Europe offers no shortage of interesting places to visit, but where should you go if you’re particularly interested in art? The answer can seem daunting given the options. Whether you pick Paris, London, Rome, or Barcelona, it all depends on your personal preferences and what you’re actually looking to experience.
In fact, there are so many places in Europe that house world-class art that it was hard to narrow the list to only 10 cities. Those that rose to the top are not only home to impressive museums but are also filled with enough open-air sites to keep you occupied for weeks—even months—at a time.
So get your passport ready and start planning your trip. Whether you love Michelangelo or are fascinated by Van Gogh, there’s sure to be a special place for your next European vacation.
These 10 European cities are the best places to visit if you love art.
The cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is an endless maze of opportunities for art lovers. Marvel at Michelangelo’s iconic David sculpture and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus or take in the architectural masterpiece that is the Florence Duomo. As the first domed building since antiquity, it looms over the city as a reminder of mankind’s achievements.
Top Art Experiences in Florence
Paris is a world art capital thanks to its incredible Medieval monuments, expansive museums, and cutting-edge art galleries. Amble through the Louvre and get a glimpse of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or spend time soaking in the Impressionist masterpieces at the Musée D’Orsay.
Top Art Museums in Paris
London makes a great vacation spot for museum-goers, partially because state-run museums are free of charge. This leaves visitors free to view the British Museum’s Rosetta Stone and Elgin Marbles and then hop over to the Tate Modern for works by Duchamp and Andy Warhol. But you don’t need to stay indoors to experience art in London, a stroll through the trendy Shoreditch district will take you past work by some of today’s leading street artists.
Best Art in London
- British Museum (Buy tickets for Guided Tour)
- Tate Modern
- Street Art in Shoreditch
Only in Rome can you walk in the shadows of Julius Caesar and the gladiators and then experience the magic of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. From the archeological masterpiece that is the Colosseum to the opulent Trevi Fountain, there’s always something in Rome to keep you coming back for more.
Top Sites to Visit in Rome
Van Gogh fanatics should place Amsterdam at the top of their must-see list, with the Van Gogh Museum teeming with artwork by the acclaimed painter. The city is also home to the Rijksmuseum, which opened in 1798 and receives over 2.4 million visitors a year who flock to see works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals.
Best Museums in Amsterdam
Vienna is a mix of old and new, with classical masterpieces and contemporary art museums sitting comfortably together in harmony. The Museumsquartier, located in the seventh district, is a sprawling area covering 60,000 square meters that is home to numerous art institutions. The city is also home to the largest collection of work by Gustav Klimt, which is located in the Belvedere Museum.
Best Museums in Vienna
Berlin’s unique history allows you to view important artifacts from Babylonia and ancient Greece at the Pergamon Museum and then fast forward to the 21st-century art by visiting the city’s numerous galleries and foundations. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at the East Side Gallery, where art became a symbol of freedom in the era of the Berlin wall.
Best Art Experiences in Berlin
- Pergamon Museum (Buy tickets)
- KW Institute for Contemporary Art
- East Side Gallery
Bilbao placed itself on the map as an art destination when the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997. One of the largest museums in Spain, it houses site-specific installations and often rotates exhibitions. The museum is complemented by the surrounding Bilbao art district, where you can see works by Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Koons, and Anish Kapoor.
Best Art in Bilbao
- Guggenheim Museum (Buy tickets)
- Bilbao Art District
- Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao
Not only is Venice memorable for its canals and gondolas, it’s also home to a remarkable collection of art. Site-specific paintings by Renaissance masters like Titian and Veronese are contrasted by modern offerings at the Peggy Guggenheim collection. Contemporary art lovers will want to time their visit with the Venice Art Biennale, which attracts the best talent from around the world.
Best Art Experiences in Venice
- St. Mark’s Basilica (Buy tickets for a Guided Tour)
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Buy tickets)
- Doge’s Palace (Buy tickets)
What’s not to love about the Catalan capital? From Gaudí’s incredible Sagrada Familia to a museum filled with artwork produced by Picasso during his formative years, there’s plenty of art and architecture to soak in. Museum-lovers will want to take advantage of the Barcelona Museum Pass, which grants entry to the city’s six best art museums, including the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró.
Must-See Art Sites in Barcelona