Most visitors to Athens only stay in the city for a limited time, and as such, have to carefully pick and choose what to see. Let me do the hard work for you. Here are the top 5 museums in Athens.
I've spent the last 2 years visiting all the museums in Athens. From these, I have chosen the top 5 museums in Athens you should visit when planning a trip. Even if you only spend 48 hours in Athens, you still have time to see them all.
Top 5 Museums in Athens
- The Acropolis Museum
- The Agora Museum
- The National Archaeological Museum
- Museum of Cycladic Art
- Music Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments
I have summarised each museum below, and also included how much time I think you should spend in each one.
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is the ‘flagship' museum for not only Athens, but all of Greece. It is certainly an impressive building, with well laid out displays set out over several floors. The visitor progresses gradually upward through the building, where on the last floor, the Parthenon Marbles await. Except, not all of them do, because a lot of them are in the British Museum. Faithful replicas are in their place, and if the originals are returned one day, they will certainly look incredible displayed here.
Time Recommended: 1-1.5 hours
My opinion: Personally, I do not think this is the best museum in Athens, but that may be just me. To get the best value from your time there, I would suggest using the Acropolis audio guide, or even taking a guided tour there.
The Agora Museum
The Agora Museum is a nicely laid out place, housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos. It is a reasonably compact museum, that exhibits finds from the Ancient Agora in a chronological order. It is all well labelled, and unlike the Acropolis Museum, there is no need for a guide here. Entrance to the Agora Museum is included with the Ancient Agora entrance ticket.
Time Recommended: 0.5 hours
My opinion: You can clearly see the progression of artefacts through the ages, and interestingly, the deterioration in quality after the ‘golden age' of Greece. Keep your eyes open for the section of text in the museum which describes Ostracism!
The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is my absolute favourite in the top 5 museums in Athens list. The one drawback to it, is that it is big. Very big! You really need 3 or 4 hours to do it some justice, which may put off some people just spending 2 days in Athens. I think it is time well spent though, and you can always just see the bits that interest you the most, and walk by the rest.
Time Recommended: Anything from 1-4 hours.
My opinion: Easily the best museum in Athens, with a complete collection spanning many areas and thousands of years. The bronze statues are my personal favourite.
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art displays artefacts from 4000BC to 600AD, and the most notable of these, are the instantly recognisable Cycladic Figurines. There is something enigmatically beautiful about them, and 6000 years later, they could easily mistaken for modern art sculptures. The museum also has numerous other exhibits, all of which are superbly laid out, labelled, and described.
Time Recommended: 1-2 hours.
My opinion: I like to visit this museum once every 6 months or so. In addition to spending time looking at the figurines, there is an interesting exhibition on the top floor. This depicts daily Athenian life from the golden age, from birth to death.
Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments
To be honest, I haven't really broken much ground so far with my list of top 5 museums in Athens. The ones I've mentioned above pretty much feature on most people's lists. The fifth one, the Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments breaks that trend though. The museum contains not only examples of the types of musical instruments played throughout Greece, but also examples of the music. After a while, you can hear the difference between happier island music, and more melancholy music from the north of the country. Drop by and hear for yourself!
Time Recommended: 0.5-1 hours.
My opinion: Get a feel for Greek culture by listening to folk and traditional songs from all over the country. No, you won't hear Zorba the Greek being played here!
If you are planning a trip to Athens, you might want to add the image of the top 5 museums in Athens below to your pinterest board.