Ever since my first trip to Athens in 1989 I have been fascinated by outdoor street markets. Back then large chain supermarkets were non-existent in Greece, so each neighborhood had it’s own outdoor market day. And though today there are plenty of big supermarkets, Greek owned chains like A B Vasilopoulos and Veropoulos, and even the French owned Carrefour, the weekly “laiki” or “people’s market” still sets up on the streets throughout the city.
In central Athens, visitors have several choices throughout the week to wander through the crowds, through the tables and stalls overflowing with locally grown produce, fresh fish, house wares including everything from bed linens to drapery to kitchenware, seasonal clothing, shoes and LOTS of underwear, there are even flower vendors selling everything from fresh cut flowers to miniature orange and olive trees to large, lush ficas trees.
The best time to visit the market is between 9 AM and 1 PM. The tables will still be piled high and the crowds will not have gotten too crazy yet. After 1 PM, the prices start to fall, and the vendors try frantically to sell out – prices fall, bags are prepared as the stacks and stacks of lovingly and beautifully displayed fruits and vegetables dwindle, and the locals scramble about looking for lower prices on the remaining produce.
Take time to spend a few hours at one of these outdoor farmer’s markets (Laiki agora, in Greek).
I never tire of wandering through them, snapping photos of the freshest finds and learning about what grows in which region of Greece at what time of year. Today, just 5 days after a historical two day snow storm in Greece I was amazed to learn that artichokes, still considered somewhat of a delicacy in America, at least in the Midwest, are already being harvested in the Agroloid region near Nafplion. They are a popular spring vegetable here in Greece, but apparently they are considered a late winter vegetable here in Greece!
As you explore the nearest laiki, take time to meet the people. While some are venders, many are farmers and they are as proud of their produce as a parent is of their child.Many will be happy to engage you, and some even dance in the street.
Many speak some English, and if they do not, someone nearby does. Visiting during slower times allows me to spend more time with the people, learning about various farm regions of Greece, and getting to know the various merchants who temporarily set up shop as my neighbors each week.
Here’s a list of the downtown Farmer’s Markets in Athens – There are more, but these would be the closet to center, and all are within a 20 minute walk of Syntagma Square, though I have included metro or trolley instructions for getting there as well.
|Tuesday||Pagrati/Imittou||Trolley 2, 4 or 11 to Imittou Street. Exit and walk two blocks south to Damareos Street. The market wraps around a 6 – 7 block area off of Damareos, just follow the empty “market baskets” the locals will be pulling down the street!|
|Friday||Kolonaki||Dexameni Square, adjacent to the St. George Lycavittos Hotel ORGANIC MARKET
SUMMER HOURS 4:30 PM – 7:30PM,
WINTER HOURS 2:30 – 5:30
|Friday||Pagrati/Caravel||Metro to Evangelismos, walk toward Hilton, turn right and walk toward the Divani Caravel hotel – the market is across the street from the Caravel and behind Sygrou Hospital.|
|Friday||Pagrati/Mets||Trolley 2, 4 or 11 from Syntagma to Pangrati Square. Look for the market rising up on the street to the left of McDonalds.|
|Saturday||Neos Kosmos||Exit at Sygrou Fix metro, walk behind the Intercontinental hotel towards the square, about two blocks.|