Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Museums & Art Galleries in Athens & Piraeus

From the city’s earliest artefacts, to a spirited body of contemporary art. A national archaeological museum and a national art collection. From prehistory to Classical. From Christian, Byzantine and Islamic, to the contemporary. Including such themes as war and criminology, design and jewellery, the theatre and toys. Besides the well known archaeological sites, Athens has an alluring range of museums and art galleries to visit. Whether you are in the Greek capital for a day or two seeing the main sites, or spending a bit more time Athens will not disappoint. With over 70 museums open to the public, covering a wide range of subjects, there is something that will interest everyone, of all ages and all interests in Greek history and culture.

This page is a guide to the museums and art galleries in Athens. The page starts with tips for visiting museums and art galleries in Athens. This is followed by a list of the best or the most popular museums in Athens. We provide visitor information, such as addresses, opening hours, buying tickets, etc. This list is followed by lists of other museums in Athens and Piraeus, grouped together by theme.

There is a separate page for the Archaeological and Historical Sites in Athens & Attica. More information about visiting the city can be found in our Athens City Guide.

Tips for Visiting Art Galleries & Museums in Athens & Piraeus

Which museums in Athens to visit?

Visitors to Athens, certainly those with limited time, often ask “which is the best museum to visit in Athens?’ This is a difficult question to answer. Not only are there over 70 museums in Athens & Piraeus, there many archaeological and historical sites that visitors to the Greek capital want to see. The obvious answer is it depends on your interests. For this reason we have created a list of the top ten museums and art galleries, those that are the most visited, usually because they are the most significant. This is followed by a series of lists where we group museums according to themes.

Many people choose to visit Athens for its archaeology and history. And so are probably looking for the best archaeological museum to visit. If you only have time for one, then it is a choice between the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum. The National museum has artefacts from all over Greece covering all periods from early prehistory to the Roman era. Where as the Acropolis Museum, as the name suggests, focuses entirely on the archaeology of the Acropolis – and a very limited period of that site’s history.

Guided Tours of Museums in Athens

There are a number of options for guided tours of museum collections offered by private, but registered tours guides. We include details to some of these. Looking at the prices, you will note that these often do not include entrance to the museum itself. This is because you may already have a museum pass, a combination ticket or be eligible for a 50% or even a 100% reduction.

Athens Museum Pass

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The Best Museums & Art Galleries in Athens

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Greece’s National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to some of the most well known artefacts from all over the modern nation state of Greece. From prehistory to the Romans, with special collections of Cypriot and Egyptian antiquities. The museum has been in the current building with its spectacular Neoclassical façade since the 1889, but has been expanded many times since then. With the richest collection of ancient Greek artefacts anywhere in the world, this is a must for anyone with an interest in ancient Greece.

Acropolis Museum

Opened in 2009, this award winning museum displays over 4,000 objects from the nearby Acropolis. These range from the Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine periods on the citadel. One of the reasons for the construction of this state-of-the-art museum was the reunification of sculptures taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon. The museum was constructed above the archaeological site of Makrygianni. Visitors can follow walkways in a space under the museum to see in situ features of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Established in 1986, the Museum of Cycladic Art houses Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris’ extensive collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art. The couple had been collecting prehistoric and ancient art since the 1960s. The museum also has one of the largest collections of Cypriot antiquities in the world outside of Cyprus. There are three permanent exhibitions: Cycladic art from the Cycladic Islands (3200 – 2000 BC), Greek art (2000 BC to 395 AD), and art from Cyprus (3900 BC to the 6th century BC).

National Gallery - Museum of Alexandros Soutsou

Recently refurbished, and re-opened to the public in May 2021. The central site of the National Gallery focus on Greek and European art from post-Byzantine times to the modern era. This amounts to some 20,000 individual pieces, with an estimated 1,000 artworks on display at any given time. For the renaissance period, these include works by El Greco, and both Brueghel the Younger and Brueghel the Elder. An equally impressive collection of works by well known artist representing the 17th to 20th century, including Picasso, Matisse and Rodin.

National Museum of Contemporary Art

Founded in 2000, the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens is housed in a refurbished brewery, close to the main attractions in the centre of Athens. The museum collects and exhibits contemporary art of both Greek and international artists. On the ground floor are a number of temporary exhibitions spaces, while the permanent collection is displayed on the upper three floors. The collection of over 1,300 objects includes painting, 3D artworks, photography and new media, as well as architecture and industrial design.

Book Guided Tours of the Best Museums in Athens

Have you ever wondered aimlessly around a museum? You did not get the audio guide, or it was not available. And the captions give very little beyond the basic information about what you are looking at. Consider taking a guided tour with someone who knows the stories behind these objects, and knows how to keep an audience engaged.

The More Archaeology & History Museums in Athens

Athens International Airport Museum

In the main terminal of the Athens International Airport there are three permanent exhibitions, free to visit. The first is an exhibition of the archaeology found during the construction of the airport in the Mesogaia area. On display are 172 archaeological artefacts from the Neolithic to the Post-Byzantine period. A small area with a few replicas and digital displays covers the Acropolis Museum. A third multimedia presentation explores Eleftherios Venizelos’ role in forming the modern Greek nation as well as its aviation ministry.

History Museum of the University of Athens

Founded in 1987, the museum presents a history of the University of Athens through a range of artefacts such as letters and manuscripts, photographs and scientific instruments, university seals and other memorabilia. Archives represent a range of disciplines, including law, medicine, archaeology, history and chemistry. The 18th century building that is home to the museum is one of the few surviving from pre Othonian times, making it one of the oldest residential buildings in Athens. Situated on the north slopes of the Acropolis, the building housed the first university of an independent Greek state that was inaugurated in 1837.

Museum of Paul and Alexandra Kanellopoulos

On the north slopes of the Acropolis is the Neoclassical Michaleas residence, built in 1894 and now home to one of the richest private collections of ancient artefacts. There are over 7,000 objects, ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the Post Byzantine era. The objects are displayed in chronological and thematic order. This was the private collection of Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos that they donated to the Greek state in 1972 and opened to the public in 1976. In 2004 an extension was built so that the entire collection could be exhibited.

War Museum

Built on the site of an old artillery camp and opened in 1975, the War Museum in Athens is the largest museum of military history in Greece. The aim is to collect, research and display artefacts and memorabilia relating to the history of conflict and warfare from antiquity to the recent past. A vast array of artefacts are displayed chronologically, from Stone Age obsidian weapons to weapons and artillery used in more recent battles. Besides weapons and uniforms, the museum also displays numerous maps and significant historic documents, including from the Latin and Ottoman occupation.