Previously I shared my favourite trip planning tools for general travel. In this post, I get more specific about online tools for tracking down cultural experiences and visual delights. These cultural travel resources will help you to choose a destination; or pinpoint some of the best art, architecture and artisan experiences at your vacation spot.
Iconic Houses is a coalition of house museums. Their website provides a map-based search tool for 20th-century homes of architectural significance. These include the homes of architects and artists, with some you can even stay in! Iconic Houses is mostly North America and Europe focused.
This website is targeted at architects and showcases worldwide examples of amazing structures. Their Architecture City Guides mostly provide coverage of the U.S. and Europe. They generally list buildings of interest along with their architects and year of construction. Some have been expanded information with maps and images.
Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios
Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios is a North America-centric tool documenting museums that were once the homes and studios of American artists. Search by map or a directory of artists, it’s very simple to use.
Search art museums worldwide using Art Cyclopedia’s map and directory. If you’re interested in a particular artist, you can search by thier name to find where their work is located in museums around the world. Ironically, it’s a rather unattractive website, but a functional tool.
My Art Guides
My Art Guides is a subscription-based website for contemporary art lovers. It currently lists 35 cities, their calender of exhibitions and art spaces along with restaurants, bars, shops and hotels for the discerning design palette.
Vacation with an Artist (VAWAA)
I haven’t used Vacation with an Artist personally yet, but I certainly hope to in the future. This service helps you find and book vacations with artisans to learn about their craft and their city. They currently list 134 artists across 26 countries, offering experiences in their craft. Destinations and range from Japanese calligraphy in Kyoto to Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires. There is bespoke shoemaking in Prague to shadow puppets in Penang.
Instagram and Pinterest, in particular, are excellent for finding beautiful places because of their visual medium. Geotagging and hashtags will help you track down the location of Instagram posts. I also use it as a tool for finding the best photography angles and locations for shooting. Pinterest, on the other hand, will likely link you to a blog post or website that will tell you more about the destination. You can follow Duende on Pinterest here.
This atlas with a difference is a crowdsourced platform that locates and profiles some of the quirkier and lesser-known attractions a location has to offer. You just pop in your location or destination and it will bring up a host of nearby places to explore. Atlas Obscura’s entries range from a miniature city in Moscow to a giant rocking horse in Adelaide, Australia. Even a few entries by yours truly.
I love podcasts! They can be a fantastic source for learning about your travel destination–and they are generally free to access. If you don’t have the time to sit and read blog posts or guide books, search for a podcast on your destination and listen to it at the gym or on your commute. It might be a podcast entirely dedicated to your destination or it might be a general travel podcast with a relevant episode or two. It’s worth the time to do a quick search and see what you can find. Here are a few that I’m really into for specific destinations:
- The Bowery Boys for everything NYC history and culture.
- Beyond Bourbon Street will have your tripping over yourself to visit New Orleans.
- Untold Italy – the name says it all!
UNESCO World Heritage Sites might be viewed as the cream of the crop in terms of cultural destinations and experiences. The World Heritage List not only enscribes natural wonders and physical places, but also intangible cultural heritage like unique performing arts and forms of artisan craftmanship. This makes UNESCOO an invaluable cultural travel resource.
You can search physical places on the UNESCO Heritage List of places by country here. This will provide you with ideas for physical places to visit like unique natural landscapes and archaeological sites. For example, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
Then make sure you also look into the list of Intangible Heritage here, which may give you ideas for experiences like seeing a particular performance or artform. For example you might want to see a Tango performance (or even take a tango lesson) in Argentina, or indulge in local cuisine through Singapore’s hawker culture.
I hope you find these cultural travel resources useful for getting the most out of your vacation and tracking down the most beautiful places along your path.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,