8 Must-Visit Museums in the Cyclades

Embark on a journey to the sun-kissed Cycladic isles and explore ancient treasures, traditional crafts, and contemporary art at 8 must-visit museums.


The Cyclades, a mesmerizing archipelago in the Aegean Sea, are renowned for their stunning beaches, whitewashed villages, and vibrant nightlife. Yet, beyond their postcard-perfect landscapes lies a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be discovered.

Unbeknown to many visitors, the islands are home to some of Greece’s most important (albeit under appreciated) museums, each offering a unique glimpse into the region’s storied past and dynamic, ever-changing present. From ancient treasures and traditional crafts to industrial heritage and contemporary art, these museums provide an immersive experience for history buffs, art enthusiasts, and curious travelers alike.

 

In this article, we’ll take a sneak peek at eight must-visit museums on seven islands in the Cyclades. This list is designed to give you a taste of what’s on offer, covering a variety of museum types — from archaeological and maritime to industrial and ethnographic — ensuring there’s something to suit all tastes.

Whether you’re planning an adventure to the Cyclades in the not-too-distant future or simply dreaming of these enchanting islands, join us as we uncover the cultural gems that make this region truly unforgettable.

Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Santorini)

Located in Fira, Santorini, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Thira) is one of Greece’s most important museums, showcasing the island’s Neolithic and Cycladic (Bronze Age) periods. Established in 2000, the museum houses a remarkable collection of artifacts from the ancient city of Akrotiri – the renowned “Pompeii of the Aegean” – a Bronze Age settlement preserved under thick layers of volcanic ash following the catastrophic Theran eruption some 3,600 years ago.

Among the museum’s many highlights are the exquisitely preserved frescoes, which provide insights into the art, culture, and daily life of the settlement. The “Spring Fresco” and the “Blue Monkeys” fresco are particularly notable for their vivid colors and dynamic scenes. Additionally, the museum features an extensive collection of pottery, marble figurines, the plaster casts of wooden furniture, various household items, and a number of metal tools and weapons, neatly illustrating the advanced craftsmanship and aesthetic sensibilities of the city’s inhabitants. Keep your eyes peeled for the golden ibex (or “aegagros” – Cretan wild goat) figurine, unearthed by archaeologists in 1999; an object that may have held religious significance or symbolism.

 

How to Get There: The museum is located in the heart of Fira, Santorini’s capital. It is easily accessible by foot if you’re staying in Fira or by bus or taxi from other parts of the island.  

Visiting Hours: The museum is open daily from 08:30-19:30 Monday, 08:30 to 15:30 Wednesday-Sunday, closed on Tuesdays. Check the official website for any updates or changes in opening hours.

Info

Museum of Prehistoric Thera

Fira, Santorini 

 

Tel. (+30) 22860.254.05

Archaeological Museum of Naxos (Naxos)

The Archaeological Museum of Naxos, located in the island’s main town (Hora), is an important institution preserving the rich history and cultural heritage of Naxos and and the so-called Little Cyclades complex (Schoinoussa, Donoussa, Koufonissia, Keros-Daskalio, Iraklia). Housed in a former Jesuit school dating back to the 17th century, the museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts spanning from the Late Neolithic period to early Christian times.

Key highlights include the Early Cycladic figurines from the 3rd millennium BC, renowned for their abstract, minimalist aesthetic. Also on display is an outstanding collection of Mycenaean pottery, showcasing the intricate designs and advanced ceramic techniques of the Late Bronze Age – look out for the vase found at the Aplomata cemetery decorated with a striking octopus design. The museum also features an array of golden jewelry, tools, and everyday objects that provide insight into the daily lives and technological advancements of Naxos’ ancient inhabitants.

 

How to Get There: The Archaeological Museum is located in the Kastro area of Hora. It is within walking distance from the port and other major attractions in the town.  

Visiting Hours: Open from 09:00 to 14:00, closed on Tuesdays. It’s advisable to confirm the hours on the website prior to your visit.

Info

Archaeological Museum of Naxos

Castle of Naxos, Hora, Naxos

 

Tel. (+30) 22850.227.25

Byzantine Museum of Paros (Paros)

The Byzantine Museum of Paros, located in Parikia, the island’s capital, is an important cultural institution that preserves priceless artifacts from the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine periods. Housed within the church complex of Ekatontapiliani (also known as the “Church of a Hundred Doors”), the small museum provides a rich overview of the island’s religious and artistic heritage from the 4th to the 18th century. The church was built on the foundations of an earlier church, purportedly founded by Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great (ruled 306–337), during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the early-mid 4th century.

One of the main highlights of the museum is its extensive collection of rare icons from the 17th and 18th centuries. These religious images, painted on wood or crafted in mosaic, showcase the artistic styles and religious fervor of the Byzantine era. The icons feature depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, and scenes from the Bible, illustrating the island’s deep-rooted Christian traditions.

 

The museum also houses a variety of ecclesiastical objects, including chalices, vestments, and crosses, highlighting the craftsmanship and intricate designs typical of Byzantine liturgical objects.

How to Get There: The museum is located in Parikia, within the Panagia Ekatontapiliani complex. It is easily accessible by foot from the port and other central areas. 

Visiting Hours: Open daily from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 17:00 to 21:00.

Info

Byzantine Museum of Paros

Tel. (+30) 22840.212.43

Folklore Museum of Mykonos (Mykonos)

The Folklore Museum of Mykonos, located in the main town of Mykonos (Hora), offers a captivating glimpse into the island’s rich cultural and social history. Established by Professor Vasilios Kyriazopoulos in 1958, the small museum is situated in a traditional 18th-century sea captain’s house (the grandfather of the collection’s founder), and showcases a diverse collection of artifacts that reflect the daily life and heritage of Mykonos in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

Among the museum’s main highlights is its extensive collection of maritime artifacts, including model ships, navigational instruments, and historical maps and photographs, highlighting the island’s long-standing relationship with the seafaring and trade. The museum also features a variety of household items, such as antique furniture, kitchenware, and tools, which provide insight into the domestic life of Mykonian families in the past.

 

Additionally, visitors can explore various rooms that have been preserved to replicate the interiors of typical Mykonian homes, offering a tangible experience of the island’s architectural and cultural history.

How to Get There: The museum is located in the Kastro area, close to the famous Paraportiani Church. It is easily accessible on foot from anywhere in Mykonos Town. 

Visiting Hours: Typically 10:00 to 16:00 Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. For more information, visit the website

Info

Folklore Museum of Mykonos

Kastro, Mykonos

 

Tel. (+30) 22890.262.81

The Aegean Maritime Museum (Mykonos)

Staying Mykonos, the Aegean Maritime Museum, also located in the town of Hora, is arguably one of the better maritime museums on the Greek islands. Established in 1985 by the Mykonian ship owner Georgios Drakopoulos, the museum is situated in a traditional 19th century Cycladic building, in the neighborhood of Tria Pigadia (“Three Wells”). It offers visitors an extensive collection of maritime artifacts and exhibits that illustrate the historical significance of merchant seafaring in the Aegean region, from the early Minoan period to the beginning of the 20th century.

One of the main highlights of the museum is its collection of model ships, which spans various historical periods. These detailed models provide insight into the evolution of shipbuilding techniques and the design of different types of vessels. The museum also features a variety of navigational instruments, maps, and charts, as well as traditional maritime tools and equipment, including anchors, ship parts, and fishing gear. 

 

The museum has also restored the Armenistis Lighthouse, constructed in 1890 and decommissioned in 1983, which stands in the adjacent garden.

How to Get There: The museum is located in the center of Hora, a 4-minute walk away from Fabrika central bus station. It is easily accessible on foot from anywhere in the town.  

Visiting Hours: Open from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 18:00 to 21:00, April through October, closed Mondays. 

Info

10 Enoplon Dinameon, Hora, Mykonos

Tel. (+30) 22890.227.00

Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli (Syros)

The Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli, located in the captial of Syros, offers a fascinating exploration of the island’s rich industrial heritage from the 18th to the mid-20th century. Established in 2002, the museum is housed in three restored factories that once formed part of Ermoupolis’ thriving industrial sector – a paint factory, a buckshot factory, and a tannery.

Key highlights of the museum include an extensive collection of over 300 well-preserved machinery and tools from various industries, such as textile manufacturing, tanning, shipbuilding, loukoumi-making, food packaging, and printing (look out for the traditional printing presses and typesetting equipment). There is also a large collection of photos, maps, and architectural designs that show the flourishing of neoclassical architecture on Syros, as Ermoupoli established itself as one of the largest and most important commercial hubs in the Aegean.

 

One of the most intriguing exhibits is an early electric car, the two-seater battery-electric Enfield 8000, a British car that was first introduced in 1973 and later produced on Syros.

How to Get There: The museum is located in the Miaouli Square area of Ermoupolis, the island’s capital. It is easily accessible by foot from the port and other central locations. 

Visiting Hours: Check for the latest information on the website before visiting.

Info

Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli

11 Georgiou Papandreou, Ermoupoli, Syros

 

Tel. (+30) 22810.847.62 or 22810.812.43

Museum of Marble Crafts (Tinos)

Located in Pyrgos on the island of Tinos, the Museum of Marble Crafts is a unique institution dedicated to the art and history of marble craftsmanship. Opened in 2008, the museum is part of Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation and showcases the rich tradition of marble carving that has been a hallmark of Tinos for centuries.

The museum’s permanent exhibition features an extensive collection of marble sculptures and artifacts, ranging from secular and ecclesiastical to funerary and everyday objects, including door lintels, fountains, family crests, corbels, shrines, and mortars). The museum also features detailed exhibits on the techniques and tools used in marble carving. Visitors can learn about the entire process, from quarrying the marble to the intricate finishing touches applied by master craftsmen. The display of traditional tools, such as chisels, mallets, and compasses, offers insight into the manual labor and expertise required to create marble artworks.

 

Interactive displays and award-winning multimedia presentations further enhance the understanding of marble crafting techniques and the island’s marble heritage. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and demonstrations by local craftsmen, fostering a deeper appreciation for this ancient art form.

How to Get There: The museum is located in Pyrgos, one of Tinos’ most picturesque villages. It is accessible by bus or taxi from Hora (26km).  

Visiting Hours: Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00, closed Tuesdays. Check the museum’s website or contact them directly for the most current information.

Info

Museum of Marble Crafts 

Pirgos, Panormos, Tinos

 

Tel. (+30) 22830.312.90

The Museum of Contemporary Art (Andros)

Inaugurated on July 28, 1979, the Museum of Contemporary Art on Andros was the first modern art museum in Greece. Established by the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, the museum aims to promote contemporary artistic expression and provide a platform for both Greek and international artists. 

One of the main highlights of the museum is its impressive permanent collection, which includes works by prominent Greek artists such as Yannis Tsarouchis, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, and Dimitris Mytaras. These artworks represent various styles and movements, showcasing the diversity and richness of modern Greek art. The museum also houses works by Andriot sculptor Michalis Tombros, which he had bequeathed to his home island.

 

Aside from its permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions featuring renowned international artists. Past exhibitions have included works by influential figures such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque. Another significant aspect of the museum is its focus on contemporary sculpture. The outdoor sculpture garden features works by notable sculptors, providing a dynamic and engaging environment for visitors to explore modern three-dimensional art.

In addition to its exhibitions, the museum is active in educational and cultural activities, organizing workshops, lectures, and guided tours.

How to Get There: The museum is located in the center of Hora. It is easily accessible by foot from other central attractions.  

Visiting Hours: Open 11:00 to 15:00 and from 18:00 to 21:00 Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 to 15:00 on Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays. Check the museum’s website for current information and any seasonal variations.

Info

The Museum of Contemporary Art 

Basil and Elise Goulandris Street

 

Hora, Andros

Tel. (+30) 22820.224.44



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