Athenian Museums Tour, Athens (Self Guided)

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, steeped in history and culture, this is a fact know to everyone. As such, the city is literally packed with museums, museums which house an inestimable treasure of the Greek civilization. The tour below will guide you through some of the most significant museums in Athens.
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Athenian Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Athenian Museums Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Author: emily
National Historical Museum

1) National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum is a repository and research center showcasing the modern history of Greece. It is housed in the building that was once the Greek parliament.

The National Historical Museum has exhibits from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The building was once the house of prominent Greek merchant, A.I. Kontostavlos. In 1837, it became the residence of king Otto of Greece. After King Otto was forced to grant a constitution to the people of Greece, it was converted into a parliament house where both the parliament and senate met in 1844. A fire destroyed the original parliament building and a new neoclassical style structure with two amphitheaters one for meetings of the parliament and the other for the senate was designed by architect, Francois Boulanger. Construction began in 1858 and was completed in 1875. From 1875 to 1935, it remained the official parliament house of Greece.

The Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece took over the building in 1962 and converted it into a museum dedicated to Modern Greek history. Exhibits showcase the Frankish rule, the Ottoman era and the independence movements. There are also objects that relate to Modern Greek scholars and clergymen and the international Philhellenes, a group of thinkers including the English poet, Lord Byron who fought to deliver Greece from Turkish rule.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Numismatic Museum

2) Numismatic Museum

One of the most important among museums in Athens, the Numismatic Museum has coins dating back to classical Greek and Roman times to the modern day. The display takes visitors on a trip down the history of coins and coinage of Greece.

The Numismatic Museum is housed in the Ilou Melathron, a large three storey mansion built in a combination of renaissance revival and neoclassical styles. It was constructed as the residence of Heinrich Schliemann, a famous archeologist known for the discovery of the remains of Troy and Mycenae. The design was by well known architect Ernst Ziller. The interiors were decorated in the style of ancient Pompeii with mosaic flooring and fresco covered walls. In 1927, the building became the Greek Supreme Court. In 1998, the collections of the numismatic museum that were in the University of Athens, the Athens Academy and the National Archeological museum were transferred to the building after extensive renovation and restoration. The Numismatic museum was opened to the public in 2007.

Exhibits include coins, medals, dies and stamps from the 14th century BC to recently minted coins. Wealthy Greek collectors like the Zosimades Brothers, Giannis Dimitriou and Grigorios Empedoklis donated their coin collections to the museum. There is a room with photographs and museum archives. The building also houses a library with an impressive collection of books relating to coin collecting and a well equipped laboratory for the maintenance of the collections.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museum of Greek Folk Art

3) Museum of Greek Folk Art

This museum dedicated to Greek handicrafts is located in Plaka, Athens. It has vast collections of exhibits representing folk art from all parts of the country.

The Museum of Greek Folk Art opened its doors to the public in 1973. The building has three floors with a wealth of objects depicting the richness of folk art in Greece. It also has a library with 5000 books on folk art and crafts, folklore and ethnology, photographs, film and audio archives. The museum organizes programs for children including pottery classes and shadow theater performances. On the last day of the carnival, it hosts a festival where folk dancers from every part of Greece perform.

Exhibits displayed at the museum include embroidery, weaving, pottery, metalwork, wooden handicrafts, religious and secular silver work, folk paintings and objects made of carved stone. It has a permanent exhibition of paintings by Greek folk artist Theofilos Chatzimichail including murals removed from a house in Mitilini. The top floor has a display of costumes from all over Greece worn by Greek men and women for festivals and weddings. The museum seeks to show visitors the work done by rural people in the different regions of the country.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Athens University Museum

4) Athens University Museum

Housed in one of the few surviving Ottoman buildings in the city, the Athens University Museum is dedicated to the display of scholarly exhibits. It also hosts international and national scientific meetings and seminars organized by the University of Athens.

In 1831, the architect, Stamatios Klanthis, bought and developed the old Ottoman building along with his friend and partner, Eduard Schaubert. The two architects later designed the modern city of Athens. When they were in residence, it was the venue for informal meetings of intellectuals and artists. It was taken over by the Greek government in 1835 and served different purposes over the years. It first housed a secondary school, but later became the newly established Greek University. The Greek ministry of education had its offices in the building and then it was used by the army until 1861.

In 1963, the House of Kleanthis was declared a listed building by the Greek Archaeological Service and donated it to the University of Athens in 1967. The building was restored and converted into a museum. Exhibits displayed here include rare editions of books and scientific abstracts, early editions of newspapers and magazines, letters of significance, portraits by 19th century Greek painters and banners, flags and medals that relate to the University of Athens. There is also an impressive collection of scientific instruments used in physics, chemistry and pharmacology laboratories.
Museum of Popular Music Instruments

5) Museum of Popular Music Instruments

This small museum has a wide range of traditional Greek musical instruments arranged in three halls on three floors. It is housed in the Lassanis Mansion, belonging to a wealthy Athenian family, built in 1842.

Eminent Greek musicologist, Fivos Anoyanakis, researched traditional folk instruments for 50 years. The museum now houses exhibits gathered by him from different parts of the country, featuring musical instruments used by Greek performers from 1750 onwards.

The displayed instruments are grouped by the material responsible for their sound. They are divided into four sections, such as drums, wind instruments, string instruments and bells. Only half of the instruments available in the collection are on display at a given time. Others are used by researchers or form part of traveling exhibitions organized by the museum and held in schools all over the country. Each exhibit has a detailed description and visitors can listen to the recorded sound that the instrument makes.

The museum has a research center, warehouse, archives and a shop in the building that was once the stables of the Lassanis Mansion. The shop stocks CDs and cassettes of Greek folk music. Concerts are organized in the courtyard during summer.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ancient Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos

6) Ancient Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos (must see)

The Ancient Agora Museum is housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, a most impressive stoa originally built during the 2nd century BC. A stoa is a covered walkway that's commonly built for public use. This stoa was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon who made it a gift to Athens during his rule. The stoa was more elaborate and larger than earlier buildings in ancient Athens. Its dimensions are 115 meters long by 20 meters wide and it is made of Pentelic marble and limestone. The building skillfully makes use of different architectural orders. The Doric order was used for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor with Ionic for the interior colonnade. It is rather like a modern shopping mall but much more beautiful.

The exhibition in the Museum gallery holds archaeological finds from systematic excavations in the area. The exhibits are dated from the Neolithic to the Post-byzantine and Ottoman periods. And to no one's surprise, most are connected with Athenian democracy. The museum's collection includes clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions from the 7th to the 5th century BC. Notable also is the pottery of the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation. The museum has no separate fee as entry is always included in the Agora ticket.

Why You Should Visit:
Gives you a real sense of the size and grandeur of ancient public buildings; it is rather like a modern shopping mall but much more beautiful.

The price of entry is included in the Agora ticket. Upper level has a sweeping view of the grounds!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-8pm (Apr 13-Oct 31)
On Tuesdays, the museum opens at 10am
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Athens, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

Creating your own self-guided walk in Athens is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Athens for Children Walking Tour

Athens for Children Walking Tour

Traveling with children differs a lot from traveling alone or with other grown-ups, children require a constant source of entertainment and an outlet for their energy. Luckily, Athens has plenty of places that are suitable for families and offer something for kids to do. Take this guide to find your way to the best spots in town for a family visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Pláka is the old historic neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. It is known as the "Neighbourhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Walking Tour Along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue

Walking Tour Along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue

Vassilissis Sofias is a major avenue in the eastern part of the city. Walking along this street you will have the chance to see some of the most popular attractions of the Greek capital, such as the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the War Museum, and many others. Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy this interesting tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Monastiraki Gift Shops

Monastiraki Gift Shops

It would be a pity to leave Athens without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. As an ancient city, rich in culture and traditions, Athens certainly has something interesting to offer its visitors, including something one may take home. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that can be purchased in the shops of the famous Monastiraki Area.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Walking Tour Around the Peaceful National Garden

Walking Tour Around the Peaceful National Garden

The National Garden is an impressive, historic park in the center of Athens. Formerly known as the Royal Garden, it was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838, reason why it is located right behind the Old Palace (currently the Greek Parliament). Many major tourist attractions are situated in and around this peaceful site. The following tour will guide you through this Garden and the amazing...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens is famous all over the world, it is the symbol of the city of Athens. The first habitation remaining on this site dates back to the Neolithic period. The Acropolis hill is also called the "Sacred rock" of Athens, as it was home to temples and churches throughout recorded history. It is the one historic site you cannot miss!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

15 Best Cafes in Athens

15 Best Cafes in Athens

While in Athens it is immediately noticeable that the local cafe culture thriving. Through this directory you will get a chance to visit very different establishments, ranging from "kafenia", to hip, modern coffee shops and get first hand experience of the diversity of contemporary Greek...
A Self-Guided Food Walk in Athens

A Self-Guided Food Walk in Athens

Just as many things in Greece, dining in Athens is very much laid-back with the majority of local eateries seeing patrons begin to congregate for dinner only after 8 pm. Eating-wise, the Athenians favor simplicity, leaning to the more casual and not so pricey tavernas where food is plentiful. To...
Souvenirs Shopping: 19 Uniquely Greek Products to Bring from Athens

Souvenirs Shopping: 19 Uniquely Greek Products to Bring from Athens

A cradle of European civilization, Greece, in general, and Athens, in particular, have long been - from the days of the Roman Empire up until present - the lure for travelers and history buffs seeking to find and bring home something memorable. Today's Athens (much as its ancient self) offers a...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Athens for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Athens has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Athens's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Athens Tourist Card, Athens City Pass, or Athens Museum Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Athens's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Athens hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Electra Hotel Athens, Hotel Grande Bretagne, King George.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Athens, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Athens typically costs somewhere between US$15 and US$100 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Athens from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the three interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for all three).

- Explore Athens in its entirety, from the beautiful beaches to historic treasures, on a similar hop-on hop-off double-decker sightseeing tour running straight from the sea shore all year round! Ideal for those arriving on cruise ships!

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of night Athens – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the Greek capital in its nighttime ambiance. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have by walking.

- Pedal your way around Athens on a 3.5-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Acquaint yourself up-close with the wonders of Ancient Greece on a 3-hour walking tour of UNESCO-listed Acropolis and other fascinating sights within its walls, plus many more historic and otherwise notable attractions in Athens.

- Awaken your taste buds to an array of authentic Greek delicacies on a 4-hour guided gourmet food walk in Athens during which you will sample some of the finest street food in the city. Apart from feasting on the local specialties, with each bite you will also learn about the culinary history of Athens.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Athens, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Delphi, Meteora, Mycenae and Epidaurus, Corinth, or Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon. For as little as circa US$50 to US$120 per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including fascinating monuments of Greek mythology and history, immerse in Greece’s spectacular scenery, admire the beauty of the local countryside replete with breathtaking views, scenic monasteries and villages existent for centuries, explore ancient ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Athens, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, train or private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.