Visiting Museums in Athens
Art, archaeology, history, literature... Find out about some of the most popular museums and monuments in Athens: the Acropolis, National Archaeological Museum and many more. Also information on opening times, tickets and taking photographs...
There are numerous museums and monuments in Athens covering Classical Antiquity and the Byzantine era. There are also many private museum collections on subjects that include ceramics, musical instruments, history and railways. Below are just a few of Athens' most popular museums and monuments.
Archaeology and Classical Greece
The Acropolis of Athens is the most visited site in the city. Known as the Sacred Rock, this archaeological site is located on a hill and overlooks the whole city. It dates back to the 5th century BC and consists of the impressive Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion. An entrance ticket also gives access to the Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, the Museum of the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora of Athens: all sites that lie nearby.
The new Acropolis Museum was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi. Opened in summer 2009, it houses over 4,000 ancient artefacts and was built to take advantage of the natural light. The collections include objects dating from prehistoric times up to the Classical and Hellenistic and Roman periods. Objects include sculptures that were once part of the Acropolis. The building is located at the foot of the Acropolis.
- Acropolis Museum
At: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athens (near the Acropolis)
Tel: 210 900 0900
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 08:00-20:00
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the world's leading archaeological museums, housing significant objects such as the Mask of Agamemnon and the Mycenaean gold. With over 20,000 exhibits, the museum showcases Greek civilisation from prehistory to Late Antiquity. Five permanent collections are on display: the Prehistoric Collection, Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection, Vase and Minor Objects Collection, Metallurgy Collection and Sculptures collection.
- National Archaeological Museum of Athens
At: Patission Street 44, Athens (Prefecture of Attiki)
Tel: 210 821 7724
Fax: 210 821 3573
Open: Monday 13:30-20:00, Tuesday to Sunday 08:30-15:00
History and collections
The Benaki Museum, founded by Antonis Benakis in 1931, is situated in a neo-classical mansion that once belonged to the Benakis family. The collections focus on all ages of Greek culture and history and include objects from prehistory to modern times: jewellery, costumes, paintings, Greek arts and crafts and books. The museum was renovated following an earthquake and reopened in 2000. Some of the collections were moved to satellite museums, including the Islamic art collection and the historical archive collection.
- Benaki Museum
At: Koumbari Street 1 and Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens
Tel: 210 367 1000
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 09:00-17:00, Thursday 09:00-24:00, Sunday 09:00-15:00
The Athens War Museum opened in 1975, following the fall of the military dictatorship. The museum houses a collection of weaponry from wars involving Greece, from the Stone Age and the Early Bronze Age through to German occupation, as well as war mementoes, documents of war history and the Saroglos collection of fire-arms, muskets and swords.
- Athens War Museum
At: Vassilissis Sophias Avenue and Rizari 2, Athens
Tel: 210 729 0543
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00-14:00, Sunday 09:30-14:00
The Museum of Popular Musical Instruments includes a research centre for ethnomusicology. It houses a wide range of traditional and folk instruments, displayed in four sections. Each section focuses on a group of instruments: string, wind, membrane (drums) or chimes. Throughout the museum there are areas where visitors can listen to music made by each group of instruments exhibited. The exhibition is housed in the Lassanis Mansion built 1842.
- Museum of Popular Musical Instruments (in Greek)
At: Lassanis Mansion, Diogenes Street 1-3, Plaka (near the Roman Agora)
Tel: 210 325 0198
Open: Daily from 10:00-14:00, Wednesday 12:00-18:00, closed Mondays
The permanent collection of the Numismatic Museum contains over 600,000 coins from the ancient Greek world and the Roman and Byzantine periods up to modern times. The collection includes medals, precious stones, weights and stamps. A highlight is the coin hoard from Myrina in Karditsa. The museum is situated in Schliemann's House (also known as Iliou Mélathron), built 1878-79 by Ernst Ziller, and is decorated with mosaics and frescoes.
- Numismatic Museum
At: El. Venizelou (Panepistimiou) 12, Athens
Tel: 210 361 2519 / 210 361 2190
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 08:30-15:00
The Museum of Cycladic Art has a selection of Greek art dating back over 5,000 years, providing an insight into Cycladic culture on the islands of the central Aegean. The museum focuses on Cycladic art from the 3rd century BC, and features marble figurines and vessels that inspired many 20th century artists. There is a comprehensive Cypriot collection and ancient Greek art from the 3rd millennium BC to the 4th century AD. The museum also has interactive areas and weekend programmes specifically for children.
- Museum of Cycladic Art
At: Neophytou Douka Street 4, Athens
Tel: 210 722 8321
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10:00-17:00, Thursday 10:00-20:00, Sunday 11:00-17:00
The Goulandris Natural History Museum presents the varied wildlife and minerals found in Greece, with over 200,000 plant varieties and 1,300 examples of taxidermy. The museum has five different sections: a botanical collection, entomological collection, mineral collection, marine biology collection and paleontological collection.
- Goulandris Natural History Museum
At: Levidou Street 13, Kifissia
Tel: 210 801 5870
Open: Weekdays 09:00-14:30, Sundays 10:00-14:30, closed on public holidays
The Hellenic Children's Museum is specifically aimed at children aged 4 to 12, and helps them to explore history through direct contact with the exhibits and games. There are activities and workshops each weekend.
- Hellenic Children's Museum (in Greek)
At: Kydathinaion Street 14, Athens
Tel: 210 331 2995 / 210 331 2122
The Hellenic Maritime Museum portrays Greek maritime history, from early voyages on the Black Sea to 20th century emigration to the USA via transatlantic liners. Exhibits include ships, flags, maps, uniforms, models of triremes (Greek warships) and paintings of traditional Greek boats (trechantiri). An entire section is dedicated to the history and evolution of the merchant Navy. The most significant Greek naval vessel, the Battleship Averof, is situated near the museum and is open to visitors.
- Hellenic Maritime Museum
At: Akti Themistokleous, Freattida, Piraeus
Tel: 210 451 6264
Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00-14:00
The Museum Of Greek Folk Art houses all forms of folk art from 1650 to contemporary times, including embroidery, weaving, silver work, metalwork, pottery, folk painting, stone carving, shadow theatre puppets and costumes. Highlights of the permanent collection include works by Theofilos Chatzimichail, a Greek Naïve artist, and a reconstruction of a stage featuring heroes from the folk shadow theatre. The museum runs educational programmes and creative workshops for children.
- Museum Of Greek Folk Art
At: Kydathinaion 17, Plaka, Athens
Most museums in Greece are closed on Mondays and on some public holidays, although this may vary: check with the museum before visiting.
Most state-run museums charge an entrance fee. Students, pensioners and under 18s may get reduced or free entrance. On certain days, entrance to museums is free: national holidays, International Museums Day (18 May) and on the first Sunday of the month between October and June.
A single ticket is available that allows entry to the six main archaeological sites in Athens: the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, the Museum of the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora of Athens.
Taking photographs in museums
Most museums allow photographs to be taken, however flashes and tripods are usually not allowed (generally signs will indicate this) and it is recommended to ask for permission before using a camera. Taking photographs is forbidden in churches and monasteries.
- Central Tourist Office
At: Tsoha 7, 115 21 Athens
Tel: 210 870 7000
Open: Monday to Friday from 08:00-15:00
- Hellenic Ministry of Culture