From classical concertos to flamenco rhythms, Renaissance treasures to Modernist masterpieces, Europe offers endless cultural treats for any taste. Here are our top picks for art, music, and theater in the great European capitals and beyond.
Italy dominates when it comes to opera and Renaissance art. Florence’s Accademia and Uffizi galleries, plus the Vatican in Rome, are essential stops for art lovers, housing many of the world’s most iconic paintings and sculptures. Classical music and opera are also part of the Italian cultural fabric; from Venice to Naples, live performances showcase the works of Italian maestros like Verdi and Rossini.
French museums including the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay exhibit great works from ancient relics to Impressionist delights, while royal palaces like Versailles and Château de Chenonceau display royal art collections to the public. For a taste of Parisian nightlife, go highbrow with a tour of the legendary Opera Garnier, or check out the scantily clad dancers at a classic cabaret.
Barcelona is a Modernist showcase, with whimsical designs by architect Antoni Gaudí scattered through the city and a retrospective of Spain’s most famous painter at the Picasso Museum. Visitors can also take a trip to seaside Figueres for a peek inside the mind of Salvador Dalí, and feel the passion of flamenco at an intimate live show in Madrid.
London’s British Museum highlights millennia of human history all in one building, boasting cultural treasures like Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone, and original Parthenon sculptures. Across town, a visit to the reconstructed Globe Theater gives Shakespeare fans a sense of the rowdy entertainment scene that surrounded the Bard’s plays in Elizabethan London.
The home country of Mozart, Mahler, Schubert, Haydn, and other great composers remains a top spot for classical concerts. Catch a performance at venues throughout Vienna and Salzburg, or add a touch of Habsburg history to the score with a tour of Schönbrunn Palace.
Wartime history and modern design converge in Berlin, where Communist relics rest alongside distinctive Bauhaus architecture, and nightlife offerings range from punk rock to chart toppers. For a peek into Germany’s past, enjoy an evening worthy of Frederick the Great with dinner and a concert at elegant Charlottenburg Palace.
The scenic Dutch countryside and canals of Amsterdam inspired some of Europe’s most innovative painters. Admire the light and shadows in works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other Dutch masters at the renowned Rijksmuseum, or pay tribute to the Father of Modernism at the Van Gogh Museum.