The ancient city of Athens in Greece is steeped in history going back many thousands of years. Wandering around Athens, you will see the past merging with the present. You could be at a shopping mall one minute and the next at a museum or archaeological site. Greece knew democracy before many other cultures and had some of the most influential philosophers, playwrights and scientists and the museums in Athens reflect this rich history.
The cultural heritage has not disappeared from the city but is now housed in its museums. There are over 80 museums in Athens, many exhibiting artefacts from ancient times, others showing Greece’s troubled past in times of occupation. Visit one of the many art galleries or one of the family-friendly museums with interactive displays.
Many museums in Athens are housed in stunning neo-classical mansions built in the 19th century. However, the contemporary Acropolis museum looks over the city and is a wonderful place to sit having a coffee taking in the atmosphere and the view. Most museums in Athens are public institutions but some house expensive private collections owned by wealthy Greeks.
You would need to spend a long time in the city to get through a fraction of the museums in Athens, so we have gathered the best museums to help you make your choice. If you are interested in ancient history, mythology, natural history, war or art, there’s definitely something for you at these Athens museums.
- Athens Museums
- 20 Museums In Athens To Visit
- 1- Acropolis Museum
- 2- National Archaeological Museum Of Greece
- 3- Museum Of The Ancient Agora Of Athens
- 4- Museum Of Cycladic Art
- 5- Byzantine and Christian Museum
- 6- Athens War Museum
- 7- The National Historical Museum Of Greece
- 8- Benaki Museum Of Greek Culture
- 9- Museum Of Islamic Art
- 10- Numismatic Museum of Athens
- 11- National Gallery In Athens
- 12- Museum Of The City Of Athens
- 13- Hellenic Motor Museum
- 14- Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum
- 15- Goulandris Museum Of Natural History
- 16- Museum Of Illusions In Athens
- 17- Museum Of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
- 18- Benaki Museum – Pireos 138 Branch
- 19- The Collection Of The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation
- 20- National Museum Of Contemporary Art
Planning a trip to Athens?
Make sure you book early, as hotels with the best views of the Acropolis sell out fast.
Tickets and Tours
- Acropolis, Parthenon and Acropolis Museum Guided Tour
- Acropolis and 6 Archaeological Sites Combo Ticket
- Combo Ticket Pass for Museums & Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
Hotels With Acropolis Views
- Electra Metropolis (5-star) – a modern hotel with panoramic views of the Acropolis.
- Herodion Hotel (4-star) – roof garden and hot tubs with Acropolis views.
- Acropolis View Hotel (3-star) – in the historic centre with views of the Acropolis and within walking distance of the museum.
- Athens Backpackers (budget option) – cool vibe and rooftop bar with Acropolis views.
20 Museums In Athens To Visit
1- Acropolis Museum
The ancient site of the Acropolis is in the centre of Athens on a hill towering over the city.
Built in the 5th century BC, it houses the Parthenon honouring the goddess Athena.
The Acropolis Museum must be visited if you are interested in ancient Greek history.
It houses a large collection of sculptures and statues found at the Acropolis.
There are some statues of the Olympian gods, including Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Hermes.
The most stunning sculptures are the Caryatids, female sculptures that also served as pillars to hold buildings.
On the museum’s top floor, you will see the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon’s frieze.
The others are in London in the British Museum and are known as the Elgin Marbles.
You may have heard about them as there is a lot of controversy surrounding them and where they should be housed.
Don’t visit this museum without having a drink or snack in the cafe.
You will have an amazing view of the Acropolis, well worth photographing.
You can go to the cafe without even going to the museum, but we think it would be a pity if you missed this museum.
If you are interested in ancient history, this is the place for you. It is the most popular museum in Athens, with over 1.5 million people visiting it each year.
The Acropolis Museum is at Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athens. Skip the line and book your Acropolis, Parthenon and Acropolis Museum guided tour.
2- National Archaeological Museum Of Greece
The National Archaeological Museum of Greece is the largest museum in Greece and is a must-see if you want to unearth the secrets of the ancient history of Greece.
It is housed in a stunning neo-classical building with five collections dating from the Neolithic Period to Late Antiquity, the time before the Middle Ages.
The artefacts come from all over Greece and include sculptures, vases, jewellery and tools.
There are over 11,000 exhibits, so reserve a few hours for your visit.
One of the museum’s highlights is the gold death mask of Agamemnon, dated back to the 16th century BC.
It is one of five masks found in Mycenae in 1876 and is thought to have covered the face of a distinguished person in death.
Another highlight is a cast bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon, dating back to around 460 BC. Nobody is quite sure which god it is supposed to represent, so you can make your own mind up.
If you need a break during your visit, there is a lovely, peaceful garden cafe.
The National Archaeological Museum of Greece is at 28is Oktovriou 44, Athens. Skip the line and book your ticket and audio tour here. If you’re keen on Greek archaeology, you might like to opt for a private guided tour.
3- Museum Of The Ancient Agora Of Athens
The Ancient Agora of Athens, northwest of the Acropolis, was originally established as Athens’s administrative and trade centre in the 2nd century BC.
It’s one of the top archaeological sites in Athens.
The site has a museum attached to it, and your ticket includes a visit to the Ancient Agora and the museum. You will need around two hours to see both.
Visiting this museum will give you an insight into what life was like in Ancient Greece, both socially and politically.
The museum houses many artefacts, including jewellery, coins, terracotta figures, weapons and vases.
Perhaps even more interestingly, you will get an idea of democracy in Ancient Greece.
You will see bronze ballots and official jurors’ identification tags, and it is mind-blowing to think that Greece was far more advanced compared to other countries.
The Museum of Ancient Agora in Athens is at 24 Adrianou Street, 10555, Athens. This pass will get you to the Ancient Agora and six other archaeological sites in Athens, including the Acropolis.
4- Museum Of Cycladic Art
This is a fascinating museum dedicated to the art of the Cyclades islands. If you are interested in ancient art, you will be in your element here.
There are artefacts dating from the 3rd century BC until the 4th century AD. The highlight is the exhibition of the Cycladic idols.
They are among the most enigmatic and fascinating objects from ancient Greece.
They are small figures of the human form made from local Cycladic marble.
Most were found in graves, so they were probably used in a ritual or religious service.
Marble carving is the most characteristic product of Cycladic culture, and figurines, vases and other pottery are on display.
On the third floor, there is an exhibition of Cypriot art, showing that there are similarities among the ancient Mediterranean cultures.
The collection has sculptures, gold jewellery, bronzes, and impressive glasswork.
The fourth floor is dedicated to the life of the Ancient Greeks.
There are photos, diagrams, and videos telling you about the common man’s life at this time.
There is a shop selling replica sculptures which would make great souvenirs or gifts.
The Museum Of Cycladic Art is at 4 Nerophytou Douka Street, Athens. Take your time and see several museums with this combo museum entry pass and Hop-on Hop-off bus. Check out the list of museums you can enter with this pass.
5- Byzantine and Christian Museum
The Byzantine and Christian Museum is housed in a beautiful mansion once owned by the Duchess of Plaisance, a supporter of Greek Independence.
This museum is a must if you are interested in the Byzantine Empire.
It has a permanent collection centred on Byzantine art and architecture.
The museum houses over 25,000 artefacts from the 3rd century to the 20th century.
You will see religious artefacts such as icons and frescoes, Greek pottery, sculptures, textiles and manuscripts.
The variety of artefacts makes this museum a treasury of Byzantine culture.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, but these usually aren’t connected to Byzantine art.
They could be collections of contemporary art or decorative art, for example.
In the summer, the museum holds music performances in its beautiful courtyard.
The Byzantine and Christian Museum is at 22 VasSofias Ave., Athens. Visit the Byzantine museum on the Green Hop-on Hop-Off bus.
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6- Athens War Museum
Greece has been involved in many battles and wars over the years.
This museum starts with the Stone Age and the prehistoric weapons used at that time and goes through to the 20th century.
The most interesting exhibitions are those depicting weapons, uniforms, flags, and medals from the last 200 years.
You will see artefacts from the Greek War of Independence, the Balkan wars, and the two World Wars.
From time to time, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions.
You won’t be able to miss where the museum is, as outside, there are displays of firearms, Air Force aircraft, and exhibits from the Hellenic Navy.
You will need an hour and a half to two hours to visit this museum.
The Athens War Museum is at Vas Sofias & Rizan 2, Athens. The most cost-effective way to visit several museums is to get a museum combo ticket with the hop-on hop-off bus.
7- The National Historical Museum Of Greece
The National Historical Museum of Greece is housed in the Old Parliament Building that functioned here until 1932.
You won’t be able to miss it as outside is a striking equestrian statue of Theodoros Kolokotonus.
He was a general and a pre-eminent leader during the Greek War of Independence, fighting against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1829.
The museum will guide you through the history of modern Greece, starting from the period of Ottoman rule.
It covers the Greek War of Independence, the creation of an independent country, and the political and social development of the Greek people.
If you are particularly interested in the Greek War of Independence, there is an excellent exhibition where you can learn all about it.
The two World Wars and the Balkan Wars are also covered.
There are other interesting exhibitions, including ones on costumes, folk art, and the consolidation of the Greek parliamentary system.
You will need a good couple of hours to spend in this museum, if not more. Take a private guided tour of the museum.
The National Historical Museum is at Old Parliament Building, 15 Stadiou Street, 10561, Athens.
8- Benaki Museum Of Greek Culture
The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture Is housed in a stunning neoclassical-style building.
It was turned into a museum to exhibit the private collections of Antonias Benakis, a member of one of the leading families of the Greek diaspora.
During his lifetime, he donated the museum to the Greek state.
The museum covers Greece through its long history, starting with the Ancient World and ending in 1922.
The Byzantine collection is spectacular, and many objects are displayed from the Greek War of Independence.
You will need to spend a couple of hours in this museum, or even more, as there is a wealth of information to discover about the history of Greece.
Thursdays are a good day to visit the museum as the entrance is free and open until midnight.
The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture is at 1 Koumbari Street, 10674, Athens. Skip the line and book your tickets here.
9- Museum Of Islamic Art
It is unusual to find a museum dedicated to Islam in a Greek Orthodox country but nevertheless, it is worth visiting as it is a renowned museum famous for housing artefacts with artistic significance.
The museum is part of the Benaki network and is housed in a stunning neoclassical building.
It contains around 10,000 items dating from the 7th to the 19th century.
The museum is on four floors, displaying artefacts in chronological order, including weaving, jewellery, porcelain, weapons and tools.
There is also an impressive replica of a marble-floored reception room from a 17th-century Egyptian mansion.
In the basement, you will see parts of the ancient Thernistokleen wall.
Have a coffee or snack in the rooftop cafe and admire the panoramic views of the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos, which was used from 3000 BC until the 6th century AD.
The museum of Islamic Art is at Agion Asomaton 22, Kerameikos, Athens. The best way to visit several museums is to purchase a museum combo ticket with the hop-on hop-off bus.
10- Numismatic Museum of Athens
This museum has a very different theme from the other museums in Greece.
It houses over 500,000 coins, gems, weights, and stamps from 14,000 BC to the present day.
The collection is one of the richest in the world on this theme.
You will see coins designed by Greek rulers and Roman emperors used during the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman occupation.
There are even contemporary coins and banknotes on display.
The museum occupies a beautiful neoclassical building originally owned by the archaeologist Heinrich Schilieman. He excavated Troy, Mycenae, and some other areas, so it is interesting to see where he lived.
The museum also hosts live events in the garden.
The Numismatic Museum of Athens is at El. Venezelou Panepistimou 12, 10671, Athens.
11- National Gallery In Athens
The National Gallery In Athens is devoted to Greek art from the 14th century to the 20th century.
It was established in 1900, but it is now newly refurbished.
You will find the occasional painting by European artists such as Rembrandt and Picasso, but the main theme is how Greece evolved through art.
This is shown through the works of prominent Greek artists such as El Greco, Yiannis Moralis, and Alekos Fassianos.
The history of Greece is depicted in portraits, landscapes and seascapes.
There are more than 1,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, and engravings.
The gallery also houses temporary exhibitions.
The National Gallery in Athens is at 50 Vasileos Konstantinou Street, 11634, Athens.
12- Museum Of The City Of Athens
The Museum of the City of Athens (1973) is dedicated to the city’s history since it became Greece’s capital in 1834.
It exhibits sculptures, paintings, photographs, and furniture depicting life in Athens.
There is a collection of Athens-related artefacts collected by art collector Lambros Eutaxias.
The highlights include reconstructions of rooms belonging to Athenian families from the past 200 years.
The museum is housed in the residence that formerly belonged to King Otto and Queen Amelia, the first royals of Greece.
Don’t visit this museum without going to the garden cafe. Calling it a cafe is an injustice as it serves gourmet food and is open for dinner after the museum has closed.
The Museum of the City of Athens is at Paparigopoulou 5 – 7 Syntagma, 10561, Athens.
13- Hellenic Motor Museum
If you are a car enthusiast, you will love this museum.
It is located close to the National Archaeological Museum and occupies three floors on the top of the Athenian Capitol shopping mall.
It displays over 110 cars from the 19th and 20th centuries, including BMW, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Jaguar, Morgan and Bugatti.
The museum has other attractions, such as a Formula 1 simulator and a road safety educational programme. The venue can be hired for corporate events.
The Hellenic Motor Museum is at Ioukanou 33 – 35 & C’Septemvriou 74 – 78, Athens.
14- Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum
This museum is the first of its kind in Greece and is located beneath the hill of the Acropolis.
It is housed in two buildings: the family home of Ilias Lalaounis and his jewellery workshop.
The collection includes both historic and contemporary jewellery, with an emphasis on gold.
The focal points of the display are the 50 collections that Ilias Lalaounis designed between 1957 and 2002.
Much of the jewellery has been influenced by ancient designs, and some is particularly extravagant.
Since 2001, the museum has collected jewellery and decorative arts from Greek and international artists.
The museum holds temporary exhibitions, which include jewellery from all over the world.
Guided tours are on offer, as are jewellery workshops and there’s a shop where you can buy souvenirs and order jewellery.
The museum is at Kallisperi 12 & Karyalidon Street, Acropolis, 11742, Athens.
15- Goulandris Museum Of Natural History
This museum was founded in 1965 to promote interest in the natural sciences, such as geology, zoology, and plant biology and to raise awareness of the need to protect Greece’s habitat and wildlife.
The museum has two interconnected buildings – the Gaia Centre For Environmental Research and Education and Goulandris Natural History Museum – which offer further education programmes and lectures.
In the museum complex, you will find large botanical collections, rocks, minerals, fossils, and replicas of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects found in Greece.
You will be able to learn how human activity has impacted the environment.
In the garden of the museum is the Natu restaurant.
Here you can taste Mediterranean flavours sitting next to the lake or under the olive and cypress trees.
Goulandris Museum of Natural History is at 13 Levidou Street, 14562, Athens.
16- Museum Of Illusions In Athens
The Museums of Illusions in Athens is a different type of museum and one for the whole family, especially if you have teenagers.
This museum introduces you to the world of illusions by allowing you to interact with some displays.
The museum is on two floors, and there are 35 exhibits. Some are just objects, while others are interactive.
There are instructions in Greek and English, and there are guides who will help you see the illusions if you can’t see them yourself.
The highlights of the exhibition are the installations that play with dimensions. It is a good idea to take photos to understand the illusions.
The museum is at Ermou 119, Entrance from Astiggos 12, 10555, Athens. Skip the line and book your tickets here.
17- Museum Of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
This family-friendly museum in Athens is housed in a beautiful mansion dating back to the 1840s.
It is a house typical of Ottoman times and one of the few surviving in the district of Plaka.
The museum exhibits a large collection of musical instruments from different parts of Greece.
You will see some traditional instruments such as lyres and zournades.
The instruments are grouped into how the sound is produced and what the instrument is.
You will learn how the instruments make their sounds and each display has a video with people performing the instruments at different cultural events.
See idiophones, including triangles, cast bells, spoons and water whistles, all used in traditional Greek music and public holidays.
For example, children go from house to house on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve playing the triangle.
The Greek Folk Musical Instruments Museum is at 1 Diogenous, Plaka, 10556, Athens.
18- Benaki Museum – Pireos 138 Branch
This is a branch of the Benaki Foundation.
It has two permanent exhibitions, Photographic Archives and Modern Greek Architecture Archives.
It also houses three or four temporary exhibitions running at the same time.
There is a lovely courtyard where musical events and performances are held. The cafe and bookshop open onto the courtyard.
A short visit will not suffice. Allow at least three hours for your visit.
Benaki Museum – Pireos 138 Branch is at 138 Pireos Street, 10674, Athens.
19- The Collection Of The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation
If you love art, you must visit this museum. It is an extraordinary museum covering 11 floors filled with modern and contemporary art from Greek and international artists.
You can see rare paintings from foreign artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Miro, Klee, Monet, Rodin, Cezanne, Gaugin, Lautrec, Bonnard, Pollock, Bacon and Botero.
There are also artworks from popular Greek painters such as Moralis, Parthenis, and Tsarouchis.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
A museum shop and cafe-restaurant are situated in an open urban garden.
Here you can try modern versions of Greek cuisine using the freshest Mediterranean ingredients.
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation Collection is at 13 Eratosthenius Street, 11635, Athens.
20- National Museum Of Contemporary Art
If you are interested in contemporary art, this is the museum for you, as it houses a permanent collection of 172 works of art by 78 international and Greek artists.
You will see different art forms such as paintings, sculptures, photography, engraving, and industrial design dealing with issues like democracy and identity.
Some artworks also deal with current issues, such as the refugee crisis and racial discrimination.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art is at Kallirois Ave. & Amvr. Frantzi Street, 11743, Athens. The most cost-effective way to visit several museums is to get a museum combo ticket with the hop-on hop-off bus.
Different types of museums around the world: