Things to do in Athens

The 10 Best Museums in Athens – Greek History, Ruins, Greek Art and More!

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The capital of Greece-Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is more than 3,400 years old! Athens is believed to be the bedrock of Western civilization and the city is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy, arts, and the sciences.

The best way to explore Athens and its history is by visiting the innumerable museums in the city. If you want a slice of Greek culture, heritage, and history, take some time out to visit famous museums such as the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, Benaki Museum, Delphi Archaeological Museum, and the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum.

Why Explore Museums in Athens


Athens, the historical capital of Europe, is often called an ‘open-air museum’. The reason behind this is that wherever you go in Athens, you are guaranteed to find some ruins or relics that will transport you back into Ancient Greece.

All the museums in Athens boast sculptures, artworks, frescoes, statues, and other artifacts that can help you delve into the rich cultural heritage of Ancient Greece-a heritage that is steeped in magic and mythology. If you are a history buff and love art, Athens has a lot to offer! Each of its Museums will take you through the different eras of Grecian history and their respective cultures. It's amazing how some of the stunning artifacts displayed in the museums here are actually ancient interpretations of modern-day objects!

5 Must-See Ancient Greek Artifacts in Athens


When it comes to art, sculptures, statues, and ancient Greek artifacts, nothing can beat Athens! The Museums in Athens house some beautiful Greek artifacts and relics that will give you a glimpse into the glory, might, and wonder of the ancient Greeks. Here are five must-see ancient Greek artifacts that you should definitely see when you visit Athens!

1Life-Size Statue of Athena

The National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum gives an informative and detailed insight into the ancient Greek era. The museum is home to a life-size statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Sculpted from marble, the glorious statue of Athena is simply exquisite! You can take a walk around the statue to see all the tiny details that make this statue one of the best-preserved artifacts in Athens. The statue also gives a beautiful insight into the creativity and ingenuity that ancient Greek artifacts are known for.

Museums in Athens

2Parthenon West Frieze

Acropolis Museum

The Parthenon in Athens is one of the most stunning examples of classical Greek architecture. Though most of the sculptures inside the Parthenon were lost, its frieze and metopes have been beautifully preserved with other Greek artifacts in the Acropolis Museum. The west frieze of the Parthenon may have been created by Phidias because of its vivid detail and exceptional artistry. This ancient Greek artifact shows a bearded rider trying to restrain his spirited horse. The face of the rider has been lost, but many believe him to be Theseus-the mythical King of Athens, who united all the scattered Athenian settlements of ancient Greek.

Museums in Athens

3South Metope of Parthenon

Acropolis Museum

The south metope of the Parthenon is also displayed in the Acropolis Museum. The metope is believed to showcase either of the two main themes-first is the mythical battle between centaurs and the Lapiths and the second is the battle or seizing of Lapith women by centaurs. Historians are also divided on what this artifact in Athens could symbolize. It could either be a testimony to Athens' mythical past or it could showcase a wedding scene from the place of Peirithoos in Thessaly.

Museums in Athens

4Charioteer of Delphi

Delphi Archaeological Museum

Housed in the Delphi Archaeological Museum, the ‘Charioteer of Delphi’ is one of the best-known statues of ancient Greek. Cast in bronze, the life-sized statue is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of classical bronze Greek artifacts, dating back almost 2,500 years. The statue commemorates the victory of the tyrant Polyzalusa and his chariot in the Pythian games of 470 B.C. Made by Pythagoras, the statue shows the driver of a chariot race presenting his chariot and his horses to the spectators after emerging victorious in the chariot race.

Museums in Athens

5Hermes and the Infant Dionysus

Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum

Another must-see ancient Greek artifact is the statue of ‘Hermes and the Infant Dionysus’. Early historians believed that this sculpture was crafted by Praxiteles, but many modern historians have a different take on this now. Displayed in the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum, this statue is one of the most cherished artifacts in Athens. The ancient statue was rescued from the ruins of Olympia and shows Hermes carrying the infant Dionysus. Hermes is the Greek God of trade, commerce, athletes, and sports whereas the infant Dionysus was the ancient Greek God of wine, fertility, ritual madness, theatre, and religious ecstasy.

Museums in Athens

Top 10 Museums in Athens


Each of the Museums in Athens has unique collections that will give you a wonderful insight into the history and culture of the different Greek eras. You can decide which museums you would like to visit and plan your trip to Athens accordingly. These are a few must-visit museums in Athens that you should definitely take the time to explore.

#1 Acropolis Museum

Best Museums in the World

from €10

Tickets
Museums in Athens
RomeParthenon GalleryArt

Located on the southeastern slope of Acropolis hill is the Acropolis Museum. This museum is one of the most important museums in the world. The Acropolis museum is home to ancient Greek artifacts that were found on only one site-the site of the Acropolis and its surrounding areas. The artifacts stored in this museum date as far back as the Bronze Age. The museum also sits over Roman and early Byzantine ruins that are clearly visible to visitors to the museum. The Acropolis museum has an exhibition space of 90,000 square feet and the rich collection of the museum is arranged in chronological order from prehistory through the late Roman period. The top floor of the Acropolis Museum is home to the Parthenon Gallery and offers visitors a stunning 360-degree view of the Acropolis and Modern Athens.

Best Time to Visit
Winters. After 10am or in the late afternoon during the summer
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Acropolis Museum Highlights

  1. Parthenon West Frieze
  2. Parthenon South Metope
  3. Parthenon West Pediment
  4. The Erechthion’s Caryatids
  5. Head of Statue of Alexander the Great

Recommended Acropolis Museum Tickets

Acropolis Museum Reviews

Everything went perfectly for me and my wife, we simply placed the tickets on the control screen and were received in with all the quality provided by such a scenery and historical ensemble. Thanks a lot, we'll definitely recommend it to friends and return there, of course.


- Luis, Headout, October 2022

Highly recommend accessing through the side entrance - the skip the line tickets saved us so much valuable time, was great!


- Sarah, Headout, October 2022

#2 National Archaeological Museum

Largest Museum in Greece

from €13

Tickets
Museums in Athens
Statue of AthenaHistoryGreek Art

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the oldest museums in Athens. The museum is also the largest in Greece. The National Archaeological Museum has more than 11,000 artifacts that date from prehistoric times, through the Roman Empire and to late antiquity. If you want an introduction to the history and art of Ancient Greek, the National Archaeological Museum has the best collection of ancient Greek art. The museum was founded at the end of the 19th century to protect and preserve antiquities from all over Greece. Each of the antiquities displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens has great historical, cultural, and artistic value. The National Archaeological Museum has five permanent collections that give you a detailed picture of how Greek culture has influenced Western civilizations.

Best Time to Visit
Mornings or late afternoons on weekdays
Recommended Duration
2-4 Hours

National Archaeological Museum Highlights

  1. Life-size Statue of Athena
  2. Incomplete Statue of the Greek Goddess of Beauty Aphrodite
  3. The Olympiad Dial
  4. Young Jockey on a Galloping Horse
  5. Relics from the Mycenaean Civilization

Recommended National Archaeological Museum Tickets

National Archaeological Museum Reviews

It really lived up to all the expectations, giving the necessary level of independence while inside and helping out when there were questions. One remark, if I may. I think that applications like this need to have a brief version - with the highlights as already there -and additional texts and or audio files to be activated if needed. Even the pricing could be different. Thank you!!!


- Tigran, Headout, July 2022

Probably the best antiquities museum in the world, with a wealth of artifacts that one sees only in history books! Time to invest into the building itself though. Old dirty windows diminish the grandeur of the treasures inside and disgusting toilets are not appropriate for the numbers of visitors the museum attracts. The experience would be magnified if a digital guide system is being introduced.


- Gentiana, Headout, May 2022

#3 Benaki Museum

Largest Museum in Greece

Museums in Athens
Neoclassical BuildingsPrehistoric Art

The Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization was founded by Anthony Benakis, who eventually donated the museum to the Greek government in 1931. The Benaki Museum in Athens is located in one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in Athens. It is situated near the Hellenic Parliament and the National Gardens. The Benaki museum is the only museum in Athens that has collections that feature all the different eras of Greek history. The collections at the Benaki Museum are arranged diachronically and start from prehistory to the 20th century. In addition to this, the museum also displays some beautiful pieces of Asian art. The Benaki Museum boasts permanent collections that include Prehistoric, Greek, and Roman Art, Byzantine Art, Historic Heirlooms, Post-Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Art, and a one-of-a-kind Collection of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints.

Best Time to Visit
Thursdays
Recommended Duration
2-3 Hours

Highlights of Benaki Museum

  1. Gilded Wood-Carved Iconostasis
  2. Mycenaean Bodies in the Shape of Greek Letters
  3. Gold Medallion Bust of Athens
  4. Frying Pan-Shaped Astrolabe/Mirror

#4 Delphi Archaeological Museum

Most Famous Ancient Greek Oracle

from €89

Tickets
Museums in Athens
DelphiGreek OracleArchaeology

The Delphi Archaeological Museum is located 120 km north of Athens. The museum is housed adjacent to the ancient archaeological site of Delphi and has the best collection of artifacts recovered from the Delphi sanctuary. The Delphi Archaeological Museum is located in a two-storeyed building that has a surface area of 2,270 square meters and fourteen exhibition rooms. The Delphi sanctuary is one of the most famous ancient Greek oracles. It is primarily a shrine to the Greek God Apollo because it is believed that the spirit of Apollo appeared on this site, after which the Delphi sanctuary was constructed here. The Delphi Archaeological museum hosts the best collections of sculptures, statues, and artifacts that were recovered from the Delphi archaeological site.

Best Time to Visit
Winters or before 11am during the summers
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Highlights of Delphi Archaeological Museum

  1. Charioteer of Delphi
  2. Twins of Argos
  3. Sphinx of the Naxians
  4. Column of Dancers
  5. Marble Frieze from Siphnian Treasury

Recommended Delphi Archaeological Museum Tickets

Delphi Archaeological Museum Reviews

I strongly recommend this tour. Our driver was excellent on narrow Greek roads. Our guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Greek history and Delphi.


- Paul, Headout, October 2022

Great tour, allowed me to confortably just be concerned about the experience and not the logistical details, recommend!!


- Rodrigo, Headout, September 2022

#5 Kotsanas Museum

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

from €40

Tickets
Museums in Athens
Nouveau Building Ancient Greek Technology History

The Kotsanas Museum is relatively new in Athens. This museum houses the best collection of ancient Greek technology. Founded by Kostas Kotsanas, the Kotsanas museum has fully functional exhibits that are accompanied by rich and detailed audio-visual material in both the Greek and English languages. The Kotsanas Museum is housed in an impressive and historic art nouveau building in Athens. This building belonged to the family of Queen Aspasia, who was the wife of Alexander I. The Kotsanas museum aims to showcase how ancient Greek technology actually influenced and contributed to modern technology. The museum wants to make the world understand and acknowledge the contribution of ancient Greek technology to modern tech.

Best Time to Visit
Early morning on weekdays
Recommended Duration
1-2 Hours

Kotsanas Museus Highlights

  1. Ktesibios’ Hydraulic Alarm Clock
  2. Working Replica of Antikythera Mechanism (the world's oldest known analog computer)
  3. Robot Servant of Philon
  4. Cinema of Heron

Recommended Kotsanas Museum Tickets

#6 Museum of Ancient Agora

Best Preserved Site from Ancient Greece

from €18

Tickets
Museums in Athens

Athenian Democracy Agora Statue of Aphrodite

Compared to the other museums in Athens, the museum of Ancient Agora is relatively small. The museum is housed in the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos, a reconstructed building dating back to 150 B.C. If you are looking to learn about the functioning of Athenian democracy, the Museum of Ancient Agora will give you a comprehensive insight into the workings of the government. In fact, the museum exhibits the best collection of artifacts related to Athenian democracy during the Classical period, since Agora was the focus of the public life of the city. Apart from this, the Museum of Ancient Agora also displays artifacts and daily objects from the stone age. All the artifacts in the museum are displayed behind glass, so make sure that you don’t touch any of the displays when visiting the museum.

Best Time to Visit
Early morning or late afternoon
Recommended Duration
1-2 Hours

Museum of Ancient Agora Highlights

  1. Statue of Aphrodite
  2. Bronze Head of Nike
  3. Nymph holding Hydria (water jar)
  4. Votive Female Statue from Apollo Patroos
  5. Statuette of Apollo Patroos

Recommended Museum of Ancient Agora Tickets

Museum of Ancient Agora Reviews

Tickets worked excellent visit site was amazing, quiet and museum small but perfect. Value for money and very helpful lovely staff


- Melissa, Headout, February 2022

A great history lesson on democracy. A must-see for anyone visiting Athens!


- Rachel, Headout, August 2021

#7 Cycladic Museum of Art

Permanent Collection of Cycladic Antiquities

from €8

Tickets
Museums in Athens

World's First Nocturnal Zoo

Cycladic culture blossomed during the Early Bronze Age in the islands of the Central Aegean and owing to this, the Cycladic Museum of Art was constructed in Athens. The museum hosts one of the best and largest collections of Cycladic art in the world. Cycladic art mainly includes small marble sculptures and statuettes. In fact, the abstract form of the Cycladic figurines has influenced innumerable 20th and 21st-century artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Ai Weiwei. Cycladic Art is known for its ingenuity and artistic merit. Although this art form appeals to modern art connoisseurs because of its almost translucent whiteness, many creators of this form of art have started adding color to their creations for both practical and symbolic reasons.

Best Time to Visit
March and November. Mornings or late afternoons
Recommended Duration
2 Hour

Cycladic Museum of Art Highlights

  1. Cycladic Art Exhibition
  2. Ancient Greek Art Exhibition
  3. Cypriat Art
  4. The Stathatos Building

Recommended Cycladic Museum of Art Tickets

Cycladic Museum of Art Reviews

Nice place with good exhibitions . Also saw the paintings from temporary exhibition. Cafeteria is peaceful and people


- Lesimple, Headout, September 2022

#8 Museum of Illusions

Innovative Space in Athens

from €10

Tickets
Museums in Athens
Infinity room Family

All the museums in Athens are not limited to showcasing ancient Greek artifacts, some museums in Athens also cater to different things. One such museum is the Museum of Illusions. This museum in Athens will make you experience sensory, visual, and educational illusions. With more than 15 exhibits, the Museum of Illusion is bound to be a sensory overload for you and your family. If you want a break from history and art, visit the museum with your family and enjoy a great day out with them. Perfect for entertainment and socialization, the Museum of Illusion is a fun and interesting Museum to visit in Athens that will be enjoyed by parents, children, and even grandparents! To remember this unique experience in Athens, be sure to stop by their in-house gift shop as well.

Best Time to Visit
Early morning during the weekends. Early morning and late afternoon on weekdays
Recommended Duration
2-3 Hours

Museum of Illusions Highlights

  1. Infinity room
  2. Reverse room
  3. Ames room
  4. Vortex room
  5. Rotated room

Recommended Museum of Illusions Tickets

Museum of Illusions Reviews

A lot of interesting things. Kids over 6-7 will be wowed!


- Antonina, Headout, July 2022

#9 Hellenic Motor Museum

Unique Architecture in Greece
Museums in Athens
History of cars Archaelogy Exhibitions

As the name suggests, the Hellenic Motor Museum in Athens is essentially a car museum. The museum has the best collection of cars, which are divided into seven categories. These categories are antique, veteran, vintage, post vintage, classic, post-classic, and modern. The Hellenic Motor Museum is located in Central Athens and is situated pretty close to the National Archaeological Museum. So if you are interested in learning about cars and ancient Greek history and art, you could visit both these museums in one day. The three-floored Hellenic Motor Museum in Athens has a collection of more than 110 cars from the 19th and 20th centuries. They even have an exhibition dedicated to showing the evolution of the car from prehistoric times to modern times.

Best Time to Visit
After 11am on weekends
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Hellenic Motor Museum Highlights

  1. Flintstones Bedrock Buggy
  2. Ford Model “N”
  3. Rolls Royce Doctor’s Coupe
  4. Aston Martin DB 2
  5. Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

#10 Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum

Most Important Museums in Greece

Museums in Athens
Ancient Olympia Sanctuary of Zeus Greek Art

Located on the storied site of Ancient Olympia, the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum is considered to be one of the most important museums in Athens. Located near the Ancient Olympia site, this museum mainly contains artifacts that were discovered during the excavation at the site. The exhibitions at the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum in Athens are some of the most significant exhibits of the ancient world. The museum houses the best collection of artifacts that were discovered from the sanctuary of Zeus and the Olympic Games. At this museum, you will also find sculptures recovered from the Temple of Zeus. These sculptures are believed to be the best examples of the “severe” style of Greek art. All the exhibits at the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum are arranged in chronological and thematic order-starting from prehistoric times to Roman times.

Best Time to Visit
November and March
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum Highlights

  1. Praxiteles’ “Hermes Carrying Infant Dionysus” sculpture
  2. Metopes from the ancient Temple of Zeus in Olympia
  3. Sculptural decorations from the Temple of Zeus in Olympia
  4. The complex of Zeus and Ganymede

Tips to Visit Museums in Athens


  • Wear comfortable footwear when visiting the museums in Athens.
  • For a great learning experience, read the audio-visual material mentioned in front of the exhibits at the museums.
  • Try to visit museums located near archaeological sites such as the Acropolis Museum, Delphi Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Ancient Agora, and the Ancient Olympia Archaeological Museum during the winter.
  • Do not touch any of the exhibits-be they sculptures, artifacts, or statues, at any of the museums in Athens.
  • Keep your phones on silent when visiting and exploring the museums in Athens. To ensure a hassle-free and efficient visit to the museums in Athens, book your museum tickets in advance.
  • Depending on the museums you visit, check whether or not photography and videography are permitted inside the museums.
  • Most museums in Athens offer guided tours for visitors. If you want to learn and explore all the exhibits in the museum, opt for guided tours at the museums in Athens.
  • Some museums provide free entry on certain days and reduced ticket prices for children and students. So plan your visit to the museums in Athens accordingly.

FAQs


What are the best Museums in Athens?

Among the top museums in Athens are the The Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Benaki Museum, and the Kostanas Museum.

What are some private collections of Greek Artifacts?

The Benaki Museum, Kostanas Museum, and the Museum of Cycladic Art have some private collections of Greek artifacts.

Are Museums free in Athens?

Ticket prices vary from museum to museum. Some museums in Athens provide free entry on certain days and some museums have an entrance fee. Museums in Athens also offer discounted rates for certain groups of visitors such as children, senior citizens, and students. We recommend that you check this before planning your visit to any museum in Athens.

Which is the newest museum in Athens?

The Museum of Illusions and Kostanas Museum are the newest museums in Athens. The Hellenic Motor Museum was also built in 2011 in Athens.

Are there any restrictions I should know beforehand for entering museums in Athens?

Restrictions vary from museum to museum in Athens. We recommend that you avoid wearing heels to any of the museums in Athens. Wear comfortable footwear and try to wear clothes that cover your midriff, shoulders, and knees. Check out the individual websites of the museums in Athens to further understand if there are any other restrictions. 

                  Best Museums in Athens Guide