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Museums in Athens, Greece

Visit 16 of the best museums in Athens, Greece

Visit 16 of the best museums in Athens, Greece

Museums in Athens, Greece , , ,

Complete Athens Museums Guide: Visit 16 of the Best Museums in Athens, Greece

When you think of Athens, the first thing that comes to mind is the Acropolis, and of course, the Parthenon. As we all know, culture and history are without a doubt the most compelling aspects of the city, and rightly so. Known as the cradle of western civilization, Athens is the birthplace of art, philosophy, science, drama, and democracy, and this mind-blowing heritage is safely displayed in its glorious museums. 

Just take a trip to Athens’ historical neighborhoods and come across museums that will pique your interest, ranging from art to historical eras to technology and invention to sculptures showcasing exceptional craftsmanship. The different museums in Athens, Greece vary in size and theme but they all have their own charm and unique selling point. 

Here are 16 of the best museums in Athens, Greece that will captivate you with their hidden gems and historical significance.

Finding the Best Museums in Athens, Greece in a nutshell:

  • Learn about ancient Greek history. Choose from a vast selection of museums and come across glorious exhibits that will make you think deeply.
  • Follow your licensed tour guides. Book a licensed tour guide and pay attention to the historical facts and they will share with you. 
  • Have fun with your kids. Take your little ones with you, as most of the museums are child-friendly, and have fun uncovering the history of ancient Greece together.
  • Visit lesser-known museums. Discover underrated museums and art galleries and uncover hidden gems that put their contemporaries to shame. 

1. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: The Acropolis Museum

Interior of the Acropolis Museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: The Acropolis Museum

The modern Acropolis Museum, the city’s most prominent and popular museum, wouldn’t be absent from the list of the best museums in Athens, Greece. It houses exhibits discovered during excavations on the sacred Acropolis hill, ranging from one-of-a-kind works of art to everyday household items that provide insight into the ancient Athenians’ daily lives.

The final design and construction of the New Acropolis Museum took more than 35 years of scientific study. The three storeys of Bernard Tschumi’s modern edifice, now the city’s centerpiece, are bathed in sunshine and face the iconic Parthenon monument. The Acropolis Museum houses more than 4,000 exhibits, ten times the size of its predecessor.

The Parthenon Hall and the Hall of the Archaic Acropolis stand out, while the rest of the space holds thematic presentations and periodic exhibitions. Admire the beautiful views from the intriguing cafe-restaurant, browse the cute shops with a broad selection of souvenirs and publications and attend numerous events that will make your time there unforgettable.

Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athens 117 42

Closest metro station: Acropolis

2. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: The National Historical Museum

Traditional outfits from Greece - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum, like many other famous museums in Athens, Greece,  is housed in an exquisite building, the Old Parliament Building in Kolokotronis Square. The enormous bronze statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis, a Greek general and preeminent leader of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) against the Ottoman Empire, is the most conspicuous feature.

Kolokotronis, astride his horse, turns his head towards Parliament House while pointing his hand in the opposite way to the former royal stables. 

The Historical & Ethnological Society of Greece’s collection focuses on the establishment of the modern Greek state, including items from the Greek War of Independence. There is a huge collection of paintings, manuscripts, and exhibits dating back to the Ottomans’ takeover of Constantinople in 1453, in addition to weaponry, costumes, and souvenirs from famous characters in Greek history. The helmet and sword of Lord Byron can also be found here.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on a variety of topics, including art, theater, and music, as well as displays dedicated to different regions of Greece. Throughout the year, there are numerous lectures, workshops, book fairs, and educational events hosted here.

Address: Old Parliament Building, 13 Stadiou Str. Athens

Closest metro station: Panepistimio

3. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: The National Archaeological Museum

An old book - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum is regarded as one of the world’s greatest museums, thanks to its extensive collection of Greek antiquities. The museum is housed in an imposing neoclassical edifice painted in brilliant yellow and red colors in the urban neighborhood of Exarcheia.

The museum features an enormous collection that includes works from the Neolithic era, Cycladic art, the Mycenaean period, Egyptian art, the post-Byzantine era, and jewels from the Hellenistic period.

The museum is home to some of the most famous works in the world, including the Jockey of Artemision, a stunning bronze figure that is housed in the museum’s main hallway; a particular favorite (!) There’s also Agamemnon’s famed Mask, which has later been proved to belong to a dead king who died three centuries before Agamemnon. It is, nonetheless, an exceptional work of craftsmanship. Another remarkable object of one of the most famous museums in Athens, Greece is Theseus’ ring, which is made of gold. This golden signet ring with a lion to one side portrays a bull-leaping scene (a common Minoan pastime activity, shown in many paintings from the same era). Its authenticity was initially questioned, but it has recently been proven to date from the 15th century BC.

Explore the 118-year-old library of the museum, with 20,000 titles about art, science, and philosophy, many of which are exceptionally rare. There are numerous touring exhibitions as well as a great number of archaeology lectures conducted here throughout the year, in addition to the permanent exhibitions.

The museum also features two cafés, one of which is located right outside, and offers a great opportunity to relax with a coffee while admiring the building’s design. The second is located in the inside atrium of the museum, near the museum shop, which sells a variety of artifacts, paintings, and glassware.

Address: 44 Patission Street, Athens 10682

Closest metro station: Viktoria

4. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Museum of Cycladic Art

An ancient exhibit - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Museum of Cycladic Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art is committed to the study and promotion of ancient Aegean and Cycladic civilizations, with a focus on Cycladic art from the 3rd millennium BC. It was formed in 1986 to hold Nikolaos and Dollis Goulandris’ private collection, and it has since expanded to include other notable collections-donations.

Two buildings that are physically connected, create one of the most famous museums in Athens, the Museum of Cycladic Art. The main structure houses the permanent collections, while the neoclassical Stathatos Palace hosts the temporary exhibitions.

The first building’s exhibition rooms are spread out across four floors, showcasing the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus in a unique cultural mosaic of Cycladic art, ancient Cypriot art, ancient Greek art, and ordinary life to antiquity (5th-1st century BC).

Temporary exhibitions with an emphasis on both modern archaeology and the cutting edge of contemporary art are particularly interesting, and of course, the museum’s cafe and souvenir shop are city-wide gathering spots. Don’t forget to check out the educational programs offered by the museum, which are both creative and well-received.

Address: Neofitou Douka 4, Athens 106 74

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

5. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Goulandris Museum

Paintings displayed in the Goulandris Museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Goulandris Museum

After decades of anticipation, the Vassilis Foundation & Elizas Goulandris’ new museum has opened at 13 Eratosthenous Street in Pagrati, just a few meters from the iconic Panathenaic Stadium. It is housed in an imposing building that showcases the perfect balance between neoclassical and modern architecture.

On the 11 floors and 7,250 sq.m. of the building, with the white curves on the staircase, a magnificent view of the Acropolis, light-colored wood, a distinctive shop, a library with 6,000 volumes from a wide variety of arts, a 400 sq.m. basement, and a sophisticated cafe are shared.

Vassilis and Eliza Goulandri met in the late 1940s and chose to start a collection of art soon after their wedding. They began without a plan, without having methodized their steps, and, of course, they had no idea where it would lead them or what dimensions their relationship with art would take.

They spent nearly fifty years building their collection based on their personal tastes, with care, patience, and great commitment, with the ultimate objective of being exhibited in the museum of their dreams one day. Admire historical artifacts on the walls and embark on a trip back in time at one of the best museums in Athens, Greece

Modern, worldwide – primarily European – art from 1870 to 1945 can be found on the first floor. A room dedicated to the couple’s extensive collection of French furniture and works of art is located in the next room. There’s furniture from their 18th-century Parisian townhouse, as well as jade and porcelain Chinese antiquities.

Additionally, post-war contemporary art is on show on the second floor. What makes Goulandris one of the best museums in Athens is the unique visual experience created with paintings by Pollock, Bacon, Giacometti, Nicholson, and Liechtenstein, as well as various sculptures, including those by Nicky de San Fal. Pay close attention to a particular area of the building that creates the impression of light entering through the wall. 

Address: Eratosthenous 13, Athens 116 35

Closest metro station: Acropolis

6. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Benaki Museum

Interior of the Benaki Museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum was established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, a descendant of a renowned Greek Diaspora family. With six museum annexes, four archival annexes, and a large library, the Benaki Museum remains one of the best museums in Athens, Greece. The collection now numbers over 500,000 artifacts and includes works of Greek art and culture, as well as Islamic, pre-Columbian, African, and Chinese art.

The stylish cafe on the ground floor of the museum is distinguished by its modern, minimalist architecture, as well as the warmth it radiates, thanks to the large glass surface overlooking the museum’s atrium. You can sip your drink or dine in an atmosphere that will make you feel like a global citizen.

Address: Pireos 138, Athens 118 54

Closest metro station: Syntagma

7. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Byzantine / Christian Museum

Interior of the Byzantine - Christian Museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Byzantine and Christian Museum

The Byzantine and Christian Museum was founded in 1914 and is housed in the Villa ‘Ilissia’, built in the 30s, home to the Duchess of Placentia between 1840 and 1848 and is located at 22 Vasilissis Sofias Avenue in Athens.

What makes the Byzantine and Christian museum one of the most important museums in Athens, Greece is the fact that over 25,000 exhibits have been displayed there, including icons, sculptures, murals, pottery, textiles, and manuscripts, some dated to the 3rd century. 

The Byzantine Museum of the Twenty-First Century is based on a completely new museological proposal that complies with modern museological requirements. The permanent exhibition has almost three thousand objects on display that present features of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine worlds.

The first section, which opened in 2004, is dedicated to the exhibition of the Museum’s early Christian and Byzantine collections, and it demonstrates the changes in society and doctrine from the spread of Christianity on the Byzantine Empire’s borders.

The second section was finished in 2010 and showcases post-Byzantine collections, which depict the evolution of institutions, customs, religion, language, as well as common conceptions, which molded the Roman identity. 

Address: Vasilissis Sofias Avenue 22, Athens 106 75

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

8. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Museum of the City of Athens

The interior of an old Palace - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Museum of the city of Athens

Lambros Eutaxias and his uncle Alexandros Vouros founded the Museum of the City of Athens: Vouros- Eutaxias Foundation in 1973. It is housed in the ancient royal residence of King Otto and Queen Amalia of Greece, and it is filled with antiques, sculptures, and numerous works of art from the Byzantine and Renaissance periods, making it one of the most interesting museums in Athens, Greece. Explore the interior of the museum, whose furniture is organized in such a way to resemble typical chambers of the 19th-century Athenian nobility.

The museum is an art lover’s paradise, with numerous enormous oil paintings by Jaques Carrey and an amazing depiction of the Parthenon before it was tragically devastated by a hail of cannon fire from Venetian forces storming the city in 1687.

A portrait of Lord Byron, perhaps the most famous of the philhellenes due to his role in the emancipation of the Greeks from the Ottoman empire. He is so loved by the Greeks that a town, Vyronas, was named after him. A reason why this museum is among the most popular museums in Athens is because of the hand-written copy of the 1844 constitution of Greece used by King Otto himself and the extensive collection of paintings by numerous Greek artists.

Wander around the same drawing-room as King Otto once did, and immerse yourself in the magnificence of the renascent philhellenism. After that, treat yourself at the museum’s café, the Black Duck Garden, which is located in the garden of the mansion and has a majestic atmosphere. 

Address: 5-7 Paparrigopoulou st. 105 61, Athens

Closest metro station: Panepistimio

9. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: The Epigraphic and Numismatic Museum

Interior of the Epigraphic museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Epigraphic Museum of Athens

Iliou Melathron (The Palace of Troy) houses the Epigraphic and Numismatic Museum, whose architecture is a combination of Renaissance Revival and Neo-Classical with a yellow-ish facade and interiors adorned with mosaics and murals. It was built for the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1880 and was long hailed as Athens’ most spectacular private house, before its transformation into the Epigraphic and Numismatic museum.

It has over 500,000 pieces in its collection, which include coins, medals, weights, and lead stamps. The exhibition is organized in such a way that it takes you on a journey through time, beginning with coins from Greek city-states (poleis) in the 6th century BC and continuing through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, exhibiting how currency has evolved through the years.

There are also works from the Byzantine and Medieval Ages from all around Europe, as well as the Ottoman Empire. The museum also includes a large collection of publications on numismatics and archaeology, as well as significant historical archives. Iconography, art, and murals adorn the interior of the museum, many of which are replicas of Pompeian themes and scenes from Troy and Mycenae.

Apart from being one of the most notable museums in Athens, Greece, it hosts symposiums, talks, and international partnerships in its beautiful interior. The museum is still used as a study and research facility, providing its visitors with a stimulating environment for inspiration. To top it off, the museum houses a public cafe, as well as a lovely garden with duplicates of ancient Greek statues.

There’s also a store where you can buy relic replicas, as well as souvenirs, cards, notebooks, and games.

The Numismatic Museum is a must-see for anybody interested in numismatics, Renaissance revival, or simply seeking a day of curiosity and wonder at one of the most sought-out museums in Athens. 

Address:  Iliou Melathron, El.Venizelou (Panepistimioustr.) 12, 10671 Athens

Closest metro station: Syntagma

10. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum 

Another Greek cultural center is the Jewelry Museum of Ilias Lalaounis, which opened its doors to the public in 1994 at the foot of the Acropolis. The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry museum is Greece’s only jewelry and ornamental arts museum, as well as one of only three in the world. Over 3,500 gems and miniature sculptures, all designed by Ilias Lalaounis between 1940 and 2002, are on display in the museum’s permanent exhibition.

Ilias Lalaounis was a renowned goldsmith and jeweler who was born and raised in the picturesque Athenian area of Plaka, in the same building that now houses the Jewelry Museum.  He is the only jeweler that has been awarded by the French Academy of Fine Arts.

The permanent exhibition’s jewelry is influenced by ancient Greece, Byzantine art and architecture, nature, and modern technology. Visit the workshop on the ground floor and witness silversmiths in action, grab a drink at the indoor cafe and browse the gift shop and the jewelry library.

It’s worth noting that out of all theIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum was the first to make its exhibits accessible to people with disabilities.

Address: Karyatidon and Kallisperi Sts, Athens 117 42

Closest metro station: Acropolis

11. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: War Museum

War Museum - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Athens War Museum

The Athens War Museum is among the largest and most famous museums in Athens, Greece. It was established in 1975 and is housed in a contemporary structure at the intersection of Vasilissis Sofias and Rizari streets, next to the Byzantine and Christian Museum. It is supervised by the Ministry of National Defense.

Its extensive exhibits, which are displayed on four storeys and in the open space around the building, span the entire history of Greek warfare from prehistoric times to the present day. Weapons, heirlooms, maps, photographs, engravings, works of art, military costumes, war banners, firearms, Navy weaponry, and Air Force planes are among the spectacular exhibits.

Address: Rizari 2-4, Athens 106 75

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

12. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Railway Museum of Athens

Display of an old train - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Railway Museum of Athens

In 1979, the Hellenic Railways Organization built the Athens Railway Museum, comprising  five galleries with a collection of artifacts linked to the history of rail transport in Greece. It is one of the largest railway museums in Athens, Greece, with two major buildings and a courtyard suited for outdoor activities, including a children’s recreational train.

Conventional locomotives dating back to 1884, mine locomotives, wagons from old trains, royal vehicles, the tram of Athens from previous decades, manually-operated trolleys, mockups, and photographic material, as well as tickets, uniforms, and machine tools, are among the museum’s exhibits.

If you’re a train enthusiast, then the Athens Railway Museum is definitely for you.

Address: Akti Kallimasioti 275, Pireaus 185 45

13. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Herakleidon Museum

The Permanent exhibition - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Herakleidon Museum

The Herakleidon Museum is a small museum in the heart of Athens that exemplifies true innovation while also redefining the term “museum” in many ways. It was established in 2004 and is housed in two buildings in the area of Thiseio. 

Since its inauguration, the museum has primarily focused on artistic activities, hosting exhibitions, music and literary evenings, workshops, and lectures. Today, the museum is one of the less-known museums in Athens, as it concentrates primarily on educational activities and focuses on bringing the public closer to the ancient Greeks’ scientific and technological achievements, as well as the achievements of other notable historical figures.

The museum has hosted famous artists and partnered with important institutions both in Greece and abroad, bringing valuable pieces of art and archaeological artifacts to its premises. The Heirakleidon Museum is one of the best museums in Athens if you want to learn about Greece’s history, and the ancient world’s accomplishments in science and technology.

Address: Iraklidon 16, Athens 118 51

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

14. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Hellenic Children’s Museum

Kids' hats - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Hellenic Children’s Museum

A visit to the Hellenic Children’s Museum is strongly advised if you’re visiting Athens with your family and want to keep your little ones active and pleased! The Hellenic Children’s Museum is a non-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to assisting children in realizing their full potential as citizens who are socially aware and contribute positively to society.

The activities at the Children’s Museum are based on theories which support that active engagement and interaction improve learning. As a result of this hands-on approach, the museum’s educational programs take place in three-dimensional environments that foster critical thinking, initiative, creativity, and autonomy, and are designed by committed scientists.

Book a visit to the Hellenic Children’s museum and give your children the opportunity to explore the world around them, engage with their classmates, and build self-awareness, in a safe and supervised environment.

Address: Rigillis &Vasileos Georgiou B’ Ave 17-19, Athens 106 75

Closest metro station: Acropolis

15. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Museum of Islamic Art

Islamic art exhibits - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Museum of Islamic Art

The diversity of the Islamic culture is what makes it so unique. The Museum of Islamic Art showcases this diversity, which is inspired by the variations from India and Persia through Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, the Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, and North Africa to Sicily and Spain. 

The amount of pottery (more than 8,000 pieces), metalwork, woodcarving, glass, bone objects, inscribed tombstones,  weapons, as well as the marble interior decorations of a 17th-century mansion’s reception hall, make the Museum of Islamic Art one of the most popular museums in Athens, Greece.

Antonis Benakis began compiling the collections in Egypt around the same time as other major collections in Europe and America. In reality, the exhibits shown at the Museum of Islamic Art are often supplemented by that of Benaki. The collection’s most famous exhibits include two 8th century Mesopotamia wood-carved doors, a unique 10th century Tiberias wicker rug, a brass box with the signature of Ismail ibn al-Ward al-Mawsili and the famous 16th century Bursa velvet saddle.

The Islamic art collections are on display at the Museum of Islamic Art, which is housed in a neoclassical architectural complex donated by Lambros Eutaxia and located near the old Kerameikos cemetery in Athens’ historic center.

The collection’s main purpose is to promote Islamic artistry and offer easy access to information. After finishing your tour, relax on the terrace with a drink or a snack from the kiosk while admiring the beautiful surroundings.

Address:  Agion Asomaton 22 &, Dipilou 12, Athens 105 53

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

16. Best Museums in Athens, Greece: Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

Old Greek folk musical instruments - Museums in Athens, Greece

Photo: Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

The Museum of Greek Traditional Musical Instruments contains about 1.200 Greek folk musical instruments,  from the 18th century to the present day. Musicologist Fivos Anogianakis donated the instruments after 40 years of research.

Track the growth of Greek musical instruments through time and take a closer look at rare instruments belonging to Greek emigrants such as the Pontifical Greeks and the Cappadocian Greeks. 

The museum is located in Plaka, next to the Roman Agora, in a splendid 1840 townhouse. The exhibition spans three floors and is arranged into four tiers, which correspond to the ethnomusicological categories of each musical instrument. The museum opened its doors on June 6, 1991, and it remains one of the most fascinating museums in Athens, Greece, especially for music fans.

Address: Diogenous 1, Athens 105 56

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

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