Are you heading to Greece soon and looking for unique souvenirs to take home? From evil eyes and worry beads to local food specialties, there is no shortage of amazing options when it comes to selecting the perfect Greek mementos. After all, meaningful keepsakes will last long beyond your return from this gorgeous Mediterranean country!
Whether you’re looking for something small or more extravagant, this list provides the 24 best gifts from Greece that will be hits with your loved ones. Read on to find out which Greek souvenirs make the perfect keepsakes.
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Evil eye charms
Dating back to Classical Antiquity, these traditional talismans have been used as protection from “the evil eye.” In Greek culture, the mati (evil eye) is believed to be a supernatural force brought on by jealous glances and negative energy.
Receiving this curse has serious consequences, such as bad luck or even injury. So, as protection against evil spirits, Greek people wear charms and wards that look like blue eyes. The outer circle is typically a dark blue with a light blue inner circle.
You’ll likely see these symbols all over Greece during your trip. For example, you can find mati wall art, keychains, jewelry, tote bags, and even pillows, making them popular gift ideas for Greece lovers.
Greek ouzo and other spirits
One of the best souvenirs from Greece is the country’s national drink: Ouzo! This dry anise-flavored aperitif is sweet, silky, and appreciated by locals and tourists alike. You can choose to either mix ouzo with water and ice cubes or drink it straight from a shot glass.
If you opt for the first option, you’ll notice that the aperitif turns a cloudy white color. Per tradition, you’ll need to pour the ouzo first and then add either ice, water, or both. Thanks to its popularity, you can find ouzo in most places in Greece, including the duty-free stores at the Athens International Airport.
Other well-liked spirits in Greece include raki, tsipouro, and mastika. Raki is a Cretan brandy made from twice-distilled grapes, while tsipouro is a brandy from the mainland that comes in two different types: pure and anise-flavored. Both of these grape distillates are considered more potent than ouzo! Meanwhile, mastika is a pine-flavored liqueur that’s made with mastic.
Handmade ceramics and pottery
Although you can find mass-produced ceramics and pottery in most places in Greece, we highly suggest looking for handpainted pieces. Especially if you’re traveling to the Greek Islands, you’ll have no problem finding local shops selling artisanal pieces.
Sifnos is particularly known for its ceramics, thanks to its natural abundance of clay. Artisans on the island today continue to practice the ancient tradition of pottery making using the same tried and true techniques as their ancestors.
While in Greece, you can purchase various types of ceramics and pottery, including vases, mugs, pots, plates, and more! No matter what type of pottery you buy, make sure to pack it securely in your suitcase. We suggest wrapping thicker pieces of clothing around each item to prevent damage.
Olives and olive oil
Olives have strong ties to the country of Greece. In fact, in Greek mythology, Athena is said to have planted the first olive tree at the Acropolis. Additionally, extra virgin olive oil is an essential staple of the Mediterranean diet. So, one of our best Greek gift ideas is buying olives!
The most famous Greek olives are undoubtedly Kalamata olives, which are purple and have a fruity flavor. However, other olive choices include Halkidiki (green with a meaty texture) and Konservolia (mainly black with a mild flavor).
When selecting your souvenir olives, ensure they’re stored in vacuum-sealed bags. This tactic will guarantee that your olives don’t spoil on the journey home. Just remember to pack them in your checked luggage!
Greek worry beads
Greek worry beads, also called komboloi, are certainly one of the most popular Greek gifts. Although they likely began as prayer beads, nowadays, komboloi don’t have any religious association.
Instead, they’re seen as an easy way to keep fidgeting hands busy and relieve stress and anxiety–kind of like the Greek version of a stress ball! Komboloi typically are made in a loop shape and have an odd number of beads.
In tourist shops, you can find cheaper versions made with synthetic materials. Or, if you’re looking for the real deal, you can splurge for the worry beads made with high-end amber.
If you’re looking for a unique Greek souvenir, consider purchasing some local honey. Greece has the ideal climate for beekeeping and a long history of harvesting honey. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why Greek honey is considered some of the best in the world.
Additionally, the country produces a range of honey flavors based on what the bees feed from. For example, popular flavors include thyme honey, pine honey, fir honey, and heather honey.
Before you make your purchase, we suggest you make sure that your country of residence allows you to bring back honey. Most do, but it’s always best to double-check! If you’re American, you’re in the clear and can enter the country with products like condiments, vinegar, oil, packaged spices, honey, coffee, and tea.
Greek backgammon board
Greek backgammon, or tavli, is one of the oldest board games in the world. In fact, its origins trace back to 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. Nowadays, it’s Greece’s national board game! You’ll likely notice that traditional kafeneios are filled with tavli players during your vacation.
The board consists of a wooden frame, 15 black checkers, 15 white checkers, and two dice. In Greek backgammon, three games are played in a sequence: Portes, Plakoto, and Fevga. You’ll need to be the first player to bear off all 15 pieces to win each round.
You can find backgammon sets in most destinations in Greece. For example, at the Monastiraki Flea Market or local shops on most Greek Islands. Prices vary depending on the board material, although natural olive wood is the top choice.
Traditional greek coffee is a strongly brewed black coffee with grounds in the cup. It uses very fine coffee grounds and is prepared over low heat in a tall, narrow pot called a briki. The coffee is then served in small espresso-sized cups called demitasse cups.
The taste isn’t for everyone; however, many people learn to love it during their visit! In Greek culture, coffee is meant to be enjoyed slowly, taking sips while you partake in conversation. You can drink Greek coffee by itself or add as much sugar as you’d like.
Handmade leather sandals
For a unique Greek souvenir inspired by ancient times, why not purchase a pair of handmade leather sandals? These flat, lightweight shoes are made of premium leather with a rubber sole. Plus, if you stop by an authentic workshop, you’ll find that the sandals are often made to measure!
You can find Greek leather sandals in all sorts of colors, although light brown is the most common. If you’re going to be shopping in Athens, we suggest perusing the Monastiraki and Plaka neighborhoods.
Or, if you’re willing to splurge, head to Melissinos Art on Tzireon Street. This family-owned shop has made sandals for celebrities like the Beatles, Jackie O, and Barbra Streisand.
Sweets and confections
If you’re looking for the perfect Greek souvenir for a friend with a sweet tooth, you have many options! For example, one of the most traditional Greek desserts is baklava, a layered pastry made with phyllo dough, honey, and nuts.
Another popular option that travels well is loukoumi, familiar to many people as “Turkish delight.” Other top choices for delicious Greek sweets include pasteli (honey sesame bars), halvadopita (nougat pie), and kataifi (shredded phyllo dough, nuts, and honey).
If you’re visiting during the holidays, don’t miss kourambiedes (shortbread Christmas cookies) and melomakarona (honey Christmas cookies). Or, if you’re running short on time, you can find Ion chocolates at most grocery stores.
Greek bouzouki or other musical instruments
If you’re looking for things to buy in Greece for the music lover in your family, look no further than the bouzouki. This string instrument, which resembles a lute or a mandolin, is an essential element within Greek music. It features a round body, a long neck, and a fretted fingerboard with either three or four pairs of strings.
The bouzouki is a direct descendent of the pandura, a string instrument depicted in artwork from Ancient Greece. However, the bouzouki as we know it today was introduced in the early 20th century, thanks to a group of refugees from Anatolia.
Note that bouzoukis are on the pricier side and take up a lot of room in your luggage. So, if you’re looking for something smaller or more affordable, check out the baglamas. It’s essentially a miniature bouzouki pitched an octave higher.
If you have loved ones who are Greek Orthodox, handmade and handpainted religious icons make some of the best souvenirs in Greece. In fact, the iconography associated with the Greek Orthodox church is historically some of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 2nd century B.C.
Byzantine traditions heavily influenced this form of religious art. So, you’ll typically find icons for sale in Greece that are made with wood panels or cast in metal (sterling silver or gold).
The portraits usually depict Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Trinity, saints, or events from the Bible using the liturgical colors of white, green, purple, red, blue, and gold. If you’re looking to purchase icons in Athens, we suggest Byzantium Monastiraki, a family-owned business in Monastiraki.
An easy-to-find souvenir from Greece is jewelry! Whether you’re looking for high-end pieces or more affordable necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bracelets, and rings, there are plenty of choices.
For example, maybe you’d like to bring home a piece inspired by Greek history. If so, we recommend looking for meander patterns, mati (evil eye) pendants, or even coin rings that are perfect replicas of ancient Greek currency.
You can find both modern and classical-inspired pieces in neighborhoods in Athens, like Monastiraki (semi-precious) and Syntagma, Plaka, and Kolonaki (precious). We suggest Dimos Jewelry in Plaka, Aphrodite Jewelry (Monsastiraki), and Maris Exclusive Jewelry (Monsastiraki).
Greek herbs and spices
There are a variety of choices for Greek-themed gifts for the resident chef in your household. Nonetheless, our favorite has to be local herbs and spices. In fact, some of these products made in Greece are of higher quality and cheaper, too!
For example, Greek red saffron, called Krokos Kozanis, is considered some of the best saffron in the world. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for fresh or dried oregano, a key ingredient in Greek cuisine. Other top herbs and spices to bring home include thyme, basil, sage, cumin, and rosemary.
Note that all spices are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. However, if they’re packed in containers larger than 12 oz, they’ll need to be taken out of your hand luggage for additional screening.
Mastic or mastiha is a resin collected from mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus) on the island of Chios. For this reason, it’s sometimes called the “tears of Chios.” The flavor is difficult to describe; however, we’d say it’s vanilla-esque with a touch of pine.
In ancient Greece, it was used for medicinal purposes, especially for digestive issues. At present, a variety of products are produced with this resin, like chewing gum, candies, spoon sweets, soaps, coffee, and oil.
However, one of the most popular Greece souvenirs with mastic is likely mastika, a sweet liqueur with a pine flavor. Traditionally, you drink mastika at the end of a meal as a digestif.
Olive wood products
Olive wood has been used in Greece for thousands of years. In fact, its natural properties make this type of wood remarkably durable and easy to clean. With this in mind, olive wood is an excellent choice for kitchenware.
If you take care of your olive wood products, they can last a lifetime! Some of the top Greece gifts made with olive wood include cutting boards, bowls, utensils, and cheese and serving boards. The wood itself features dark brown lines and yellowish-brown streaks.
Greek mountain tea
Greek Mountain Tea, called tsai tou vounou in the Greek language, is a popular caffeine-free herbal tea. It’s made by taking the dried leaves and stems of the Sideritis plant (ironwort) and boiling them in a pot of water. The tea is then typically served with honey and lemon.
Tsai tou vounou has been used in Greece since ancient times when it was celebrated for its health benefits. Nowadays, we know that it contains high levels of natural antioxidants, like flavonoids, sterols, and other phytonutrients. The flavor is a mix of mint, chamomile, and citrus.
When searching for Greek mountain tea, remember that it’s typically sold as loose tea instead of in tea bags. You may also see it called shepherd’s tea!
Olive oil beauty products and cosmetics
Besides olive oil’s importance to Greek cuisine, it’s also considered “liquid gold” for your hair and skin. In fact, olive oil contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is rich in vitamins, and is excellent at moisturizing skin.
For example, take the chance to try olive oil moisturizers, body creams and oils, shower gels, cleansers, hair care products, masks and scrubs, and hand cream. If you need last-minute Greek presents, you can even find Korres and Apivita shops at the Athens International Airport!
Replicas of ancient Greek artifacts
After you’ve visited important archeological sites in the country, you may want a replica of an ancient Greek statue to take home with you. For example, you can select a figurine of one of your favorite characters from Greek mythology, such as Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Poseidon, and Zeus.
Replicas in Greece come in a variety of materials, from alabaster to bronze and plaster. Plus, they range from large to pocket-sized, making these statues ideal as travel gifts. Some of the most famous replicas you can find in souvenir and museum shops are Aphrodite of Milos and Nike of Samothrace.
One of the best Greek souvenirs is the country’s most famous cheese: feta. This crumbly white cheese is actually a protected designation of origin in the EU. So, you’ll find lots of varieties at a cheaper price point.
We suggest you bring some feta home to make your own Greek salad. Or, purchase a few different types of Greek cheese and make a cheese board! In fact, besides just feta, Greece produces some of the finest cheeses in the world.
For example, graviera is similar to gruyère and is Greece’s second most popular cheese. Other top cheeses to try include metsovone, kefalotyr, myzithra, manouri, and kasseri. Remember that since you’re planning to travel with your cheeses, make sure they are vacuum sealed.
Greek traditional pasta
Although Italy is undoubtedly the country that’s best known for its pasta dishes, traditional Greek pasta is also delicious! Depending on the region you visit, you can find all sorts of varieties of pasta. Plus, it’s easy to pack in your suitcase, ranking among our best things to buy in Greece.
Pasta in Greece is typically made with ingredients such as wheat, milk, and eggs. Trachanas is one of mainland Greece’s most popular pasta varieties, made with flour and milk or yogurt. It’s often prepared in soup during the colder months!
Other popular Greek traditional pasta include makarounes, kritharaki, flomaria, aftoudia, hilopites, skioufichta, striftades, and toutoumakia. Make sure to pick up some olive oil as well, and you’ll have a fun recipe to cook at home.
Leather goods and accessories
Apart from handmade sandals, you can find all sorts of other hard-wearing leather products that make unique gifts from Greece. After all, the country has a long history of leatherwork. You’ll see that many shops in Greece continue to use traditional leather manufacturing methods, producing high-quality products that will last you a lifetime.
Some of our favorite Greek products to bring home as gifts are purses, wallets, and belts. However, you can also find items such as messenger bags, backpacks, camera bags, card holders, gloves, and hats.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to buy in Greece, why not bring home a bottle of local wine? In fact, Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, dating back to over 6,500 years ago. In ancient times, however, wine was typically served diluted with water.
Currently, Greece is home to over 300 domestic grape varieties, drawing thousands of viticulture enthusiasts each year. Nonetheless, Assyrtiko is likely the most popular. This light-bodied white wine originates from the island of Santorini and has a strong citrus flavor.
Other top wine varieties include Vinsanto, a dessert wine from Santorini; Agiorgitiko, a red grape from Nemea; and Xinomavro, a red wine grape variety widely produced in northern Greece. However, remember that wines and regional blends will vary depending on the destinations you visit.
Spoon sweets, also called glyko tou koutaliou, are one of the best souvenirs in Greece. These homemade fruit preserves are served in a spoon to guests as a welcoming gesture and an important tradition in Greek hospitality.
Although spoon sweets can be made with any fruit, the most common flavors are cherry, sour cherry, quince, and grape. They’re also slightly different than jam because the fruit within a spoon sweet is usually whole. Plus, the syrup surrounding the pieces of fruit is less thick and gelatinous than in the case of a jam.