Exploring Stockholm’s Vasa Museum

One of my favorite parts of travel is seeing and learning about a city’s history, especially when in old cities like Stockholm. I’m not usually much of a museum person, but after hearing about one of the city’s most visited/famous attractions, I knew we couldn’t pass up the Vasa Museum.

If you’re interested in the most famous ship(wreck), Titanic, then the Vasa is definitely something you’ll take interest in! Let’s dive in.

Vasa Museum Stockholm

What is Vasa?

In August 1628, all of Stockholm gathered for the maiden voyage of the Vasa ship, which had been commissioned by Sweden’s king a few years earlier. The ship was to act as a “war machine,” to intimidate enemies and inspire allies.

But about 20 minutes after setting sail, the Vasa sank right there in Stockholm’s harbor. Despite all of the great things planned for the ship, it was ultimately too skinny, tall, and top-heavy, resulting in it being unable to withstand the wind.

Vasa ship

So, What’s the Big Deal?

In the late 1950s, a Swedish naval engineer located the ship at the bottom of the harbor after spending years of searching for it. And so again, 333 years after the people of Stockholm gathered to see the ship, they gathered once more to watch the ship rise from the depths of the sea. And despite being underwater for centuries, the ship was actually in pretty good shape, thanks to the tolerable conditions of the Baltic Sea (the lack of salt kept the ship from deteriorating quickly)!

After bringing the ship up in 1961, Stockholm decided to build a museum around it, to not only show off a big piece of the city’s history, but also to continue to preserve such an incredibly crafted ship and all that it stood for. And I’m so glad they did! Because honestly, it’s SO fascinating.

The Vasa Museum

We were totally blown away by Stockholm’s Vasa Museum. The ship is now restored to about 98% of its original state – which was nearly 400 years ago! The Vasa sits in the middle of the museum and to say it’s hard to miss is an understatement. It’s HUGE. It’s impossible to even squeeze the entire ship into a single photograph. I honestly felt like an ant standing next to it!

There are 3 levels in the museum, each one offering new exhibits and views of the ship decks. Some of the most interesting (and chilling) being skeletal remains of the people who they likely belonged to (and details on their lives including diet, lifestyle, age, facial reconstruction, sickness, etc.), cannons, personal belongings of those aboard, and what a day in the life of those on board would’ve looked like (if the ship had made it out as planned).

Vasa Museum

If you find yourself in Stockholm, the Vasa Museum is definitely a place worth squeezing into your itinerary (although you could easily spend hours there)! Tickets run about $16 for adults, $14 for students, and FREE for those under 18.

Do you have a favorite museum that stands out in your memory?

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  • Lol, that looks like fun, but those heads are a bit creepy to me!

    • They are, aren’t they? Haha. I can’t believe how realistic they were!

  • Such a cool museum! But I totally agree with Maegan – the heads are so creepy haha! But it is really cool that technology can do that.

    • Right?! It is incredible that they were able to come up with all of that info and detail on what they probably looked like. A little too realistic though!

  • Allison Ellzey

    This place looks like such a neat place to visit!

    • It was! One of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to!

  • How cool! When I was in Dundee, Scotland, they had a similar museum for their boats. Apparently the shipyard in town built ships for the first Arctic expeditions, so the museum was about that rather than a sunken ship. But I always love seeing and learning about old ships!

    • Wow, I had no idea! I love learning about all of that history + it’s so cool when you can see the actual ship(s) in front of you! I’m just amazed that we can even look at a ship from the 1600s in real life!

  • Wow I never heard of the Vasa museum or the ship! This is suuper interesting. It intrigues me that it took so long to search for the ship if they knew it sunk in a harbor. In my mind, a harbor isn’t that big. It’s great they have commemorated it in this way, though!

    • Crazy, right?! It didn’t seem that big to me either, but I guess it’s more of how far down it sank! They weren’t able to detect it as easily. It must’ve been a crazy day to watch them bring the ship back up though!

  • Anna Hubbard

    I love cool museums like this! Europe has the best ones!

    • They really do! It’s hard to imagine life that far back in time! These museums really help put things in perspective!

  • That is such a neat museum! I’ve never heard of this before!

    • One of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited, for sure!

  • I love checking out museums and learning about the story behind them. Loved this post.

    • Thanks, Grace! This was definitely a really cool one!

  • Oh my gosh my husband would be in heaven!! Such a cool museum!

    XO, Chelsea
    http://effortlesslychicblog.com

    • It was the coolest! Amazing that they were able to recover + restore the ship!

  • I have always wanted to visit Sweden! This sounds soooo cool!

    Tori

    • We loved Stockholm and the museum was great! Definitely worth spending a couple hours exploring!

  • I’d never heard of the Vasa Museum but wow! I can’t believe the ship stayed in such great condition!

    • Neither can I! They’ve done some restoration work but for the most part the bones of the ship were all in tact. What a sight that must’ve been to see them pull the ship up!

  • I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds like a really fascinating museum! Will have to remember to go if i get to Sweden!

    • It really is! Highly recommend if you find yourself in Stockholm!

  • Trecee Hutchinson

    Sweden is such a beautiful country! I also love hearing interesting history facts, so thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading, Trecee! I definitely want to get back to explore more of the country one day!

  • Wow! What an interested Museum! I would love it check it out someday!

    • It was fascinating! One of the highlights of our time in Stockholm, for sure!

  • These photos are so cool, and gorgeous! Seems like a super cool museum

    • Thanks, Alexandra! I’m not usually much of a museum person but I loved this one!

  • I really need to get to Sweden! As for museums, I really like the Renwick in DC. they have more immersive art, which is cool and different.

    • Yes you do! I haven’t heard of the Renwick, but I’ll definitely look into it the next time I’m in DC. Thanks for the rec!

  • Nicole Flint

    These photos look amazing! Very cool!

  • I’m swedish, so i really really need to get there! I love the MFA in Boston, but the Newsuemum in DC is great too!

    • I haven’t been to the MFA – I need to check it out next time I’m up there! And I LOVE the Newseum too! So fascinating!

  • thesophiadiaries

    okay, the busts look absolutely scary, but that totally sounds like an interesting museum!

    • Haha they were a little creepy, but the concept was still really cool! And it was SO interesting!

  • Amanda Faber

    Would love to visit someday!

  • I would love to visit that museum, I find history and shipwrecks so fascinating.

    • Same! You’d love this one, Courtney! Not only do you get all the history but you also get to see the full ship!

  • This was such an interesting read! My grandma is Swedish and I would love to visit Sweden one day. When I do, I’ll have to remember to check out this museum. Thanks (or should I say ‘tack’?) for sharing!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Amanda! Definitely keep this in mind for future travels to Sweden! I hope you’re able to get there someday soon, you’ll love it!

  • Sydney Power

    This is such a great museum to visit. I will definitely heck this vasa museum and add to my bucket list. Great review!!

    • Thanks, Sydney! It’s a fascinating place – you’d love it!

  • I love old cities and museums, but museums in old cities even more! Vasa museum sounds like an amazing must-see. Stockholm wasn’t on my travel list before, but it definitely is now!

    • Oh Stockholm is a fantastic city if you enjoy history + old cities! I hope you can plan a trip someday soon – you’d love it!

  • Tori Dunlap

    I’ve never been to Stockholm, but it’s on my list. Huge fan of museums when I travel, so this will definitely be on my to-dos.
    Tori || Victori Media
    https://www.victorimedia.com

    • Love to hear that! I hope you can get there soon, Tori. It’s an incredible museum + Stockholm is such a great city!

  • This looks so cool! I’ve never been to Stockholm but I do love the history of shipwrecks – I got to see the Titanic exhibit a long time ago when it came to Raleigh and it was amazing!

    xoxo, Paige

    • I saw a Titanic one in Atlanta years ago and thought the same! The really unique part about this one is that the actual ship is there – in its entirety!

  • This looks SO interesting and awesome! I would love to visit!

    • It’s one of the coolest historical things I’ve seen! Highly recommend a visit :)

  • Macarena Ferreira

    I love to visit Stockholm! This looks amazing.

    xo // http://www.thematerialgirl.co

  • I LOVE history — and I had no idea about the Vasa Museum. This looks right up my alley!

    • Me too! It was one of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited!