What urban escape is complete without a visit to a world-class museum? Here are our top 15 cities with the finest array of museums for culture buffs.
Windows to the world, museums allow us a glimpse into the realms of history, science, art and culture. Compiling and showcasing relics transcending distances and civilisations, a visit to a museum abroad can feel like two cultural immersions in one - just think of the Rosetta Stone in the Egyptian Gallery of London's British Museum.
Although the cultural centres of London, Paris and New York hold such a reputation for good reason, lesser-known cities boast equally captivating museums. From seeing the ruby red shimmer of Dorothy's slippers in Washington DC, to admiring Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' in Amsterdam, there are many other hotspots all over the world for the culture vultures within us all.
Qatar's capital Doha is still in its infancy when it comes to establishing itself as an international centre for museums, but it is fighting its case well. Its cultural prowess is truly demonstrated, particularly when it comes to Islamic art. Its iconic Museum of Islamic Art (pictured) is a must-see, and other notable museums are the Qatar National Museum, the Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, ranging from ancient to modern and contemporary art.
Rome is an unrivalled culture hub. The Vatican museums are jaw-droppingly impressive, with each room, hall, statue and painting telling a different story. The Hall of Maps, the Sistine Chapel, Rafaello's Room and Tomb of Saint Peter just a few of the jewels in the Italian capital's crown.
No trip to Cairo is complete without a visit to the coveted Egyptian Museum. With over 120,000 artefacts, the museum houses an awe-inspiring exhibit showcasing the relics of Egypt's ancient civilisation. On display are mummies, sarcophagi, pottery, jewellery and of course, King Tutankhamen's treasures. The boy-king's death-mask - discovered in its tomb - is made of solid gold and it has been described as the most beautiful object ever made.
Mexico City deserves recognition as a cultural mecca given that it's home to over 150 museums. From museums of European art to those devoted to science, the city offers a plethora of choice. You can find relics from Aztec, Olmec and Mayan cultures, as well as Frida Kahlo's Blue House, and the largest collection of decorative art in Latin America at the Franz Mayer Museum. Pictured is the striking Museo Soumaya, but other notable ones include the Museo Nacional de Antropología, the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Franz Mayer Museum.
Not just a hot spot for tech geeks, San Francisco is home to one of the finest art museums on the West Coast of the USA; The de Young Museum. Its cultural scene is diverse like the city itself, with science museums with rainforest domes and interactive museums devoted to human perception.
Although it doesn't fit your typical profile of a cultural centre, Johannesburg boasts quality over quantity when it comes to museums. Perhaps due to South Africa's tumultuous history, the museums seek to transmit the weight of the circumstances. The ones that focus on Apartheid-related history, like the Mandela House and the Apartheid Museum are an absolute must.
A city with an undisputed reputation for offering unrivalled culture, two of Paris' most notable museums are le Louvre and Musée d'Orsay. Musée d'Orsay is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900 whilst the Louvre's collections, which range from antiquity to the first half of the 19th century, are among the most important in the world. There you can see 'Venus de Milo,' 'Winged Victory of Samothrace,' and Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa.'
About 900,000 objects reside in the Rijksmuseum, the largest collection of art and history in the Netherlands. Its main attraction is 'The Night Watch' by Rembrandt. Other museums not to be missed are the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank's House and the Stedelijk Museum.
London has the highest number of non-national museums (160), and the highest percentage of residents attending museums and galleries (53.6%), according to CNN Travel. Ones of note to visit are the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. The best bit? Most of the city's cultural gems are free.
When it comes to historical importance, not to mention the birthplace of democracy, Athens' significance is unrivalled. The classical foundations of ancient Greek life are still showcased by today's Athenians, particularly at the Acropolis Museum. As well as this, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Athens War Museum and the Numismatic Museum of Athens provide further feast for the eyes.
Berlin's 18 national museums earn it the accolade of having the third-highest number of national museums in a city in the world. Many are devoted to fine arts, but others focus on history, culture, politics and science, exploring topics from ancient Egyptian papyrus art to World War II and Holocaust history.
Del Prado is one of the world's greatest art museums, thanks to the Spanish royal family having collected and commissioned art with passion and good taste. Its main attraction is 'The Three Graces' by Reubens. Most of Madrid's museums are primarily fine arts hubs, focusing on European art and often Spanish paintings in particular, and as well as del Prado, other ones definitely worth visiting are Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo Sorolla and the National Archaeological Museum of Spain.
Oh, New York... where to begin? For starters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, with its one of its many impressive pieces being 'Adam and Eve,' the well-known engraving by Albrecht Dürer. The Big Apple also boasts the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim - to but name a few.
In the case of the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, to say that it holds the world's finest collection of Renaissance paintings is almost an understatement. All the famous names of Italian art are here - not only the Renaissance masters, but also painters from the early medieval, baroque, and Mannerist golden ages. Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus' will leave you speechless.
While Washington, DC is the embodiment of America's great - yet speckled - political history, it is also home to many of the United States' great historic monuments and educational museums. Its Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum complex in the world and included 19 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park and more. Aside from this incredible cultural hub, the National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are not to be missed, either.