Make your break a masterpiece: Exploring fine art

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A picture-perfect trip is yours for the taking thanks to a range of companies devoted to helping you explore the finest art. Kate Simon sketches out the new Grand Tours

What's the attraction?

There's nothing new about travelling in search of cultural enrichment, a tradition that flourished with the Grand Tour. During the 17th century, it was a rite of passage for wealthy young men to do the circuit of Europe's classical and Renaissance sights. Today, cultural exploration has been democratised by mass tourism. We still enjoy much of the same art as those early tourists, but we are also able to explore subsequent movements and go beyond Europe's borders. We still employ guides to describe the art, it's just that these days they lead one of the increasingly popular package tours.

Guided tours

Art institutions are getting in on the cultural-tourism act by partnering with tour operators. The Tate and The Ultimate Travel Company (020-3582 2507; theultimatetravel company.co.uk) now offer a programme of worldwide guided tours under the name Tate Travels (tatetravels.co.uk). On "Barcelona: A Food Fiesta", art, architecture, food and wine provide the theme for a four-day tour of the Catalan capital led by guest lecturer and Spanish food aficionado Rohan Daft; it visits the church of Santa Maria, the Miró Foundation and some of Antonio Gaudí's masterpieces. Departing on 29 November, the trip costs from £1,577 per person, including flights, B&B, some meals, entrance fees and private guiding.

The Royal Academy is working with Cox & Kings (0845 527 8167; coxandkings.co.uk). Its tour "Albania and Macedonia: Cradle of the Balkans", 20-29 September, led by Islamic expert William Taylor, costs from £1,440 per person, including flights, transfers and accommodation.

And an expert from The National Gallery will lead "The Venice of Canaletto" seven-day tour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (0845 217 0799; orient-express.com), on various dates in October. From £5,475, including transport and accommodation.

DIY art tours

Self-guided tours provide an independent alternative to following the crowd, while ensuring an in-depth experience. Ranch Rider (01509 618811; ranchrider.com) has devised an eight-night self-drive tour of Arizona titled "Art By Automobile", exploring cowboy and Native American Art; from £1,310, including flights, car hire and accommodation. "Arts, Architecture & Culture", by Inside Japan Tours (0117 370 9751; inside japantours.com), travels to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto and includes a visit to the Ohara Museum of Art, Japan's oldest collection of Western art. From £2,990, including flights, transfers and 13 nights' accommodation.

On the trail of the greats

The 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt is celebrated in two new day tours in Vienna offered by Regent Holidays (0117 921 1711; regent-holidays.co.uk), both including entry to the Klimt exhibition in Belvedere Palace. A three-night break in the city costs from £340, including flights and accommodation.

Devise your own Frida Kahlo trail in Mexico City, exploring Coyoacá*, where she was born, and visiting the Museo Frida Kahlo (00 52 55 5554 5999; museofridakahlo.org.mx; MXN$75/£3.60). BA (0844 493 0787; ba.com) has four-night Mexico City breaks from £999.

Sketch and the city

Russia's most beautiful city, St Petersburg, is an alluring destination for an escape next month, or in May next year, organised by the cultural specialist, Martin Randall Travel (020-8742 3355; martinrandall.com). The four-day trip costs £3,320 including BA flights from Heathrow, hotel with breakfast, most dinners, and a lecturer – Dr Alexey Makhrov – an outstanding Russian art historian who can unlock some of the greatest collections on earth. (See 48 hours in St Petersburg in The Independent Traveller next Saturday, 18 August.) In South Africa, One&Only Cape Town (00 27 21 431 5888; oneandonlyresorts.com; from 4,070 rand/£352 B&B) offers expert-led trips, with "The Galleries Art Tour", visiting the Irma Stern Museum among others. From 3,250 rand (£254) for a half day.

Picasso's France and Spain

Visit Picasso's home city of Malaga, now the site of the Museo Picasso (00 34 902 44 33 77; museopicassomalaga.org). The Museu Picasso de Barcelona (00 34 93 256 30 00; museupicasso.bcn.cat/en) is another tribute to the artist, who lived in the city. Make a pilgrimage to the Basque town of Guernica, captured in his work of the same name. Finding fame, he moved to the south of France. One of his properties, Château de Vauvenargues, is the site of his grave (00 33 4 42 52 88 32; museegranet-aixenprovence.fr).

Who said that?

"In a secularising world, art has replaced religion as a touchstone of our reverence and devotion." Alain de Botton, author, broadcaster and philosopher

"Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." George Bernard Shaw, author and playwright

"I never can pass by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York without thinking of it not as a gallery of living portraits but as a cemetery of tax-deductible wealth." Lewis H Lapham, writer and journalist

Another pic in the wall

There are few better places to experience mural art than in San Francisco. The city is home to some fine work by Diego Rivera, the Mexican artist and one-time husband of Frida Kahlo. His first mural in America, Allegory of California, can be seen for free in the stairwell of the Pacific Stock Exchange at 155 Sansome Street (open 3pm to 5pm daily). And one of his most important works, Pan-American Unity, is on display at the Ocean Avenue Campus of the San Francisco City College, (weekdays 10am-4pm).

More mural art can be seen in Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley in the Mission District, which provided outdoor canvases for the Chicano Art Mural Movement in the 1970s. Further information is available from San Francisco Travel (001 415 391 2000; sanfrancisco.travel).

Insider information

"Head to the main art gallery of a city – and go with a plan. Often overlooked are the tours that art galleries put on. From there you might be inspired to follow up on a particular artist or theme."

Tiddy Rowan, independent art consultant and author of 'Art in the City Guides' to London and Paris (Quadrille, £9.99)

Scene it somewhere before? Giverny in France (00 33 2 3251 2821; fondation-monet.fr/uk) is the garden that inspired Monet's The Japanese Bridge. At Flatford Mill in Essex, take in the scene made famous by Constable's The Hay Wain (01245 437087; visitessex.com). Spot the difference between Margate Beach today and as recorded by Turner (01843 233000; turnercontemporary.org). Vermeer's View of Delft is also somewhat different for today's visitor to the Dutch town (00 31 70 370 57 05; holland.com). Finally, the quay in Arles, France (00 33 4 9018 4120; arlestourisme.com), is the place to capture the view of Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh.

Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tvReview: Too often The Casual Vacancy resembled a jumble of deleted scenes from Hot Fuzz
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David performs in his play ‘Fish in the Dark'
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Jemima West in Channel 4's Indian Summers (Joss Barratt/Channel 4)
tvReview: More questions and plot twists keep viewers guessing
Arts and Entertainment
Kristin Scott Thomas outside the Royal Opera House before the ceremony (Getty)
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Channel 4's Indian Summers
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003