The Best Museums in Athens, Greece

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: August 24, 2022

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Best museum in Athens, Greece.

The awesome Acropolis Museum is a highlight of a visit to Athens. It’s easy to visit both the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum in a morning or afternoon as they’re located a short walk from each other. A private guide is recommended to get the most out of your visit (especially if you have kids or teens).

The 17 Best Museums in Athens

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1. Acropolis Museum

Museum patrons look at artifacts from the marble pediment of the Parthenon in a sunlight gallery
Opened in 2009, the Acropolis Museum is one of the newest and very best museums in Athens. An airy showcase for archaeological finds sourced from the Acropolis complex right next door, the museum itself is also an archaeological site, sitting directly above an ancient Athenian neighborhood, with glass floors through which to see the excavation work below. There are three floors of permanent collections, video presentations, and archaeologists on hand to answer visitors’ questions. Also an excellent gift shop and a restaurant/cafe with an outdoor terrace in the shadow of the Parthenon. Ideally paired with a visit to the adjacent Acropolis archaeological site, visitors should allow one to three hours to tour the museum. Doing a Acropolis & Acropolis Museum private tour will save time, as your tour guide will have skip-the-line tickets to both attractions. Open daily, with reduced hours and admissions prices from November through March. • Full Review

2. National Archaeological Museum

Bronze statue of a man holding a spear in a large museum gallery filled with sculptures
The first, best, and largest archaeological museum in Greece, displaying a permanent collection of more than 11,000 exhibits of Ancient Greek art and artifacts from the Neolithic period to late antiquity. Museum lovers, history buffs, and Grecophiles could easily spend a day here, with a stop to refuel at the cafe/restaurant that’s located right outside the main entrance. A private tour guide can help save time and enhance the experience by quickly locating the top exhibits and explaining the history. Located in the Exarcheia area in central Athens next to the Athens Polytechnic University, the Archaeological Museum is one of the few top attractions in Athens that isn’t very near the Plaka/Acropolis area, so visitors will need to take a taxi (5 minutes), metro (10 minutes, red or green line exiting at Omonia station), or walk about 25 minutes from Plaka or Syntagma Square. Open daily, with reduced hours and admissions prices from November through March. • Full Review

3. Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

Ornate room covered from floor to ceiling with rich tapestries and carved woodwork
Excellent Greek art museum established in 1930 within the neoclassical family mansion of Antonis Benaki, the art collector and benefactor who donated over 35,000 pieces of his own collection. Greek artwork from ancient to modern is displayed in the mansion’s many four beautiful levels, with one devoted to traveling exhibitions. Located in central Athens near Syntagma Square and the National Garden, the Benaki also has satellite galleries scattered throughout Athens, including the Museum of Islamic Art, The Ghika Gallery, and the Toy Museum. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

Map showing the locations of the 17 best museums in Athens, Greece.

4. Byzantine & Christian Museum

A museum goer looks up at a byzantine fresco in a museum gallery full of them
Founded in 1914 and housed in a Florentine-style palace, this museum is home to the largest collection of Byzantine art from the 3rd to 21st centuries. Rare and well-preserved artifacts give a sense of the influence and legacy of the Byzantine Empire. On display are rare 13th-century icons (including a mosaic of the Virgin Mary from Constantinople), scriptures, frescoes, currency coins, and more. Located next to the Athens War Museum, about 900 meters east of Syntagma Square, with a cafe/restaurant and museum shop on site. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

5. Museum of Cycladic Art

Early Greek pottery in museum display cases
Excellent and kid-friendly museum that is home to one of the most complete private collections of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art in the world, once belonging to the Greek shipping family of Dolly and Nikolaos Goulandris. The permanent collection is displayed over four floors within a beautiful 1895 Neo-classical mansion and includes Cycladic, Ancient Greek, and Cypriot Art, as well as video exhibits depicting the daily life of Ancient Greeks (weddings, birth of a baby, education, physical training, and more). Impressive temporary exhibits are also hosted, and there’s a great gift shop and restaurant/cafe on site. Located near Syntagma Square, closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

6. National Historical Museum

Museum cases filled with mannequins dressed in traditional Greek costume
Founded in 1882, the National Historical Museum in Athens’ permanent collection tells the story of Greek culture throughout the ages via personal belongings and memorabilia from famous historical personalities, classical paintings, authentic manuscripts, and a large collection of traditional Greek costumes and jewelry from various regions of Greece. It’s all located within the majestic building that housed the Greek Parliament from 1875 to 1932, one block northwest of Syntagma Square. Closed Mondays. • Full Review

7. Athens War Museum

Mannequin dressed in military fitigues astride a motorcycle in a museum gallery
Opened to the public in 1975, this military-run museum honors all those who fought for Greece and its freedom, a must-see for history, military, and aviation buffs. Arranged over two floors, exhibits lead you through the history of Greek wars from ancient to modern times, coming to life through personal letters and memorabilia, photographs, full uniforms, weapons and armor. Engaging documentary films explain the nature of the conflicts, and outside the museum, courtyards display aircraft and large artillery pieces. Located about 900 meters east of Syntagma Square, a trip to the War Museum would be well-paired with a viewing of the changing of the guard at the Hellenic Parliament. Closed Mondays. • Full Review

8. The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum

Early vases and vessels on display in museum cases and on pedestals
Impressive private collection of antique art and artifacts, donated to the Greek state by Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos, wealthy art collectors and industrialists of the early to mid-20th century. Objects in the permanent collection include items from the Prehistoric to the Modern era: figurines, busts, jewelery, weapons, coins, inscriptions, stone and clay vases and more – all ranging from 3000-1200 BC to the 18th and 19th centuries AD. Located in an 1864 neoclassical mansion in Plaka, near the Monastiraki metro station. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

9. B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

Gallery wall advertising a contemporary art exhibit
This lovely contemporary art museum opened to the public in 2007, with a focus on promoting Greek artists nationally and internationally. The museum hosts rotating temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of works by the renowned modern Greek painter, Spyros Papaloukas. The foundation also hosts concerts, workshops, and educational programs for children and adults at the museum – check the website for a current calendar of events. There’s a great gift shop on the ground floor, and a Mediterranean restaurant on the first floor with views to the National Garden and the Parliament building. FREE. Open daily 10am-6pm. Thursdays open 10am-8pm except in July and August (10am-6pm). • Full Review

10. Athens City Museum

Ornate room with guilded furnishings, oil paintings, and a crystal chandelier
Small but lovely museum comprising two 19th-century Neo-classical aristocratic homes that once blonged to the Vouros and Eftaxias families. The older of the two mansions is also known as the Old Palace; between 1836 and 1842 it housed the first royal family of Greece, King Otto and Queen Amalia, until they moved into their new palace in the present day Parliament building. Furnishings and personal belongings, as well as interactive digital exhibits, tell the story of high-living Athens in the 1800’s, when the city became Greece’s capital after the War of Independence. Audio tours are available by request. Located near the National Historical Museum, a 10-minute walk northwest of Syntagma Square. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

11. Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

Wooden model of a pulley mounted to an easel-like structure, in a museum gallery
Open since 2018, this interactive, family-friendly museum features a permanent collection of over 100 reconstructed Greek inventions from the period of 2000 B.C. up to the end of the Ancient Greek world (323 B.C.), including operational models of ancient hydraulic technology, steam engines, medical technology, and more – even a reproduction of the Antikythera mechanism, believed to be the world’s first computer. For an additional fee, visit the museums two other on-site exhibits: ancient musical instruments & toys, and armor and weaponry. Museum staff provide excellent guided tours in English and Greek. Open 10am – 6pm daily June to October, 9am – 5pm daily November to May. • Full Review

12. Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

Greek stringed instruments displayed in cases in a museum gallery
Cheery collection of over 1,200 Greek folk musical instruments that date from the 18th century up to the present day, housed within a 19th-century mansion near the Roman Agora. Instruments are arranged by type over 3 floors; headphones and videos allow visitors to hear them in action. There’s a great little museum shop on site and musical performances are often held in the garden courtyard during summer months. Open Wednesday to Sunday 8:30am to 3:30pm, last entrance at 3:10pm. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

13. The Benizelos Mansion

Wooden room with built-in seating along the walls
The Benizelos Mansion is the oldest surviving house in Athens, built between the 16th and 17th centuries. Originally occupied by Angelos Benizelos and his wife Syrigi Palaiologina, a visit to this 2-story house gives a sense of the lifestyle and traditions of Athenian aristocrats in the time before the Greek revolution. The couple’s daughter, Revoula, was a prominent philanthropist who also fought for the freedom of Greek women enslaved into harems by the Ottomans. She was later canonized as “Saint Philothei,” and the Benizelos Mansion is sometimes referred to as the House of Saint Philothei in her honor. The mansion is located in Plaka, with the relics of Saint Philothei entombed in the nearby Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. The Benizelos Mansion is open limited hours (check website for details); entrance fee is by donation and goes to charity. • Full Review

14. Museum of Modern Greek Culture

Mannequin in traditional Greek dress, displayed next to an artistically-decorated textile
The Museum of Modern Greek Culture, founded in 1918, has changed names and locations over the years and is awaiting the move to its new permanent home opposite the archeological site of Hadrian’s Library. In the meantime, the museum’s temporary location (a beautiful two-level old mansion in Plaka with Acropolis views) hosts a series of exhibits displaying items from its vast collection, centered around themes of the modern Greek experience. The projected completion date for the new museum is the end of 2023, at which time it will house a permanent collection of over 25,000 objects dating from the mid 18th century to the 1970’s.
Open Wednesday to Monday 8:30am-3:30pm. Closed Tuesdays. • FREE • Full Review

15. Bathhouse of the Winds

Row of teal wooden stalls, with one ajar and looking in to towels hanging
Annex of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture, also known as the Hammam of Abid Efendi, this traditional bathhouse was built during the Ottoman Empire (1453-1669) and operational until 1956. It is the only remaining public bathhouse in Athens. Public hammams like this were an integral part of daily life in Greece during the Ottoman Era. In addition to cleanliness, bathhouses also offered a place for social gathering as well as meditation, relaxation and an escape from daily routine. These were the only places women were allowed to go outside the family home. Located in Plaka, with an excellent audio guide available on request. • Full Review

16. The House on Panos Street: Man and Tools Museum

Museum gallery space with old traditional iron tools on display
An annex of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture that displays pre-industrial tools and products of traditional labor and depicts the working life of Greeks, mostly after the war of independence to the mid 1900’s. It’s a little museum, located in Plaka, that’s worth a quick visit; through personal collections and interactive exhibits, visitors gain a sense of what day to day life might have been like and how much the industrial world has evolved. Closed Tuesdays. • Full Review

17. Goulandris Natural History Museum

Taxidermied tiger and rhinocerous posed next to a display case of large taxidermied cats.
Located in Kifisia, a northeastern suburb of Athens, the Goulandris Museum was the first natural history museum in Greece. Initially a Botanical Museum, founded for the purposes of researching and studying Greek flora, in 1977 it expanded to include zoology, paleontology and geology. Their permanent display includes animals from Africa, North America, and Greece; insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, shells, rocks, minerals, and fossils. Temporary exhibits are also hosted here. Very family-friendly, with a gift shop and café on site. Open daily to mid-afternoon; the closest metro station is Kifisia (green line or line 1), about an 800-meter-walk away. • Full Review

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