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Greek museums to open longer

- by Dabs Banner

Extended hours at major Greek historical sites.

Holiday visitors with an interest in the culture and history of Greece and the Greek Islands are in for a treat this year.

Following pressure from travel agents and holiday forms the Greek government has agreed to extend the opening hours of 33 major museums over the summer season in hopes of attracting even more visitors in 2014.

The move follows a sharp rise in visitors to museums across Greece and the Greek Islands last year with a 30% rise in tourist numbers visiting both museums and archaeological sites compared to 2012.

According to tourism watchers Greece is expected to welcome more than 18.5 million tourists this year following a record 10% rise in visitors numbers in 2013.

As a result the Greek Ministry of Culture has decided to extend the opening hours of 33 major museums and archaeological sites from April until late October in an attempt to attract more visitors.

The Acropolis Museum in Athens topped the table in terms of visitor numbers with 289,006 visitors followed by the National Archaeological Museum with 122,497 visits.

Other museums attracting big crowds were the Archaeological Museum of Olympia where visitors numbers were up nearly 90% and the Delphi Archaeological Museum which saw a 39% rise in visitors.

Figures from the Hellenic Statistical Authority shows the Acropolis in Athens was the most visited archaeological site but other top attractions included Mycenae Acropolis and Epidaurus.

But it is was the same story right across Greece and the Greek islands with numbers up everywhere and revenues from sales at museums and ancient sites rising nearly 23% to over 12 million.

Now the Greek Ministry of Culture is to set extended opening times at major sites from April 1 until the end of October. Tourists will be able to visit Greek museums and sites from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week to admire artefacts and finds of Greek civilization and culture.

Among the 33 museums and archaeological sites that will have extended opening hours are the Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Olympia in the Peloponnese, Knossos in Crete, the royal tombs of Vergina in northern Greece as well as Delos and Spinalonga islands, the Akrotiri site on Santorini and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

With record tourist arrivals expected in 2014 travel agents and tour companies have been urging the Greek authorities to extend opening hours.

Tourists will be able to take advantage of the good weather in Greece during spring and autumn and the move may well lead to a longer tourist season for the Greek Islands if visitor numbers continue to rise.