6 Famous Museums in Europe Worth Your Time
Europe is in many ways the cultural capital of the world. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the hundreds of diverse museums that populate most of the continent’s cities. Are you looking for famous artwork and intriguing history? Maybe you simply want to wander the hallways of carefully curated (and quite spectacularly designed) museums in Europe. One of the following places is a great choice.
Museums in Europe
1. Louvre | Paris, France
The Louvre in Paris is one of the world’s most popular museums. At 650,000 square feet it also happens to be the world’s largest. It has more than 300,000 objects on display, including the famous Mona Lisa. Chances are you’ll only get to see a smattering of what’s on display at the Louvre. From the moment you lay eyes on that famous glass pyramid you’ll be plotting your return visit.
Ticket prices: €15.00
How to get there by train: Paris can be reached from several cities across France and Europe. You’ll arrive at one of six different train stations, depending on your origin.
2. Museum of Natural History | Vienna, Austria
Vienna is overflowing with beautiful buildings and influential museums, but few are as significant on both fronts as the Museum of Natural History. This stunning domed building opened to the public in 1889. It’s as impressive inside as it is out – marble, gold leaf, and priceless paintings dominate the interiors. This sets the right tone for a building that houses a staggering 30 million artifacts. If science wasn’t your thing before you entered, it definitely will be by the time you leave.
Ticket prices: €10.00
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Vienna from across Austria and many European countries, including Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
3. The Vatican Museums | Vatican City
The Catholic church has built up an impressive collection of artwork over the years. This becomes clear once you visit the Vatican Museums. You’ll find a wide selection of objects including sculptures, tapestries, and important Egyptian artifacts. But the true highlight is located in the Sistine Chapel at the very end. Nothing can quite prepare you for the sight of Michelangelo’s dramatic artwork. You’ll leave feeling as if you’ve just witnessed something very special.
Ticket prices: €16.00
How to get there by train: The Vatican is located in Rome. You can reach the city by train from most Italian cities and neighboring European countries.
4. Rijksmuseum | Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands had to move location shortly after it was established and has constantly expanded over the years. Yet it still looks remarkably similar to its earliest incarnation in the late 1800s. It’s one of several noteworthy museums in the Dutch capital. But what sets the Rijksmuseum apart is its historical significance and astounding collection of famous Dutch artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt.
Ticket prices: €17.50
How to get there by train: There are several trains to Amsterdam from across the Netherlands and Europe, including France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Italy.
5. Guggenheim Museum | Bilbao, Spain
Bilbao’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum is an architectural marvel. It’s not uncommon for visitors to spend most of their time gawking at the dramatic building from the outside. Though it’s one of the newer museums in Europe, it’s home to an impressive permanent collection of artwork, including works by Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko. The museum’s partnership with its New York counterpart also means that world-class temporary exhibitions also make regular appearances.
Ticket prices: €16.00
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Bilbao from Madrid, Barcelona, Vigo, San Sebastian, and other small cities in the region.
6. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía | Madrid, Spain
Impressive museums abound in the Spanish capital, but Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía is one of the city’s most engaging. It’s primary focus is on 20th century Spanish art, and it’s packed to the rafters with famous artworks, including incredible pieces by Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. Most people navigate the winding corridors of this one-time hospital towards the museum, and Spain’s, most famous artwork – Picasso’s room-sized Guernica.
Ticket prices: €8.00
How to get there by train: Madrid is easily accessible by train from across Spain and other European cities, including Lisbon, Milan, the French coast, and Paris.
Practical tips for museums in Europe
1. Free entrance: Museums in Europe can get expensive. Fortunately, most offer free entrance at least once a month, or sometimes even once a week. Check the museum website to see if there is a period of free admission.
2. Cheap entrance: If you aren’t able to take advantage of the free entrance, most museums offer discounts for students. Be sure to bring your student card along.
3. Stay focused: Europe’s bigger museums are vast and overwhelming. Don’t try to explore every item – scour the museum website before you go and identify which artworks or exhibitions you’d like to see.
4. Avoid the crowds: Europe’s most popular museums can get crowded during peak times. But if you search the museum on Google and check the Popular Times feature, you can find out the quietest times to go.
There are hundreds of museums in Europe worth visiting. Many are less dramatic and well known, but are equally rewarding. But if you’re looking to get a taste of your new city and the continent’s famous museum culture while on your Eurail journey, these are good places to start.