The Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm houses the fascinating Vasa warship from the 17th century. Today, the museum is one of the most visited in Scandinavia, with more than one million visitors each year, and on several occasions it has been ranked among the best museums in the world. The Vasa is one of the best preserved 17th-century ships anywhere in the world. It consists of 98% original parts and is adorned with hundreds of sculptures. The ship sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later before being painstakingly restored over many years back almost to its original condition.

    Be sure to also swing by the museum shop and pick up a souvenir to take home. You'll find a wide range on offer for younger visitors, such as stuffed toys, puzzles, and books about the Vasa, as well as plenty for adults, including candlestick holders, earrings, mugs, model ships and much more.

    Vasa Museum in Stockholm (Vasamuseet) - one of the highlights of 10 Best Things to Do in Stockholm (Read all about Stockholm here)

    What are the highlights of the Vasa Museum?

    The museum is home to a total of 12 exhibitions containing more than 40,000 artefacts which illustrate what life was like on board the ship, how it was constructed back in the 17th century, the women around Vasa and the salvaging process. You can also stroll around the museum's garden where they grow the sorts of vegetables and medicinal herbs used at the time of the Vasa.

    Another way to learn more about the ship is to watch the museum film which is shown once per hour each day. The film lasts 17 minutes and is available in 13 different languages. Among other things, it covers the 17th century, the ship, the king, life onboard and its shipwreck and salvage. Guided tours of the ship are held daily in multiple languages. You'll also have the option to cap off your tour in the museum restaurant for a bite to eat and something refreshing to drink.

    photo by Richard Mortel (CC BY 2.0) modified

    History of the Vasa Ship and the Vasa Museum 

    Construction of the Vasa Ship began in 1625. The ship was built from oak in a Dutch style which was entirely new for the Swedish naval fleet. The Dutch ships were intended to carry a low ballast in order to improve their stability, but this was difficult to achieve on the Vasa given that the ship was much larger than the standard Dutch models of the time. When stability tests were performed, the ship was revealed to be highly unstable. But the project went ahead nonetheless and the Vasa capsized on 10 August 1628. Strong gusts caused her to keel over and she sank just south of Djurgården.

    Several attempts at salvage were made over the years, but it was not until 1961 that the ship was successfully recovered. The ship was then housed in a temporary museum building which soon began accepting visitors. It was not until 1981 that the government decided to commission a purpose-built museum fit for such a ship. A Nordic architectural competition determined the museum's unique form, with a facade of wooden panels and tall masts which show the original height of the Vasa ship. The ship was moved in 1988, and in 1990 the Vasa Museum swung open its doors to the public.

    photo by Holger.Ellgaard (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Good to know about the Vasa Museum

    The museum's location on the island of Djurgården makes it easy to reach by most means of transportation. You can walk from Stockholm Central Station in around 20 minutes or you can cycle in 10. Buses, trams and boats all stop nearby as well. Be aware that if you decide to come down by car, parking can be quite tricky in the area. Be sure to bring along a jumper as the ship needs a temperature of 18–20 degrees in order to ensure its preservation, which can sometimes feel a little chilly if the weather outside is warm. If you want to continue learning more about the ship after your visit, you'll find films, podcasts, digital exhibitions and collections all on the museum's website.

    There are a number of other spots which are worth a visit while you're on Djurgården. Learn more about history, animals and nature at the Skansen open-air museum, relive cherished childhood memories at Junibacken or get some adrenaline pumping at the Gröna Lund Amusement Park.

    photo by Richard Mortel (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Vasa Museum in Stockholm (Vasamuseet)

    Location: Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

    Phone: +46 8 51954880

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