Jaillan Yehia

Find Your Sea Legs With These 4 Marvellous Maritime Museums

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Boat in Genoa's Porto Antico

A boat in Genoa’s old port

Let’s face it the idea of visiting maritime museums on your travels could make you feel a little bit sea sick.

I love all kinds of museums and galleries, and have been to plenty with nautical themes, but while some are leagues ahead of the competition giving a fantastic insight into travel by boat, others make you want to bail and leave interest levels sinking fast.

So while I’m no more of a salty sea dog than the average traveller, I find life on and under the ocean strangely fascinating.

So if you’re into sailing and want to fit some mu-SEA-ums into your travels here are some ideas…

I’m a big fan of all kinds of museums and art galleries, and I’m honestly quite surprised at how much fun some of my visits to maritime museums have been.

So here is a round up of 4 interesting places to learn immerse yourself in sea life…

1.The Museo Del Mar

The Museo del Mar Genoa

The Museo del Mar Genoa

Where? Genoa, Italy


Boat in Genoa

Genoa’s is my favourite of all the maritime museums I have ever visited – and is not just for sailing enthusiasts or boating buffs  – the history and installations on offer at the Museo del Mar are really enthralling.

Of course any city whose most famous son is the ultimate seafarer (that’s Christopher Columbus) should really offer the best maritime museum in the entire Mediterranean, which is exactly what this is.

Even the building here dates back to the 1600’s and there are various different boats to clamber on and into, including a real submarine, and while sailing history may sound a dry topic, the tales of the docks really do come alive.

2. United States Naval Academy

US Naval Academy Annapolis

US Naval Academy, Annapolis

Where? Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay

Maryland’s Annapolis Harbor and Chesapeake Bay are known as America’s sailing capital  – and the area is within spitting distance of The Capitol, at less than an hour’s drive from Washington D.C.

With over 11,600 miles of shoreline, this area of estuaries and inlets actually has more coast than the rest of the USA put together, meaning that Annapolis has always been famous as the perfect place in The States to try charter sailing particularly in Chesapeake Bay. 

So it is fitting that the home base for US national naval affairs and training is located right here.

The US Naval Academy which is an historic and architecturally stunning base, with a sprawling and ancient campus, is open to visitors 361 days a year, so if you are a sailing aficionado and want to combine a bit of naval history with your boating holiday here, it is an easy excursion.

You won’t get a better view of the water either; there are unspoiled outlooks onto the Severn River towards Whitehall Bay which you can’t find anywhere else around Annapolis.

3. Maritiman

Me at one of my favourite maritime Museums

At one of my favourite maritime museums

Where? Gothenburg, Sweden

maritime Museums

Gothenburg is a city set on the water

There are a fleet of 19 different boats at this Swedish shipping museum entirely on the water in Gothenburg, Sweden – some dating back as far as 1875.

But you really don’t have to be a history fan or have a special interest in maritime museums to enjoy getting onto the ocean at Maritiman as the whole experience is highly interactive, totally outdoorsy and a lot of fun.

The different types of boat on offer make the experience varied and offer something for everyone, from seeing a real a lightship (which was a sort of floating lighthouse), to a barge, cargo ship and even a destroyer.

And as so much of Gothenburg’s history is bound up with the canals and waterways, a visit is a nice way to get under the skin of the destination.

4. The Titanic Museum

Titanic exhibition Belfast

Titanic exhibition Belfast

Where? Belfast, Northern Ireland

Maritime Museums

Belfast built the Titanic – and also less famously, this fish.

‘She was alright when she left Belfast!’ That’s the saying that has gone down in history as what the people of the Northern Irish capital city say about the most famous boat to be built there.

And indeed the Titanic museum goes way beyond telling you the kind of cheesy facts you may enter expecting if your knowledge of the subject doesn’t extend beyond the movie.

You learn plenty about the ship building process, which turns out to be fascinating, and can enjoy virtual experiences like ascending the ship in 3D.

Even if you’ve never been on a cruise or sailed in a ship in your life, this is one experience in Belfast that will keep your interest afloat.

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