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ABBA Museum Stockholm EITW
Photograph: Eson Lindman

The 12 best museums in Stockholm right now

From naval history to fantastic art via the most magical harmonies in history, the best museums in Stockholm await

Huw Oliver
Derek Robertson
Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Derek Robertson
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No matter your preferred museum genre, you’ll find something in Stockholm. Do you want to immerse yourself in the grand history of a fascinating museum? Sure, history can be heavy now and then, so maybe some incredible art is on the schedule? Okay, fine, we’ll meet you at the ABBA Museum to celebrate the magic of harmony and melody. The best museums in Stockholm come in all shapes, sizes and styles.

But what else would you expect from the Swedish capital? Stockholm is one of the most impressive cities in Europe, after all, a buzzing hive of activity with brilliant restaurants and exciting bars around every corner. The museums are right up there with the best.

Best museums in Stockholm

ABBA Museum
Krok Attling

1. ABBA Museum

OK, let’s get this out of the way – no trip to Stockholm is complete without a visit to this shrine to pop’s most glamorous band. The iconic Swedish quartet pretty much single-handedly invented modern pop, and a lot of thought has gone into the experience here. Sure, there are costumes, gold discs and film clips, but you can also perform with ABBA avatars – ABBA-tars? – and (virtually) try on some of their most famous outfits. You can’t just turn up; tickets must be bought online beforehand.

The Vasa Museum
Karlsson Anneli

2. The Vasa Museum

The most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia, this place is named after the Vasa, the preserved 17-century ship that is the museum’s centrepiece. The ship, which sank on its maiden voyage, was discovered in Stockholm harbour in 1961 and painstakingly restored to its former glory. As well as getting within touching distance of this relic from a bygone era, you can dine in its shadow, learn about the naval history of this proud, seafaring nation, and explore an array of other ships and exhibits.

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Fotografiska
Fotografiska

3. Fotografiska

For some of the best views over Stockholm, bag a window table at the top-floor restaurant of Fotografiska, where the gourmet food more than matches the vista. And, of course, don’t forget to peruse the world-class photography on display across the four floors of this converted Art Nouveau customs warehouse. Instead of displaying a permanent collection, they host four large and more than 100 smaller temporary exhibits every year, so there’s always something new to view, and for those who fancy seeing their own efforts adorn the walls, there are courses and workshops to sharpen your skills behind the lens.

Nationalmuseum
Photograph: Dimitry B / Flickr

4. Nationalmuseum

This grand, imposing, restored Renaissance building on the Blasieholmen peninsula is home to the largest art collection in Sweden, including 16,000 paintings and more than 30,000 objects. It leans towards the more traditional – think Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas – but there’s also an impressive porcelain collection, plenty of modern Swedish art, and an art library that’s second to none (and open to the public as well as academics). Locals missed this place during the revamp – wander its immaculate, classical halls and corridors, and it’s not hard to see why.

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Swedish History Museum
Katarina Nimmervoll

5. Swedish History Museum

Vikings have a lot to answer for. Their influence – and bloodlines – spread all over Europe, and the Swedish History Museum charts their rise and fall through the ages. It houses more than 10 million artefacts divided by era and an impressive Gold Room containing gold and silver artefacts. You can dive into Norse mythology, learn about the Vikings’ belief systems and origins, and even try some traditional food in the restaurant – the ‘Viking plate’, teamed with mead, is an experience not to be missed.

Sprit Museum
Jonas Lindström

6. Sprit Museum

Swedes love to drink, so it’s only natural Stockholm has a museum dedicated to all things alcoholic (you can even drink while wandering around). Detailing the Swedes’ bittersweet relationship to booze – especially Swedish ‘snaps’ – there are a number of permanent and temporary exhibits, including an exploration of drinking song culture (you can download song sheets in English and sing along in groups). Tasting sessions are common, and the excellent on-site bar serves craft beer and snacks.

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Drottningholm Palace
Royal Europe

7. Drottningholm Palace

This palace remains home to the Swedish royal family, although large parts of the dazzling 16th-century property are open to the public. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, there are few better examples of gilded interiors and luxurious reception halls in Europe. The guided tours are informative and relaxed, but there’s much more to explore than just the palace itself. A perfectly preserved working theatre – with a full production schedule – the famous Chinese pavilion and immaculate grounds and gardens make this a peaceful getaway from the bustle of the city.

Moderna Museet
Moderna Museet/Åsa Lundén

8. Moderna Museet

Stockholm’s answer to MOMA or the Tate Modern, Moderna Museet houses Sweden’s largest collection of 20th-century art. Works by Dalí, Picasso and Matisse sit alongside cutting-edge installations and sculptures in this striking red building. The temporary and permanent exhibitions – the latter constantly evolving – are consistently thought-provoking, and it deserves its reputation for excellence (do go on a guided tour – you’ll learn a lot).

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Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum
Carl Hjelte

9. Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum

From the City Hall courtyard to the Olympic Stadium, the sculptures of Carl Eldh can be found all over Stockholm. One of Sweden’s most prominent and best-loved sculptors, this unusual wooden building in leafy Bellevueparken was his home and studio, chosen because of the panoramic views and large garden, which allowed him to work outside. Notebooks, sketches and more than 100 sculptures and models are on display in the well-preserved building, each offering insight into the life of one of the 20th century’s most prolific artists.

 

Bergrummet
Bergrummet

10. Bergrummet

There’s something charmingly old-fashioned about the traditional toys and games on display at Bergrummet; all moving parts and wood and childhood innocence. What started as a lifelong dream for a toy-obsessed local in Tidö is now just around the corner from Moderna Museet, on the island of Skeppsholmen, and is billed as ‘a meeting ground for generations’. The idea is to bring families together over the simple pleasure of tactile toys, comics and board games, and they have plenty of the latter – including traditional Swedish ones – to try out. If you want to ignore your phone for an hour or two, this is a pretty good place to do it.

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Skansen Open-Air Museum
Skansen Open-Air Museum

11. Skansen Open-Air Museum

Take a trip back in time to Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, on the beautiful island of Djurgården. You could easily spend a day here, wandering the farms and homesteads designed to portray traditional Swedish living between the 16th and 19th centuries. Observe crafts including tanning, glassblowing and pottery being practised, or check out the zoo of animals native to Scandinavia featuring bears, wolves and the European bison. It’s a fantastic place for kids, and is as educational as it is entertaining. Don’t forget to visit the bakery; the treats on offer are just as moreish as their modern-day equivalents.

Tekniska Museet
Anna Gerdén

12. Tekniska Museet

If you sometimes wonder where AI, machine learning and the like might be taking us, this unassuming building has the answers. It may not be much to look at, but inside it’s a true haven for gadget lovers, highlighting as it does only the most cutting-edge developments in technology (plus the coolest model railway you’re likely to see). ‘Experiment your way to smart ideas’ is the mantra of Megamind. ‘Painting’ with your eyes, making virtual sculptures and creating music with the power of thought are among the mind-blowing activities you can try for yourself.

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