7 Unexpected but Awesome Vacations for Art Lovers

You’ve memorized every Warhol in the MoMA and at this point could probably paint most of Cézanne’s still lifes from memory. So what’s an aesthete with wanderlust to do? Book it to one of these artsy destinations to get lost in a sprawling museum, chat up gallery owners or blow up your Instagram with street-art snaps.

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Marfa, Tx

This remote artists' haven in the West Texas desert feels like a surreal daydream—and we love it. The heart of the scene is the Chinati Foundation, a museum that merges striking large-scale installations with the wide-open landscape (founded by Donald Judd, the ex-NYC Minimalist who started it all in the ’70s). The same avant-garde-meets-Wild West aesthetic infuses the other galleries and artworks around town—including, yes, the now-famous Prada Marfa building.

berlin art vacation

Berlin, Germany

Everything you’ve heard about Berlin being a mecca for artists is true, and it’s only gaining steam. With upwards of 400 galleries, you won’t be able to walk a block without stumbling across one (especially in the Mitte gallery district and the trendy Kreuzberg neighborhood). But a few must-visit spots include Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art (inside a former margarine factory), Sammlung Boros (inside a converted WWII bunker) and Haus am Waldsee (inside a 95-year-old mansion)—notice the trend here? And if it’s history you’re after, make sure to check out Museum Island.

Beijing, China

Hong Kong and Singapore are often touted as Asia’s art hubs, but China’s historic capital gets our vote for its thriving community of working artists. Much of it is concentrated in the city’s 798 Art District, an old military factory complex that now houses studios, cafés, outdoor sculptures and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. You’ll also find an up-and-coming scene in the nearby area of Caochangdi (which a certain Ai Weiwei calls home).

Mexico City, Mexico

The Mexican capital has something for everyone: vibrant murals, ancient Aztec artifacts, eclectic architecture and cutting-edge contemporary artists. Gallery-hop in the hip La Roma area, scope out street art in Coyoacán (the neighborhood once home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera) or pop into one of more than 150 (!) museums, including the Instagram-worthy Museo Soumaya and the Museo de Arte Popular. Make sure to take a break for another major attraction: the incredible food.

Łódź, Poland

Eastern Europe may sooner bring to mind Gothic architecture than street art, but this Polish town (pronounced “Woodge,” FYI) is home to some absolutely stunning murals. They’re the work of the Urban Forms Foundation, an organization that commissioned street artists from all over the world. It’s also home to one of the oldest modern-art museums in the world, Muzeum Sztuki. (And David Lynch is famously a big fan of the city, so there’s that.)

São Paulo, Brazil

The diverse South American metropolis hosts the second-oldest biennial in the world (after Venice), so it’s hardly a surprise that there’s a healthy creative culture to match. From the massive, international collection at the Museu de Arte to the graffiti-splashed walls of Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) to the Pinacoteca do Estado, which spotlights Brazilian art, you could easily spend a week with nary a soccer match on your itinerary.

Detroit, Mi

The Midwest has no shortage of fantastic art (see: Chicago, Minneapolis), but Motor City’s creative scene is booming as artists flock from other (*cough* more expensive) cities. Case in point: The annual Murals in the Market live-painting festival (held in September) and a fresh wave of galleries like Library Street Collective that champion emerging artists.

purewow author
Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley


From 2016-2019 Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley held the role of Editor covering food, travel and all things nyc.
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