You can keep the mountains and forget the beach. Museums, galleries and theatres are what brings a holiday destination into full technicolour. If you’re a proper culture vulture with a taste for the art, history and people of a city, these sensational cities should grace the very top of your bucket list.
Listed as one of the top 5 most cultural student cities, Holland’s capital is an absolute must-visit for culture fanatics. Travel this stunning city by bicycle to take in the true beauty of its criss-crossing canals, sprinkled with stray cats and packed with fascinating museums which burst with a sexy, rebellious history and the paintings of world-renowned geniuses like Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
Kyoto city, located on the island of Honshu is dotted with breathtaking temples, fragrant gardens and imperial palaces you’ll never forget. Explore shinto shrines and witness unique Japanese traditions like kaiseiki dining, where you’ll taste several painstakingly presented courses of Japan’s sumptuous cuisine. As well as tasting food that’s truly divine, you can also gaze at eye-popping works of craftsmanship at the Kyoto Costume Institute.
A city doesn’t reach icon status without good reason. While the big smoke may now have serious competition from across the world, this bustling, slate-grey metropolis still packs a punch when it comes to cultural offerings. With more than 170 museums, ranging from history to natural science, via textile design and even a former operating theatre, there is no doubt you will be both educated and amazed in the UK’s glorious capital.
Museum Mile along Fifth Avenue has countless cool galleries that would fill a weeklong break with plenty to spare. Head to Broadway for a high-kicking, jazz-hand waggling, high-note hitting spectacular that will have you dancing in the aisles all evening. See live music – from punk to trap – at any one of the city’s independent underground venues. And of course hit up the classic tourist spots, giving a wave to Lady Liberty as you pass.
The imposing beauty of Catholic iconography sits juxtaposed with the mesmerising geometry of Arabic art in Andalusia’s eccentric and memorable capital. Whether you long to savour sizzling tapas or want to experience the exquisite heartbreak of a live flamenco show, look no further than Granada’s crumbling walls. March up to the unparalleled Alhambra Palace for cracking views across the city and majestic North African architecture.
‘Istanbul: Where the sins of the West meet the passions of the East. ’This may be the tagline from an Errol Flynn movie, but clichés aside, it does somehow capture the utterly unrivalled magic of the gem in Turkey’s cultural crown. With each foot in a different continent, Istanbul’s skyline stands tall, its voice is the haunting call to prayer, its heart the crashing grey Bosphorus and the cackling seagulls that swarm above it. Islamic art, culture, underground lakes, haute couture fashion – you’ll find it all in Istanbul.