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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.

12–26 November 2019

Ethiopia: The heart of African civilisation
Addis Ababa and the historical north
With Jane Hutcheon
From approx. $9,000 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.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in September/October

Wynwood Walls, Miami. Photo: Marcos Lozada Echenique / Flickr.

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

Late November 2019

Into the Sahara: Algeria
From ancient Rome to the modern Maghreb
With Julian Droogan
From approx. $12,000 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.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in September/October

Yodogawa-Technique Chinu – the Black Sea Bream of Uno Photo: Osamu Nakamura

13–24 October 2019

Setouchi Triennale 2019
The ‘art islands’ of the Seto Inland Sea
With John McBride
From approx. $13,000 pp plus airfares

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.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in September/October

Thomas Cole View on the Catskill—Early Autumn 1836–37 (detail) Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, USA / Bridgeman Images

October 2019

Museums, mansions and masterpieces: Hudson Valley to Boston
New York to Boston
With Ron Ramsey and Sebastian Smee
From approx. $10,000 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’.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in July/August

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

19–29 September 2019

Journey along the Silk Road: Uzbekistan
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

Tournon-sur-Rhône and Tain l’Hermitage, France. Photo: Didier Zylberyng / Alamy.

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 approx. $12,500 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.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in July/August

30 September – 12 October 2019

Crossroads of culture
With Christopher Allen
From approx. $9,000 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.

Tour dates, itinerary and price will be confirmed in August/September

21 June – 7 July 2019

Poland and the Baltics
Warsaw, Kraków, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki
With Rosamund Bartlett
From approx. $12,500 pp plus airfares

Wend your way through the great centres of art and architecture in Poland, and onwards to explore the storied capitals of Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Discover the cultural riches of Warsaw in its historic palaces and museums, and its tradition of fine Classical music. In Kraków, visit the cathedral where Polish kings and queens were crowned and see Da Vinci’s delicate masterpiece Lady with an Ermine.

Continue to Riga in Latvia, where a surprising gem of Art Nouveau architecture awaits, and onwards to Tallinn, capital of Estonia, one of the most complete and impressive Mediaeval city centres in the world. Then cross the gulf to Finland for visits to the world-class museums and galleries of Helsinki and the lakeside home of composer Jean Sibelius.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

21 June – 6 July 2019

Treasures of the Emerald Isle
Castles, manor houses and museums of Ireland
With Kenneth Park
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

Explore the romantic manors, castles, landscapes and art of Ireland, from dynamic Dublin to picturesque Kilkenny and Cork, up thorough Gaelic Sligo and on to Belfast. Begin in Dublin, the heart of Irish culture and the home of its great collections of art, including the 9th century Book of Kells and the National Gallery of Ireland’s fine collection of European and Irish art. Visit historic Dublin Castle and Belvedere House before travelling south to Kilkenny, for visits to Jerpoint Abbey and the famous crystal factory at Waterford. Turn west towards Cork, kissing the Blarney Stone and spending a day in Cobh, last port of the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Travel through the spectacular landscape of the Ring of Kerry, and stay in magnificent Adare Manor, before continuing through Galway to Sligo, home of WB Yeats. End in Belfast, a city of emerging 21st century confidence.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

11–26 June 2019

St Petersburg to Moscow on the Volga Dream
Russian art, music and literature
With Alan Dodge, Christopher Lawrence and Irina Dunn
From $15,250 pp plus airfares

Embark on an epic journey through Russian history and culture as you trace the mighty waterways of Russia, from imperial St Petersburg to the awe-inspiring capital city of Moscow. Begin in St Petersburg, where Emperor Peter the Great and his Romanov successors transformed a wild marshland into one of Europe’s great cities of art, music and architecture. Then, cruise aboard the luxurious MS Volga Dream through the broad fields and landscapes which stirred the soul of Tolstoy and other literary masters. In Moscow, reach the apex of ancient and modern Russian culture as you explore a city of colourful churches, solemn bells and exquisite art and music.

Benefit throughout the tour from the insight of three subject expert tour leaders: art curator Alan Dodge AM, classical music broadcaster Christopher Lawrence and Russian literary expert Irina Dunn.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

7–25 June 2019

A road less travelled
Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan
With Liz Gibson
From $10,500 pp plus airfares

Discover where Europe and Asia meet, and explore the spectacular landscapes of three distinct nations – Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Set between the Black and Caspian Seas, and surrounded by the old empires of Russia, Persia and Turkey, 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 ancient Byzantine monasteries and churches of Armenia, wander through the golden treasures in the galleries and museums of Georgia, and explore the old palaces, mosques, and markets in Azerbaijan. Enjoy the fascinating blend of ancient tradition and contemporary cosmopolitan life in today’s three capital cities of Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Carcassonne, Languedoc, France. Photo: David Noton Photography / Alamy

11–26 May 2019

Cathar castles and Catalan cathedrals
Toulouse, Narbonne, Perpignan, Girona, Barcelona and Mallorca
With Brian Ladd
From $11,500 pp plus airfares

Discover the fascinating ancient Catalan and Cathar cultures in the picturesque regions straddling the eastern Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain. Travel through landscapes of rugged beauty to explore outstanding examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, exemplified in magnificent cathedrals, abbeys, monasteries and fortifications. These extraordinary architectural achievements reflect the great religious fervour and growing wealth of many regional communities during the Medieval era.

Explore Toulouse, before driving through France’s Cathar country visiting imposing castles, including Carcassonne and the charming cities of Albi and Narbonne. Then, enjoy the traditional Catalan cities of Perpignan, Girona and Barcelona and conclude in idyllic Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China. Photo: Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Alamy

19–27 April 2019

Art deco to art now
Shanghai and Hong Kong
With Claudia Chan Shaw
From $8,950 pp plus airfares

Join Claudia Chan Shaw for a fresh look at China’s early 20th century architectural heritage, alongside its 21st century contemporary art, design and changing culture.

Begin in Shanghai, where Art Deco and grand European-influenced architecture and design present a tangible history of the 1920s and 1930s. Along the Bund, and between the buildings of the French Concession, trace the origins of Art Deco and discover the cutting-edge art and architecture of a China in transition. Then travel to Hong Kong, a city with a rich and diverse history, heritage and culture, and explore its galleries, museums and emerging fashions.

Experience the shifting culture of two of China’s most dynamic cities, with very different histories, that today share a new exuberant Chinese urban culture showcasing the latest international trends tinged with a ‘Sino’ character.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

13–27 April 2019

From Homer to Caravaggio
Sicily and Malta
With Christopher Allen
From $10,950 pp plus airfares

Explore the alluring Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Malta through a wealth of art and archaeology, tracing their history from the Neolithic to the Baroque.

Begin in Sicily, largest island of the Mediterranean and Homer’s ‘Land of the Cyclopes’. Visit the imposing remains of Classical Greek and Roman theatres in Taormina and Syracuse and the evocative Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. See lesser-known masterpieces of Classical Greek art like the marble Motya Charioteer in Marsala and the bronze Dancing Satyr at Mazara del Vallo. Explore the Norman history of Sicily in the churches of Palermo and Monreale.

Continue to the tiny island of Malta, whose Neolithic temples still stand as some of the oldest religious structures on earth, and discover its extraordinary Mediaeval and Renaissance history which saw Caravaggio serve as court painter to the Knights Hospitaller.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

6–21 March 2019

Lands of the lotus
Nepal and Bhutan, including the Paro Festival
With Joyce Morgan
From $13,450 pp plus airfares

Explore the peaceful Himalayan realms of Bhutan and Nepal, and discover stunning landscapes, ancient Hindu temples and serene Buddhist stupas, as well as thrilling religious dances at the colourful Paro Festival. Start in Nepal, full of ancient Newari temples, shrines and pagodas. Wander through the maze of laneways in Kathmandu and discover ancient Hindu and Buddhist sacred sites. Explore the Kathmandu Valley and visit the royal cities of Bhaktapur and Patan.

Continue to Bhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, with its breathtaking architecture, towering fortress-monasteries, sweeping mountains, fertile valleys and thriving artistic culture. Experience the vibrant living culture of Bhutan during the enchanting Paro Tsechu (dance festival), where monks perform masked sacred dances and rituals in elaborate silk costumes.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

22 January – 8 February 2019

The Frankincense Route 2019
Oman and Zanzibar
With Jane Hutcheon
From $13,750 pp plus airfares

The Sultanate of Oman in the Persian Gulf presents an extraordinary kaleidoscope of natural and man-made beauty: deserts, mountains and beaches on the one hand; striking architecture, vivid textiles, intricate woodwork, jewellery and pottery on the other. This peaceful nation has been one of the major centres of Islamic culture for hundreds of years.

The Sultanate’s 300-year rule over Zanzibar has left its indelible mark on this Indian Ocean island also, not least in the exotic mix of Islamic and Swahili influences most notable in the island’s so-called Stone Town. Winding alleys lead between bustling bazaars, ancient mosques and grand houses with their brass-studded carved doorways. Zanzibar is unique in every respect, from its cuisine to its fruit and spices, furniture styles, fabrics and gorgeous hand-crafted artefacts.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo: Kjersti Joergensen / Alamy.

20–24 January 2019

Singapore Art Week 2019
With Ron Ramsey
From $4,950 pp plus airfares

Join Ron Ramsey, Executive Director of the Art Gallery Society of NSW, to delve into the lively visual arts scene of Singapore Art Week.

In its seventh iteration, the 2019 Singapore Art Week will exhibit over 100 galleries of Singaporean, regional and international artists, both established and emerging, from the traditional to the contemporary. Also visit a selection of private galleries and explore the Singapore Art Museum and the National Gallery of Singapore. Experience the diversity of Singaporean culture in the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Peranakan Museum, dedicated to the history of the Straits Chinese. Wander through Gardens by the Bay, the sprawling 101-hectare waterside garden precinct which has earned Singapore the title ‘City in a Garden’.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

10–28 January 2019

Eternal Egypt
Into the heart of Middle Egypt and beyond
With Melanie Pitkin
From $12,950 pp plus airfares

Immerse yourself in the art, archaeology, language and culture of ancient and modern Egypt on a wondrous three-week journey through 4,500 years of history. Join archaeologist Dr Melanie Pitkin for the ultimate exploration of Egypt, visiting the major sites of Cairo, Giza and Luxor as well as exploring the lesser-known yet equally fascinating treasures of Middle Egypt, including Karanis, Amarna and Beni Hasan. Gain special access to ongoing dig sites led by international teams of Egyptologists, and see artefacts normally hidden from view in museum collections. Then cruise up the Nile into New Kingdom and Ptolemaic history, visiting Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exterior with Abu Dhabi’s skyline (night) © Louvre Abu Dhabi, Photography: Mohamed Somji

11–20 November 2018

New art spaces of the Arabian Peninsula
Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Doha, Dubai and Sharjah
With Mikala Tai
From $8,500 pp plus airfares

Discover the nascent art scene of the Arabian Gulf and explore world-class collections, both public and private, in three of the region’s most dynamic cities – Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

In Doha, visit the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art, one of Arabia’s most impressive architectural structures, housing the world’s largest collection of Islamic Art. Continue to Abu Dhabi for special VIP access to the exciting Abu Dhabi Art Fair, where over 50 galleries from Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East present innovative modern art through a variety of exhibitions and special events. Explore the newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, exhibiting ancient and contemporary works from around the world. Travel to nearby Dubai and the historic town of Sharjah, which has become known as the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website


16 October – 2 November 2018

The frankincense route
Zanzibar and Oman
With Julian Droogan
From $13,750 pp plus airfares

The Sultanate of Oman in the Persian Gulf presents an extraordinary kaleidoscope of natural and man-made beauty: deserts, mountains and beaches on the one hand; striking architecture, vivid textiles, intricate woodwork, jewellery and pottery on the other. This peaceful nation has been one of the major centres of Islamic culture for hundreds of years.

The Sultanate’s 300-year rule over Zanzibar has left its indelible mark on this Indian Ocean island also, not least in the exotic mix of Islamic and Swahili influences most notable in the island’s so-called Stone Town. Winding alleys lead between bustling bazaars, ancient mosques and grand houses with their brass-studded carved doorways. Zanzibar is unique in every respect, from its cuisine to its fruit and spices, furniture styles, fabrics and gorgeous hand-crafted artefacts.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Adinath Jain Temple Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

13–28 October 2018

Palaces, pleasure-domes and gardens
Mumbai, Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi
With Claudia Hyles
From $11,950 pp plus airfares

Join us for a passage through India as we explore the country’s gracious temples, spacious gardens, bustling markets and magnificent palaces.

Discover the treasures of the subcontinent in the museums of Mumbai, and immerse yourself in the nation’s finest modern and contemporary art in public and private galleries. Wander through the verdant gardens of Udaipur, and bask in the rosy hue of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s ‘Pink City’. Admire Agra, where the formal gardens of Mehtab Bagh gaze wistfully across the river to the Taj Mahal. Revel in the glories of Delhi, where 17th-century palaces contrast with a lively 21st-century city.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

The adobe house of artist Georgia O’Keeffe at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Robert Reck/Architectural Digest © Conde Nast

10–22 October 2018

Deep in the art of Texas
Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Santa Fe (New Mexico)
With Ron Ramsey
From $12,500 pp plus airfares

In the heartland of America’s southwest, in the bustling cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Santa Fe, lie some of the world’s greatest collections of modern and contemporary art, sculpture and design.

Visit Dallas and Fort Worth, where extraordinary acts of generosity and philanthropy have endowed the cities with collections ranging from ancient to contemporary art from Asia, Africa and Europe. Even the museum buildings themselves are remarkable artistic creations by architects such as Renzo Piano, Louis Kahn and Tadao Ando. Travel to Houston, home to a wealth of museum collections spanning pre-Colombian and modern American art, traditional art and Cubism, sculpture and decorative arts and design. Conclude in Santa Fe, where the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum houses the world’s largest collection of this great American artist’s work.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Mural in the Mogao caves at Dunhuang, China

7–30 October 2018

Journey along the Silk Road
Xi’an to Kashgar
With Joyce Morgan
From $12,750 pp plus airfares

Follow the 2000-year-old Silk Road through the ancient cities, Buddhist monasteries and bustling bazaars of western China which still throng with traders from across Asia.

From Xi’an, China’s ancient capital where the Chinese Empire was born, travel west to the monasteries of ‘Little Tibet’ in Xiahe. Continue to the desert oasis of Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves adorned with 1500-year-old Buddhist statutes and frescoes. Travel onward to Ürümqi and Turpan in the lands of the Uyghur Muslims, and end in the city of Kashgar, the great Silk Road crossroads and gateway to Central Asia.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

A-Art House, Inujima © Kentaro Ohno/FlickrCC

7–16 October 2018

More than meets the eye
Contemporary art, architecture and design in Japan
With Kathryn Hunyor
From $11,850 pp plus airfares

Join renowned Japanese art curator and presenter Kathryn Hunyor for an insider’s journey to the great cultural metropolis of Tokyo and Japan’s famous Setouchi ‘art islands’.

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 aesthetic adventure begins with ‘the-city-as-museum’, exploring Tokyo’s extraordinary new architectural masterpieces, art museums, design spaces and commercial urban complexes. Continue to the extraordinary ‘art islands’of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, where Japan’s artistic culture brims with a new confidence, and creating some of the most exciting and authentic contemporary Japanese art experiences.

Afterwards, enjoy an optional post-tour extension to Kyoto, awash with palaces, temples and gardens.

More information on Renaissance Tours website

Ancient ruins

5–19 October 2018

Cyprus, Rhodes and Ancient Ionia
Paphos, Kyrenia, Lindos and Ephesus
With Judy Roberts
From $8750 pp plus airfares

In the homeland of Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite and Athena explore the temples, monasteries and churches of Cyprus, Rhodes and the coast of Asia Minor.

For 3500 years, merchants have traded the rich copper and gemstones of the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes for the doughty timber of the eastern Mediterranean mainland. Join Judy Roberts to visit the edifices they raised in their wake – magnificent shrines like the Sanctuary of Apollo on Cyprus and the Temple of Lindian Athena on Rhodes, and the mighty city of Ephesus.

Visit distinctive Northern Cyprus, and in Southern Cyprus explore ornate painted churches which once served the Knights of St John and the Knights Templar.

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

Nasir ol Molk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

25 September – 8 October 2018

Persian paradox
From ancient Persepolis to modern Iran
With Christopher Allen
From $9,950 pp plus airfares

From Tehran in the north to Isfahan and Yazd in the centre and Shiraz in the south, explore the extraordinary historical, archaeological and cultural legacy of ancient Persia in modern Iran.

Few countries can boast such an illustrious past as Iran, encompassing the glory of Persepolis, the beauty of Shiraz and the magnificence of Isfahan. However, today’s Iran also presents a paradox with the latest fashions, Western education, shopping malls and the private lives of many citizens seemingly at odds with the tenets of the 1979 Revolution.

Join Christopher Allen, classical scholar and art critic of The Australian, for an in-depth journey through this fascinating country, from its ancient past to its fast-changing present and future.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Guggenheim museum, Bilbao, Spain

21 September – 6 October 2018

Iberian mosaic
Portugal, Galicia and the Basque Country
With Brian Ladd
From $10,250 pp plus airfares

From the rugged Atlantic coast of Portugal to the shores of Spain’s Bay of Biscay, embark on a journey across the western and northern part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Discover the proud traditions of Lisbon, whose churches and museums display the opulence of an empire which once stretched from Brazil to Macau. Take a sip of Porto, Portugal’s most important regional city and the origin of its most famous export – port wine. Join the faithful who tread the Camino de Santiago to the 1200-year-old pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela. Explore Bilbao, heart of the Basque Country, whose distinctive culture adds another glittering tile to the mosaic that is Iberia.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Isamu Noguchi Tetra Mound in Moerenuma Park, Sapporo

4–18 September 2018

Hidden art spaces of northern Japan
From Tokyo to Sapporo
With John McBride AM
From $12,750 pp plus airfares

Discover some of the intricacies of art in northern Japan, where traditional culture rubs shoulders with sleek modernity.

Explore Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly and sparsely populated island, and home to the Ainu, whose artwork is inspired by their volcanic surroundings. Visit outdoor sculpture parks around Sapporo where works of bronze, stone and concrete are in dialogue with their natural environment. In Honshu, Japan’s largest and most densely populated island, wander through the Echigo Tsumari Art Fields, where sculptures are exhibited in fields, houses and abandoned buildings under the satoyama philosophy of integrating man and nature. Explore the modern metropolis of Tokyo, where traditional and contemporary art sit side-by-side at the heart of Japanese culture.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

Taylor Cooper Malara: Wanampi Tjukurpa (detail) acrylic on linen, 153 × 153 cm. Paul Johnstone Gallery

9–14 August 2018

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
With Wally Caruana
From $4050 pp plus airfares

Travel to the world’s largest exhibition of Indigenous Australian art in Darwin, and experience the riches of Indigenous rock art in Kakadu National Park.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair gathers together the works of more than 50 Indigenous art centres and over 2000 rising and established Indigenous artists from across the continent. The artworks exhibited range from canvas paintings to didgeridoos, sculpture, bark paintings, prints and fibre art, and cover a wealth of styles reflecting the distinct traditions of different tribal groups across Australia. Coinciding with the fair is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, recognising the best of the year’s Indigenous art. After four days in Darwin, travel to Kakadu National Park, where rock art from up to 20,000 years ago represents the very beginning of Australian art.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark

16–31 July 2018

Art, architecture and design in Scandinavia
Denmark and Norway, with post-tour to Iceland
With Rosamund Bartlett
From $13,950 pp plus airfares

Simplicity, elegance and egalitarianism. These are the hallmarks of Scandinavia’s fusion of sleek modernism and artistic tradition that has given the world many of its art, architecture and design icons of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Begin in Copenhagen, the thriving heart of Danish modernist design and functionalist architecture which also boasts a wealth of traditional and contemporary art museums. Travel across the countryside of central Zealand to the Jutland peninsula to visit Århus, a centre for art and interior design, and Ålborg, home of the Jørn Utzon Centre honouring the architect of the Sydney Opera House. Explore Oslo, home of famous Expressionist artist Edvard Munch, where traditional Norwegian vernacular architecture now meets functionalism and a renewed Aesthetics movement. Continue to beautiful Balestrand, whose mountains and fjords inspired many 20th century landscape painters. Conclude in Bergen, the fjord city where Hanseatic architecture meets modern Scandinavian street art.

More information and itinerary on Renaissance Tours website