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Courtesy of EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens
Courtesy of EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens
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An Art Lover's Guide to Athens

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 31 October 2017
Athens may be packed with age-old monuments and treasures but it is an equally interesting destination for art lovers. Whether you are into contemporary, visual or street art, you will find it all here with our condensed art guide to the Greek capital.

Museums Not To Miss

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The Benaki Museum – Pireos Annexe

The Benaki Museum is one of the oldest and most important in the country, displaying a variety of artistic genres. There are several annexes spread around the city, each with its own specific expertise and collections. The Pireos Annexe, housed in a modern building with an inner atrium, often hosts contemporary art exhibitions, performances and events.

Benaki Museum, Pireos Annexe, Pireos Avenue 138, Athens, Greece, +30 210 345 3111

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B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

With a focus on music and art, both in Greece and overseas, the B&M Theocharakis Foundation strives to engage the public with music and visual arts, and to promote the work of Greek artists abroad. As such, the center has a rich program of events, exhibitions, music performances and activities geared towards children.

B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music, 9, Vas. Sofias Avenue & 1, Merlin, Athens, Greece, +30 210 3611206

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Frissiras Museum

Probably one of the most underrated museums in Athens, the Frissiras Museum, located in Plaka and housed in two beautiful neoclassical mansions, is home to a wide collection of figurative paintings and sculptures of local and European artists.

Frissiras Museum, 3 & 7, Monis Asteriou, Plaka, Athens, Greece, +30 210 3234678

Courtesy of Frissiras Museum

Art Galleries

Besides several museums, Athens is filled with art galleries of all sorts that will certainly appeal to those in love with art, be it abstract, figurative, or even visual and performance. You could even tailor-make your own art tour, by exploring them all.

Art Cafés Worth Discovering

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Why not combine art with delicious food and drinks? This is the idea behind Pirée, a café/restaurant that also serves as an art space, with performances, live events, pop-up exhibitions and installations hosted upstairs and in the other rooms, while the café on the ground floor welcomes visitors. You may even be surprised to see a live performance right in front of you while you are savoring a delicious cup of coffee.

Pirée, Kastoros 78, Piraeus, Greece, +30 210 40 82 700

Courtesy of Pirée

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metamatic:taf (formerly known as TAF/The Art Foundation) is a multi-hybrid art space which features an art gallery plus performance areas and a café/bar in a courtyard. Hidden in an old abandoned building in Normanou street, near Monastiraki, metamatic:taf often hosts contemporary art exhibitions, visual arts, and music and theatrical performances within its premises. Forget everything you know about cultural centers, metamatic:taf perfectly demonstrates that when it comes to art, there are no rules.

metamatic:taf, Normanou 6, Athens, Greece, +30 210 323 8757

Courtesy of metamatic:taf

Artists’ Homes And Studios

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Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Gallery

The Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Gallery, an annex of the Benaki Museum, was the home of modernist artist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas. A stellar example of interwar architecture, the building was an important meeting point for the Athenian intelligentsia, including artists from what is known as the Thirties Generation. It now serves as a gallery and includes several floors dedicated to some of his most representative works. Further temporary exhibitions are on display on other floors.

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Gallery, Kriezotou 3, Athens, Greece, +30 210 361 5702

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George Zongolopoulos Foundation

Created in 2004 by Greek sculptor George Zongolopoulos, the man behind the Umbrellas artworks on Thessaloniki’s waterfront and in the Council of the European Union’s cour d’honneur in Brussels, the Georgios Zongolopoulos Foundation is a public welfare, non-profit organization with the objective to promote and present the work of the Greek sculptor and his wife, Helen Paschalidou-Zongolopoulou, a painter. Established in their home and workshop in Psychiko, Athens, visitors get to explore the artists’ sculpting and painting exhibitions and discover the tools and materials they used. George Zongolopoulos’ workshop is also open for visits. Want to learn more? The foundation organizes free guided tours of the glyptotheque and the foundation premises every first Sunday of each month.

George Zongolopoulos Foundation, Dimokratias 49, Psychiko, Athens, Greece, +30 210 6712210

Art-themed Tours

Street Art tours

Visitors to Athens cannot help but spot the numerous graffiti on the city walls. If you are into street art, well then you are in luck. Taking advantage of the many urban outlaws of the city making it an open-air museum for street art, travel agencies and tour operators have conceived tours so visitors can explore this alternative art form. Whether you prefer to see the city by foot or by bike, you will get to discover lesser-known areas where tourists hardly go and be able to learn and admire the urban art.

Street art in Votanikos, Athens
Street art in Votanikos, Athens | © Dimitris Kamaras/flickr

Athens, City of Arts Tour

If you want to really get to know Athens’ contemporary art scene, then this tour is just what you need. Giving visitors the chance to learn about contemporary Athens and to explore the art scene, the tour will first take you to an art museum in the city, plus an art gallery, before getting acquainted with a local artist. Spend the afternoon with him or her in their studio, ask them questions about their work and watch them at work. The tour ends with a small exploration of the artistic community in two central districts of Athens.