Abtao Submarine Museum – Lima, Peru - Atlas Obscura

Abtao Submarine Museum

The retired vessel is South America's first floating museum. 


The harbor in Lima’s Callao District is better known for the dockside Real Felipe Fortress, but walk a bit closer to the docks, and you’ll find an incredible submarine that serves as a museum.

The BAP Abtao (SS-42) was, until 1998, in service with the Peruvian Navy. After 48 years of service, it was decommissioned and turned into the first floating museum in South America.

Most the innards of the submarine are intact, so rather than walking through a glass case emporium, you can pull levers, raise periscopes, turn dials, and pretend to surreptitiously invade whichever country you fancy.

This museum will bring out the inner child in everyone, and because it’s docked via a couple of ropes tied to the shore poles, you get to experience the gentle roll of the harbor to add to the experience.

Because this is a real submarine, if you are of a larger disposition, you may find the entry and exit a little challenging, but don’t let that stop you. Squeezing through a real submarine hatch and down the ladder is the stuff of dreams for everyone, whether you’re eight years old or eight years old at heart.

Know Before You Go

Walk toward the docks from the fort, and the naval museum is on the corner. Across the road, farther along, is the harbor entrance, where you'll see the State Canon marking the entrance to the museum. Entrance is cheap (as of 2019 it's 12 soles and five soles for kids).

Entry is only with the guide, so you can't cast off and actually invade Chile, but you can take as much time as you like playing at being a famous naval captain, and the dive simulation is worth the entry price alone.

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