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Top 10 museums of Sweden, from Vasa to Volvo Museum

Sweden is a Scandinavian nation with a rich history and cultural heritage. 

Its museums are windows into Sweden’s Viking past, royal dynasties, deep maritime roots, artistic achievements and more. 

From Viking relics to ABBA memorabilia, Sweden’s museums beautifully encapsulate the country’s cultural legacy and passion for education and preservation. 

A journey through its best museums offers an immersive dive into the histor

From Stockholm to Gothenburg, here are the top 10 museums you must visit when in Sweden:

#1 Vasa Museum (Stockholm)

The Vasa Museum is one of Sweden’s most popular attractions and an absolute must-see in Stockholm. 

It houses the world’s only almost fully intact 17th-century ship – the warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. 

The 69-meter-long ship was salvaged from the sea in 1961 and restored to her former glory. 

The museum allows visitors to admire the ornate decorations and experience the imposing size of the vessel. 

Guided tours, exhibits and short films detail the history of the Swedish Empire and the story behind the Vasa’s sinking and recovery.

#2 Skansen Open Air Museum (Stockholm)

Founded in 1891, Skansen was the first open-air museum in the world. 

This Stockholm museum aims to showcase Sweden’s traditional culture, architecture and history. 

It comprises around 150 historic buildings transported from across the country, including farmhouses, an old schoolhouse, a Sami camp and a 19th-century pharmacy. 

Costumed craftsmen do demonstrations at workshops. 

The Nordic Zoo recreates Sweden’s wildlife and houses native animals like grey seals, lynx, wolverines, reindeer and brown bears. 

Cultural displays like folk dance and music performances are also held.

#3 Royal Armoury (Stockholm)

Part of the royal palace complex in Stockholm, the Royal Armoury holds unique treasures that offer insights into Sweden’s royal history. 

The museum displays a collection of royal regalia worn by kings, queens and nobles at coronations and other ceremonial occasions since the 16th century. 

Some highlights include ornate crowns, scepters and orbs, ceremonial swords, coaches, and royal costumes like King Gustav II Adolf’s buff coat.

Many artifacts reflect the influence of Renaissance and Baroque art. Guided tours in English provide a deeper understanding.

#4 Fotografiska Museum (Stockholm)

Fotografiska is a modern photography museum housed in a historical Art Nouveau building in Stockholm. 

Opened in 2010, it features three to four temporary exhibitions at one-time showcasing works by world-renowned photographers and emerging talent. 

Previous exhibitions covered themes like fashion, nature, news and war photography featuring photographers like David LaChapelle, Sarah Moon and Roger Ballen. 

Fotografiska boasts a waterfront location with a popular cafe, lounge, restaurant and events spaces. 

Photography classes, workshops, tours and artist talks are also held regularly.

#5 Swedish History Museum (Stockholm)

Located opposite the Royal Palace, this museum offers a comprehensive overview of Swedish history and culture from the Stone Age to modern times. 

Its permanent exhibitions show artifacts, paintings, reconstructions and multimedia displays.

It depicts themes like the Vikings, the Middle Ages, life in the Nordic region, folk art traditions and cultural diversity in Sweden. 

Temporary displays cover recent archaeological findings and contemporary topics. 

The museum occupies two buildings – the Baroque-style main building from 1692 and a modern annex connected via an atrium. 

#6 Volvo Museum (Gothenburg)

The Volvo Museum in Gothenburg documents the history and evolution of Volvo – one of Sweden’s most iconic brands. 

The collection comprises around 25 vehicles from 1927 to the newest models and prototypes, engines and concept cars. 

Interactive multimedia displays, images and films showcase Volvo’s journey from its origin as a bearing manufacturer to a world-leading automaker. 

The museum highlights Volvo’s focus on safety, environment and Scandinavian design. 

Visitors can learn about groundbreaking innovations like the three-point safety belt and cruise control, introduced first in Volvo cars.

#7 Universeum (Gothenburg)

Universeum is an expansive science center in Gothenburg ideal for families. 

Its goal is to inspire learning about nature, technology and science through hands-on discovery. 

The huge complex incorporates Sweden’s largest aquarium with sharks, reptiles, a rainforest environment with free-flying birds and diverse marine life. 

Interactive science exhibits tailored for children cover topics like chemistry, astronauts, genetics and the senses.

A thrilling planetarium offers space shows using advanced visualizations. Universeum also hosts events, camps and educator training.

#8 National Maritime Museums (Stockholm)

Located on Stockholm’s island of Djurgården, this museum complex recounts Sweden’s maritime history and culture. 

It comprises several sections like the Vasa Museum, Aquaria Water Museum, Typhoon simulator and vintage ships. 

At the Maritime Museum, visitors can admire ship models and artifacts from the Viking era to modern times. 

The Neptune sculpture from the 1670s serves as the official symbol of the museum. 

The museum shop offers maritime-inspired souvenirs and gifts. Guided tours, educational activities for kids and events like lectures and readings are also organized.

#9 ABBA Museum (Stockholm)

No trip to Sweden is complete without visiting the ABBA Museum, dedicated to Sweden’s most famous pop band. 

This museum lets fans relive ABBA’s journey to stardom and musical legacy using interactive exhibits. 

Hear their greatest hits and view memorabilia like glitzy costumes worn by the band. 

Record your own versions of hit songs in a professional studio and dance on a replica of the stage from their triumphant tours. 

An immersive experience transports visitors back to 1974 when the band won Eurovision, launching them to fame. 

This is a joyful celebration of Sweden’s iconic pop music export.

#10 Nationalmuseum (Stockholm)

Nationalmuseum
Image: Swedentips.se

The premier museum of art and design in Sweden, Nationalmuseum houses the country’s largest collection of fine art showcasing 15th to 18th-century European works.

Located in central Stockholm, the museum’s highlights include The Parable of the Blind by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and paintings by Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas and Goya.

Its impressive collection of Swedish art features works by icons like Alexander Roslin and Anders Zorn. 

The sculpture hall with classical marble statues is another top attraction. 

After a five-year renovation, the newly restored National Museum reopened in 2018.

Featured Image: Casper Hildebrand on Unsplash

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