5 Must-Visit Museums in Athens

Photo of Maria Menegaki
9 February 2017

A walk through the world-famous cradle of art and history should definitely include visits to several museums. Loaded with them, Athens offers fascinating parts of Greek culture hosting unique exhibitions. Get ready for an exciting tour and check out the ones you shouldn’t miss.

Acropolis Museum

Cafe, Restaurant, Greek, $$$
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Acropolis Museum Restaurant
Acropolis Museum Restaurant | Courtesy of Acropolis Museum. Photo Giorgos Vitsaropoulos.
Designed to offer the best conditions for its unique exhibits, the new Acropolis Museum is an absolute must-see. Being a gate to the glorious world of ancient Athens, it hosts priceless artifacts found on the Acropolis and spanning a period from the Mycenaean times up to the Roman and Early Christian eras. Visit the ground level to view the excavations below and walk through the galleries to admire masterpieces ranging from sculptures, inscriptions, finds from sanctuaries, and objects used in everyday life. Watch out for the program “A day at the Acropolis Museum” for a variety of exciting activities and have a meal at the restaurant on the second floor while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Sacred Rock.

National Archaeological Museum

Museum, Library
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Greece Athens National Archaeological Museum
See an array of Ancient Greek sculptures at the National Archaeological Museum | © Realy Easy Star/Salvatore Pipia / Alamy Stock Photo
Founded in 1889, this is undoubtedly one of the most important archaeological museums in the world, proving that history and art from ancient times still have the power to impress with their magnificence and beauty. The National Archaeological Museum is the biggest in the whole city hosting more than eleven thousand exhibits that cover a large chronological and geographical span. If you want to experience the panorama of Greek civilization to its fullest, save at least two days from your calendar to wander through the fascinating permanent collections filled with prehistoric items from the Aegean, frescoes from Thira, sculptures, vases, statues, jewelry, weapons and religious items. Do not miss the unique sculptures and the famous Antikythera device, probably used for astronomical observations, yet still shrouded in mystery. Last but not least, the epigraphic collection on the ground floor and the huge library with rare photographs and manuscripts will surely blow your mind.

Goulandris Natural History Museum

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One of the most visited museums by schoolchildren throughout the year due to its frequent educational programs, Goulandris Museum of Natural History is related to the study, conservation and protection of the natural environment. Get the chance to learn more about the kingdom of plants and animals through some amazing exhibitions. Visit the departments of botany, entomology, marine biology, and paleontology before you jump to the Gaia Centre to find out the way our magical planet has been functioning for millions of years.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Art Gallery, Museum, Shop
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© Giorgos Sfakianakis
Although it is named after its prominent Cycladic Art collection, this little gem offers you far more than this. You will be surprised by the impressive collection of Ancient Greek and Cypriot art. Learn about artistic techniques and customs of the Ancient Greeks through the most fun, creative ways and attend the special shows where archaeology meets contemporary art. Don’t forget to stop by the museum shop to get some exclusive gifts or the café for a light snack and coffee.

Benaki Museum

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The Benaki’s Ghika Gallery showcases the work of 20th-century painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika
The Benaki’s Ghika Gallery showcases the work of 20th-century painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika | Courtesy of Benaki Museum – The Ghika Gallery
Consisting of three separate museums, each specializing in certain subjects, the Benaki Museum is the oldest and main part in a majestic neoclassical building. Benaki is definitely one of the most important museums related to the history, art, and culture of ancient and modern Greece. While it is the ideal place for an insight into various eras, it also organizes some of the most amazing exhibitions of contemporary art. A must-visit tour for every art and history buff should be completed at the new departments hosting Neohellenic architectural archives and Islamic art collections, including objects collected by Benakis in Egypt.