James Jackman, an experienced interrailer, takes us through the perfect route for seeing the best museums in Europe.
For museum-lovers, Europe is definitely the place to be. With over a staggering 8000 museums, you can be in no doubt that you’re spoiled for choice. However, the real question is: which ones do you see? Unless you’ve got a lot of spare time on your hands, there is no way you’ll be able to see them all, even if you do have the unlimited global pass.
Luckily for you, we’ve trawled through (most of) them and put together a route through cities with the best museums in Europe, while making sure to highlight an unusual choice from each city. Just a note, we’re assuming you’re a traveller with a 10 day in 1 month global pass, who is activating their pass when they leave the first city. So keep reading and see how you can tick off the best museums in Europe with ease…
Our journey begins in Oslo, the furthest north we’ll be on this route. Capital of Norway, Oslo houses over 50 museums, meaning you may want to spend a few days here. Oslo also hosts a lively café and bar scene, meaning you won’t want to spend too much time in your hostel.
Look out for: Mini Bottle Gallery – Only one of its kind in the world, it contains the world’s largest collection of miniature bottles – over 53,000!
A 5 hour train journey later and your first day of travel ticked off on your pass! Dispersed over 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges, Stockholm is a city like few others. Along with culinary and style expertise, Stockholm has a smorgasbord of museums. From art galleries to a historical museum of wine, you’ll be spoilt for choice here.
Look out for: ABBA: The Museum – Yep, a museum devoted to ABBA.
Another travel day, another city! Welcome to Copenhagen, the home of the Little Mermaid and some of the most colourful buildings you’ll ever see. Many will know that Denmark is famous for LEGO, those bricks which really hurt to stand on! Copenhagen is home to the flagship LEGO store, along with being home to Carlsberg, the drink of choice for many.
Look out for: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – An art museum built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of J. C. Jacobsen, who founded Carlsberg.
Your first night train, an impressive 11 hours later and you’re in Amsterdam. A favourite of tourists for various reasons, Amsterdam is host to an impressive selection of some of the best museums in Europe, including the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum and the grand Rijksmuseum. If you also fancy stretching your legs after that train journey, Amsterdam is incredibly bicycle-friendly and cycling alongside the canals can make for unforgettable moments.
Look out for: KattenKabinet – The “Cat Cabinet”, a museum entirely devoted to cats, with cats living on the premises.
Ah, Paris! Of course Paris was going to make it onto this route. From the Louvre Museum to the Centre Pompidou, Paris is well known as a centre of European culture & museums. While there, make sure to have a stroll along the Seine and take in the sights.
Look out for: Le Musée des Égouts de Paris – The Paris Sewer Museum, which takes you underneath the city for a tour of the sewer network.
Another night train, another city! If you’re needing a bit of a break from museums and need a bit of a dance, Berlin is the place for you. Berlin is famous for its club nights, with standard nights going on far longer than many other places – until 7 or 8am. Otherwise, Berlin is full of some of the best museums in Europe, including Checkpoint Charlie, the Old National Gallery and the Jewish Museum. Museums are such a big thing, there’s even an island dedicated to them!
Look out for: Museum der unerhörten Dinge – The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Mostly small items, each with their own unique story to tell.
The furthest east we’ll go, Warsaw is our next stop. A city which has been battered and bruised over the years and still come out on top. Museums are aplenty here, with many drawing on Warsaw’s rich history.
Look out for: Neon Museum – A museum dedicated to the preservation of Poland’s cold war era neon signs.
Prague, Czech Republic
The last night train on our journey, depositing us in Prague. Overlooked by the eponymous castle, Prague is a city to fall in love with. The artistic nature of Prague represents that of the Czech republic, so be sure to see as much as you can, from the National Gallery to the Museum of Communism and everything in between.
Look out for: Sex Machine Museum – the first museum in the world devoted to these gadgets and one of the many reasons Interrailers get off in Prague.
To Ultravox it meant nothing, but for most it doesn’t take much looking to find meaning in this grand old city. Art lovers are especially in luck in Vienna, with the MuseumsQuartier housing such galleries as the mumok (Museum of Modern Art), the Kunsthalle and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Look out for: Museum of Art Fakes – Sometimes the fakes deserve a bit of attention too! A museum dedicated to the world of forgeries and fakes and distinguishes between various types of forgery.
The shortest train journey of the whole trip, at 2:21 hr, it’s just a short jump to Budapest! Made up of two cities, Buda and Pest, this city houses the strongest of Hungary’s museums and galleries. If you need a quick break however, make sure to check out the ruin pubs – a cultural highlight in themselves!
Look out for: Hospital in the Rock Museum – A former secret emergency hospital and nuclear bunker located underneath Castel Hill, it’s well worth a visit.
Our final stop! Zagreb has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years, for good reason. Full of delights for all types, it’s proving to be an ideal destination for city breaks. For museum fans it’s a perfect finishing spot, with the city containing more museums per square foot than other city in the world!
Look out for: Museum of Broken Relationships – With pieces donated by people from around the world, it provides glimpses into the aftermath of relationships through the objects left behind.
That brings us to the end of our journey through the best museums in Europe! From Oslo to Zagreb, Europe is brimming with museums and galleries – all it takes is for you to track them down!
Thanks again to James for researching and writing this article – stay tuned for more articles from him in future, or if you can’t wait, visit his blog.
Click here to use this route as a template.