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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.


24 October – 4 November 2017 (TBC)

Through the holy lands: Jordan
Amman – Dead Sea – Petra – Aqaba
With Julian Droogan

Thanks to its strategic location at the crossroads of the ancient world, Jordan is truly part of the ‘cradle of civilisation’. From antiquity to the 20th century, this tiny country has had a fascinating and varied history, which has left its mark with an extraordinary abundance of archaeological finds dating back 6000 years. From powerful biblical sites and well-preserved ancient Roman cities to Arabic desert citadels, Crusader castles and Umayyad palaces, Jordan is also rich in geographical contrasts. For many, of course, the highlight will be the magical, ancient rock-cut city of Petra.

This tour connects with Through the holy lands: Israel and Palestine to create a grand adventure of 21 days.

Tours dates, itinerary and prices to be confirmed in August/September 2016. Contact Renaissance Tours for more information.

15–24 October 2017 (TBC)

Through the holy lands: Israel and Palestine
Nazareth – Galilee – Jerusalem – Bethlehem
With Julian Droogan

The Levantine lands of Israel and Palestine sit at the core of three world religions and 5000 years of oft-contested Western history. The rich, complex and at times baffling history of places like Jericho, Nazareth, Bethlehem and the spectacular city of Jerusalem makes them an unparalleled and challenging travel experience. From ancient sacred sites that emerged out of prehistory and whose names resonate in myth and story, to Greco-Roman cities whose markets can still be shopped in today, Israel and Palestine are unlike any other destinations in the Classical world.

This tour connects with Through the holy lands: Jordan to create a grand adventure of 21 days.

Tours dates, itinerary and prices to be confirmed in August/September 2016. Contact Renaissance Tours for more information.

Yin Xiuzhen One sentence 2011. Courtesy Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin | Beijing. Photo: Kioku Keizo, courtesy Organizing Committee for Yokohama Triennale

6–18 October 2017 (TBC)

More than meets the eye
Contemporary art, architecture and design in Japan
With Kathryn Hunyor

At once traditional yet futuristic, timeless yet fast-moving, Japan has developed a bold and unique aesthetic in contemporary art, architecture and design that permeates all aspects of everyday life. The adventure begins with exploring Tokyo’s extraordinary new architectural masterpieces, art museums, design studios and commercial urban spaces. Visit the Yokohama Triennale and Kanazawa and conclude with extraordinary ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima.

Tours dates, itinerary and prices to be confirmed in August/September 2016. Contact Renaissance Tours for more information.

Sanja Ivecovic Poppy field 2012. Ryszard Kasiewicz / © documenta Archiv

7–20 September 2017

Cutting-edge contemporary
Skulptur Projekte Münster, documenta 14, ABC Berlin, private collections and Spinnerei Leipzig
With Gitte Weise
From $9450 pp plus airfares

2017 is an exciting year for contemporary art in Germany with four ‘must-see’ events – the Münster Skulptur Projekte, documenta 14, ABC Berlin and Spinnerei Leipzig. Begin with the Münster Skulptur Projekte and continue to Kassel for documenta 14 entitled ‘Learning from Athens’. During a week in Berlin explore this lively city’s outstanding museums and private collections and attend Art Berlin Contemporary (ABC). This tour concludes with a day trip to Leipzig and the distinctive 19th-century Spinnerei art.

Tour itinerary available July 2016. Contact Renaissance Tours for more information.


14–30 September 2017

Splendours of Uzbekistan
The jewel of Central Asia
With Liz Gibson
From $9250 pp including airfares

Travel across Uzbekistan, the jewel of Central Asia and melting pot of cultures. Explore its historic treasures set amid arid deserts, vast steppes and majestic mountains. Visit the architectural legacy of Timur and his successors in the romantic oasis cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand – strung across the desert like rare pearls, with their dazzling turquoise-tiled mosques, madrassahs and minarets.

Splendours of Uzbekistan 2017 itinerary (PDF 1.7 MB)


9–26 June 2017

A road less travelled
Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan
With Liz Gibson
From $9500 pp plus airfares

Journey through the breathtaking Caucasus to three distinctive countries – Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – to 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, resulting in a rich and complex mix of religion, language and culture.

A road less travelled itinerary (PDF 1.9 MB)


25 May – 6 June 2017

The glory of the French Renaissance
Chateaux, gardens and decorative arts in the Loire Valley and Île-de-France
With Richard Beresford

The 16th century saw the birth of the French nation, the arrival of the Renaissance in France and a century of extraordinary artistic activity. In the lazy landscapes and special light of the Loire Valley and Île-de-France, the French kings rebuilt former medieval fortresses or commissioned new chateaux in the grand style of the Italian Renaissance. Based in the Loire Valley and the Forest of Chantilly, this in-depth art appreciation study tour is designed to fully introduce you to the grandeur, romance and legacy of the French Renaissance.

Note: This tour has been postponed for operational reasons. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.


21 April – 6 May 2017

Art deco to art now
Miami and Cuba
With Claudia Chan Shaw
From approx $11,250 pp plus airfares

Continuing our series Art deco to art now, Claudia Chan Shaw embarks on her next adventure. Beginning in Miami to explore its vibrant art-deco heritage and contemporary arts scene, Claudia then takes you to Cuba, famous for its rich historical heritage, magnificent beaches, dramatic landscapes and passion for music and art.

For over 500 years, Cuba was a major gateway between Old and New Worlds. Its exotic cities are graced by a distinctive mixture of architectural styles, from colonial to baroque, neoclassical to art deco and modernist to postmodernist. Cuba’s love affair with music is legendary and its poetry and writing form part of the unique Latin American literary heritage. Art lovers are also waking up to Cuba’s long tradition of visual arts, from pre-revolutionary modernism to contemporary.

Art deco to art now itinerary (PDF 1.8 MB)


22 May – 6 June 2017 (TBC)

Nordic lights
Music, art and literature in Iceland and Norway
With Rosamund Bartlett

Renowned for their love of nature, music, art and literature, the Nordic countries celebrate the arrival of summer with a smorgasbord of cultural events. This tour combines two of the best – the Reykjavik Arts Festival (Iceland) and the Bergen International Festival (Norway) – along with stays in Voss and Oslo. Enjoy performances in legendary venues such as Harpa in Reykjavik, the Oslo Opera House and Grieg Hall in Bergen; explore the great museums of Oslo and Iceland’s thriving visual arts scene; and, together with Rosamund, discover the rich literary heritage and cultural history of Norway and Iceland. And at every turn, marvel at the breathtaking scenery of fjords, mountains and sea, literally on your doorstep.

Tours dates, itinerary and prices to be confirmed in August/September. Contact Renaissance Tours for more information.


14–28 January 2017

Jaipur writers’ festival and art in India
Jaipur, Delhi and Kochi-Muziris Biennale
With Joyce Morgan
From approx $10,250 pp including airfares

Curators, collectors and critics all agree that India’s fast-emerging contemporary art scene is ‘the next big one’ to watch. Begin the tour in the thriving capital of Delhi, then attend two of the country’s big events of the year – the Jaipur Literature Festival, with its lively program of literary events by day and musical performances by night, and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kerala. From the pink city of Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan to the former Portuguese enclave of Kochi on the southern coast, we will take the cultural pulse of a resurgent India.

Jaipur writers' festival and art in India itinerary (PDF 1.8 MB)


4-16 January 2017

Russian winter wonderland
Art and music in Moscow and St Petersburg
With Kenneth Park
From approx $8750 pp plus airfares

Experience the magic of Russia in the winter, witness a Russian Orthodox Christmas and discover the extraordinary cultural richness of Moscow and St Petersburg. Thanks to the grandeur of its imperial past, Russia has an abundance of museums, palaces and theatres. With comprehensive stays in the dynamic political and economic capital of Moscow and the grand Tsarist capital of St Petersburg, you will discover it all – without the summer crowds. By day immerse yourself in the magnificent art, architecture and palaces and join the celebrations of Russian Orthodox Christmas (6/7 January). In the evening, enjoy a feast of opera, ballet and concerts at legendary venues such as the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres.

Russian winter wonderland itinerary (PDF 1.7 MB)


8-26 January 2017

Mexico: Mayan to magic realism
Mexico City to the Yucatan Peninsula
With Julian Droogan
From approx $11,250 pp plus airfares

With a vibrant palette of ancient cultures and modern art, heritage cities and beautiful beaches, colourful music and dance, Mexico offers a feast for all the senses. Begin with a thorough exploration of the outstanding museums, pre-historic sites, colonial heritage and thriving cultural scene in and around Mexico City. Then travel into the jungle to visit the ancient Mayan sites of Palenque and Yaxchilan, before concluding in the Yucatan Peninsula, famous for its archaeological sites, enchanting colonial cities, stunning beaches and distinctive cuisine.

Mexico itinerary (PDF 1.8 MB)


21 November – 6 December 2016

Mystical Myanmar
A luxury cruise on the Upper Ayeyarwady
With Judy Tenzing
From $17,500 pp including airfares

Take a journey back in time through mystical Myanmar on this luxury cruise along the majestic Upper Ayeyarwady River, combined with the splendours of Bagan and the colonial charm of Yangon. This tour features stays in Bagan and Yangon and the key highlight is the cruise along the less frequently explored Upper Ayeyarwady as far north as Bhamo.

Note: This tour has been cancelled. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.


4–20 November 2016

From Akhenaten to Alexander
An historical and cultural survey of Egypt
With Christopher Hartney
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Travel through 5000 years of Egyptian history, beginning with the treasures of Cairo and heading south on a luxurious four-day Nile cruise to Abu Simbel, the Pharaonic majesty of Karnak and Luxor, the Ptolemaic temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu and the Valley of the Kings. Other highlights include Alexandria with its rebuilt historic library, and a relaxing stay in an oasis resort.

From Akhenaten to Alexander itinerary (PDF 1.6 MB)


7–24 October 2016

Magnificent Turkey: crossroads of culture
With Andrew Yip
From $9150 pp plus airfares

Discover the secrets of Turkey, the world’s largest ‘largest open-air museum’ and the bridge between East and West. From bustling Istanbul to mystical Cappadocia, via the extraordinary Greek and Roman cities of the coast and through an astonishing variety of landscapes, this comprehensive tour will uncover the splendour of the cultures that have formed the melting pot that is modern Turkey.

Note: This tour has been postponed. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.

Islands of Hesperia

24 September – 8 October 2016

Islands of Hesperia
Corsica and Sardinia
With Christopher Allen
From $9450 pp plus airfares

Discover an enchanting but unfamiliar corner of the Mediterranean, rich in ancient and modern history, spectacular scenery, French savoir-faire and Italian charm. Begin in Corsica, the former Genoese island with its incredibly wild mountains and breathtaking coastline dotted with towers against pirate attacks. From the port city of Bastia, travel south via Ajaccio (birthplace of Napoleon), the Parc Naturel Régionale de Corse and the Calanques of the west coast, to Bonifacio, legendary home of the monstrous Laestrygonians in the Odyssey.

A short ferry crossing takes you to Sardinia, another beautiful island with an intriguing ancient Bronze Age civilisation of the Nuraghic peoples who have left us great stone constructions and exquisite little bronze statues. 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 and always generous local cuisine.

Islands of Hesperia itinerary (PDF 1.7 MB)

Silk Road

20 September – 8 October 2016

Silk Road part V
From the Euphrates to the Mediterranean
With Julian Droogan
From $8950 pp plus airfares

Take the final stage of the Silk Road journey through Inner Asia, from the remote reaches of eastern Turkey to the shores of the Mediterranean. Visit some of the great trading cities of antiquity and journey past Lake Van, Mount Ararat and the Armenian highlands, then cross the Euphrates, traditional border of the Roman Empire, visiting prehistoric ruins and early sites of Christian devotion. The tour ends at the ancient coastal city of Antioch, a traditional place of rest for weary Silk Road travellers.

Note: This tour has been postponed. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.

Mongols and Manchus

14–28 September 2016

Mongols and Manchus
Mongolia, Chengde, the Great Wall and Beijing
With Jackie Menzies
From $8950 pp including airfares

Explore the history and culture of Mongolia and of China under the rule of the Manchus in the Qing dynasty. Discover the influence the Mongols and Manchus exerted over China – and vice-versa – from food, religion and language, to art, architecture and town-planning. At the same time, discover the fast-changing contemporary art, society and culture of China and Mongolia, and witness the fascinating political, economic and social changes transforming these two countries.

Note: This tour has been cancelled for operational reasons. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.


15 September – 1 October 2016 (booked out)

Splendours of Uzbekistan
The jewel of Central Asia
With Julian Droogan
From $9250 pp including airfares

Travel across Uzbekistan, the jewel of Central Asia and melting pot of cultures. Explore its historic treasures set amid arid deserts, vast steppes and majestic mountains. Visit the architectural legacy of Timur and his successors in the romantic oasis cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand – strung across the desert like rare pearls, with their dazzling turquoise-tiled mosques, madrassahs and minarets.

Note: Julian Droogan will lead this 2016 tour rather than Liz Gibson as previously advertised

Splendours of Uzbekistan 2016 itinerary (PDF 1.9 MB)


27 August – 11 September 2016

Art, treasures and cuisine of Peru
Lima, Moche and Inca cultures, and Mistura Food Festival
With Chris Carter
From $10,900 pp plus airfares

Delve into the fascinating melange that is Peru, from archaeological sites to the world’s most ‘in-demand’ cuisine. Discover golden treasures of the Incas, the contemporary art scene and mystical landscapes. Begin with the Moche culture (100–800 AD) then journey high in the Andes to Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu. Finish in the capital Lima with a ‘must do’ for foodies.

Note: This tour has been postponed. Contact Renaissance Tours if you have an enquiry.


19–30 August 2016

Java: a spice odyssey
To Borobudur and beyond
With Joyce Morgan
From $6500 pp including airfares

From the scent of cloves to sacred temples, Java is a rich cultural feast. Shaped by the spice trade, Java has for centuries exchanged fragrant cargoes for treasures from distant shores. Merchants from India, China, Arabia and Europe who arrived on the trade winds have left an enduring mark on this cosmopolitan island. They brought their arts, their crafts and their gods.

From ethereal Buddhist Borobudur to the towers of Hindu Prambanan, Java has some of the most sublime sacred sites in South East Asia. With its volcanos and fertile rice terraces, steamy ports and misty hills, the landscape is as diverse as the island’s culture and cuisine. Beginning in the bustling capital Jakarta, explore traces of the old Dutch colonial port of Batavia before travelling east into the thriving cultural heartland. There age-old arts live on in the ancient palaces, intricate textiles, dance, shadow puppetry and gamelan music.

Java itinerary (PDF 1.9 MB)

Art and music cruise

19 June – 4 July 2016

The critics’ choice art and music cruise
Munich – Main and Rhine – Amsterdam
With Christopher Allen, Christopher Lawrence and John McDonald
From $9750 pp plus airfares
Cruise only from $4750 pp

Beginning and ending in the great cultural capitals of Munich and Amsterdam, enjoy a relaxing river cruise aboard the Amadeus Elegant from Bavaria to the Netherlands along the Main and Rhine Rivers, stopping at the charming smaller cities of Nuremburg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Koblenz and Cologne. By day immerse yourself in some of Europe’s finest art collections; in the evening enjoy concerts, recitals and operas in a variety of venues; on board unpack for a week, sit back, relax and marvel at the constantly changing panorama.

To guide you on this cultural journey will be Australia’s two foremost art critics, Christopher Allen and John McDonald, and one of Australia’s favourite classical music presenters, Christopher Lawrence.

  • 5-day stays in Munich and Amsterdam
  • 7-night luxury cruise on Amadeus Elegant
  • Guided visits to the great art collections of Munich, Nuremburg, Wurzburg, Cologne and Amsterdam
  • Six musical performances including symphony concerts, chamber recitals and operas
  • Illustrated art lectures and musical introductions
  • Optional post-tour to Belgium (Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels)

The critics' choice itinerary (PDF 1.9 MB)