Stockholm is sprawled across multiple islands offering so much culture, history, and natural scenery to explore. There are over one hundred different museums to see in Stockholm, most of which the average visitor won't have time to enjoy. Most international travelers only dedicate 2 days to visiting Stockholm, which doesn’t leave much time to visit many museums. Thankfully, one of the main islands in central Stockholm, Djurgarden, is home to many of the important museums. It is a great place to spend an entire day!
Given that I am a tour guide and I studied European history for my bachelor's degree, it comes as no surprise that I am history lover. In general, I enjoy visiting museums while I travel, often visiting a mix of art museums or history museums. Stockholm has such a wonderful variety of museums, some with surprising themes, such as the Abba Museum or the Vasa Museum. Even non-history lovers can find a Stockholm Museum to enjoy!
8 Best Museums to Visit in Stockholm for History Lovers
Commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the early 17th century, the Vasa was a massive warship built as a symbol of Swedish naval power. Unfortunately, just a few minutes into its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, the Vasa capsized, largely due to design flaws, and sank in view of the Stockholm harbor.
For three centuries, the Vasa lay at the bottom of Stockholm's harbor, until it was rediscovered in the 1950s. An ambitious salvage operation took place between 1956 and 1961, successfully raising the well-preserved ship from its watery grave. Following extensive reconstruction efforts, the Vasa Museum opened its doors to the public in 1990.
Upon entering the Vasa Museum, you will immediately see the central exhibition – the imposing reconstructed ship – proudly displayed at the center of the vast hall. The ship stands fully rigged and adorned with beautifully carved sculptures, providing a rare and detailed glimpse into the grandeur of 17th-century naval architecture. The museum boasts several well-curated exhibits that offer in-depth insights into the Vasa's history, its construction, the salvage operation, and the life of the people who lived during that era. Engaging multimedia displays, artifacts, and interactive elements make the museum experience both informative and entertaining for visitors of all ages.
- Days of Operation: Daily 8:30am - 6pm
- Address: Galärvarvsvägen 14
- Website: http://www.vasamuseet.se/en
Established in 1873, the Nordiska Museum's stunning architecture reflects the traditional Scandinavian design, making it an impressive landmark in itself. It is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich history and heritage of Swedish life. This museum covers all kinds of cultural history from around the Nordic region, particularly ethnography, folklore, and cultural history.
I especially liked the folk art exhibit as well as the modern migration exhibit, which talked all about the current context of immigration in Europe. They've also got some cool fashion & jewelry from past decades (and centuries!) that are worth a visit. The exhibits are thoughtfully curated and cover a diverse range of topics, from traditional crafts and costumes to historical events and societal transformations.
- Days of Operation: Daily 10am - 5pm
- Address: Djurgårdsvägen 6-16
- Website: http://www.nordiskamuseet.se/en
The pride of Sweden gets its own museum! I find it endearing how proud the Swedes are of their most famous band, and I couldn’t resist a chance to visit. The ABBA Museum boasts a modern and stylish design, befitting the fame and global impact of the legendary group. As you enter, you are greeted with the unmistakable sounds of ABBA's greatest hits, setting the stage for an engaging and nostalgic experience.
The museum is sort of like ABBA personified in a place – energetic, lively, colorful. The museum offers an array of interactive exhibits and its upbeat vibe will have you perked up in no time. You'll wander through the band's history, highlights of their tours and music videos, and get up close and personal with their wardrobe. The group's iconic outfits, such as the glitzy, sequined costumes from their Eurovision-winning performance, are on full display, allowing fans to see them up close and appreciate the dazzling creativity of their wardrobe.
You'll even get a chance to sing with ABBA (or at least the digital version of the band). It's a silly and light-hearted museum that only takes about an hour to explore. Plus the bar in front offers decent cocktails at the end of your visit!
- Days of Operation: Daily 10am - 8pm
- Address: Djurgårdsvägen 68
- Website: http://www.abbathemuseum.com/
Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen holds the distinction of being the world's oldest open-air museum. This living history museum offers visitors a journey through the rich cultural heritage and rural traditions of Sweden. Think of it as a mini (as in compact, not miniature) version of Sweden, where you can walk through the different regions' history, cuisine and culture. Skansen sprawls over a vast area, allowing visitors to explore different historical periods and traditional Swedish landscapes in one place. You don't really need an itinerary here, it's fun to just explore.
One of the most captivating aspects of Skansen is its collection of authentic historical structures meticulously reconstructed from various parts of Sweden. The buildings, ranging from farmhouses and cottages to manor houses and craftsmen's workshops, have been carefully relocated and preserved to represent different periods and architectural styles in Swedish history.
You'll also encounter costumed interpreters, portraying characters from different historical eras, who skillfully bring the past to life. These knowledgeable guides engage visitors with fascinating stories and demonstrations of traditional crafts, farming techniques, and domestic activities, offering an interactive and educational experience.
- Days of Operation: Daily 10am - 6pm
- Address: Djurgårdsslätten 49-51
- Website: http://www.skansen.se/en
It’s not every day that you find a museum dedicated entirely to photography, but in Stockholm, it’s possible! Fotografiska is an award-winning contemporary photography museum that has garnered international acclaim for its dedication to showcasing the art of photography in all its diverse forms. You can't beat the location of this modern warehouse turned museum -- it's right on the shore and has stunning city views.
Fotografiska only features photography exhibitions, which rotate throughout the year. The museum's mission is to promote and celebrate photography as an expressive and influential art form. Its exhibitions feature the works of both established photographers and emerging talents, providing a platform for artists from around the world to share their perspectives and narratives through the lens. At any given time, there are about 6-8 different galleries and it will take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to walk through.
Stepping into Fotografiska is like entering a realm of visual storytelling. The curated exhibitions are thoughtfully presented and cover a wide range of themes, styles, and techniques. During my visit, there was an incredibly moving show from Nick Brandt called "Inherit the Dust" featuring photos of environmental destruction in East Africa, as well as a lively exhibit about Greta Garbo. Visitors can explore powerful photojournalism that captures the human condition, fine art photography that provokes thought and emotion, and conceptual photography that challenges conventional boundaries.
- Days of Operation: Daily from 10am - 11pm
- Address: Stadsgårdshamnen 22
- Website: http://fotografiska.eu/
The Royal Palace, or Kungliga Slottet, is an exquisite architectural marvel that serves as the official residence of the Swedish Royal Family. If you're into palaces, this one is pretty impressive and grand. It is one of the largest in Europe that is open to the public.
Built in the mid-18th century on the site of a former medieval castle, the Royal Palace is an impressive blend of Baroque and Rococo styles. It features stunning facades, intricate sculptures, and a beautiful courtyard that greets visitors with a regal ambiance as they approach. Visitors to the Royal Palace can explore a variety of opulent rooms and halls that have been impeccably preserved, each showcasing the splendor and elegance befitting the residence of royalty.
Notable spaces to explore include the Royal Apartments, with their lavish decor and exquisite furnishings, and the Hall of State, where official ceremonies and banquets are held. One of the main attractions is the Royal Chapel, known for its stunning interior and richly adorned altar. It is still used today for important royal events and ceremonies, adding a sense of living history to the experience. If you happen to be around at 12:30, you’ll have the chance to see the daily changing of the guards ceremony with a full military parade and music.
- Days of Operation: 10am - 5pm
- Address: Kungliga slottet, 107
- Website: http://fotografiska.eu/
Nobel Prize Museum
Dedicated to the legacy of Alfred Nobel, the visionary Swedish inventor, engineer, and scientist, the Nobel Prize Museum is an educational institution that pays tribute to the remarkable achievements of Nobel Prize laureates. The museum is situated in the heart of Stockholm's historic Gamla Stan (Old Town), making access quite easy.
One of the highlights of the museum is the impressive collection of interactive exhibits that creatively showcase the stories and achievements of Nobel Prize laureates. These immersive displays use modern technology to engage visitors with multimedia presentations, personal anecdotes, and video interviews, bringing the laureates' work and impact to life.
Throughout the museum, visitors can delve into the Nobel Prize categories, which include Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economic Sciences. Each category is thoughtfully curated to highlight the laureates' groundbreaking discoveries, humanitarian efforts, literary excellence, and contributions to economics.
- Days of Operation: Daily 10am - 7pm
- Address: Stortorget 2
- Website: https://nobelprizemuseum.se/
Calling all modern art lovers! The Moderna Museet is a world-renowned museum of modern and contemporary art, showcasing an impressive collection of modern masterpieces from the 20th century to the present day. Its stunning architecture alone is worth seeing. The minimalist design and large glass facades create a seamless connection between the museum's interior and the picturesque surroundings.
Once inside, you can view an exceptional array of modern and contemporary art, featuring artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, and Andy Warhol, among many others. The curatorial approach emphasizes innovation and artistic expression, inviting visitors to explore thought-provoking and challenging works that reflect the complexities of contemporary life. The museum continually updates its exhibitions, introducing new artists and addressing current themes, ensuring that each visit offers fresh and diverse perspectives on modern art.
- Days of Operation: Tuesday - Sunday 10am -6pm
- Address: Exercisplan 4
- Website: https://www.modernamuseet.se/stockholm/sv/
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