10 Best Museums in Athens Greece for Archaeology and History Fans

Last updated on October 5th, 2019 at 04:38 pm

Here’s 10 of the best museums in Athens you might consider visiting when in the Greek capital. These are our favourite Athens museums for archaeology and history!

A statue of Poseidon or Zeus from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Top 10 Athens Museums

No visit to Athens is complete without spending time in a museum or two. In fact, Athens is something of a museum lovers paradise, as there are over 80 and counting!

There’s no way you can see all the museums in Athens on a short break though, so we thought we’d shortlist them down into the top 10.

These Athens museums are perfect if you want to discover more about Greek culture and history. They also cover the entire range of Greek history, from it’s ancient past to the modern day.

Best Museums in Athens

Here’s our favourite 10 Athens museums that we believe gives the greatest appreciation of Greek history and culture:

  • National Archaeological Museum
  • Acropolis Museum
  • Ancient Agora Museum
  • Museum of Cycladic Art
  • Byzantine and Christian Museum
  • Benaki Museum – Main Building
  • War Museum
  • Numismatic Museum
  • The National Historical Museum of Greece
  • Korai 4 Memorial Site 1941-1944

1. National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is the largest museum in Greece. Its vast collections include finds from all around the country. The exhibits are split into five permanent collections, dating from the Prehistoric times to Late Antiquity.

You will have the chance to see ancient Greek sculptures, vases, ornaments, jewelry, tools and everyday objects, as well as separate sections with Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities.

Highlights include the mask of Agamemnon, the statue of Zeus / Poseidon and the statue of the child on a horse.

A bronze statue of a child riding a horse from the National Archaeological Museum of Greece in Athens

Note that if you want to visit the museum properly, you will need around four hours! If you are pushed for time, we strongly suggest doing some research prior to your visit. Opening times vary throughout the year, so check this link for information.

Tip: If you want to take a break, the garden at the back offers a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of Athens.

Closest metro: Victoria / Omonoia

2. Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum houses finds from the excavations of the slopes and the sanctuaries of the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

On the top floor, the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon’s frieze are exhibited. Replicas of original sculptures that are nowadays found in the British Museum, better known as the Elgin marbles, are also on display.

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

Statues inside the New Acropolis Museum in Athens

The café of 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 a entrance ticket.

Opening hours vary day by day and throughout the year, so check this link for more information.

Tip: Some of the floors are transparent, so you might feel more comfortable wearing trousers!

Closest metro: Acropolis

3. Ancient Agora Museum

Entry to the Ancient Agora museum is included with your ticket to the Ancient Agora, which can also be part of the money saving combined ticket to the archaeological sites in Athens.

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

Inside the Museum of the Ancient Agora in Athens Greece

The Museum’s opening hours are roughly 8.30-15.30 daily, but check their website for more detailed information.

Tip: Allow at least two hours for the Agora and the Museum, as the site itself is quite big and really nice!

Closest metro: Monastiraki, Thisseio

4. Museum of Cycladic Art

If you ever found the small Cycladic idols fascinating, you must check out the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens.

Apart from the idols, the collection includes items representative of the Cycladic civilization from all periods between the 2nd millennium BC to 4th century AD (end of the Roman period).

Statues of Cycladic Art from the Cycladic Art Museum in Athens

Do not miss 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 we can see the life and death of Leon, an ancient Athenian.

Opening times vary on individual days, so plan your visit in advance. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.

Tip: Make sure you check out any contemporary exhibitions, such as the annual children’s painting competition, which is always fascinating.

Closest metro: Evangelismos

5. Byzantine and Christian Museum

The Byzantine Museum in Athens focuses on the history of the Byzantine Empire, that emerged from the ashes of the Roman Empire. It is one of the most important Byzantine museums in the world.

On display are Byzantine frescoes, icons, sculptures, pottery, manuscripts and textiles.

An exhibit from inside the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens Greece

Opening hours are 12.30-20.00 on Tuesdays and 8.00-20.00 on other days.

Tip: The museum occasionally hosts temporary exhibitions that have nothing to do with Byzantine Art. Check their website for more information.

Closest metro: Evangelismos

6. Benaki Museum Athens – Main building

The Benaki Museum is a privately run museum which is spread out across several buildings around Athens. The main building on Koumbari Street focuses on Greece throughout its history.

The exhibits cover the period from antiquity to 1922, when the Asia Minor tragedy happened. The Byzantine collection, in particular, is very rich. You can also see traditional costumes used at different eras.

National Costumes of Greece on display in the Benaki Museum in Athens

If you only have time for one museum in Athens, the Benaki Museum might be a good choice, as it will give you an idea of the various periods of Greece.

Opening hours are different on a daily basis, so check in advance for information. Closed on Tuesdays.

Tip: On Thursdays, the Benaki  museum remains open until midnight! So you can do other things during the day, and plan your visit in the evening. Bonus – entrance for the permanent exhibition is free!

Closest metro: Evangelismos

7. War Museum

You will easily recognize the War Museum by the numerous air planes in the back yard. The museum hosts items related to the numerous wars that Greece has taken part in.

The National War Museum of Greece in Athens

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

Opening hours are 9.00-19,00 from April to October, and 9.00-17.00 from November to March. Check their website for other information.

Tip: If you are not very knowledgeable about the history of modern Greece, try to gain some insight before visiting the War Museum. Allow an hour and a half to visit the museum comfortably.

Closest metro: Evangelismos

8. Numismatic Museum of Athens

The Numismatic Museum hosts an impressive collection of Greek coins from the antiquity to these days. You can see coins of the city-states, coins designed by Greek rulers and Roman emperors, as well as coins used by the Byzantine Empire and the Frankish kingdoms. On display are also contemporary coins and banknotes.

The interior of the Numismatic Museum of Athens is very impressive

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 is open from 8.30-15.30 daily, apart from Mondays. Check out other information in their website.

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: Syntagma / Panepistimio

9. The National Historical Museum of Greece

The National Historical Museum hosts a collection of artefacts from the era when Greece was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. There are also later items, relevant to the Greek revolution in 1821, WWI and the Balkan Wars, and a small room about WWII.

Displays inside the 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!

The museum is open 8.30-14.30 Tuesdays to Sundays, and is closed on Mondays. For more information, check their website.

Tip: Take some time to check the building, which used to be the Old House of Parliament until 1932. The museum is free of charge on Sundays, and it tends to be fairly quiet.

Closest metro: Panepistimio

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. This former mansion was chosen to house the offices of “I ETHNIKI” General Insurance Company towards the end of the 19th century, and 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. 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.

Photography was not allowed at the time we visited, but as you can imagine the place is really grim. Even though the messages on the walls are in Greek, you can still appreciate the difficulties that the prisoners went through. Make sure you have a chat with the helpful museum employees, as they have many stories to tell.

Opening hours are from 9.00 to 14.00, Tuesday to Saturday. Take a look at the museum’s website for other information.

Closest metro: Panepistimio

The Best Museums in Athens

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Museums in Athens: The best Athens museums to learn more about Greek culture and history stretching back 5000 years.

Have you been to any of those museums in Athens? What did you think to the experience? Let us know in the comments!

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