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Your Guide to the Essentials of an Art-Filled Vacation

The best art vacations are ones that are filled with sparks of inspiration that come from transformative places.

Those cherished moments of creative bliss can come from anywhere from the gardens of Italy to the island of Bali. Consider us your inspired vacation curators as we walk you through the best places to travel to for artists. When it comes to discovering destinations through art, each piece tells a story – from composition to medium and presentation. And to help you plan where to experience the best art across the globe, look no further than this hand-selected collection of properties looked after by our friends at Belmond.

Who should go on an art vacation?

You don’t have to be adept with a paintbrush and pallet to enjoy destinations rich with art. In fact, experiencing the local art scene is all you may need to bring out your inner artist.

You don’t have to be adept with a paintbrush and pallet to enjoy destinations rich with art. In fact, experiencing the local art scene is all you may need to bring out your inner artist. Long-haul trips are an especially exciting opportunity to plant the seeds of a new hobby, whether it’s taking an acrylics class or getting lost in a museum. Every painting, photograph, and sculpture is also an opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Our Smarties often recommend visiting local museums and galleries as they act as the key to understanding a destination’s history as well as how they’ve shaped current events.

Our SmartFlyer travel advisors create tailor-made trips, and art-focus for those who have a love for learning and eye for aesthetics. The best art vacations are particularly well-suited for any collectors looking to bring home their next pièce de résistance. But whether you’re planning a family getaway or celebrating a romantic milestone, the experiences offered in our recommended destinations below are sure to entice all types.

How does Belmond cater to art lovers?

Our dear partners at Belmond offer guests experiences across their portfolio of iconic hotels, trains, and barges. #TheArtOfBelmond is all about waking up in breathtaking locales from Thailand’s emerald jungles to lively train cars crossing Peru to the vineyard-covered valleys of France. Their team expertly curates innovative artistic, cultural, and cinematic events and experiences across each of their global locales. From cutting-edge art installations at the Venice Biennale to classes with masters in the storied town of Dieà, Belmond helps you dig deeper into every destination.

Where are the best places to travel for art lovers?

  1. Bali, Indonesia: Jimbaran Puri
  2. Botswana: Savute Elephant Lodge
  3. Cusco, Peru: Monasterio
  4. Tuscany, Italy: Castello di Casole
  5. Venice, Italy: Cipriani
  6. Taormina, Sicily: Grand Hotel Timeo
  7. Florence, Italy: Villa San Michele
  8. Mallorca, Spain: La Residencia
  9. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Casa de Sierra Nevada
  10. Through Europe by Train: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Bali, Indonesia

Egg painting in Bali is a long-standing tradition found within this Indonesian province. With origins dating back to the 16th century, egg painting is an ancient practice present across faiths. Incredibly delicate and specialized, Balinese artisans often paint colorful scenes on different types of eggshells in a tradition that honors the beginning of life and its struggles. At Jimbaran Puri, A Belmond Hotel, guests can craft their very own alongside a talented third-generation egg painter to create their own handheld masterpieces to take home to commemorate their new best art vacation.

Jimbaran Puri is located in the heart of a fisherman’s enclave, offering a taste of unspoiled Bali. Here, guests can walk through secret gardens with the property as their launching point to experience authentic Indonesia. Their temple experience is a must-try for anyone looking to engage in the cross-section between botany, spirituality, and traditional fashion. Children can also make their own stunning Balinese kite, perfect for their annual kite festival.

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Botswana

Safaris offer the chance to have unprecedented encounters with wildlife. People often overlook opportunities to explore indigenous art on these treks. The Botswana Bushmen’s san rock art is not just marvelously intricate but reveals new insights into over a millennia’s worth of history. At Savute Elephant Lodge, A Belmond Safari, their art experts will guide you into the bush to see these pieces firsthand. You can also experience the baobab grove, filled with cathedral-like trees that stand as a natural work of art.

Savute Elephant Lodge is an ideal gateway to discovering the wonders of Chobe National Park. This is a timeless explorer’s lodge that provides sun-soaked viewing areas to catch glimpses of wildlife right from your accommodation. One of the most enriching experiences beyond art viewing is their stargazing. With guidance from local experts, you can use powerful telescopes to witness constellations and learn how the indigenous Bushmen used them to navigate the wilds.

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Cusco, Peru

But Smarties agree the best art vacations should also include a private art tour, and this hotel offers just that – participate in viewings guided by a local expert who details the history of its 17th-century paintings.

It’s no secret that our team is passionate about putting together custom Peru trips; while Machu Picchu is a highlight, no Peru itinerary is complete without time in Cusco. Independent shops and galleries fill this storied Peruvian city’s streets, featuring pieces that blend contemporary and traditional crafting techniques. Dating all the way back to the days of the Incan empire, Cusco has a reverence for handmade goods, particularly woven textiles.

Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel is set around a 300-year-old cedar tree located at the heart of Cusco. The hosts one of Peru’s finest collections of 18th-century colonial religious art with original paintings on display both in the guest areas and the bedrooms. Not to mention the hotel itself is a work of art: a protected 16th-century chapel-turned-national monument. Locals know this retreat for its exceptional architecture, including a gilded chapel hung with fine works of art. But Smarties agree the best art vacations should also include a private art tour, and this hotel offers just that – participate in viewings guided by a local expert who details the history of its 17th-century paintings. Additionally, guests can also enjoy the city’s rich performing arts with dinner at the opera.

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Italy

In a country teeming with truly iconic art pieces, we’re showcasing Italy’s thriving contemporary art scene. Galleria Continua serves as a major proponent for established and developing artists alike that are looking for a space free of restriction. This gallery bridges Italy’s past and present to the public by presenting a wide range of works. The gallery also collaborates with local schools and hotels to host guided visits and talkbacks.

Belmond takes its partnership with art institutions like Galleria Continua one step further by bringing art straight to their guests. A prime example is Mitico, an installation that celebrates four prominent artists within the collection’s landmark gardens across Italy. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into how Belmond commits itself to Italy’s thriving art community, then read on!

Within their 4,200 acres, Michelango built four Estrucan bronze statues that accentuate the land’s connection to Etruscan civilization.

Castello di Casole is an enchanting country retreat with roots dating back to Etruscan times. Housed in a 10th-century castle, verdant vineyards and olive groves surround this hotel. Within their 4,200 acres, Michelangelo Pistoletto built four Estrucan bronze statues that accentuate the land’s connection to Etruscan civilization. Pistoletto is famously known for his immersive mirror installations. Guests can wander through scenic footpaths linking the artist’s regal statues, as well as take guided tours through verdant gardens.

For a deeper look into Etruscan civilization, Castello di Casole also offers guided tours through its history where you’ll have the chance to begin the day with a private tour of the museum in Casole. Afterward, your guide will walk you through a secluded Etruscan tomb site to learn about this bygone era. To cap off your stay, don’t miss a cooking class!

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Cipriani is set amid lush gardens and vineyards on peaceful Giudecca Island, accessible only via the courtesy private launch. In honor of Italy’s culinary history, the hotel commissioned Subodh Gupta to construct a truly remarkable art piece. Curated by consultant Hervé Mikaeloff, the New Delhi-based artist fashioned an expansive house from thousands of pots, pans, and utensils with a fully working kitchen inside. Combined with a culinary performance, this piece embodies the warmth of a cozy meal.

The sumptuous accommodations at Cipirani also capture the essence of Venice and Italian beauty. Every room is adorned with Murano glass, antique mirrors, and fabrics by Fortuny and Rubelli. This hotel also boasts the only Olympic-size swimming pool in central Venice, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the luxurious Casanova Wellness Centre. Between the hotel’s children’s club and the countless lagoon activities, this is an ideal choice for any multigenerational group seeking a Venetian escape.

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Grand Hotel Timeo is an alpine hotel perched right next to the Ancient Theater of Taormina. Amidst the rugged landscape, the hotel welcomed Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou to color its outdoor spaces. In addition to reinstating “Les Routes du Paradis” which winds through six acres of gardens to the theater, Tayou also dotted the colorful path with four crystal sculptures. Guests can find the totems dressed in garbs of various origins, symbolizing the beauty of a global community.

In addition to Grand Hotel Timeo’s art installations, the natural wonders of Mt. Etna are enough to inspire your next art piece. For an up-close encounter, you can take a privately guided tour up to the lava flows still running across the mountain. For our photographers, their guided Ape Calessino tour provides plenty of backdrops from botanical gardens to Mazzarò Bay.

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Villa San Michele welcomes Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich to its grounds to construct two installations. Much like his breakout piece at the 2001 Venice Biennale – a full-scale recreation of a swimming pool with a viewing empty chamber below – his pieces challenge viewers’ perception of reality. For example, “The Cloud” is a unique piece consisting of a web of floating glass panes that when viewed from different angles creates a different three-dimensional structure.

Villa San Michele also keeps the art of cooking alive within its 15th-century converted monastery and lush grounds. With fresh produce always available in their Medician gardens, dining here is always a treat. Whether it’s savoring avant-garde creations by Executive Chef Alessandro Cozzolino or sipping Tuscan wine at the winery, the hotel guarantees foodies an exciting culinary journey every visit. While you’re there, join an expert guide for a Florentine food tour through street food and ancient grain markets.

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Mallorca, Spain

…if you’re craving some compelling storytelling, the hotel’s darling private art curator Cecilie Sheridan can take you on a tour of the hotel’s very own studio – boasting over 750 works alone – before heading onwards to Deià’s art studios to meet with local artists.

Mallorca has a rich history of being a converging point for the world’s artistic mediums. Whether it’s the native artificial pearl industry or textiles adopted from Muslim culture, guests can find a breadth of works upon stepping into the Spanish isles. La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel is a romantic retreat featuring a private art collection and ongoing rotating exhibitions and captures the island’s artistic diversity throughout its grounds. For instance, guests can enjoy an aperitivo while enjoying a handful of its impressive thirty-three original Joan Miró works. Or if you’re craving some compelling storytelling, the hotel’s darling private art curator Cecilie Sheridan can take you on a tour of the hotel’s very own studio – boasting over 750 works alone – before heading onwards to Deià’s art studios to meet with local artists.

La Residencia also offers unique art classes that provide guests with personalized sessions with resident experts. Artists like Alan Hydes guide guests through how to lean into paint and drawing from his resident’s studio. You can also make this one of the best art vacations by honing your newfound skills in a masterclass by the sea led by a local Deià artist. If you’re looking for a different discipline, then your SmartFlyer travel advisor can help you book a sculpting class with sculptor-in-residence Juan Waelder. Or, if you want to create some stunning images with Mallorca’s magical dawn as your muse, take a “First Light Walk” led by celebrated photographer Sebastià Torrens in partnership with Leica.

La Residencia’s 16th-17th-century twin manor houses are set in the Deià artists’ village near the UNESCO-protected Tramuntana Mountains. Here, guests can enjoy an award-winning spa and lush olive and citrus groves. You can find hundreds of locally painted works spread across practically every corner of the property, making this a key destination for art vacations. The original Miró masterpieces in the bar area are a highlight. Outside of art classes, guests can enjoy mountain treks alongside resident experts and their donkeys and enjoy a Mallorcan dinner at El Olivo, housed in an original olive mill with a panoramic terrace.

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San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mexican folk art and its beautifully saturated works need no introduction. However, we’d like to point you towards the artistic town of San Miguel de Allende. Between cobblestone streets and Baroque cathedrals, this small town became a mecca for artists and writers in the 20th century. Renowned Mexican muralists and revolutionaries like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, and the unmistakable Frida Kahlo are just a few of the notable artists to contribute to San Miguel de Allende’s history. Fast forward to present day, many of these artists’ homes are now museums that breathe new life into their collections.

Casa de Sierra Nevada’s expert-led private art workshops at Casa Parque can also guide you through oil, acrylic, watercolor, or drawing as a local artist takes you on a journey through the region’s art history.

Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel serves as a modern-day home for local artists looking to make their mark on the Mexican art scene. One way to experience this work first-hand is by participating in an exclusive Mojigangas workshop. Emblematic of the city’s rich connection with folk art, these massive sculptures bridge sculpting, puppetry, and the performing arts. Hermes Arroyo, the hotel’s resident artist, teaches guests how to craft their own iconic paper-mâché characters fit for parades. Casa de Sierra Nevada’s expert-led private art workshops at Casa Parque can also guide you through oil, acrylic, watercolor, or drawing as a local artist takes you on a journey through the region’s art history.

The property offers siesta-like calm in San Miguel de Allende for your next best art vacation. Authentic and inviting, the hotel is set across six heritage mansions, all luxuriously restored. Here, guests can admire stucco walls and striking contemporary art while climbing restored stone staircases to their shaded courtyards. The rooms themselves are also artfully designed and brimming with Mexican heritage. No two accommodations are identical, meaning every visit is a new way to experience this city’s creative spirit.

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Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, France

Gatsby-glitz and the Roaring Twenties are practically synonymous with art deco. But while many associate the style with American inventions such as the Chrysler and Empire State Building, its origins can actually be traced back to 19th-century France. Founded by interior designers of the Societé des Artistes Décorateurs, this style blended the best parts of Cubism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and Futurism into one glamorous tapestry.

Whether it’s glass-blown fixtures or the sleeper carriages’ marquetry, overnight journeys guarantee the best art vacations any lover of aesthetics could imagine.

Those on the hunt for art deco nostalgia should consider climbing aboard the famed Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train. Originally showcased at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris, Belmond refurbished the train with brand new carriages that reflect the cities they’re named after, including Paris, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Istanbul. They also showcase the incredible craftsmanship found across the continent. Whether it’s glass-blown fixtures or the sleeper carriages’ marquetry, overnight journeys guarantee the best art vacations any lover of aesthetics could imagine.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This icon of art deco design transports guests back in time between the French Riviera to the Bosphorous Strait. For the ultimate indulgence, six sumptuous Grand Suites also offer ensuite bathrooms, private dining, and free-flowing champagne. The cuisine served in their three 1920s restaurant cars is just as opulent and delectable as the journey itself.

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Inspired? Contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor now to plan your next best art vacation.

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