Athens is a city where ancient history and modern life coexist, drawing visitors for its iconic Acropolis, vibrant street life, and delicious cuisine.
During Christmas, the city adds the small Athens Christmas Market to its list of attractions, providing a festive touch to the city’s rich offerings.
In this article, I’ll give you all the essential information for 2023, such as dates, opening times, locations and what special items to look out for.
Christmas in Athens is marked by a blend of ancient traditions and contemporary celebrations.
The city illuminates its historic sites and streets with modern light installations, while various events incorporate Greek Orthodox customs.
Athens Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Athens offers diverse events and attractions that capture the season’s traditional and contemporary aspects.
Across the city, every square is adorned with decorated trees providing a consistent holiday theme.
Families will find plenty to engage with, from Christmas villages and activities to musical performances taking place at Omonoia Christmas Market, Kotzia Square, and Varvakeio Agora.
One special location for festive activities is the Christmas Factory at Technopolis; it’s geared towards families and features a bazaar selling handicrafts and gifts alongside themed playgrounds and rides for younger visitors.
If you’re looking for a mix of cultural enrichment and festive activities, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is a standout with its free concerts and performances, not to mention its seasonal outdoor ice rink.
Meanwhile, Syntagma Square lights up with an impressively decorated Christmas tree, elevating the city’s holiday atmosphere.
Beyond the mainstream, unique bazaars pop up around the city, including the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar, Weihnachtsbasar at the German School, and Joyeaux Noel at the French School, allowing you to experience a range of international Christmas traditions.
Omonoia Christmas Market
Athens Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 16th December 2023 to 1st January 2024.
Location: Omonoia Square.
Opening times: 11am to 9pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Official opening: Sunday, 17th December 2023 at 7pm.
Ice skating: Yes, at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Distinctive Greek-inspired crafts and local festive delicacies set against the Acropolis’ historic backdrop.
Recommended tour: Avoid the crowds with this early morning guided Acropolis and Parthenon tour.
Specialities: Melomakarona, kourabiedes, warming rakomelo drink, traditional Christopsomo bread, and aromatic vasilopita New Year’s cake.
Where to stay: L7 Str Athens is a highly-rated hotel, 2 minutes from Omonoia Square.
Hotels near Athens Christmas Market
To stay close to the Christmas market in Omonoia Square, consider hotels around the Monastiraki and Plaka districts. These areas provide easy access to the market and are well-connected to other points of interest in Athens, such as the Acropolis.
My top pick for a hotel would be L7 Str Athens, conveniently located near both Omonoia Square and Monastiraki Square.
Location of Athens Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Athens provides an excellent opportunity to engage with the city’s historical and cultural landscapes.
Particularly in districts like Plaka and Syntagma, Athens’ rich tapestry of ancient ruins and modern life come together.
A guided city tour is highly recommended, especially for those new to Athens, as it allows you to take in key sights such as the Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the vibrant Monastiraki Square.
For an alternative experience, why not go on a food tasting tour? Exploring Athens through its food can be just as revealing about its culture.
Street food tasting tours are gaining popularity, giving you the chance to try a range of local dishes and drinks in a fun and informal setting.
Visitors and locals alike might enjoy these particular tours:
Early Morning Guided Acropolis and Parthenon Tour: This tour lets you explore the Acropolis in a small group, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and fewer crowds in the early morning. Hear stories about the Acropolis, Parthenon, and Dionysus Theatre as you explore these iconic landmarks.
Street Food Tasting Tour: Starting at a local pie shop, you’ll get to taste freshly made cheese pie or spanakopita, then move on to understand the Greek obsession with souvlaki while enjoying it with a local beer. The tour also takes you through some of Athens’ most lively neighbourhoods.
To expand your holiday itinerary, I suggest you read my Greece Christmas Markets 2023 guide, which covers essential details like opening times, locations and what to expect at various markets around the country.
Christmas Theatre in Galatsi
A half hour outside of Athens, at the Christmas Theatre in Galatsi Christmas Market, you’ll experience a mix of festive and theatrical elements.
The Christmas market is organised on the Veakeio Theatre’s premises, giving it a unique ambience.
The setting allows for live performances, including concerts, puppet shows and theatrical productions that cater to a wide range of ages and tastes.
Alongside these, you’ll find stalls selling handmade crafts, food and drink, as well as a skating rink for a touch of winter fun.
This Christmas market in Galatsi provides a unique fusion of the traditional market atmosphere and cultural entertainment.
Christmas Theatre dates: Likely dates: 25th November 2023 to 3rd January 2024
Location: Leoforos Veikou 137, Galatsi.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 12pm to 10pm. Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 10pm.
Christmas in Athens
Christmas Specialties in Athens
Melomakarona: A quintessential Greek Christmas treat, melomakarona are oblong-shaped cookies that I’ve found to be wonderfully fragrant and sweet. They are made with a dough rich in oil, honey, and orange, and after baking, they are soaked in a sweet syrup, usually composed of honey and sugar. Each cookie is typically sprinkled with a dusting of chopped walnuts, adding a lovely crunch to each bite.
Kourabiedes: These are another traditional Greek Christmas cookie, characterised by their delicate, buttery texture. Kourabiedes are typically made with almonds, which give the cookies a light crunch. After baking, they are heavily dusted with icing sugar, creating a snow-like appearance that feels perfectly festive.
Christopsomo: Christopsomo, or “Christ’s bread,” is a special bread baked for Christmas in many Greek homes. The bread is rich and spiced, often containing nuts, orange, and various spices, and it’s usually decorated with a cross or other religious symbols. Its preparation and baking carry significant ritual significance in Greek Orthodox tradition.
Vasilopita: The traditional New Year’s cake, Vasilopita, is typically baked on New Year’s Eve and is cut at midnight or New Year’s Day. The cake often has a coin hidden inside, and the person who finds it in their slice is considered to have good luck for the coming year. It’s a sweet, orange-flavoured cake, often topped with icing sugar and almonds.
Diples: Diples are a traditional dessert made of thin dough sheets that are folded while fried to create a crispy treat. Once golden brown, the crispy folds are then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with ground cinnamon and crushed walnuts.
Spanakopita: This is a popular vegetarian option. Spanakopita is a savoury Greek pastry made with phyllo dough, spinach, and feta cheese. It’s often served as a side dish or appetiser during the Christmas season, and its rich, salty flavour contrasts beautifully with the sweet treats of the holiday.
Food at the Christmas Market
Souvlaki: As a popular Greek fast food, souvlaki is a staple at the Athens Christmas Market. It usually involves skewered grilled meat – often pork, chicken, or lamb – served either on its own or wrapped in soft pita bread with a range of accompaniments such as tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, onions, and even chips.
Loukoumades: These little doughnut-like treats are a delight at the market. Loukoumades are small, deep-fried dough balls that are crispy on the outside yet fluffy and light on the inside. After frying, they are typically doused in sweet syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, and sometimes topped with chopped nuts or drizzled with chocolate.
Bougatsa: A traditional Greek pastry made with either semolina custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo. While it’s enjoyed year-round, I’ve found the cheese and custard varieties particularly popular at the Christmas market. The custard ones are often sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon, adding an extra festive touch.
Rakomelo: This is a warm, alcoholic drink is quite popular during winter. Rakomelo is made by combining raki or tsipouro with honey, boiling the mixture, and then adding spices like cinnamon and various herbs. It’s served warm and is perfect for the chilly Athenian nights.
Gluhwein: Also known as mulled wine, this is a typical German Christmas market beverage that you can find in Athens as well. It’s prepared by heating red wine and infusing it with a variety of spices, like cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and sometimes adding citrus. It’s a warming, festive drink that perfectly complements the holiday atmosphere.
Roasted chestnuts: A universal Christmas market staple, you’ll come across vendors selling freshly roasted chestnuts. These are often served in paper cones, perfect for a warm, handheld snack as you explore the market. The smoky, sweet taste of roasted chestnuts truly encapsulates the essence of winter street food.
What to Buy
Olive oil products: Olive oil is integral to Greek culture and cuisine, and the market stalls reflect this. You’ll find high-quality edible oils and a range of olive oil-based cosmetics, including soaps, lotions, and lip balms. They make for great gifts, encapsulating a bit of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Handmade ceramics: A number of stalls feature beautifully crafted ceramics. With a rich tradition of pottery in Greece, these items range from traditional vases and mugs to more contemporary designs, all showcasing the skill of the local artisans.
Greek spices and herbs: Bringing back some local herbs and spices can add a Greek twist to your home cooking. Packages of oregano, thyme, and sage, along with special blends for gyros and moussaka, are a common sight.
Christmas ornaments: Many stalls sell a variety of Christmas ornaments. Some reflect the traditional Greek culture, like evil eye ornaments or those shaped like amphoras, while others are more conventional, such as those depicting Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or snowmen.
Local wines and spirits: Greece has a rich winemaking tradition, and locally produced wines are readily available at the market. Also, bottles of ouzo, tsipouro, or the winter favourite, rakomelo, can make for an excellent, uniquely Greek gift.
Traditional Greek sweets: Boxes of baklava, kourabiedes, or loukoumi (Turkish delight) are widely available and make for a delicious souvenir or gift. These sweet treats are a staple in Greek households, particularly during the holiday season, and are loved by locals and tourists alike.
For a comprehensive list of things to do and current events, including winter activities, I recommend visiting This is Athens, the city’s official website.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Athens at Christmas.
Choose accommodations that utilise renewable energy: Several hotels and accommodations in Athens are committed to sustainability, using renewable energy sources such as solar power for their operations.
Reduce food waste by eating local and in moderation: While the Christmas market stalls in Athens will have an enticing range of foods to try, remember only to order what you can eat to minimise food waste. If you’re keen to try a variety of dishes, consider sharing plates with your travel companions.
Practise ethical consumption by buying local: Support the local economy by buying gifts and souvenirs from local artisans at the Omonoia Christmas Market. These unique products, handmade with local materials, not only support local businesses but also have a lower carbon footprint as they don’t need to be shipped from abroad.
Adopt a sustainable diet by enjoying vegetarian options: Greek cuisine has a wealth of vegetarian and vegan options that are both delicious and sustainable. Foods like dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves) or spanakopita (spinach pie) are traditional dishes with less environmental impact than meat-based options.
Opt for sustainable transport methods: Athens has an extensive public transportation network that includes buses, trams, and the Metro. These modes of transport are more eco-friendly than private vehicles or taxis. Plus, exploring the city on foot or by bicycle is sustainable and allows you to take in the sights at a leisurely pace.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Athens, Greece. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.