Art is a major attraction for tourists visiting urban destinations around the world. Many itineraries are filled with museum trips and even stops at some local gallery spaces and art festivals. For art lovers, no place is better than Europe. World class museums, some with works dating back more than 1000 years and others with works by history’s most famous artists, are found in every major city on the continent. Some people plan an entire vacation around seeing the art-related sites of Europe’s most culture-rich cities.
Where are these bastions of culture?
Barcelona is a city with a great art scene. However, the best creative attractions are not found in stuffy museums or even in the city’s art galleries. There are plenty of museums in Spain’s cultural capital, but there is also plenty of art in non-gallery settings. Barcelona’s mix of modern architecture and historic design makes it a great place to wander. Buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi are found throughout the city, and an entire public space, Parc Guell, features his whimsical, highly-respected work. The Picasso Museum, a gallery dedicated to surrealist Juan Miro, and Barcelona’s Contemporary Art Museum are all worthwhile art attractions in the city. Visitors can even enjoy street performers and vendors selling art along La Rambla, a long, wide pedestrian boulevard in the middle of Barcelona.
Like Barcelona, Paris has its share of architectural wonders. The City of Lights is home to some of the world’s most famous museums. The much heralded Louvre is on virtually every Paris visitor’s itinerary, while the Musee d’Orsay also makes the top of many to-do lists. Paris also has museums dedicated to some of the world’s most famous artists, including Monet, Rodin and Picasso. Galleries, both small and large, are found throughout the city. Many regularly hold shows and events that are open to the public. The parks in Paris, including the Jardin de Luxembourg, feature fountains and detailed statues. These can be great places to stroll and appreciate both art and nature. Realistically, it would take several weeks to see all the art that Paris has to offer.
Rome has a (surprisingly?) good contemporary art scene, though most tourists usually come to see the relics of the Roman Empire. Sure, architectural wonders like the Colosseum are worthwhile places to visit, as are spots like Trajan’s Baths, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica and Trevi Fountain. Museums are also on the menu for art lovers, with some very unique options, such as the Galleria Borghese, housed in a luxurious villa, complimenting the likes of the National Gallery of Modern Art. Rome is also an amazing place for experiencing other forms of high-brow culture. Opera and classical music, as well as a vibrant theater scene, are also on offer in the Eternal City.
Some people consider Vienna’s downtown area to be a museum vin and of itself. This section of Austria’s largest city is considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The buildings themselves, such as the Hofburg Palace, and the impressive collection of statues, make Vienna a great place for sightseers interested in history and architecture. The Museum of Fine Arts is the backbone of a diverse and expansive collection of art galleries and exhibit halls. Of course, Mozart called Vienna home and his “house” is one of Vienna’s most popular attractions. It is considered a branch of the Vienna Museum. The classical music scene, made famous by composers like Mozart, remains alive and well in Vienna, with concerts featuring full symphonies and chamber music quartets taking place regularly.
Florence might not be as well known or popular as Milan and Rome, but this Italian city was a hotbed of art during the Renaissance. Its wealth of art from that era, as well as other eras, makes it one of Europe’s best cities for art lovers. Even small, out-of-the-way museums and galleries hold Renaissance era treasures. While other art galleries and exhibit spaces focus on more contemporary forms of art. The Uffizi Gallery is arguably the centerpiece of Florence’s art scene. It features a host of famous works, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Art lovers can spend a day or more wandering through the halls. The Accademia Gallery is another popular Florence art attraction. It houses Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture, among other works by Renaissance luminaries. This is definitely a popular stop, though tourists can end up waiting in long lines during the high season.