A couple of months ago I had the chance to meet David, a reader of the “Athens Walker” blog, and he was the one to first alert me about the operating problems of the National Archeological Museum of Athens. I’ve since heard and read about them on the news and I often pass by that area myself, although they are now partly solved. Anyway, that gave me the idea to run a short of a “crash test” between Athens’ two major museums and see which one fares best for different kinds of visitors, since many tourists choose to stay in Athens for just a couple of days. It had been ages since the last time I’d been to the Archeological Museum and visiting the new Acropolis Museum still remained on my “to-do list”. So, it was the perfect opportunity to visit both of them (on separate dates), from the fresh perspective of a tourist (with a watchful eye!) and to run a sort of comparison between the two, summarized in the table below.
|Types of visitors
|National Archeological Museum
|Deeply interested in archeology
|Great museum and adjoining site but only gives you partial view (Athens and Acropolis hill) of ancient Greece
|Hands down winner, as exhibits take you through a tour of 6500 years of Greek history and pre-history from most areas of the ancient Greek world
|Mostly wanting to have a good time
|Hands down winner as the Acropolis Museum is more inviting, w/ better amenities for visitors and smaller. Great surrounding area of Acropolis and Plaka.
|Problematic surroundings. May give you “museum–fatigue” if you are not passionate about ancient times.
|Short on time
|Best choice. You can easily combine w/ visit to Acropolis hill, Plaka and other adjoining sites.
|Only if you are willing to run through it in 1-2 hours. Otherwise, you will spend half your day in here.
|Great restaurant on 2nd floor, especially on Fridays.
|You will have to search elsewhere for your lunch or dinner.
|Both museums are accessible but Acropolis Museum is right next to Metro Station and offers better surroundings.
|Accessibility options added, post-construction.
|Suffering from the heat
|Both museums offer wonderful, air-conditioned chill!
You may find fairly detailed descriptions of my impressions from both the Archeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum in a separate post, here.
Extra question 1: Can you do both the Acropolis and the Archaeological museums in one day? Some readers have been asking that so here's my answer: Typically yes, but you have to be really committed to it! If you are hit by museum fatigue it won't be my fault! Take notice of the opening hours, as they are not the same for the 2 museums. The Archaeological Museum stays open late only on Mondays while the Acropolis one every day except Monday (closed) and gives you 2 extra hours on Friday (till 10:00pm). Here's what I would do: Go to the Archaeological Museum early in the morning and spend some 4 hours there; go for a light lunch in the city center (or even a short break/nap in your hotel if it's nearby) and then continue with the Acropolis Museum in the afternoon / evening for another 2-3 hours. If it's a Friday stay in the Acropolis Museum for dinner and then for an evening stroll in the Plaka or towards Thission / Monastiraki.
Extra question 2: How far are the 2 museums from each other? Three (3) Metro stations away (on Metro Line 2): Omonia Metro Station to Acropolis Metro Station. If you want to walk that's both doable and advisable (remember that museum fatigue I keep mentioning?); they are about 2.5-3.5kms away (1.5 - 2.3 miles) depending on which route you follow.Why don't you follow me on twitter?