SupermarketsWhen foreigners compare food prices in Athens supermarkets, they first wonder about the relatively high prices, because they compare the products they know, and these are usually imported goods. Basically, imported (branded) products are almost always a bit expensive than in e.g. Germany, where many foods are produced. Local companies often offer similar products at much lower prices. For example, one liter of imported orange juice at Lidl is 1 euro, while the Greek orange juice costs 69 cents, or 375gr branded cornflakes 2.39 euros compared to 1.69 euros for the Greek product. Of the staple foods of bread, milk, eggs, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, only the milk is more expensive than in some other EU countries, as the liter in Athens costs just over one euro, while in Germany milk is sold for 75 cents in some cases – Milk dumping is an issue anyway, which in Germany repeatedly argues for a dispute with the farmers. The current supermarket prices you can easily check at shopnsave.gr Incidentally, supermarkets in Athens are not any one-story warehouses in a parking lot on the edge of the residential area, but they are usually just around the corner on the first floors of an apartment building and are accordingly small, just as there are no parking spaces. Often the supermarkets have two or three floors due to the lack of space. The opening hours of the supermarkets are very clear, they are all open daily between 9 and 21 o’clock, only on Saturdays at 20 o’clock closing and Sunday the shop remains basically tight, there seems to be a legal regulation in this regard. In addition, there are still many so-called “Anytime supermarkets”, for example, from the chain OK-Market, which are open late into the night and on Sundays and compete priced with the major supermarkets.
KiosksThe ubiquitous kiosks are another important institution for the 24/365 supply of drinks, magazines, cigarettes, sweets and all kinds of other stuff. They often open late into the night, some even 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They form quasi the counterpart to the Berlin’s “Späti”, however with the difference that one finds no Späti in Kaulsdorf or Buckow, but in Nea Eritrea (the Athenian Equivalent) you can find some kiosks.
StreetmarketsFruits and vegetables are relatively cheap in Greek supermarkets, but are mostly bought at the weekly market, where prices are sometimes half. In addition, the quality of fruits and vegetables is extremely good (because of the sun), and not comparable with anything you can buy in Northern Europe, whether market, organic or discount stores. Part of the quality of life in Athens is definitely decided at the weekly street market. In Athens, the markets are an essential part of everyday care and they usually take place twice a week in each district. The offer is accordingly huge and they are selling beside fruits, vegetables and fish also other locally produced food, as well as clothes and household goods. Those who want to save, buy at least 50% of their food needs in the market. The market times and locations must be inquired either in the respective quarter, mostly they are also to be found on the website of the municipality. Often the weekly market in the neighboring district takes place on other days than in its own quarter, so that one finds in the area practically every day a market.
BakeryBread is bought at the bakery, of which there are at least two on every street corner. The bakeries bake (unlike in the crazy industrialized countries) almost all themselves and fresh, there are no baked deep-frozen “pasta” and there are no enzymes or other industrial stuff in the bread. A simple white bread (500 grams) costs 70-80 cents, of which there are numerous variations, also dark and grain breads are offered, which can then cost up to 3 euros per kilo. A special highlight in the bakeries are biscuits of all kinds, sweet or spicy. In addition, there are often cake, homemade ice cream or Greek-Turkish sweets, which are found in Germany in Turkish bakeries. Many bakeries are open for a long time, until 9pm or some even 24 hours, so the whole night. Another part of the quality of life is decided in the bakery.
ButcherIf you eat meat, you usually do not buy it at the supermarket, but at the butcher, of which there are still many. Often these are family shops, which are connected to an equally familiar meat supplier, which then means that the meat does not come from industrial production (which, however, also exists in Greece). One should ask the origin of the meat, often one gets then the complete family story told. Interestingly, the meat at the butcher is also cheaper than in the supermarket and also cheaper than in other European countries. One kilo of quality beef costs about 7 euros, in Germany about 9 euros.
Organic foodA relative new trend are organic food stores, which are much smaller than Northern Europe’s organic supermarkets and more comparable to the organic food stores of the 1980s. The organic stores in Athens are independent companies offering a mix of local organic products and imported goods. The prices are relatively high, much higher than in the German organic supermarkets and the clientele usually better earners or people who really care a lot about organic food.
Streetfood, Taverns & RestaurantsStreet food and food in taverns and restaurants is THAT thing in Athens. It is mostly cheap and almost always good. At the bakery or at small stalls there are sweet or savory dumplings for 1-2 euros, a very good coffee also costs 1-2 euros. Countless snack bars sell the quasi “national dish” Pitta Gyros for about 2 euros, a skewer Souvlaki with bread costs about 1.50 €, a salad 3-4 €. There is always free water, or you can drink a lemonade or a beer for 1-2 €. The next price category are warm kitchens, “Kouzina”, which are usually only open until early evening and offer complete dishes (with meat or vegetarian) between 5 and 10 euros. Alternatively, many taverns and cafes offer small hot meals called mezze or mezedes. That can be anything, small plates of grilled vegetables, baked fish, meat, interesting salads of the season, etc. So you can eat of variety for 5-10 euros. Another option is proper restaurants, which are available in all price ranges and styles. Mostly Greek cuisine is offered, but you can also find Italians, Spanish, Mexicans, Indians, Asians, Africans etc. Many dining locations are not listed on websites like tripadvisor or etable.gr, so you have to search real on site. (Concrete location tips are not given in this blog, there are other websites). The opening hours of the dining venues are more generous than in other European cities, you even get to eat in the outskirts even at 1 o’clock in the morning during the week something to eat, in the central districts you can eat throughout hot, 365/year. Bars and cafes often open 24/7. Also very popular are delivery services that have been around in Athens for decades. Due to the high population density you are guaranteed to have 10 food suppliers right on your doorstep and it usually takes less than 15 minutes to get the food there. A good website/app is efood.gr.
ShoppenThousands of mostly small, specialized shops are found in Athens for all kinds of products. There are only a few “pedestrian shopping zones”, but the shops are much more widespread than in other European cities, often the main roads are also the shopping streets and one stops by car in the second row shortly (or longer) directly in front of the shop. Living, working and shopping are less separated in Athens than elsewhere. Even the big commercial chains are less common than in other cities. This is also a city defining feature, which makes the pleasant and special flair of the city. In addition to standard shops for clothes, shoes, household goods, etc. there are many exotic specialty shops for metal buckets, zippers, cords, cardboard boxes and much more. In contrast, there are only a few large shopping centers, so-called “malls”, but these are considered modern by Greeks and are therefore a popular destination, especially on weekends, even if you do not buy anything. At this point, it should also be pointed out, that it is of course part of the perfidious plan of Troika to destroy the small-scale store infrastructure and replace it with large international (German, French, Swedish …) chains, as in Germany and elsewhere since the 1980s has expired.
OnlineshopsShopping on the internet is a special topic. There is no Amazon and no Ebay or other big dealers. Various price comparison portals (the two biggest ones are Bestprice and Skroutz) list a large number of small online shops for all product categories. These portals also give a good overview of what products in Greece actually cost. Over 60% of all Greek online shops are located in the Greater Athens area, usually it is the normal small shops that sell additionally or mostly over the Internet. Payment is by credit card, bank transfer, Paypal or cash on delivery or pickup. The latter has proved to be the best option for me, as the shops prefer cash (because of capital controls) and then deliver faster. When paying by credit card, it often happened that the ordered and already paid product was suddenly no longer available, but the money was then immediately returned to the card. The delivery can be done the same day (a fridge came once after 45 minutes, so why Prime Now ;-), but it can take two weeks, or you can not hear anything from the store. And if an ordered item is actually delivered at some point, it is not uncommon for the store operator to personally bring it with a small van or scooter, and he also helps to carry the washing machine down to the basement. You then learn all kinds of things about the business and the family, and of course you also have to tell what you do in Athens, why and how you like it, and so on. In Athens, online shopping can be very personal 🙂 For used things there are also special Internet portals, the largest is xe.gr. However, second-hand goods are not as popular in Greece as they are in Germany, therefore, the offer is also much lower and the price expectations of the seller are sometimes illogical high. Outside the Internet, there are some interesting flea markets, the most famous (but also the most expensive) takes place every Sunday between Monastiraki and Thissio. Another exciting market also takes place on Sundays near the Eleonas metro station in an old underground warehouse, where mostly migrants sell.
Electricity, water, communicationIn addition to food and consumer goods you have to provide yourself or the apartment with electricity, water, telephone and Internet. So far the water supply has been handled well and economically by the EYDAP state-owned enterprise. This giant company with 4.3 million customers in Athens is to be privatized soon, what bad can expect. Currently, in the apartment rentals usually a flat rate of 5-10 € per month for water consumption included in the purchase of housing simply announces the connection of the previous owner in his own name. The electricity market has already been “liberalized”, the former state enterprise DEI is thus under pressure from new private providers, -> price comparison. A power connection covers with the basic fee of about 15 euros also different other costs such as garbage and television fees, so things that have nothing to do with the electricity. In addition, there is an electricity price of about 9 cents per kWh, which is less than half than in some other EU countries. How it works? Greece produces its electricity in its own coal-fired power plants and the coal for it is mined in the country itself. This is cheap, but also extremely harmful to the environment. Telecommunications in Greece have long been privatized and prices are comparable to other EU countries, correspondingly high. A DSL internet flatrate incl. landline telephone connection is available from 15 euros per month, prepaid mobile phone costs about 3 cents per minute. The following foreign suppliers are quarreling about the customers in Athens:
- Cosmote (Part of German Telekom)
- Wind (Italian Company)
- Vodafone (British Company)
- Nova + Forthnet (Greek Company)
- Cyta (Zypriot Company)