Art holidays in the UK

Build your holiday around Britain’s greatest art galleries

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Kai Sedgwick

Kai Sedgwick
HomeAway travel expert

Tate ModernIf your ideal holiday involves cramming in culture rather than hours on a sun lounger, the UK is the perfect holiday destination. With lower travel costs and the lure of a vibrant arts scene, you’re guaranteed to have a great time – regardless of the weather. Britain boasts some of the world’s greatest galleries, from the Tate Modern in the capital to the National Gallery situated in its Scottish counterpart.

From London to Edinburgh and Oxford to Norwich, the UK has a vibrant and eclectic arts scene. Plan your holiday around some of the nation’s finest galleries, breaking up the browsing with long walks, sports, fine dining and all the other essential elements that comprise a proper holiday. How much culture can you cram in?


Make Britain's greatest galleries part of your itinerary


Art holidays in London Art holidays in London

London really deserves an entire article extolling the virtues of its myriad galleries. The Tate Modern seems as good a starting point as any, its stunning blend of contemporary pieces sure to stimulate and intrigue in equal measure. Exhibits are meticulously curated and beautifully laid out, while a regular programme of events ensures there’s always something happening inside this cavernous gallery. For classic art, the National Gallery never ceases to delight, while the East End hosts an array of boutique galleries promising everything from pop art to surrealism.

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Art holidays in Edinburgh Art holidays in Edinburgh

Scotland’s National Gallery can be found in Edinburgh, where a selection of fine works includes Titian’s Venus Anadyomene as well as European art from the 16th to 19th centuries and some fine Renaissance pieces. Scottish artists are also well represented. While you’re in Edinburgh, a trip to the National Portrait Gallery is also highly recommended, its walls adorned with a host of characters past and present.

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Art holidays in Norwich Art holidays in Norwich

There are many reasons to visit Norwich; its churches, green spaces and bird-watching spots on the Broads are enough to comfortably occupy a week’s holiday. For art aficionados however, there’s one place in Norwich that will be top of the list: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Designed by Norman Foster, the centre houses a fascinating collection of exhibits spanning 5,000 years. Art nouveau; abstract art; an ancient antler comb – it’s all here. Truly fascinating stuff.

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Art holidays in Newcastle Art holidays in Newcastle

Newcastle may not be the first British city that springs to mind when you envisage an art holiday, but that’s before you’ve taken into account the BALTIC. This enormous contemporary art centre, housed in a converted brick mill, has hosted the Turner Prize and British Art Show in recent years. Situated on the bank of the River Tyne, the BALTIC is a unique gallery that will stimulate your mind and change the way you think about contemporary art.

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Art holidays in Oxford Art holidays in Oxford

For its charming churches and ancient university buildings alone, the City of Dreaming Spires is well worth a visit. Take a stroll along the Isis, watch the rowers gliding by and browse the famous Blackwell’s bookstore. Lovers of art, however, should head straight to Pitt Rivers Museum. This treasure trove of archaeological curios is a renowned centre of anthropology. Photo exhibitions and portrait collections are regularly displayed here, with fine works curated from around the world. An afternoon spent exploring the nooks and crannies of this venerable museum is an afternoon well spent.   

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Image 4 © Glen Bowman

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