Museums in European Capital Cities to Escape Bad Weather
City Breaks are popular, during summer and also winter time to explore history, culture or cuisine. But sometimes it’s also nice to escape the outdoor exploration for a while and enjoy museum exhibitions.
In our blog post, we cover 7 European Capital Cities with amazing Museums and give you some background info and tips.
We show you museums for every taste, history museums, maritime museums, art museums, music museums, you name it.
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Cold or ugly outside?
Well, make yourself a hot cup of tea and enjoy today’s blog post which will drive cold thoughts away. It is about the top 7 capital cities in Europe that are great for a visit, not only during summer but especially when it’s rainy, windy or cold outside.
When it is uncomfortable outside, what qualifies better than awesome museums for a break from getting wet?
My best-of list here does not claim to be the complete list of all museums you can find in the below cities.
However, it presents some highlights that you should know – based on personal experience.
Alright, let’s jump into it – for each capital city I give you some highlights, an insider tip and a list of other very interesting museums.
LONDON – for art and science lovers
Everybody who has a bit more time when being in London should definitely visit the Victoria and Albert Museum (vam.ac.uk). It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Today, it is the world’s largest museum of art and design. With a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects and exhibitions in every medium, like architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, and much more.
If you like the Victoria and Albert Museum, you will also want to see the British Museum (britishmuseum.org) with another overwhelming collection about human history, art, and culture – ancient and modern. If you don’t manage to go through the whole collection of the British Museum, which for sure you won’t be able to do, then enjoy its online database of objects, which is the largest of all museums in the world (britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx).
You also won’t regret visiting the Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk) in London. The museums’ exhibitions cover five sections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. The variety of specimens is large. From the biggest mammals and dinosaur skeletons to collections by Charles Darwin. The downloadable visitor app (nhm.ac.uk/visit/visitor-app.html) helps you to navigate the galleries with an interactive map and gives information about the exhibitions.
Love the typical red double-decker buses of London? Well, the London Transport Museum (ltmuseum.co.uk) might be for you. It is about horses, motor buses, trams, trolleybuses, railway, … Just follow the chronologically laid out galleries with their models and understand the evolution of transportation in London from prehistoric to the present. It is really fun!
More Top Museums in London
Museum of London. History of London from prehistoric to the present. museumoflondon.org.uk
Science Museum. Devoted to science and its biggest inventions. sciencemuseum.org.uk
Natural Gallery. Art museum. Mid-13th century to 1900. nationalgallery.org.uk
Tate Modern. International modern and contemporary art. tate.org.uk
Wellcome Collection. Unusual mixture of medical artifacts and artworks. wellcomecollection.org
Design Museum. Product, industrial, graphic, fashion, and architectural design. designmuseum.org
STOCKHOLM – for maritime fans and families
If you happen to be in Stockholm, don’t miss visiting the Vasa Museum(vasamuseet.se). You have the chance to see a 69 meter-long Swedish warship that foundered in Stockholm in 1628. After 333 years, the ship was salvaged in 1961. Today, Vasa is the world’s only preserved 17th-century ship. Several exhibitions around the ship, telling about life on board, make the visit an unforgettable experience.
The Nobel Museum (nobelcenter.se) is another one-of-a-kind museum in Stockholm. As you can guess, its exhibition is about the Nobel Prize and the awardees from 1901 to present. You learn interesting things about the founder of the prize, Alfred Nobel. Short films and original exhibits make you explore the work and the ideas that changed the world!
The island of Djurgården is a great place if you are in Stockholm together with your kids. If your kids like the children’s books of Astrid Lindgren, they will love the Story Train in the Junibacken Museum (junibacken.se) on Djurgården. The journey through the world of the fairy tales and stories of Astrid Lindgren is translated into 15 different languages. You need to be 15 years old to be able to take the Storybook Train on your own.
ABBA The Museum (abbathemuseum.com) in Stockholm is for everybody who feels like having a revival of wonderful memories of the Swedish band ABBA. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
More Top Museums in Stockholm
Skansen. World’s oldest open-air museum. skansen.se
Moderna Museet. Modern art. modernamuseet.se
Fotografiska. Contemporary photography. fotografiska.eu
Swedish History Museum. World’s largest Viking exhibits. historiska.se
Nordiska Museet. Life in Sweden from the 16th century to the present. nordiskamuseet.se
National Museum. Art museum Middle Ages to the present. nationalmuseum.se
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Let’s continue our tour of European Capital Cities with amazing museums and move further south to Austria.
VIENNA – for music and history fans
Vienna is definitely a great place for classical music lovers. If this is your thing, I recommend visiting Haus der Musik (hausdermusik.com). This interactive sound museum with it’s more than 5000 m2 of exhibition space is overwhelming. In a unique way, it presents information about great composers of classical music, the history of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a sound gallery, and much more.
If you are more in natural history than music, no problem. Spend some time in the great Natural History Museum (nhm-wien.ac.at) in Vienna. With its 39 exhibit halls, it is one of the largest non-university research centers in Austria. Highlights are for sure the Venus of Willendorf (29,500-year-old) and the collection of meteorites. The museum even has a Planetarium. Definitely worth spending some hours.
Feel like continuing with history? Maybe with the history of the Habsburg royalties? If you are not afraid of gravesites, I advise you to go to the Imperial Crypt – also called Capuchin Crypt (
After visiting Franz Joseph’s sarcophagus in the Imperial Crypt, you might want to know more about the attempt on his life. If so, enjoy the extraordinary exhibition in the Crime Museum (wien.kriminalmuseum.at) in Vienna. Learn about the
More top museums in Vienna
The Museum of Art History. Primary art collections are the Habsburgs collections. khm.at
Mozarthaus Vienna. Mozart’s residence between 1784 and 1787.
Leopold Museum. Large collection of modern Austrian art. leopoldmuseum.org
Belvedere Palace and Museum. Baroque palace and garden. Collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present. belvedere.at
Albertina. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs. Old masterpieces and modern works. printsalbertina.at
Schönbrunn Palace. Baroque palace. Summer residence of Habsburg monarchs. schoenbrunn.at
Sisi Museum. Exhibit about the life of Elisabeth of Bavaria (“Sisi“).
AMSTERDAM – for all taste and ages
If you think about European Capital Cities and Museums, Amsterdam has to be on your list. The city has many famous museums that offer a wide range of exhibitions.
The Dutch national museum, the Rijksmuseum (rijksmuseum.nl) is the largest art museum in The Netherlands and a must-see in Amsterdam for everybody who is into arts. It exhibits arts from 1200 to 2000. You can admire more than 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Works from Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals. If you want to plan your visit properly, I advise you to use the Rijksstudio web platform (rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio). It provides you with a large collection of high-resolution images from masterpieces. You can choose the artworks or details of the artworks you like, and save it to your Rijkstudio account. Make your own creation from a work of art!
Another unique museum in Amsterdam is a place that you probably know from a book – Anne Frank’s diary. Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution in hidden rooms of a house on a canal called Prinsengracht. Today, it is a museum called the Anne Frank House (annefrank.org). You see the rear extension of the building where Anne’s family and four other people went into hiding. A great way to prepare yourself for the museum is to use the available apps ‘Anne Frank Stories‘ and ‘Anne Frank Stories for young people‘ (annefrank.org/en/Museum/Mobile-devices/App-Anne-Frank-Stories).
If you rather prefer some hands-on science experience, and you want to spend a great afternoon with your kids, go to the NEMO Science Museum (nemosciencemuseum.nl). The exhibitions are very diverse. They are about life in the Universe, energy, construction, machines, etc.. The highlight is a show with a large chain reaction circuit. An exhibition area where you find out what it means when you place an order for a product that should be delivered. You operate robots, assemble the product, and prepare for shipment. Finally, do some science experiments, like inspecting DNA, in a science lab.
In which city in the world would you expect to find a sex museum? Yep, in Amsterdam. Its full name is Sex Museum – The temple of Venus(sexmuseumamsterdam.nl). Enjoy exploring the different rooms that come with different names, like Oscar Wilde, Marquise de Pompadour, …
If you visit Amsterdam, but want to explore the surrounding as well, get inspired by our post about
7 Places to see around Amsterdam – a day-trip gem list
More top museums in Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum. Works of Vincent van Gogh. vangoghmuseum.nl
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Modern art, contemporary art, and design. stedelijk.nl
Rembrandt House Museum. Rembrandt lived in the house between 1639 and 1656. rembrandthuis.nl
Foam. Photography museum with varying exhibitions. oam.org
Tropenmuseum. Ethnographic museum. tropenmuseum.nl
National Maritime Museum. Maritime Museum. hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl
OSLO – for seafaring and Viking fans
My top tips for Oslo are all located on the Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo and are for people who like stories about expeditions and adventure.
Let’s start with the Fram Museum (ammuseum.no). This museum is about Norwegian polar exploration. It focuses on the polar explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the original exploration ship Fram. This ship was used in expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic by the before-mentioned explorers between 1893 and 1912. You can go inside the Fram and take a look at the cabins and other rooms.
Just a few minutes drive from the Fram Museum leads you to the Viking Ship Museum(khm.uio.no/besok-oss/vikingskipshuset). If you are into Viking, you probably don’t want to miss this great museum. It shows you
Also on the Bygdøy peninsula, you find the Kon-Tiki Museum (kon-tiki.no). It is about Thor Heyerdahl, another famous Norwegian explorer. He crossed the Pacific Ocean on the raft Kon-Tiki. The museum shows the Kon-Tiki and other vessels he used during his expeditions. In the main exhibition, there are also special storylines for children.
If you want to learn everything about skiing, then go to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum (skiforeningen.no/en/holmenkollen/skimuseet). It is a unique place describing 4000 years of ski history. Don’t miss going all the way up to the jump tower. You’ll have a stunning view of Oslo.
More top museums in Oslo
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. Collections of artifacts about Norwegian History. norskfolkemuseum.no
Norwegian Maritime Museum. Norwegian maritime cultural heritage. marmuseum.no
Munch Museum. Works of the Norwegian Edvard Munch. munchmuseet.no
Vigeland Museum. Works by Gustav Vigeland. Behind the museum is the famous Vigeland Sculpture Park.
PARIS – for art enthusiasts
Without question, if you are in Paris, the Louvre (www.louvre.fr) is the number-one museum to go to. It shows works from prehistoric to the 21st century. The exhibitions are organized in eight sections: Egyptian Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan Antiquities, Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, and Decorative Arts. In addition, the Louvre has a series of temporary showrooms each season. Top highlights are Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, or the Venus de Milo – just to mention a tiny fraction of the overwhelming exhibition. Downloadable audio guides are available for different devices, like for Nintendo 3DSTM XL (louvre.fr/en/museum-audio-guide) as well as for iPhone and Android (louvre.fr/en/new-app).
If you rather prefer modern art, don’t miss a visit to The National Museum of Modern Art (mam.paris.fr) which is housed in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. It was the first European museum for modern and contemporary art that was devoted to works of living artists. Today, it has the second largest collection of modern and contemporary art after the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
To bridge the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art, the Musée d’Orsay (musee-orsay.fr) was built. Its exhibitions focus on the second half of 19th century. It is housed in a former railway station, the former Gare d’Orsay. The beautiful building itself is worth visiting the museum. The former railway station was finished in time for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Today’s showrooms are filled with masterpieces from Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
If you are into Asian art, you have to visit Pagoda Paris (pagodaparis.com), a small museum for Chinese and Asian art and antiques. The building was originally constructed as a hotel and then transformed into the Pagoda. Under the guidance of
More top museums in Paris
Centre Georges Pompidou. Houses the Public Information Library, the National Museum of Modern Art, and a center for music and acoustic research. centrepompidou.fr
Grand Palais. Museum complex built for the Universal Exposition of 1900. Changing art exhibitions. grandpalais.fr
Musée de l’Orangerie. Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. musee-orangerie.fr
Musée de Cluny. Medieval artifacts. musee-moyenage.fr
Musée Picasso. Works of Pablo Picasso. museepicassoparis.fr
Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. Indigenous art of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. quaibranly.fr
Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Museum of decorative arts and design. lesartsdecoratifs.fr
BERLIN – for archeological treasure hunters
In Berlin, you have the chance to see historic treasures with your own eyes. The museums introduced here as the top three, are all located on the Museum Island.
Take your time and enjoy your visit to the Pergamon Museum(smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/pergamonmuseum/home.html). It is organized into three sections, i.e. the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. The museum houses buildings like the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, and the Market Gate of Miletus. If you want to check out a virtual tour through the museum, take a look at Google Arts & Culture (google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/partner/pergamonmuseum-staatliche-museen-zu-berlin).
The Neues Museum (smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/neues-museum/home.html), just around the corner of the Pergamon Museum, shows an extraordinary diversity of exhibits. It comprises the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and the Collection of Classical Antiquities. It is impossible to name particular highlights. The collections altogether speak for themselves.
Finally, the Altes Museum (smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/altes-museum/home.html) completes your journey through
The DDR Museum (ddr-museum.de) is a great interactive museum to visit – also with the whole family. It tells the history of the DDR using numerous original artifacts. Visitors are encouraged to touch and interact with the objects to experience everyday life in former East Germany. A highlight is a simulated drive in an original Trabant.
More top museums in Berlin
Deutsches Historisches Museum. German history. dhm.de
Alte Nationalgalerie. Romantic and Impressionist masterpieces. smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/alte-nationalgalerie/home.html
Bode Museum. Collections of sculptures, Byzantine art, and mintage. smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/bode-museum/home.html
Jewish Museum. German-Jewish history. jmberlin.de
Gemäldegalerie. European paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/gemaeldegalerie/home.html
German Spy Museum. Insights into espionage, methods of agents and secret services. deutsches-spionagemuseum.de
Still cold outside? But now you know where to go to for your next winter trip, right?
But of course, these are also great places to see during summer time, no doubt about it!
Do you have another city and its great museums in mind? Let us know in the comments. We are curious to hear about it.
Are you looking for even more inspiration or sights to visit in these or other cities? No problem, we’ve got you covered with mundolore mini travel guides.
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