If you’re an art lover and enjoy visiting art galleries while on holiday or travelling, here are some of the best art galleries and museums to visit in Europe.
The National Gallery, London, UK
Ticket prices: Free admission
Opening hours: Open daily from 10am to 6pm (Friday til 9pm)
Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is one of London’s most popular visitor attractions. With paintings by Monet, van Dyck, Gainsborough and Turner, the gallery houses some of the world’s best-loved art and entry is free. With more than 2,000 artworks on show, the museum conveniently lists the 30 must-see items so you won’t need to worry about missing Constable’s The Hay Wain or van Eyck’s intriguing 1434 masterpiece Arnolfini Portrait. When you’ve exhausted the National’s treasures, head to the nearby London’s National Portrait Gallery, which houses 11,000 portraits and over 250,000 photographs and negatives.
MUCA, Munich, Germany
Ticket prices: Adult €7.50
Opening hours: Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, Thursday 8pm
A visit to the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) is a must when visiting Munich. The first museum of its kind in Germany, its goal is to provide a space for a young and transient form of art. Works by Warhol, Herakut and Banksy have graced the walls, though MUCA is not a traditional art gallery, and frequently changing exhibitions present diverse and modern content.
Ticket prices: Adult €17 plus €4 online booking fee
Opening hours: Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm and every last Sunday of the month 9am to 2pm
A visit to the Vatican Museums in the heart of Rome will be a highlight for any art or history lover. One of the world’s largest museums, the museums hold an astonishing collection of items including Ancient Roman statues, Egyptian mummies and Renaissance masterpieces across 1,400 rooms, galleries and chapels. Even a full day spent here means only skimming the surface.
The jewel in the crown for most visitors is the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Other highlights include frescos by Renaissance master Raphael, the Laocoön sculpture, the Borgia room frescos by Pinturicchio, and the Gallery of Maps. As one of the most visited museums in the world, it’s best to book tickets in advance and an early slot is advisable to view the Sistine Chapel without the squash of fellow tourists.
Musee Louvre, Paris, France
Ticket prices: Adult €17. Free admission on the first Saturday of each month.
Opening hours: Open daily, except Tuesday, from 9am to 6pm.
One of the most famous art museums in the world, the Louvre museum in Paris is also home to one of the world’s most famous paintings, Leonardo Di Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Opened in 1793, with the famous glass pyramid added to the façade in 1989, the Louvre attracts more than nine million visitors each year.
It houses a staggering 38,000 exhibits from classical sculpture, Egyptian relics and medieval artefacts to Renaissance paintings, Rembrandts and Rubens, to neo-classical and Romantic paintings. Plan your visit carefully and arrive later in the day to avoid long queues to view the Mona Lisa.
Prado National Museum, Madrid, Spain
Ticket prices: Adult €15
Opening hours: Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 8pm; Sundays and holidays 10am to 7pm
A city break to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Prado National Museum. Located in a vast, neo-classical building, Spain’s premier art museum houses more than 7,000 masterpieces by Spanish and international artists from the 12th to the 20th centuries. Across the many galleries, you’ll find a huge collection of works by Spanish artists including Ribera and Goya along with paintings by Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, Rafael, Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch and El Greco. The museum’s greatest attraction is the Velázquez Rooms, with the Spanish master’s greatest work, Las Meninas, taking pride of place.
Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain
Ticket prices: Adult €16
Opening hours: Open daily, except Monday, from 11am to 7pm
While famous Guggenheim art museums can be found in New York and Venice (and due to open in Abu Dhabi in 2023), Guggenheim Bilbao is also renowned around the world – and not just for the contemporary paintings inside. When the museum opened in 1997, the building itself hit the headlines as a magnificent example of ground-breaking 20th-century architecture. The exhibition space comprises 20 galleries, displaying works by Rothko and Kiefer, among others – note the temperature is kept cool, so you may need a warm top to wear while strolling around. Join a 45-minute Express Tour if you’ve limited time.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Ticket prices: Adult €20
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15 am to 6.30pm
Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is famous for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. It is also home to a large collection of Renaissance paintings, including masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Bellini, Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio.
Ticket prices: Adult €20
Opening hours: Daily, 9am to 5pm
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is filled with approximately 900,000 items, including a huge collection of paintings by Dutch painters such as Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen and Johannes Vermeer. Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch is the biggest draw for visitors. In addition to art, the Rijksmuseum houses numerous historical objects as well.