The most artistic cities to visit in Europe
Art is everywhere, from the pieces we have hanging on our living room walls to those placed in the museums we’ve waited so long to visit. There’s nothing quite like visiting an arty city that houses your interests and displays talent from across the ages, but which is the best to venture to?
Across Europe, there are remarkable metropolises, where you can see some of the finest works in the world, as well as innovative street art installations. That’s why we’ve pulled together the most artistic cities we favour the most, which you can visit at the end of this year or next. Which one will you choose?
1. Berlin, Germany
It will be no surprise to you that Berlin is the first arty city on our list. Filled with wonderful art galleries and museums, Germany’s modern metropolis is an excellent place to visit for a world of art adventures.
Venture to the East Street Gallery of the Berlin Wall. Here you can admire as many as 105 murals, all of which were painted on a preserved section of the Wall after 1990 when the borders began to open. Embrace the rich history behind this important relic as you walk along the street, spotting the likes of Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss, a mural based on an iconic photograph from 1979. Simply enjoy this free outdoor gallery and all it has to offer.
Alternatively, Museum Island features fascinating exhibits, sculptures, and paintings to study. Spot the Roman Pergamon Altar at Alfred Messel’s Pergamon Museum and uncover amazing artwork from Canova, Bernini and Donatello at the Bode Museum.
2. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Also referred to as “the Venice of the North”, Amsterdam is a strong contender for artistic cities that you have to see in your lifetime. Vincent van Gough spent a fleeting time living in this city, and there is artistic enjoyment to be seen around every corner.
Appreciate this artist’s work in all of its glory at the Van Gough Museum, which is dedicated to his finest self-portraits alongside beautiful paintings like ‘Almond Blossoms’ and the famous ‘Sunflowers’. Adjacent to this is the monumental Stedelijk Museum, which is filled with modern and contemporary artwork. The 200-year-old Rijksmuseum is another reason why art aficionados like yourself should head here, as it features over one million pieces of art from artists such as Vermeer and Rembrandt.
3. Florence, Italy
Florence’s art scene is well known and very impressive, which is why many artists venture here themselves. There are various museums in Florence housing brilliant paintings and illustrations, and if you have a keen interest in Renaissance artwork, you will be even more delighted to visit.
In this artistic city, you can see the sheer size and detail of Michelangelo’s famous ‘David’ statue at The Academia Gallery, that can truly be appreciated in person. The Uffizi Gallery is also a sight to behold; this historic art museum has one of the world’s greatest Renaissance art collections, which is why it’s Italy’s third most visited site. You can admire famous paintings like Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, and so much more.
4. Milan, Italy
Different instances of art and illustrations line the streets of Milan. This artistic city, which is located in northern Italy, invites you to revel in the artwork at Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
This museum is nestled in the historic library of Biblioteca Ambrosiana, being home to rare Leonardo da Vinici journals and paintings, alongside other classic examples of Renaissance art.
Look out for Botticelli’s ‘Madonna del Padiglione’, or take a trip to Brera Museum for a mix of Renaissance and modern art pieces by Morandi, Braque and Picasso.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
Over recent years, Copenhagen has become known not only for its iconic eateries and relaxed style of living but for its thriving art scene. Unlike the traditional art galleries that exist in some European cities, Copenhagen Contemporary is filled with vast, immersive, and modern installations to appreciate.
This arty city is very on-trend, and the paintings located here are much the same. Take The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is one of the top international art museums featuring twentieth-century modern art pieces and a sculpture garden to stroll through.
6. London, England
London is certainly an artistic city, being the birthplace of Damien Hirst, Lucian Freud and so many other incredible artists.
There are also many marvellous museums dotted across the Big Smoke. With a host of different artworks displayed across a variety of museums and galleries, it’s one of the best artsy cities to visit and return to again and again.
If you’re an art buff, England’s capital is certainly worth exploring. Discover the V&A and explore prime photography pieces from John French, as well as retro pop art and Art Nouveau paintings. Not to mention, Tate Britain is home to notable works of art that portray Britain’s long and brilliant contribution to the art world. View Henry Moore’s ‘Draped Seated Woman’, Francis Bacon’s ‘Seated Figure’, and ‘Ophelia’ by Sir John Everett Millais.
7. Madrid, Spain
Madrid provides excitement for eager artists, or for those of you who love discovering different paintings. Stroll over to the Prado Museum to see José de Ribera’s ‘The Bearded Woman’ as well as other Western art pieces from the likes of Francisco Goya and Peter Paul Rubens.
If you prefer modern art, Reina Sofia is an extraordinary choice, housing a particularly famous piece named ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso which portrays the Nazi bombing of Guernica back in 1937.
There is art to be viewed, studied, and admired throughout this city. Even the lobby at the modern 7 Islas Hotel, near Gran Via, has an art gallery inside, which is free for you to visit!
8. Sofia, Bulgaria
The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, has a rich cultural history, which can be immediately seen in the colourful streets and the many museums and galleries that line them. Head to the Modern Art Gallery to see paintings from Matisse and Picasso, or if you’d prefer to see the works of Bulgarian artists instead, then venture to Art Gallery Natalie which is located close to the houses of parliament.
For something more unusual, organise a trip to the Absinthe Aquarelle Gallery. It is here you’ll get to see beautiful watercolour masterpieces, or even join one of the watercolour painting classes and wine tasting sessions available.
9. Vilnius, Lithuania
Perhaps not the place you’d expect to appear on our list, this stunning Baltic city packs a punch when it comes to a thriving art scene. It’s home to several art galleries, including Medaliu Galerija which is housed in an underground cellar dating back to the 1500s, displaying art by Lithuanian and international artists.
Alternatively, head to TSEKH, a contemporary art gallery that’s one of the biggest in all of Lithuania. You could also take a trip to Užupis, which is often referred to as the ‘district of artists’. It’s a republic in Vilnius with its own set of laws, which means you can get your passport stamped there if you want to visit! In Užupis, you’ll find the Art Incubator, which encourages emerging talent to show their creations.
10. Paris, France
Another classic arty city is Paris. At the top of every art lover’s list when wandering in this metropolis has to be the Louvre, where Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa lives. In fact, the Louvre houses the largest number of Da Vinci’s paintings in the world.
For more modern art, head to the Pompidou Centre. The exterior may look a little obscure with its ‘inside out’ concept, but step inside and you’ll be able to admire over 12,000 pieces of art.
If you’re more interested in street art, then there are an abundance of places where you can see it. Discover Rue Saint-Maur, a two-kilometre stretch of road with bright, colourful walls, or Oberkampf, where famous street artist Kashink displays her work.
Explore these spots for yourself and more
Each of the artistic cities on this list are sure to appeal to you in different ways, and now’s your time to choose which one best suits your personal preferences.
Find prints for your own home in the meantime by browsing through our extensive art collection, featuring everything from themed prints to spectacular reproductions from the V&A. Ensure you read through our selection of articles on our blog, too, to learn about a variety of topics, including the benefits of art therapy and how to create a productive home office.