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The 5 best food markets in Greece

Andy Stevens / 21 September 2016 ( 03 February 2017 )

Lovers of Greek food will be spoilt for choice on your next trip to mainland Greece thanks to our guide to the top five food markets.

Kalamata farmers' market, Kalamata
For lovers of the town's feted plump olives, a visit to Kalamata farmers' market won't disappoint.

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Kalamata farmers' market, Kalamata, Messinia

What's the betting the name 'Kalamata' says 'olives' to you? We thought as much.

For lovers of the town's feted plump olives, a visit to Kalamata farmers' market won't disappoint when you find yourself in and around Greece's relaxing and charmingly laid-back Messinia area in the Peloponnese region.

Kalamata's buzzy farmers' market isn't all about the olives, however, as you can well imagine.

Sesame-seed slathered 'pastelli' pastries, mouthwatering fruit, figs and cheeses are all there in their full glory, with the friendly traders happy for you to ask for a small taste before you buy.

If you fancy a break after a wander around Kalamata's stalls, there are plenty of cafes in the vicinity you can pop in to for a bite to eat.

The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, as ever, get there bright and early for the best buys.

Lavrion fish and farmers' markets, Lavrion, Attica

The port town of Lavrion at the end of Greece's Attica peninsula has reinvented itself for the better in recent years.

Visitors will be pleased with the growing choice of restaurants and cafes which have popped up in this major hub for cruise ships, ferries and smaller sailing boats.

Abundant and superlatively fresh seafood from Lavrion's surrounding waters are, naturally, what will jump out at you most on the menus of the town's tavernas, with fabulous squid, anchovies, red mullet and sardines more often than not the order of the day.

Lavrion's historic fish market, behind the Main Street, is now more dominated by restaurants, snack and ouzo bars than by the market itself.

But it's a winning combination, and you'll know that the tasty catch of your choice hasn't travelled far to your plate, plus it's a great place to stop for a leisurely meal.

If you find yourself in Lavrion on Thursday, too, make sure you don't miss its excellent farmers' market.

Varviakos Agora market, Athens

Athens' central market, Varviakos Agora (also sometimes known as the Dimotiki Agora), is the essence of a proper, old-fashioned southern European food market, as imagined by central casting.

For authenticity and atmosphere, Varviakos has got it all wrapped up, and unlike so many other markets, makes barely a nod to gentrification.

Its sprawling, adjacent market halls simply let their fresh produce do the talking; well, that's if they could talk themselves above the vibrant hubbub of the livewire market traders plying their wares.

Athenian shoppers have been paying a daily homage to Varviakos market life on this site since 1886.

And as for what's on sale, this foodie cathedral to Greece's amazing natural bounty presents you with the finest olives, cheeses, spices, fish and meats that the capital city can muster.

Modiano market, Thessaloniki

If your image of a traditional market is encapsulated by the sight of fish stands, fruit, vegetable and flower stalls piled high, then Modiano in Greece's proud second city of Thessaloniki is its very epitome.

The market was built in the 1920s by architect Eli Modiano and is a haven for locals and tourists alike, remaining to this day an absorbing experience for the senses.

Your tastebuds will be tripping over themselves among the labyrinth of stalls selling the finest feta cheeses, olive oils, pastries, breads and more as you meander through this boisterous market in the heart of the city.

And when your hunger gets the better of you - which we guarantee it will - pop into Modiano's nearby tavernas for tempting mezedes and even a drop of the local ouzo.

Kapani market, Thessaloniki

The impressive main fish market of Thessaloniki is known mainly as the Kapani, although is sometimes referred to as the Vlali.

With Turkish, Jewish, Egyptian and Greek influences, a market on this site is reputed to go back as far as the late 1400s, although the present Kapani was rebuilt having been destroyed by a fire in 1917.

You will find the fish market at the heart of Thessaloniki's central market and its at-times raucous, cosmopolitan atmosphere is an experience to savour, as the traders bid to outwit and out-shout their rivals in the quest to make the biggest sales.

Outdoor tavernas then beckon nearby once your appetite for something fishy has been seriously sharpened.

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