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Europe is one of the best places in the world to experience art and culture, and the continent’s expansive history has created a very diverse cultural experience.

The next time you visit Europe, spend time taking in museums, galleries, music venues, and events. If you plan to visit the following cultural cities of Europe, you won’t be disappointed. The following are just a few experiences you should add to your cultural bucketlist.

Baroque to Cubism Works in Barcelona

While the art of Picasso and architecture of Antoni Gaudi should be on your list to see, remember to make time to visit Museu Nacional d’Art in the Catalonia area of Barcelona. This museum is worth your time if you love Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque works.

While in the area, also consider visiting new and upcoming galleries. Barcelona has a number of famous music venues. Top-rated club Razzmatazz hosts electronic, alternative, and underground music.

Check out Jamboree since it is a favorite among tourists for funk and reggae. Sala Apolo has two floors and hosts genres like hip-hop and techno to name a few.

Barcelona art scene

Historic Architecture and Modern Art in Zurich

Switzerland is a fantastic place to visit, and Zurich is a charming city on the water. Zurich offers an abundant amount of historical architecture in addition to a variety of ancient and modern art.

Make sure you visit Galerie Gmurzynska, as it is one of the top galleries in the world showcasing art by modern and contemporary masters. Zurich also boasts the world’s largest electronic open-air party simply called the Street Parade, where they attract around one million attendees annually.

Food and Architecture in Helsinki

Immerse yourself in Finnish cuisine by visiting the Market Square in Helsinki for delicious coffee, seasonal fruit, crisp local vegetables, and fresh seafood. Many travelers visit the stark white Helsinki Cathedral followed by the historic Senate Square that is directly across the street.

Temppelaiukio Church, in the center of town, is another architectural marvel; a church built directly into solid rock; as well as the wooden Karuna church on the island of Seurasaari. It might also surprise you to learn that Anteneum Art Museum holds what is considered the largest collection of artwork in Finland from the 1750s to 1950s.

For nightlife, Helsinki has many bars and clubs in one location. Tavastia is considered Finland’s number one club for rock music, while other bars offer any style you can name like pop, electronic, rock, hip-hop, metal, and more.

Helsinki Cathedral

Flamenco Dancing Seville

Flamenco is the most famous style of dance and music in Spain, and Seville is one of the best places to watch and/or learn this centuries old tradition.

Flamenco clubs throughout Seville are intimate and intense – it’s an extremely passionate dance, and a lot of fun to learn. One of Seville’s oldest tablaos (places to see Flamenco) is Los Gallos Tablao Flamenco; a historic renovated home which uses the traditional architecture of the original building to create an authentic feel to the place.

A night of Flamenco usually includes a generous flow of cocktails and sangria, so make sure you book a taxi to get back to your hotel.

All Things Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city of bicycles, canals, and springtime flora. Visit a local market, take a bicycle tour, see the city from the water on a canal tour, or shop for interesting items and gifts in Negen Straatjes, which translates to Nine Streets in English.

The Amsterdam Museum showcases a 350-year-old statue of Goliath that is made of wood. Here, you will also enjoy work by Dutch masters and modern artwork. Paradiso might be the most amazing music venue in all of Europe, since it is a former church with beautiful stained-glass windows and two balconies.

The Best Places to Get Amazing Photos in Amsterdam

Wineries in Bordeaux

Wine and France go hand-in-hand, and though there are a number of high quality wineries and vineyards that you can head to, Bordeaux is home to some of the best wine around the world.

A mecca for wine lovers steeped in wine making history, incredible architecture and landscapes, this region was recently voted Lonely Planet’s must-visit city for 2017, courtesy of the new LGV Sud-Ouest line and the opening of the Cite du Vin as well as its famed gastronomy.

It is at the heart of France’s largest fine wine region, boasting over 7,000 chateaux, and producing close to 900 million bottles of wine per vintage. It is without question the most famous wine region on the planet, offering up an incomparable supply of distinct reds.

Wine glass winery Picasa

Historical Art in Bruges

Bruges is known for its cobblestone streets and swans swimming in the canals. Check out a free harp performance in Oud Sint-Jan or a concert at the Concertgebouw, which also hosts contemporary artwork.

The Groeninge Museum in Bruges is home to breathtaking colorful historic paintings dating from the 18th Century and several modern pieces worth viewing. To step outside the tourist norms, visit the Lace Museum, Folklore Museum, and Adornes site.

Old World Meets New in Prague

Prague is home to one of the largest historic city centers with some of the most interesting architecture. Prague Castle is one of the largest castle complexes and it dates from the ninth century.

Architecture buffs will want to spend time visiting the medieval Powder Tower and the Petrin View Tower, which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. Plan a visit to the National Gallery to view classical and modern art. When it comes to nightlife and music venues, Prague offers retro music clubs to electronic dance clubs.

For a true sense of the long and tumultuous history of Prague, the Old Town Square is the place to be.

Nightlife in Hamburg

It is a little-known fact that Hamburg’s Rathaus, town hall, is larger than Buckingham Palace and one of the best sights to see in Europe. Hamburger Kunsthalle displays a great collection of old and new paintings and sculptures.

Hamburg offers a famous party street where you can find one of the oldest party venues in the city. At Prinzenbar, imagine dancing to electronic music while surrounded by a luxurious baroque interior including classical wall adornments, mirrors, and chandeliers.

Because Europe has been a center for art and culture for years, it is difficult to choose such a short list of cities to visit. When visiting Europe to indulge in an art and culture experience, make sure you check out a variety of sights to see. This ensures that you have a well-rounded trip and gives you a better understanding of art and culture.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Helsinki Cathedral by Giuseppe Milo. Prague & Amsterdam by Moyan Brenn

    24 Comments

  1. Man, I really need to see more of Europe!! We have booked our trip to France for this year, but I desperately want to see some of these destinations as well! Amsterdam is so high on my list as well!

    • So much to see! I spent a full year dedicated to Europe and still feel as though I haven’t spent enough time lol!

      Have an amazing trip to France – such a spectacular and diverse country … and especially great for wine if you have the chance to visit Bordeaux :)

  2. My kind of bucket list! Those spots are all in my list. I love exploring the culture and arts of places.

    • Awesome Darlene! Sounds like Europe is your perfect playground then!

  3. I realize I am not much of a cultural traveler as I haven’t seen any of these places. I admit I was so awe struck by Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona that I didn’t do any museums at all. this calls for a re-visit :)

    • I didn’t think I was a “cultural traveler” either, however Amsterdam was the city which swayed me – never been a huge museum person in the past, but really enjoyed Amsterdam’s museum scene … now I can’t get enough!

      I agree that Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona is fascinating!

  4. I’m all about the history, architecture and museums and these all look fabulous. Out of all of these, which one of these places is your favorite? I did not know that Humburg’s Town Hall is larger than Buckingham Palace, all I can say is wow! Were you surprised about that? I’m sure it’s quite the sight in real life.

    • I’m personally a big Amsterdam fan – many tourists only think of weed and the red light district, but it has such a rich cultural scene, and the museums here really made me fall in love with culture and art.

      Yes, Hamburg’s town hall is a fact which is pretty surprising right! Took me by surprise too!

  5. Now this is my kind of way to see Europe! Wine, history and a side serve of cheese. Hang on is there any other way to see Europe?

    • Quintessentially Europe for sure! One of the best cultural hubs in the world :)

  6. It might not be cultural, but when I go to Finland my bucket list item is to sleep in one of those glass dome Igloos in Kakslauttanen Resort and watch the Northern Lights! But that does not mean that we will check out the food and the architecture in Helsinki!

    • Ah, this is on our bucketlist as well! Can’t wait to follow your updates, have a great time!

  7. The thing about my writing about short Trips is that museums tend to get left out due to time constraints. In Barcelona I was lucky the architecture of Antoni Gaudi was all around the city and in Park Guell but I totally walked past the Museu Nacional d’Art. In Zurich I was eating chocolate and completely missed Galerie Gmurzynska. I really need to figure out a way to fit museums into my itinerary. These selections sound wonderful and I will have to check it out when I return to some of these cities.

    • Museums really are such a wonderful insight into each destination that you’re in, but yes, you could often spend all day at just the one, so sometimes can be difficult to fit in if it’s a short trip. Hope you have the chance to revisit both Barcelona and Zurich for some more time soon :)

  8. So many great suggestions! We’ve been to a few of these, but would love to explore them all. I would especially love to check out the wineries in Bordeaux and the art in Barcelona!

    • Hope you have the chance to explore both Bordeaux and Barcelona soon :)

  9. Pretty much every place we’ve visited in Europe is full of art and culture (and history, too!) My favorite thing to do is visit the old part of each city, the historic museums, the churches, and the art museums. And there’s never enough time to do it all. Guess I still have the rest of my life to see as many of them as possible!

    • Totally agree with you – Europe is bursting at the seams with culture and history! You really could spend a lifetime on just this one continent! Happy travels Tami :)

  10. Thanks for the great recommendations. The wineries in Bordeaux and the historical art in Bruges are still on my bucketlist.

    For those who enjoy the nightlife in Hamburg on a Saturday night, they might end it on Sunday morning with a visit to the famous fish market. Feel free to have a look if you like https://blog.myvideomedia.com/hamburg-fish-market/

    • Thanks for the tip for Hamburg – the fish markets sound really interesting – will check out your post :)

      Hope you have the chance to visit Bruges and Bordeaux the next time you make it to Europe :)

  11. I’ve always made it a point to pick those sites with great museums as I travel. Barcelona, Bruges, Amsterdam all. I admit I haven’t visited the wineries in France- but I’ve done that plenty of other places (and they all seem alike).
    Thanks for the advice.

    • Awesome Roy :) I wasn’t a museum person, or at least I didn’t think I was, until I visited Europe. But Amsterdam’s range of museums really sucked me in, and now I love them – also seek out destinations based on the museums and exhibitions they have on at the time :)

      Hope you have the chance to visit the wineries in France at some stage – they’re kind of like a museum, just an interactive one which allows you to drink :D

  12. Nice list! Finally something off the beaten track.

    • Glad we could help :) Happy travels!

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