Museums in Athens are plentiful and varied. After all, the Greek capital is the birthplace of modern civilisation and possesses a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years.
In some ways, the entire city of Athens feels like one big open-air museum. Where else in the world can you tread in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates, or gaze up at the sun-bleached ruins of the Acropolis?
- 1 Best Museums in Athens
- 2 Best Museums in Athens: Must-See Spots
- 2.1 The “New” Acropolis Museum
- 2.2 The National Historical Museum
- 2.3 The Benaki Museum
- 2.4 Museum of Cycladic Art
- 2.5 The Museum of the Ancient Agora
- 2.6 The National Archaeological Museum of Greece
- 2.7 The Panathenaic Stadium & The Olympic Museum
- 2.8 Museum of the City of Athens
- 2.9 Museums in Athens: Additional Considerations
- 2.10 The Athens Pinball Museum
- 2.11 The National Museum of Contemporary Art
- 2.12 The Athens War Museum
- 2.13 The Byzantine and Christian Museum
- 2.14 Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum
- 2.15 The Benizelos Mansion
- 2.16 Goulandris National History Museum
- 3 Best Museums in Athens: Practical Information for Visitors
Best Museums in Athens
With so many museums in Athens to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming to try and decide which are worth your while. After living here for the last three years, I have shortlisted the best choices for you.
From there, I have provided a few more options based on specific interests. Feel free to use the table of contents below to navigate to the relevant sections!
Best Museums in Athens:
Assuming that you only have a few days to dedicate to museum-hopping on your Athens itinerary, the museums that you absolutely cannot miss are detailed below.
- The “New” Acropolis Museum
- The Benaki Museum
- The National Archaeological Museum of Greece
- Museum of Cycladic Art
- The Museum of the Ancient Agora
- The Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Museum
- The National Historial Museum
- Museum of the City of Athens
The “New” Acropolis Museum
Where: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15
The Acropolis Museum provides a little more context to the ancient ruins that you can see on the Acropolis hill. For instance, the Parthenon, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Theatre of Dionysus, etc.
Information plaques tell you the chronological history of the site. Meanwhile, artifacts that have been recovered from the area help you to envisage what life in this region of the Greek capital was once like.
The structure that contains the exhibits is stunning in itself. Renowned French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and Greek Architect Michael Photiadis designed this iconic contemporary glass building.
The ultra-modern design makes for a bright and airy atmosphere. It is a far cry from any preconceived notions of “stuffy” and dull history museums.
It is unfortunate that a lot of treasures and items that were excavated from the Acropolis are not on display here. They remain in the British Museum in London. Nevertheless, the exhibits are still fascinating and extensive.
The Acropolis museum consistently ranks on various lists of the best museums in Athens. After you pay a visit here, it becomes clear as to why. If you wish, you can enjoy a Freddo cappuccino and a hot slice of spanakopita from the second floor of the museum as you enjoy the view.
General admission tickets to the New Acropolis museum cost €10 in the summer season (April – October), and €5 in the winter season.
Those eligible for reduced admission tickets can enter the museum for €5 in the summer season, and €3 in the winter. Read the guidelines on reduced admission here.
A ticket to the Acropolis ruins includes admission to the museum. Similarly, admission is included in Athens’s multi-attraction passes.
The National Historical Museum
Where: National Historical Museum, Athens, 105 61
The National Historical Museum of Athens first opened its doors in 1882, making it the oldest museum of its kind in Greece. It is set inside the former Greek parliament building, just one block away from Syntagma central square.
Both permanent and travelling collections can be displayed inside the museum. The former tells the story of life in Greece, and Greek culture through the ages.
The Museum has a more personal touch than most. The exhibition halls contain personal items and artefacts donated by notable Greek celebrities, historical figures, and their ancestors.
Everything from clothing and jewelry, to letters and paintings can be found inside. A must visit.
The National Historical Museum of Athens is open Tuesday – Sunday. General admission is €3 per person. Reduced admission is €1.50 per person.
The Benaki Museum
Where: Koumpari 1, Athina 106 74
Perched on the outskirts of upscale Kolonaki, the Benaki Museum occupies the former mansion of the affluent Benakis family. The museum plays host to a selection of fascinating ever-changing exhibits appertaining to world history and culture.
Not every exhibit at the Benaki Museum is Greek or Athenian, so it’s understandable if visiting is not a priority for you. For culture vultures though, this museum is a must.
2019 saw a host of interesting temporary exhibits pass through the Benaki Museum. This included a selection of Islamic Art sourced from across the Middle East, and a collection of ancient sculptures from Saudi Arabia. The main hall of the museum focuses on Greek culture and how it has developed and changed over the centuries.
The Benaki Museum presents a variety of different ticket options depending on what you want to see. You can purchase a general access ticket or tickets for specific exhibits.
Full admission is €9 per person, and reduced admission is €7 per person. You can browse the full selection of ticket options, timetables, and prices on the Benaki museum website.
Museum of Cycladic Art
Where: Neofitou Douka 4, Athina 106 74
While those who are not a big fan of art may groan at seeing the inclusion of an art museum on this list, the Athens Museum of Cycladic Art is not your average art museum. Founded in 1986, the museum contains art pieces from the islands of the Cyclades that date back over 5,000 years.
Envisage rooms filled with obscure looking human figures crafted in marble, stone, brass, and clay. It is believed that some of the pieces here were actually the first artistic depictions of humans that were ever created! Many of the art pieces here inspired artists such as Picasso to create their masterpieces.
Visitors to the Athens Museum of Cycladic Art can buy different tickets depending upon whether they want a full-access ticket or a ticket to the temporary exhibits only. Reduced admission is available on certain days of the week, and for certain visitors. Visit the museum website to browse the full range of options.
The Museum of the Ancient Agora
Where: 24 Adrianou Str., Τ.Κ, Plaka, Athina, 10555
Housed within the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, the Museum of the Ancient Agora is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Athens. It is a must-visit for those interested in history.
The Ancient Agora was a historical marketplace that dates back to the 2nd BC. Once upon a time, the Agora was the city’s most important meeting point, and notable figures like Socrates and Sophocles gave speeches here. The area’s namesake museum helps you to put the various buildings and monuments of this vast site in context.
The museum is organised in chronological order and its exhibits date all the way back to the Neolithic period. Perhaps most interesting of all is the Upper Stoa Exhibition that is situated on the first floor.
This exhibit contains an array of Late Classical-Hellenistic figures and Roman portraits. The Ancient Agora is just a short walk away from the Roman Agora and the tavernas of Thissio.
Regular admission to the Museum of the Ancient Agora is €8 per person. Reduced admission is €4 per person. Reduced rates are available during the winter months.
Admission to the museum is included in Athens’s multi-attraction passes. Browse the full ticketing information here.
The National Archaeological Museum of Greece
Where: 28 Oktovriou 44, Athina 106 82
The National Archaeological Museum of Greece sits neatly within the scenic Athens national gardens. This is the largest museum in Greece, and it contains a huge amount of artifacts that have been covered across the country throughout the ages.
The museum is set inside a beautiful lemon-coloured neoclassical mansion. Here it houses more than 11,000 exhibitions that are set across a number of rooms and annexes.
Marvel at ancient tools and findings from the Neolithic, Cycladic and Mycenaean ages in the Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities. From there, observe how Greek sculptures changed and developed through the ages at The Collection of Sculpture Works permanent collection.
You can then move on to the stunning Vase and Miniature Collection which contains ceramics from the 11th century to the Roman era. As you make your way around, keep your eyes peeled for the mask of Agamemnon, and the statue of Zeus.
Admission fees vary depending upon the season. From April 1st to October 31st, tickets cost €10 per person.
From November 1st until March 31st, a reduced price of €5 per person comes into effect. You can browse the full details on the museum website.
The Panathenaic Stadium & The Olympic Museum
Where: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35
The Panathenaic Stadium is an impressive ancient structure that sits on Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, opposite the National Gardens. It is the only stadium in the world that has been built entirely out of marble.
The structure dates back to 566 BC. The first modern Olymic games were held here in 1896.
When you enter the stadium, it’s possible to climb up into the stands and take a seat, so as to imagine what being a spectator at a game would have been like all those years ago. There is a small Olympic Museum beneath the stadium. Here, an array of Olympic torches, promotional posters, and memorabilia from across the world are on display.
A general admission ticket for the Panathenaic Stadium costs €5. Reduced admission is €2.50.
Disabled visitors, their companions, and visitors under 6 years of age are entlitled to free entrance.The entrance ticket includes access to both the stadium and the museum.
Museum of the City of Athens
Where: Parnassou 2, Athina 105 61
The Museum of the City of Athens is housed inside a breathtaking neoclassical mansion that dates back to 1833. Once upon a time, you could not even enter this property unless you received an invitation from the palace. Today, anyone can step inside and experience the extravagance and opulence of the property’s past.
The Museum consists of two museums connected by a corridor. Displays here show how Athens has changed and developed over the centuries. The focus is on the buildings and architecture of Athens.
The Museum of the City of Athens is closed on Tuesdays. Standard admission tickets are €5.
Special rates apply to groups, students, and children. Entrance is free for disabled visitors.
Museums in Athens:
While the museums in Athens detailed above are those that you absolutely should try and visit while in town, those that follow here are for your consideration if you have more time to spare. There is a little something for everyone here. Athens has everything from from lesser-known cultural and historical gems to art collections and places that are just downright eccentric.
The Athens Pinball Museum
Where: Makri 2 &, Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athina 117 42
Fun, eclectic, eccentric. The Athens Pinball Museum is probably not going to make the best museums in Athens list for the majority of people.
However, if you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to stop by. The “museum” is situated close to Koukaki and the Acropolis in Makriyianni and is home to over 100 old-fashioned pinball museums.
The retro machines have been sourced from across the world and each has different pop culture and movie themes. The Guns & Roses machine plays “Sweet Child of Mine” every time you score! There’s also a little coffee shop on-site where you can relax with a snack and a coffee between games.
The Athens Pinball Museum is independently owned and managed. Admission is €10 per person and visitors can hang out and play with the “exhibits” for as long as they desire.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art
Where: National Museum of Modern Art, Kallirrois, Athens, 11743
The National Museum of Contemporary Art awaits on the outskirts of quirky Koukaki. The building can almost be considered a work of art in itself- the museum is housed inside the Former ‘Fix’ beer brewery where the tall ceilings and industrial ambiance add a certain je ne sais quoi to the experience of viewing the various pieces.
Thought-provoking creations from a number of Greek and International artists can be found inside the halls of Athens’ Contemporary Art Museum. Everything from sculptures, paintings, and eccentric video and lighting shows.
The Museum has been recently refurbished (2020) following the receipt of a €3m grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Museum is open from Tuesday through to Sunday. General admission tickets cost €8 per person.
Visitors aged 65 and over, those between the ages of 13 and 18, and those who can display a university student card are eligible for the reduced admission of €4.
The Athens War Museum
Where: Rizari 2, Athina 106 75
The centrally located Athens War Museum is a nice place to visit if you have a little extra time to spare – particularly if you are interested in military history. The museum sits on the outskirts of Athens’ Pagrati district, close to Evangelissmos metro station.
Old tanks and Greek fighter jets occupy the grassy area that surrounds the museum building. Meanwhile, the interior contains a vast array of different exhibitions.
The weapons, documents, and military uniforms contained within the Athens War Museum cover an array of different periods in Greek history. Everything from the Byzantine era to the Balkan war can be found inside.
In particular, it is interesting to see the floors that demonstrate how the Greeks defended their country during World War II. There is also a rather peculiar collection of weird and wonderful looking weapons from across the world that is presented in an ‘obscure weaponry’ exhibit.
General admission is €4 per person, and reduced admission is €2. Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month during the winter months, in addition to on specific public holidays. You can check the museum’s full admission and ticketing information here.
The Byzantine and Christian Museum
Where: Leof. Vasilissis Sofias 22, Athina 106 75
Situated on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is a Greek national treasure. The museum contains more than 25,000 artifacts.
These are predominantly of a religious nature and cover the Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval points in history. For a more detailed look into Greek history, it’s worth stopping by the Byzantine and Christian museum if you have time.
However, don’t carve time out of your schedule for it specifically. Conveniently, the museum is located directly across from the Benaki Museum.
General admission is €8 per person. Reduced admission is €4.
Visitors under 18 can enter the museum for free. For full opening times and admission information, visit the museum website here.
Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum
Where: Athens 105 55
The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum is a private collection of antiquities. Housed in a neoclassical home in Plaka, it is a small but charming place to browse if you have an hour or two to spare.
Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos were wealthy, independent art collectors who donated the items that they gathered over the years to the Greek state. The artifacts, busts, and art pieces here run from 3000-1200 BC to the 18th and 19th centuries AD.
The Museum is open every day except Tuesdays. Regular admission is €4. Concession tickets are €2.
The Benizelos Mansion
The Benizelos Mansion was once home to the Greek family of the same name – Angelos Benizelos and his wife Syrigi Palaiologina. It is the oldest surviving house in Athens, and dates back to the 18th century.
There are only very few of these “konaki” mansions that still stand in Southern Greece today.
Visiting the Benizelos Mansion gives a glimpse into what life was like for Athenian nobility before the Greek revolution took place.
The Benizelos Mansion operates on limited opening hours. Operating times frequently change.
You can find out the latest information, or contact the museum via their website. Admission is based on providing a donation. All money raised goes to charity.
Goulandris National History Museum
Where: Levidou 13, Kifisia 145 62
The Goulandris National History Museum is located in the upscale Kifissia district of Athens. When it opened its doors, Goulandris was the very first national history museum in Greece.
The permanent exhibits here are varied. You can browse an array of rocks, minerals and fossils, along with various zoological, botanical, and marine specimens.
Goulandris National History Museum originated as a place to research and study plants before later expanding its operation. Today, there are more than 200,000 spieces of plants on display. Among these, 145 have only recently been discovered.
General admission tickets are €6 per person. Concession tickets are €4 each.
Best Museums in Athens:
Practical Information for Visitors
If you find yourself in Athens in winter, the museums contained within this list are a great way to escape the cold! There are additional benefits to travelling during this time too. Between the months of November and March, reduced admission fees come into play, making touring the Greek capital even cheaper!
During the Greece winter season, the majority of museums detailed here also offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month – as do notable sites such as the Acropolis!
I will happily assist you with any questions that you may have. Go ahead and drop me a comment below and I’ll respond ASAP. Safe travels! Melissa xo
Disclaimer: All information is correct as of September 2020. High Heels and a Backpack is in no way affiliated with any museums in Athens shortlisted here.