Exploring the Central Market in Athens, Greece

By - March 5, 2012 (Updated: November 20, 2014)

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Glorious Greece.
Central Market, Athens, Greece

Central Market, Athens, Greece

One of the best ways to explore a city’s culture is through its food, and one of the best places to experience the food culture as the locals do is at the city market.

We love visiting food markets. On our recent visit to Greece, we discovered the bustling Athens Central Market, and got a sneak peek at the Athenian food scene.

The Athens Central Market, also known as the Municipal Market of Athens, or Varvakeios Agora, is a hive of activity and noise early in the morning. We visited on a Saturday, the busiest day of the week, and, as it was winter, we were among the only tourists in the packed food halls.

Although Athenians have come to this area to do their shopping for centuries, the Central Market building has been recently restored and updated to bring it in line with EU food regulations.

Athens Central Market

One of many aisles of meat in the Athens Central Market

The main Central Market building is divided into two sections; half for meat and half for seafood. We saw every type of meat and fish we could imagine (not to mention, every part of the animal in question). Believe me – if it has hooves, feathers or gills, you can probably find it somewhere here.

In addition to being crowded with shoppers, the market is noisy. The sellers shout out to every passer-by and there is a constant chorus of prices being called out.

Fresh seafood at Athens Central Market

Fresh fish and seafood on display

Surrounding the main market building are a variety of food shops selling other local products: cheese, spices, oils, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, coffee and tea, as well as small restaurants and tavernas, cooking up dishes from the bounty of local produce available.

Dried Spices

Dried Spices for sale

Across the street from the Central Market building is another uncovered market selling fruits and vegetables. One of the main features here are the beautiful olives of every variety you can imagine.


Olives of every colour and size

The best way to get a sense of this incredible food market is to see it for yourself. Though, I must warn you, if you are squeamish about meat and animal parts, you may want to skip over some of the photos.

Fresh Seafood

Fresh Seafood

Fresh Fish

Now that’s fresh!

Fish, fish and more fish

Fish, fish and more fish

Pork chop?

Pork chop?

Anyone for tripe?

Anyone for tripe?

Yes, it is a big box of sheep heads

Yes, it is a big box of sheep heads

This little piggy went to market...

This little piggy went to market…

Fresh fruit

And for the vegetarians…

The Athens Central Market is one of the most fascinating food markets we’ve visited so far on our travels. What are your favourite markets? Share them with us in the comments below. Join us on Facebook for even more photos of Athens.


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Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 8 hours ago


  1. Comment by Niovi

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Niovi March 5, 2012 at 14:57

    Alison, what a lovely presentation… I miss my city so much!! I do hope you had a good souvlaki and Greek salad after all this.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison March 5, 2012 at 16:20

      Oh we did Niovi! I love Greek food and we had some very delicious meals in Athens both in the centre and some places we were taken by locals way out in the suburbs 🙂 Delicious!

  2. Comment by Emily

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Emily March 5, 2012 at 18:20

    Literal pork chop! This looks like it was so much fun, I love visiting markets as well. I haven’t made it to Greece yet, but when I do, I’ll definitely hit this place up!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison March 5, 2012 at 18:55

      Andrew was really taken with all of the pork 🙂 Me, I wanted to try all the seafood! Definitely an interesting place to visit 🙂

  3. Comment by Wendy Cornwall

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Wendy Cornwall March 31, 2012 at 00:33

    Such beautiful photography. Love your writing style! So upbeat and friendly. I enjoyed my time with you. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison March 31, 2012 at 12:20

      Thanks Wendy! Please stop by again 🙂

  4. Comment by Megan Jones

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Megan Jones April 5, 2012 at 20:32

    What great photos! I would love to explore this market with my macro lens. All the different colors and patterns could result in some really interesting and complex prints. I have lived in Seattle and I loved going to Pike Place Market. Even though it is often filled to the rafters with tourists, there are plenty of interesting people to meet and great shots to take!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison April 19, 2012 at 14:29

      I agree Megan! I love photographing markets.

  5. Comment by Tito Slack

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Tito Slack August 9, 2012 at 11:42

    Hi Alison,

    Great Shots, the article was very helpful too! I am in Athens at the moment and hadn’t planned on visiting the Market till I saw your photos 🙂


    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison August 9, 2012 at 11:51

      Thanks Tito! It’s definitely a photographer’s heaven. I loved it!

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