Best art experiences to see around the world

Men and women viewing art in a gallery


Posted April 26, 2023

From the works of the Old Masters to the best contemporary galleries, here are some of the best travel destinations for art experiences.

Art, like travel, broadens the mind, and it’s a wonderful way to explore the world. Visiting galleries and museums as part of a bespoke travel experience, both in Australia and overseas, exposes you to different and new perspectives.

RACV Visual Art Curator Ellen Wignell, who oversees the RACV Art Collection, says art experiences add context when you’re in another country. “You get to peer into a looking glass, and see what has interested people at a particular period of time, while contemporary artworks offer insight into the everyday lives of people in the here and now,” she says.

Art is a reason to hop in a car or board a plane, and expand your horizons. You can build entire domestic and international holidays around art through RACV Travel & Experiences

People viewing artwork in gallery

MONA is Australia's largest private museum, with three levels of underground galleries. Image: Supplied

Best Australian art experiences


Melbourne Winter Masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria are an annual highlight. Opening in June, this year’s blockbuster exhibition focuses on French post-impressionist artist Pierre Bonnard. It will feature more than 100 works from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and beyond. Although this is a ticketed event, the NGV’s permanent exhibitions are free to see year round. Melbourne is also home to popular contemporary art galleries.


The Goldfields region is an arts and cultural haven. As well as the Art Gallery of Ballarat and Bendigo Art Gallery, you’ll find the ArtHouse at RACV Goldfields Resort.

Until 21 May 2023, you can see a botanical-dyed silk installation by Dja Dja Wurrung artist Tashara Roberts, an artwork that reflects First Nations’ cultural practice and responds to the multiple histories of Creswick.

From 27 May to 13 August, resident artist Julia Gorman will produce a major new wall drawing. “Her work is in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and she is doing a site-specific artwork for us,” Wignell says. There’s also a photographic exhibition at the adjacent Goldfields Gallery until 22 October.

Keen for a weekend of art experiences? Don't miss visiting best art galleries in regional Victoria and Australia’s biggest outdoor art gallery.

Exterior of Goldfields Arthouse

Arthouse at Goldfields Resort is a new place to experience great Australian art. Image: Supplied 


South Australia has a thriving art and culture scene. Along with the Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival and WOMADelaide, there’s an ever-changing roster of exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

The much anticipated Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution opens in June. Featuring the works of influential 20th century artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as key Mexican contemporaries, it runs until 17 September 2023. You can include a visit to the gallery as part of a road trip to South Australia.


Hobart is on the international art map, thanks to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Owned by David Walsh, it's Australia's largest private museum. The building is as quirky as the art, with a tennis court at the entrance (where you might see Walsh playing) and three atmospheric subterranean levels. Festivals such as Mona Foma in summer and Dark Mofo in winter are major tourist attractions. Permanently on display, Wim Delvoye’s smelly ‘digestive machine’, Cloaca Professional, will linger in your mind long after a visit.

RACV Travel & Experiences offers a Hobart MONA Experience that can be included with a stay at RACV Hobart Hotel.


South Australia art gallery exterior

The Art Gallery of South Australia exhibits the works of famous artists like Frida Kahlo. Image: Saul Steed

Best international art experiences



The Louvre is the world’s largest and most-visited museum. Its collection includes Egyptian antiques, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures and paintings by Old Masters. The Musée d'Orsay, on the other hand, holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, and Centre Pompidou focuses on modern art (1905-60) and contemporary art (1960-present day).

“In many ways, the Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou are more interesting,” Wignell says. “The Musee d’Orsay has the art you think you’re going to see in the Louvre: Manet, Monet and other Impressionists, whereas the Louvre is so vast, you need to focus on one area, like the Egyptian art collection.”

George Pompidou art centre in Paris

The Pompidou Centre in Paris is as famous for its architecture as for its art collections. Image: Getty 


Toyko, Osaka and Kyoto

Visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum can help you experience the perfect Tokyo holiday. “One of the best rooftop views of the city is from the Metropolitan Art Museum,” says Wignell. “Not only do you get this beautiful vista of the city, but also you get this art experience too.”

If you’re interested in seeing more Japanese art, our guide to Osaka suggests the Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, which has the world’s only permanent exhibit of Kunishige prints on Kamigata wood blocks. There's also the Ikebana History Museum, which is highlighted in our guide to visiting Kyoto.


A 20-minute ferry ride from Okayama city, Naoshima island is a great example of how art can take you off the beaten track and give you a new perspective.

Wignell says the island town reinvented itself as a major arts destination after its fishing and copper smelting industries went into decline. “Naoshima has become a pilgrimage for art lovers,” Wignell says. “One of the most famous artworks is Yayoi Kusama’s yellow pumpkin. It was in the news last year after it was swept out to sea during a typhoon.” The sculpture has since been rescued and reinstalled on a pier on the island.

It’s also famous for its Setouchi Triennale, which takes over dozens of islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The next Setouchi Triennale is scheduled for 2025. The Ultimate Japan tour, operated by Intrepid Travel, includes a visit to the island.


Aerial view of Tokyo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Japan has one of the best rooftop views of the city. Image: Getty 



There are also experiences such as the Venice Biennale, which brings together cutting-edge installation artists, digital artists, and sculptors from around the world, including Australia.

“It happens every two years, and you go there to see what everyone in the world of art is doing at a particular point in time,” Wignell says. “The Biennale overtakes Venice, and it’s exciting because it’s in such a beautiful spot. The way the art works with the architecture is also interesting. Is something people always like to visit. The next Venice Biennale will be held in 2024.

Exterior of church in Milan

Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan houses Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper. Image: Getty 


The Uffizi Gallery and the Vatican Museum in Rome are Italy’s top two most visited museums. The Uffizi, located in Florence, is the place to see those great Italian artists who have become household names: Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The Uffizi’s collection concentrates on the 12th to 17th centuries, giving insight into medieval times and The Renaissance.

Find out why Italy is your next designation for unique travel. RACV Travel & Experiences’ trusted travel partners have a range of exclusive, bespoke Italy tours that can include The Uffizi.


Milan is your destination if you want to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. While you're there, check out the Pinacoteca di Brera art museum, which is housed in a beautiful 18th century building. If you’re interested in surrealism and abstract expressionism, the Museo del Novecento is the place to go, while The Triennale Museum has a dynamic collection of furniture, fashion and graphic design.

The 14-day Best of Italy tour, operated by Intrepid Travel, gives you a chance to explore Milan and see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper (you need to book tickets in advance) in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. 


City view of Manhattan New York

Visiting art galleries and museums in Manhanttan enriches your experience of New York. Image: Getty


New York

New York City is an art lovers’ paradise, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum at the top of everyone’s list.

“For me NYC is an exciting arts scene, as there is so much to see,” RACV Head of Visual Arts Mardi Nowak says. “If you want to see innovative and new artists, New York is the place to hit up some of the smaller commercial galleries, as well as leaders in contemporary art like the New Musuem. I love being able to visit 10 to 15 galleries, either in one building or in a block in New York City and see a bunch of unique and exciting art.”

If you’re visiting in September, The Armoury Show is Nowak’s pick of NYC Art Fairs. If you become a member of RACV Club, you can stay and dine at The Harvard Club of New York City, which is one of RACV Club’s reciprocal clubs.

Street view of Miami

Miami Art Week is one of the most exciting arts events in the world. Image: Getty


Many people visit Miami for the warm weather, pristine beaches and Cuban coffee, but the city is also home to one of most dynamic arts events in the world. In late November, collectors, curators and art lovers descend on the coastal metropolis for Miami Art Week. The city becomes a nexus of art fairs, festivals, installations, exhibitions, street art, talks and concerts.

“Art Week for Miami is exciting as it covers design and art, and also includes Art Basel Miami for collectors,” Nowak says. “Other big fairs set up at the same time on the beach, so that people can get a fix of new and emerging art, as well as design, and the ‘big names’. I’ve been to those fairs, and they are unique.”

Mardi also recommends a visit to Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). “It is seriously one of the most exciting art museums in the area and beyond, with its beautiful architecture and outdoor spaces.”

You can book your accommodation through RACV Travel & Experiences at centrally located hotels such as Novotel Miami Brickell.

Las Vegas

If you’re looking for the whole enchilada – arts, culture, dining, entertainment and night life – you’ll find it in our ultimate guide to Las Vegas.

As you’d expect in a town full of glitz and glamour, its museums are off beat too, and include the Neon Museum, Burlesque Hall of Fame and the Las Vegas Arts District. If you’re in Las Vegas on the first Friday of the month, Downtown Las Vegas becomes a veritable feast with arts and crafts stalls, food trucks, and local art galleries.


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