Athens is a destination with great historical and cultural value that dates back thousands of years. Its vast heritage is displayed not only across the museums in Athens, but also strewn around the city in plain sight. Effectively, Athens is an open–air museum and visitors can get their Ancient Greek fix from a simple saunter around its historical center. Built around the emblematic Acropolis citadel, it is a place that instantly takes you back centuries ago in the most disarming way. Witnessing the temples up-close and personal is one thing, however you would need to read up on the history of each site on your own or book a tour to find out the story behind each of the archaeological remains you see. Given that Athens’ history is not limited to just the ancient facet it is mostly known for, here are the 8 most unmissable museums in Athens to visit in order to really get to grips with not only its ancient heritage but more recent history in the form of arts and culture.
All the below mentioned museums are within walking distance or easily accessible via metro stops in the immediate vicinity of the historical center. Therefore whichever one of our central Athens hotels you are staying in, it is an absolute breeze to visit any one of these 8 unmissable museums in Athens.
Top museums in Athens
for a well-rounded understanding of Greek history & culture
- Acropolis Museum needs no introductions. After many decades during which various artifacts were scattered around other museums in Greece and the world, in 2009 this museum finally provided a home close to home. The structure itself is a work of art, while the glass surfaces allow the light to pass through the floors, making it one of the most enjoyable museums to visit. Located on the pedestrian Dionysiou Areopagitou street, tickets range from 5 to 10 euros depending on the season.
- National Archaeological Museum was established in 1829 and is considered to be one of the most salient museums in the world as well as being Greece’s largest and most comprehensive museum. It houses a range of artifacts that date from prehistoric times to late antiquity and displays the richest collection of artifacts pertaining to Greek Antiquity globally. You will find it on 28is Oktovriou street, in a building that has both historical and architectural value of its own. Tickets range from 6 to 12 euros depending on the season.
- Benaki Museum is a museum dedicated to Greek culture, recent history and art, showcasing around 100,000 artifacts collated from many eras, civilizations and cultures which have influenced Greek identity and national development. It is a museum that was established in 1930 and endowed to the Greek state by the affluent family of Benakis, you will find the main museum housed in the family’s mansion on Koumpari street fairly close to the Parliament in Syntagma. It also has a series of satellite museums which are found all over Athens, information for which you will find on the main website.
- Museum of Cycladic Art belongs to the Goulandris Foundation, established in 1986 as a place to display regional art that originated in the Cycladic islands and beyond. Essentially a private collection of items, it is a living cultural institution that promotes the memories of the ancient civilizations of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on Cycladic art of the 3rd millennium BC. You will find the permanent collection on 4 Neofitou Douka street in Kolonaki area while the temporary collections are housed in the Stathatos Mansion on Vasilissis Sofias Ave. and tickets range from free 3,5 euros for reduced tickets, 7 euros for regular tickets while children up to 17 years of age are admitted for free.
- Museum of Contemporary Art (a.k.a EMST) following the reconstruction of the emblematic FIX brewery in 2014, this museum is solely focused on the collection and exhibition of contemporary Greek and international art works. Found on Kalliroe’s Avenue, it promotes education in the arts with the vision to shine a light and raise public awareness regarding contemporary culture, through the prism of innovation and the scope of experimental artistic movements and the production of audiovisual works via new media. Tickets range from 4 to 8 euros.
- National Gallery of Athens re-opened in its current form in 2021, today featuring Greek and European art from between the 14th and 20th century. It proudly displays Greece’s artistic development in the years of recent modern history, including iconic artwork by legendary Greek artists such as Yannis Tsarouchis, Konstantinos Parthenis and El Greco also known as Dominikos Theotokopoulos. It is the country’s single most comprehensive collection of modern art and sculpture, in a space that truly does it justice. Tickets range from 5 to 10 euros.
- Ancient Agora of Athens and Stoa of Attalos are both found on the northwestern side of the Acropolis, once brimming with life since they were initially used for commercial purposes, as points of assembly and residences for some. The museum is housed within the latter, exhibiting artifacts pertaining to Athenian democracy, showcased through a collection of clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions. Tickets range from 4 to 8 euros.
- Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is one of the few museums of its kind in the world and a definite must see when considering the most unmissable museums in Athens city. Devoted to the art and craft of jewelry with a focus on silver and goldsmithing. Found at the foot of the Acropolis across two buildings, a 5 minute walk from Acropolis metro station and feature both permanent and temporary collections that include both historic and more contemporary jewelry. Tickets are at 5 euros.