The Best Art Cities in Europe

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An introduction to Europe’s best cities for art.

Finding the best art cities in Europe

All across Europe, certain cities are known for their art pieces, museums and galleries. However, the art in these cities does not limit itself to galleries only; you can find art in the churches, the architecture, during city walks or even in your meals. This article aims to shed light on Holidu’s helpful Guide which outlines 20 of the most art-worthy cities in Europe so that you may discover the best art cities of Europe and what you can expect from each of them. 

Women looking at art in Paris

Paris, France

One of the most famous cities in all of Europe is Paris, with its reputation as the city of love, and lights. Now, whilst the allure and glitz of the city are enough to turn even the hardest critic soft, this city is known for more than just the Eiffel Tower. You can, in fact, visit many different artistic spaces within this city.

If you are in the first arrondissement, you are a stone’s throw away from The Louvre, which houses some of the most interesting pieces of art in the world. It is also massive and funnily enough, parts of it are underground, so you can find yourself lost in the labyrinth, viewing art piece upon art piece without ever feeling bored. 

You may also want to visit Musee d’Orsay, which is another beloved destination for those looking to hone in on their art-watching skills.

Beyond the famous museums, the city itself is a treasure to behold. Just walking through the cobblestones of Montmartre and Morais will have you questioning whether you should leave the city you’re from and move to Paris immediately.

See also our article on how to spend four days in Paris here.

Portugal - Porto - Unusual things to do in the city -Rabelo boat with Ribeira in the background

Porto, Portugal

How could you visit Europe without stopping in Porto, Portugal? This is one of the most special cities, as it has a powerful river flowing through it, creating a wonderful mix of being in the city whilst also feeling as though you are somewhere close to the ocean on holiday.

You may not believe it but in Porto, there is actually a museum called the Romantic Museum. So much for Paris being the city of love.

The Portuguese Centre for Photography is another great one to lose yourself in, as you will easily be able to look upon some of the most interesting photographs you have ever seen in your life.

Beyond the museums, there are also stunning cathedrals and churches that you can visit too, such as the Saint Lawrence Church or the Porto Misericórdia Church. Many Europe tour packages include a visit to these stunning landmarks in Porto. 

There are also amazing restaurants that you can go to but if you are looking for something typically Portuguese, then you might need to awaken your sweet tooth as the country is known for its Pastel de Nata’s, which is a thick vanilla custard cream that is surrounded by flaky pastry and enjoyed warm. If the Pastel de Nata isn’t enough to get you to Porto then who knows what will be?

Florence, Italy

Apparently, there is a rule that if you are to visit Italy, you may not do so unless you swear to make a stop in Florence. This is naturally only a joke made by the true Florence locals, as they adore their city more than anything, however, if you are ever to travel to this majestic city, you will understand just why this ‘rule’ has become so true. 

Standing directly in the middle of the city, as if its opulence wasn’t enough, the Duomo reaches an extraordinary height of 156 meters or 520 feet. This is the most famous cathedral in all of Florence and perhaps even in greater Italy. Its dome-like roof has given it its nickname of “Duomo” and it is the crown jewel of the city.

In addition to the majestic cathedral, many also visit Florence to see its exceptional Renaissance-styled architecture, which you can especially notice in the city centre. Every museum and gallery in the elevated parts of the city boasts the stunning lines of a typical Renaissance style.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also many famous sculptures for you to take in, such as the sculpture of “David”, “Moses” or “Bacchus”, all of which were carefully crafted by none other than Michelangelo. Any city that gets to say that any single part of their city, even just one little rock, was touched by the gifted hands of Michaleangelo may lay claim to being a famous art city for the rest of eternity. 

Tourists outside the spider outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao is one of the most well-known cities in the whole of Spain. The natural beauty and charm of the city perfectly match the stunning structures that the place has managed to erect. Simply take a look at their largest building, the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, which upon further observation, looks exactly like a ship. Perched just about the river that runs through the city, it looks like a metal structure and futuristic harbour, which is an attraction that many other cities have not been able to re-create. T

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao is arguably the most visited site in the city, however, there are other serious contenders too, as this city is filled with arts and culture. You can find many a gallery, art shows and other museums when walking through the streets during the day.

This city is known for always working on its art, curating interesting things to view after interesting things. Where you might find a structure one day, you will find a special art sculpture the next. The most arty thing about this city is that it is always changing and forever evolving. Bilbao itself is a sight to see, with its natural landscape already creating some of the most majestic scenes that a painter might never be able to capture. This is the type of city that you must go see in person. 

National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland

If you are looking for something a little different, then Edinburgh should be on your list. This city is known for its medieval Old Town parts, which look like they have come just out of the history books. Simply picture the grey castle-esque buildings, with thick stoned walls and all built upon the top of a hill and you have the Old Town of Edinburgh for you.

With a city with as much history as this one, you can be sure that there are many captivating places for you to visit. It is also a University town, which adds a level of youthful energy. This is the perfect city to walk around and live out your biggest Harry Potter days, as each turn around the bend looks like a chapter out of J.K. Rowling’s famous books.

Although the weather is typically rather miserable, the cold and wet somehow bring this city to life, as the grey buildings take on a special sheen, which makes them look like pieces of art in themselves. 


As you can see from the above, there are many places for you to visit in Europe if you are interested in art. If you are looking for one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities and are not afraid of crowds, then look no further than Paris. Should you be interested in something quiet but filled with love and culture, then you might want to make a turn to Porto. You should definitely take a trip to Florence if you are looking for something majestically beautiful. Bilbao is also a great and busy city for those who are looking for excitement and culture. If it’s history and old charm that you’re after, then do not forget to visit Edinburgh. 

Ultimately, the destination that you pick will be up to you, as you must decide whether or not you feel like something busy or more relaxed. However, the hope is that this article has helped you make that decision. With the large variety of art spaces to see within all of these cities, you might even consider doing a round trip from each one, just so that you don’t miss anything spectacular.