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Lots of Greeks think that their second-largest city offers better shopping than Athens, in part because the compact city center makes it easy to explore the major shopping districts. Also, because Thessaloniki is relatively tourist-free, you won't be overwhelmed here by streets lined with garish souvenir and T-shirt shops, as is the case in much of Athens, especially the Plaka district. Keep in mind that in Thessaloniki -- as throughout Greece -- most chic boutiques stock imported goods from Europe and the States, usually with a hefty import duty that is passed on to the customer. If you shop the winter (Jan) and summer (late July and Aug) sales, you may find some bargains.

Some shops still sell crafts by local artists, including coppersmiths. Not surprisingly, many of these shops are near the church of Panagia Chalkeon (Virgin of the Copper Makers) in Dikasterion Square. The website www.virtualtourist.com has lots of Thessaloniki shopping suggestions, but keep in mind that prices at most boutiques listed will be well in excess of what you would pay in the USA or Great Britain.

More About Shopping -- In Thessaloniki, old-style, pre-European Community shopping hours, unfathomable to foreigners, still predominate. Stores open at about 9am and close around 1:30 or 2pm for the afternoon siesta. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, some (but not all) reopen from about 5:30 to 8:30pm. In July, however, almost all shops close for the evening. The best time to shop is morning. Note that some of these stores will take major credit cards, but almost all, especially the smaller ones, prefer not to. As a Greek friend reminds me, "If we don't have the money in our wallet, we don't buy something."

Antiques

You'll find a number of antiques shops on Mitropoleos and Tositsa streets. Tip: Reputable shops will explain that you'll need an export license to take out of Greece any item more than 100 years old. The Wednesday street market area around the Rotunda (Agios Yiorgos Church) has a number of stalls with pseudo and genuine antiques, as well as a lot of, well, junk.

Books, Newspapers & Magazines

Ianos, 7 Aristotelous (tel. 2310/277-164); Travel Bookstore (tel. 2310/275-215); and Malliaris, 9 Aristotelous (tel. 2310/276-926), have wide selections of Greek and foreign books, as well as other publications. Molho long the oldest and finest bookstore in Thessaloniki, closed early in 2009.

Fashion

For both men's and women's fashions, try the department stores such as Lambropoulos or the chic -- and expensive -- boutiques on Tsimiski and on pedestrian walkway Dimitriou Gounari. But, remember: nearly anything here will be more expensive than in London or New York.

Gifts & Souvenirs

Almost all the museums have gift shops with some excellent museum reproductions; Athonos Square, off Egnatia, has some handicraft shops and Nikis Street, along the harbor, has a sprinkling of small shops with souvenirs.

Leather

If you want good-quality leather, resist the eastern European leather vendors who set up stalls on many street corners.

Music

Blow Up: The Music Stores, 8 Aristotelous, on the east side of the street a block north of Tsimiski (tel. 2310/233-255); Patsis, 39 Tsimiski, at the corner of Aristotelous (tel. 2310/231-805); Studio 52, 46 Dimitrious Gounari (tel. 2310/271-301), and En Chordes, 3 Ipodromiou (tel. 2310/282-248), sell many kinds of musical instruments and CDs, including Byzantine music.

Sweets

In a city where sweetness is next to godliness, the venerable Agapitos, 53 Tsimiski (tel. 2310/279-107), gets rave reviews, as does Hatzi, 50 Venizelous (tel. 2310/279-058). All are made with great, mouthwatering, high-caloric care. One of the branches of the excellent sweet shop, Terkenlis (tel. 2310/271-148; www.terkenlis.gr), is nearby at 30 Tsimiski, so you can easily compare and contrast. Both are closed on Sunday. Don't panic: Averof, 11 Vas. Georgiou (tel. 2310/814-284; www.averof.gr), Thessaloniki's famous kosher bakery, is usually open 365 days a year.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.