Sweden’s sophisticated capital is teeming with culture, meaning you’ll never be far from one of the best museums in Stockholm.
Covering everything from the country’s most famous exports—Eurovision-friendly pop music, minimalistic design, and Viking myth—to thought-provoking, forward-thinking collections, the city’s cultural institutions offer a diverse insight into the Swedish way of life.
Whether you’re keen on karaoke, prefer photography, or revel in royalty, these are Stockholm’s best museums to visit.
Some 280 years before the Titanic’s tragic demise, a magnificent Swedish warship set out on a similarly fateful maiden voyage. However, unlike the “Unsinkable Ship,” the Vasa’s destiny was delivered by forceful winds rather than an iceberg.
Just 4,000 feet into her inaugural sailing, the gun-heavy galleon toppled, sinking to the bottom of Stockholm’s harbor. There it remained, hidden in plain sight, until salvation work commenced in 1956.
Now the Vasa stands proud again—albeit a little more weathered—inside a custom-built space on Djurgården island. A vast waterfront attraction, it’s regarded as not only one of the best museums in Stockholm but all of Scandinavia.
Thanks to the icy Baltic Sea’s low saline waters, the ship’s intricate wooden carvings have remained in impressive condition, with figurines and features still discernible.
While you can’t enter the ship’s hull, circling the vessel to admire the lion-featuring figurehead and other decorations up close is rather remarkable.
Further exhibition spaces expand on the ship’s story, including interactive presentations on the craft’s flotation and its mighty collection of cannons.
While many would say that the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan—the picturesque Old Town of this European capital city—are an alfresco gallery, the city’s dedicated open-air museum, Skansen, is equally as enchanting.
Established in 1891, Skansen was the world’s first open-air museum. An expansive space encompassing farmsteads, a zoo, typical homes, and traditional costumes, the museum provides a deep dive into Sweden’s customs and culture through a more “lived” experience.
As you ramble through the wildlife park spotting “Nordic locals” such as moose and reindeer, ride the funicular to the farmstead, or embark on a tour through a typical aged home, you’ll gain a better understanding of Swedish history.
Joining a guided tour of the European museum will add another layer to your visit, as a costumed guide will take you on a journey through Sweden’s past, sprinkled with myth, tales, and personality.
Fotografiska was founded in 2010 with the mission to be at the forefront of contemporary photography.
With outposts opening in New York, Tallinn, and (soon to be) Berlin in the years since, there’s no denying that the museum has kept its pulse-keeping promise.
Set waterside in the trendy Södermalm district, the museum-cum-gallery’s stage is a former Customs Office, the industrial exterior playing down the often kaleidoscopic collections housed within.
Proud of its genre-defying shows, Fotografiska celebrates myriad styles. The ever-changing exhibitions are eclectic, from storytelling photo essays and emerging artist talks to provocative commentary and playful portraits.
Beyond the exhibits, the museum’s restaurant, bistro, or cafe are worth a visit. While the latter is ideal for enjoying fika—the Swedish custom of coffee, cake, and conversation—the sustainable plant-based restaurant is the real award-winner.
ABBA The Museum
For fans of the Eurovision Song Contest, there’s one headliner when deciding which of the best museums in Stockholm to visit: this fabulous space devoted to ABBA.
Since being crowned Eurovision winners in 1974, one of six victories for Sweden, the famous foursome have become household names far beyond their motherland. Immortalizing this stardom is ABBA The Museum, which has been welcoming superfans since 2013.
Far from being your typical museum, a visit will take you on a fully immersive journey through the band’s chart-topping career. Belt out their biggest hits in the singalong studio, become the Dancing Queen on stage, and step back to the ‘70s with a virtual dress-up photo shoot.
Of course, there’s also plenty of authentic memorabilia to marvel at, such as retro costumes, original instruments, and vinyl records; getting your boogie on is very much optional.
Sweden’s National Museum serves as the country’s premier art gallery. Housed in an impressive and purpose-built Italian Renaissance-style building, the splendid architecture is as compelling as the artworks.
Proudly hosting a 5,000-strong collection that includes Nordic and European connoisseurs, the museum abounds with classics from the 16th century. Following the exhibition’s chronological route, you’ll be taken on a timeline journey of artistic evolution, finishing with more contemporary pieces.
Highlights include Rodin’s sculpture work and Rembrandt’s canvases—including “Simeon in the Temple,” his final unfinished piece.
Home to an inconceivable 140,000 works, the city’s modern and contemporary art gallery has long been considered one of the best museums in Stockholm.
Moderna Museet is so celebrated—and laden with artworks—that a second outpost opened in Malmö, Sweden’s third city.
Understandably, with so many pieces, displaying them all simultaneously is impossible. Thus, a rotating thematic program is presented, while events such as artist talks and hands-on classes ensure Moderna remains a hub of imagination.
While particular attention is devoted to Nordic creatives—the collection covers all art forms, from paintings and photography to sculptures and surrealism—international works are also represented. The likes of Matisse, Picasso, and Dalí all get name-checks in the museum’s repertoire.
Another trove of design wonders is found in the shop, which sells small items and gifts by local artists. An excellent choice of design and art books, perfect for studying more about the Scandi design movement, is also available.
The Viking Museum
For an immersive introduction to the myths and realities of Vikings, venture to the warehouse-like Viking Museum on the Djurgårdsstrand promenade.
Behind the austere facade, a modern and interactive space will whisk you back to a land of legends. Inside, you’ll learn about Norse mythology and life’s daily struggles through video projections and visual storytelling, all delivered with cinematic flair and props.
While not all the artifacts on display are originals—the city’s history museum has a more expansive and authentic collection—you’ll gain a solid understanding of Viking culture, especially as the replicas, such as swords and helmets, can be worn and handled.
The highlight of The Viking Museum is the short “ride” towards the end of your visit. After boarding the Ragnfrid’s Saga, a motorized vehicle, you’ll follow in the nearly 1,000-year-old footsteps of Viking Harald, discovering the scenes he would have encountered on his fortune-chasing crusade.
To call this incredible location one of the best museums in Stockholm wouldn’t do it justice; it’s also the city center’s largest excavation site. Inside, you’ll find an underground world of ruins, sculptures, and ships from bygone times.
Many of the museum’s features are original, such as the graveyard and part of the city’s 16th-century walls. Complemented by reconstructions of warehouses, homes, and other structures, this archaeological site is set to bring medieval Stockholm back to life.
Allow yourself around an hour here to learn all about the medieval way of life in Gamla Stan and stories of war and strife.
Much of the information is shared in English, though those eager to learn more about the city’s Middle Ages should consider joining a guided tour, including a city walk.
The Royal Armoury and The Royal Palace
No visit to Stockholm is complete without a tour of The Royal Palace, the official residency of the nation’s Head of State.
Sweden has been a constitutional monarchy since the 18th century, with the royal family retaining ceremonial and representational duties. Many of the opulent state rooms of the palace are open to visitors.
Inside, it’s a glorious Italian Baroque-style affair. But it’s not just the gilded banquet halls and grand staircases that dazzle; a handful of museums offers further insight.
One of the most impressive of those collections is displayed in The Royal Armoury. Hidden away in the palace’s cellar, where weaponry once lined the walls, you can admire historical ensembles such as royal ball attire, knights’ outfits, and coronation carriages.
To witness the Royal Changing of the Guards ceremony, marching band and all, arrive at the palace’s courtyard just after midday. This spectacle lasts around 40 minutes and occurs daily from spring until fall.
Swedish History Museum
One of Stockholm’s most celebrated museums since its inauguration in 1952, Sweden’s national history museum in Östermalm is a masterpiece in curation and storytelling.
Throughout your visit, you’ll experience a multi-sensory journey through the nation’s past. Particular focus is paid to the Stone, Viking, and Medieval epochs, with storytelling and interactive elements throughout.
It’s near-impossible to take everything in on one visit. Still, in an hour or two, you can see the headline exhibits and learnings from The Viking World. Arguably the museum’s historic heavyweight, this area will usher you through the Viking age via virtual reality and original archaeological finds.
Further notable collections include the riches-heavy and aptly named Gold Room, while the History of Sweden exhibition covers the nation’s founding until modern times.
Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum
Moments from the shore of Lake Brunnsviken in Solna, a suburb around 30 minutes by metro from Gamla Stan, you’ll find a serene space dedicated to the late artist Carl Eldh, one of Sweden’s most eminent sculptors.
In his characterful wood-clad workshop and former studio, some of his finest works, such as portrait sculptures of playwrights and prominent historical figures, are presented.
Miniature models, carved pieces, and work-in-progress drawings from his career are exhibited with personality, the non-pretentious curation adding to the museum’s pizzazz.
For a lesson in Nordic culture beyond Sweden’s borders, experience Noriska, a vast and all-encompassing cultural trove renowned for its temporary exhibitions.
Initially founded by Stockholm-born Artur Hazelius, the mastermind behind Skansen, the museum has since expanded. The current iconic building—which performs as something of a grand welcome to the museum-heavy Djurgården island—was inaugurated in 1907.
If you’re keen to learn more about the neighboring nations’ shared—and different—cultures, this is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Stockholm.
Exhibitions range from the melting Arctic and minimalism to interactive war stories and Scandinavian singers. The agenda is constantly changing and worth perusing before your visit.
Nobel Prize Museum
On a chilly December night in 1901, a French activist, Frédéric Passy, and Swiss citizen, Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, jointly received a new Peace Prize at a Stockholm ceremony.
This was the first-ever Nobel Prize ceremony, set up in the name of Alfred Nobel, a wealthy Swedish scientist, philanthropist, and businessman who had passed away five years prior.
Over the 120 years since, recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, and a handful of other categories, have included a United Nations secretary-general, presidents, scientists, and peace activists.
In Alfred Nobel’s hometown museum, you can learn more about the man himself, how these generation-defining awards came to be, and the recipients’ stories.
Educational films and files presenting some of the greatest minds in recent history are on show, making this time capsule of 20th-century human achievements intriguing.
Topical, poignant, and thought-provoking, Sweden’s Museum of Technology is one of the best museums in Stockholm to visit in the age of Artificial Intelligence and 15-minute cities.
Creative throughout, the hangar-like setting of the museum’s City of Tomorrow provides an interactive introduction to the future, from self-driving buses to sustainable solutions.
Other subjects examined in the space include the ethical arguments against AI and debates on the future direction of technology. Historic technical advances are also explored, with areas dedicated to previous breakthroughs, such as analog radio and mining.
While half of Drottningholm Palace still serves as an official royal residence, the building also acts as one of the best museums in Stockholm, especially for those fascinated by the nation’s monarchy.
Strolling through the bewitching Baroque rooms of the 18th-century palace, you’ll be enthralled by the elegant reception rooms and sumptuous staircases.
Taking inspiration from Paris’ Palace of Versailles, the exterior is equally as enchanting, the manicured English-style gardens complete with sculptures a treat to explore on a sunny day.
Not only is this one of Europe’s finest palaces but art galleries and museums are hidden within. In the old stables, the Museum de Vries displays sculptures by the Dutch artist Adriaen de Vries.
Within the Chinese Pavilion, Evert Lundquist’s oil paintings are highlighted inside his former studio.
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