Okay, let's face it, we all have different priorities while traveling. Some of us go for the food, the culture and the nightlife, while others may be more interested in the art and history. No matter your preference, Europe's got you covered.
Even if you don't think of yourself as a museum or history buff, these unique, unconventional, and off-the-beaten path museums are sure to catch your attention!
Stop number one on my favorites list is Electric Ladyland in Amsterdam. The perfect post-coffeeshop stop, this place doubles as a Florescent museum and art gallery. Here you can explore the gallery upstairs, opened in '87 and inspired by Jimi Hendrix, then descend into the eccentric museum downstairs. Before heading down be sure to wash your hands and take off your shoes so as not to damage the paint.
The highlight was definitely the "Participatory Art," as they call it, which is a massive neon cave sculpture that took the artist years to create. All of the paint was made in-house. Step inside and press all of the many bobs and buttons that light up different areas and create sounds. Founder and artist, Nick Paladino, is super laid-back and interesting, happy to give tours and share about his extensive florescent mineral collection. It was amazing to see normal looking stones change into vivid colors when exposed to special wavelengths of light.
Electric Ladyland is tucked away on a quiet street quite close to the Anne Frank House. Its only five euro to go in but recommended to make an appointment here. Open 1pm - 6pm Tuesday through Saturday.
The Vasa Museum is hands down one of the most interesting museums in Europe. Picture this: A massive wooden Scandinavian ship, reminiscent of Captain Hook's ship in Peter Pan, sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 due to faulty design. It wasn't until 1961 that engineering technology progressed enough to pull it intact from the water. Now, almost 400 years later, visitors can get up close to this incredible historical gem and learn about life at sea in those times.
Based in Stockholm, the museum is climate controlled to preserve the fragile structure. But with millions of visitors every year, its hard to say how many more decades the ship will survive. Although the painted designs disappeared long ago, it was incredible to get up close to the hull and study the intricate carvings that did make it. At least fifteen people are thought to have perished in the disaster, and modern technology has been able to perform impressive facial reconstruction on the remains.
For more information about getting here, visit this link. Be sure to ask for the student rate (110 SEK) with a valid ID.
Located in sunny Barcelona, this outdoor sculpture and architecture park is one of many Gaudí masterpieces around the city. Its a fantastic spot for panorama views of the city as well as a nice place to relax. I recommend you get there early in the morning to avoid extreme crowds and heat.
I especially liked the Monumental zone, which includes many sculptural and architectural elements. Gaudí's impressive works here have earned the park the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He imagined the park as a community of highly advanced homes with an artistic touch, with symbolism playing a major part in the design.
Be aware that the park can become very crowded, especially during the summer months. Skip the lines and buy an entry ticket in advance HERE.
Check out the inspiring and informative museum dedicated to the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and its impressive Laureates. My friend and I stumbled upon the museum on a day stop-over in Oslo. It happened to be Pride Week so the museum was free for everyone! Even at full price, this place is worth the visit!
The exhibits change often to feature current efforts for peace worldwide. At the time we visited, they were featuring the power of social media in the fight for revolution and the role that young people play in fighting for peace. On permanent exhibit, is a creative display featuring each of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates on interactive tablets. When you're traveling, its especially important to remember the power of global connectedness and the amazing individuals out there working towards progress. The Nobel Peace Center is a must-see for those interested in social justice!
I really enjoyed the gift shop here. Look for clever T-shirts, postcards, and magnets featuring quotes from notable figures in history. It's a good place to look for something a bit more unique to take home with you.
Be aware that the center is open to visitors on different days depending on the season. They also offer a student rate. Check HERE for more information.
The Colmar Toy Museum is a cute stop if you have some extra time wandering this picturesque little town. Admission is only five euro so you don’t have to break the bank. This multi-sotry exhibit is packed full of every type of toy and doll imaginable! Everything from 19th century porcelain dolls to the original Barbie all the way to classic toys of the 80s (anyone else remember Rock Em' Sock Em' Robots?)! There are intricate train sets and, of course, the quintessential creepy monkey with the cymbals. My favorite were the artist inspired Barbies in Klimt and Van Gogh-style outfits. Even if you aren’t a toy enthusiast, you’re sure to be entertained by the variety of toys on display.
Musee Bartholdi is a museum dedicated to the sculptor Bartholdi, who was born in Colmar, France. If you’re American, you might already know him as the man who designed the Statue of Liberty; given to the U.S. as a gift from France. It was very cool to see all of the different models and versions of the statue as she evolved. We happened to be there on the 4th of July, when the museum is free for Americans. Come learn about how the Statue of Liberty was constructed and get a little taste of home all the way in France!
The Toy Museum is open most days, other than Tuesdays. Access the website HERE. Visit the Bartholdi Museum every day except Tuesday (more information HERE). Both museums are within walking distance of the train station, right in the center of town.
Stay tuned for more insider tips to get you traveling off-the-beaten path!
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