Best Alternative Museums in Europe (That You’ve Probably Never Heard of)

With such a rich history, Europe is home to some of the best museums in the world, however, there is much more to see than the Louvre in Paris or the Tate Modern in London.

Europe’s alternative museums are in a league of their own, and what better way to step out of your comfort zone and pay tribute to the more unconventional settings? If you’re looking for a unique experience, we’ve compiled a list of the best alternative museums in Europe. You’ve probably never heard of them, but we can almost guarantee that you’ll want to quickly add them to your bucket list before your next tour to Europe.

Ready to pack your bags and go? Take a look at the most popular tours to Europe here. 

Carpigiani Gelato Museum, Italy

  • Location: Just 10-kilometres outside of Bologna, attached to the Gelato University
  • The main attraction: The immersive courses! Transform fresh fruit into your very own batch of artisanal gelato
  • Entry fee: Begins at €7 for a tasting and history lesson and €20 for expert-led gelato making course

With minimalist interior design, Caripigiani showcases the evolution of the beloved gelato. Not only will you receive a history lesson, but there are some eye-pleasing memorabilia to illustrate the history of vintage ice buckets and old gelato carts. You can also observe local masters from the neighbouring Gelato University as they create whimsical (and of course edible) works of art out of the sweet treats.

The guided tour of the Carpigiani Gelato Museum was one of the most enjoyable and informative tours we have taken of a food museum. The way it is laid out gives you the chance to walk through the history of gelato making from the very beginning to present day. Seeing the different gelato making instruments from rudimentary to futuristic-looking, side by side,
is quite impressive and sit as proof of the amazing advancement that has been made by the Carpigiani brothers in their field.

Tip: If you’re planning on visiting the Carpigiani Gelato Museum, booking the Master Class will ensure a fun filled 2 1/2 hours, you will not only get a guided tour of the Museum but you will also learn the intricacies of making gelato, get to use a Carpigiani gelato machine and have the opportunity to taste many different flavours of the frozen treat. – Tim & Nat, A Cook not Mad

Gelato Museum

I loved learning about the history of early sorbets and frozen dairy desserts. Before visiting the museum and seeing some of the traditional tools for gelato and sorbet, I had no idea that Arabs and Romans enjoyed ice-based treats using snow. Fascinating. The gelato demo was really interesting, too. I loved feeling the different sugars that are used to create different consistencies of gelato.

Give yourself plenty of time to roam around the museum and to enjoy a big bowl of gelato at the end. Be prepared to taste savory gelato, too! I remember sampling pine gelato — unforgettable! – Tenaya, Madame Fromage

Electric Ladyland, Holland

  • Location: A 5-minute walk from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, in the small village of Jordaan
  • The main attraction: The owner, Nick, personally shares his unique science project with you and describes the processes by which he’s turned stones and artwork into a fluorescent wonderland
  • Entry fee: €5

Electric Ladyland is both weird and wonderful. In a small and somewhat amateur-ish setting, you can experience crazy florescent visuals all around you. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated to fluorescents.

To honour its name based off of Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” album from 1968, his music is the soundtrack to accompany your groovy visit.

Deutsches Currywurst Museum, Germany

  • Location: Near the border landmark “Checkpoint Charlie” in Berlin
  • The main attraction: Learn about post-war Berlin through the famous currywurst dish. Sniff out the main ingredients of currywurst in the Spice Room and take photos with life-size sausages (even in the form of a couch)
  • Entry fee: Starting at €11

While it may be strange but amusing to have a whole museum dedicated to currywurst, the fast-food is actually a symbol of post-war Berlin. It all began in 1949 when Berliner Herta Heuwer obtained ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers stationed in Germany. She mixed the ingredients with other spices and doused a pork sausage with her new concoction and voilà! Find out more for yourself at this crazy museum. 

If you like visiting quirky and unusual places, put the Currywurst Museum on your list! Berlin is one of the best cities for exploring history, architecture and quirky spots. Located just a few minutes from Checkpoint Charlie, Currywurst Museum draws you in with the bright red currywurst truck parked outside. Anybody visiting Berlin will see how popular the Currywurst is – shops and vendors selling the famous sausages can be spotted starting right from the airport to the market areas and various spots of the city. In fact, it is said to be invented right in Berlin itself. So, for all you food and history lovers, visiting the Currywurst Museum, getting to know the history of the world-famous dish and then trying out some for yourself is a fantastic idea. You can shop for some souvenirs too and leave feeling full and happy. If you visit on a Monday or hold a Berlin Welcome Card or even have a student Id, you can get discounted entry tickets. In case you don’t have much time to spare, you can also enter the museum and try the Currywurst without going inside to visit the exhibition. – Menorca, Europe Diaries

Pinball Museum, Hungary

  • Location: A short walk from Budapest-Nyugati train station in Budapest
  • The main attraction: Play unlimited rounds of pinball on any of the 130 retro machines
  • Entry fee: Around €8 for unlimited gaming

Joy is doubled when it’s shared, isn’t it? Balázs Pálfi thought so. He started out as a hobbyist collector, but then his collection grew so much that he figured he should open a museum to share it with the world. The Pinball Museum is the world’s largest continuously operating pinball machine exhibit.

Visitors can float between 130 machines and embrace their competitive streak, all the while admiring the vintage machines in Europe’s largest exhibition of machines. Heck, take it to the next level by joining one of their competitions.

Alternative Museums in Europe
Pinball Museum

Abode of Chaos, France

  • Location: Located in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, a small town just a short ways outside of Lyon (France’s 3rd most populated city)
  • The main attraction: Venture through a backyard full of larger-than-life skulls, a crashed helicopter and other permanent installations that explore controversial themes like terrorism and war
  • Entry fee: Free entry

The former businessman turned artist Thierry Ehrmann conceptualized a complex work of contemporary art right in the backyard of his old stone home. The eclectic display is eerie and dark, but its works of art are all in conversation with aspects of terrorism, war, and destruction (as seen in the model of the rubble symbolizing the destruction of the World Trade Center).

The outdoor gallery is strewn with stencilled quotes of political figures, the owner’s sculptures as well as works from guest artists.

Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

  • Location: Located in a baroque-era palace in Zagreb’s Upper Town
  • The main attraction: Explore personal objects of peoples past relationships, maybe shed a tear or two as some hit a cord of relatability
  • Entry fee: Just over €5

The curators for this museum have crowdsourced people’s objects from around the world to share snippets of their break-ups. The travelling collection has found its home in Croatia’s capital, where travellers explore the sentimental objects that ex-lovers left behind post break-up, followed by a small blurb about the symbolic possession. Explore true stories of love and loss that are in equal parts relatable as they are sometimes laughable.

Image supplied by MoBR. Photograph was captured by Nataša Njegovanović

La Tabacalera, Spain

  • Location: Located in Madrid’s Lavapié barrio (neighbourhood), the multicultural and historic hub of Madrid
  • The main attraction: The spontaneous participatory art displays and performances in an old Tobacco factory
  • Entry fee: Free (with the exception of a few ticketed events)

The public space put a twist on the curated museum by opening up space for people to gather and express themselves in all shapes and forms… song, dance, painting, gardening, you name it. The Spanish government even listed the space as a “Heritage of Cultural Interest,” to preserve the diversity that the place promotes.

Aside from the innumerable art spaces for rotating exhibits, the building also has a library, a bar and lovely garden and patio. Longboard making workshops, eye-catching murals lining the walls and live music are just a few exciting happenings.

Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum, England

  • Location: Inside the Leeds Castle in Kent
  • The main attraction: Explore centuries worth of some of the worlds finest canine neckwear
  • Entry fee: Around €27, included in the general entrance fee for spectacular castle

This collection of over 100 dog collars answers all of your dog collar dreams. From spiked steel collars for protection against wild animals to more decorative collars with royal embellishments, the evolution of the dog collar has come a long way.

Originally collected by Irish medieval scholar John Hunt and his wife, Gertrude, the collection was expanded by the Leeds Castle Foundation and now spans from medieval to Victorian times.

Feature image supplied by MoBR. Photograph was captured by Nataša Njegovanović

We know you’re goin gto fall in love with Europe. Take a look at the most popular tours to Europe here. 

Julie is a Toronto-based journalist whose biggest thrill is solo travel. She loves talking to strangers, both near and far, and telling their stories through photos and words. Follow her adventures on Instagram @julesfayegermansky and Twitter @julsgermansky.

Up Next:

50 Fabulous and Free Things to Do in Europe 

50 Fabulous and Free Things to Do in Europe