There are enough museums in Athens to keep you occupied for weeks. There is something for everyone here – from ancient and modern history museums to art museums that showcase the works of numerous Greek and international artists.
The various exhibits at Athens’ many history and culture museums tell the story of the Ancient Greek civilization and how the country came to be as it is today.
They give more context to famous historical and archeaalogial sites like the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, and the Temple of Olympean Zeus and they can help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the things you see during your trip to Greece.
Choosing the best museums in Athens Greece can be overwhelming, especially if you are short on time. There are more than a whopping 70 museums across Athens and Piraeus, and many deserve hours of your time!
This article has been written by a British Travel Writer based in Athens (me!) I have personally visited all of the museums on this list.
So, we will look at which museums to prioritise if you are short on time. Then we’ll look at what each of Athens’ best and most famous museums have to offer, their admission, etc.
Best Museums in Athens Greece to Visit in 2023
Choosing the best museums in Athens Greece is perhaps somewhat subjective depending on your personal interests. But there are a few places that are must-visits – even if you don’t consider yourself a “museum person.”
The “New” Acropolis Museum is one of those places. It sits just across Dionysiou Areopagitou from the Acropolis complex and it can help you learn more about the various structures inside the ruins.
The National Archaeological Museum of Greece and the National Historical Museum are two of the largest and most important history museums in the country. The Benaki Museum is a local favourite when it comes to art while visiting the Agora Museum inside the Stoa of Attalos is crucial to understanding the history of the various structures in the Agora complex.
If you are limited on time, the best museums in Athens to prioritise are:
- The National Archaeological Museum of Greece
- National Historical Museum of Greece
- Benaki Museum
- The “New” Acropolis Museum
- Museum of the City of Athens
- The Ancient Agora Museum
- The Museum of Cycladic Art
- Panathenaic Stadium and its Olympic Museum
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 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 why.
There is an excellent coffee shop on the second floor of the museum. If you want to rest your legs for a little while, you can enjoy a strong Greek coffee and a hot slice of spanakopita 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.
If you are eligible for reduced admission, you can enter the museum for €5 in the summer season, and €3 in the winter.
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 artifacts donated by notable Greek celebrities, historical figures, and their ancestors.
Everything from clothing and jewelry to letters and paintings can be found inside. This place is 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.
In 2023, a temporary exhibit at Benaki Museum pays tribute to the late photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari (1899-1998) and showcases some of her best work. Past exhibits have included displays of Islamic Art sourced from across the Middle East, and a collection of ancient sculptures from Saudi Arabia.
The main hall of the museum’s permanent collection focuses on Greek culture and how it has developed and changed over the centuries. You can check the Benaki Museum website to see what exhibitions are scheduled.
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.
Museum of Cycladic Art
Where: Neofitou Douka 4, Athina 106 74
The Athens Museum of Cycladic Art is not your average art museum. You are likely to find it interesting even if you are not an art aficionado.
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.
There are different ticket options available for the Athens Museum of Cycladic Art. You can purchase a full-access ticket or a ticket specifically for the temporary exhibits.
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
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 and is housed within the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, within the wider Agora complex.
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 Greek Philosophers like Socrates and Sophocles gave speeches there.
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 which 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. You should dedicate around 2 hours to exploring the entire complex.
The Temple of Hephaestus is an impressive Doric temple made entirely out of marble and dedicated to Hephaestus, God of fire and Athena Ergane, Goddess of pottery and crafts.
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 the Athens combination ticket attraction pass.
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. Next, 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 on 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 Olympic games were held here in 1896.
When you enter the stadium, you can climb up into the stands and take a seat. That way, you 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 entitled 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. The entrance is free for disabled visitors.
Athens Museums to Visit if You Have Extra Time
The museums in Athens detailed above are those that you absolutely should try and visit while in town. However, they are by no means an exhaustive list of all the museums in Athens.
There are dozens of other places to consider if you have a little more time to spare. Some additional suggestions that are worth having on your radar are detailed below.
Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
Address: Diogenous 1, Athina 105 56
The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments (“MELMOKE”) is an interesting place to check out if you have a little more time to spare. It is housed inside a grand neoclassical mansion in Plaka that dates back to 1842.
The building is as impressive as the exhibits within it – it was built by general Yiorgos Lassanis, one of the most notable heroes of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks.
The gorgeous pastel-yellow building with green shutters is a photographer’s dream. It houses more than 1,200 musical instruments dating from the 18th to the 20th century. Many of these items were donated by the Musicologist Fivos Anoyanakis.
Notable items include the idiophones, a selection of forged and cast bells, the toubeleki (drum), the tsabouna (bagpipe), and the laouto (lute). You should also look out for the bouzouki.
This is arguably the national instrument of Greece. It is a long-necked plucked lute with a round body. If you go to any tavernas with live music or bouzouki bars in Athens, chances are, you will see someone playing a bouzouki.
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation
Address: Eratosthenous 13
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation (aka the Goulandris Art Museum) is one of the more recent art museums to have opened in Athens in the past few years. The foundation behind it was established in 1979 as a non-profit organisation to educate and promote history, art, and culture in Athens and Andros Island.
The Art Museum houses an impressive selection of modern and contemporary art pieces by a diverse range of Greek and international artists. Inside, you will find pieces by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, El Grego, Parthenis, Tetsis, Tsarouchis, and Moralis.
In addition to the permanent collections, different temporary exhibitions are hosted here throughout the year. The gorgeous pastel-yellow building that the museum is housed in is a work of art in itself.
It was designed by the architects Marios Varvoglis and Tadao Ando.
The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology
Address: Pindarou 6, Athens
Few people take the time to visit The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology (or are even aware of its existence!) There are some really fascinating ancient Greek inventions here.
Among the hundreds of items tucked away behind glass cases here is a range of original inventions and well-made replicas. Look out for the hydraulic alarm clock invented by the Greek Philosopher Plato and a replica of the Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s oldest analog computer.
The museum gift shop is a nice place to shop for souvenirs from your Greece trip. Here you can purchase handmade wooden replicas of the items on display in the museum as made with love by the museum owner’s son.
The property that the museum is housed in is worth noting. It was once the home of Queen Aspasia Manou, wife of Alexander I.
Museum of Illusions
Address: Ermou 119 entrance from Astiggos 12, Athens
If you are looking for something light-hearted and fun to do in Athens, the Museum of Illusions can be a great alternative museum to visit. This is especially true if you are travelling with kids.
The museum is one of the dozens of similar places found in various cities across the globe. In Greece, there is one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki.
The entire concept of the place is to take funny photos in different optical illusion settings. E.g. photos where it looks like you’re upside down, photos where you look tiny among giant furniture, etc.
Hellenic Motor Museum
Address: Ioulianou 33, Athens
The Hellenic Motor Museum Athens was founded by Theodore Charagionis in 1977. It occupies a space of 4,000 square meters and tells the history of how cars have developed from the 18th century to the present day.
Several gorgeous classic and modern cars are on display inside. This includes Aston Martins, Ferraris, Chryslers, Jaguars, Bentleys, Mercedes, and Porches.
Look out for the vintage Rolls Royce and the Humber 10hp Two-Seater. Among the beautiful American and European cars are some weird and wacky vehicles too. Kids will love the Flintstones Bedrock car!
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. This place is great fun for all the family.
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.
It is housed inside the Former ‘Fix’ beer brewery and has maintained many of the original characteristics of the former industrial site. The tall ceilings, brick walls, and exposed pipes 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. There are an array of different art pieces here.
You can view everything from sculptures, paintings, and eccentric videos 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 students 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.
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.
You don’t need to carve time out of your schedule for this museum specifically. Think of it as a place to stop by if you have an hour or two to kill.
It may be more worthwhile for you if you are particularly interested in religion. 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. It is housed in a neoclassical home in Plaka and 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. Many were torn down to make way for apartment buildings during the various housing crises in Greece.
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 its 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. This 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 species of plants on display. Among these, 145 have only recently been discovered.
General admission tickets are €6 per person. Concession tickets are €4 each.
The Numismatic Museum
Where: El. Venizelou 12
The Numismatic Museum of Athens is frequently overlooked yet it is well worth visiting, especially if you have a keen interest in Greek and Athenian history. It was established in 1834, making it one of the oldest public museums in the country.
The museum is housed in a grand, renovated neoclassical building close to the Panepistimou metro station. For a period, renowned German Archeologist Heinrich Schliemann lived here.
Today, the Numismatic Museums exhibition halls showcase more than half a million artifacts and items recovered locally. There is a large exhibit dedicated to money in Greece and the various coins used throughout the ages, with details on how they were minted.
Coins all the way from the Roman and Byzantine periods, up to pre-euro Greece are displayed here. Besides coins, you will also find a lot of gems, medals, and other artifacts on display here.
Entrance to the Numismatic Museum costs €3 per person. Concessions are available for young children and the elderly. The museum is open between 8 am and 8 pm
FAQs About the Best Museums in Athens Greece
Do you have any further questions about the best museums in Athens Greece to visit in 2023? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there. If not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
What is the most famous museum in Athens?
The Acropolis Museum is arguably the most famous museum in Athens. It is the modern contemporary glass structure that sits across from Acropolis Hill and contains a number of artifacts recovered from the Parthenon and the wider area.
Which is better? The Acropolis Museum or the National Archeological Museum?
The National Archeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum are both worth visiting in their own right. If you are short on time and will only have a chance to visit one or two of the best museums in Athens, these are two that you should prioritize.
But if it really is an either/or situation, choose the National Archeological Museum. It contains a more extensive collection of trinkets, antiques, and artifacts from across Greece whereas the Acropolis Museum only focuses on the Acropolis.
What’s more, many items in the Acropolis Museum are replicas since the originals are stored in the British Museum in London.
Is the Museum of Acropolis worth it?
Yes. The Acropolis Museum is well worth visiting and you can whip around it in just 30 minutes if you don’t have a whole lot of time to spare/don’t like museums.
The museum provides more information about the history of the various shrines, temples, theatres, and other structures around Acropolis Hill. It can help you gain a better understanding of what you are actually looking at when you travel to the ruins.
What is the most visited museum in Greece?
According to the European Group on Museum Statistics (EGMUS), the Acropolis Museum was the most visited museum in Greece every year from 2002 to 2018. Unfortunately, they have not shared more recent data.
However, the general consensus is that this is still the most popular museum in the country. Since the Acropolis is the entire raison d’etre that many people want to visit Athens or Greece in general, it makes sense that the site would maintain its title.
What is the most famous piece in the Acropolis Museum?
There are some very interesting sculptures, friezes, and artifacts on display in the Acropolis Museum. It would be hard to choose the “most famous” or “best” one among them.
But particularly interesting are the triple-bodied monster sculpture, the friezes of the battles between the Greeks and the Persians from the Temple of Athena Nike, and the clay spindle whorls. The latter were uncovered close to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
It is believed that they were used as offerings by Athenian women at the Sanctuary of Nymphe.
What is Athens’ largest museum?
The National Archeological Museum is the largest museum in Athens.
Reduced admission prices in the winter
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!
Free museum days in Athens Greece
During the Greece winter season, the majority of museums detailed here also offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month from November to March.
Entrance to the best museums in Athens is also free on the below dates.
- Melina Mercouri day – March 6th
- International Monument Day – April 18th
- International Museums Day – May 18th
- European Heritage Days – Final weekend of September
- Oxi Day – 28th October
Final thoughts on the best museums in Athens Greece
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