World art tours

Travel with friends

If you’re planning on travelling overseas, a tour with the Gallery will ensure you have a memorable and meaningful experience in the company of like-minded travellers. It also means you’re helping us buy art, as funds raised from tours go towards the Gallery’s collection.

We have a wide range of world art tours to diverse destinations. Individual tour itineraries have been carefully designed to include the most fascinating and important art historical, archaeological and architectural sites.

The Gallery’s tour leaders are chosen for their adventurous spirit, their knowledge, experience, ability to communicate and to manage groups. In many countries local guides are essential, and the Gallery has a very good network of international guides who share their intimate knowledge of complex cultural, political and religious sensitivities.

Awesome India

January 2016

Awesome India
Temples, history and art
With Jackie Menzies
From $9800 pp plus airfares

Explore India’s unique heritage and contribution to world culture in this inspiring journey to major sites of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Raj and contemporary significance. Along the way, enjoy the ebullience and vibrancy distinctive to Indian cities and communities, and revel in the food and music. Be beguiled by India’s lavish textile and folk art heritage, further enhancing an appreciation of this extraordinary culture.

  • Discover 7th-century rock-cut cave temple Elephanta with its famous Hindu sculptures
  • Explore the sublime Buddhist cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora with their breathtaking sculptures and frescoes
  • Visit the ‘Great Stupa’ at Sanchi, an icon in the history of Buddhism

Itinerary coming soon

China: art deco to art now

3 – 14 October 2015

China: art deco to art now
Shanghai – Beijing
With Claudia Chan-Shaw
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Join Claudia Chan Shaw for a fresh look at China’s 20th-century architecture and the extraordinary cultural revolution currently underway. Explore China’s outstanding art-deco heritage and the current ‘state of the art’ in fashion, design, architecture and art. Claudia’s passions are eclectic to say the least, so expect to visit design ateliers and artists’ studios; learn about the evolution of the qipao (cheongsam) and traditional arts and crafts; go in search of all manner of collectables; take a thorough look at the contemporary art scene; and immerse yourself in the world of art deco, the leitmotif of Shanghai architecture.

  • Explore all that art-deco Shanghai has to offer
  • Enjoy high tea in the Peace Hotel
  • Discover China’s world-leading, cutting-edge fashion and design
  • Keep up with the fast-moving contemporary art scene

China itinerary (PDF 1.1 MB)

Turkey: classical to cutting edge

2 – 14 October 2015

Turkey: classical to cutting edge
Istanbul – Gallipoli – Bursa – Istanbul Biennale
With Andrew Yip
From $6100 pp plus airfares

Istanbul is a city of contrasts and contradictions, an ancient city whose layered identity is written into its art and architecture. Split down the middle by the great Bosphorus, it is the only city to span two continents. Its origins are shrouded in ancient myth; before it was the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, it was Constantinople, the seat of power for the Roman Byzantine Empire. Before that, it was known as Byzantium, founded in legend by the Greek Byzas of Megara. Today it is one of the most exciting emerging sites for international contemporary art. The 2015 Istanbul Biennale, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, promises to be an exciting program that speaks to the city’s cosmopolitan diversity.

  • Enjoy five nights in the historic heart of Istanbul
  • Journey down the Aegean coast, visiting Gallipoli
  • Discover the vibrant culture, cuisine and lifestyle of modern Turkey
  • Explore all that the 2015 Istanbul Biennale has to offer

Turkey itinerary (PDF 2.5 MB)

Cobalt and lustre: treasures of ancient Persia

1 – 21 October 2015

Cobalt and lustre: treasures of ancient Persia
Tehran – Zanjan – Tabriz – Shiraz – Yazd – Isfahan
With John Tidmarsh
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Few countries can boast of such an illustrious past and diversity of cultures as Iran. Visit the sites of Persepolis, Pasargad and Naqsh-i-Rustam, stay in the enchanting mud-brick city of Yazd with its brooding Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, narrow winding lanes and opulent merchants’ houses with their tall wind-towers. In Shiraz, ‘the city of roses and nightingales’, enter the enchanted world of Persian gardens and poetry through the wonderful gardens of the Bagh-i-Eram, the Narenjastan Pavilion and the tombs of Hafez and Sa’adi.

  • Visit Tabriz, a place of cultural exchange since antiquity
  • Explore the enchanting mud-brick city of Yazd
  • Discover the stunning gardens, bazaars and mosques of Isfahan
  • Visit Persepolis,‘the city of the Persians’

Cobalt and lustre itinerary (PDF 1.8 MB)

Islands of Hesperia

18 September – 3 October 2015

Islands of Hesperia
Marseille – Corsica – Sardinia
With Christopher Allen
From $8850 pp plus airfares

From the ancient Greek city of Marseille to the beautiful islands of Corsica and Sardinia, discover an enchanting but unfamiliar corner of the Mediterranean. Starting in Marseille, founded over 2500 years ago by Phocaean settlers, we will explore the tiny ancient streets. Sail to Corsica, the beautiful former Genoese island with its incredibly wild mountains and breathtaking coastline finishing at Bonifacio, legendary home of the monstrous Laestrygonians in the Odyssey. A short crossing takes us to Sardinia, another beautiful island with an intriguing ancient bronze age civilisation, the Nuraghic peoples. Today it offers wonderful landscapes and coastlines, elegant cities, churches and museums, squares to relax with a coffee or aperitif, and plenty of very fine local cuisine.

  • Enjoy spectacular mountain landscapes and coastlines
  • Explore ancient archaeological sites in both Corsica and Sardinia
  • Wander through atmospheric towns and villages

Islands of Hesperia itinerary (PDF 1.2 MB)

Silk Road IV: The Caucasus

14 September – 2 October 2015

Silk Road IV: The Caucasus
Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia
With Julian Droogan
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Journey through the breathtaking Caucasus to three distinctive countries – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – and explore one of the most culturally complex and linguistically diverse parts of our world. Extending from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, and wedged between Russia in the north and Turkey and Iran in the south, the Caucasus occupies a strategic position between Europe and Asia. This unique location has long attracted invaders, including Persians, Mongols, Turks and Russians. It has also attracted a variety of traders travelling along the Silk Road, resulting in a rich and complex mix of religion, language and culture.

  • Explore the Persian-style palaces and historic mosques of Azerbaijan
  • Visit Georgia’s and Armenia’s mountain Byzantine monasteries and churches
  • Discover how the Caucasus was a key leg of the Silk Route
  • Wander through the Khan’s Palace in Sheki, meander the old alleyways of Tbilisi and visit the wooden village of Dilijan

Silk Road IV itinerary (PDF 1.1 MB)

A taste of Sri Lanka

7 – 21 September 2015

A taste of Sri Lanka
Cuisine, culture and art
With Paul van Reyk
From $8250 pp plus airfares

Discover the incredible depth of flavours, aromas, history and culture that Sri Lanka has to offer, visiting historic sites, bustling cities, the highlands and a national park. With a history that dates back over 2000 years, the island is home to some of Asia’s best preserved monuments and to no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thanks to its colonial history (Portuguese, Dutch and British), interaction with Arab, Chinese and Malay merchants over the centuries, and the prevailing religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, Sri Lanka is a land rich in traditions, with continual festivities and an exciting cuisine.

  • Join Paul van Reyk and Sri Lankan chefs for cooking demonstrations
  • Visit the World Heritage sites of Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla
  • Enjoy the scenic train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
  • See Geoffrey Bawa’s Lunuganga Estate and Bevis Bawa’s Brief Garden

A taste of Sri Lanka itinerary (PDF 1.5 MB)

Imperial cities of Eastern Europe

13 – 30 August 2015

Imperial cities of Eastern Europe
Budapest – Warsaw – Krakow – Berlin
With Liz Gibson
From $8850 pp plus airfares

Explore the heart of Eastern Europe and the former Imperial cities of Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw and Berlin, all remarkably restored and revitalised. Enjoy the magnificent 19th-century architecture of grand Budapest, a dual-capital of the old Habsburg Empire. Travel to enchanting Krakow, the medieval capital of the Polish kingdom, and discover a treasure trove of art and architecture. Continue to surprising Warsaw, capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and today’s vibrant capital of the Polish Republic. Conclude in dynamic Berlin, once centre of Prussian Imperial might, now the cutting-edge capital of the new Germany, with a rich legacy of museums, galleries and concert halls.

  • Explore majestic Budapest, straddling the mighty Danube River
  • Visit Krakow, home to many of Poland’s historic treasures
  • Discover the art and architectural heritage of Imperial Warsaw
  • Take an in-depth look at Berlin, the new cultural capital of Europe

Imperial cities of Eastern Europe itinerary (PDF 1.0 MB)

St Petersburg and the Russian North

5 – 16 August 2015

St Petersburg and the Russian North
St Petersburg – Pskov – Novgorod
With Rosamund Bartlett
From $6950 pp plus airfares

Discover 1000 years of Russian history and culture in and around the magnificent city of St Petersburg. Explore the outstanding art museums, palaces and monuments of the former Tsarist capital and discover the lives and works of the great Russian writers, artists, musicians and poets. Journey back in time to the ancient Russian towns of Pskov and Novgorod, including a visit to Pushkin’s family estate and grave at Mikhailovskoye and Dostoyevsky’s summer house at Staraya Russia.

  • Explore the outstanding art museums, palaces and monuments of St Petersburg
  • Discover the lives and works of the great Russian writers, artists, musicians and poets
  • Visit Pushkin’s family estate and grave at Mikhailovskoye
  • Enjoy an optional cruise to Moscow on the exclusive ‘Volga Dream’ (limited cabins available)

St Petersburg and the Russian North itinerary (PDF 1.4 MB)

Art cities of the Veneto and Venice Biennale

8 – 23 June 2015

Art cities of the Veneto and Venice Biennale
Verona – Vicenza – Castelfranco – Venice
With Lorraine Kypiotis
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Stretching from the lagoon of Venice to Lake Garda, the Veneto region abounds in the best of Italy: its art and architecture, food and wine, history and heritage, and a variety of landscapes. Staying in Verona, Vicenza, Castelfranco Veneto and Venice, explore the nearby smaller ‘art cities’ of Mantua, Padua and Treviso and go ‘off the beaten track’ to places such as Asolo, Marostica, Bassano da Grappa, the ‘Prosecco route’ and the villas of the Brenta Canal. Throughout the region, there will be a special focus on the architecture of Palladio and his followers. The tour will conclude in La Serenissima, with ample time to explore the 2015 Venice Biennale.

  • Enjoy leisurely stays in Verona, Vicenza, Castelfranco and Venice
  • Explore the smaller ‘art cities’ and regions of the Veneto
  • Discover the rich heritage of Palladian architecture throughout
  • Finish with two days at the Venice Biennale
  • Experience the regional cuisines and wines of the Veneto, famed for its gastronomy

Art cities itinerary (PDF 777.3 KB)

Theatre in three acts

4 – 18 June 2015

Theatre in three acts
London – Stratford – Dublin
With Jonathan Biggins
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

Enjoy the best of British and Irish theatre, music, opera and the visual arts. Begin with a week in the British capital where by day you will see the latest exhibitions and museum redevelopments, and by night explore the unrivalled London theatre scene, from the West End to Southbank, from Covent Garden to the Royal Albert Hall. Then it is off to the English countryside for the finest classic and contemporary theatre by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, and finish in Dublin, home of the famous Abbey Theatre.

  • Enjoy a week of theatre, music, opera and the visual arts in London
  • Go behind the scenes of famous theatres and theatrical companies
  • Attend performances by great institutions such as the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Abbey Theatre
  • See a mixture of emerging talent and established stars

Theatre in three acts itinerary (PDF 1.0 MB)

Korea and Japan

11 – 25 May 2015

Korea and Japan: classic to contemporary
Seoul – Kyoto – Naoshima
With Ann MacArthur
From $9950 pp including airfares

At once ancient and modern, Korea and Japan offer the sophisticated traveller an abundance of cultural heritage contrasted with the world’s latest trends in the arts, fashion and lifestyle. This tour will take a fresh look at Asian art in three very different destinations – Seoul, Kyoto and Naoshima – where the traditional sits side by side with the contemporary. Whether you want to learn more about the classical arts of Japan and Korea, or are in search of cutting edge art and architecture, this tour seeks to introduce you to the unique cultural dynamism of these two countries at the forefront of the Asian century.

  • Get to know the dynamic and vibrant city of Seoul
  • Relax and reflect in the timeless beauty of Kyoto
  • Discover the extraordinary ‘art island’ of Naoshima
  • Explore the traditional arts and cultural heritage of Korea and Japan
  • Come up-to-date with the latest Asian trends in contemporary art

Korea and Japan itinerary (PDF 1.2 MB)

Cuban culture

29 March – 13 April 2015

Cuban culture
Literature, art, history and politics
With Judith White
From $8950 pp plus airfares

For 500 years Cuba has been at the centre of European discovery of the New World, and it remains the great melting pot where Spain meets Africa. Its national identity was forged in poetry, dance and song, and its greatest hero was the writer-warrior José Martí. Cuba is now opening its doors wide to overseas visitors. Begin with an exploration of Old Havana, its colonial architecture, first-class museums and lively cultural scene. Then travel the length of the island to Santiago de Cuba, the ultimate Caribbean city. Cuba’s economic poverty is offset by the exuberance of its people and their music. Your itinerary offers a wide range of cultural experiences, with time to relax and take in the allure of this most vibrant of islands.

  • Explore the wonders of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Discover Cuba’s blend of Hispanic, African and indigenous cultures
  • Visit historic colonial towns and tropical landscapes
  • Experience music and dance in Santiago, the ultimate Caribbean city
  • Examine the legacy of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the 1959 Revolution

Cuban culture itinerary (PDF 908.6 KB)

Heavenly Bhutan

2 – 14 March 2015

Heavenly Bhutan
Temples, thangkas and textiles
With Joyce Morgan
From $9250 pp including airfares

Bhutan, the last Himalayan kingdom, has sweeping mountains, towering fortress-monasteries and a rich Buddhist culture. The reclusive kingdom has started to open its door to the world while maintaining its vibrant traditions. With breathtaking architecture, dramatic landscape and a thriving artistic culture, the land of the Thunderdragon is like no other. Myth and legend intertwine in a place where monks dance and tigers are said to fly, where rice is red and men don traditional robes with argyle socks. Spring is an ideal time to visit Bhutan when its valleys and woodlands are as fertile and colourful as the work of its artisans.

  • Above charming Paro town, wander through an ancient watchtower that houses the National Museum with its superb collection of Thangka scroll paintings
  • Enjoy the artisans, museums and markets of Thimpu, the world’s only capital city without traffic lights
  • Marvel at Punakha Zdong, the magnificent fortress where Bhutan’s kings are crowned
  • Venture into the Bumthang region, the country’s cultural heartland

Heavenly Bhutan itinerary (PDF 1.3 MB)