Ever since the 18th century Grand Tours of rich young ladies and gentlemen, British art lovers have been making journeys far and wide to view the greatest works of art the UK and Europe has to offer. Back then, travelling to such destinations really was the preserve of the wealthy few. However, today modern motorhome owners can easily make the trip no matter what their budget.
Whether you’re an avid art buff or can’t tell a Monet from a Michelangelo, the team at Motorhome Protect have chosen the top 10 best destinations for a spot of art appreciation.
Whatever the time of year, an easy way to visit any of these venues is in a motorhome, provided you’ve got the appropriate motorhome insurance that is. So, pack up your easel and let’s get started!
- Best for contemporary edge – London, England
Sitting at the very heart of the world’s contemporary art market, London is a city of continual innovation, with an unrivalled collection of art galleries and museums. From the huge warehouse space of White Cube in Bermondsey to the sophisticated Serpentine Galleries in Kensington Gardens you’ll never run out of places to visit if the cutting edge is where you want to be.
However, if your time is limited and you want just a flavour of all things contemporary then a visit to the Tate Modern on Bankside near St Paul’s Cathedral is recommended. Housed in a former power station it hosts a wonderful collection of some of the biggest names in 20th century art including Monet, Matisse and Rothko.
A real highlight is standing right in the middle of the Turbine Hall and being awestruck by its airy and gigantic dimensions. You might even become part of one of the headline grabbing large-scale art installations that are regularly exhibited here.
For the more traditional among us, The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square houses England’s most important art collections. From the early Renaissance to the Impressionists, gaze in wonder at such masterpieces as Da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
- Best for experiencing art in nature – Yorkshire, England
To outsiders, West Yorkshire might not seem like the most obvious location for a top art destination. But anyone walking around the stunning grounds of the (YSP) will soon change their minds.
Nestled in the heart of the Bretton Estate in the village of West Bretton, the 500-acre park’s hills, fields, lakes, and gardens are the perfect backdrop for the sculptures on show. There’s even a flock of free-grazing sheep to keep you entertained!
The park is home to many works by the locally-born Henry Moore and it’s clear to see how the surrounding countryside inspired his work. Alongside Moore, the collection also includes work by Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley and Eduardo Paolozzi giving you a unique chance to get up close to these stunning works.
Just to the north of YSP is the The Hepworth Wakefield that’s also well worth a visit. At the heart of the city’s recent regeneration the gallery is named in honour of iconic British sculptor Barbara Hepworth.
- Best for a surprise hit – Edinburgh, Scotland
The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh proves the old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover. From the outside the gallery is a picture of impressive 19th century architecture surrounded by manicured gardens. Inside, however, all that traditionalism gives way to a huge collection of modern and contemporary art.
If old masters and Scottish greats are more your thing, then pay a visit to the Scottish National Gallery where you can see Henry Raeburn’s The Skating Minister – one of Scotland’s most famous works of art.
Sitting just outside the city, Jupiter Artland is another surprise waiting to be discovered. Get beyond its swirling metal gates and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world entirely. Set around a 17th century mansion, the 100 acres of woodland and meadows house a permanent collection of 36 site-specific sculptures includes works by Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Cornelia Parker.
The Edinburgh Art Festival is a must-see if you’re visiting later in the summer throughout July or August.
- Best for romantic inspiration – Paris, France
No list of art destinations would be complete without Paris. Europe’s long-time cultural hub, this beautiful city is the place many young artists went to seek inspiration and make their names. Unmissable art highlights include a visit to see Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the modern delights of the Pompidou Centre and the quieter, but no less impressive, Musee Rodin. Or simply roam the streets and cafés to get a whiff of paint fumes and heady artistic inspiration.
With so much to discover, make sure your motorhome insurance is up to date in case of theft or break-in while you’re out getting inspired.
- Best to witness the transformative effect of art – Bilbao, Spain
As a demonstration of the power of art to transform the environment, there are few better examples than that of Bilbao in Northern Spain. The Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum opened in the city in 1997, transforming this struggling industrial town into a cultural metropolis that was the envy of many cities worldwide.
One of the largest museums in Spain, it’s renowned for its site-specific installations and exciting range of changing exhibitions. The museum is wonderfully complemented by the surrounding Bilbao art district. The traditional and the avant garde come together in this unique area where you may spot works by Spanish urban artist SpY as well as those of international greats such as balloon animal supremo Jeff Koons.
- Best for passionate artistic souls – Costa Brava, Spain
Spain is known for its passionate artistic spirits and it’s easy to see why if you visit the Catalan region of Costa Brava in the north east of the country. With its arresting scenery and sparkling Mediterranean coastline, this sun-soaked area will have you wanting to paint a landscape in no time.
Surrealist master Salvador Dali is just one of the many famous artists associated with this area and you can find out all about him at The Dali Theatre Museum in his hometown of Figueres. Also take the time to visit his remarkable studio Gala Dali Castle in Púbol.
Elsewhere along the coast, the quaint seaside village of Cadaqués with its whitewashed sea front and steep cobbled streets inspired the 20th century sculptor and painter Joan Miró. Pablo Picasso rented a house here in the summer of 1910 and it’s believed this trip influenced his Cubism period. Meanwhile, Marc Chagall fell in love with the walled, castle-topped town of Tossa de Mar, which was his home in the 1930s.
As Catalonia’s stunning capital, Barcelona is lauded for its art and architecture. Wandering around the city you’ll be struck by the breathtaking modernist landmarks of architect Antoni Gaudi. There really are no buildings quite like the fantastical and unconventional Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, or the stunning beauty of Sagrada Família.
While the Costa Brava is the perfect place to explore, remember to arrange breakdown cover to complement your motorhome insurance. After all, you and your paint brushes don’t want to get stranded miles from help!
- Best for lighting up your imagination – French Riviera, France
If you’re looking for warm beaches, charismatic towns, and luxurious resorts, the French Riviera is perfect for the art lover with a motorhome. With a pleasant year-round climate, this stretch of coast is where the beauty of the mountainous Alps hits the stunning Mediterranean sea. Ample inspiration indeed for the founding fathers of modern art.
Inspired by the sparkling blue waters and the scenic streets, Paul Cezanne was perhaps the first to arrive in the early 1880s, setting up home in Aix-en-Provence. Soon after, many other artists learned of the French Riviera and followed Cezanne’s path. Seduced by the way sunlight affected the different landscapes they were inspired to paint what they saw.
From the works of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin associated with Arles to those of Paul Signac and Henri Matisse linked with Saint-Tropez and Nice, you won’t be able to move for art history!
Plan your road trip along the French Riviera for spring or autumn. That way you’ll be able to avoid the summer tourists and still explore the coastline in sandals and sun hats.
- Best for Renaissance appreciation – Florence, Italy
The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence in Tuscany still channels the enchanting spirit of the Grand Tour with its endless maze of opportunities for artistic appreciation. This comparatively small city really packs a heavy artistic punch that you won’t forget.
Throughout the city you’ll find some of the defining works of this creative period. From countless chapels and churches to the world-class Uffizi gallery to see, your smartphone’s photo gallery will soon be full!
Stand in wonder before Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus or Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation. Or head over to the Accademia Gallery for a look at Michelangelo’s giant figure of David. All the while Filippo Brunelleschi’s 15th century cathedral dome masterpiece looms over the city as a reminder of mankind's incredible achievements.
But the city is also home to some incredible contemporary art institutions, too. Visit the fortress-like Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, which previously hosted shows by celebrated and controversial figures like Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei. Or perhaps the remarkable Gucci Garden, conceived by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele. There is just about something for every art lover in this beautiful city.
- Best for mixing it up – Vienna, Austria
Austria’s cultured capital is the perfect place to experience an intoxicating mix of old and new art. Start off with the world-class art collection on display in the palatial Kunsthistorisches Museum. Amassed by the ruling Habsburg family, it includes sculpture, decorative objects and paintings dating back to Ancient Egypt. There are masterpieces aplenty here with works by Raphael, Titian, Durer and Brueghel.
Spread over 90,000sqm in central Vienna the Museumsquartier is home to 60 art institutions and an incredible centre for contemporary art. The city is also home to the largest collection of work by Gustav Klimt (including The Kiss), which is located in the Belvedere Museum.
- Best for something a bit different – Vilnius, Lithuania
Located in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, the district of Užupis is a great place to visit for those looking for something a little bit weird and wonderful. Located largely in Vilnius’s old town, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this bohemian art district declared itself a republic in 1997.
The Užupis constitution supports all things artistic and much else besides and is symbolised by the statue of an angel in the main square. The republic originally had an army of 11 men but that has since been disbanded and its Independence Day falls on 1st April (April Fool’s Day). It isn’t considered a threat to its neighbours.
There is nowhere in the world quite like Užupis and walking through its quirky streets is like wandering through a bizarre piece of performance art. Well worth the trip.
However welcoming the country, though, motorhome insurance is vital for any visit to Europe. Contact your insurance provider to check you’re covered for EU travel.
Motorhome insurance for home and away
Whatever your tastes in art, exploring new cultures and places is one of the most popular reasons people love to travel by motorhome. However, exploring so far and wide means you can sometimes find yourself in unfamiliar territory and vulnerable to road traffic accidents, damage or theft.
By using our trusted panel of insurers, the specialist team at Motorhome Protect can search out the very best motorhome insurance, tailored to your vehicle, needs, budget and destination.
Cover arranged by us includes benefits such as:
- Cover for motorhomes valued up to £150,000.
- Cover for camping personal effects for up to £3,000.
- Unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union.
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club.
- Consideration of all claims and convictions.
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.