19 Best Places for an Art and Culture Vacation
Soaking up a fulfilling dose of art and culture is something any fine arts admirer is looking forward to while on vacation. From luscious galleries and idiosyncratic guerrilla art to monumental bookstores and festivals, there are plenty of attractions to search for. If you're overwhelmed by the sheer number of vacation options that double as cultural hubs, here are 19 destinations to consider:
1. Paris, France
Paris is known as the City of Lights not only because of its thousands of lights illuminating the sky at sunset, but also because of its reputation as the Capital of Arts. Earning its nickname during the Age of Enlightenment, the city became a center of revolutionary ideas, education, literature, inspiring poets and philosophers during the 19th and 20th centuries that followed. Today, you can get a taste of the prevailing art and culture by visiting its numerous museums, galleries, monuments and libraries. Take a stroll through the streets that intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald once walked through.
Start by visiting one of the myriad of museums. Stand awestruck in front of the Venus de Milo in the iconic Louvre, the most visited museum in the world. If you're an Impressionist painting lover, check out Monet's Water Lilies at the Orangerie Museum. However, if contemporary art is more your thing, make sure to not miss Centre Pompidou with its Picassos and video installations.
Architecture connoisseurs will also be enraptured by the life-size exploration of architectural styles and techniques that the city has to offer. Check out Fondation Louis Vuitton Paris with its unique modern forms, or perhaps the Neo-Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. There's also Musée du Quai Branly with its hybrid green wall exterior that you'll stumble into while trying to reach the Eiffel Tower. From the neoclassical and baroque Bibliothèque Mazarine to The Richelieu-Louvois Library with its famous kaleidoscopic oval reading room, Paris also boasts libraries replete with rare medieval manuscripts and volumes on all subjects. In the small manicured park of Square Louvois, book lovers will definitely love enjoying their favorite book on the grass by the fountain.
You can also enjoy some of the finest venues for operas, ballet and musicals such as the elegant Opera Garnier and the Philharmonie de Paris, where you'll find in their eclectic program everything from classical to world music and rock. Moreover, head towards the Latin Quarter for jazz, swing and blues bars such as Le Caveau de la Huchette whose atmosphere will definitely make you get out of your chair and dance. If you're not afraid of indulging in a sneak peak of the kitschy culture of traditional Parisian cabaret shows, spoil yourself with a ticket at the Moulin Rouge.
2. Florence, Italy
When first admiring the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence in 1817, French writer Stendhal felt so overwhelmed that a disorder got his name. Thus, the Stendhal syndrome best describes what tourists experience when marveling at this city's tremendous beauty and art. Universally recognized as being one of the most culturally rich cities, Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, one of the world's most influential cultural movements. Therefore, it's no wonder that you won't get bored exploring the art scene embroidered in this Italian city's historic streets.
Explore the well-known Piazza del Duomo where the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore as well as the baptistery, the bell tower and the museum are located. Here you can find the abundance of marble exteriors, stained glass and masterpieces that Donatello, Giotto, and Michelangelo worked on. An interesting touristic fact is that Michelangelo's best-known work, David, is copied all over Florence. Such examples are the bronze replica in Piazzale Michelangiolo or in front of Palazzo Vecchio. It's definitely worth also seeing the original, residing in the Galleria dell'Accademia, which hosts other splendid highlights such as Botticelli's Madonna.
Moreover, come take a look at how Florence's 14th - 16th-century painters innovated western art in the Uffizi Palace and Gallery. Brimming with cherished works of art focusing more on decorative arts and sculpture, Bargello Palace National Museum is also a splendid point of interest for culture lovers. Furthermore, Basilica di San Lorenzo and Michelangelo's Medici Tombs are probably home to the most beautiful burial tombs ever built. What's more, every building or religious institution you wander by in Florence is a piece of art in itself. Even Ponte Vecchio is not just a bridge that links the two sides of the Arno, but it has a built-in passageway housing the priceless collection of self-portraits by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and others.
If you're a cinematography lover, you'll be pleased to know that numerous Florentine movie directors left their timeless mark in the cinema industry. Visit the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation which includes a fascinating exhibition consisting of stage and costume sketches and drawings. They tell the story of the artist's career from prose theater, such as Romeo and Juliet, to opera and cinema productions. Furthermore, take a stroll on Via di Porta Rossa to The NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa hotel. In this historical landmark thought to be the oldest hotel in Italy you can see where the father of Italian comedy, Mario Monicelli, shot one of the most memorable scenes from the cult movie Amici Miei.
3. New York City, USA
Whether you're a lover of live music, art galleries, history or would prefer something else entirely, New York City provides an all-encompassing arts and culture scene that has something for everyone.
Fans of street art will be happy to know that a wide array of urban artworks can be observed at every corner. Take a stroll through iconic vibrant hubs of the city such as Chelsea Market, the High Line park and Downtown Brooklyn for some of the most striking and awe-inspiring murals you will ever see. If you prefer to marvel at works of art in more confined settings, you can't leave New York without stepping inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, and Islamic art, from antiquity until the present. However, visit the Guggenheim Museum if you're more interested in browsing just modern artworks, or the Museum of Modern Art if you're looking for contemporary art that really pushes boundaries.
If art is not your thing, but are still trying to get immersed in the NYC culture, one of a kind cultural attractions such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the New York Transit Museum are awaiting. Moreover, The Strong National Museum of Play, the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the study of play, and the American Museum of Natural History offer memorable interactive experiences.
Delve deeper into the New York art and culture scene by checking out the top music venues in the city. Jazz music connoisseurs will enjoy booking a ticket for a performance at the Lincoln Center, while classical music lovers can be enraptured by the gorgeous interior of Carnegie Hall as they're taking in the soft instrumentals. New York's sidewalks are engrossing musical venues as well: listen to the spontaneous tunes and street performances happening all around you while you take a leisure stroll.
4. St. Petersburg, Russia
Considered Russia's cultural capital, St. Petersburg is home to a close-knit art community which comprises everything from public art and outdoor installations to world-famous museums and thriving live performances.
Dive into the enthralling religious background of the city by visiting the absorbing Orthodox churches and their gripping architecture, such as The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Its impressiveness stems from its reputable informal title of the "Museum of Mosaics" due to its 7,500 square meters of Biblical mosaics on the walls and ceilings.
There's no doubt that another unmissable point of interest is the State Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Get lost through the 3 million masterpieces that spread out across six historic buildings and feel yourself become absorbed by the Russian art and culture. Also part of the Hermitage Museum, the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace is an impressive setting consisting of 332 portraits of generals who took part in the Patriotic War of 1812. Nevertheless, if modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures are more of your scene, the State Russian Museum and the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art boast splendid collections picked by the most careful curators. Moreover, St. Petersburg showcases its respect and admiration for street artists in the fascinating exhibitions of the Street Art Museum, whose artworks also explore complex globalized issues such as immigration.
Don't miss the story about the development of the Russian schools of musical theater ballet by visiting the Museum of Theatrical and Musical Art. Because ballet, opera and dramatic theater are at their peak in this Russian city, enjoy the lifetime opportunity of experiencing a live artistic performance as well. Watch Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty in the monumental neoclassical building of Mariinsky Theatre, home to one of top 6 ballet and opera companies in the world.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Lying on the shores of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is definitely a thriving art hub boasting incredible architecture, music and world-famous gastronomy. There are innumerable masterpieces that will make every art and culture lover's heart pound faster while deciding what to visit first.
Fall head over heels for the wide array of architectural works of art spread across the Catalonian city's streets. You'll be enthralled just by marveling at the incredibly intricate exteriors, such as Casa Amatller's Modernist mansion walls. If you're more into contemporary designs, don't miss Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion after taking a stroll by Plaça d'Espanya. Nevertheless, no trip to Barcelona is complete unless you check out the must-see architecture by Gaudi, whether you're an architecture lover or not. Casa Batlló's wavy composition along with La Pedrera's unconventional style are just a sneak peek into the creative spirit of Gaudi's works that are meant to heavily complement and unify with the surrounding natural world. Furthermore, check out the spectacular Park Güell, the Art Nouveau design of Casa Vicens, and of course, the epitome of the genius' artistic mastery, Basílica de la Sagrada Família.
Art lovers traveling on a budget will be happy to know that there's plenty of free art to be seen everywhere, from the gigantic mosaic in the center of La Rambla to Frank Gehry's El Peix sculpture. However, if you want to enjoy the art gallery experience of Barcelona, make sure to check out The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) or one of the many independent bohemian art galleries on Enric Granados Street. In case you want to get more familiar with just one artist's masterpieces, then Picasso Museum is an incredible artistic venue. It will fascinate art enthusiasts and the casually curious alike due to the painter's emblematic signature style.
Don't forget to check the music festivals happening in Barcelona during your trip. From the month-long Barcelona Jazz Festival to the electronic music Sónar Festival and Primavera Sound, get ready to sway along the rhythm of the finest tunes. If you want to skip all the buzz of the city and explore the Catalonian cuisine, go to the cozy Gràcia neighborhood and enjoy the typical cheerful tapas and Crema Catalana.
6. London, England
London is well-known as a dynamic hub of youthful energy, vibrancy and rich cultural infrastructure. The UK comes second on the list with the most visited museums in the world, while five of the most visited museums in the UK are in no other city than the British capital. Pack up your umbrella and get ready for a fulfilling and fascinating trip.
A priceless gem for history lovers, London has magnificent attractions such as the Tower of London, which is the perfect showcase of British culture. Get ready to witness ravens around the grounds, as well as the iconic Crown Jewels. Even those who are not so enthusiastic about British history can head towards the nearby Tower Bridge, another defining landmark that offers a unique perspective of the London skyline and of the surrounding cultural points of interest. Jump into the mind-blowing architectural London scene by visiting staggering religious centers such as the Gothic Westminster Abbey or the classical Baroque St. Paul's Cathedral. Even while you stop to recharge and get a bite in markets such as the airy and intriguing Leadenhall Market, you can take a sneak peek at the spectacular cultural scene. Stop in your tracks while you savor your fish and chips to admire the rich heritage of Victorian arches in what was once a forum in the center of Roman London.
If it starts raining, you can always spend your day visiting Buckingham Palace. View the iconic portraits in the Picture Gallery and walk up the Grand Staircase. Furthermore, enjoy the "changing of the guard" ceremony or take a selfie with the soldiers dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. Rainfall is also a good weather opportunity for taking a tour of one of the myriad museums. Discover the historical artifacts spanning from Ancient Greece to the American dream at the British Museum, or head towards the emblematic Trafalgar Square and stay amazed in front of a Cezzane and a Van Gogh at the National Gallery. Another must is definitely Tate Modern, where the astounding contemporary art from around the globe will be a memorable lifetime experience. Theater and music enthusiasts shouldn't miss ending their trip with a live show at the Barbican or Shakespeare's Globe.
7. Tokyo, Japan
There's such a great variety of arts and traditions in Tokyo that you can't really find an equivalent in any other city in the world. Steeped in a deep blend of vibrant arts and culture, the Japanese capital has everything from samurai museums and art galleries to bewildering sumo matches and kabuki shows.
If you want to soak up Japanese culture, there's no better way of doing this than visiting one of the astounding museums. Start by learning all about ancient Japan and East-Asian culture and history at the Tokyo National Museum. Next, go to the hip Roppongi neighborhood where you can not only observe the iconic Tokyo Tower, but also visit the Art Triangle. It's a complex of three art museums which celebrates the idea of "art in life". Furthermore, contemporary art enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Museum of Contemporary Art, another artistic space that houses international and postwar Japanese art works. Moreover, you should immerse yourself in the country's culture by having a memorable interactive experience at the Samurai Museum, where you can see a short demonstration of fighting techniques and get to wear some of the armor yourself.
Get ready to watch one of the most fascinating sports you have probably only seen on TV before: the Japanese national sport, sumo. Buy tickets for a sumo match at Ryogoku Kokugican (Ryogoku Sumo Hall), and remain fascinated by the enthralling ceremonies at the beginning and end of a match. Thus, see for yourself how incredibly sacred this event is. If you just can't get enough of the deep cultural history, book tickets for a Kabuki performance as well, a traditional Japanese form of dramatic theater with roots tracing back to the Edo Period. You can watch this art form come to life in Kabukiza Theatre, where there are also English subtitles and explanations provided. Stay bewitched by the elaborately designed costumes, outlandish make-up and eye-catching wigs. After the show is over, set out for the basement of Tokyu Toyoko Department Store beneath Shibuya station, where you can get a taste of the outstanding Japanese cuisine. The Tokyu Food Show is a buzzing hub for the lovers of gastronomical culture, where you can enjoy every gourmet flavor from fresh sushi and sashimi to chicken Katsu and bento boxes.
8. Berlin, Germany
Get lost in Germany's cultural and artistic hot spot. In the last 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city has become a notoriously glamorous and enchanting community for creatives to come together. Its thriving music and nightclub scene, along with its countless art galleries and rich architectural heritage makes Berlin a perfect destination for culture enthusiasts.
Explore the stunning rococo interior of Schloss Charlottenburg, whose magical atmosphere is unrivaled. Continue by relaxing in the enchanting palace's baroque gardens, which is the perfect setting to enjoy the sunlight. You can also take a stroll around the majestic Gendarmenmarkt, which is said to be the most beautiful public square in Berlin. This awe-inspiring architectural ensemble includes the French and German Churches and Konzerthaus Berlin (the Berlin Concert Hall). The latter's excellent acoustics and opulent interior turn it into a splendid opportunity for live performance lovers to take delight in a broad spectrum of shows, from symphonic music to theater. If chamber music is not your cup of tea, rest assured that at its core, Berlin's spirit is experimental and emanates innovation and edginess. Dance the night away in one of the underground techno clubs along the banks of the River Spree, such as Tresor. This former abandoned power plant embodies the renowned vibrant feel of the city and will make any electronic music addict fall in love.
Counterculture fanatics will also rejoice in the avant-garde contemporary art scene best encompassed in Berlin's street art. Don't hesitate to admire the revitalized industrial buildings of RAW Gelände in Friedrichshain while you also grab a beer in this funky neighborhood. For a break from radical and rebellious art, take a look at the greatest European painters' masterpieces at Gemäldegalerie. This art museum will take you on a spellbinding journey through the most noteworthy art works from the 13th to the 18th century, which will be an unsurpassed experience for art connoisseurs and amateurs alike. In case you're looking to deepen your artistic knowledge even more, visit Museum Island, a unique ensemble of five museums which houses plenty of cultural artifacts from Europe and the wider Mediterranean region.
9. Chicago, USA
Chicago has an aura of creativity you can almost feel in the air. The convergence of its theater and live blues scene, along with its vibrant art galleries and Prairie School architecture will be something every culture enthusiast can revel in.
The performing arts are at its peak in Chicago. Book a ticket for a blues, soul, jazz, or gospel concert in intimate venues such as The Bassment or The House of Blues, and celebrate in the rhythms of these state-of-the-art tunes. If you're a fan of the trailblazing hip-hop culture instead, step inside Subterranean, one of the few nightclubs that routinely books rappers. Nevertheless, another unique type of unforgettable entertainment is illustrated by the lively musical theater scene of the city. Take a stroll around Chicago's Downtown Theater District and see for yourself why Chicago attracts millions of visitors each year. Sprawling across the buzzing district are the Broadway In Chicago's theaters, such as Cadillac Palace Theatre. Hurry up and book a ticket to Hairspray or one of the other plays in their large collection, and have the musical experience of your lifetime.
If you love to admire visual arts, downtown Chicago also offers an encyclopedic collection of masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. Founded as both a museum and a school for the fine arts, the world-renowned institution houses must-see exhibitions of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, which are considered some of the finest in the world. Furthermore, head towards the most impressive art gallery community located in the River North neighborhood. This staggering go-to art district is an ultra-stylish hub which tucks away its fascinating art studios into former warehouse buildings. Moreover, feel free to explore the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th-century's Gilded Age at the grandiose Richard H. Driehaus Museum. If skyscrapers are your thing, you can also admire the 50-story historic building of 330 North Wabash, a marvelous high-rise edifice well-located on the Chicago River. For architecture connoisseurs looking for a tour of the Prairie School structures born in Chicago, you can discover the stunning landmark of Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago.
Get the most of Chicago's rich cultural background by also checking out the Chicago History Museum, or enjoying an interactive trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. The Western Hemisphere's largest science museum hosts live shows, awe-inspiring artifacts and hundreds of exhibits, and also gives you the chance to climb aboard a WWII German U-Boat.
10. Beijing, China
If you want to experience a firsthand view of the emblematic fusion between ancient culture and modern civilization, don't hesitate to plan a staggering trip to Beijing. China's capital city boasts picturesque sceneries and a rich cultural heritage that will make you stop dead in your tracks in front of all the impressive beauty.
History lovers shouldn't miss out the chance of seeing one of the seven world wonders, the imposing Great Wall. Roam through the hundreds-kilometer-wide region of mountains and valleys and admire the only piece of man-made architecture they say can be seen from space. Architecture enthusiasts can also rejoice in exploring The Forbidden City. It represents another Chinese superlative since it has been listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Furthermore, you can't leave the city without also appreciating the religious aspect of Chinese culture by visiting the Temple of Heaven, a medieval complex of sacred buildings. This is a great place to get in touch not only with the holiness of the worship sanctuary for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, but also with masterpieces of ancient Chinese architectural art.
For culture lovers who prefer edgier art scenes, the contemporary art hotspot of the city is at 798 Art District. This sprawling neighborhood of Communist-era factories is an iconic illustration of how Beijing has reinvented itself as a hip cultural producer. The alluring warehouse compound has been perfectly converted to house numerous art galleries, boutiques, bookshops and coffee shops. Stop for a bite and a quick read at Timezone 8, a cafe and bookstore mixed into one, or wander through the large collection of art galleries, such as Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA). Keep an eye out for booming street art sprawled around the district. From Maoist mantras and Socialist sculptures to red Communist slogans embellishing the curved roofs of 798 Space gallery, there's more than plenty to see.
11. São Paulo, Brazil
When you picture Brazil, you probably imagine an exuberant mix of music and passionate people drifting against the background of a lively festival that celebrates diversity. The country's cultural capital, São Paulo, is proof that Brazil is all of these things but so much more. It houses a wide array of artistic and influential gems from art galleries, museums and staggering monuments, honoring distinctiveness in all of its forms.
There are so many artistic spots to choose from in your hunt for the most impressive masterpieces. Track down the most comprehensive collections of 20th century Western art in Latin America at the Museum of Contemporary Art located in the intricately-designed Parque Ibirapuera. The large gardens of the museum occasionally turn into a unique venue for Brazilian music parties that exude a liberal, alternative spirit. Don't miss out on another talked-about art gallery, the controversially-looking São Paulo Museum of Art. The polarizing architecture of the building resembles a large red box on pillars that you have to see for yourself in order to either dismiss it or appraise it. Nevertheless, the museum's exhibitions should be to everyone's liking, as they include contemporary and post-World War II masterpieces from Brazilian and European artists. If you're looking for an even more intercontinental cultural experience, revel in the rich Asian heritage of literature and photography at the Japan House.
For a dive into the city's mind blowing architecture, check out the Edifício Copan, an imposing residential building in the heart of the city shaped like the tilde diacritic over the letter "a" in São Paulo. Moreover, the same beloved architect, Oscar Niemeyer, designed the Auditório Ibirapuera, an auditorium that you have to visit if not for the inspiring work of art, then for the great acoustics live shows. For lovers of more classical forms of art such as Renaissance art, make sure to marvel at the São Paulo Sé Cathedral lying right in the historic Old Town. Due to its romantic neo-gothic design, you'll feel that you got transported straight across the world into a picturesque Italian city. When you get peckish at the end of a day full of visiting, head to Beco do Batman, a graffiti haven that is also a hot spot of gastronomy and nightlife. Fashion enthusiasts should also pay attention to the semi-annually held São Paulo Fashion Week, one of the biggest fashion weeks in the world.
12. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City keeps so many cultural events and fine artistic pearls throughout its splendid avenues that it's hard to keep track of all. With its thriving scenes for traditional music, food, fashion and architecture, you may want to think of the Mexican capital as your next fine art destination.
Visual arts connoisseurs shouldn't miss the honor of visiting the old home of Frida Kahlo. Casa Azul (literally Blue House) is now a museum that hosts a sneak peek into the Mexican painter's everyday life, as well as a display of traditional Mexican clothing, jewelry and underrated artworks by her husband, Diego Rivera. Moreover, don't miss out on marveling at the private art collection of nearly 70,000 works from the 15th to mid-20th century at Museo Soumaya. The unique façade of the edifice glides elegantly into the skyline and makes for an awe-inspiring view that stands out across the Mexican streetscape. In case you want to explore Mexico City's architectural scene, check out the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the most splendid and recognized landmarks, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, a staggering example of colonial architecture. Immerse yourself in the Aztec culture by admiring the Templo Mayor ruins and museum, where the remains of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the old Aztec empire, are located.
Glide deeper into the Mexican culture by getting into a local's shoes and wandering around the Roma district. Here you can find flourishing street markets, alongside cafés, bookshops and fashion boutiques. For more relaxed leisure walks through the vibrant atmosphere of the city, go to Ciudad Universitaria. You can spend a whole day taking in the main campus of the National University of Mexico. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 for integrating modernist urbanism, engineering and landscape design, with references to Mexico's pre-Hispanic past.
Don't forget to end your memorable trip with a live performance by mariachi, one of the most appreciated forms of traditional Mexican music. Have some delicious food and tequila in one of the buzzing cantinas surrounding Garibaldi Plaza against the backdrop of the swaying rhythms of the music.
13. San Francisco, USA
San Francisco's reputation as one of the most welcoming places on the planet is also a significant hint about its other renowned status - having a rich cultural heritage exuding openness and tolerance. This broad-mindedness and colorful diversity can be spotted across its vibrant museums, festivals and street art scene.
Don't be intimidated by the sheer number of artistic destinations. Start by taking a look at the masterpieces inside the state-of-the-art de Young Museum, which boasts abundant fine arts collections combining contemporary art and historical works. Broaden your mind by also interacting with various other cultures in exhibitions such as the ones at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Asian Art Museum.
In case you're looking for an enriching experience outside the walls of a confined space, try roaming around SoMa, San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. Probably the most influential district due to its ambience of sophistication, this hip arts haven is a wonderful place to enjoy a beer from an organic brewery or shop until you drop at one of the edgy fashion boutiques. However, don't miss out on a stroll around Rincon Park's serene waterfront location either. This grassy oasis is host to the city's iconic bow-and-arrow sculpture "Cupid's Span". Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's design is said to be inspired by San Francisco's reputation as the home port of the Greek god of love, Eros. This splendid work of art is just one piece of the lively public art sprawling across the luxuriant SoMa. Make sure to also check out the other captivating urban attractions such as Richard Deutsch's soaring sculpture, "Time Signature", or Ugo Rondinone's surreal "Moonrise" sculptures.
Music and good vibes are in the air year-round in San Francisco. Have a taste of the cultural celebrations such as the J-Pop Summit held in honor of the latest Japanese music, fashion, film and art, or the one-of-a-kind music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which takes place in the iconic Golden Gate Park.
14. Melbourne, Australia
The skill and innovative masterpieces of local artists that effortlessly merge with the international arts scene make Melbourne a multicultural haven. Embedded in the Australian city's cultural calendar are a multitude of cutting-edge events, world-class stage and musical productions, as well as ultra-modern art galleries. You definitely won't regret choosing Melbourne as your future holiday destination.
At the core of Melbourne's exuberant cultural heart lies its dynamic theater district, the East End Theatre District. Book a ticket for a show at the Princess Theatre, probably one of the most staggering landmarks due to its historical roots dating back as far as 1854. In case you're looking for a more modern venue, check out the alluring Arts Centre Melbourne, where performances by The Australian Ballet company or Opera Australia will be imprinted in your mind for a long time.
As far as visual arts go, the oldest and most visited Australian art gallery definitely has something for every art enthusiast. Check out classic and contemporary, as well as local and international masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria. If you're interested in deepening your knowledge about the Indigenous culture, don't miss the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square, which is home to 20,000 Australian contemporary and innovative works. What's more, the Centre's edifice is also a sensuous vessel adorned by 66,000 handmade egg-shaped tiles which architecture connoisseurs will marvel at. Moreover, head over to the heritage-listed lush Carlton Gardens, where the Melbourne Museum resides. You'll be offered a unique and insightful window into the Australian state, Victoria, through its eye-opening natural and historical artifacts. Last but not least, don't miss the chance of tracing the moving stories of people from all over the world who have migrated to Australia at the heart-warming Immigration Museum.
Aim for one of the venues flooded with laughter and have the time of your life at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If live comedy isn't your thing, there are plenty of other events for a whole variety of culture lovers. From the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, where the art of world class landscape designs is honored, to the style-centric and sustainability-inspired Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne takes pride in its miscellaneous personas.
15. Cape Town, South Africa
Bubbling beneath Cape Town's striking sceneries of mountains, marvelous beaches and lush botanical gardens lies a buzzing hotspot for arts and culture enthusiasts. Discover the "Mother City" of South Africa in a different light and see for yourself why it is recognized as the major epicenter for African art and artists.
Revel in the beauty of having your vacation between the mountains and the sea by exploring the picturesque Table Mountain National Park. Check out the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range which looms over one of the most scenic stretches of coast in the world along with its cosmopolitan Atlantic beaches. If you don't want to leave the peaceful nature just yet, make sure to pass by the oldest garden in South Africa, the park and heritage site of Company's Garden. While here, the Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium and the Iziko National Gallery are tremendous attractions for a complete cultural experience.
After the inauguration of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in 2017, it's no wonder that the arts sector in Cape Town has flourished rapidly. Celebrating Africa's unique patrimony, this next global art hub lying in the Silo District houses some of the largest collections of art pieces. Meanwhile, the exterior of the establishment excels in architecture and design, entertaining a dialogue between the old, rough concrete and the new glass façades. Before you leave, head up to the rooftop sculpture garden located directly on top of the atrium, where you can marvel at both El Loko's "Cosmic Alphabet" skylights installation, as well as at the panoramic views of Table Mountain. Other intriguing art galleries you should include on your travel list are the A4 Arts Foundation and Norval Foundation where experimental artistic tendencies meld together with architecture and landscape.
Grab a bite in Woodstock, Cape Town's little cultural village. This rising neighborhood is a food lover's mecca with its artisanal food stalls and quaint pubs, while admirers of street art that tells a story will definitely fall in love with the graffiti walls here. Support traditional fashion, jewelry, pottery and trinkets created by local artists by also stopping by the Watershed. This trendy art store and exhibition space hosts live entertainment and shows more often than not, so keep an eye on the schedule.
16. Venice, Italy
It's almost impossible to make an exhaustive list of Venice's attractions and monuments due to its immense long-lasting heritage of splendid art and culture. Take a look at the blend of Byzantine mosaics, Gothic and Renaissance architecture in the splendid capital of the Veneto region, or spend all day in an art gallery.
Go on a leisure walk around Piazza San Marco and take in all the beauty around you. Take a trip through time by marveling at the 14th century Venetian Gothic edifices like Doge's Palace. Climb up to the second floor of the east wing and step inside Doge's apartment rooms. Roam through the intricately-ornate apartments, from Sala degli Scarlatti with its carved ceiling to Sala Erizzo with its marble and stucco chimneypiece. Don't leave Piazza San Marco without also standing in awe in front of Basilica di San Marco's rich design and gold Byzantine mosaics.
Art gallery enthusiasts should check out The American and European Modernists like Dali and Picasso at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Housed inside the former heiress' home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the splendid artworks are not the only thing your eyes can feast on. Rejoice in the breathtaking views of Ponte dell'Accademia and Santa Maria della Salute from the front terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. Moreover, you can spend a few peaceful moments in the peaceful sculpture garden of the central courtyard and see for yourself why Venice got the nickname of La Serenissima, meaning "The Most Serene". If you have a taste for the Neoclassical works of art, step inside Palazzo Grimani, replete with stucco reliefs and allegorical frescoes by the likes of Salviati and Giorgione. Feel as if you just traveled all the way to Rome by entering the Tribuna, said to resemble the Pantheon. Furthermore, immerse yourself in even more masterpieces from a diversity of far-flung regions of the world by visiting the International Gallery of Modern Art located in the Baroque marble palace of Ca 'Pesaro. The notable collections of Italian and European artists such as Klimt rival the grandeur of Peggy Guggenheim's works of art. However, there is also the unique opportunity to observe intricate objects from Japan, China and Indonesia at the Oriental Art Museum found on the upper floors of Ca 'Pesaro. Additionally, experience the cultural atmosphere at its peak by attending the Carnival of Venice or the world-renowned Venice Biennale.
17. Santa Fe, USA
From the moment you step foot inside this northern New Mexico city in the Rocky Mountains, you realize how unique it is. Native American, Spanish, Mexican, cowboy, artistic and modern U.S. cultures melt into each other and paint an illustrious picture of sophisticated feel.
Start your day by having a breakfast snack at Santa Fe Farmers' Market. Even if you don't want to try Tex-Mex cuisine, interacting with the artists and old hippies that sell their amazing products is a great way to immerse yourself in the New Mexico culture. Continue by checking out the historic Plaza in downtown Santa Fe, whose quaint bookstores and boutiques are tucked at every corner. This traditional Spanish Plaza includes a certain flavor of the Old West, as well as a Native vibe due to the spectacular Native American art market. Find out the meaning of the symbolism behind the jewelry and other displayed hand-made wares by talking to the Native artisans and getting to know their culture. The art market takes place underneath the portal at the Palace of the Governors, the nation's oldest continuously occupied public building.
Modernist art enthusiasts should definitely not miss the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, which pays tribute to the influential painter. Continue by walking along the uphill Canyon Road, populated with over one hundred spectacular art galleries. Nevertheless, those interested in history and folklore can step back in time by paying a visit to the New Mexico History Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art. Furthermore, satisfy your curiosity regarding the mysterious legend of Loretto Chapel. It is said that the former Roman Catholic church, now a museum and used for weddings, has a miraculous spiral staircase whose helix was crafted in three months by an unknown carpenter using no central support or nails.
No cultural experience in Santa Fe is complete without its festivals which have grown by leaps and bounds in the last years. The International Folk Art Market is the world's largest folk art market and is known for valuing the dignity and humanity of the handmade works by master folk artists. Honor the timeless cultural traditions also by commemorating the rich Hispanic culture of New Mexico at the Spanish Market in July, or by showing up at the Indian Market in August. Inhale the smoky scent of piñon wood that permeates the air of New Mexico's capital in the evenings.
Behind Singapore's luxurious fine dining and high end lifestyle hides a multitude of enriching attractions full of vibrant history. The small city-state retains diverse ethnic quarters, along with a wide array of staggering museums that make Singapore one of the best destinations to choose for the desired dose of culture.
Take a sneak peak into Singapore's futuristic vibe by checking out Gardens by the Bay, a splendidly designed green space. Stop by Supertree Grove to stay agape in front of the cutting edge structures designed to perform environmentally sustainable functions, or head to the Cloud Forest to see the world's tallest indoor waterfall. Nature lovers can also merge landscape with culture at the Raffles Hotel Singapore's tropical gardens. This iconic landmark is one of the world's last grand 19th-century hotels and its classical colonial architecture is proof of the city's rich history. Located in the Colonial District, the Hotel is close to other historic sites where Singapore's multi-ethnic culture was sown. Pay tribute to Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, at Raffles' Landing Site where it is said he stepped ashore in 1819.
Packed with interactive and world class museums, Singapore offers you plenty of options to choose from. Located in the Downtown Core as part the opulent Marina Bay Sands resort complex is the ArtScience Museum. The world's first ArtScience museum features must-see exhibitions that combine art, science, culture and technology in a breathtaking manner. Peppered across the city are also other engaging museums, such as the Asian Civilizations Museum, delving into themes of spirituality, trade and colonialism, and the Maritime Experiential Museum located right on the water. If your taste for peculiar points of interest isn't yet satisfied, don't worry. The Musical Box Museum and the MINT Museum of Toys, the world's first purpose-built museum for toys, are also good places to immerse yourself in. Visual art connoisseurs should check out the largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art in the world at the state-of-the-art National Gallery Singapore.
If you find yourself in Singapore in January, give Pongal a go. This traditional harvest festival originating from South India offers a feast for the senses at the Pongal bazaar, teeming with goodies such as sugar cane, ginger and turmeric plants. Conversely, in case you're there during autumn, walk through the lantern-lit streets among the local Chinese community at the Lantern Festival.
19. Abu Dhabi, UAE
With its enthralling coastline location and its industrious vibe, Abu Dhabi is not just an ordinary city of the United Arab Emirates. The buzzing capital encompasses a multitude of cultural sites from enchanting mosques to hypnotizing museums.
Architecture enthusiasts have to stop by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are free to marvel at the Mameluke, Ottoman, and Fatimid design elements that celebrate Islamic architecture. If you feel like spending time inside a museum, don't worry about a possible lack of options. One of the most popular sightseeing attractions in the city is the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. Just like Paris' renowned Louvre, the Arab cultural equivalent houses a mind-boggling diversity of artifacts from the Stone Age to the current day.
If you're not tired after a full day of exploring the immense Louvre, you can check out even more art collections and immerse yourself in global culture by experiencing the Abu Dhabi Art Hub or taking a trip to the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village. The latter is a vibrant living museum that recreates a traditional Emirati village before the sumptuous hotels, shopping malls and expensive cars you see today were overflowing the streets. Go back to a time when life was simpler while you watch heritage artisans demonstrate crafts such as pottery-making and fabric-weaving. Furthermore, literature lovers can get their hand on a sheer number of resources available in Arabic, English and many other languages at the prestigious Qasr Al Watan Library. Spend a quiet but enhancing afternoon at one of the few presidential headquarters in the world that has opened its doors to the public, and peruse through the well-packed shelves of books and research articles.
Celebrate the annual Abu Dhabi Art Fair at the Saadiyat Cultural District. Notice the hip Arabic art protruding from every corner and take part in the entrancing gallery exhibitions, screenings and workshops. Nevertheless, the largest cultural celebration is the annual multidisciplinary Abu Dhabi Festival. From visual art, opera, classical music, jazz, dance, film and literature, every art form you can imagine is going to saturate the electric atmosphere. Sway along to the rhythms of a tune from a beloved musician, or discover your next favorite indie film director as you get lost inside the cultural wealth the city conveys.
Whether your desired itinerary is bound to focus only on classical or unconventional art expressions, this list is sure to encircle a little taste of all. Have you made up your mind on a destination yet? Submerge yourself in the enriching local life as you carve out the best art and culture experience customized for your needs.