Europe has been a hotbed of art for centuries. From Monet’s floral French masterpieces to Vincent van Gogh’s roots in the Netherlands, the very best artists leave their marks on the places that inspired them. Today, the vibrant gallery scene and calendars packed full of artistic events ensure that our colourful past merges into a bright future. So where do you go if you want a dose of creative inspiration? Try these destinations for size – artists throughout the years have fallen in love with them.
1. Honfleur, France
Anyone who has spent time in an art gallery has seen Honfleur. Artists such as Monet and Courbet flocked to the pretty port city after seeing the work of local painter Eugène Boudin, who used inspiration from the city’s ever-changing light to produce glorious works. Art lovers will adore the Impressionist-inspiring port, pretty little chapels adorned with paintings, and of course – the wide array of galleries which fill Honfleur. Turn back time with a stay in 19th-century mansion Hotel Belle sur Risle. Based on the river island of Pont-Audemer and bursting with authentically idyllic details, it’s enough to inspire any guest to pick up a paintbrush.
2. Gotland, Sweden
Image: Medieval town-walls of Visby
With its magical light and seaside bliss, Gotland has attracted painters for centuries. Many artists, craftsmen and designers have settled down on this Swedish island and you’ll find all kinds of workshops and studios emerging in its only town, Visby, as you wander. Take in red-rose-slathered cottages, turrets and spires of UNESCO World Heritage Site town before dropping in somewhere for a coffee and a saffranspannkaka (a special Gotland pancake with red berries and cream). Hotel Slottsbacken is also located in Visby, boasting four-star boutique charm in an 18th-century building that was once the town’s granary.
3. Drøbak, Norway
Creator of iconic artwork ‘The Scream’, Edvard Munch stayed at Reenskaug Hotel in Drøbak in the 19th century. The famous painter was sent there from his summer house in Åsgårdstrand to see his former lover Tulla Larsen, who was unwell in her room and pining for him. He’s one of many artists to flock to the small Norwegian town, of which the historic hotel has been a well-loved holiday spot for more than a century. Other famous painters to have visited Drøbak include Kristian Krogh, Hans Fredrik Gude and Edvard Diriks (Edvard Munch’s cousin).
4. Tällberg, Sweden
Lake Siljan has lured artists and writers in since the 1800s. Just a few hours’ drive from Stockholm, it’s where smart locals go for a summer getaway. Tällberg Mansion is the image of tranquility, perched on the picturesque lake and looking out to the lush blue hills beyond. Be sure to learn about the life of Anders Zorn (one of Sweden’s most-loved artists) during your stay in the area and immerse yourself in the authentic folk art traditions of Tällberg.
5. Voss, Norway
It may be known as Norway’s adventure capital, but the stunning village of Voss is immersed in artistic culture. One destination that’s enthralled artists for nearly 200 years is Stalheim Hotel – an authentic family-run hotel in the heart of western Norway’s fjord district. It’s one of the top highlights on the ‘Norway on a Nutshell’ round trip and is easy to reach from Oslo or Bergen – just make sure you bring your sketch pad because greener-than-green panoramas and impossibly blue skies are abundance here.