Europe is world-renowned for its rich cultural heritage, from Italy’s Roman remains to Paris’s artistic treasures. And for travellers to fully immerse themselves in a city’s culture, it’s important to get to know the history behind the places and people that live there.
But while popular attractions like national art museums and historical ruins are on every traveller’s agenda, there is a whole other world of eccentricity and an alternative history waiting to be explored.
If you’re looking to experience something a little different on your next European city break, we have compiled a list of the best bizarre museums to visit in some of Europe’s most-visited cities based on tourist reviews. We’ve also ranked the lowest-rated, which you may want to avoid.
The Highest-Rated Bizarre Museums in Europe
Scout Museum, Vienna
The highest-rated museum with a difference in Europe is the Scout Museum (or Pfadfindermuseum) in Vienna, Austria. Boasting an impressive 4.9 stars out of 5 on Google Reviews, the museums is praised for its captivating storytelling about the history of the scout movement and for its regularly updated exhibitions.
The entrance fee is just €4 (£3.40) for adults and €2 (£1.70) for children under 18, making it an affordable attraction for those with an interest in boy scouts – or those who want to learn more. The museum is open to the public at limited times on Thursday and Friday each week and at other times by prior arrangement.
Stained Glass Museum, Kraków
The Stained-Glass Museum in Kraków, Poland is the second highest-rated bizarre museum in Europe, with a visitor rating of 4.8 out of 5.
The museum has a rich history, operating as a functioning stained-glass workshop since 1902 and even continued operating through World War II. Guided tours at the museum are offered for 42 PLN (roughly £8). For those who prefer to get hands on, the museum also offers workshops to make your own stained-glass souvenirs.
Opening hours for visitors are from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, on Saturdays: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased via the on-line booking system or at the museum box office.
The Magic Circle Museum, London
The Magic Circle, which is the self-proclaimed most famous magic society in the world, has its headquarters in London. It even counts the newly crowned King Charles III as an honorary member.
The enchanting venue is highly coveted, with an average review score of 4.8 out of 5.
It is home to a treasure trove of items telling the story of magic, including the shoes that Dynamo wore when he famously walked across the Thames and the first book written in English about magic over 400 years ago.
The Magic Circle Museum only welcomes visitors through its public events programme and doesn’t accept walk-ins – so check before you travel.
The Fairground Art Museum, Paris
The Paris-based museum resides in what were previously wine storage warehouses and is said to transport visitors back to 19th and early 20th century fairgrounds. Having averaged a strong score of 4.7 out of 5, the museum is said to reflect early days of fair culture and appeals to all ages.
The experience requires a reservation, and costs approximately £16 for adults, £8 for children (aged 4-11) and is free for children under 4. Most tours are in French, with English visits offered during the summer.
Imperial Carriage Museum, Vienna
Rounding up the top five, Vienna’s Imperial Carriage Museum has an average review score of 4.7 out of 5.
Similar to the Museum of Carriages and Sleighs in Munich (8th), the Imperial Carriage Museum boasts a fleet previously belonging to famous rulers such as Napoleon, Maria Theresia, Franz Joseph.
The Museum is housed in the grounds of the Schloss Schönbrunn in the Hietzing district of Vienna and is a department of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Entrance costs approximately £12 for adults but is free for anyone under the age of 19.
The rest of the top 10
Outside of the top 5 highest-rated bizarre museums is the Postal Museum in Paris placing 6th. It’s just 15–20-minute drive from the fairground art museum (4th) if you fancy a different kind of cultural tour through the city.
You can find the Surreal Museum for Industrial Objects in 7th place. The Berlin Museum may appear intimidating at first glance, though the assortment of fascinating objects quickly grab your attention. The Museum neglects any aesthetic sensibility, placing emphasis on the sole functionality of the devices and components showcased. Scoring an average 4.7 out of 5 for tourist reviews, the museum is a frontrunner for those seeking an alternative museum experience.
The Museum of Carriages and Sleighs in Munich, Germany comes in 8th place in the study. The Marstall Museum is housed in the historical riding stables of the impressive Nymphenburg Palace and has an average Google Review score of 4.7 out of 5.
Visitors can explore over three hundred years of princely coach travel and riding culture, including forty ornate coaches, sleighs and riding equipment. A showpiece found in the museum is the Coronation Coach of Emperor Karl VII, one of the most beautiful state coaches in the French Rococo style.
In 9th place is the Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, located in the Martello Tower in Howth, Dublin. The Museum houses a collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications dating back from the 1840s and onwards.
Finally, rounding off the top 10 is another Vienna museum – The Original Vienna Snowglobe Museum. The snow globe was invented by Erwin Perzy in 1900 and the “Original Wiener Schneekugelmanufaktur” museum now showcases the iconic brand’s history. The museum is praised in reviews for its extensive collection of snow globes featuring everything from monuments to toilet paper.
The Lowest-Rated Bizarre Museums in Europe
While the curious nature of these bizarre museums makes them interesting – not all are worth visiting, according to tourist reviews. Below you can find the top 10 lowest rated museums within our study.
The Torture Museum in Amsterdam is the lowest rated, with an average review score of 3.3 out of 5. Most criticisms of the museum are due to both its small size and lack of any captivating displays.
The Lighting and Heating Tools Museum in Istanbul placed 2nd lowest rated, receiving an average score of 3.3 out of 5. Whilst being mentioned as one of its kind, the majority of negative reviews are around the museums’ lack of hygiene and cleanliness. Additionally, it appears the Museum hasn’t communicated closure periods well, with visitors arriving to find the experience unavailable with no warning.
A Berlin duo of the Museum of Unheard of Things (3rd) and the Museum of Gas Lanterns (4th) fill the next two places among the lowest rated. Most of the formers negative reviews consist of closure periods, though the latter’s preservation of their gas lanterns has been criticised most.
The Museum of Fantastic Art in 5th place has a focus on surrealism. With an average score of 3.6 out of 5, the Brussels museum has received backlash for its ‘misleading’ name according to some visitors.
You can find the Philatelic and Postal Museum in 6th place. The museum is located next to the Kallimarmaro Stadium of Athens, where the Olympic Games were held in 1896. Averaging a score of 3.8 out of 10, the niche museum seems to be in transition regarding it’s exhibits, hence the low scores.
7th place is held by the Museum of Costume and Lace in Brussels. The Museum wishes to preserve and educate the history of costume design in the city, though it has received an underwhelming average score of 3.9 out of 5. The Magic Museum in Paris (8th) also averaged a score of 3.9 out of 5 on Google Reviews, mainly criticised for its lack of exhibits.
Barcelona’s Chocolate Museum placed 9th lowest, with an average rating of 3.9 overall. The museums size and variety appear the reason for most negative reviews, perhaps some tasters may improve the customer experience.
The most bizarre of the bizarre
Eluding the lowest and highest rated sections of our data, we have pulled out some of the most bizarre museums we studied.
Micropia in Amsterdam is certainly that. Adopting a scientific angle, the museum showcases ‘the invisible life’ that surrounds us all. From small animals to friendly viruses, they intend to educate people on what they cannot see. The Museum averaged a 4.6 out of 5 review score, falling just out of the top 10.
Additionally, in a world of shame and stigma, London’s Vagina Museum dedicate their teachings to the gynaecological anatomy. The museum received an average review score of 4.4 out of 5, sitting in the middle of the pack.
The last wacky shoutout goes to the Sewer Museum of Brussels. The establishment received an average review score of 4.2 out of 5, securing most of the positive feedback around their walking tour of the city’s previous sewer systems.
A sample of 62 museums were selected from a seed list, comprising of the weirdest museums around Europe.
The museums were then checked for their open/closed status though manual research.
The average Google Reviews were collected by museum, and thus ranked. Where museums had the same average review rating, the number of reviews was taken into account.
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.