"Culture is Greece's heavy industry" said Melina Mercouri, minister of culture and one of the reasons Athens has a large number of internationally-acclaimed museums, both private and state run. Our top ten list of Athens museums has been curated to highlight the city's most significant museums that are entertaining and informative.
The New Acropolis Museum was ranked as one of the top ten museums in Europe before it had even opened its doors in June of 2009. We certainly agree; we love nothing more than to tarry an hour or two away in this spacious, well-lit treasure trove of artifacts from the Acropolis, each item presented in a way that invites intimate inspection. The indoor/outdoor cafe has some of the best prices in the city and the two museum shops offer academic books and sophisticated gifts.
Long before the New Acropolis Museum opened, however, the National Archaeological Museum was the choice place for lovers of Greek history and still has the best collection in the country, including prehistoric, Mycenean and Egyptian artifacts. One could easily spend hours and still not see everything.
The Benaki Museum is a better choice for those with a short attention span as it covers Greece's history from ancient to modern times on three manageable levels, the top featuring highly regarded, rotating exhibitions on art, jewelry, and photography. We hate to sound like we judge museums on their cafes and book shops but the Benaki Museum gets a golden star for theirs. It lies on the "museum mile" along with the Cycladic Museum, Byzantine Museum, National Gallery and War Museum, the last being the only museum on the mile that didn't make our top ten though we would easily put it at number eleven.
It can be difficult to relate to issues from ancient times which is why we included two museums that still bear the heavy weight of relevance: The Jewish Museum of Greece and the National History Museum both serve as reminders of the struggles of war and offer touching, personal accounts of modern history.
Of the other museums not listed, mostly due to being outside of the central zone and not as well connected to other major sites, we still highly recommend the Goulandris National History museum in Kifissia for kids and nature lovers, the numismatic museum for lovers of old coins and beautiful houses- it's located in the mansion of the amateur archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann- and the EMST museum of modern art, not far from the National Gallery.
The museum is 1/3 mile (10 min. on foot) north of Omonia Sq. on the road named Leoforos 28 Octobriou, but usually called Patission
At Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias, Kolonaki, 5 blocks east of Syntagma Sq
An 19th century mansion with 8,000 years of history... read more
13 Stadiou Street
Rooms upon Rooms of Greek Folklore and Legacy...
4 Neophytou Douka
(off Vassilissis Sophias Avenue)
138 Pireos and Andronikou Streets
Impressive modern multi-story structure... read more
39 Nikis Street
On the left side of Nikis as you walk away from Syntagma Sq
The 2,300 year old story of Jewish People in Greece... read more
22 Vasilissis Sofias Ave
From Syntagma Sq., walk along Queen Sophias Ave. for about 15 min. The museum is on your right. If you come to the Hilton Hotel, you have gone too far
14 Kydathineon Street
The best way to keep little hands busy in Plaka...