1. The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum: Top choice museum in Athens facing the Parthenon
This dazzling modernist museum at the foot of the Acropolis’ southern slope showcases its surviving treasures still in Greek possession.
While the collection covers the Archaic and Roman periods, the emphasis is on the Acropolis of the 5th century BC, considered the apotheosis of Greece’s artistic achievement.
The museum cleverly reveals layers of history, floating over ruins with the Acropolis visible above, showing the masterpieces in context.
As you enter the museum grounds, look through the plexiglass floor to see the ruins of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood, which were artfully incorporated into the museum design after being uncovered during excavations.
The museum’s crowning glory is the top-floor Parthenon Gallery, a glass atrium built in alignment with the temple, and a virtual replica of the cella (small chamber) of the Parthenon, which can be seen from the gallery.
Don’t miss the movie describing the history of the Acropolis. At the museum café and restaurant you can enjoy an aromatic Greek coffee or dishes based on traditional recipes and panoramic views of the Acropolis.
Stay in the most popular square in Athens
2. Museum of Cycladic Art
Cycladic Art Museum: focusing in the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus
The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens is dedicated to the study and promotion of the ancient cultures of the Aegean area and Cyprus.
It all began in the 1960s, when Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris began to collect ancient artifacts and Cycladic figurines. As time went on, the collection increased in size and travelled to important museums all over the world.
The Museum of Cycladic Art opened its doors to the public in January 1986. Today, over 3,000 artefacts of Cycladic, Ancient Greek and Cypriot art are on display on four floors, in the galleries of the Museum, a living cultural space in the heart of Athens.
The Cycladic Art museum has two great assets: an impressive collection of art of a highly informative and educational value.
Instead of just presenting the artifacts of the ancient civilization the museum’s goal is to offer the visitor information in a fun and in a easy to understand way. At the museum shop you can buy beautiful copies of the famous Cycladic figurines and other precious gifts.
3. Byzantine and Christian Museum
Immerse in the Byzantine world in the middle of modern Athens
This outstanding Byzantine and Christian museum – on the grounds of former Villa Ilissia, an urban oasis – presents a priceless collection of Christian art from the 3rd to 20th centuries.
Thematic snapshots of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine world are exceptionally presented in expansive, well-lit, multi-level galleries, clearly arranged chronologically with English translations. The collection includes icons, frescoes, sculptures, textiles, manuscripts, vestments and mosaics.
Villa Ilissia, which nowadays houses the Museum (ever since 1926), is one of the loveliest buildings erected in Athens during its early years as capital of the newly-founded Greek State.
It was the home of the duchess Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun who lived there until her death in 1854. The villa grounds, which sit next to Aristotle’s Lyceum, include ancient ruins such as the Peisistratos aqueduct.
When the undergoing extensions are complete, all 15,000 objects of the collection will be easily displayed and the building will form a part of a larger archeological park that will include Aristotle’s Lyceum and a small open air amphitheatre.
4. National Historical Museum
Impressive historical memorabilia in a landark Athens building
Specialising in memorabilia from the Greek War of Independence (1821–27), the National Historical Museum houses Byron’s helmet and sword, a series of paintings depicting events leading up to the war and a collection of photographs and royal portraits.
Through relics, artifacts, weapons, personal items, clothing, and maps, visitors can follow the progress of the Greek nation during the Turkish and Venetian rule of Greece.
The Greek revolution of 1821, the independence and the formation of the new Greek state, the expansion of the frontiers during the Balkan Wars, the adventure of the Asia Minor campaign, up to the Second World War.
The museum is housed in the old Parliament building, that was founded in 1858 by Queen Amalia, on the steps of which Prime Minister Theodoros Deligiannis was assassinated in 1905, It is a short stroll from the Sintagma metro station.
5. The Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum: a true pillar in Greece’s cultural life
The Benaki Museum, Greece’s finest private museum contains the vast collection of Antonis Benakis, accumulated during 35 years of avid collecting in Europe and Asia.
The collection includes Bronze Age finds from Mycenae and Thessaly; works by El Greco; ecclesiastical furniture brought from Asia Minor; pottery, copper, silver and woodwork from Egypt, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia; and a stunning collection of Greek regional costumes.
The museum has expanded into several branches, including the Pireos Annex, to house its vast and diverse collections and is a major player in the city’s arts scene. It hosts a full schedule of rotating exhibitions.
The ground floor houses the first Museum Gift Shop in Greece, while on the rooftop there is a Restaurant-Snack Bar with spectacular views of the Acropolis and the National Garden of Athens.