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?
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 two and a half 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!
- 1 Best Museums in Athens: Must-See Spots
- 2 The “New” Acropolis Museum
- 3 The Benaki Museum
- 4 Museum of Cycladic Art
- 5 The Museum of the Ancient Agora
- 6 The National Archaeological Museum of Greece
- 7 Museums in Athens: Additional Considerations
- 8 The Athens Pinball Museum
- 9 The National Museum of Contemporary Art
- 10 The Athens War Museum
- 11 The Byzantine and Christian Museum
- 12 Best Museums in Athens: Practical Information for Visitors
- 13 Melissa Douglas
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
Where: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15
The Acropolis Museum provides a little more context to the ancient ruins that you can see on the Acropolis hill – the Parthenon, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Theatre of Dionysus, etc. Information plaques tell you the chronological history of the site, while 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. This contemporary glass building was designed by renowned French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and Greek Architect Michael Photiadis. The ultra-modern design makes for a bright and airy atmosphere – 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, as they were taken to the British Museum in London (something that my Greek friends love to give me a hard time about – ha!) Nevertheless, the exhibits are still fascinating and extensive.
The Acropolis museum consistently ranks on various lists of the best museums in Athens and after you pay a visit here, it becomes clear to see 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. (You can read the guidelines on who is entitled to reduced admission here)
A ticket to the Acropolis ruins includes admission to the museum. Similarly, admission is included in Athens multi-attraction passes.
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 Benaki Museum is my personal favourite museum in Athens, owing to the fact that 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 – including 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 through 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, and 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.
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 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.
Set inside a beautiful lemon-coloured neoclassical mansion, the museum is home to 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.
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 – 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 but if you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to stop by. The “museum” is situated close to 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.
At the time of writing this article (September 2019), the museum is temporarily closed for refurbishment following the receipt of a €3m grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. It is expected to come back shortly better and more impressive than ever. This section will be updated with the relevant information as and when the museum resumes operation.
The Athens War Museum
Where: Rizari 2, Athina 106 75
Established in 1964, 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. Old tanks and Greek fighter jets occupy the grassy area that surrounds the museum building, while the interior exhibits contain 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 – the Byzantine era, the Balkan war, etc. 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 which 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, but 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, while 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.
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!
Have any further questions about the museums in Athens detailed on this list, or about planning a Greece vacation in general? I have lived here in Pangrati for the last two and a half years. I will happily assist you with any questions that you may have – just go ahead and drop me a comment below and I’ll respond ASAP. Safe travels! Melissa xo
Disclaimer: All information is correct as of publication in September 2019. High Heels and a Backpack is in no way affiliated with any museums in Athens shortlisted here.