The Lenbachhuas interior. Image courtesy of Lenbachhaus.

Europe gets many things right: shopping, food, that work-life balance. But one of our favourite things about Europe has to be the museums. From curated pieces of Picasso’s finest work to innovative ways to showcase the epic Blue Rider collection, a quick jaunt to Europe for some museum hopping should be on your summer bucket list. Here’s what should not to be missed.

Lenbachhaus (Munich, Germany,

Everything about the reopening of this Munich standard is exciting. The copper tubes that cover the exterior (giving it a gold-like look); the extensive redesign by Brit architect Norman Foster; the enviable collection from Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) series (with some of the most famous pieces from Kandinsky and Marc); the new innovative ways to showcase artwork in exhibits. The Lenbachhaus is just dying to be visited. After a $77 million renovation and years of construction, the Munich museum finally reopened its doors in May and showed off its modern new facelift and how it’s ahead of the game when it comes to technology. Part of the redesign included the installation of high-tech LED lights that mimic natural light in rooms (essential since many rooms lack windows and skylights). This not only helps prevent damage to pieces on exhibit but also offers more than 90 lighting tones and options, creating moods and nixing the thought that all art needs to be viewed in natural light (the idea is that some exhibits could look very different and can actually be enhanced with different lighting options). Whether you’re there to check out the impressive works from Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Gerhard Richter, Isa Genzken, Sol LeWitt and Ellsworth Kelly, or see the technology, the Lenbachhaus is putting Munich on the map this year as a hot spot to visit.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Post-museum tour, visit these must-see spots in MUNICH

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, Netherlands,

After a slew of delays that took a decade (which seems to be the norm with museum reopenings), Amsterdam’s most loved and famous museum finally debuted its new face in April. Among the long list of highlights that were worth the wait: a chic café and shop for post-museum tour lattes, LED lighting, a new entrance (those sky-high stone-carved ceiling arches are definitely Instagram-worthy), non-reflective cases (even better for more pictures) and a complete redesign of the exhibits (the only piece of the 8,000-plus that did not move from its original place is Rembrant’s “Night Watch”). If you have been here before, now is your chance to be wowed all over again.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Our favourite hot spots in AMSTERDAM

The new Van Gough and PIcasso museums on the next page. Plus can’t miss fashion exhibits …

The new entrance at the Rijksmuseum (courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)

Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands,

It’s a big year for the Netherlands, what with the changes in the royal family, the reopening of the Rijksmuseum and the renovations to the Van Gogh Museum. There are two reasons to be excited: the renovations gave the museum a modern upgrade, but, even more exciting, an anniversary exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s best and most famous works will be on display, covering 10 years of his career. Tour your way through the celebrated artist’s life and works on a rainy afternoon in Amsterdam.

Picasso Museum (Paris, France,

To say that this has been a work in progress is an understatement. And it looks like it might be an even longer wait. After already waiting for four years, lovers of Picasso’s signature works will need to wait until 2014 to get a peek at the renovations of this Paris museum. It was originally slated to open in the spring of 2013, creating lots of buzz in the art world. But the wait will be worth it. The expansion, estimated at about $64 million, will triple its space to show off the artist’s 5,000 paintings, sketches and drawings, meaning more visitors without feeling cramped for space and the opportunity to showcase larger pieces of work.

Travel guide: FASHION CAPITALS of the world

Must-see fashion exhibits in summer 2013

Because other than art, we love to drool over edited and curated versions of fashion exhibits. Here’s what happening this summer that you should also visit.

David Bowie at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England,

Who doesn’t love a little bit of David Bowie in their lives? Reconnect with the punk icon by browsing Bowie’s clothes, costumes and even some of his own sketches along with video installments and more at London’s best fashion museum, the V&A.

Paris Haute Couture, L’Hôtel de Ville de Paris
(Paris, France)

Where better to celebrate all things haute couture than in the birthplace of the fashion itself? It’s worthy of an afternoon eyeing 1920s Chanel creations and Balenciaga, and dissecting the fine art and detail that goes into creating haute couture pieces. Not to mention it’s a great excuse to make your way over to Paris for a summer vacation.

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