Did you know that the ancient city of Athens is filled with modern Greek culture? The language, its people, and its traditions can teach you a lot. But the ancient Greek world can teach us so much as well. Athens is filled with museums of every shape and size, including treasures from permanent collections to art galleries and beyond.
Explore museum houses ranging from Greek history to art history to Peloponnesian folklore. Meander through interactive exhibits and historical sites to learn all you can about the fascinating Greek capital. Several of the museums in Athens are free or relatively cheap to visit (see free things to do in Athens here) and will grab your attention as soon as you walk through the doors. Other museums may be a bit pricey, however, even those more expensive museums are well worth the price to spend a few hours exploring.
Learn more about the history and culture of Greece by visiting several of the history museums dotted throughout Athens and the surrounding areas. You can easily spend several afternoons exploring all the museums in Athens. But first, a travelers tip: most museums do not allow large bags and backpacks. Drop them with our Athens luggage storage first. Then you'll be all set!
- Address: Dionysiou, Areopagitou 15, Athens 117 42
Dedicated to preserving the history of ancient Greece, the Acropolis Museum is home to over 4,000 Greek artifacts. The museum itself is located in an old citadel that overlooks Athens and provides amazing views of the city and surrounding area.
This large collection focuses on 5th century B.C. statues. Each object on display has been carefully placed and includes informational plaques. After you have explored the exhibits, head to the second floor and enjoy lunch or dinner at the museum’s restaurant. Not ready to eat yet? Wait and try some of the fantastic street food in Athens when you do get hungry!
- Address: 1 Koumbari Street, Athens 106 74
The Benaki Museum is housed in the Bekanis family mansion and focuses on the foreign influences on Greece and its culture. It will take you several hours to fully explore the extensive collection and begin to see how outside influence has made Greece so interesting and unique.
As you make your way through the museum you will see embroidery from the 17th century, prehistoric pottery, heirlooms from famous Greeks, and Byzantine iconography. Drop by the on-site restaurant for a delicious and relaxing meal and grab a souvenir or two at the gift shop.
National Archaeological Museum
- Address: 28is Oktoviou 44, Athina 106 82
When checking out the different museums in Athens, you do not want to forget about the only museum of its size, the National Archaeological Museum. The collections here have all been excavated throughout Greece. You may have to spend the entire day or come back several times to see all that is on display.
The collection includes gold funerary masks, ivory carvings, alabaster tools, and jewelry. There are also several frescoes and figurines unearthed from Santorini, the volcanic island. Even the oldest mechanical computer is on display at the National Archaeological Museum.
Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology
- Address: Pindarou 6, Athina 106 71
The technological advancements of ancient Greeks are simply amazing and the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology is one of the best museums in Athens to visit. The museum has 300 marvelous inventions of ancient Greeks that you absolutely do not want to miss.
The museum was founded around the research of Costas Kotsanas who dedicated his life to uncovering and recreating the different technological advancements of the ancient Greeks. Check out the cinema of Heron, the analog computer of Antikythera, and the automatic clock of Ktisivi. Exhibits have audiovisual accompaniments in English and Greek.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
- Address: Leof, Vasillissis Sofias 22, Athens 106 75
Explore the very large collection of objects and artifacts dating back to the 3rd century. The Byzantine and Christian Museum has one of the biggest collections of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art and relics. You will want to spend an entire afternoon checking out all the exhibits and the museum shop.
There are also over 25,000 relics and artifacts from Early Christian and Medieval periods of Greek history. The museum’s collection includes frescoes, scriptures, fabrics and tapestries, pottery, manuscripts, and pictures.
Hellenic Motor Museum
- Address: Ioulianou 33, Athina 104 33
This interesting and unique car museum is a must-see if you are a car enthusiast. Owned by the Theodore Charagionis Foundation, this museum is near downtown Athens in the Athenian Capitol Shopping Mall and is only a short walk from the National Archaeological Museum.
The museum has 300 cars in its permanent collection but only 110 are displayed at a time. Visit the amphitheater for a short road safety educational program and video and then sign up for the Formula 1 simulator. This interactive simulator gives you an experience you will not soon forget.
Athens War Museum
- Address: Rizari 2, Athina 106 75
The War Museum is dedicated to the Greek Armed Forces and opened its doors in July of 1975. The full purpose of the museum is to showcase weaponry that was used throughout Greek history and the various wars and skirmishes that Greeks were involved in. The museum is filled with intriguing artifacts and weaponry from the Greek war.
Aside from Greek armed forces artifacts, there are also relics and objects from other civilizations from ancient Japan and ancient China. There are four levels to explore at the main museum in Athens. There are branches of the war museum in Chania, Nauplion, Thessaloniki, and Tripoli.
Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation, Nafplio
- Address: Vasileos Alexandrou 1 Sofroni, Nafplio 211 00
Also known as Vas. Papantoniou, the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation is a museum and non-profit cultural center located in Nafplio, just minutes from central Athens. The center and museum opened in 1974 by scenic designer and Greek folklorist Ioanna Papantoniou and dedicated to her father, Vasilios Papantoniou.
The mission of the cultural center and museum is to preserve, research, study, and present objects and artifacts of Greek culture. Check out the music, art, entertainment, and technology that has shaped the culture of not just Athens but all of Greece.
The Jewish Museum of Greece
- Address: Nikis 39, Athina 105 57
While you may not think of the Jewish faith when you think of Greece, but there have been Jewish communities throughout Greece for over 2,300 years. The Jewish Museum of Greece was founded to preserve and exhibit objects and artifacts documenting Jewish life within Greece.
The museum was founded in 1977 in a very small room next to Athens’ synagogue, it has since grown to include objects from World War II as well as jewelry from the Jews of Thrace that the Bulgarians seized in 1943. The museum moved to its current location in 1981 when the Associate of Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece took over control of the museum.
Archaeological Museum of Corinth
- Address: Old Corinth, Corinth 200 10
Dedicated to ancient Greece, the Archaeological Museum of Corinth is home to a huge collection of objects and artifacts that have been unearthed in Corinth as well as Gonia, Korakou, and Acrocorinth. Many of the artifacts date back to excavations in 1896 to present day.
The museum gives you a look into the history of ancient Corinth and how the culture survived through Roman and Byzantine rule. Many of the exhibits include pottery, statues, mosaics, sarcophagi, manuscripts, and frescoes. There are four large rooms in the museum to explore, all showcasing items from important archaeological sites.
What are the best free museums in Athens?
In Athens, several of the private museums do offer free admission one day a week during certain times. Each museum’s free admission program does vary so you will want to ask or check out their websites. Public museums and historic sites will offer free admission one day each month, usually the first Sunday of each month from November to March, and special holidays.
There are, however, some museums that have free admission all the time and those are great to visit when you are on a budget. Plan your itinerary to include several of these smaller, free Athens museums.
This museum is dedicated to Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos including a huge personal collection of written materials, books, and Greek art.
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry
This special museum is free for kids and teens under 18 years old and on Saturdays free for all. Filled with 50 collections of amazing Greek jewelry, it is a must-see museum.
The Museum of the History of Greek Costume
Dedicated to traditional Greek costumes as they evolved throughout history as well as Greek art, this museum offers free admission every day.
Dedicated to the private collection of Giorgos Gounaropoulos, a very talented Greek painter of contemporary art, this museum offers free admission each day.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Athens?
When spending the day exploring downtown Athens you will probably check out several of the shopping malls and shops, enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many fantastic restaurants, and meander through a few of the interesting and educational museums in the downtown area.
Downtown Athens is a playground for young and old filled with vibrant, old buildings, amazing architecture, and friendly locals. Pull up a chair and visit with the locals, strike out on a walking tour, or head indoors and learn more about the culture and history in the museums of Athens.
National Archaeological Museum
This national historical museum is listed as one of the top 10 museums in the entire world and is a definite must-visit when you are downtown. It is located at the intersection of Patission and Alexandras Avenues and admission is free for students and children under six years.
The Benaki Museum
One of the best museums in Athens, this museum covers ancient and modern Greek history including contemporary art and cultural artifacts. Begin your journey through Greek history beginning at the ground floor and moving upward through the floors and years.
The Acropolis Museum
Stroll through this museum and take in the galleries filled with amazing artwork and objects from the Classical and Archaic periods. An interesting feature of the Acropolis museum is the glass floors allowing you to look down at the ground below. The Acropolis itself is a marvel to see so make time!
Are there any cheap museums in Athens?
Sometimes finding budget-friendly activities in Athens can be difficult, however, there are a handful of museums that many would consider cheap or inexpensive. After you have explored several of the free museums, you will want to check out several of the moderately priced, or cheap, museums in Athens.
Remember, if you are on a budget, check out which places offer free admission days. Most of the private museums have certain days and times each week when admission is free or deeply discounted. Public museums offer a free admission day once a month, usually the first Sunday of the month.
Cheap museums include the following:
The Acropolis Museum
With its glass floors, this museum is an absolute must-see and the admission is pretty cheap as well. The marble statues from Acropolis should not be missed. Admission is about five drachma; two cents in USD.
The Benaki Museum
Begin your journey through Greek history beginning on the ground floor and going upwards through time. Admission is around six drachma or only about two cents in United States dollars.
The Cycladic Museum of Art
Run by the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation, this Greek art museum is filled with pieces of Cycladic art that definitely should be seen when in Athens. Admission is six drachma or in USD, two cents.
From Ancient Times to Today
Some of the best museums in Athens are clustered in the downtown area while others are a bit more spread out, but each one is definitely worth the commute. Learn about the history of not just Athens but all of Greece, their military forces, the Greek art and culture, and even folklore when you explore many of the museums in Athens. At the same time, enjoy the beauty of both modern Greece and the ancient world that formed it.