In a city so rich with culture, where history is evident in every corner, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the selection of sights and museums to visit. It is also easy to put on your bucket list the most popular ones while omitting the hidden gems. That’s why, we’d like to introduce you to Athens’ lesser-known museums and make certain that you experience the alternative side of Athens, just like a local!
Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments - credits: https://www.moregreece.com
The exhibition of the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments has on display no less than 1.200 Greek folk musical instruments dating from the 18th century to this day. The instruments were donated by musicologist Fivos Anogianakis following 40 years of research. In the museum, visitors have the opportunity to follow the evolution of the Greek musical instruments across the years, while also seeing for the first time rare instruments belonging to Greek expatriates, such as the Pontifical Greeks and the Cappadocian Greeks. Additionally, you can watch the course of popular instruments, such as the violin, that brought them to their current form. The museum is housed in a magnificent 1840 mansion in Plaka adjacent to the Roman Agora. The exhibition takes up three floors and is divided into four levels, which match the subdivisions of musical instruments distinguished by ethnomusicology. The museum was inaugurated on June 6, 1991, and remains to this day one of the most fascinating and insightful attractions of Athens, especially for all music-lovers out there.
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum - credits: https://www.tiqets.com
At the foot of the Acropolis, lies another Greek culture hub: the Jewelry Museum of Ilias Lalaounis, which opened its doors to the public in 1994. It is the only museum of jewelry and decorative arts in Greece and one of the three in the world. The permanent exhibition of the museum hosts over 3,500 jewels and small sculptures, all designed by Ilias Lalaounis during the period 1940-2002. Ilias Lalaounis was a distinguished goldsmith, jeweler and jeweler designer, born and bred in the scenic Athenian neighborhood of Plaka, in the building where the Jewelry Museum is housed today. He is the only jewelry artist awarded by the French Academy of Fine Arts. The jewelry of the exhibition is inspired by ancient Greece, the art and architecture of Byzantium, nature, and modern technology. On the ground floor, a workshop allows visitors to watch silversmiths in action, while a cafe, a gift shop and a library centered on jewelry can also be found in its premises. It’ s worth noting that Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum was the first museum that became accessible to people with mobility difficulties in Greece.
Railway Museum of Athens
Exhibit form the Railway Museum of Athens - credits: https://www.radiomuseum.org
Athens Railway Museum was founded by the Hellenic Railways Organization in 1979 and consists of five halls, where a collection of objects related to the history of rail transport in Greece are on display. It is the largest railway museum in Greece, consisting of two main buildings and a courtyard designed for outdoor events, including a recreational train for children. The museum’s exhibits encompass -but are not limited to- conventional locomotives dating back to 1884, mine locomotives, wagons of old trains, royal vehicles, the tram of Athens from past decades, manually-operated trolleys, mockups, and photographic material, as well as tickets, uniforms and machine tools of the last century. If you’re a train greek or just love to educate yourself on the journey of civilizations through technology, you should definitely include this museum in your bucket list for Athens!
Hellenic Children's Museum
Hellenic Children’s Museum - credits: https://pamebolta.gr
If you’re visiting Athens with your family and you want to keep your kids occupied and happy, a stop at the Hellenic Children’s Museum is highly recommended! The Hellenic Children's Museum is a not-for-profit association of public interest for educational and cultural purposes that help children fulfill their potential in becoming citizens who are socially aware and contribute positively to society. The Children's Museum’s activities are based on theories that suggest learning is more effective through active participation and interaction. Therefore, following this hands-on approach, the museum’s educational programs and exhibits are three-dimensional environments, designed by dedicated scientists, that promote critical thinking, initiative, creativity, and autonomy. Both fun and educational, your kids will have the opportunity to explore the world around them, interact with their peers and gain self-awareness in a safe and controlled environment.
If you want to explore Athens and its heritage in a way only a few of the visitors do, don’t skip the museums we have listed above; they might not be as popular but they are just as incredible! Also, don't forget to check our Athens travel guide.