8 Tips for Successful Shopping at a Greek Flea Markets

8 Tips for Successful Shopping at a Greek Flea Markets

Are you a flea market enthusiast looking to pick up some bargains in Greece? Here are some expert tips to help you navigate the hustle and bustle, and find the best deals.

Although I rarely purchase items for www.eclecticdesigngreece.com there. I am absolutely hooked on Greek flea markets and second hand shops. I am based in  Athens so know the shops and the sellers in the backstreets of "old Athens" well, but there are great Flea markets all over Greece, and the same principles apply. If you have any favourites, please let me know and I will post them. I would also love to see pictures of your finds. Most of the points below would apply anywhere but I have included local information that I think will be helpful.

Arrive Early for the Best Selection

One of the key strategies for successful Greek flea market shopping is to arrive early. This is when vendors are setting up their stalls and the best items are still available. By getting there before the crowds, you'll have first pick of the merchandise. If you are shopping in the summer it will be also be a lot cooler.

There is a permanent flea market in Athens at the foot of the Acropolis called Monistiraki, named after the square where it is located. Links by public transport are good, there is an adjacent metro station of the same name, and also a reasonable bus service.

On Sunday morning there are extra tables, and it gets very crowed. It's great fun, but it is not my favourite time to shop. If you want to look without being jostled avoid Sunday morning ! 

Bring Cash and Small Bills

Most Greek flea market vendors prefer cash transactions, so be sure to bring plenty of small bills and change. This will make it easier to negotiate prices and make purchases without any hassle. In my experience you will be very lucky to buy at a good price without cash. There is no need to carry big wads of cash as there're plenty of ATM's if you find something special.

Negotiate with Confidence

Don't be afraid to haggle with vendors to get the best price. Start by asking if they can lower the price, and be prepared to walk away if the deal isn't right. Remember, bargaining is a common practice at Greek flea markets, so don't be shy about negotiating. Keep it fun though, these guys are making living they are not a charity. So be civil and smile, you'll get a better deal. 

Just to hammer the point home. Never forget the golden rule, if you feel it's too expensive don't be afraid to walk away. If the seller is really trying it on there is a good chance that he will make you a counter offer. If the vendor is rude, greedy or unpleasant ... walk away, this is a fun way to shop, and most vendors will charm your socks off.

Inspect Items Carefully

When shopping at any flea market, it's important to carefully inspect items before making a purchase, Flea markets in Greece are no exception. Look for any damage or flaws that could affect the item's value or usability.  

Damage is a biggie if you are a collector, or you are buying for resale. If you just want something cool for your home it's different. I bought an amazing 1960s Murano vase with a small chip that doesn't show, in perfect condition it is worth about €400. I only paid 27€.  I love the aesthetics, the fun I had buying it, and the price I paid. However I also know that I can't sell it on www.eclecticdesigngreece.com, so from a business point of view it was a complete waste of money. Do I care .. no. I bought it with my eyes open, because I loved its form and colour, and it brings me joy. 

A Bargain Is Only A Bargain When You Don't Regret What You Paid

My point is, always buy something that will bring you joy, but understand clearly why you are buying it. When you are deciding what to purchase, always ask yourself; are you buying for fun, or as an investment? If the latter is the case look at your find very carefully in the daylight, and/or with the torch on your phone. A bargain is only a bargain when you don't regret what you paid, whether that is 50 cents or thousands of euros.

Ask Questions

Don't be afraid to ask the vendor questions about the item's history or condition. Sometimes they really know their stuff and it's incredibly interesting, sometimes it's heavily loaded with BS. On some occasions I have known more about what they are selling than they do, and if you find yourself in this situation my advice is to zip it. Nobody likes a smart Alec, and if they think it's valuable to you the price will go up.


Stay Hydrated and Wear Comfortable Shoes

Greece is a warm country for much of the year. Greek Flea markets can be crowded, so it's important to stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes and in the summer months wear sunscreen and a hat. You may be doing a lot of walking and standing, so be prepared with water, headwear, and footwear that can keep you comfortable throughout the day. I would also suggest a lightweight back pack or shoulder bag to carry away your treasure. Most vendors at the second hand shops, and flea markets in Greece will wrap your items in old newspaper which is very eco friendly, then pop it in a plastic bag which is not. Lastly it's a good idea to bring hand sanitiser for obvious reasons.


Take a break

If in doubt take a break to think about what you have seen. Stop off at one of the many local cafes and restaurants nearby to take a breather, and regroup. A little time and distance helps put possible purchases in focus, and saves expensive mistakes.  Take a picture and check the item on google lens. The downside of course is that someone else may have snapped up your treasure in the meantime, but don't despair there will always be another bargain to be found. 


Fake or Fortune

Don't loose your head, I know its hard to stay cool when you think you have discovered a real find. The first thing to check is if it's a fake or repro, some are incredibly good, and have been "aged" by pros. So It is not easy. Genuine antiques, and vintage items have some signs of wear and a patina. So look for that first. I will write another blog with tips about what to look for.

If it's too good to be true then it probably is, but there is always the possibility that you may have discovered a real find, that's what makes visiting flea markets in Greece fun.

Remember that some ancient objects, even though they are thousands of years old have very little commercial value. In Greece there is a plethora of these objects. Always do a Google Search, preferably using Google Lens, so you can get an idea of their market value before spending too much of your hard earned cash.


 Last But Not Least, Have Fun

By following these expert tips, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the Greek flea markets and find some hidden treasures. There are certainly bargains to be found. Happy shopping.

  • Julie Chapman