Ten Best Museums in
Greece Travel Secrets lists the ten best museums in Athens, with the
top two being the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum.
The Little Jockey in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens
Athens has many fine museums, with our favourites including
the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum, the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments. and the Museum of Cycladic Art. But
there are many more fine museums, including the Jewish Museum, children's
museums, folk art museums, religious museums, art museums, and a very interesting
Here, in no particular order, is our list of the ten best
museums in Athens.
Ten Best Museums in Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens
If you only have time to visit one museum when you're in Athens then make it the National Archaeological Museum. It's the finest collection of Greek art and artefacts in the world, and it's one of those rare national museums whose collection is so rich that it doesn't have anything on display from beyond the country's own borders.
You should allow at least half a day to visit, though if you
are pushed for time consider booking a guided tour before you go, which will
make sure you don't miss any of the highlights. For more information read our
full page on the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Entrance to the Acropolis Museum in Athens
Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash
Time for two of the best museums in Athens? Make this the
second one, after the National Archaeological Museum. It tells the fascinating story
behind the building of the Acropolis, with marvellous views of the Acropolis and
Parthenon across the road.
In all it has over 4,000 items on display, all of
them found on the Acropolis rock or the surrounding slopes. There are also
glass floors in some of the rooms so that you can see the archaeological site
on which the museum was built. For more information see the Acropolis Museum website.
An Owl Bracelet from the Benaki Museum in Athens
A short walk from Syntagma Square stands the grand mansion
that once belonged to the Benakis family. It now houses the Benaki Museum, a
spectacular collection of over 100,000 items covering Greek history. It began
with the Benakis family's own collection, but further acquisitions since it
opened in 1930 have meant that satellite museums have been opened, showcasing
Asian and Islamic art, leaving the main museum to concentrate on Greece. For
more details see our full page devoted to the Benaki Museum.
Athens Byzantine and Christian Museum
Photo: Joy of Museums
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This is a little further on from the Benaki Museum, on the
other side of the road. It isn't the best-known of Athens' museums, but it's
long been one of our favourites. That's partly because of the buildings and the
grounds, but also its displays of over 25,000 icons, paintings, frescoes,
ceramics, manuscripts, and many other items. We like it so much we wrote a full
page about the Byzantine and Christian Museum.
Goulandris Museum of
Photo by Jean Housen
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This is also definitely on our list of the top museums in
Athens, a few minutes further on from the Benaki Museum on the same side of the
street. It dramatically and very
effectively displays the graceful sculptures of the Cycladic civilisation,
which influenced modern artists such as Picasso and Modigliani. In fact Picasso
was the subject of one of the museum's ongoing series of special exhibitions,
which have included Ai Weiwei, El Greco, Dali, and Caravaggio. Check what's on
when you're in Athens, and read our full page about the Goulandris Museum of
Athens National Historical Museum
Photo by Reinhard Dietrich
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
This museum is housed in what was the Greek Parliament
Building from 1858 to 1934. That's reason enough by itself for a visit, as you
get to see the very grand debating chamber. Other highlights include a room
devoted to Lord Byron, containing some of his belongings, and a vast archive of
charming old photographs. See our full page about the museum here.
Museum of Greek Folk
Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
We both love music and play instruments so naturally we rate
this as one of the best museums in Athens. However, we've also sent
non-musician friends to visit and everyone has loved it. As with some of the
other museums, one of the attractions is to see inside the building it's housed
in, in this case a Plaka mansion. It displays a collection of over 600 musical instruments
spanning a period of about 300 years. The real fun thing is that the display
cases have headphones so you can hear the instruments being played. They
include bouzoukis, Cretan lyras, drums, flutes, and bagpipes. The museum
doesn't have a website but you can get all the information you need here.
Jewish Museum of
Jewish Museum of Greece
This museum is housed in a neoclassical mansion, with the
outside remaining as it was but the inside was completely and stylishly redone
to house this collection of over 6,000 items. It tells the history of Jewish
people in Greece, not flinching from the horrors of the holocaust when Athens,
like other places in Greece, lost most of its Jewish population. There are also
temporary exhibitions, a modern art gallery, and a comprehensive photographic
archive. For further information visit the website of the Jewish Museum of Greece.
Museum of Islamic Art
Benaki Museum of Islamic Art in Athens
This newer museum was purpose-designed to better display
over 8,000 items of Islamic Art that were originally part of the main Benaki Museum
collection, which didn't have space to put everything on display. It's in a
neoclassical mansion not far from the Kerameikos cemetery. It's a superb
collection, one of the most important in the world, and the items are
beautifully displayed. It covers Islamic art from India, Asia, the Middle East,
Egypt and North Africa, Sicily, Spain and elsewhere. For information about
visiting see the main Benaki Museum website.
War Museum of Athens
Athens War Museum Trireme
A war museum might sound like it could be a sombre
experience, and in places it is, but it's an enthralling place too. It tells
the story of Greece through the lens of armed conflict, but it's much more than
a series of displays about wars and battles. Outside the entrance are some
military vehicles old and new, and inside are model ships, weapons, miniature
cities, temple friezes, and an engrossing telling of the role Greece played in
World War II. See our full page on the War Museum of Greece.
Where to Stay in Athens
Other Athens pages
The Athens Agora or ancient market is a must-see site and one of the best things to do in Athens with its restored arcade building, the Stoa, and its museum.
This extract of Artistic Athens in the Lonely Planet book Culture Trails takes visitors on a journey through the artistic side of Athens..
Mount Lykabettos is the highest hill in Athens and provides some of the best views of the city, with a funicular cable car the easiest way to get to the top.
The Pnyx hill near the Acropolis is one of Athens' true hidden gems, a place to wander freely away from the crowds and discover ancient places and mysteries.
Athens Airport hotels include the luxury Sofitel at the terminals, Holiday Inn near the airport, and others close by like the Hotel Pantheon.
Syntagma Square or Constitution Square is the main square in Athens and has a metro station, the Greek Parliament building, hotels, cafes, and a post office.
Easter in Athens is, like everywhere in Greece, the biggest religious celebration of the year and this page tells you what to expect over the Easter weekend.
The Athens War Museum is a fascinating look at Greek history through the lens of warfare from ancient battles to the Greek War of Independence and World War II.
Athens culinary tours are among the food walking tours offered by an unusual company, Culinary Backstreets.
The Athens Museum of Cycladic Art houses a remarkable collection of Cycladic figurines and other items and is one of the best museums in Athens.
If visiting Athens it helps to know when major events and public holidays take place, as some shops and attractions may be closed, but to be there at times like Easter can make for a magical trip.
Amusing children in Athens is easy as there is lots to do including a children’s museum, planetarium, beaches, and easy excursions to the nearest islands.
The Changing of the Guard in Athens takes place outside the Parliament building at the top of Syntagma Square and is a must-see for visitors.
The National Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to see in Athens, and the best museum in the world for seeing Greece's archaeological treasures.
Athens car rental options include almost all of the major international car hire firms such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Europcar.
The beach resorts of Athens are easily reached from the city and also close are Cape Sounion with the Temple of Poseidon, ancient Marathon and Rafina's port.
Athens in the rain isn’t something you’re likely to experience but here are suggestions for things to do in the rain in Athens including museums and shopping
Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City, is published by Culinary Backstreets, who do walking food tours in Athens and the book recommends the best places to eat.
This drive around Attica offers visitors high hills, beach resorts, small villages and classical sites like Marathon and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
Pictures of Athens from the Greece Travel Secrets website
Athens International Airport is east of Athens city centre with its own Metro train station, buses to Athens and Piraeus, taxis and car rental offices.
Around Monastiraki is the flea market, Athens cathedral, Kerameikos Cemetery, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and the Psirri and Gazi nightlife districts.
The best views in Athens include views from the Acropolis and of the Acropolis from the top of some of the city’s several hills and from hotels and restaurants.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Monastiraki Flea Market, followed by Sunday lunch at Sigalas on Monastiraki Square
A History of Athens from the first people to live on the Acropolis through the Golden Age of Pericles and Alexander the Great to the military junta.
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