10 quirky museums to visit in Europe

10 quirky museums to visit in Europe

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Europe has no shortage of amazing museums. The Louvre is home to hundreds of thousands of artifacts and works of art, including the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. You can see Claude Monet’s mural-sized water lilies, or marvel at the manic brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s masterpieces. After awhile, it’s easy to feel like the art is beginning to blur together and that each museum is more of the same. Luckily, Europe is also home to some fantastically quirky museums as well. Here are 10 places to add to your next adventure itinerary.

Deutsches Currywurst Museum — Berlin, Germany

Although the origins of currywurst are a little unclear, what is clear is that Germans love this savory snack so much they dedicated a museum to it. Delicious bratwurst is sliced and smothered in a spicy curry ketchup-like sauce. Smell the different spices at the spice sniffing display, or listen to crooners declare their love of currywurst at the ketchup bottle-shaped listening stations. Or just relax on the sausage sofa while enjoying currywurst in a cup. The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The National Leprechaun Museum — Dublin, Ireland

Tucked away in a non-descript building on a side street in downtown Dublin, this quirky museum celebrates the mythical Irish creature with panache. The 45-minute guided daytime tour offers a glimpse into the legend and folklore surround leprechauns and fairies. Discover the history through interactive displays and exhibits. Walk through the Otherworld and magically shrink to the size of a leprechaun as the room around you grows larger. Want something a little spooky and mischievous? Opt for the hour-long evening tour which explores the darker side of this Irish lore. The National Leprechaun museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The daytime tour is recommended for children ages 6 years and older. The evening tour is for those 18 years and up.

Paris Sewer Museum — Paris, France

Located beneath the bustling streets of the 7th arrondissement in Paris, follow the history of the complex Parisian sewer system — literally. With more than 1,300 miles of lines beneath the sprawling city, the system dates back to the 13th century. Walk along 500 meters of fascinating exhibits that display the process behind the creative engineering used to build the sewers. Don’t worry about the “ewww” factor, the tunnels you walk through aren’t in use. The Paris Sewer Museum is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday during the fall and winter months.

VIGAMUS — Rome, Italy

Just a few blocks from Giardini Piazza Mazzini in central Rome, VIGAMUS is a must-visit for anyone into gaming. This interactive video game museum has an impressive history of video games. Visitors can play arcade classics such a Pac-Man, Space invaders, Street Fighter and many more. Or, try your hand at a newer game on one of the 40 gaming stations. Each station offers a different game and console, which are changed every two weeks. There are no time limits when playing. Be sure to stop in on Tuesday or Thursday when VIGAMUS offers a virtual reality experience to visitors. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Museum of Broken Relationships — Zagreb, Croatia

The idea behind this unique museum stemmed from a failed love affair between a producer and an artist. While going through their belongings, they jokingly mentioned they should put all of their items in a room to document their relationship. Originally a traveling art exhibit, it found a permanent home in Zagreb. Be sure to bring extra tissues with you. Items of sentimental value are on display with its story; some are funny, some are straightforward, and many are heartbreaking. Not all stories are based on romantic relationships. If you can’t muster a visit in person, the museum offers a chance to become part of the exhibit by submitting your story and photo online.

Corpus Museum — Oegstgeest, the Netherlands

With a giant orange man sitting atop a glass building, you can’t miss this museum. Ever wonder why your eye twitches, or what happens to food as it’s digesting? Discover the answers as you take a hands-on journey through the complexity of the human body. Visitors walk through an oversized replica of our bodies, learning how our organs and systems work together to keep us healthy and alive. The hour-long tour begins at the knee and works its way all the way to the brain. The Corpus Museum is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Neon Museum — Warsaw, Poland

When Joseph Stalin died in 1953, his successor, Nikita Khruschev, slightly loosened the reins on the Eastern Bloc countries, including Poland. Because of this, cities lit up with modern neon signs. Unique to the communist states, the intricate, handcrafted signs simply advertised what the business was without branding. Once the iron curtain was lifted, many of these works of art disappeared. The Neon Museum in Warsaw houses the largest collection of neon signs in Europe. With hundreds of signs on display, take a peek into this fascinating era. Opening hours are Wednesday through Friday noon to 5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. English tours are available by appointment. 

Cologne Carnival Museum— Cologne, Germany

Don’t worry, no creepy clowns at this one! Carnival in Cologne is one of the largest and oldest in Germany. Dating back more than 2,000 years, this annual event is celebrated year-round at the Cologne Carnival Museum. Learn about its rich history from inception to what it has evolved into today. Watch films and pore over pictures as more than 1,400 square meters of artifacts and costumes are on display. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures — Paris, France

Obscurely located on the outskirts of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, this macabre museum is run by Jacques Sirgent, one of the leading experts of vampire lore in France. Wander through his personal collection of vampire-related artifacts, including an authentic kit to ward off the fanged creature. Reservations are required, and walk-ins are not permitted. Ask for a guided tour of nearby Père Lachaise cemetery to round out your spooky adventure. 

British Lawnmower Museum — Southport, England

Landscape designers and gardening enthusiasts can check out more than 300 restored lawnmowers from the past 200 years at this one of a kind museum. Discover vintage gardening tools and learn about the history of landscaping. Lawnmowers of the rich and famous (including one used at the residence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana) are on display, as well as a fun exhibit about lawnmower racing. Visit the museum 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Bring this article and get in The British Lawnmower Museum FREE! 

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