GO Blog | EF Blog Canada
The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First
MenuFree Brochure

6 of the world's best cities for art lovers

6 of the world's best cities for art lovers

Art and creative expression are part of the fabric of our cultures. Even as far back as our oldest ancestors, we painted, sculpted, and created — across the globe, ancient pictures have been found on the walls of caves, some painted over 40,000 years ago. Art allows us to communicate beyond words and spoken language. It can make you feel things, think in new ways, and can inspire you to make something yourself.

You certainly don’t have to be an artist to appreciate art, and you also don’t have to visit remote caves to experience it. Many big cities are great for spending days up close to some iconic works of art and exploring national art galleries and modern installations. So, art lovers — whether you’re looking to visit or study in a new city, we’ve picked some of the best spots around the world to indulge your creative appetite.

1. Paris

For centuries, Paris has been synonymous with art. With the beautiful streets of Haussmann and gothic architecture, the city itself is a work of art that it’s easy to be inspired by. Some of the great pioneering artists, like Monet, Dalí, van Gogh, and Picasso, spent time here and Paris’ many galleries display their works. 

Here you’ll find the Louvre — an international art gallery celebrity filled with paintings, sculptures, and antiquities. It’s also home to Da Vinci’s iconic, feels-smaller-in-real-life portrait of the Mona Lisa.

2. New York

New York has an irresistible energy, inspiring painters, sculptors, writers, poets, fashion designers, and actors. There’s art of all kinds around every corner. Broadway musicals sit alongside independent theater shows and street musicians. 

Explore like a tourist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (America’s largest museum) and feel like a local at smaller galleries; head to Pop International for pop art (think Warhol), Staley-Wise Gallery for fine art photography, and the Shin Gallery for works from marginalized contemporary artists. Some neighborhoods are even galleries – Parkchester in The Bronx has over 1,000 colorful terracotta sculptures on the walls of buildings.

3. Tokyo

Japan has a rich art history and Tokyo has become a top destination for art with its blend of traditional Japanese culture and uber-modernism. The Sumida Hokusai Museum celebrates the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, who created paintings and woodblock prints such as his famous The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Dramatic sculptures and art installations add flourish to Tokyo’s public spaces and innovative art experiences (think: digital galleries and light sculptures) rub shoulders with classic galleries like the Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s even artistry in the food — look out for hand-painted sweet treats and sushi creations.

4. Amsterdam

Though small compared to some European capitals, this pretty city is a must-visit for art lovers. During the 17th century, Dutch painters such as Rembrandt put Amsterdam on the map as an artistic hub. 

Nowadays many masterpieces can still be seen; the Vincent van Gogh Museum has many original artworks, and the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum has world-class collections. In the 1980s, communities of artists lived together in abandoned buildings known as squats, creating a flourishing creative scene for contemporary painters and performers.

5. Berlin

Berlin has a strong culture of a form of modern creative expression: street art. Many of the city’s buildings and walls are covered with colorful, comical, and political murals. Some of the most famous are on the Berlin Wall itself; head to the East Side Gallery, where huge works are painted along the longest remaining section of the Wall, transforming the historic monument representing division into an inspiring, open-air celebration of creativity and freedom. 

Graffiti is also plentiful in Haus Schwarzenberg alley, and Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts. Other great cities for street art are Melbourne, San Francisco, and Banksy’s hometown of Bristol.

6. London

A huge number of world-class museums, theaters, and galleries are found in London, celebrating almost every movement, style, and subject matter. From Renaissance, romantic, and Impressionist paintings to modern, contemporary, and fashion artworks, there’s something for everyone. 

Tate Modern and Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery, the Serpentine Gallery, the Wallace Collection, and the V&A are all free to visit. The city’s many exhibits are updated on a regular basis so there's plenty to explore. It’s also home to prestigious art schools attracting creative students from all around the globe and hosts several large annual art fairs.

Dive into another cultureStudy abroad
Get the latest on travel, languages and culture in the GO newsletterSign up

Study abroad and discover the world

Learn more