Museums in Athens and Piraeus

From the city’s earliest artefacts, to a spirited body of contemporary art. A national archaeological museum and a national art collection. From prehistory to Classical. From Christian, Byzantine and Islamic, to the contemporary. Including such themes as war and criminology, design and jewellery, the theatre and toys. Besides the well known archaeological sites, Athens has an alluring range of museums and art galleries to visit. Whether you are in the Greek capital for a day or two seeing the main sites, or spending a bit more time Athens will not disappoint. With over 70 museums open to the public, covering a wide range of subjects, there is something that will interest everyone, of all ages and all interests in Greek history and culture.

This page provides a guide to the museums and art galleries in Athens. Visitor information, such as addresses, opening hours, buying tickets, etc., is provided for the various museums, as well as a few tips for visiting museums in Athens. There is a separate page for the Archaeological and Historical Sites in Athens & Attica. More information about visiting the city can be found in the Athens Travel Guide.

The information on this page was last checked and/or updated on 15 June 2021.

Tips for Visiting Art Galleries and Museums in Athens

Which are the Best Museums in Athens?

Visitors to Athens, certainly those with limited time, often ask ‘which is the best museum to visit in Athens?’ Or, ‘what are the top five museums in the city?’ This is a difficult question to answer, not only are there 70 plus museums there many more archaeological and historical sites to see in Athens. The obvious answer is it depends on your interests. The list of museums below will help in this regard.

But many people choose Athens for its archaeology and history. And so I assume they are looking for the best archaeological museum to visit. If you only have time for one, then it is a choice between the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum. The National museum has artefacts covering all periods from early prehistory to the Roman era. And, as the name suggests, the Acropolis Museum focuses entirely on the archaeology of the Acropolis.

For those with limited time, one or two days, a combination of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum would be my first choice. You can either do this yourself (read our tips for information about buying tickets for the Acropolis), or take a 4-hour guided tour of both the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum.

A note on guided tour prices: some purposefully do not include entrance tickets because you may already have a museum pass, a combination tickets or be eligible for a 50% or even a 100% reduction.

The first section below lists the most popular museums. Scroll down for a fuller list of museums in Athens, listed by category.

 

3-Day Museum Pass Athens

For those visitors who are spending more than a few days and would like to see as much as they can, the Museum Combo Ticket Pass + Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus is not only a great deal it saves time. At only €55 a number of the museums listed below are included, as is the Panathenaic Stadium and the Acropolis (but not the other archaeological sites). And you get 48 hours on the hop-on-hop-off bus to get about.

For me, what I think is best value for money is the Museum Pass (€55) and the Combination Ticket for the Archaeology Sites (€30). But only if you are going to see most the sites and museums.

Buy Tickets for the Best Museums in Athens

The Best Museums and Art Galleries in Athens

The neoclassical façade of the entrance to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

The museum’s spectacular Neoclassical façade.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Greece’s National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to some of the most well known artefacts from all over the modern nation state of Greece. From prehistory to the Romans, with special collections of Cypriot and Egyptian antiquities. The museum has been in the current building with its spectacular Neoclassical façade since the 1889, but has been expanded many times since then. With the richest collection of ancient Greek artefacts anywhere in the world, this is a must for anyone with an interest in ancient Greece.
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Official Website

The Acropolis Museum at dusk.

Dusk at the Acropolis Museum, you can make out the reflection of the Parthenon.

Acropolis Museum

Opened in 2009, this award winning museum displays over 4,000 objects from the nearby Acropolis. These range from the Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine periods on the citadel. One of the reasons for the construction of this state-of-the-art museum was the reunification of sculptures taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon. The museum was constructed above the archaeological site of Makrygianni. Visitors can follow walkways in a space under the museum to see in situ features of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.
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Official Website

The entrance to the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Greece.

The entrance makes a feature of the iconic Cycladic figure.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Established in 1986, the Museum of Cycladic Art houses Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris’ extensive collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art. The couple had been collecting prehistoric and ancient art since the 1960s. The museum also acquired one of the largest collections of Cypriot antiquities in the world outside of Cyprus. Permanent Exhibitions focus on three areas: Cycladic art from the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea (3200 – 2000 BC), Greek art (2000 BC to 395 AD), and art from Cyprus (3900 BC to the 6th century BC).
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Information for visitors, buying tickets, guided tours, etc. >>

The Neoclassical front to the Benaki Museum in central Athens.

Family home to family museum. Photograph © George E. Koronaios/Wikimedia

Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

Opposite the National Garden, amongst embassies and government buildings is the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture. One of seven Benaki museums in Athens. A neoclassical building that was the Benaki family home until it was refurbished in 1930 to serve as a museum for their private collections, gifted to the state. Currently, the museum comprises three permanent exhibitions: Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman Art, Byzantine Art and Historic Heirlooms – objects that relate to modern Greece from the end of the 18th century onwards.
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Official Website

Children walking through the vortex tunnel at the Museum of Illusions in Athens.

The vortex tunnel. Photograph © Museum of Illusions.

Museum Of Illusions Athens

Leave behind Athens’ extraordinary past for a moment and explore your senses in a world of optical illusions. Here you can enter a vortex tunnel where you feel as if you are spinning around. Or the upside down room. And more. Through a series of optical illusions you get to shift your sense of what is normal and explore your altered senses, whether seemingly spinning around or defying gravity. One of the more popular experiences in Athens, it is also one for all ages.
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Information for visitors and buying tickets online >>

Looking into the archaeological museum at the Athens International Museum.

One of three sections that make up the museum at the airport in Athens.

Athens International Airport Museum

In the main terminal of the Athens International Airport there are three permanent exhibitions, free to visit. The first is an exhibition of the archaeology found during the construction of the airport in the Mesogaia area. On display are 172 archaeological artefacts from the Neolithic to the Post-Byzantine period. A small area with a few replicas and digital displays covers the Acropolis Museum. A third multimedia presentation explores Eleftherios Venizelos’ role in forming the modern Greek nation as well as its aviation ministry.
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The entrance to Christian and Byzantine Museum in Athens.

Entrance to the Byzantine & Christian Museum.

Byzantine & Christian Museum

Founded in 1914, this national museum has over 25,000 religious objects from all over the Greek world. Including areas in the Mediterranean where Hellenism flourished. The artefacts range from the 3rd century AD to the 20th century, covering Early Christian, Byzantine, post-Byzantine, medieval as well as later periods. With rare examples of early Christian pictures, scriptures, frescoes, mosaics, pottery, fabrics and manuscripts, this is one of the world’s most important museums of Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture.
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Official Website

The Neoclassical building that houses the Benaki Islamic collections.

Benaki Museum of Islamic Art. Photograph © George E. Koronaios/Wikimedia

Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

With objects from as far as India, Persia and Mesopotamia in the east, as well as Egypt and North Africa, and Spain in the west, the collections of Islamic art in the Benaki Museum makes this one of the most important Islamic art museums in the world. Housed in the historic Kerameikos district, the museum is close to important archaeological sites, including the Ancient Agora and Kerameikos. An ancient tomb and a section of the ancient city wall of Athens were uncovered during renovation work for the museum.
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Official Website

Funerary monument in the form of a bull, in the Kerameikos Museum, Athens.

One of a few sizeable funerary monuments in the museum at Kerameikos.

Kerameikos Museum

This museum is in the Kerameikos Archaeological site. This is a complex site that covers about 11 acres and includes a cemetery and a number of funerary monuments, as well as part of the Themistoclean Wall. The museum than is largely made up of exhibits that include funerary artefacts found in Kerameikos and reflect ancient Athenian attitudes towards death and life after death, from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods. Objects include the usual urns, lekythoi, grave reliefs, stelae, as well as funerary jewellery.
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Columns of the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora, Athens.

The reconstructed Stoa of Attalos.

Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

One of the most prominent features at the archaeological site of the Ancient Agora in Athens is the Stoa of Attalos. Restored in the 1950s by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens to exhibit artefacts from the School’s excavations in the Agora. Artefacts are displayed chronologically from the Neolithic to the period of Ottoman rule in Athens, with a focus on Athenian Democracy. The open exhibition space on the second floor, display Athenian sculpture, has great views of the Agora, Pnyx and Acropolis.
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The refurbished building that is now the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens.

Brewery turned art museum. © Stephie Grape/Wikimedia

National Museum of Contemporary Art

Founded in 2000, the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens is housed in a refurbished brewery, close to the main attractions in the centre of Athens. The museum collects and exhibits contemporary art of both Greek and international artists. On the ground floor are a number of temporary exhibitions spaces, while the permanent collection is displayed on the upper three floors. The collection of over 1,300 objects includes painting, 3D artworks, photography and new media, as well as architecture and industrial design.
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Official Website

The entrance to the War Museum in Athens.

Aircraft artillery at the entrance to the War Museum in Athens.

The War Museum

Built on the site of an old artillery camp and opened in 1975, the War Museum in Athens is the largest museum of military history in Greece. There are also branches of the museum in the following cities: Chania, Nauplion, Thessaloniki and Tripoli. The aim is to collect, research and display artefacts and memorabilia relating to the history of conflict and warfare from antiquity to the recent past. A vast array of artefacts are displayed chronologically, from Stone Age obsidian weapons to weapons and artillery used in more recent battles.
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Official Website

Book Guided Tours of the Best Museums in Athens

Have you ever wondered aimlessly around a museum? You did not get the audio guide, or it was not available. And the captions give very little beyond the basic information about what you are looking at. Consider taking a guided tour with someone who knows the stories behind these objects, and knows how to keep an audience engaged.

More Archaeological and Historical Museums in Athens

Archaeological Museum of Piraeus

Next to the ancient theatre of Zea, the museum displays artefacts from the immediate area of Piraeus, from the Bronze Age to the Roman period.
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Official Website

Athens City Museum

Housed in two of the city’s oldest buildings, the Athens City Museum focuses on the history of the city in modern times. One of the buildings, the Old Palace, was the Royal residence of King Otto, the first king of modern Greece. The adjacent building was the family home of the museum’s founder, and provides a glimpse into the lives of middle class Athenians at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. The museums collections total more than 40,000 artefacts from from antiquity to the 21st century.
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Official Website

Athens University Museum

A museum dedicated to the history of the university in Greece. Although the building has been substantially refurbished, it has its origins in pre-Ottoman times. And in the 1800s it housed not only the first university in Greece, but also the first university on the Balkan peninsular.
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Official Website

Drossinis Museum

Amaryllis Villa is where Georgios Drossinis lived in his final years. An author and a poet, and a co founder of the New Athenian School, the museum is dedicated to his life and work.
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Official Website

Eleftherios Venizelos Museum

Venizelos is widely thought of as the ‘maker of modern Greece’. This museum celebrates his life, with a range of artefacts, photographs and documents donated by his family.
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Official Website

Epigraphical Museum

A collection of over 14,000 objects, mostly in marble, with Greek inscriptions. These are mostly from the Attica region, and range in date from 8th century BC to the Late Roman period, and some examples from the Byzantine and Modern eras. This is the only such museum in Greece, and the largest of its kind in the world.
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Goulandris Natural History Museum

A typical natural history museum with some innovative temporary and permanent exhibitions exploring humans relationship with the environment. One of these a digital experience of an earthquake in the museum.
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Official Website

Jewish Museum of Greece

Although established in 1977, the museum has only occupied the address since 1998. The museum has over 200 hours of interviews with 125 members of the Jewish communities in Greece. And an extraordinary collection of around 10,000 objects that tell the story of 2,300 years of Jewish history and culture in Greece.
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Official Website

National Historical Museum

Established in 1882, by the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece, the permanent exhibition is a history of Modern Greece. This includes Ottoman and Latin rule, the Greek War of Independence (1821), liberation struggles, as well as the creation of the independent state. The museum is housed in the Old Parliament building.
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Official Website

Museum of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulou

On the north slopes of the Acropolis, the museum houses what was the private collection of Paul and Alexandra Kanellopoulos before it was donated to the state. The collection has over 6,500 artefacts ranging in date from 3000 BC to the Post Byzantine era.
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Official Website

Folklore Museums in Athens

Center for the Study of Modern Pottery

The Center is a non-profit educational and research organisation organisation with a museum. The focus of interest is traditional Greek pottery from the 16th to the 20th century. It was founded in 1987 by Betty Psaropoulou.
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Official Website

Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

On display are around 600 Greek musical instruments covering the last 300 years.
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Museum of the History of the Greek Costume

The museum aims to present a variety of traditional Greek costumes and jewellery, as well as preproductions of historical items of clothing from the Minoans, Classical antiquity and the Byzantine era. Also on display is a substantial collection of porcelain dolls dressed in traditional Greek clothing.
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The Museum at 22 Panos Street

Part of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture, this refurbished early 19th century house displays traditional architecture of the time. Today it houses a permanent exhibition, Man and Tools: Aspects of Labour in the Pre-Industrial World.
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Official Website

Buy Tickets Online for the More Museums in Athens

Industry and Technology Museums in Athens

Evgenidio Foundation

A museum of science and technology with a well equipped digital computerized planetarium.
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Official Website

Hellenic Air Force Museum

A museum about the history of the Hellenic Air Force and its history with many historical aircraft on display, from the Greek air force as well as other nations.
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Official Website

Hellenic Motor Museum

Located in the city centre, not far from the National Archaeological Museum. Covering a space of 4,000 square metres there are 110 cars on display, from the 19th and 20th centuries.
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Official Website

Railway Museum of Athens

*FREE The largest railway museum in Greece, telling the story of the history of rail transport in Greece. The museum has a recreational train for children.
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Official Website

Electrical Railway Museum

Located in the terminal building of the railway station in Piraeus, in what was the post office. The museum has a number of objects and documents relating to the history of the Athens-Piraeus line, the Piraeus Tram, and electrical rail in Greece. A good place for rail enthusiasts to spend some time if you are waiting for a ferry or a train.
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Official Website

OTE Telecoms Museum

*FREE A permanent collection of artefacts explores the development of communications from ancient times to the present. The museum also has exhibits about the history of OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation).
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Official Website

Technopolis

An industrial museum and a major cultural venue in Athens.
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Special Interest Museums in Athens

Hellenic Children’s Museum

A museum with educational activities for children from 4 to 12 years of age.
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Official Website

Hellenic Maritime Museum

Located at Freatida in Piraeus, the museum has over 2,500 objects arranged chronologically exhibiting the maritime history of Greece from prehistoric times to the present day. More than 17,000 books and magazines are also accessible to the public in the Naval Library.

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Official Website