If you’re planning a vacation to the historic cities, spectacular islands, and romantic towns of Greece, you’ll want to bring home keepsakes to remember your time there. The best souvenirs from Greece include locally made creations you can’t find anywhere else, like handmade jewelry, locally grown honey, and cosmetic sea sponges plucked from the Mediterranean Sea.
Here are the best Greek souvenirs to buy during your vacation.
Komboloi, also known as worry beads, are a timeless Greek tradition of expression used to soothe and de-stress. Once a religious symbol, today komboloi are mostly used as a secular pastime for modern Greeks. Some twirl their beads; others count them. The sound of komboloi even possesses a musical quality.
The cultural story of worry beads dates back centuries, if not thousands of years to ancient Greece. The Komboloi Museum in the center of Nafplio is famous for theirs, making it an excellent place to understand more about the importance of these beads in Greek culture.
Colorful and often made of stone, mother of pearl, or even wood, there are many looks and styles of worry beads to choose from, whether you’re browsing at a souvenir shop or a trendy boutique.
The islands of Kalymnos and Corfu are two of the best places to buy Greek sea sponges. Sea sponges have been used for cleanliness and grooming since the days of ancient Greece because it’s widely known that sea sponges do not hold on to bacteria.
Pamper yourself or a loved one back home with a beautiful yet practical sea sponge that can be used for cosmetic purposes to exfoliate the skin or as a loofah. During your visit, you can even indulge in a sea sponge spa treatment.
When properly taken care of, a sea sponge can be a lasting souvenir of your time along the Mediterranean.
Honey brought all the way from Crete is one sweet way to tell someone how much you love and appreciate them. Local honey from a farmers’ market or local producers in Chania offer must-try samplings.
Crete is one of the most famous honey-producing regions in the country. In ancient Greece, bees were viewed as sacred, particularly in Crete. Beehives thrived in the rich, Cretan hillsides, which created a unique honey thanks to the area’s citrus trees and other aromatic plants.
Try Crete’s beloved thyme honey, which is often paired with savory dishes. There’s almost always honey-laden Greek baklava around to satisfy a sweet tooth.
All Things Olive
In ancient Greece, the olive was considered a divine source of peace, and its use in oils and as a staple in the Greek diet quickly became renowned across the globe.
Sample Greek olive oil, kalamata olives, and dozens of other olive superfoods during a vacation in Greece. In Nafplio, take an olive farm tour and learn to make your own oil. The green olive in Nafplio is famous for its salty, briny taste. Try elitses (mini green olives) in Crete.
It’s popular to bring olives in a jar back with you (imagine the dirty martinis you’d make!), but be aware of travel restrictions and other details before you travel with food items or items stored in glass containers.
Greece is known for incorporating olive oil as a key ingredient in beauty and cosmetic products, from hand creams and moisturizers to soaps and lush body lotions that leave skin glowing. Applying SPF infused with olive oil will feel particularly luxurious on a sunny, warm Mediterranean beach.
When you imagine Greek paradise, it’s likely you picture one of its top exports—wine. Like olives and many other culinary dishes, Greek wine draws thousands of visitors to the region every year, and there are over 300 varieties of grape native to Greece.
Tour wineries and sample the local blends, which change in flavor and body depending on where you go. Crisp white wines dominate the islands and coast, while full-bodied reds are frequently paired with meaty dinners further inland.
You’ll see fine leather shops in nearly every town you visit in Greece selling goods like wallets, handbags, chic summer sandals, and passport holders. Find leatherworkers who specialize in custom designs near the port or along the popular string of shops at Monastiraki Market in Athens.
Leather goods are one of the best souvenirs from Greece since they’re built to last, giving you a special treasure that you’ll cherish for years to come.
It’s no secret Athens was the birthplace of some of civilization’s most critical art movements, which even trickled down into the ceramics citizens used in their daily routines. From art pieces to plates painted in bright blues, local ceramics are highly prized for locals and tourists alike.
Symbolic, elegant urns, rich-colored terracotta pots, ornate figurines and vases telling religious stories—Grecian pottery makes a great gift for any occasion or style preference.
Athens is filled with hand-painted objects. The shops at the Benaki Museum or the Museum of Cycladic Art are two spots that promise some of the best hand-painted art and ceramics in the city.
While you can always grab a quick souvenir before your vacation ends, there are also plenty of opportunities to find local spots during your Greek vacation. You might land on a piece of artwork commissioned by a local painter, or leather sandals crafted by hand by an artisan on the coast.
Evil Eyes (Mati)
A mati talisman, according to Greek legend, is meant to ward off bad spirits. You’ll find mati jewelry like necklaces and earrings in addition to talismans that you can carry with you. According to local folklore, wearing the eye every day will protect you from receiving the evil eye.
The eyes are typically a dark blue or light blue, which can represent relaxation and protection, as well as good karma. Different colored mati take on their own symbolism and are said to offer different benefits than the classic, cobalt mati.
Your loved ones will perk right up at the scent of Greek-style coffee wafting through their homes. Purchase a blend or two of these finely ground Arabica beans for yourself, or bring home a briki coffee maker to brew your own.
The idea behind Greek coffee is that it is sipped slowly and carefully. The finely ground beans are also left in the bottom of the espresso cup, strengthening your morning joe as you sip. Just avoid the coffee grounds when you get to the last few sips!
Photography and Art Prints
Travelers flock to the cobalt rooftops of Santorini and the highest point of Athens to take unforgettable photos of their experiences. Why not support artists and buy local during your getaway?
With dozens of museums and art galleries in Athens, you can also visit their gift shops for themed souvenirs from your visits. Art prints and coffee table books are easy to roll up or transport, while paintings and wood carvings may require a little more advanced planning.
When you’re choosing what kind of vista to bring back as a souvenir, reference your memories in Santorini’s remote coves, sunny beaches, or a family-friendly outing at the Attica Zoological Park in Athens.
Greeks are very proud of their locally grown pistachios, which they claim taste better than pistachios grown in other parts of the world. These nutrient-packed nuts are a staple in many classic Greek desserts, usually smothered in local honey or wrapped in crunchy, baked phyllo dough.
Pistachios from the Greek Islands are a perfect gift for foodies, who can use them in their own baking and cooking at home.
If you really want to go all-in on Greek culinary traditions, why not bring home a bottle of the nation’s most famous aperitif? Ouzo is a liquor with a star-anise flavoring, making for a powerful pairing with your meze, or appetizers. Some put ouzo in cocktails, while others serve it straight or on the rocks.
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