5 Great Cities for Art Lovers

  • Copy by: Reema Desai

Travel in itself is one of the best ways to open your mind and be inspired, but there’s nothing that gets the creative juices flowing quite like experiencing a new city or country through art. There are an incredible number of cities around the world with great art scenes but if you’re planning a trip around viewing masterpieces, these are our top five picks. We’ve also included a few tips on how to see and enjoy art regardless of the city you find yourself in!

Paris, France

Source: Wikipedia

As far as art cities go, Paris may be the be all end all. Of course, there are a handful of ultra-famous museums like The Louvre, which house thousands of historically and culturally significant pieces. But as you’ll discover upon visiting, there are many other layers to the art scene here. From classics by Monet to street art painted just months ago, Paris has it all. Be sure to visit heavy hitters like the Musée de l’Orangerie, which houses some of Monet’s original Water Lilies and the Musée D’Orsay, which you’ll likely wish you had a week to explore. The Palais De Tokyo and Center Pompidou are two other spots not to be missed.

Once you’ve had your fill on the major museums, be sure to take the time to experience some of the lesser-known but equally remarkable galleries. La Maison Rouge is a contemporary gallery near the Bastille housing unique thought-provoking pieces. If you want a grittier look into the art scene, try a street art tour to see how street art fits in with Parisian culture.

Vienna, Austria

Source: CN Traveler

We’ve shared our love of Vienna before, but one of our favorite parts of this culturally rich city is the art scene. For hundreds of years, some of the best and brightest artists have been drawn to the city and as result, it’s one of the best places in the world to see and experience art.

One of the most famous pieces of art, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss can be viewed at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in the Belvedere Palace, and is a great starting point. The palace itself is a masterpiece and, in addition to Klimt’s famous painting, you’ll find a great deal of iconic works housed there as well. Kunst Haus Wien, a museum devoted to the work of artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser is a destination in itself that goes against the norm of museums to craft an experience that is incredible unique to Vienna. Round out your day with a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), which exhibits work from the Middle Ages all the way to present day.

Of course, one can’t talk about the Vienna arts scene without mentioning music! Be sure to plan a stop at the State Opera House for a concert and the Haus der Musik, a museum dedicated to music and sound. Other musical highlights include the Vienna Boys’ Choir, one of the most famous and talented boys choirs around the world.

Florence, Italy

Source: The Londoner

Any art fanatic will likely be pining for a trip to Florence at some point. The struggle is knowing where to begin, as this city is overflowing with art and art history. The Uffizi Gallery will likely be at the top of your list as it houses art heroes like Botticelli and Michelangelo. If sculpture is more up your alley, head to the The Bargello as well as the  Accademia Gallery, which houses Michelangelo’s David. The Medici Chapels also warrant a visit as it is a stunningly built burial ground for many members of the famous Medici family.

If you’re ready for a break from the throngs of tourists at these iconic, yet notoriously crowded museums, Florence has plenty of other options. Fashion lovers will adore the Ferragamo Museo, a museum dedicated to the work of iconic shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo. Museo Galileo is another great option located close to the Uffizi that houses a vast collection of scientific objects. If you still find yourself overwhelmed about the sheer amount of art to see (and we don’t blame you), consider an art tour of the city to help you get acclimated.

Berlin, Germany

Source: The Import

To put it plainly, art is absolutely everywhere in Berlin. Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the city has been a magnet for artists from around the world and today there are hundreds of galleries here just begging to be explored. If you’re looking to get acquainted with the art scene, we recommend visiting a few of the larger galleries but mixing them in with some of the smaller, more intimate spots. Eigen + Art is a great spot to check out contemporary art from around the world, as well as the nearby KW Institute for Contemporary Art, which frequently hosts workshops and art talks. For more historic works, the Gemäldegalerie is a great option—you can see European paintings ranging from the 13th to 18th century here.

Berlin is also home to some seriously impressive street and public art including the East Side Gallery, the world’s longest outdoor mural painted on an old stretch of the Berlin Wall. This is an absolute must see if not only for the art, but for the cultural significance as well.

Finally, if you’re an artist yourself, there are an incredible number of Artist-in-Residence programs worth looking into if you’re ready to really immerse yourself in the Berlin art scene.

New York, New York

Source: Booms Beat

There are several great cities for art in the U.S., but New York City is tough to beat. On your art tour of the Big Apple, round out greats like the Museum of Modern Art, The Met, and the newly built Whitney Museum of American Art with some smaller galleries in Chelsea that are off the tourist circuit. Many galleries in Chelsea host openings on Thursdays making for a nice way to experience the New York art scene as locals do. Chelsea Gallery Map is a great resource if you’re interested in navigating your way around these hot spots.

The Gagosian Galleries always has an interesting exhibit showing as does the David Zwirner Gallery. In New York City, museum and gallery pricing can vary but for those traveling on a budget, the city has many free options as well. Before your trip, be sure to check here for a listing of free upcoming exhibits.

General Tips for Your Art Travels:

  • If you’re heading to a major museum, always book your tickets in advance online! You’ll save a lot of time avoiding long queues. Museums occasionally even have deals for patrons who book in advance.
  • Check museum times ahead of your travels and look for off-peak hours. For example, The Louvre is open late on Wednesdays and Fridays making those evenings significantly less crowded than peak times.
  • Consider taking a tour if you’re overwhelmed by all of the options. There are a number of specialized tours out there whether you’re looking for contemporary art, street art, or a mix of it all.
  • There is no shame in saying “I absolutely hate modern art.” Everyone doesn’t like the same type of art, and that is OK! When traveling, focus on seeing the art you actually enjoy versus the art you feel like you have to see. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule (you should probably see David if you’re in Florence), but take the time to find the art that you love and spend time enjoying it!

Tell us! What are your favorite art museums you’ve visited or hope to visit?