While the remnants of ancient Greece are spectacular, attracting visitors from all over the world, the modern culture has a vibrancy all its own. Whether it’s art, fashion or jewelry, gifts from Greece are timeless.
Classic Greek Art
In the home of some of the greatest artists in human history, current Greek artists create beautiful work that is perfect to bring home. A variety of crafts are available for purchase, including metalwork, pottery, sculpture, woodcarvings, paintings, photography, engravings, weaving, and more. Athens is a good place to shop for handicrafts and has many art galleries, while Sifnos and Skopelos are known for ceramics, and Crete for alabaster. Thera has many shops offering crafts made of precious colored stones, which can be expensive but are a unique and long-lasting souvenir. Small furniture, decorative tiles, and copper, gold, silver, and bronze items can all also be found handmade. Though not exactly the real thing, high quality copies of famous ancient sculptures are sold in many shops as well.
Less permanent (but certainly no less enjoyable) gift ideas from Greece are some signature foods and drinks. Aegina is known for its pistachios, for example, their superior quality due to the island’s soil composition. More widely famous, though, is Greek olive oil. For any lover of food, this would be a much-appreciated gift, as would Greek cheeses or olives themselves. The quality of Greek wine will serve as a testament to its place in Greek culture as a tradition continuing over thousands of years. Another popular gift to bring home is Ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur originating from Greece.
Authentic Greek Attire
Though known more for their food and art than for fashion, there are some items in which different regions of Greece specialize. Knitwear is widely sold, as well as fur, particularly from Kastoria. Tripoli has a wide selection of clothing, characterized by unique and colorful styles. Leather sandals, bags, and jackets are also popular. Some shops offer traditional ethnic costumes as well, a good gift for those interested in capturing a bit of authentic Greek culture.
Jewelry production has been a tradition of Greek culture since ancient times. Ioannina is a good source of silver, but gold, diamonds, opal, and other materials are all widely used as well. Naoussa in Paros is particularly well known for unique offerings. While many designer items are available, the combination of modern and ancient styles used by Greek jewelry makers adds a special twist.
Other popular gifts from Greece include lace and embroidery from Crete, flokati rugs from the Epirus region, CDs of Greek music, statuettes of Greek gods, toys, and olive oil soap from Crete, to name a few. Sponges obtained by divers from off the coast of Kos are an interesting gift, though many from Asia are often sold as well, so check for a label to be sure that yours is authentically Greek. The open markets around the country are wonderful places to find a variety of gifts, particularly those in Monastiraki and Plaka (below the Acropolis). To go where the locals go, the shopping center Tripoli offers a lovely experience.
When searching for gifts, keep in mind that Greek vendors are very big on bargaining. Also, shopping midday is not an option (except in stores specifically designed for tourists) because most places are closed from around 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Many stores hold hours roughly between 9:00am and 2:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 9:00am to 2:30pm then 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Additionally, Greece is part of the European Union tax rebate system giving non-EU residents the ability to redeem the tax rebates at the airport.
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