Ministry extends opening hours of sites, museums in spring and autumn

With more than 18.5 million tourists expected to visit Greece this year, topping record arrivals in 2013, the Culture Ministry has moved ahead with the long-awaited extension of opening hours at museums and archaeological sites.

Starting on April 1, 33 of the country’s 117 gated sites and museums are to remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week – hours usually reserved for the summer season and on fewer days, as well as limited to a smaller number of attractions.

Tourism experts have for years urged authorities to extend visiting hours not just in the summer, but also in spring and autumn – when lower temperatures make sightseeing more attractive – in a bid to lengthen the tourism season. The plan is to maintain the longer schedule until the end of October, boosting autumn arrivals.

Last year, 17.8 million people came to Greece on holiday and around 12 million of them visited its archaeological sites and museums, according to official figures.

The 33 sites and museums that were selected to operate longer hours starting in spring account for 95 percent of these visits and include emblematic attractions such as the Parthenon in Athens, Ancient Olympia in the Peloponnese, Knossos in Crete, the royal tombs in Thessaloniki and Akrotiri in Santorini.

Ministry officials, meanwhile, are due to discuss improving services such as e-ticketing and amenities at key sites and museums.