Welcome to the Athens Flea Market where ancient, Byzantine and modern glories are all packed into one gloriously overcrowded mishmash. The entrance is on Monastiraki Square, opposite the Tzistarakis Mosque, built in 1759, which now houses the Kyriazopoulos pottery collection. You might want to start with a freddo cappuccino and get some fruit to snack on, because there’s a lot to see and do.
Monastiraki is the name of the downtown area where the Athens Flea Market is located. Monastiraki is bargain central and uniquely Athenian, although the Athens Flea Market is similar to markets elsewhere in Europe with probably some identical rubbish. Many shops have the same souvenirs as you’ll find on the Greek islands. But you can also expect the unexpected. Views and proximity to ancient glories – the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library and the Ancient Agora – make this place a treasure.
Weird stuff and collectibles
Jewellery (always overpriced so haggle away), bags, antiques, penis-shaped key rings, traditional Greek puppets, dubious antiques, plain ole secondhand, old medical and dental instruments, pseudo army combat gear, leather sandals, parts for old washing machines. Yup, that will all fit in your suitcase.
Sandals are among the best buys. Many sandal workshops are in the vicinity, and footwear can be fitted to your specification. Prices start from 12 euros. Today I pay 14 euros each for two pairs, which had been 18 euros apiece. Bargaining is part of the deal in the flea market. Just don’t be cheap and haggle for anything which is originally priced 10 euros or less. There’s smart and then there’s tacky. That will be you.
Collectibles in old coins and vinyl LPs do a brisk trade.
The Athens Flea Market is open seven days a week. Keep your handbag close. This area is where pickpockets also ply their trade, starting from inside the train station. I was robbed of my camera several years ago.
It is the territory of the tourist during the week, but Athenians flock here on Sundays with one-day stalls which stretch as far as Psiri and Thission.
If you walk from Pandrosou Street towards Hephaestou and Adrianou streets you’ll find many cafes and eateries which have unobstructed views of the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Ancient Agora.
If you’re hungry by now, consider this. It’s not kebab. We’re not in Lebanon. Souvlaki may be pieces of grilled meat on an individual skewer then slammed into pita bread, or grilled meat served like this.
It’s chicken grilled on a huge revolving skewer, then carved into pieces as needed. Strictly speaking it’s called yeeros or gyros. Whatever. The pita bread is grilled, it should be sprinkled with paprika and olive oil for the authentic taste, then the bread is packed with meat, chips, salad and tzatsiki. Et voila! This costs from only 2 euros. Pork is also available, or a vegetarian version. Truly the best Athens bargain of all.
If you want to eat on the run, all sit down eateries selling souvlakia (that’s plural) etc will do takeaway. You only need to ask. And then you needn’t complain like tourist dummies on TripAdvisor about lack of takeaways down this end of Athens.
Travel Tips FOR ATHENS FLEA MARKET
- The Monastiraki Metro Station serves both Line 1 and Line 3 of the Athens Metro.
- Take the Monastiraki Square exit from the Metro, turn sharp left by the fruit stalls and there’s the flea market
- If you’re walking down from Syntagma (Constitution Square), get onto Ermou Street which is pedestrian precinct and walk down, around the church, keep on walking and there you see it.
- Open seven days a week
- Haggle but don’t expect discounts for anything priced 10 euros or less
- Keep your bag and wallet out of sight
- A souvlaki or yeeros with everything will cost from 2 euros
- Sit down eateries and tavernas serving souvlakia will do takeaways.