Monet. Vermeer. Leonardo. Rembrandt. Picasso. Michelangelo . . . and the list goes on. Master painters and sculptors have been part of Europe’s heritage for centuries, and many of their well-preserved pieces can be still be appreciated today. Our list covers all the top art sights, from expansive state museums to one special book. Be sure to read the full reviews for insider tips on how to beat the crowds at these popular sights.
What’s your favorite piece of European art? Share your experiences in the comments below.
British Museum, London, Great Britain
The self-appointed protector of treasures from around the globe, the vast British Museum is packed to bursting with antiquities and alluring objects. Among the greatest hits are the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and Egyptian mummies. See full review.
Book of Kells, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Often called "the most beautiful book in the world," this manuscript dating to the 8th or 9th century is a marvel of intricacy and creativity, executed by monks working with reed pens. The Book of Kells can be seen at Trinity College. See full review.
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
The Uffizi—Renaissance art’s hall of fame—contains masterpieces by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and dozens of other luminaries. See full review.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
All swooping curves and rippling forms, this architecturally innovative museum was built on the site of the city’s former shipyards and inspired by the shape of a ship’s hull. The Bilbao Guggenheim's collection is pretty good as well, including such masters as Picasso and Miró. See full review.
Louvre, Paris, France
France's grandest museum was a royal palace until the French Revolution, when it was transformed into the home for the young Republic's art collection. The Louvre's Big Three—Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo—should not be missed. See full review.
Museum Island, Berlin, Germany
Germany's capital has over 150 museums, but Museumsinsel (Museum Island) should be your first stop. It holds five state museums with world-class collections ranging from classical antiquities to 20th century paintings and sculpture. See full review.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal
The collection here—one part devoted to Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, and Asian art, the other to European—isn't large, but the quality is high. Add a stroll through the Gulbekian's sculpture garden, and you have a great museum experience. See full review.
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Set in a magnificent neoclassical building on one of the capital’s most elegant boulevards, the Museo del Prado is Spain's answer to the Louvre and a regal home to renowned Spanish masterpieces. Much of the collection dates back to the museum’s inauguration in 1819. See full review.
The Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Immerse yourself in the Viking exhibits of the Nationalmuseet (National Museum); one shows how the Vikings could navigate their ships across vast oceans at a time when most people believed the world was flat. See full review.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Rijksmuseum (State Museum) is the place to go when you're looking for Dutch masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and a slew of others. See full review.
Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy
The lines waiting for entry at the Musei Vaticani (The Vatican Museums) can be intimidating, but the reward—a vast collection of masterpieces, highlighted by the Sistine Chapel—makes it well worth the wait. See tips on touring and full review.