17 of the Best Cities for Artists

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
May 25, 2024 at 8:21PM UTC
“Creativity takes courage.” These words of revered artist Henri Matisse speak volumes. Creativity sometimes means picking up your roots and moving to an entirely new city. But where in the world should an artist go?
Are you an artist looking for an inspiring place to call home? Of course, there's art everywhere in the world — art is in the eye of the beholder, right? But some cities lend themselves to creatives more than others.
With that said, we've rounded up a list of the 17 best cities for artists all around the world. These cities are basically teeming with creativity and artistic spirit.

1. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany is home to so many internationally-recognized art events like Berlin's Art Week and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, for two examples. Its appreciation for art is perhaps why it's a lot easier for artists to obtain visas in Germany than in many other countries. Already, Germany is a party to the Schengen Agreement, so U.S. citizens may enter Germany for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa to give Berlin a test run.

2. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal is a major expat hub (learn more about that here!). And thanks to the expat culture, there are tons of awesome hubs and co-working spaces for artists to work together. One example is the Village Underground, an artistic hub that's made up of revamped school buses and shipping containers, a cafe and an event venue for artists (and expats alike) to gather and collaborate.

3. New York City

According to many estimates, there are some 1,500 art galleries in New York City, which makes it the largest concentration of art galleries in the whole wide world. After all, haven't you heard tales of starving artists in the Big Apple? They exist because there are so many artists there.

4. Chefchaouen, Morocco

The whole city of Chefchaouen, Morocco is a canvas. The sleepy fishermen's town is famous for its blue-washed homes that sit tucked into the towering Rif Mountains. The city is painted so beautifully that it earned the nickname of the Indigo City, which lures painters and creatives alike who come to reap the inspiration that oozes from the city walls. 

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico is actually home to more than 250 galleries, including the 100-year-old New Mexico Museum of Art and the third-largest art market in the country. It also has a number of Indian and Spanish markets, the Museum of International Folk Art and a whole bunch of smaller art museums. Plus, it plays host to the Santa Fe International Biennial. And, because the cost of living is so great in Santa Fe, there are few "starving" artists here.

6. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon has a bustling art scene both inside and outside. In fact, there are at least 2,000 pieces of public art on the streets of the city, which is thanks to the Forest for the Trees initiative to commission such works and host a yearly festival to admire them.

7. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennesse is essentially synonymous with live music. Music Row is the birthplace of innumerable famous faces, especially in the country scene. For music artists, Nashville is the place to be to get noticed — even if that means busking in the streets.

8. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California is home to Hollywood, where some of the best and definitely the most popular films are made. For film fanatics and actors and actresses, there's no better place in the world to be than Los Angeles.

9. Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile is famous for art. It's basically one giant, open-air gallery. In fact, the coastal port city is characterized by its rolling hills splattered in kaleidoscopic street art. The graffiti here is so famous, in fact, that the tourism economy in Valparaiso (and much of Chile) is largely dependent upon graffiti tours throughout the neighborhood.

10. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin's Comuna 13 was once the most dangerous neighborhood in the world. Today, the walls of streets are doused in storied graffiti. Comuna 13 is painted in the telling tales of a traumatic history — a recent history that resulted in upwards of 500 bodies buried in the mountaintop there. For hopeful creatives who understand just how much art can change a community for the better, Medellin is an inspiring place to be. Besides Comuna 13, the rest of Medellin is known for its Latin music emanating from all corners of the city — so music lovers and dancers will also appreciate this artist haven.

11. Paris, France

Paris is home to the Louvre, which boasts a gallery space of 782913.02 square feet, making it the largest art museum in the world (and also the most-visited art museum out there!).  The Louvre packs so many masterpieces — over 35,000 to be exact — that artists would be hardpressed hard not to find influence here. Besides the Louvre, Paris is well known for a whole wealth of other famous art forms, from architectural gems like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to an unparalleled culinary scene (read: cheese!).

12. Denmark, Copenhagen

Denmark, Copenhagen already ranks high on most lists of the best cities to live. It's repeatedly ranked among the happiest places on earth. And, perhaps, that's due to its burgeoning art scene. In fact, Denmark offers an art community with tons of artist-run exhibition spaces and collectives, which are supported by programs like the Danish Arts Foundation, which offers to pay the running costs of new exhibition spaces for up to two years.

13. Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy is an obvious choice for artists due to its storied history and wealth of art destinations: the Vatican Museum, for example, is home to one of the world's most impressive places, the Sistine Chapel. It's also relatively simple for artists to obtain long-term visas for Italy, which are valid for a year. You can also apply for a working holiday visa and then do a long-term visa, as well, to extend your stay even longer.

14. Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania

Pittsburgh is and was home to artistic greats. Andy Warhol, for example, called Pittsburgh home. He was born back in 1928 in a two-room apartment at 73 Orr Street in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. How can you not feel inspired when you're in a place with such art history?

15. Park City, Utah

Park City plays to the famed Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States. Park City is also a peaceful place full of nature where artists can come to create.

16. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is Asia's art epicenter, thanks to all of the art galleries and museums cropping up. The international hotspot is full of artwork from around the world. Among these galleries and museums are Aishonanzuka, AfricArt Gallery, Bamboo Scenes Gallery, Blindspot Gallery, Blue Lotus Gallery, Carre D’Artistes, Cattle Depot Artist Village, de Sarthe Gallery, Empty Gallery and more.

17. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria is arguably one of Europe's hottest art destinations, largely because of over 600 years of Habsburg rule (from 1282 to 1918), when the royal family amassed an impressive collection. That collection is now on display in museums all over the city, especially in the city's very own Museums Quartier, which is also home to both the Leopold Museum and Museum Moderner Kunst (modern art).

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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