The 5+1 best museums in the Cyclades

Getting nerdy in the Greek islands

This summer you have planned an ideal holiday on a Greek island. There will be chilling at the beach, bars, walks… But there is also a side of you that won’t rest until you have learned everything about this new place: which god is this temple dedicated to, what kind of tools were they using on the island 90 years ago, WOW there’s also a prehistoric village??

“What? Mykonos has museums?”. Of course, it does! Mykonos and all the other islands of the Cyclades are full of history and art that are waiting for you to jump in and explore them.

On Ferryhopper, we have made a list of the 5+1 most interesting museums of all kinds that you can visit in the Cyclades:

Statue simulating a Cycladic figurine head in Parikia, Paros

Impressive statue simulating a Cycladic figurine head in Parikia, Paros

1. Museum of Marble Crafts, Tinos

Tinos has been famous for its marbles since ancient times. The Cycladic island’s rich marble reserves have contributed to the growth of marble quarries and crafts, especially after the 19th century. The marbles of Tinos have been used in important sites in Greece and worldwide, such as the Louvre and Buckingham Palace.

The Museum of Marble Crafts in the village of Pyrgos is the place to learn all about the technology of marble. In the museum’s indoor and outdoor areas, you can see authentic tools and mechanical equipment, marble works and objects, as well as audiovisual material on the craftsmen’s working methods. You can also find representations of a quarry and a marble-craft workshop.

Tip: the Tinos marble has also been the working material for one of the greatest modern Greek sculptors, Yannoulis Chalepas. The house of the marble sculptor from Tinos is also located in the village of Pyrgos and operates as a museum.

Rock with green marble reserve in Tinos

Rock with beautiful green marble in Tinos

2. Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli, Syros

The Industrial Museum of Ermoupoli is a special museum in the Cyclades, with impressive exhibits from the golden industrial era of Syros. The museum consists of 4 industrial buildings of the 19th century: the Kornilaki tannery, the Anairousi pellet factory, the Velissaropoulou weaving mill, and the Katsimanti paint factory.

The museum hosts a collection of tools, equipment and machinery from loukoumi, textile, tanning, printing, and glass workshops. It also has significant digital audio and visual archives, with testimonies from former workers, maps and plans.

The legendary Enfield 8000, the first electric car constructed in Greece, is among the museum’s most impressive exhibits, along with artifacts from the wreck of the Patrice steamship and a 3D representation of Syros’ industrial buildings.

 Large machinery for the construction and repair of vessels at the “Neorion”, Syros’ shipyard

The “Neorion” shipyard, a large industrial site in Syros

3. Museum of Prehistoric Thera, Santorini

The Museum of Prehistoric Thera is located in Fira, the capital of Santorini, and is a must-see sight if you are interested in the Cycladic prehistoric civilization. In this museum you can trace the history of Santorini in the prehistoric times, principally through findings that come from the Bronze-Age Akrotiri settlement.

The popular museum of the Cyclades includes various exhibits, mainly clay vessels and frescoes of exceptional art. Since August 2021, the museum’s second floor hosts the exhibition “Thera Wall Paintings: The Masterpieces of the Aegean Prehistory”, which presents frescoes from Thera (Santorini) the way they were unfolded in the rooms of the prehistoric settlement buildings where they were discovered.

Τhe facade of the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, the capital of Santorini

Τhe impressive Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, Santorini

4. Benettos Skiadas Museum of Cycladic Folklore, Paros

In the Aliki fishing village of Paros, you can visit one of the most original museums you have ever seen: a Cyclades folklore museum but… in a small-scale version! In the Museum of Cycladic Folklore, you will find miniature replicas of historical monuments of the Cyclades, ships and boats, and local everyday objects.

This museum is the result of folk artist Benettos Skiadas’s 30-year effort to immortalize the Cycladic tradition in miniature. Among his best works are: the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos, the Panagia Ekatontapiliani church in Paros, the Greek cruiser Elli from the First Balkan War, the lighthouse of Andros and the Antiparos Cave.

The Panagia Ekatontapiliani church in Paros

The imposing Panagia Ekatontapiliani church in Paros

5. Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros

The first contemporary art museum in Greece is located in Andros and is part of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation (similarly to its cousin-museum in Athens). The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chora, the island’s capital, operates in a beautiful building with modern installations that has received awards for its architectural design.

The museum hosts important works of the Greek contemporary art scene, by artists such as the sculptor Michalis Tombros, as well as from the personal collection of the Goulandris couple. In its New Wing, the museum has curated exhibitions with works by emblematic artists of the 19th and the 20th century, including Matisse, Kandinsky, Klee, Chagall, Rodin, Picasso, Braque, Mirό, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc.

Good to know: in summer 2022, the Museum of Contemporary Art will remain open from the 3rd of July to the 2nd of October. In this year’s periodic exhibition you can see works of the Greek sculptor Alexandra Athanassiades.

Worn-out painted walls of abandoned hotel in Chora, the capital of Andros

Art in unexpected places: abandoned hotel in the Chora of Andros

+1 Aegean Maritime Museum, Mykonos

The Aegean Maritime Museum operates in Chora, the capital of Mykonos. Its goal is to maintain, study and promote the Greek maritime history and tradition of the Aegean. Among the museum’s exhibits, you can find models of ships from the pre-Minoan period to the early 20th century, historical shipping documents, rare maps, navigational instruments, equipment and tools, etc.

A must-see highlight in the museum’s garden is the old mechanism of the Armenistis Lighthouse of Mykonos, one of the biggest lighthouses in the Aegean, constructed in 1890. Moreover, if you are interested in the history of the Greek Revolution of 1821, in the Maritime Museum you will find lots of relative material, such as medals, portraits of war leaders and the authentic Kuchuk-Kainarji Treaty.

Tip: right next to the Aegean Maritime Museum, you can find Lena’s House, an authentic Mykonos house of the 19th century operating as a folklore museum, which is definitely worth visiting.

The Armenistis Lighthouse of Mykonos

The imposing Armenistis Lighthouse of Mykonos

Ready to learn all about the Cyclades’ history and enjoy some beautiful art? Choose your favorite island and museum, and book cheap ferry tickets on Ferryhopper, with no hidden fees!