20 Best Museums In Athens Greece For 2024

The best museums in Athens include the Acropolis Museum, the National and Archaeological Museum, the Benaki Museum, the Goulandris Art Museum, and many more. Here are some museums that you can visit in Athens for archaeology, history, art and culture.

The Best Athens Museums

Answering the question “Which are the best museums in Athens” is not straightforward. Athens is a museum lovers paradise, as there are over 80 museums! Besides archaeology and history museums, visitors can enjoy a wide range of art and cultural museums. 

Best museums in Athens - Statue in the National Archaeological Museum

From ancient exhibits to modern art, Athens has something for everyone. There’s no way you can see all the museums in Athens on a short break though.

In this article, you will find which are the best Athens museums to visit if you want to discover more about Greek history, art, and culture.

Best Athens Museums for History

Below, you will find ten of the best museums in Athens for anyone interested in Greek history and culture.

These museums are all in the city centre. If your accommodation is located in Plaka, Psiri or Koukaki, you can easily reach most of them on foot.

1. National Archaeological Museum of Greece

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is the largest museum in Greece. Its permanent exhibitions include artefacts found all around the country, dating from the ancient times.

The exhibits are split into five fascinating collections, dating from the Prehistoric times to Late Antiquity. There are also sections with Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, showcasing other ancient cultures.

Best museums in Athens - National Archaeological Museum - Child on a horse

If you are interested in Ancient Greece and Ancient Greek art, this is the best museum in Athens. You will have the chance to see ancient Greek sculptures, vases, ornaments, jewelry, tools and everyday objects.

Some of the highlights in the National Archaeological Museum include the mask of Agamemnon, the statue of Zeus / Poseidon and the iconic statue of the child on a horse.

Tip: If you want to visit the museum properly, you will need around four hours! You can take a break at the lovely garden at the back, which offers a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Athens.

Closest metro stations: Victoria / Omonia

Website: National Archaeological Museum

2. Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum opened in 2009, replacing the old Acropolis museum which was up on the Acropolis Hill. It is one of the most popular archaeological museums in Athens.

The museum houses a large collection of statues and sculptures that were excavated around the Parthenon and the Acropolis. This includes several statues of the twelve Olympian Gods, such as Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite and Hermes.

Arguably, the most famous sculptures in the Acropolis Museum are the Caryatids. They are really quite stunning! (Incidentally, the Caryatids up on the Acropolis hill are replicas of the originals).

Acropolis museum and the Caryatids - Best museums in Athens

On the top floor, you can see the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon’s frieze. In addition, you will see replicas of original sculptures that are nowadays found in the British Museum, better known as the Elgin marbles.

Make sure you spend a few minutes to watch the video explaining the history of the Acropolis, which is shown in a special gallery in the museum.

The café at the Acropolis Museum is lovely, so allow some time to have a coffee or a snack with a view of the Acropolis. In fact, even if you don’t want to visit the museum, you can visit the café without purchasing an entrance ticket.

Before you leave, make sure you check out the excavated houses under the ground floor. This will give you a better idea of what the ancient city.

I would also suggest taking a guided tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. I’ve taken a couple over the years, and I always learn something new, as our history is so rich. 

Best Athens museums - Acropolis museum

Tip: The museum has transparent glass floors, so it’s best to wear shorts or trousers rather than a skirt or dress.

Closest metro station: Acropolis

Website: Acropolis Museum

3. Museum of Ancient Agora in Athens

Entry to this fabulous archaeological museum is included with your ticket to the ancient site of Ancient Agora, one of the most important archaeological sites in Athens.

The Ancient Agora museum itself is rather small. Yet, it gives you a great overview of the social and political life in the ancient city of Athens.

You will see many antiquities such as vases, weapons, terracotta figurines, coins, jewellery and everyday objects.

Museum of the Ancient Agora in Athens Greece

In addition, there are objects representative of Athenian democracy, such as bronze ballots, potsherds and official jurors’ identification tags.

Allow at least two hours to explore the archaeological site of Ancient Agora and the Museum. You will love walking around the impressive site and imagining life in Ancient Greece.

Tip: You can visit this interesting museum using the combined ticket to all the important archaeological sites in Athens. The ticket also includes entrance to the Acropolis, the Roman Agora, the Kerameikos Ancient cemetery, the temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s library and Aristotle’s Lyceum.

Closest metro stations: Monastiraki / Thisseio

More info: Ancient Agora in Athens

4. Museum of Cycladic Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art is one of the most important museums in Athens if you are interested in the art of Ancient Greece.

The most famous exhibits of this fascinating private collection are the iconic Cycladic idols. Those marble figurines, created thousands of years ago, are enigmatic, abstract depictions of humans.

Cycladic Art Museum in Athens

Apart from the idols, the museum of Cycladic Art houses artefacts representative of the Cycladic civilization. You will see objects from all eras of the Ancient Greek world, between the 2nd millennium BC and the 4th century AD.

Allow enough time for the fourth floor, where you can learn about religion, customs, beliefs, attitudes and daily life in ancient Athens. The exhibition includes two short movies where you can see the life and death of an ancient Athenian called Leon.

Tip: Make sure you check out any contemporary exhibitions, such as the fascinating children’s painting competition, organized on an annual basis.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: Museum of Cycladic Art

5. Byzantine and Christian Museum

The Byzantine Museum in Athens is one of the most important Byzantine museums in the world. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the Byzantine Empire, which emerged from the ashes of the Roman Empire.

Best Athens museums - Byzantine museum

The permanent exhibitions focus on Byzantine art and architecture. You will see an impressive collection of traditional Greek pottery, icons, frescoes, sculptures, manuscripts and textiles.

In addition, the museum often hosts temporary exhibitions that have nothing to do with Byzantine Art. Usually, there is some connection to decorative arts, fine arts or even contemporary art.

Tip: The museum hosts music performances on selected summer nights. Check their website for more information.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: Byzantine and Christian Museum

6. Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

The Benaki Foundation spreads out across several buildings around Athens. The private collection presented at the main building, in Kolonaki area, follows Greece throughout its long history.

The exhibits focus on Greek art and Greek culture, covering the period from antiquity to the modern era in 1922, when the Asia Minor tragedy happened.

Traditional costumes in the Benaki Museum Athens

The permanent collection includes several artefacts from the ancient world, and an extensive collection of Byzantine art. In addition, you can see traditional Greek costumes used at different eras, and objects related to the Greek Revolution in 1821.

If you only have time for one museum in Athens, the Benaki Museum is a great choice, as you can get an idea of the various historical periods of Greece.

Tip: On Thursdays, the Benaki museum remains open until midnight, with free entrance. So you can do other things during the day, and plan your visit in the evening. On your way out, make sure to check the museum shop.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

7. Athens War Museum

The War Museum houses items related to the numerous wars that Greece has taken part in.

You can see weapons, ammunition, uniforms, flags and medals from the last 200 years. Exhibits cover the Greek war of Independence, the Balkan Wars, World War I and World War II.

The National War Museum of Greece in Athens

You will easily recognize the War Museum by the numerous air planes in the back yard.

Opening hours are 9.00-17.00 daily, apart from Mondays when the museum is closed. Allow an hour and a half to visit the museum comfortably.

Tip: If you are not very knowledgeable about the history of modern Greece, try to gain some insight before visiting the War Museum.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: War Museum in Athens

8. Numismatic Museum of Athens

The Numismatic Museum hosts an impressive collection of Greek coins, from the ancient world to modern Greece. It’s the only museum in Greece with this theme.

You can see coins of the city-states of Ancient Greeks, coins designed by Greek rulers and Roman emperors, and coins used by the Byzantine Empire and the Frankish kingdoms. Contemporary coins and banknotes are also on display.

Numismatic museum in Athens - Top museums in Athens

The Numismatic Museum of Athens is housed in one of the most important neoclassical buildings in Athens. Heinrich Schliemann, the archaeologist who excavated Troy, Mycenae, Tyrins and other areas, used to live here. So, even if coins are not your main interest, you can pop in to look at the interior.

The museum’s opening hours may vary, so it’s best to check their website. Closed on Tuesdays.

Tip: Before you leave, stop for a coffee at the Museum’s garden, and check whether they are hosting any live music events in the evening.

Closest metro stations: Syntagma / Panepistimio

Website: Numismatic Museum of Athens (mostly in Greek)

9. The National Historical Museum of Greece

The National Historical Museum presents the history of Greece from the era of the Ottoman Empire to modern Greece.

Some of the exhibits, which have been curated by the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece, date from the Ottoman Era. There are also later items, relevant to the Greek revolution in 1821 and the era of King Otto.

A large section of the museum includes information on the symbols of the Revolution and the Greek flag. In addition, WWI and the Balkan Wars are covered, and there’s a (rather small) room about WWII.

National Historic Museum of Athens

If you have a specific interest in the Greek revolution, you should definitely visit this museum. Interestingly, the English translation on the otherwise comprehensive signs is not always 100% accurate…

Take some time to check the building, which used to be the Old Parliament building until 1932.

Tip: Entrance to this museum is free on Sundays, and even then it tends to be fairly quiet.

Closest metro stations: Syntagma / Panepistimio

Website: National Historical Museum of Greece

10. Korai 4 Memorial Site 1941-1944

A largely unknown site in Athens, Korai 4 is not a museum strictly speaking, but a memorial site. Of all the historical sites and museums in Athens, I find this one to be the saddest.

The grim site is located in a mansion, which hosted the offices of “I ETHNIKI” General Insurance Company towards the end of the 19th century. It was reconstructed just before WWII.

After Athens was conquered by the Germans in 1941, the building was immediately requisitioned to host the German troops and the Kommandatur. 

Best historic museums in Athens - Korai Memorial Space

The basements, which had been constructed to be used as bomb shelters, were soon turned into detention and transfer centres for Greek patriots. Prisoners often wrote or carved on the walls, and many of those messages are still visible today.

Even though the writings on the walls are in Greek, foreign visitors will still be able to appreciate the difficulties that the prisoners went through.

Tip: Make sure you have a chat with the helpful museum employees, as they have many stories to tell.

Closest metro station: Panepistimio

Website: Memorial Site 1941 – 1944

Where to go if you’ve had enough of the Historical Museums in Athens

While all these historical museums in Athens are brilliant, not everyone is a devoted fan of history and archaeology. So here are a few more ideas.

11. National Gallery in Athens 

This brand new national museum, which opened in 2021, is a must-see for anyone interested in art.

Painting by Greek artist Parthenis in the National Gallery in Athens

There is a huge collection of paintings and other artworks by some of the most prominent Greek artists. The gallery also has a section with works by international artists.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: National Gallery in Athens

12. Museum of Islamic Art 

The Islamic Art Museum is part of the Benaki foundation, and hosts a rare private collection of Islamic art.

The exhibits come from several parts of the Islamic world, including North Africa and the Middle East.

Closest metro stations: Monastiraki / Thisseio

Website: Museum of Islamic Art 

13. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

Even if you are not particularly interested in jewelry, the Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is really fascinating. Among others, the permanent collection features contemporary Greek jewelry which has been influenced by ancient designs.

Ilias Lalaounis jewelry museum is one of the best museums in Athens

Some of the featured jewelry is really extravagant! 

Closest metro station: Acropolis

Website: Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

14. Hellenic Motor Museum 

This largely unknown museum hosts an extensive collection of antique, classic and modern cars.

You can see several famous brands, like Rolls Royce, Bugatti, Ferrari, Jaguar and Morgan.

Closest metro station: Victoria

Website: Hellenic Motor Museum 

15. Museum of Illusions in Athens 

This is a very unique museum in Athens. Its interactive exhibits, which will introduce you to the world of illusions, are a lot of fun!

Best museums in Athens for kids - Museum of Illusions

The museum is ideal for everyone, especially families with teenagers. I loved visiting with my nephews!

Closest metro stations: Monastiraki / Thisseio

Read more here: Museum of Illusions in Athens

16. Goulandris Museum of Natural History 

The Goulandris Museum focuses on geology, zoology, plant biology and all other aspects of life. It is a fantastic museum for families – and not only.

Closest metro station: Kifissia

Website: Goulandris Museum of Natural History 

17. Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

This lovely museum hosts a fantastic permanent collection of musical instruments used in different regions of Greece.

Museum of Greek popular instruments in Athens

Take your time exploring the interactive exhibits, and the various audio presentations. This is one of the best museums in Athens for children. 

Closest metro station: Monastiraki

Website: Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

18. Benaki Museum – Pireos 138 branch

Another branch of the Benaki foundation, this is one of my absolutely favourite museums in Athens. It hosts temporary exhibitions with various themes, usually related to art, design and history.

Best Museums in Athens Greece - Benaki Pireos

There are usually three or four exhibitions running at the same time, and each of them has a separate ticket. If you are planning to visit all of them, allow at least 3 hours, and take a break at their lovely cafe, which is a good place to appreciate the Greek coffee culture.

If you haven’t found a decent souvenir from Greece to take back home, the Benaki Pireos branch has an excellent souvenir shop as well.

Closest metro station: Kerameikos

Website: Benaki Museum Pireos

19. Goulandris Art Museum

A unique private art collection which only opened a few years ago. It features fascinating works by the likes of Picasso, van Gogh, Miró, Klee, Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, and dozens more international artists.

There is also an extensive collection of representative works by Greek artists like Moralis, Parthenis, Tsarouchis etc.

This foundation also runs an art museum in Andros island.

Closest metro station: Evangelismos

Website: Goulandris Foundation

20. National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens 

Fans of contemporary art should definitely visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened a few years ago. As often happens with contemporary art, this museum won’t be everyone’s cup of tea 🙂

Best museums in Athens - Exhibit in the National Museum of Contemporary Art

There is a permanent selection of contemporary art, plus rotating exhibitions, which include many video installations and thought-provoking art. The exhibition space expands over several floors, so allow about 4 hours (!) to visit properly!

There’s also a cool gift shop if you are looking for something different.

Closest metro station: Syggrou-Fix (also walking distance from Acropolis)

Website: National Museum of Contemporary Art

FAQs about the best museums in Athens

Here are some questions often asked by visitors:

Which is better the Acropolis Museum or the National Archaeological Museum?

If you want to get a good grasp of Greece’s ancient history, it’s better to visit the National Archaeological Museum, which has thousands of exhibits from most regions in Greece. The Acropolis museum exhibits artefacts that were discovered at the site of the Acropolis. 

What museums are free in Athens?

Some free museums in Athens are the Museum of the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways, the Ziller-Loverdos Museum, and the Aggeliki Chatzimichali Museum of Folk Art and Tradition. In addition, all public museums are free on certain days throughout the year.

Should I visit the Acropolis or the museum first?

These two sites have separate tickets, so it doesn’t really matter which one you visit first. However, if you are visiting in summer, it makes sense to visit the Acropolis outside the hottest hours of the day (11:00-17:00).

Is Benaki Museum worth?

The main Benaki museum is the best museum in Athens for anyone who wants an overview of Greece’s long history from the ancient times to today.

How many museums are there in Athens?

There are over 80 museums in Athens. Apart from historical museums, you will find cultural, folklore and art museums.

The Best Museums of Athens

So this was my guide to twenty of the best museums in Athens! Depending on where you are staying, you could get to most of them on foot, take the Athens metro, or a taxi. 

Also, check out this article with Greek celebrations, where I’ve added the dates that public museums offer free entrance. Unfortunately, most private museums have limited – if any – days when entrance is free.

Here are some more guides you might like:

Vanessa from Real Greek ExperiencesHi! I am Vanessa from Athens. I really enjoy visiting museums and art galleries, and Athens has dozens. In fact, Athens should be high on your list of destinations if you are interested in Ancient Greek history, art, and culture. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the best museums in Athens! Follow me on FB and Instagram for more inspiration.

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