Paris, Amsterdam, Munich: The best art exhibitions accessible by train in 2023

Fancy catching the largest ever Vermeer exhibition? How about an immersive experience that fuses anime, video games and Buddhism?

2023 is shaping up to be another bumper year for art exhibitions in Europe. There’s never been a better time to fill your calendar with creative adventures – and to link up your gallery visits by rail.

Train connections are growing ever better and faster, offering affordable, sustainable and scenic travel to some of the world’s most revered art hubs.

From Paris to London, here are some of our favourite exhibitions worth travelling for this year.

Hightail it to Vermeer’s biggest ever exhibition at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Dutch Baroque Period painter Johannes Vermeer is best known for his Girl With A Pearl Earring and extraordinary use of natural light. This year, the Netherland’s national Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is showcasing the largest ever exhibition of his works.

There are 28 masterpieces on show. Expect to see Vermeer’s depictions of 17th century domestic life, such as The Milkmaid, and religious works like Christ in the House of Mary and Martha.

The exhibition runs until 4 June 2023 and is extremely popular, so advance booking is essential.

Amsterdam is well connected to train lines across Europe. From London, the Eurostar takes less than four hours. From Paris, the Thalys high-speed train takes around three hours and 20 minutes. ICE International connects the city with Germany and Switzerland.

Explore the beauty of our fragile planet at the Bourse de Commerce, Paris

Avant l’orage (Before the Storm) fills the striking rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce in Paris with an installation by Vietnamese-Danish artist Danh Vo. Through uprooted trees supported by timber frames, he explores themes of death and our relationship with nature.

Immersive exhibits by the likes of French artist Pierre Huyghe fill the museum, nodding to the seasons and fragile ecosystems that govern our world.

The exhibition runs until 11 September 2023, with Vo’s installation replaced with one by British-German artist Tacita Dean in June.

Paris is one of Europe’s best connected cities by train. Reach it from Brussels in just one hour and 20 minutes or from Amsterdam in three hours and 20 minutes on the high-speed Thalys trains. The Eurostar from London to Paris takes two hours and 20 minutes. TGV-Lyria high-speed trains take just over three hours from Geneva, while high-speed TGV trains from Milan take around seven hours.

While you’re in Paris, you can also catch the Manet / Degas Exhibition at Musee d’Orsay, which is open from 28 March to 23 July. An immersive exhibit by 20th century masters Marc Chagall and Paul Klee is also running at Atelier des Lumières until January 2024.

Embrace sustainable travel at Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich

Love sustainable travel? Then hop on the train to Munich for The Bicycle Cult Object – Design Object exhibition. Showcasing 70 of the most unusual and exciting bicycle designs in history, it embraces bicycles not only as aids to health, mobility and sustainability but as cult design objects worthy of being viewed as works of art.

The exhibition is open until 22 September 2024, giving you plenty of time to get there – so why not take the scenic route? The high-speed ICE train from Berlin to Munich takes less than four hours, a direct TGV from Paris takes around six hours, and the NightJet sleeper from Amsterdam takes around 11 hours.

Catch one of the world’s greatest ever sculptors at the V&A Museum, London

The exceptional sculptures of Italian Renaissance master Donatello are currently on show at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Explore around 130 marble, bronze and paint works by the revered artist and his 15th century contemporaries, mapping his influence on subsequent generations.

The London Eurostar offers direct connections to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. From these cities, you can connect to other destinations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany on TGV services, the soon to launch European Sleeper and others.

While you’re in London, check out The Rossettis exhibition at the Tate Britain. Running from 6 April until 24 September, it follows the romance and radicalism of the 19th century Pre-Raphaelites.

Enter a world of video games and philosophy at Kunsthalle Basel

Anime, video games and Buddhism collide in ‘LuYang Vibratory Field’, an immersive exhibition by the eponymous Shanghai-born, Tokyo-based artist. Enter into LuYang’s creative mind at Switzerland’s Kunsthalle Basel until 21 May.

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TGV-Lyria high speed trains link Paris and Basel in around three hours. From there, onwards travel to other parts of France, London, Brussels and more is possible. SBB links Amsterdam and Basel in under seven hours, and the NightJet sleeper via Frankfurt in 10 hours.


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