World art tours

Travel with friends

If you’re planning on travelling overseas, a tour with the Art Gallery Society of NSW 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 Society’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 Society has a very good network of international guides who share their intimate knowledge of complex cultural, political and religious sensitivities.


New York, United States of America

December 2020

Two bites of the Big Apple
Art and theatre in New York
With Jonathan Biggins and Brian Ladd
From approx. $10,500 pp plus airfares

Revel in New York City’s theatre and art scene in the colourful lead-up to Christmas. Visit the dazzling collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museum of American Art. For the latest in contemporary art, explore the commercial gallery district in Chelsea and the Museum in the Bowery. Discover some of New York’s most fascinating and vibrant neighbourhoods including Tribeca, Harlem and Brooklyn. Then, enjoy the best seats in the house for some of the best Broadway theatre, music, opera and dance that New York has to offer.

More information available in September 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

November 2020

Ethiopia: The heart of African civilisation
Addis Ababa and the Historical North
With Genevieve Jacobs
From approx. $11,000 pp plus airfares

In the birthplace of humanity, explore the monolith rock churches of Lalibela, the monasteries of Axum and the proud imperial castles of Gondar, built by the heirs of King Solomon. From the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of Lucy to the Queen of Sheba and the mighty Emperors of the Solomonic Dynasty who held out against European colonisation, Ethiopia has been the heart of African civilisation since time immemorial. One of the very first kingdoms to adopt Christianity as its state religion in the 4th century AD, Ethiopia evolved a distinct religious and cultural tradition which gave rise to stunning works of architecture such as the Lalibela rock churches, hewn from solid rock, the 24-metre-tall Great Stela of Axum and the 17th century Castle of Gondar, the ‘Camelot of Africa’. Along the way, see the verdant Simien Mountains, and discover a confident, welcoming and sophisticated nation leading Africa into its 21st century prominence.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

10–21 November 2020

The birth of civilisation
An exclusive archaeological expedition to Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Jordan
With Julian Droogan and Iain Shearer
From $28,500 pp plus airfares

Embark on an exclusive private small ship cruise through the ancient lands of the Near East, exploring over 5,000 years of the origin of civilisation with renowned archaeologists Julian Droogan and Iain Shearer. Board the luxurious Crystal Esprit in Cyprus, the mythical 'Island of Aphrodite’, and depart for Israel to tour the key archaeological sites of the Holy Land before sailing through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea to see the ancient pyramids in Egypt before arriving in Jordan to explore its crowning jewel of Petra. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit both iconic and rarely-visited archaeological sites of the Near East in the company of two of Australia’s most highly regarded archaeologists from the comfort of our own private luxury ship.

Extend your exploration of the Near East with an optional pre-cruise tour to Lebanon or Cyprus and post-cruise tour to Jordan.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Lisa Reihana Omai and Obeera / Hawaiian Hula / Chiefly Pursuits (00000 / 00525) 2017 (detail) pigment print on paper, mounted on aluminium dibond behind acrylic glass, edition of 9 + 2 AP, 762 × 2137 × 6 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Milford Galleries Dunedin

November 2020

New Zealand now: Contemporary art and design
Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch
With Julie Ewington
From approx. $9,500 pp plus airfares

From the magnificent He Taonga Māori in Auckland’s War Memorial Museum, to Shigeru Ban’s ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ in Christchurch, discover how New Zealand’s vibrant cultural life is just as captivating as its stunning landscapes. Visit Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch in the company of contemporary art authority Julie Ewington to discover the country’s multi-cultural, enterprising and feisty art, craft and design scenes. The country presents an abundance of creative talent from ground-breaking work by contemporary Māori and Pacific Islander artists to distinguished architecture and flourishing design, combined with wonderful contemporary jewellery and striking fashion. Visit excellent museums, galleries, and craft and design specialists, paired with the best of New Zealand’s wines and exceptional fresh produce to uncover how New Zealand rocks the contemporary!

More information available in September 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA. Photo: Giuseppe Milo / Flickr

October/November 2020

Modern art and architecture of the US West Coast
California and Washington states
With Jaime Tsai
From approx. $12,500 pp plus airfares

Discover where outstanding art collections and distinctive architecture meet extraordinary cuisine and wine on the US west coast region and its hinterland. Wend your way along America’s west coast on a journey through the art museums and architectural highlights of the states of Washington and California. Visit world-class art collections and witness extraordinary architecture in a rich visual feast. Indulge in delicious chef-hosted meals in famous restaurants, and tempt your taste buds in the wineries of the region. Enjoy a unique experience of food and art history with Jaime Tsai, and popular food and travel writer Sally James.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea

October 2020

From Celadon to Samsung: South Korea
Art treasures of the Korean Peninsula
With Ann MacArthur
From approx. $7,500 pp plus airfares

At once ancient and modern, South Korea offers the sophisticated traveller an abundance of cultural heritage contrasted with the world’s latest trends in arts, fashion and lifestyle. Be enthralled by Korean art and culture, and admire the nation’s wonders of modern architecture and design. Explore the cities of Seoul and Busan and their impressive art galleries, including the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Space Lee Ufan and the Busan Museum of Contemporary Art. Delve into the nation’s history and imperial past in Changdeok Palace, once the home of the Joseon Dynasty, and the National Museum of Korea, and see how ancient meets modern in the vibrant nation of today.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


The Mogao Caves, Dunhuang, China

October 2020

Journey along the Silk Road: China
Xi’an to Dunhuang
With Joyce Morgan
From approx. $12,000 pp plus airfares

Navigate the fabled trading thoroughfare of the Silk Road, journeying from China’s ancient capital of Xi’an through the dramatic landscapes and bazaars to Kashgar. From Xi’an, the ancient capital of Imperial China, traverse the Silk Road heading west to the monasteries of ‘Little Tibet’ in Xiahe. Continue on to the desert oasis of Dunhuang and explore the 1,500 year-old Buddhist statues and frescoes of the Mogao Caves.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa, Japan

24 September – 2 October 2020

Oku-Noto Triennale
Japan’s Noto Peninsula, Kanazawa and Kyoto
With John McBride
From approx. $12,000 pp plus airfares

Experience a festival of traditional Japanese culture, local delicacies and site-specific art installations across Japan’s Noto Peninsula. Feast your eyes upon a Japanese artistic celebration, featuring works from a selection of countries in the secluded yet sublime Noto Peninsula. Discover the history of this culturally steeped region, the site where ancient cultures from the Asian continent entered Japan and shaped it into the land of today. Investigate the nearby city of Kanazawa, a city rich in history and religious traditions, as well as the former imperial capital of Kyoto, home to many enchanting traditional cultural practices.

More information available in July 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Cappadocia, Turkey

9–24 September 2020

Turkish delights: Classic to contemporary
Istanbul, Izmir, Canakkale, Cappadocia and Pamukkale
With Jane Hutcheon
From approx. $10,000 pp plus airfares

Immerse yourself in the ancient lands of Turkey and observe the evolution of its art and culture, from the Graeco-Roman past to the outstanding treasures of Turkey today. Discover the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, until the 20th century known as Constantinople and capital of the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Unravel the complex history of this colourful city, strategically situated at the meeting point of Europe and Asia. Explore the legendary besieged Bronze Age city of Troy, as well as the extraordinary archaeological site of Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Enjoy visits to handicraft workshops to see how master craftsmen and women have worked for centuries. Be enchanted by the cave towns of Goreme, Urgup and Uchisar in the province of Cappadocia as well as the calcium terraces of Pamukkale.

More information available in June 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Bologna, Italy

September 2020

The papal states: Central Italy
Bologna, Urbino, Perugia, Viterbo, Rome
With Steven Miller
From approx. $10,500 pp plus airfares

Embark on a journey through the former Papal States of Italy, exploring the historical cities of Bolgona, Urbino, Perugia and Viterbo, and Rome’s Holy See, cities steeped in art, religion and culture. The defining feature of central Italy for nearly a thousand years, the Papal States covered the modern regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Emilia Romagna. Be immersed in the flourishing of art and culture that came about under papal patronage, rivalling the Venetian and Florentine courts. Beginning in Bologna, the beautiful university town with its rich traditions of secular and religious enquiry, and ending in Rome, this tour will explore the art and architecture of the ‘Republic of St Peter’.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Samarkand, Uzbekistan

September 2020

Hidden treasures of Central Asia
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
With Iain Shearer
From approx. $10,500 pp plus airfares

Uncover the wonders of Central Asia’s most diverse countries, exploring the ancient Sogdian cities of Samarkand and Penjikent, the spectacular Ala-Too Mountains and the modern city of Bishkek. Experience the intriguing blend of ancient roots and Soviet history in the vibrant countries of today’s Central Asia. Explore Uzbekistan’s Persian heritage, including the exquisite Sogdian murals of Afrasiab in Timurid Golden Samarkand. In Tajikistan, cross the rugged Pamir Mountains, trace the Panj River and descend into the stunning natural beauty of the Wakhan Valley. Then visit the unchanging, storied landscapes of Kyrgyzstan on a journey through the ancient city of Osh to the serene Lake Toktogul.

More information available in August 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Church of St. John at Kaneo, Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

4–18 September 2020

Imperial crossroads: Art and culture of the Central Balkans
Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia
With Rosamund Bartlett
From approx. $11,500 pp plus airfares

Journey through the heart of the fascinating and complex Balkan Peninsula, exploring cultures from the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Explore a region shaped by its imperial past, from the ancient kingdom of Macedon through to the more recent states of the former Yugoslavia. Delve into the artistic and cultural remains from throughout the region’s long and dynamic history, including some of the Balkans’ better kept secrets: Lake Ohrid’s Byzantine shores and Prizren, a former Ottoman administrative capital.

More information available in June 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Machu Picchu, Peru

July 2020

Peru’s cities of gold
Cusco, Machu Picchu and Beyond
With Julian Droogan
From approx. $13,000 pp plus airfares

Delve into Peru’s intriguing Inca heritage and unearth the wonders of the ancient cities of Cusco and Machu Picchu, and the mysterious Nasca Lines. Ascend the Andes Mountains and journey to the former Incan heartland, unravelling the mysterious past of Peru’s native civilisation. Descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and explore the nearby city of Cusco, a thriving community where traditional heritage blends with Spanish culture. Journey to the Incan citadel of machu Picchu, and take in the dramatic landscapes surrounding this once great stronghold. Travel to the Nasca Desert, where the ancient Nasca Lines still bare their carvings to the sky to this day. In the lively capital Lima, discover a fascinating and sophisticated world of art, music and exquisite cuisine.

More information available in July 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Manfred Kielnhofer Guardians of Time 2007

June/July 2020

Cutting-edge contemporary
Berlin Biennale
With Gitte Weise
From approx. $8,500 pp plus airfares

Be part of cutting-edge culture at the 11th Berlin Biennale and enjoy a specially curated selection of the latest in contemporary art plus privileged access to private galleries and collections. Experience the diversity and vibrancy of the Berlin Biennale, a three-month-long celebration of international contemporary art and artists. In addition to the Biennale, explore the city’s outstanding museums and private collections, and visit artists’ studios in trendy neighbourhoods. Visit Potsdamer Strasse, the city’s latest gallery precinct, complete with contemporary art spaces, shops and restaurants, and enjoy a day trip to Leipzig’s intriguing Spinnerei art district.

More information available in July 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Bayan-Ölgii, Mongolia

June 2020

Mongolia
From Genghis to Kublai Khan
With Iain Shearer
From approx. $11,500 pp plus airfares

Explore the past and the present of the mighty Mongol empire, travelling from the southern steppes of Inner Mongolia to the Khanate’s capital of Karakorum. Discover the extraordinary landscapes, warmly welcoming and unique culture of Mongolia, one of the world’s last travel frontiers. Explore the true heartland of the Khanate in the former capitals of Karakorum and Shangdu (Xanadu). Traverse the country to Ulgii in far western Mongolia, a town of Kazakh cultures and hunters with eagles, and see the contrast and relationship between traditional and modern in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.

More information available in July 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Tbilisi, Georgia

22 May – 9 June 2020

A road less travelled
Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan
With Liz Gibson
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

Explore the natural and cultural riches of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to discover a complex mix of religion, art and architecture. Nestled between the Black and Caspian Seas, and surrounded by the former Russian, Persian, Ottoman and Byzantine empires, the peoples of the Caucasus have developed proud, independent traditions of their own, with a rich and complex mix of religion, language and art that has fired the imagination of travellers for centuries. Discover the sacred Byzantine monasteries and churches of Armenia, wander the galleries and museums of Georgia, and explore the old palaces, mosques and markets of Azerbaijan. Visit today’s three capitals of Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku and enjoy the fascinating blend of ancient tradition and contemporary cosmopolitan life.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


English School, (16th century) An Allegory of the Tudor Succession: The Family of Henry VIII c1589–95 (detail) Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA / Bridgeman Images; Tbilisi

14–24 May 2020

In the footsteps of the Tudor monarchs
Palaces, castles and cathedrals of the English Renaissance
With Joyce Morgan
From $10,750 pp plus airfares

Uncover the intriguing history of the House of Tudor, taking in the royal palaces, castles and cathedrals on a journey through the English Renaissance. In London, explore the renowned maze of Hampton Court Palace, wander through the great halls of Syon House and experience the wonder-filled gardens of Hatfield House tracing the footsteps of Henry VIII’s children. Then, visit the vibrant stained-glass windows of Leicester Cathedral dedicated to Richard III where his tomb now lies after his remains were unearthed in 2013. Explore the magnificent ruins of Kenilworth Castle and marvel at the impeccably groomed Sudeley Castle in the heart of the Cotswolds, once home to Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Parr. Marvel at the unrivalled staterooms in Queen Elizabeth II’s Windsor Castle, home to priceless historical portraits and art. Finally, travel across the Weald of Kent to Penshurst Place, dating from the 14th century, and to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and Eltham Palace, the childhood home of Henry VIII.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Marrakesh, Morocco

May 2020

Moorish mosaic
From Marrakesh to Andalusia
With Brian Ladd
From approx. $12,500 pp plus airfares

Discover the splendours of Marrakesh and Andalusia, tracing a rich art and cultural history reflected in magnificent architectural ensembles. Delve into the intricacies of Islamic and Berber culture across the Maghreb and explore the world built on Islam in the shadow of Europe, from the White City of Casablanca’s European heritage and French influences to the rambling souqs of Fez. Journey across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain’s Andalusia, and take in the gothic architecture of Seville and the Islamic influences of Cordoba and Granada, and discover how Europe and the Islamic world are intimately entwined.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Paris, France

18 May – 1 June 2020

Art Nouveau and the Belle Époque
Prague, Brussels and Paris
With Claudia Chan Shaw
From approx. $10,500 pp plus airfares

Immerse yourself in the aesthetic pleasures of two much-beloved styles of art, architecture and design – art nouveau and art deco – in the key exemplar cities of Prague, Brussels and Paris. Discover the picturesque streets and artistic charms of three of Europe’s culture capitals. Wander the halls of Prague’s Municipal House and Koruna Palace, both impressive displays of Czech Art Nouveau. Explore the streets of Brussels and the architectural designs of Victor Horta, one of Art Nouveau’s defining figures, and visit the Grand-Place, featuring seventeenth century architecture. Meander your way through the markets of Paris, a gold mine for lovers of vintage items and eccentricities, testament to the ongoing love of the jewels of the Belle Époque period.

More information available June 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Basel, Switzerland

6–13 May 2020

Rhine art and music cruise
Amsterdam to Basel
With Christopher Lawrence and Thomas Abbott
From $10,500 pp plus airfares

Be part of the celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and embark on a leisurely cruise through the landscapes and cities that play host to Europe’s finest art museums and concert halls. Board the luxurious MS Amadeus Silver III in Amsterdam and cruise up the scenic Rhine River, arguably Europe’s most important waterway and cultural vein. This unique cruise will provide a veritable panorama of European art, history, music and landscapes, including a series of exclusive concerts and gala performances and visits celebrating Beethoven’s unique musical legacy. Along the way, benefit from the insight of two specialist tour leaders: classical music broadcaster Christopher Lawrence and art and history expert Thomas Abbott.

Extend your exploration of Europe’s great art and music cities with an optional pre-cruise tour Van Eyck to Van Gogh: Artistic Highlights of the Low Countries from Brussels to Amsterdam and post-cruise tour Art Treasures of Zurich and Basel.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Yayoi Kusama The Visionary Flowers 2002, The Matsumoto City Museum of Art.

13–22 May 2020

Eternal design
Japanese art and architecture through time
With Kathryn Hunyor
From approx. $12,500 pp plus airfares

Immerse yourself in the timelessness of Japanese design, exploring traditional and contemporary art forms that permeate everyday life through their bold, unique palettes and flavours. Plunge into the cultural metropolis of Tokyo and explore the city’s remarkable artistic culture, including new architectural masterpieces, art museums, design spaces and commercial urban complexes. Continue to the extraordinary Setouchi ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, where Japan’s artistic culture brims with a new confidence, creating some of the most exciting and authentic contemporary Japanese art experiences.

More information available June 2019 on Renaissance Tours website


Old City at the Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel

3–15 May 2020

Then and now: Art and culture in Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Israel and the Palestinian Territories
With Jane Hutcheon
From $12,750 pp plus airfares

Venture into the heart of the ancient Levant and explore the history, art and culture of today’s Israel and the Palestinian Territories. From the sacred sites and cobbled streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and Hebron to the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv and gritty Ramallah, this land is one of many contrasts, simultaneously ancient and modern, where tradition and history meet with the 21st century. Travel in the company of television presenter and former ABC Middle East correspondent Jane Hutcheon, who will lead you through key sites and hidden treasures of this fascinating world, to unravel the complex past and consider the controversial present.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Michelangelo The Creation of Adam 1511–12 (detail) Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City / Bridgeman Images

24 April – 9 May 2020

In the footsteps of Michelangelo
Bologna, Arezzo, Florence, Carrara and Rome
With Lorraine Kypiotis
From $13,500 pp plus airfares

Follow in the footsteps of Michelangelo from Bologna to Arezzo and Florence to Carrara, before culminating in the eternal city of Rome, home to his most treasured works. Considered by some to be the greatest artist who ever lived, gain a deep understanding of the revered Michelangelo’s life and enduring legacy. Retrace his artistic journey from his birthplace near Arezzo, to Florence, where his iconic Renaissance masterpieces are held in the Accademia and the Uffizi galleries. End your journey in Rome to see the mature Michelangelo’s remarkable triumphs of architecture, sculpture and painting.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Eilean Donan Castle, Western Highlands, Scotland

17 April – 2 May 2020

Treasures of Scotland
From the Lowlands to the Highlands, and the Hebrides to the Orkneys
With Kenneth Park
From $11,750 pp plus airfares

Admire the stately homes, castles, galleries and gardens of bonnie Scotland, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the Highlands and the Lowlands Lowlands as well as its islands. Discover Scotland’s distinctive artistic and architectural heritage, ranging from traditional village dwellings to grand mansions and remarkable art nouveau masterpieces. Explore impressive royal residences and aristocratic estates set against a backdrop of untamed landscapes, from the rugged Highlands to the rolling hills of the Lowlands and wild Orkney Islands.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Persepolis, Iran

11–25 April 2020

Journey along the Silk Road: Iran
Treasures of ancient Persia
With Christopher Allen
From $10,750 pp plus airfares

Traverse the ancient trading thoroughfare of the Silk Road and discover the historical and cultural legacy of ancient Persia in Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd and Shiraz. Navigate the Silk Road, the lifeblood of trade between the European empires of the west and the Far East. Be mesmerised by the riches of modern-day Iran, from the enchanted mosques of Shiraz to the monuments of the Safavid capital of Isfahan. Whilst the great Persian centres and trading hubs may no longer mark out this thoroughfare, the legacy lives on in the distinct culture, art and aesthetic of today’s Iran.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Punakha Dzong Monastery, Bhutan

1–12 March 2020

Hidden Lands of the Himalayas
Bhutan and the Punakha Festival
With Alex McKay
From $9,950 pp including airfares from Bangkok

Uncover Bhutan, the last Himalayan kingdom, with its breathtaking architecture, dramatic
landscape and rich Buddhist culture. With towering fortress-monasteries, sweeping mountains,
fertile valleys and a thriving artistic culture, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ is like no other. Learn about Bhutan’s unique benign monarchy and experience the vibrant living culture of Bhutan during the enchanting Punakha Festival where monks perform masked sacred dances in a festive yet spiritual atmosphere. Travel to picturesque central Bhutan and explore the country’s cultural and religious heartland in the Trongsa and Bhumthang regions.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Jaipur, India

18 February – 6 March 2020

End of Empires
From the Mughals to the British Raj
With Iain Shearer
From $14,500 pp plus airfares

Uncover the multi-layered history of vibrant India, from the mighty Mughal capital of Agra to the bustling former Raj centres of Kolkata and New Delhi. Explore the story of the Mughal Empire, the British East India Company and the Raj in a tour of modern India starting in the current capital of New Delhi and ending in the coastal city of Kolkata that saw the arrival of the British and the spread of their commercial influence. En route see the Hindu and Buddhist jewels of India, including the Buddhist complexes of Sanchi and the Hindu temples of Bhubaneswar. Discover the shared inheritance of Alexander the Great, and learn how Hellenistic influences and European culture shaped the vibrant India of today.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Moscow, Russia

7–21 January 2020

Russian Winter Wonderland
Art, Music and Ballet in Moscow and St Petersburg
With Alan Dodge
From $11,750 pp plus airfares

Be enthralled by the bracing wintertime ambience of Moscow and St Petersburg in a captivating display of Russia’s centuries-old traditions of art, opera and ballet. Discover Moscow, where the serenity of Russian Orthodox monasteries is met with the dynamism of one of Europe’s major capitals. Wander through Russia’s imperial capital of St Petersburg, bejewelled with the palaces of Grand Dukes and Empresses – all of it without the summer crowds. By day, revel in the jewels of Russian art and architecture. By night, immerse yourself in the sumptuous world of opera, ballet and concerts at legendary venues such as the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


27 November – 7 December 2019

Art revival: from Cuba to Miami
Havana and Art Basel Miami Beach
With Claudia Chan Shaw
From $11,850 pp plus airfares

Experience the dynamic energy of contemporary art in two cities at the juncture of North and South America: Havana and Miami. Long famous for its passionate musical traditions, Cuba’s capital Havana now entices art lovers to discover its tradition of visual arts, from pre-revolutionary modernism to contemporary. Meanwhile, across the water, Florida’s Miami now hosts the internationally-renowned Art Basel Miami Beach, an exciting art fair where over 250 galleries display the latest developments in regional and international contemporary art. In Havana see a heady mix of architectural styles – colonial, baroque, neoclassical, art deco, modernist and post-modernist – a reflection of Cuba’s position as a gateway between the old and new worlds. In Miami Beach, discover some of the best-preserved art deco architecture in the world.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) with Pharos © Mona/Jesse Hunniford. Image courtesy of the artist and of Mona

14–17 November 2019

New art spaces of Tasmania
Weekend of art, wine and culture
With Gitte Weise
From $3,450 pp plus airfares

Spend a long weekend in the company of art curator Gitte Weise exploring some of the Island State’s newest art spaces, museums, private galleries and wineries. Visit the ‘cheeky and provocative’ Michael Bugelli housemuseum, featuring innovative contemporary works. Enjoy special access to the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), visiting the gallery’s new wing, PHAROS, featuring major installations by James Turrell, Charles Ross, Richard Wilson and Nam Jun Paik, and explore the gallery’s special exhibitions. Gain exclusive access to the vast private contemporary art collection housed over four floors of the former headquarters of The Mercury newspaper and admire James Turrell’s stunning Amarna sequence over a gourmet meal.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


12–26 November 2019

Ethiopia: The heart of African civilisation
Addis Ababa and the historical north
With Jane Hutcheon
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

In the birthplace of humanity, explore the monolith rock churches of Lalibela, the monasteries of Axum and the proud imperial castles of Gondar, built by the heirs of King Solomon. From the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of Lucy to the Queen of Sheba and the mighty Emperors of the Solomonic Dynasty who held out against European colonisation, Ethiopia has been the heart of African civilisation since time immemorial. One of the very first kingdoms to adopt Christianity as its state religion in the 4th century AD, Ethiopia evolved a distinct religious and cultural tradition which gave rise to stunning works of architecture such as the Lalibela rock churches, hewn from solid rock, the 24-metre-tall Great Stela of Axum, and the 17th century Castle of Gondar, the ‘Camelot of Africa’. Along the way, see the verdant Simien mountains, and discover a confident, welcoming and sophisticated nation leading Africa into its 21st century prominence.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


4–20 November 2019

Into the Sahara: Algeria
From ancient Rome to the modern Maghreb
With Julian Droogan
From $14,950 pp plus airfares

Venture to one of the few remaining frontiers of art and archaeology, and discover a culture weaving together nomadic Berbers, Ancient Romans, Mediaeval Vandals and Umayyads, French colonists and modern Algerians. Begin in Algiers, visiting the extraordinary collection of the National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, the lively Kasbah and the colonial Cathedral of Our Lady of Africa. Continue to Setif and see the stunning 3rd century CE mosaic the ‘Triumph of Dionysus’, and in Timgad explore the Arch of Trajan and the Byzantine fortress. Marvel at the Roman aqueduct in Constantine, now a bridge over the deep Rhummel Gorge, and discover distinctive Berber culture in Ghardaïa. Then enter the Sahara, visiting the red mudbrick towns of Taghit and Timimoun, where markets have grown up around precious sources of water surrounded by the endless desert dunes.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


The Great Mosque of Kairouan

21 October – 3 November 2019

Land of Berbers, Carthaginians and Romans: Tunisia
Tunisia, North Africa
With Iain Shearer
From $8,950 pp plus airfares

Venture into the heart of Tunisia to explore ancient Roman and Carthaginian sites, Berber villages and the distinctive Islamic architecture of its key cities. Starting in Tunis, discover both the ancient and modern history of this vibrant city, which has been continually inhabited since the 4th Century BC. Visit key archaeological sites such as Carthage, and explore the Roman sites of Bulla Regia, and El Djem, which boasts the largest amphitheatre in North Africa. Travel to the coastal village of Sidi Bou Said with its striking blue and white architecture and its quaint streets. Immerse yourself in the lively hubbub of the Islamic city of Kairouan and visit the troglodyte villages of Tataouine and Chenini, the living history of Tunisia.

Note: This tour is designed to connect with Into the Sahara: Algeria with Julian Droogan, 4–20 November 2019.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Walking Ark by Keisuke Yamaguchi on Ogijima. Photo: cotaro70s/FlickrCC

13–24 October 2019

Setouchi Triennale 2019
The art islands of the Seto Inland Sea
With John McBride
From $15,950 pp plus airfares (FULLY BOOKEDWAITLIST ONLY)

Join Japanophile John McBride AM for a comprehensive visit to all 12 islands and one port of the 2019 Setouchi Triennale, celebrating the creativity of Japanese and international artists. Many are aware of the three impressive ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Megijima in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, but these permanent art installations of global fame are supported by a triennale art event which extends over 12 islands. For the 2019 triennale John will lead travellers on a comprehensive tour of the full dozen islands and one port, engaging with the Japanese and international art collected for the event. Experience the laidback lifestyles of the islanders of the Inland Sea, the ‘Aegean of Asia’, and discover how the traditional culture of Japan still survives in their small villages, supported by this important international art event.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. Photo: Felix Lipov/Alamy

18–28 October 2019

Museums, mansions and masterpieces: Hudson Valley to Boston
New York to Boston
With Ron Ramsey and Sebastian Smee
From $11,950 pp plus airfares

Gain a new insight into American art, history and architecture with a focus on the collections and mansions of the Hudson Valley, and the rich art collections of Boston and Massachusetts. In New York State, join Ron Ramsey, Executive Director of the Art Gallery Society, to discover dynamic art galleries and collections, including the spectacular landscape paintings of the 19th century ‘Hudson River School’ which make for a fascinating comparison with Australian landscapes of the same period. Travel to the Hudson Valley and visit Kykuit, the Rockefeller Mansion which has been home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Wander through the Dia:Beacon contemporary art museum and Magazzino, warehouse for Italian Art. Visit the FD Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park as well as Olana, the residence of the eminent Hudson River School painter, Frederic Edwin Church.

In Boston, guest lecturer and renowned art critic Sebastian Smee will share his insights on the city’s outstanding collections, such as the Museum of Fine Arts. Explore the local contemporary art scene at Mass MOCA, and enjoy a cluster of modern and contemporary art districts including Newbury Street and South End ‘SoWa’.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


13–25 October 2019

Puglia and southern Italy
Bari to Naples
With Steven Miller
From $9,950 pp plus airfares

In southern Italy a treasure trove of Roman, mediaeval and baroque architecture awaits, replete with spectacular castles, ornate churches and expansive art museums. Join Steven Miller, Head of the Art Gallery of NSW’s National Art Archive, for an exploration of this fascinating region. Begin in Bari, which combines Byzantine and Napoleonic history with a modern artistic fervour. Continue to the beautiful baroque city of Lecce, and then visit Martina Franca, graced with mannerist, baroque and rococo churches. Discover the ancient sassi (caves) of Matera, and the trulli (cone-topped houses) of Alberobello. Travel westward to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea and conclude in Naples, one of Italy’s great cultural centres, with visits to world-class churches, art galleries and museums displaying the treasures of two millennia of Neapolitan culture.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


30 September – 12 October 2019

Cyprus: Crossroads of culture
Ancient cities, crusader castles and Byzantine churches
With Christopher Allen
From $9,750 pp plus airfares

Join art historian Christopher Allen to dig deep into the history of Cyprus, the ‘island of Aphrodite’, through which the wealth of Mediterranean cultures has coursed for more than 8,000 years. Discover both sides of this fascinating island, with a thorough exploration of southern ‘Greek’ Cyprus and the northern third with its distinctive Turkish influence. See the wondrous church of St Lazarus in Limassol and the diverse range of art and artefacts in the Cyprus Museum and Nicosia Folk Art Museum. Wander through the extraordinary ancient site of Paphos, the capital of Hellenistic and Roman Cyprus, and immerse yourself in the underwater archaeology of the Kyrenia Shipwreck Museum. Cross the Green Line into Northern Cyprus for a walking tour of the Turkish sector of Nicosia, and then travel further north to visit Bellapais Abbey and the Royal Tombs at Salamis.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


12–29 September 2019

Journey along the Silk Road: Uzbekistan (FULLY BOOKEDWAIT LIST ONLY)
Tashkent, Nukus, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand
With Joyce Morgan
From $11,250 pp including airfares

Discover the ‘Jewel of Central Asia’, a land of ancient oasis citadels with their distinctive turquoise-tiled minarets, mosques and madrassahs and a rich tradition of arts and crafts. Uzbekistan was the crossroads of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that connected China with the Mediterranean. For over two millennia it has absorbed diverse influences, among them Greek, Persian, Turkic, Russian and Chinese cultures, as well as Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity and Islam.

In the capital Tashkent, discover the modern energy of Uzbekistan. Explore the archaeological legacy of the conquering general Timur (Tamerlane) in the romantic cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand which are still crowned with dazzling tiled mosques. Visit Nukus and Timur’s birthplace, Shakhrisabz, meeting village artisans along the way. Discover a long tradition of arts and crafts, including the intricately embroidered suzani (tribal textiles), exquisite silk ikat weavings, hand-woven silk carpets, miniature paintings, tribal jewellery and distinctive ceramic ware.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Pont Saint-Benezet, Provence, France

11–21 September 2019

Art, music and wine in the south of France
Including five nights on the Rhône River from Arles to Lyon
With Wendy Sharpe, Bernard Ollis, Christopher Lawrence and Peter Bourne
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

Journey through the charming South of France, and cruise up the mighty Rhône River from Arles through Avignon and Tournon to the gastronomic capital of Lyon. Begin in Aix-en-Provence, and experience this refined cultural centre following in the footsteps of its acclaimed native son, Paul Cézanne. Continue to Arles, where Vincent van Gogh lived during the final years of his life, producing some of his most captivating masterpieces. Then cruise up the Rhône aboard the luxurious MS Amadeus Provence, visiting the once-papal city of Avignon, and enjoying fine wines of the Rhône Valley. In Lyon, enjoy world-class music and art in one of the great centres of French culture.

Along the way, benefit from the insight of four expert tour leaders: award-winning artists Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis, music broadcaster Christopher Lawrence and wine writer Peter Bourne.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger Queen Elizabeth I (The ‘Ditchley’ portrait) c.1592 (detail) © National Portrait Gallery, London

11–14 July 2019

Monarchs, emperors and warriors
Galleries and exhibitions of Bendigo and Melbourne
With Brian Ladd
From approx. $2,350 pp plus airfares

Venture to the heart of country Victoria to Bendigo, where the superb Bendigo Art Gallery hosts a seminal exhibition of British Royal portraits from London’s National Portrait Gallery, and enjoy a private, curator-led lecture on the exhibition.

Then visit the outstanding Heide Museum of Modern Art, boasting one of the most significant collections of Australian modern and contemporary art.

Finally, enjoy a private guided tour of the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, presenting China’s mighty Terracotta Warriors, alongside new works by contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website