Best Museums in Athens

10 Best Museums in Athens Make Points of Interest for Visitors, Locals

Museums in Athens are landmarks for the city and points of attractions for visitors and locals. The choice is wide and the subject varied, from archeology and history to art,  jewelry and more. Most are in the center of the city and easily accessible, whilst most archeological sites have their own museum close by, specializing in the local finds. Sightseeing in Athens would definitely include visits to one or more museums, depending on how much time is available and also on personal preferences. The Acropolis Museum is a must see, where inside the modern exterior visitors can discover the ancient aesthetic wisdom of the Acropolis and feel the atmosphere of ancient Athens. The three Benaki museums are also of great interest , each specializing in certain subjects and each with its own unique personality. The museum of Cycladic Art is  dedicated to the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus with Cycladic Art as the focus. The National Archeological Museum,  the largest museum in Greece, offers a panoramic experience of Greek civilization from prehistory to late antiquity. The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is a unique cultural institution and the first jewelry museum in Greece promoting the art of jewelry internationally. The collections of the Byzantine and Christian museum include icons, sculptures, manuscripts from the Byzantine and later periods. The Goulandris Natural History Museum in Kifissia is especially attractive for kids, the Archeological Museum of Piraeus hosts interesting findings from the specific area, the Numismatic Museum is all about coins, seals, medals and currency from ancient times, the National Historical Museum is the place to visit if you are interested in recent Greek history.


Archeological Museum of Piraeus
Photo courtesy of Ministry of Culture and Sports

The Archeological Museum of Piraeus was founded in 1966 and hosts findings from Piraeus and neighboring areas, such as Salamina and Varkiza, many of which are from donations from private collections and also many objects from excavations, by the 26th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, which are preserved and archived. The Exhibition is set up on two floors and ten rooms in thematic units and chronological order and extends to the small Hellenistic theater of Zea and the external exhibition of sculptures. The exhibits include objects pertaining to the function of Piraeus as a commercial center and military arsenal, with rare and unique items. Many findings are from the burial mounds in Salamina with characteristic votives and many pottery objects of great artistic value. Everyday life in ancient Greece can be imagined by seeing the many objects which belonged to men, women and children, such as toys, dolls, pots, mirrors, arms, helmets, medical instruments.

Recommended for Museums because: Findings from Piraeus and neighboring areas, such as Salamina and Varkiza

Nelly's expert tip: Fascinating facts about Piraeus in ancient years

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The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is a unique cultural institution and the first jewelry museum in Greece promoting the art of jewelry internationally. The permanent exhibition displays 3000 selected pieces of jewelry and microsculpture and 17.000 designs made by the founder Ilias Lalaounis, a renowned jeweler and goldsmith. The permanent collections are now being enriched with private collections including jewelry from different periods such as Greek Traditional jewelry from the 19th century. Temporary exhibitions include a variety of objects from the applied arts. The highlight is the prototype jewelry model workshop where craftsmen can be seen working with ancient and modern techniques and tools.

Recommended for Museums because: The first jewelry museum in Greece promoting the art of jewelry internationally

Nelly's expert tip: Precious collections of jewelry

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The Goulandris Museum of Natural History in the suburb of Kifissia is centered on the study, conservation and protection of the natural environment, and is one of the top museum visited by schoolchildren throughout the year. Visitors of all ages enjoy the experience of knowing more about the kingdom of plants and animals and the balance of ecosystems, not only by seeing the permanent collections but also the various exhibitions which take place. Over four decades the Museums collections number hundreds of thousands of specimens, divided into the departments of botanology, entomology, marine biology, minerals and paleontology, presented so as to attract the interest of visitors. At Gaia Centre, right next door, visitors can find out the way planet Earth has been functioning for millions of years and how it functions today, watching the Geosphere, which shows the rotating planet, and presents geological evolution over the ages. Educational programs are held often for children of various ages.

Recommended for Museums because: Visitors of all ages enjoy the experience of knowing more about the kingdom of plants and animals

Nelly's expert tip: Astonishing knowledge about nature and the environment

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The National Historical Museum was founded in 1884 and is located in the building of the old parliament of Athens. Visitors can see an extensive collection of archives of historical documents covering the period from the 15th to the 20th century, rare editions pertaining to the recent history of Greece, heirlooms and works of art. The collections include flags and arms from the Revolution of 1821, sculptures, medals belonging to famous personages, coins and stamps, personal memorabilia of historical families, paintings and maps, national and military costumes from various regions of Greece. The annex of the Museum on the island of Hydra, is located in the historical house of admiral Lazaros Kountouriotis and includes a folk art museum and a gallery with works of modern Greek artists.

Recommended for Museums because: An extensive collection of archives of historical documents, heirlooms and works of art

Nelly's expert tip: A treasure trove for everything about the recent history of Greece

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Numismatic museum

The Numismatic Museum is situated very close to Syntagma, in a renovated classical building which was the home of the renowned German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the ruins of ancient Troy. Decorated with murals and mosaics, the villa is surrounded by an attractive garden, where a quiet snack bar offers the perfect ambience for a refreshing break. The impressive collection includes more than 500.000 coins, medals, seals and semiprecious stones from the ancient world, Rome, Byzantium, Eastern civilizations, medieval Europe, America and the new Greek state. Guests can gain knowledge about the history of coins from ancient times up to recent years, and understand the importance of currency in specific historical periods. The Museum shop offers an interesting choice of authentic copies of ancient coins and jewelry and special editions.

Recommended for Museums because: An impressive collection of coins, medals, seals and semiprecious stones from the ancient world

Nelly's expert tip: Learn more about the remarkable history of coins and currency

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The Byzantine and Christian Museum was founded in 1914 and is one of the most important national museums in Greece. The objects which are collected on the premises and are organized in collections are more than 30.000 and dare from the 3rd up to the 20th century. The permanent exhibition offers visitors the unique occasion to acquire knowledge and appreciate Byzantine and more recent art through a new museological approach. The first part of the permanent exhibition pertains to the transition from the ancient world to Byzantium, and the second part, with the title "From Byzantium to recent times" presents various sides of the historical period from Byzantium up to recent times (15th-20th century) including many objects which are exhibited for the first time. At the gift shop visitors can buy certified copies of objects from Greek national museums, such as icons, mosaics, murals, engravings, sculptures, jewelry and also original creations. Books, posters, stationary and handmade objects are also available with motifs from the permanent collections of the Museum. The cafe-bistro Ilissia in the cool garden is ideal to enjoy a coffee, dessert or a light snack in an attractive and peaceful environment.

Recommended for Museums because: Everything you need to see so as to acquire knowledge about Byzantine art

Nelly's expert tip: Byzantine art is spiritually uplifting

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The Museum of Cycladic Art, is a great little gem museum in the heart of Athens, housing one of the most important collections of Cycladic Art in the world, as well as an impressive collection of Ancient Greek and Cypriot Art. Founded in 1986, it houses the collections of Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris with more than 3.000 artefacts, from the 4th millennium BC to the 6th century AD. Parallel to its collections, the MCA also develops a dynamic program of special shows, opening up a dialogue between archaeology and contemporary art. Through its exhibitions, educational and public programs the MCA engages a wide audience providing a platform for creativity, learning, participation and inspiration.Exhibitions of modern art also take place at the Cycladic museum. The museum shop offers a wide selection of exclusive gifts and the cafe is ideal for a light snack or coffee.

Recommended for Museums because: Fascinating collections, exhibitions of modern art and educational programs

Nelly's expert tip: Travel back in time and know more about the important Cycladic culture

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The Benaki Museum, actually consists of three separate museums, each specializing in certain subjects and each with its own unique personality. Visit the oldest and main building on Koubari 1, right opposite the National Park, for the prehistoric, ancient Greek and Roman Art, historic heirlooms, Coptic, Chinese and pre-columbian art. The new building at 138 Pireos str houses the neohellenic architectural archives and many modern art exhibitions are held here. The Islamic art collections can be seen at the building in the Kerameikos district, Agion Asomaton 22, and include objects collected by Antonis Benakis himself in Egypt during the first decades of the 20th century.

Recommended for Museums because: A landmark in Athens with interesting exhibits, cultural events and exhibitions

Nelly's expert tip: A vist to the Benaki Museums will give you an in depth knowledge of Greek culture, history and art.

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The National Archeological Museum, the largest museum in Greece with more than 11.000 exhibits, offers a panoramic experience of Greek civilization from prehistory to late antiquity. Numerous galleries house five permanent collections, amongst which the sculpture collection with unique masterpieces. The Bronze Collection and the Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities offer a wide insight about these old and magnificent civilizations, with statues, figurines and minor objects. This ancient art is enchanting with the knowlegde it offers and many of the works of art are of inestimable cultural value. History and art from ancient times still have the power to impress spectators with their magnificence and beauty.

Recommended for Museums because: The largest museum in Greece with unique masterpieces from antiquity

Nelly's expert tip: Dont miss this museum which contains extraordinary treasures from ancient times

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The Acropolis Museum , is an absolute must see. Inside the modern exterior visitors can discover the ancient aesthetic wisdom of the Acropolis and feel the atmosphere of ancient Athens. The Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, the Archaic Gallery and the Parthenon Gallery display sculptures, inscriptions, finds from sanctuaries, as well as objects used in everyday life. Visitors can also watch conservators working, speak to an archeologist host and acquire small souvenirs from the museum shop. The restaurant on the second floor offers a breath taking view of the Acropolis.

Recommended for Museums because: The gift shop and the restaurant are also very interesting

Nelly's expert tip: Absolute must see in Athens

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Meet Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Born and bred in Athens, Nelly went on the move after finishing high school and spending some years working in textiles.  For her, Italy was the next chapter. But, after 12 years, it was back...  More About Nelly