Greek souvenirs and souvenirs in general are an important part of the travelers experience.
Souvenirs are a wonderful way to display and cherish your travel memories
According to Cambridge dicitonary souvenir (noun [ C ] - uk /ˌsuː.vənˈɪər/, us /ˌsuː.vəˈnɪr/) is something you buy or keep to help you remember a holiday or special event.
Tourism accounts for 18% of Greece’s GDP and employs more than 900,000 people, accounting for one fifth of the workforce.
As you can see, souvenirs are an important part of this economy.
This post will give you everything you need to know about Greek Souvenirs.
The Reasons Behind Souvenir Shopping
The main reasons you buy souvenirs are the following:
- Keeping the memory alive
- Souvenirs as gifts for friends and family
- Souvenirs as physical evidence of your travel
- Objects that friends will admire
- Unique items you will not find anywhere else
The Main Greek Souvenir Themes
There is not a certain rule on what a souvenir should be.
It could be a stone from your favorite beach, a recipe you took from a Greek friend or something you bought from a flea market or a high end boutique.
But there are patterns and themes you will find everywhere in Greece, that are based on Greece's long history, beautiful nature and unique everyday life.
Here are the basic themes:
1) Everything Evil Eye
The famous blue eye is certainly an all time classic.
It is based on a Greek superstition, that certain people can give you an evil stare, like an x-ray curse that will make you feel sick.
The evil eye will protect you by absorbing this negative energy.
This superstition dates back to antiquity.
2) Everything Olive
Greek olive oil is regarded as the best in the world, because extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) comprises at least 80 percent of olive oil production.
Homer described olive oil as "liquid gold" and according to archaeological findings olive oil and olive production can be traced back to Minoan Crete (approx. 5000 years ago).
Goddess Athena gave her name to the city of Athens, after the Athenians chose her in a legendary battle between Athena and Poseidon.
They chose Athena because she gave them an olive tree: a symbol of lumber, food and energy.
You will find many olive tree products such as:
- Olive oil
- Olive paste
- Olive wood products (like kitchenware, ornaments, games etc)
3) Greek Leather
Greece was for centuries an agricultural economy.
Besides farming, livestock herding was a common occupation.
Mainly goats, sheep and later cows gave Greeks meat, milk and skins that they used for everyday needs.
The skins as byproducts were used used for clothing, shoes and bags.
Today you will find such products everywhere in Greece, especially leather bags are a must have.
Above all, keep in mind that Greece is a European Union country.
Therefore such production is regulated by strict laws about animal welfare.
Find here an example of a modern use of goat leather in Greek souvenirs and objects.
4) Products From Greek Nature
Besides olive oil and olives, Greek honey is worldwide known for it's quality.
Unfortunately you can not take everything as a souvenir - how will you carry a Greek water melon, yogurt or fresh Greek tomatoes in you luggage?
But there are products you can be easily pack, such as:
- sea salt
- hard liquor like the famous Ouzo and Tsipouro
5) Greek Cosmetics As Souvenirs
Greece has a flora of over 6500 plant varieties, 1300 of which are endemic.
Since the times of Hippocrates (~5th c. BC) there is great knowledge and tradition in plant-based cosmetology.
Search and find unique products for facial, body and hair care.
Great example is the Greek olive oil soap which makes an ideal Greek souvenir since you can easily pack and carry it back home.
Here is a full analysis about the benefits and story of Greek olive oil soap with suggested products.
6) Philosophy, Arts And History Themed Souvenirs
Greeks sparked what is known as the "western world".
Through arts, philosophy, science, politics and sometimes war they grounded the fundamentals of the modern world and societies.
Historic figures like:
- philosophers Aristotle, Plato and Socrates
- poets like Homer or Sappho
- theatrical writers like Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides
- "scientists" like Hippocrates and Pythagoras
- historians like Thucydides or Plutarch
- strategical masterminds like Alexander the great or king Leonidas
- politicians like Pericles
can be considered the first influencers in history.
You will find Greek souvenirs based on such historical figures and their work that keep inspiring today.
7) Greek archaeology souvenirs
One of the main reasons many people visit Greece is to explore the archaeological sites.
Everywhere in Greece you will find places with great archaeological significance.
From Bronze age (Minoan Crete, Mycenae, Cycladic culture) via classical Greece (Olympia, Delphi, Acropolis) to Roman, Byzantine and ottoman empire (Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina).
In short you will find Greek souvenirs inspired by archaeology and the various findings.
Read in more detail about Greek souvenirs for archaeologists and archaeology lovers and classicists.
8) Greek Art Souvenirs
Find souvenirs with references on the various phases of Greek art:
For example you will find the kind of kitschy Greek temple fridge magnets.
On the other hand you will also find artifacts of high aesthetic standards.
Search for ancient statue replicas or byzantine icons.
For example Greek philosophers busts are a great idea.
Likewise figurines of famous statues like Aphrodite of Milos (Venus de Milo) or Hermes of Praxiteles are of great value.
There is a tendency in the Greek souvenir industry, modern designers to reinterpretate the Ancient Greek classics in a modern way.
Certainly you should search for such Greek souvenirs and support contemporary Greek creators.
9) Greek Souvenirs For Kids
Of course you will find various souvenirs inspired by Greece that your kids will love!
Are you searching for gifts for babies and toddlers? Find Greek baby suits and t-shirts, made from organic materials that are a new trend in Greek souvenirs.
Are your kids interested in mythology?
Above all, get them educational games based on the legendary Greek myths and stories or games inspired by Greek classics.
10) Greek Folklore Souvenirs
Souvenirs that are based on Greek folklore and traditions.
For example objects made from materials like olive wood, marble, leather, textile, ceramics and more.
Also woven carpets or rugs ("kilimi"), the "tagari bag" (a kind of Greek shepherds tote), Greek instruments like bouzouki or Lyra and more.
11) Modern Greek Souvenirs By Greek Artists And Designers
In the last decade contemporary Greek brands emerged form the financial crisis.
Architects, designers and artists pivoted to the tourism industry and they produce modern Greek souvenirs.
You will find clothing, design objects, stationery and more, everything modern and cool, made by contemporary Greek brands.
Great example is the ReDO label by architect Maria Mavroudi, that produces handbags that have multiple functions.
There are many Greek designer products in the site you are visiting right now.
Get a small idea about some typical souvenirs via the eyes of modern Greek producers in this post.
12) T-shirts, Hoodies and totes
Of course you can buy all kinds of t-shirts, hoodies, totes and more.
13. Greek Stationery
Notebook and journals are an all time classic souvenir.
You will find the usual kinds of stationery but also unique artistic leather journals.
Greek Souvenir Brick And Mortar Stores
There are various Greek shops that sell souvenirs or objects ideal for travelers.
You will find from typical small stores and traditional producers to high end boutiques and fancy concept stores.
We suggest you visit as many stores as you can, if you have the time.
You will meat every kind of salesperson - from pushy to gentle and you will definitely hear some cool stories.
Meet the personnel of the stores and talk to them. It is a huge part of the experience and many times you will get great info's and tips.
Bargaining can occur, depending on the owner, his philosophy and the items to be sold.
After that you are prepared and take the maximum of your shopping experience.