The heart of Greece
Welcome to Athens, the city of history, culture, and delicious souvlaki. But let’s be honest, the real gems of Athens are its museums. From ancient artifacts to contemporary art, Athens has something for every museum enthusiast. Want to know the top must-visit museums in Athens? Keep reading to find out!
Exploring the Cultural Treasures of Athens
Best museums in Athens
Athens has some of the most important museums in the world, such as the brand new Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. As Athens is the capital of Greece, it is fortunate to have a number of unique museums that display the best of Greek culture in all its dimensions from prehistoric times and antiquity until today.
You probably already know about the Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon, but Athens boasts a ton of other worthwhile cultural attractions. The Byzantine Museum, Greek National Opera, and kid-friendly Technopolis are must-see attractions. If you’ve already seen all of Athens’ must-see attractions, have a look at our list of unique museums and continue reading for even more historical sites and tourist attractions.
Visiting hours for museums and archaeological sites in Athens
The new visiting hours for museums and archaeological sites during the tourist season have been announced by the Ministry of Culture for the current tourist season. It should be denoted that the Acropolis of Athens, which is anyway one of the sights you should not miss in Athens, will remain open from 8am to 7pm all year long.
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is located in Patission Street 44, near the Omonia square. It is the most important archaeological museum in Greece with one of the funniest collections in the world. All the cultures that flourished in Greece are represented with many explanations in English.The museum contains a collection of Prehistoric items, Sculpture, Pottery, and Minor art, Bronzes and Egyptian Art…
Heinrich Schliemann finds housed in the Museum are included in the lists of the most important archaeological findings in the world. Indeed, the Mycenean collection of the museum includes findings from circle A and B tombs in Mycenae. The civilization of the Myceneans includes bronze, ceramic pots and stone artifacts, golden seals and jewelry from the royal tombs in Mycenae, as well as other locations in the Peloponnese, such as Pylos and Tiryns.
Highlights of the museum include the Mask of Agamemnon, the Antikythera mechanism, and the statue of Zeus from Artemision. The museum also organizes temporary exhibitions. It also has a touristic shop with guide-books, post-cards, slides, archaeological publications, posters, casts, copies, maps, videotapes, and toys are sold.
Acropolis Museum is the most modern museum in Europe; it opened its doors to the public on June 2009. The Acropolis Museum covers a total area of 226,000 sq feet and is designed by the accredited architect Bernard Tschumi; it replaces the old museum that was built in 1874 and is located on the Rock, next to the Parthenon. The New Acropolis Museum is the highest-profile culture project undertaken in Greece and Europe, in general, the last years and it already gained the hearts of its visitors from all over the world. The New Museum of Acropolis features more than 4,000 items divided into different collections. The museum has four levels, and its glass floors allow visitors to view the ancient city below.
The Acropolis Museum is located on the Acropolis site and it is considered one of the most important museums in the world. Even if many masterpieces have been stolen during Greece’s many occupations, the museum still houses many masterpieces from the Athenian Sanctuary of “Temenos” of Athena Parthenos. The collection of the museum contains sculptural offerings of the Archaic period, pediments of temples dated to the Archaic period, Archaic horsemen, sculptures of the “Severe” style, pediments and Metopes from the Parthenon, the Parthenon frieze, the Erechtheion frieze, parapets of the Athena Nike temple, a frieze of the Athena Nike temple, the Caryatids.
The museum exhibits only sculptures from the monuments of the Acropolis. The vases and inscription are housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and the Epigraphical Museum.
Interactive Exhibits and Multimedia Displays
The Acropolis Museum offers a range of interactive exhibits and multimedia displays that make learning about ancient Greek history both fun and informative.
Museum of the Ancient Agora
The ancient Agora was the center of Athenian public life, where citizens gathered for political discussions, trade deals, and religious ceremonies.
The Museum of the Ancient Agora is housed in the Stoa of Attalos, a reconstructed building that was originally built in the 2nd century BC.
The museum has a rich collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the daily life, religion, and culture of ancient Athens, including pottery, sculptures, and coins.
History and Location
Benaki Museum was established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, a wealthy Greek collector who wanted to preserve and promote Greek culture and history. He donated his collection to the Greek state, and the Benaki Museum was born.
The museum is located in the heart of Athens, on Koumbari Street, and spans across multiple buildings, including the Benakis family mansion and other historic properties.
The exhibits are arranged thematically rather than by time period, allowing visitors to explore the connections between different aspects of Greek culture. The Benaki Museum is also committed to preserving and promoting Greek cultural heritage. The museum’s collection includes a wide range of artifacts, including Byzantine icons, traditional costumes, and contemporary art.
The most notable departments include: The Prehistoric Collection, which features objects from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, some of the most famous pieces include a 10th-century ivory icon of the Virgin and Child and a 14th-century silver reliquary as well as some of the most famous pieces include works by El Greco, Nikos Engonopoulos, and Yiannis Tsarouchis. You can also admire the Islamic Art Collection, which features objects from the Ottoman Empire and other Islamic dynasties.
In addition to its impressive collection, the Benaki Museum offers a range of services to enhance visitors’ experiences.
Map Of Athens Museums
Top 32 museums in Athens
Visit the birthplace of democracy and experience the beauty of Athens, Greece. Check out our ultimate Athens bucket list of 35 essential things to do and see, from the Acropolis and Parthenon to the picturesque Plaka district and the bustling Monastiraki flea market. Explore the city’s ancient ruins, its vibrant culture, and its stunning Mediterranean coastline. Discover the ultimate Athens adventure today!
The most modern museum in Europe; it opened its doors to the public on June 2009. The Acropolis Museum houses items from the wider temple area of Acropolis and findings that were returned to Greece from museums and private collections abroad. The most convenient way to visit the museum is by metro or, alternatively, by bus.
National Archaeological Museum
It is one of the world’s biggest and finest collections of Greek antiquities, covering almost 3000 years of Greek civilization. You will see the famous “kouros”, statues of nude youths, impressive for their vigor and perfect anatomy. Famous statues found in the museum include the bronze statue of Poseidon of Artemision, the Youth of Marathon, the Kouros of Milos and the Ephebos of Antikythira.
The oldest museum in Greece, operating as a Foundation under Private Law, and one of the most popular museums in the country. Housed in one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in Athens, it indeed has a quite privileged position in the historic city center, just opposite the green lungs of the National Gardens and the garden of the Presidential Palace.
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean civilizations, with special emphasis on Cycladic art of the 3rd millennium BC millennium. Founded in 1986, originally it was the home of the collection of Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris and it gradually expanded to accommodate other important collections-donations.
Piraeus Archaeological Museum
The Museum exhibits finds from Piraeus and the surrounding municipalities, from Salamis and the beach to Varkiza. Items come from donations from the private collections of Meletopoulos, Nomidou, Geroulanou,etc. The Museum’s Exhibition is spread over two floors and ten rooms with thematic sections and chronological order of exhibits, while the visit continues to the small Hellenistic theater of Zea and the outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Natural History Museum
Angelos Goulandris, founder and president of the Museum of Natural History for 32 years, comes from an old naval family of Andros. In 1964, he founded the Natural History Museum, to promote scientific research of the Greek natural environment and environmental education. The Natural History Museum engages in multiple areas: exhibition, education and research.
The military history of Greece: old aircrafts, uniforms, swords, weapons, armor, etc. The War Museum was opened in July 1975 and it still operates today. Its mission is to collect and preserve war relics as well as to exhibit, study and promote the Greek fight for freedom from antiquity until today, in order to stimulate the national memory and display historical continuity and unity of Hellenism.
The Technopolis is an industrial museum which opened its doors in 2013. It is one of the few and highly remarkable surviving examples of Greek industrial heritage. Located in the area of Technopolis in Gazi, it occupies the spot where the old gas factory, which provided energy and lighting in Athens for about 130 years, once was. It upgrades a historic area of the capital and creates a more positive side to the cultural identity of Athens.
Greek Children's Museum
The exclusivity of its exhibits, paintings, and three-dimensional works, creations of children aged 4-14. Museum actions focus on rights, diversity, family, nutrition, sports, the environment, and more. The Museum, highlighting the uniqueness of Child Art, aims to develop each child’s personal expression, to offer shared creative parenting and child hours, and to provide the opportunity to become acquainted and familiar with Art & Childhood artists.
Epigraphical Museum Athens
It safeguards 13,510, mostly Greek, inscriptions, which cover the period from early historical times to the Late Roman period, primarily in Greece. Only the courtyards, lobby and four rooms are open to the public; the other premises are accessible only to researchers and staff. a digital catalog of the inscriptions is currently under construction so that the collection can be accessed digitally to future visitors.
The Numismatic Museum, housed in a monumental building of the 19th-century residence of Heinrich Schliemann, in the heart of Athens, is among the oldest Greek cultural institutions. Its foundation dates back to 1834. The permanent collection, which is housed on the 1st and 2nd floor of the building, consists of coins, medals, lead bullae, gems, weights and talents dated from the 14th century BC until today.
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum was created by the renowned Greek jewelry designer Ilias Lalaounis. The museum is the only museum of Modern Jewelry in Greece. It is comprised of 50 collections of a total of over 4,000 jewels and small ornaments dedicated to the history and art of jewelry making. Looking to the future, the Museum focuses its development on an international center promoting the history of jewelry, the art of goldsmithing, and the decorative and applied arts in general.
Greek Costume Museum
It is housed in a two-story building at 7 Dimokritou Street, built in the 1920s. It is a remarkable costume museum, which contains about 25,000 items in its collections, mainly authentic local costumes and jewels. Its main activity is the organization of periodical thematic exhibitions on an annual basis. In addition to Greek local costumes and jewelry, copies of Minoan, Archaic and Byzantine costumes complement the collection.
Byzantine & Christian Museum
Right across the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, there is the Byzantine and Christian Museum, giving off the impression of the imperial splendor of Byzantium. The museum includes over 30,000 objects dating from the 3rd to the 21st century AD: icons, frescoes, mosaics, incunabula, manuscripts, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, paintings, etc. Everything is sorted chronologically, by material and theme, and digitized by electronic recording systems.
Centre of the Study of Modern Pottery
It was founded in 1987 by Betty Psaropoulou, with the core of the collection of objects and information she collected during her long research journey in Greece. The Center for the Study Neoteris Keramikis is a museum, research and educational organization dedicated to the research, preservation and promotion of Greek pottery of modern times, from the early 19th until today. It has a rich collection of about 5,000 useful objects which are representative samples of the production of almost all pottery centers of the mainland and Greek islands.
The Jewish Museum of Greece was established by Nicholas Stavroulakis in 1977 to preserve the material culture of the Greek Jews. In a small, privately owned building, just at the edge of Athen’s old Plaka district, all that is left of Greece’s Jewish heritage is displayed: artifacts that have been collected and restored since the 1970s by tireless museum curators and volunteers as well as a variety of material on the daily and religious life and historical course of the Greek Jews. Now, this museum ranks among the top Jewish Museums in Europe.
The Hellenic Motor Museum is situated on the top three floors of the Athenian Capitola shopping mall and welcomes both young and old lovers of cars. It is one of the youngest museums in Athens–it opened in March 2011–and certainly made the best of impressions. Based on the architectural standards of the Guggenheim Museum of New York’s distinctive spiral ramp, the museum has become a magnet for car and art lovers. Its collection comprises a total of 310 cars (the collection of the Theodore & Gianna Charagionis Foundation).
The National Observatory of Athens (ESA) is a Public Research Center (NGD). It was founded in 1842 by a donation from the National Benefactor G. Sina. Its scientific and research activities concern the interior and the crust of the Earth, the atmospheric environment, the outer space and the astrophysical universe. Basic and applied research is being conducted on these subjects, using terrestrial and satellite observations, and linking the results to entrepreneurship, culture, education and popularization.
Shadow Theatre Museum
The world of Karagiozis comes to life in a unique museum. After a long and arduous effort by the famous artist Eugenios Spatharis, a separate venue was established in 1991 to revitalize the shadow theater, including carefully carved figures. Childish memories and the cultural heritage of the place are restored amid the thoughtful drawings of the legendary Karagiozis and the black and white figures of the shadow theater. The museum also offers courses and specialized programs for students and the general public.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The National Museum of Contemporary Art began operating in 2000. Its foundation came to fill a huge gap left by decades of lack of a similar institution for contemporary international art in Athens. The main focus of EMST’s cultural policy is the training and enrichment of permanent collections of Greek and international character. The EMST includes major acquisitions and donations of works that cover both the historical and the contemporary axis of post-war visual creation.
National Art Gallery
The National Gallery-Museum of Alexander Suzhou, or the National Gallery, has been operating since 1976. , among which we find works by Caravaggio, Andreas Pavia, Stephanos Tsangarolo, Volanakis, and others. The National Gallery is a museum of fine arts, founded in 1900, located in Athens and covers the period of artistic creation in Greece from the post-Byzantine period to the present. Organically linked to the National Sculpture Library, it is the largest and most important collection of modern Greek art, with more than 15,000 works assembled.
Hellenic Maritime Museum
The maritime history of Greece from 3000 BC until today, has much to tell. The Hellenic Maritime Museum is located in the yacht harbor of Zea, where the boathouses of the Athenian navy were situated in ancient times. The exhibits include models of ancient and modern ships, paintings by some of the greatest Greek marine artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, guns, medals, and nautical instruments. The museum presents the maritime history of the Greeks from the prehistoric era to ancient years, the Byzantine period, the Balkan Wars, the two World Wars, until the present time.
There are two museums in Athens dedicated to the city’s railway past and beyond: the OSE Rail Museum in Sepolia and the ISAP Museum in Piraeus. In both museums, admission to the public is free. The Athens Railway Museum in Sepolia is the largest railway museum in Greece. It was established in 1979 after a voluntary effort by OSE officials. Topographical instruments, steam locomotives, passenger cars, station equipment, and a workshop with construction machinery from the late 19th century unfold the history of Greek railways in the museum’s six halls.
Museum ''Eleftherios Venizelos
The museum is housed in an old neoclassical building and it is a part of a cultural unit in “Eleftherias Park” of the Municipality of Athens. The exhibited material is presented on two floors of the museum building and includes personal relics and records of the events that took place during the period between the birth and the death of Eleftherios Venizelos, such as pamphlets, documents, photographs, lithographs, letter cards, portraits and representations of him in various materials.
Museum of Greek Folk Instruments
The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments-Ethnomusicology Centre was opened on June 6, 1991. It is based on a collection of 1200 popular Greek musical instruments from the 18th century to the present day. This collection of the instruments belonged to Fivos Anogarakis, who donated to the Greek state. Next, to every display case that holds an instrument, there are headphones so that visitors can listen to musical parts executed by the instrument in question. In this way, they can really appreciate the sound and the ingenuity of these instruments.
Hellenic Mills Institute
The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments-Ethnomusicology Centre was opened on June 6, 1991. It is based on a collection of 1200 popular Greek musical instruments from the 18th century to the present day. This collection of the instruments belonged to Fivos Anogarakis, who donated to the Greek state. Next, to every display case that holds an instrument, there are headphones so that visitors can listen to musical parts executed by the instrument in question.
Hellenic Folklore Research Centre
One of the fifteen research centers of Athens Academy. The Folklore Archive was founded in 1918 by Nicolaos G. Politis, with Stilpon Kyriakidis as first Director. Today it is the National Documentation Center for Popular Culture with a rich archive of unpublished material on all aspects of popular life and a dedicated Library. It conducts field research, research programs, publications, conferences, exhibitions, events and supports scientific institutions in the Greek region and museums.
Museum of Heracles
The Museum of Heracles has been serving art, education, and culture since 2004. The museum’s inspirers and founders are Paul and Anna-Belinda Fyrou. Today the Museum of Heracles is transformed into an interactive center of science. With its basic philosophy the triptych “Science, Art and Mathematics”, it continues to implement innovative educational programs for students, teachers and adults in its main building, as well as exhibitions of works of art and popular science.
The Frissiras Museum of modern European painting was established in 2000 by the family of Vlassis Frissiras. Its collection consists of sculptures, paintings, drawings and engravings of European artists, through which an attempt is made to record the trends, people and philosophy of anthropocentric European painting after 1940. The Museum is equipped with audiovisual material and, in addition to the exhibition rooms, it includes a Centre of Research and Documentation, a space for Educational Practice and Cultural Events as well as a specialized Library.
Historical Archive of the National Bank
The National Bank Historical Archive (IA / EIB) is the custodian of the National Bank’s archives and collections. The Historical Archive of the National Bank of Greece was created to preserve and promote the historical archives of NBG, for which the Bank already showed special care since its inception. The Historical Archive files have captured the whole economic history of the modern Greek state and important aspects of political, cultural and social history.
Municipal Art Gallery
The artistic activities of the Gallery are presented in the building of Metaxourgio (Leonidou and Mulleros), which is one of the oldest neoclassical works in Athens, a work of the Danish architect Christian Hansen. The building functioned as a silk factory until 1875 and its presence there also gave the name to the wider area. The Gallery contains in its collections 3,000 works of Greeks mainly – with few exceptions – by visual artists illustrating trends and foreign influences in the course of Greek art.
The island of Ai Stratis (Agios Efstratios) is located in the North Aegean, 18 nautical miles, southwest of Limnos and has about 210 permanent residents. For a period of about 40 years (1926 – 1967), it was a place of exile for about 10,000 people. The Museum of Political Exiles is dedicated to preserving the memory and experience of these people. The museum exhibits are presented in thematic sections and setting up of camps, the struggle for survival, cultural activities, artistic creation, the formation of educational and political work.
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