Must-Visit Museums in Thessaloniki, Greece

Explore inside the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki
Explore inside the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki | © Anton Ivanov / Alamy Stock Photo
Kim Gregory

There’s an incredibly rich culture and history just waiting to be discovered in Thessaloniki. From archeological marvels and fascinating histories of communities old and new, to exciting modern art and cinematography, there’s so much to see you’ll definitely need a gyros or two along the way.

1. Museum of Contemporary Art


As cool on the outside as on the inside, Thessaloniki’s MoMUS was founded in 1997 to celebrate the city’s title as European Capital of Culture. It’s filled with fascinating contemporary art by Greek and foreign artists, with collections and periodic exhibitions. One of its most famous is the renowned Costakis collection: over 1,000 pieces of Russian avant-garde work by luminaries such as Popova and Malevich. Entry is €4. Situated on Kolokotroni, you can spend a day marvelling then enjoy the famous nearby waterfront.

2. Archaeological Museum


From the modern to the ancient, cross the road from MoMUS to find the impressive Archeological Museum. Some say it’s the pride of the region, with exhibitions covering prehistoric man from 200,000BCE, the founding of settlements in Greece, Alexander the Great, and the Roman occupation. Its collection of golden Macedonian crowns and Roman statues are jaw-dropping. It’s one of the largest museums in Greece and costs €8, so consider taking a day out to fully appreciate it.

3. Museum of Byzantine Culture


Thessaloniki is arguably one of the Greek cities most clearly influenced by Byzantine culture and architecture, so it’s worth learning about this important period while you’re there. The museum is packed with beautiful mosaics and paintings, as well as Byzantine religious icons that reflect Orthodox Christianity’s prominent role in Greek culture, then and now. The museum is located in the same area as the ones above, and it’s just €8 for a top history lesson to help you better understand the rest of the city.

4. Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace


Learn the Greek ways – modern and historical – at this Northern Greece cultural centre. The building itself is an old government house, grand and colourful. Inside you’ll find collections of over 15,000 everyday Greek objects that span the ages, like musical instruments, weapons and tools. It features evidence of historical social and spiritual practices, and the permanent exhibition on traditional Greek clothing is our favourite. It’s in the Eastern side of the city on Vasilissis Olgas Avenue and tickets are just €2.

5. Jewish Museum


Find out about the history and culture of Sephardic Jews in Thessaloniki, who brought much of their creative heritage to the city from the 15th century. Exhibits include artefacts, old photographs and an important section about the Holocaust. The museum, on Agiou Mina Street, is one of the few Jewish buildings to survive the city’s 1917 great fire. It makes for a moving and thought-provoking experience, with tickets costing €5.

6. Cinema Museum


In an old warehouse situated on the harbour you’ll find one of the city’s most unique museums. It was opened as part of the Capital of Culture developments, and today hosts film festivals. You’ll find exhibitions on the early days of Greek cinema, the golden era of the 1960s, and you can learn how the first films were made. Some 2,000 pictures from the filming of Greek movies are displayed, as well as old cameras, projectors and hand painted posters. Standing near Aristotelous Square, entry costs €2.

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