If you have a passion for art or simply want to broaden your horizons, there’s nothing like a trip to Europe to see, in profusion, the work of the Old Masters and Renaissance era geniuses. You’ll also find work by some of the most celebrated modern artists on display in the many galleries and museums, and you’ll find thriving contemporary art in the streets, in cafés and in bars. These are four of the most exciting cities to explore.
Widely considered the art capital of the world, Paris is the home of the Mona Lisa, and she’s far from the only treasure in the Louvre. You’ll also find the Venus De Milo and famous works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Hieronymus Bosch, along with an extensive collection of Ancient Egyptian Art. If modern works are more to your taste, the Pompidou Centre is the place to go. It’s home to work by artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, Mark Rothko and Henri Matisse. Don’t forget to check out other art spaces like the Musée Rodin, where you can see the famous Thinker, and the Petit Palais, which has some beautiful paintings by Cézanne.
Barcelona is a city that lives and breathes art, with a whole park designed by Antonio Gaudi and numerous galleries and museums. The Museu Picasso has an extensive collection of works by the artist who spent much of his creative life in the city, and there are museums dedicated to Miró, Tàpies and Borra. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya houses the world’s greatest collection of Catalan art, including some stunning 12th Century murals, while the Museu d’Art Contemporani has a cryptic collection that is always growing and has something to challenge every visitor.
The Swiss capital is a city that wears its art on its sleeve, with buildings like the Zentrum Paul Klee and the Vitra Design Museum making their mark before you ever get inside. It’s a city where the past looms large, with works by Van Gogh, Gaugin and the Holbeins on display in the Kunstmuseum, but where there’s a real passion for contemporary art, as you’ll see if you check out Galerie Gmurzynska’s Twitter feed. For a bite-sized treat, check out the Fondation Beyeler, which has artworks from across Asia, Africa and the South Sea Islands.
A cosmopolitan city that has attracted artists for centuries, Amsterdam’s great jewel is the Rijksmuseum, where you can stand two feet away from a series of magnificent Rembrandt creations, plus works by Hals and Vermeer. The Van Gogh Museum is also a treat, housing several of the tormented painter’s greatest works, and the Stedelijk Museum is the place to go for modern art of all kinds. Meanwhile, the FOAM photography museum hosts regular exhibitions by the most esteemed photographers working in Europe today.
With all these things to see and other great cities like Rome and Florence just a short hop away, it’s easy to understand the appeal of a European art vacation. In just two weeks you can see enough to keep you wowing people in conversation for years to come.