Military museums are often a traveler’s best bet for learning about the military history as well as the culture of a destination. Here we’ve compiled a list of the best military museums in Europe, based on visitor feedback and our own personal experiences.
From ancient armories to modern-day war memorials, these museums offer an unparalleled glimpse into the past. So if you’re looking to explore Europe’s history, be sure to add these museums to your itinerary.
Table of Contents
- Best Military Museums in Europe
- 1. Museum of the Second World War
- 2. Les Invalides
- 3. Imperial War Museum
- 4. Deutsches Historisches Museum
- 5. Warsaw Uprising Museum
- 6. The Tank Museum
- 7. Churchill War Rooms
- 8. Casa de la Guerra
- 9. Mémorial de Caen
- 10. The Museum of Military History
- 11. Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History
- 12. Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam – Museum of WWII Resistance
- 13. Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra
- 14. Army Museum (Brasov)
- 15. National Museum of the Royal Navy
- 16. Anne Frank House
- 17. National Army Museum
- 18. HMS Belfast
- 19. IWM Duxford
- What to expect at each museum
- Tips for traveling with kids
Best Military Museums in Europe
Here are the best museums in Europe for military history.
1. Museum of the Second World War
Address: plac Władysława Bartoszewskiego 1, 80-862 Gdańsk, Poland
The Museum of the Second World War is a state cultural institution and museum established in 2008 in Gdańsk, Poland which is devoted to the Second World War. With exhibits that opened in 2017, the Museum has become one of Poland’s most popular tourist destinations.
The Museum is devoted to the history of the Second World War with a focus on the Polish experience. The Museum’s collections include over 100,000 artifacts, documents, and works of art.
The Museum building was designed by the Kwadrat architectural team and is located in Gdańsk, Poland.
2. Les Invalides
Address: 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France
Les Invalides is a group of buildings in Paris that served as a military hospital and retirement home for wounded soldiers, and now house museums and monuments relating to the military history of France.
The site was originally built under the orders of King Louis XIV, as a hospital and retirement home for wounded and retired soldiers. It was the first of its kind in the world and was expanded on by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Today, Les Invalides is home to the Musée de l’Armée (the Army Museum), the Musée des Plans-Reliefs (the Museum of Military Models), and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine (the Museum of Contemporary History) and Napoleon’s Tomb. If you are interested in the military history of France, then you should visit Les Invalides.
See Related: How Much Is A Trip to Paris? Average Cost Guide
3. Imperial War Museum
Address: Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ, United Kingdom
The Imperial War Museum is a British national museum dedicated to the documentation of the history of modern warfare and conflict. It was founded as the Imperial War Museum in 1917 and opened in 1920 after the end of the First World War.
After the end of World War I, the focus of the museum’s mission changed to include all international conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since 1914.
Archives of personal and official papers, photographs, film, and video recordings, as well as oral history recordings, are part of the Imperial War Museum’s holdings. It’s one of the most significant collections from both world wars in the entire world.
The museum also has a library and archive for researchers. Exhibitions on topics such as life in the trenches during World War I and popular culture during World War II are mounted periodically. The Imperial War Museum is located in London and is free to enter.
4. Deutsches Historisches Museum
Address: Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM or the German Historical Museum) is a museum in Berlin devoted to German history and culture. It was established in 1987 as a successor to the earlier Deutsches Museum in Munich.
The DHM is one of the largest museums in Germany, with a collection of over three million objects from all periods of German history. The museum is located in the former Prussian Palace on Unter den Linden, near the Brandenburg Gate.
The DHM tells the history of Germany through its collection of artifacts, documents, paintings, and other historical objects. The museum covers a wide range of topics, from the early history of the German people to the country’s recent past.
One of the highlights of the DHM is its exhibition on the Cold War. This exhibit tells the story of Germany’s division into East and West during the Cold War and includes items such as artwork from East German artists and everyday objects from both Germanys.
If you’re interested in learning about Germany’s rich history, then a visit to the Deutsches Historisches Museum is a must. Admission to the museum is free, so there’s no excuse not to go!
See Related: Three Days in Berlin Itinerary
5. Warsaw Uprising Museum
Address: Grzybowska 79, 00-844 Warszawa, Poland
Warsaw’s Wola district is home to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which documents and displays the history of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The museum opened on the 60th anniversary of the uprising and contains hundreds of artifacts from those involved, including weapons and love letters.
The museum’s primary objectives are to educate and research the history of the uprising, as well as to create an archive of information for future generations.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum offers a comprehensive view of one of the most important moments in Warsaw’s history, making it a must-see for any traveler to the city.
6. The Tank Museum
Address: Linsay Rd, Bovington Camp, Wareham BH20 6JG, UK
The British invented the tank and changed the face of modern warfare forever.
The Tank Museum is a British charity museum that preserves and displays tanks and other armored fighting vehicles. The Tank Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of tanks and armored vehicles, located near the British Army’s tank training grounds at Bovington. The Tank Museum is the successor of the Tank Corps Museum, which was established to preserve the first tanks used in World War I.
There are almost 300 vehicles on display from 26 nations, making it the world’s third-biggest collection. The Tank Museum is a great place to learn about the history of tanks and other armored vehicles. The museum has an extensive collection of tanks and armored vehicles from all over the world.
The museum also has a variety of interactive exhibits, making it a great place for both adults and children to learn about the history of tanks and armored vehicles. The Tank Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in learning about the history of tanks and other armored vehicles.
See Related: Tower of London Tour: History, Tickets & What to See
7. Churchill War Rooms
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ, United Kingdom
The Churchill War Rooms is a unique museum in London that offers visitors the chance to step back in time and experience what it was like during World War II.
The museum comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, which were used by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his government as a command center during the war, and the Churchill Museum, which explores Churchill’s life and legacy.
The War Rooms were in operation throughout the war and remained abandoned until they were restored in the late 20th Century. Today, the Churchill War Rooms offer visitors an immersive experience that brings history to life.
If you’re interested in learning more about Churchill and World War II, the Churchill War Rooms is a must-visit destination.
8. Casa de la Guerra
Address: Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Casa de la Guerra, or “House of War,” is a must-see for travelers to the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The 14th Century building was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition in Barcelona, and today it houses a museum that tells the story of the city’s long and complex history.
Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibitions on the history of Barcelona, the Inquisition, and the Catalan Revolution, and see firsthand some of the methods used by the Spanish Inquisition to torture its victims.
Casa de la Guerra is a fascinating window into Barcelona’s past, and a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s history.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Costa del Sol, Spain
9. Mémorial de Caen
Address: Esp. Général Eisenhower, 14050 Caen, France
Mémorial de Caen is a must-see for anyone interested in 20th Century history, particularly the fragility of peace. Located in Caen, Normandy, Mémorial de Caen commemorates World War II and the bloody Battle for Caen. Mémorial de Caen was founded in 1988 by President François Mitterrand and Prime Minister Jacques Chirac.
Mémorial de Caen’s aim is “pay homage to the martyr city of liberation” as well as to act as “a warning against forgetting and reconciling the present with the past.”
Mémorial de Caen covers a wide range of topics related to World War II and its aftermath. Mémorial de Caen is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about this period of history.
It opened on 6th June 1988, the 44th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The Mémorial de Caen is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Normandy, receiving more than 400,000 visitors each year.
10. The Museum of Military History
Address: Arsenal 1, 1030 Wien, Austria
The Museum of Military History, Military History Institute in Vienna, is the most important museum for the Austrian Armed Forces. It covers Austrian military history through a variety of displays including weapons, armors, tanks, airplanes, uniforms, flags, paintings, medals and badges of honor, photographs, battleship models, and papers.
The Museum’s collections trace the history of the Austrian Army from the 16th Century to the present day. The Museum is also home to a library and archive, which hold a wealth of material on the Austrian military. visitors can learn about Austria’s military past through a variety of interactive exhibits.
The Museum also offers a number of temporary exhibitions on various aspects of the Austrian military. The Museum is an excellent resource for those interested in learning about Austria’s military heritage.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Austria & Things to Do
11. Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History
Address: Parc du Cinquantenaire, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is a military museum located in Brussels, Belgium’s Cinquantenaire Park. The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is bordered by Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, which continues from the end of Brussels’ Park before the Royal Palace to the end of Wetstraat.
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is dedicated to preserving and displaying military artifacts and memorabilia from Belgium’s history. The museum offers a wide range of permanent exhibits on Belgian military history, as well as a library and research center.
Visitors can also explore the park’s extensive gardens and visit the nearby Royal Palace.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Belgium
12. Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam – Museum of WWII Resistance
Address: Plantage Kerklaan 61, 1018 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam (Dutch Resistance Museum) is a must-see for those interested in the Dutch resistance to Nazi, Germany during World War II. The museum does an excellent job of exploring the various aspects of the resistance, from intelligence gathering to domestic sabotage.
Visitors can also learn about the individuals who bravely sheltered over 300,000 people from German authorities in the autumn of 1944, during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. The museum is located in a former resistance headquarters, and many of the original artifacts are on display. Be sure to allow at least two hours to explore the Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam.
See Related: Best Parks in Amsterdam to Visit
13. Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra
Address: Piazza Castello, 1, 37012 Bardolino VR, Italy
The Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra, or “Historical Museum of Italian War” is a military history museum located in the Castle of Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda in the province of Verona, Italy.
The museum was founded in 1961 and is one of the largest museums of its kind in Europe. The museum covers the history of Italian military campaigns from ancient times to the present day.
The Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission to the museum is €10 for adults and €5 for children under 18. There are also discounts for seniors, students, and groups.
14. Army Museum (Brasov)
Address: Strada General Traian Mosoiu 24, 500068 Brașov, Romania
The Army Museum in Brașov is a must-see for any history enthusiast or traveler to Romania. The museum was founded in 1923 and houses collections that cover the Romanian military’s history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The Army Museum is also home to the country’s largest collection of military uniforms, weapons, and equipment. visitors can get an up-close look at how the Romanian army has evolved over the centuries. Guided tours are available in both Romanian and English, making it easy for everyone to enjoy this unique museum.
So whether you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Romanian military or just want to explore one of Brașov’s most popular tourist attractions, be sure to add the Army Museum to your itinerary.
See Related: How Close Was Germany to Winning WW2?
Address: HM Naval Base (PP66), HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3NH, United Kingdom
The National Museum of the Royal Navy was created in early 2009 to act as a single non-departmental public body for the museums of the Royal Navy highlighting the United Kingdom’s significant naval history. Here, you’ll see how Britannia ruled the waves and built an empire.
With venues across the United Kingdom, the museums detail the history of the Royal Navy operating on (and under) the sea, on land via the legendary Royal Marines, and via their air force, the Fleet Air Arm. The main hub is in Portsmouth and you can find a number of sensational museums and historic ships here.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s collections focuses on maritime history, science, art, and social history relating to naval life and conflict from the 16th Century to the present day. It’s one of the most significant collections from both world wars in Europe.
If you’re interested in exploring more British naval history, be sure to check out the nearby Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. There you’ll find the Mary Rose, a Tudor warship, which sank in 1545 and was raised from the waters and preserved in 1982.
The site is also home to Admiral Horatio Nelson’s legendary flagship HMS Victory. This enormous ship is also a floating museum, the flagship of Britain’s First Sea Lord, and the oldest naval ship in the world still in service!
16. Anne Frank House
Address: Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam
The Anne Frank House is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Amsterdam, and for good reason. This holocaust memorial is one of the most important World War II sites in the entire world. This isn’t strictly a military museum but remains one of the most well-preserved and most impactful personal stories from World War II.
The house was used as a hiding place for Anne Frank and her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. The house was subsequently turned into a museum after the war and contains many of Anne’s personal belongings as well as items that belonged to the other people who hid in the house.
The Anne Frank House is open every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the museum itself. Be sure to allow at least an hour to explore this monument to the Jewish people and learn about this important moment in history.
See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the Netherlands
17. National Army Museum
Address: Royal Hospital Rd, London SW3 4HT, United Kingdom
While almost every current and historic British Army corps and regiment have its own museum, the National Army Museum represents the entire British Army’s history and achievements.
Located in ever-trendy Chelsea in central London, it’s right next to the Royal Hospital Chelsea (the British version of Les Invalides), the home of the cherished Chelsea Pensioners.
This outstanding museum focuses on the British Army, from its foundation after the Acts of Union, to its role in building the British Empire as a military superpower, up to the army’s latest campaigns around the world. Its exhibits cover several floors and range from dioramas big and small to uniforms and even vehicles.
As well as having a gift shop and restaurant, the museum features talks on military matters. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm – and it’s completely free!
18. HMS Belfast
Address: The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2JH, United Kingdom
The former Royal Navy town-class light cruiser HMS Belfast is now one of the most famous museum ships in the world.
Docked on the River Thames, this museum ship has been open to the public since 1971. Walking through the ship, you’ll be able to learn about what life was like for British sailors and marines during World War II and the Cold War.
You’ll also learn about Belfast’s time as a flagship and her role in sinking the German battleship, Scharnhorst. Among its most impressive features is exploring the inside of Belfast’s turrets and getting a unique view of London from the bridge.
This incredible, walkable, explorable permanent exhibit is open every day from 10:00 am with final entry at 5:00 pm. Entry is £23.60 but kids under five get free entry.
See Related: Best Museums in Haarlem, Netherlands
19. IWM Duxford
Address: Duxford Airfield, Building 425, Cambridge CB22 4QR, United Kingdom
Imperial War Museum Duxford is one of the most prestigious military aircraft museums in the entire world and the largest air museum in Europe.
It’s home to numerous airshows and festivals throughout the year, constant restoration efforts to bring old warbirds back to life, and a number of famous permanent exhibits, that are museums in their own right.
Top favorites include the incredible American Air Museum, the Land Warfare exhibit, and AirSpace.
If that weren’t enough, there are also three different restaurants to choose from, play areas for young kids, several gift shops, and it’s an active civilian airfield you can fly into via light aircraft.
It also sees the occasional military flight stop by. Last time I was there, a pair of British Army Apache gunships stopped off for refueling!
What to expect at each museum
When visiting any of the museums on our list, you can expect to see a variety of exhibits on topics such as the history of warfare, the experiences of soldiers and civilians during wartime, and the technology used in battle.
In addition, many of the museums offer interactive exhibits and educational programs for children, making them ideal destinations for families.
Tips for traveling with kids
If you’re planning on visiting any of the museums on our list with your children, we recommend doing some research in advance to make sure they will be interested in the topics covered.
In addition, many of the museums offer interactive permanent exhibits and educational programs for children, making them ideal destinations for families.
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