Stockholm has more than 70 museums which makes it one of the cities in the world with the highest ratio of museums per capita. Read below about fifteen museums in the capital of Sweden that are totally free for visitors.
1. National Museum of Sweden
The National Museum of Sweden – Nationalmuseum – is the main museum for design and art in the country. After 150 years in operation it is currently undergoing a renovation and its space is closed to the public. However temporarily its exhibitions can be seen at the Academy of Art or at the House of Culture in Stockholm. In October 2018 the National Museum will be reborn from its ashes in the same place it now occupies: the shore of Blasieholmen leading to the island of Skeppsholmen.
2. The Museum of Modern Arts
The Moderna Museet in Stockholm has one of the world’s leading collections of modern and contemporary art from the early 20th century to the present day. Works by Warhol, Picasso, Dalí or Matisse fill its spaces. It also presents temporary exhibitions and activities for adults and children. The Museum of Modern Arts is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. Admission is free to Moderna Museet’s own collection and also to some temporary ones, although other exhibitions require you to pay an entrance fee. Also the audio guide in English is free since it works through an app that you download on your mobile phone (App Store, Google Play).
3. The Museum of Architecture and Design
The ArkDes is a national center for architecture and design located on the island of Skeppsholmen a short distance from the Museum of Modern Arts in a beautiful building of elegant architectural style made by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. In ArkDes you can learn about construction and design from all eras. In addition, the museum organizes guided tours of Stockholm in the footsteps of the architecture in the Swedish capital as well as a tour that goes through the buildings created by Ralph Erskine, a British architect with a great presence in Sweden.
In ArkDes there have been several interesting exhibitions by famous designers such as Yayoi Kusama or the annual Pepparkakshusutställning, an exhibition and design contest featuring gingerbread houses. Also a few years ago ArkDes hosted Blockholm, the reconstruction of Stockholm with blocks of the Swedish computer game Minecraft.
4. The Swedish History Museum
At Historiska Museet, one of the largest museums in Sweden, you will discover the history of Sweden from ancestral times to the present day. You will be able to see the first Swedish gold and silver treasures, medieval art and even one of the largest Viking collection in the world with the exhibitions “Vikings” and “We call them vikings. In summer, you can also try Viking crafts and play Viking games in the garden. Here you can also see the remains of one of the most violent episodes in “recent” Swedish history: the battle of Gotland in 1361.
The Historiska Museet is located in the Östermalm district. The best way to get there is with the tram from Sergels Torg Square or from T-Centralen to the bridge that leads to the island of Djurgården, Djurgårdsbron, and there instead of entering the island, turn right up the street Narvavägen.
You can learn a little more about what awaits you in your visit to the Swedish History Museum in the following video.
5. The Swedish Museum of Natural History
The Swedish Museum of Natural History – Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet – is the largest museum in Sweden. In the museum you can learn about the universe and the development of man and the earth. You will also get to know Swedish nature and its variety. You will see tiny dinosaurs and hear wolves howling and even be able to travel to the poles with penguins and polar bears as well as discover the mystique that accompanies minerals.
Beside the Swedish Museum of Natural History you will find Cosmonova – an 3D IMAX cinema in the shape of a dome – where you can enjoy experiences from all corners of the planet. There is an entrance fee for Cosmonova.
Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet is not located in the center of Stockholm but it is not too far away either as it is reached in 10 minutes from T-Centralen underground station using public transport. Specifically, four stops on the red line going towards Mörby Centrum station and getting off at Universitetet station.
6. The Maritime Museum
Sjöhistoriska is the perfect museum to learn about man’s efforts to dominate the sea. You will also learn about how pirates were (and are) and what life is like on board a ship. The museum is divided in two parts, one located in the area known as Norra Djurgården and the other, closer and exclusively in summer, on the island of Djurgården by the shore behind the Vasa Museum. There you will be able to visit the collection of ships and museum-ships.
You can get to Sjöhistoriska museum on bus nr. 69 towards Kaknästornet tower or with the tram getting off at Djurgårdsbron bridge and walking 15 minutes through Nobel Park and next to Djurgårdsbrunnsviken Bay. From the tram stop you can also access the island of Djurgården and the boat exhibition behind Vasa Museum.
7. The Museum of Antiquities of the Far East
The Östasiatiska Museet allows you to get to know the distant Asia: Korea, Japan, China, India and Southeast Asia. The Museum of Antiquities of the Far East is the main one in northern Europe and is located in the heart of the island of Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Here you can walk through more than 6000 years of Chinese history or learn about the many faces of Japan thanks to its exhibitions.
The Östasiatiska belongs to a group of museums called World Culture Museums or Världskulturmuseerna in Swedish that includes the Världskulturmuseet of Gothenburg and the Museum of the Mediterranean and the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm.
8. The Museum of the Mediterranean
The Medelhavsmuseet or Stockholm’s Museum of the Mediterranean is the main museum in Sweden dedicated to the cultures that have inhabited the Mediterranean. In this museum you can see objects from the time of the domination of the Roman Empire, also from Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and other cultures of the Near East.
The Mediterranean Museum is on Norrmalm Island on Fredgatan Street between Gustav Adolf Torg Square and Drottninggatan Street just before reaching the island of Helgeandholmen where the Swedish Parliament is.
9. The Museum of Medieval Stockholm
The Medeltidsmuseet or Museum of Medieval Stockholm, open more than 30 years ago, lets you learn what life was like for the population in medieval Stockholm. Here you can find out how they got their supplies and subsisted, how they built with stone, how they planned the city of Stockholm, how their celebrations were and how they suffered due to the difficult circumstances of that time. A square, a church, a monastery with a garden and even a piece of the wall built by Gustav Vasa in 1530 await you.
In the Museum of the Middle Ages you will see a vessel older than the famous Vasa! It is known as Riddarholmsskeppet a ship of the year 1520 that appeared in 1930 while the tunnels of the metro of Stockholm were excavated. You will also see a reconstruction of the face of Birger Jarl, a king of the thirteenth century, who with great certainty is believed to be the founder of Stockholm around 1320. In addition you can see the hidden passage that allowed the king to leave the Royal Palace and get to the stables without no one noticing.
The Medeltidsmuseet is located under the oldest bridge in the city, the Norrbro bridge, which connects Norrmalm, Helgeandholmen and Gamla Stan, between the Opera and the Royal Palace.
10. The Hallwylska Museum
The Hallwylska Museum is a space to get to know the life of the von Hallwyls family and the incredible house they built around 1900. You can learn what luxury and modernity meant in those days going into their living rooms, into the dining room, in the weapons room, billiards or smoking room among other.
11. The Army Museum
Armémuseum is the museum of the army of Sweden and takes you into a journey through Swedish military history from the year 1500 to the present day through real-scale scenarios and period objects. You can also learn about Swedish men and women who have tried their best to do their bit for peace in times of war like Raoul Wallenberg.
12. The Ethnography Museum
Etnografiska Museet is a museum that takes you around the world and its villages at the hands of adventurers, scientists, collectors and Swedish businessmen who have been collecting objects from Africa, Asia, America, Australia and Oceania. At present it has more than 220,000 objects.
13. The Royal Armoury Museum
The history of the kings of Sweden comes to life at Livrustkammaren where you will find royal costumes and carriages, wedding and burial stories and weapons and equipment from the time of merciless battles. In this museum you can meet Streiff, the horse of Gustav II Adolf – the one that appears in his statues – or you can see Karl XII’s uniform dating from 1718 as well as the clothes of Gustav III and his mask dance of 1792. You can also observe a 3D replica of Gustav Vasa’s helmet.
14. The Royal Coin Cabinet
In the vicinity of the former museum, in Slottsbacken, there is also the Kungliga Myntkabinettet, which is the Swedish Museum of Economic History.
The museum is a treasure chamber that tells the story of money since its inception. You can see silver treasures from the Viking conquest period with unique coins (some weighing up to 20 kg!) as well as learning about other forms of payment that were used instead of money during the history of mankind. In addition there are temporary exhibitions and children have a mini-museum to have fun too.
15. Skokloster Castle
Close to Arlanda on the banks of Lake Mälaren and located in a beautiful natural setting lies one of the main baroque castles in Sweden: Skokloster Castle. Skokloster is a 17th century palace from when Sweden was in full bloom and is the largest private castle in Sweden. You can visit it with or without a guide. You will find furniture of different centuries, painting, artworks and an armoury.
You can get to Skokloster Castle by train and bus from Stockholm in 1h 15 min. Take the commuter train (pendeltåg in Swedish) to Bålsta and from there the UL 311 bus to Skokloster or from July also by boat from Stockholm with Strömma boats sailing through Lake Mälaren on a free tour if you have the Stockholm Pass tourist card .
The truth is that judging by the figures of visits to museums, the decision of the government of Sweden to establish free entry from February 1, 2016 to some of the national museums, has managed to increase considerably the number of people that visits to learn more in them which is one of the main reasons why we travel: to know other cultures and expand our horizons.
Check the map below showing where these 15 museums are located in Stockholm. Please have in mind that neither Skokloster Castle which is quite far away from the city nor the Museum of Natural History or Cosmonova appear in it. The map features only the central part of Stockholm which is where tourists basically stroll during a visit to Stockholm.
If you are looking for more ideas for your visit take a look at the Complete Guide to Plan Your Trip to Stockholm* or the articles about a Lowcost Trip to Stockholm*. Also 10 Things You Can Do for Free* and the 24 Free Things to Do in Stockholm divided by islands. You can also check out my Five Favorite Museums* in Stockholm that are not among these fifteen.
If you have any suggestions, questions or doubts about these museums or about your trip to Sweden, I will gladly answer you if you write me a comment below.
*These links currently point to an English translation by Google Translate.