You visited Greece and had a blast. Before your flight, you want to purchase a few items made in Greece to remember your time there. You may also want to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Forget donkey key chains and Parthenon magnets. Helinika has gathered a list of quality products that are made in Greece. Here is a list with original souvenir ideas from Greece!
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Top Greek Souvenirs and Quality Greek Products
- Greek leather sandals
- Olive oil and olive-based products
- Greek Ceramics
- Gold Jewelry
- Natural Sponges
- Tavli (Backgammon Board Game)
- Greek/Turkish Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea
- Greek Honey
Greek Honey is an Excellent Gift from Greece
Ancient Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus would eat honey and drink honey infused wine. They would eat it for its medicinal benefits and they would offer it to the dead along with wine, milk, and oil. The Attica region has been a bee-keeper’s heaven since antiquity. Greek honey -especially Greek thyme honey- is known for its thick consistency, rich taste, and countless health benefits. Greece’s “liquid gold”, as it is often called, makes an excellent souvenir choice or a gift choice for your friends and family. Keep in mind that modern Greeks have made innovative changes in their honey production methods. For example, the brand “Vasilissa” offers a blend of honey and pure gold flakes! Other brands have been inspired by this product and offer various honey blends.
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Don’t Leave Greece without Greek Coffee and Greek Mountain Tea
Greek traditional coffee is very similar -if not the same- as Turkish coffee. Although most young Greeks tend to choose Italian coffee nowadays, this unfiltered type of coffee continues being a big part of the local culture. Strong and bitter, Greek coffee has been served in every “kafeneio” when the village’s elders started a political conversation. And a visit to the grandparents’ house has been associated with the strong smell of Greek coffee being boiled in a briki over a small camping stove on the kitchen counter. Older women would often gather at home and gossip over a cup of Greek coffee, often turning their cup upside down and reading the symbols created by the coffee grounds. This method of fortune telling is known as “tasseography”.
It goes without saying that taking a bag of fine coffee grinds is a must. Loumidis is perhaps the most famous brand in Greece. However, there are countless other Greek coffee brands to choose from in every Greek super-market. If you are not a fan of coffee, consider buying the famous “Greek Mountain Tea” or “Sideritis”. A flowering plant that is dried and used as herbal tea. Sideritis has been used for thousands of years against respiratory illnesses, anemia, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
Remember Greece Forever by Bringing a Greek Tavli Home
Did you know that the oldest known board game is still played religiously in Greece? Tavli or Backgammon was invented 5.000 years ago in Mesopotamia and it is still a popular board game in Greece. Apparently, modern Greeks play the same games that Byzantine Greeks loved: Portes, Plakoto, and Asodio. If you are not sure how to play any of these tavli games, I can assure you that any elderly man in a coffee shop will be more than happy to teach you. You can then bring a tavli back home or gift it to a friend who loves board games.
Greek Natural Sponges are Hard to Find
Natural sea sponges are the preferred bathing and cleaning sponges for many people around the world. However, they are hard to find and even harder to get. They require a team of brave and skilled free divers who are willing to risk their lives to retrieve these sponges. Greece has a long history of sponge diving, with Kalymnos island having a special sponge diving tradition. In fact, the “Antikythera Mechanism”, the world’s first computer, wouldn’t have been discovered if a group of Kalymnian sponge divers hadn’t explored the depths of the Sea of Antikythera. Today, you can find sea sponges in many natural product stores all around Greece.
Greek Gold Jewelry as a Gift from Greece
It is no secret that well-known luxury brands have been inspired by jewelry pieces displayed in Greek archaeological Museums. Gold jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and rings, have been popular in Greece in ancient, medieval, and modern times. Greek designs are usually geometric and minimalistic. Depending on your budget, consider buying a unique set of earrings or an elegant necklace from one of Greece’s countless jewelry shops. Hermina Athens, 3rd Floor, and Lito, are a few Greek jewelry brands that come to mind.
Greek Ceramics and Pottery as Souvenirs
If you have ever visited an archaeological Museum in Greece, then you know that Greeks have a very long ceramics and pottery tradition. In certain islands, such as in the Cyclades, you will find shops selling only handmade ceramic mugs, plates, vases, and items. They are usually painted by hand, and they are one of a kind. An example is the traditional pottery workshop in the island of Kythnos. Please don’t mix them up with the industrially produced “ancient Greek” imitation pottery that you may find in some souvenir shops. If you choose to buy ceramics as a Greek souvenir, make sure to pack them carefully with a generous amount of bubble wrap.
Never Leave Greece without Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apart from honey, Greece’s “liquid gold” is also olive oil. Sold today around the world, Greek olive oil was reportedly the product that brought immense profit to the city of Athens, contributing to the citizens’ achievements in the classical period. Imagine a world without the concept of Democracy or Theatre because olive oil did not exist. And let’s not forget the fact that goddess Athena was chosen as the protector of Athens for planting the first olive tree. Greek olive oil makes the perfect souvenir from Greece.
Hand-made Leather Sandals as Souvenirs from Greece
Another must-item to get from Greece is a pair of hand-made leather sandals. Flat, chic, and minimal. They are the most original product you can get from Greece. You will find many stores dedicated to this art at the streets of Athens and other locations. Sandalaki and Ancient Greek Sandals are two well-known brands that ship their products abroad.