Many museums are not just amazing places to explore from the inside, but also architectural masterpieces on the outside. Classic examples of iconic European museums would be the Louvre or Guggenheim, but there are also many more lesser-known gems that I’ve been able to visit in the last few years. Today, I’m sharing my personal top 3 of lesser-known European museums with amazing architecture.

1. NEMO in Amsterdam

NEMO is a science museum in the centre of Amsterdam, basically shaped like a giant UFO. Quite the eye-catcher! NEMO is a great place for kids and teens to learn about science and technology through simple experiments. I used to visit the museum when I was a child and still remember how I played with huge soap bubbles and explored the chemistry lab. But that isn’t even the best thing about the building. There aren’t many skyscrapers in Amsterdam, so it’s hard to get a great view of Amsterdam’s urban landscape. Luckily, NEMO has an amazing rooftop terrace that is freely accessible to anyone!

Nemo Science Museum in Amsteram

Nemo Rooftop Terrace

View of Amsterdam from NEMO

2. CosmoCaixa in Barcelona

CosmoCaixa is another European science museum, found on the edge of Barcelona. The 30,000 m² museum features exhibitions and displays about the natural environment, the story of evolution, and space. CosmoCaixa doesn’t look particularly incredible from the outside. The absolute pièce de résistance in the museum is the flooded forest, inside the building. This incredible greenhouse-like structure lets you walk around a simulated piece of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.  Inside the glass structure live over 100 different animal species, including piranhas and capybaras. The flooded forest doubles as an aquarium when you step out of the greenhouse, as the glass walls allow you to see alligators, tortoises, and more.

CosmoCaixa in Barcelona

Flooded Forest in CosmoCaixa

CosmoCaixa in Barcelona

3. Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Even if you’ve been to Paris before, there is a big chance you’ve never visited this place. The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a new museum in Paris for contemporary art. It officially opened in 2014 and most of the exhibited pieces belong to the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) collection, which explains the name of the museum. The views of the cityscape from the museum’s upper terrace are simply amazing. The hyper-modern building’s designer was architect Frank Gehry, best known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The colourful stickers all over the dynamic exterior were a temporary feature, but the design is already spectacular as is.

Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton

What do you think of the designs of these museums? If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, Barcelona, or Paris, you should definitely go and have a look. Personally, I really like it when museums have transparent designs with open floors and glass material. Are you a fan of contemporary architectural styles, or do you prefer more classical styles of architecture, like the Petit Palais or Rijksmuseum? Do let me know!