For culture vultures, history buffs and those just looking to learn a little more about local or national heritage while on holiday, Europe boasts some of the world’s most fascinating museums to explore.
With a whole host of museums great for kids and adults alike, the continent serves up a real education feast, whether you’re interested in ancient history, World War Two, Vikings – or even neon signs! They also make excellent options for rainy days as well.
So, when planning your next holiday in Europe, or when trying to decide between different European destinations, you may well want to factor in a trip to one (or several!) of these excellent museums.
Anne Frank’s house is among Amsterdam’s most popular and famous attractions. See the location where Anne and seven other Jewish people hid for two years in a secret annex, as they tried desperately to avoid capture by the Nazis. After being discovered in August 1944 and sent to concentration camps, Anne’s story lived on through the diary she kept during her time in hiding.
Europe is blessed with a lot of fun and quirky museums, but the Neon Museum in Poland’s capital is perhaps the best of the bunch. It certainly doesn’t look much from the outside, having been set up in a disused warehouse, but your eyes will light up (sorry!), when you get inside. Centred around the Cold War, the museum shows off an intriguing collection of neon signs used to lift the spirits of the city’s workers during this period. Totally unique and a different take on the city’s history, it’s a great way to spend an hour or so.
Step back in time and explore the fascinating ancient history of Greece. More of a traditional museum than some more modern, interactive offerings, it’s certainly no less engrossing as it showcases over 3,000 years of history, through ancient artefacts including painted vases, carved statues and bronze figurines.
One of the capital’s 93 museums, here visitors can take in the largest dinosaur gallery in Europe! You can even channel your inner Ross Geller by trying your hand at becoming a palaeontologist with the interactive sand trays, or follow one of the discovery trails aimed at little ones.
You can’t go far in Lisbon without spotting some of Portugal’s famous ceramic tiles, which decorate restaurants, shops, churches and bars, and can be purchased in souvenir shops throughout the city. But to learn more about this very distinctively Portuguese art form, head to the National Azulejo Museum, within the Madre de Deus convent. Some are beautiful in their own right, thanks to their intricate patterns, but others join together to tell stories – see if you can spot some funny ones too.
Vienna’s Haus Der Musik makes for a great family activity when on holiday in Austria. This is a great place for youngsters to get hands on and learn more about the country’s musical heritage while having loads of fun at the same time. Find out about classical composers, have Mozart write your name in music, create your own weird and wacky sounds and even check out the piano staircase.
Berlin boasts such an abundance of fascinating and harrowing museums, it can be hard to narrow down the options if you’re only on a short break in the German capital. But the DDR Museum is a great choice to get an insight into what it was like living in former East Germany. There are plenty of interactive features to make learning interesting for all ages.
The FC Bayern Museum, located at the club’s Allianz Arena stadium, provides an in-depth and interactive insight into the history of Germany’s most successful football club. While it’s got all the typical areas you’d expect within a football club’s museum, including trophy displays (these are vast, by the way!), and Hall of Fame, it’s also brilliantly interactive. Not only can you delve in to Bayern’s 120-year history, but you can also re-watch classic goals, build your own trophy, and take part in a skill challenge.
Petrol heads of all ages will love the Ferrari Museum. After all, if you can’t admire the glistening red, prancing horse beauties while in Italy, when can you? The museum not only boasts a range of stunningly preserved Ferraris from classic road models to Formula 1 title winning cars, but you can also hop behind the wheel in the F1 simulator or try the pit stop challenge.
Just outside of Copenhagen, the Viking Ship Museum is well worth taking the time to visit. Get up close to huge ships dating back thousands of years and get an idea of what life was like. Kids will also love trying on the Viking costumes and stepping aboard some of the ships like a real Viking!
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