All You Need to Know Before Visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm

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It’s a summer day in 1628. The newly built ship Vasa set sail on its maiden voyage in Stockholm, Sweden. It took 1,000 oak trees, thousands of men, and three long years of hard work to create this stunning masterpiece.

But unfortunately, disaster struck. A light gust of wind caused the ship to tilt, and before anyone could react, water began to rush in. The magnificent Vasa sank to the bottom of the sea in a matter of minutes.

For 333 years, Vasa laid at the bottom of the sea, forgotten by the world, until a group of researchers finally rediscovered it in the 1950s. They carefully excavated and restored it, preserving it for future generations to admire.

Nowadays, Vasa is on display at the world’s most visited maritime museum. Its intricate carvings, towering masts, and rich history draw visitors from all over the world.

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Is the Vasa Museum worth visiting?

Even if you’re not into sailing and ships, the Vasa Museum is absolutely worth visiting!

It’s no coincidence that Vasa is among the most visited museums in all of Scandinavia – it’s mesmerising and incredibly impressive. And it’s great for both children and adults – this huge ship can leave anyone in awe!

This was the number 1 must-see place in our Stockholm itinerary and I strongly encourage you to put it on your list as well.

About the Vasa Ship

In 1625, Swedish King Gustav II Adolf signs a contract with Dutch shipwrights Henrik Hybertsson and Arendt de Groote to build four new ships, including Vasa, which is intended to be the most powerful warship in the Baltic. However, the construction of Vasa turns out to be a disastrous endeavor.

Vasa’s keel is laid in Stockholm in the late winter, but due to Hybertsson’s failing health, he hands over responsibility to his assistant Hein Jakobsson. Vasa’s designer, Hybertsson, passes away barely a year later.

Vasa is launched in the spring, and hundreds of craftsmen work through the summer to complete the ship, which becomes a giant of its time, measuring 69 meters in length, over 50 meters in height, and weighing over 1200 tonnes with its cannons, ballast, and sculptures.

Vasa Museum StockholmVasa Museum Stockholm

Captain Söfring Hansson expresses concern over Vasa’s stability, but under pressure from the king to get the ship to sea, Vice Admiral Klas Fleming orders Vasa to sail anyway. However, just 1,300 meters from the shipyard, Vasa capsizes and sinks, witnessed by thousands of people, including foreign ambassadors.

Various proposals for raising Vasa are considered, but the Neptune Company’s method of using floating pontoons and tunnels is chosen. After years of preparation, Vasa is finally raised in 1959 and moved to a depth of 17 meters near the island of Kastellholmen.

In 1961, Vasa emerges from the water after 333 years of being submerged, gaining international media attention as a ship from the 17th century. Finally, in 1962, Vasa is displayed to the public at the newly-constructed Wasa Shipyard, where visitors can see the ship and the ongoing conservation efforts.

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Why did the Vasa sink?

The Vasa ship sank mainly because it did not have enough ballast to counterbalance its top-heavy structure, it was overloaded and the gun ports were open, letting water in when tilting.

If you’re like me and you know nothing about ships, you may be wondering what ballast is – simply said, these are weights placed in the lower part of the ship to stabilize it.

Although built by highly skilled shipbuilders to the king’s specifications, the Vasa, a ship designed for war and meant to endure tough conditions, sank quickly and easily.

On its first voyage, the ship set sail with four sails and opened gunports, ready to fire a salute to showcase its power to Stockholm’s citizens who gathered to witness its departure. Despite leaving the harbor in calm weather, the ship was hit by a sudden gust of wind, causing it to heel over. The Vasa righted itself briefly before another gust of wind sent it over again, causing water to flood through the open gunports. The ship sank under the weight of the water.

Approximately 150 people were onboard at the time of the sinking, and around 30 of them lost their lives. While most on the upper decks and in the rigging managed to survive, the sinking occurred so close to the shore that rescue efforts were quickly launched.

So how did the Vasa sink so easily? Today, it’s believed that the ship’s instability was due to a high center of gravity and the open gunports.

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Can you go inside the Vasa ship?

Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to walk on and go inside the Vasa ship.

The Vasa ship is a precious and delicate artifact that requires careful preservation and protection to prevent any further damage. Walking on the ship could pose a risk to its structural integrity and conservation.

However, you can get very close to the ship and view it from multiple levels. There are viewing platforms and walkways that allow you to see the ship’s hull, decks, and intricate carvings up close without physically stepping onto the ship.

I really wanted to set my foot on it and see what it’s like being up there, but sadly it wasn’t possible.

Vasa Museum StockholmVasa Museum Stockholm

How Much Time Do You Need in the Vasa Museum?

To experience the museum fully, I recommend dedicating at least 1 hour and 30 minutes inside.

I spent 1 hour in the museum and I wish I had more time!

Be sure to join one of the guided tours (check the schedule on the website) to gain a better understanding of the ship. Additionally, you can listen to an audio guide, which you get at the Information desk, or you can even watch a short 17-minute movie about the ship.

Be mindful of the opening hours as well – I noticed that most museums close at 16 or 17 o’clock, which doesn’t leave much time to explore, so plan accordingly.

Tickets to the Vasa Museum

As of 2023, the entry ticket to the Vasa Museum for adults is 170 SEK (€15).

Click here to check current prices. 

There are two ways to purchase your ticket – online through GetYourGuide or directly on the spot.

Online tickets are sold solely through GetYourGuide.

We bought our tickets online from here as I was already purchasing this Archipelago Boat Cruise from GetYourGuide. You need to choose a day for your visit upon booking, and go there at any hour of your choice within that day. In the museum we just showed the QR code at the ticket desk and voila! Whichever way you choose (on the spot or online), it’s super easy.

The opening hours vary a little bit.

Daily: September – May: 10:00-17:00 (Wednesdays until 20:00)

Daily: June – August 08:30 – 18:00

If you’re visiting anytime between September and May, Wednesday seems like the best day to come to the museum – you can stay until 8pm!

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Best way to explore the Vasa Museum

As I already mentioned, the entry ticket gives you numerous ways to explore and learn about the Vasa ship.

  • Guided Tour – the museum conducts guided tours in different languages every day which take about 40 minutes
  • Audio Guide – at the Information desk inside the museum you can scan a QR code, taking you to an online page where you can listen to an audio guide in various languages.
  • Short movie – A 17-minute film about the Vasa ship is played around every hour.
  • Explore on your own – of course, you can roam around freely and read all the information by yourself

You can combine all of these things if you have enough time for it!

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Where to stay in Stockholm

We had a short 3-day stay in Stockholm and we really wanted to stay somewhere close to the old town and the rest of the museums. Price was also a factor, of course – Sweden is quite expensive, so we looked for a good balance between price, location and good reviews.

This is why we booked a small double room at Best Western Hotel Fridhemsplan, which is located between the central station (T-Centralen) and the Old Town (Gamla Stan), which worked out perfectly for us!

The room was tiny, but we didn’t need more for 3 days. It was super clean, the staff was really friendly, and as a huge bonus we had breakfast included!

Check out the prices at Best Western Hotel Fridhemsplan here.

Did you find this post useful? Share with me any impressions of Stockholm or the Vasa Museum in the comments below!


Are you looking for more information about Stockholm? You may also enjoy:

3 Days in Stockholm Itinerary: Canals, Castles and Culture

6 Enchanting Day Trips From Stockholm, Sweden

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Lyubomira Doncheva
Lyubomira Doncheva

Lyubomira is the creator and author behind Bulgarian On The Go. With a background in journalism and experience in the field of tourism and marketing, her mission is to show travellers many beautiful places they might have never thought of visiting or even knew existed.

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- This article contains affiliate links. For every purchase made through one of these links, I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! -

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