While Athens is known for its ancient art and architecture (think: the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the Byzantine Museum), its contemporary art scene has become one of the Greek capital’s under-the-radar attractions. Whether you’re a historian, an art buff, or both, check out these must-visit cultural stops during free time on your next trip to Athens.
1. Metaxourgeio district
In most areas of Athens, visitors will notice a great deal of graffiti, ranging from teenage tagging to political gripes to full-blown street art. For the most buzzed-about displays, head to the Metaxourgeio district. Long considered a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood, the upcoming district of Metaxourgeio is the place to go for galleries and artists co-ops. If this is up your alley, enjoy an afternoon of gallery-hopping in Metaxourgeio. Finish up at the critically acclaimed Breeder Gallery, where you can top off your art-browsing with a bite at its top-floor restaurant called the Breeder Feeder (cutest name ever, right?).
2. Athens’ National Museum of Contemporary Art
For museum lovers looking for contemporary exhibits, Athens’ National Museum of Contemporary Art, or EMST, had a soft opening in October 2016, after a long and bureaucratically cloudy renovation process that lasted over a decade. Since then, the venue has been used to host temporary exhibitions created by international institutions. However, according to EMST’s website, the museum plans to officially (and fully) open its doors in the fall of 2018.
3. Starvos Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
Another recent addition to Greece’s art world is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, completed in 2016. The center houses the National Opera, the National Library of Greece, and the Stavros Niarchos Park, which is a multi-purpose urban green space.