ancient times but became more popular during the 1920s with the rise in popularity of the Rembetiko music. Look no further than The Bouzouki Shop in Monastiraki at 31 Pandrossou Street. The variety here is amazing! These instruments are hand crafted and quite detailed in their design. Their other store in Egaleo, not far from Athens central includes the workshop also. The Bouzouki Shop has been a family owned business for 35 years. A bouzouki can start at 190 euro, but if that’s out of your price range ask to see their miniature products. The store’s philosophy is, don’t just come in and visit, trying out the instruments is part of the experience! Visit the Bouzouki Shop Monday through Saturday between 9:30 am - 7:00 pm and on Sunday between 9:30 am - 5:00 pm.

4) Panathinaikos

What to buy here: Sports paraphernalia: Greeks are fanatical about football (soccer). Find the perfect gift for that die-hard soccer fan with a cap, jersey, sweatshirt or scarf blazoned with the Panathinaikos logo, one of the most successful football clubs in Greece. In the back streets of Monastiraki towards Thissio district are the selected football stores selling gifts of all sorts supporting the major teams in Greece. These sports stores are located in the tourist areas of Athens and are open all day long, seven days a week. Depending on what you are buying, you can pick up something as little as 2 euro. The official Panathinaikos Store is located at 47 Pandrosou Street, Monastiraki.
Ignatios Romios Touristika Eidi

5) Ignatios Romios Touristika Eidi

What to buy here: Demitasse cup sets: Wherever you go in Greece you will see Greeks sitting at little tables, watching the world go by, and slowly sipping from little white Greek coffee cups. The cups also come in a range of colors and styles, from classic white to novelty designs. You can buy different colored porcelain sets with 24k gold overlay, decorated with classical Greek images or male and female names as well as various places in Greece. It the perfect gift to take home to remember your travels. These sets are sold all over Athens, in Plaka, Monastiraki, Thisio and even in the upmarket district of Kolonaki. In the heart of Monastiraki is Ignatios Romios Touristika Eidi selling a variety of Greek coffee cup sets. The shop is located at 40 Pandrosou Street, Monastiraki. Prices can start from anywhere between 5 euro to 200 euro for the more elaborate designs. Be sure to sit at a cafe, sip a cup of coffee and have your cup read from the residue left at the bottom! A common practice in Greece!
Dimitris Gounaris

6) Dimitris Gounaris

What to buy here: Tavli (Greek backgammon): This board game has its origins as far back as the Mesopotamian times! Every Greek kafeneio is filled with men playing the beloved Greek game of tavli. It looks a bit like a western game of backgammon. This is definitely a gift that one needs to buy here in Athens. The great thing about a tavli set is that it comes in all shapes and sizes! The traditional sets of tavli are made from different types of materials, generally the wooden type; cherry tree, ebony, lacquer, mahogany, olive tree, pine tree, rose tree, walnut-oak, wenge-rose, zebrano and leather and mother of pearl. A great store, with so much choice is located in the Monastiraki district on 11 Ifestou Street called Dimitris Gounaris. Prices are reasonable and you can find a tavli set for as little as 20 euro. They are a family owned business open from 9:00am - 9:00pm Tue,Thu,Fri and 9:00am - 6:00pm Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun. This gift is a great table decoration for any household!

7) Stavros!

What to buy here: Leather sandals: Wear your hand made leather sandals, created by Stavros Melissinos and then hit the road, like today's international celebrities, who've been wearing Melissinos' sandals for 50 years now; even the Beatles wore sandals made by Stavros! He is located at 2, Agias Theklas Street in Monastiraki Psirri district. Prices are very reasonable for these hand made sandals; between 12 and 30 euro! The designs vary and are unisex; the leather is of high quality calf from the north of Greece. Each sandal is either named after a celebrity or a philosopher. Around the same district behind the Monastiraki train station are some other leather sandal stores on Adrianou Street as you head towards the cafes and restaurants in Monastiraki. Given that these stores are located in the tourist areas of Athens, they are open everyday.
Lesvos Shop

8) Lesvos Shop

What to buy here: Pasta and wheat products: Though Greece may be a country of bread-eaters, the subject of regional pasta is quite vast. There are dozens, if not more, different traditional Greek pastas, and certainly dozens of ways to prepare them. One of the most popular are hilopites- the word for egg noodles used throughout Greece. These can be long and thin, (not unlike fettuccine in shape), or small squares. There are simple recipes for making hilopites with meat and chicken in tomato base sauces. During the summer months, the women in the village get together at the local pasta shop, bringing their ingredients to make bulk quantities of hilopes to last for the year. It’s also a social thing for these women to catch up on the gossip of the town! Another popular pasta is trahana. There are two types of these; sweet trahana made with milk and sour trahana made with yogurt or sour traditional buttermilk. Pastas and wheat products are sold throughout Athens in supermarkets but the specialty store are located in the Psirri and Monastiraki districts. A great store selling these products is the Lesvos Shop located on Athinas 33. These products are all from the Island of Lesvos and Limnos and are quite cheap, starting at 3 euro for a small packet.
Elixir Spices

9) Elixir Spices

What to buy here: Herbs: Herbs are loved all over Greece and have been part of the Greek culture for thousands of years. Bring home the flavors of Greece including Greek oregano; a key herb used to create the unique dishes in Greek cooking and Greek red saffron, a pure product of the Greek land, considered to be one of the best saffrons in the world. Thyme, basil and sage are also key ingredients to make that perfect Greek dish you ate at the local taverna! A very well known family business called Elixir Spices and Herbs is located at 41 Evripidou Street. Herbs and spices are not expensive to purchase, as little as 1 euro. Experts in the herb and spices industry, Elixir has longstanding relationships with herb growers and their variety in store is like no other!

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Whether you are in Athens for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Athens has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Athens's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Athens Tourist Card, Athens City Pass, or Athens Museum Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Athens's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Athens hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Electra Hotel Athens, Hotel Grande Bretagne, King George.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Athens, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Athens typically costs somewhere between US$15 and US$100 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Athens from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the three interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for all three).

- Explore Athens in its entirety, from the beautiful beaches to historic treasures, on a similar hop-on hop-off double-decker sightseeing tour running straight from the sea shore all year round! Ideal for those arriving on cruise ships!

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of night Athens – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the Greek capital in its nighttime ambiance. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have by walking.

- Pedal your way around Athens on a 3.5-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Acquaint yourself up-close with the wonders of Ancient Greece on a 3-hour walking tour of UNESCO-listed Acropolis and other fascinating sights within its walls, plus many more historic and otherwise notable attractions in Athens.

- Awaken your taste buds to an array of authentic Greek delicacies on a 4-hour guided gourmet food walk in Athens during which you will sample some of the finest street food in the city. Apart from feasting on the local specialties, with each bite you will also learn about the culinary history of Athens.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Athens, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Delphi, Meteora, Mycenae and Epidaurus, Corinth, or Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon. For as little as circa US$50 to US$120 per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including fascinating monuments of Greek mythology and history, immerse in Greece’s spectacular scenery, admire the beauty of the local countryside replete with breathtaking views, scenic monasteries and villages existent for centuries, explore ancient ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Athens, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, train or private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.