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The All Vermeers of Europe Travel Guide

last updated January 9, 2024

In Europe, most of the twenty-two Vermeer paintings are readily accessible to the public. However, there is an exception with The Music Lesson, which is viewable only during the summer months or special exhibitions. The rest of Vermeer's works are housed in either public or private art collections, typically open five days a week year-round, excluding holidays. It's worth noting that Vermeer paintings can occasionally be featured in special exhibitions far from their permanent homes or may be undergoing restoration. These temporary exhibitions are typically announced several months in advance, underscoring the importance of planning ahead to avoid unnecessary travel.

Regarding the philosophy of travel, it is important to recognize that there are as many approaches to travel as there are individuals, each influenced by their specific aims and unique financial circumstances. This travel guide has been crafted with a focus on budget-conscious travelers, aiming to provide as many people as possible with the means to realistically calculate their expenses. Of course, it is essential to acknowledge that each traveler will need to make their own travel arrangements to reach their European starting point from their respective homes.

map of Vermeer paintings in EuropeItineray 1

Why Visit the Real Paintings?

For those with an artistic inclination, few pleasures in life rival the direct experience of a master painting. Genuine paintings exhibit a broader and more nuanced range of colors. The interplay of light and shadow, which imbues them with drama, is more pronounced. Connoisseurs are well aware that no matter how technically advanced reproductions may be, they cannot replicate the visual or emotional impact of the real, handcrafted masterpiece. The canvas, pigments, and essential oils that constitute the painting's physical form create a texture that imparts a unique material richness impossible to duplicate with ink on paper or illuminated pixels. The impact of the painting's true dimensions, one of the most critical aspects of any artwork, is entirely lost in even the highest-quality book-sized reproductions or on a computer monitor.

Many avid museum-goers find that the galleries housing these works become an integral part of the viewing experience. A painting's period frame effectively isolates the work from its surroundings, allowing you to focus your attention on finely tuned aesthetic relationships. Furthermore, the gallery's architectural setting, lighting, furnishings, and the way the picture is hung all contribute to a distinctive, subjective experience.

For art enthusiasts particularly drawn to Vermeer's paintings, the possibility of witnessing every surviving work is not out of reach. Fourteen of his paintings are located in America, while the remaining twenty-two are in Europe. Click here to see the distribution of Vermeer's paintings. Please note that one painting, The Concert, is no longer viewable since it was stolen in 1992.

Basic Itineraries

The three travel itineraries below for visiting Vermeer's paintings in Europe are designed specifically for residents outside of Europe. Given the vast and varied landscape of European countries, it is not possible to offer specific itineraries for European residents.

This approach acknowledges the complexity of creating a one-size-fits-all plan for European residents due to the continent's diversity, while also highlighting the focus of plans on non-European travelers.

Itineray 1: If you aspire to embark on the rather ambitious journey of seeing all twenty-two Vermeer paintings in Europe, you will need to plan for at least ten intercity trips. Allocate as many days as you see fit to visit each city's Vermeer museum and its explore notable sights. The map above provided above suggests a potential travel route.

Itineray 2: The second plan involves visiting fourteen Vermeers spread across four cities (Amsterdam, The Hague, Paris, and London), all conveniently located in close proximity.

Itineray 3: The third plan aims to minimize travel time while allowing you to view ten, or possibly eleven , paintings in four cities (Amsterdam, The Hague, and London).

All the Vermeers in Europe, City by City. Due to the wealth of information, this project desplays each city on a separate webpage which can be accessed from the "Vermeer traveling in Europe" dropdown menu located to the upper right of every page.

Intercity Transportation. One of the best ways to ensure a more gratifying trip and economize at the same time is to utilize Europe's excellent railway system. The chief railway stations are located in the heart of European cities and hence, often near the major art collections and a wide choice travel of accommodations. Moreover, rail travel is generally more congenial to socializing with each country's inhabitants and moreover, has the indubitable advantage of allowing one the opportunity to comfortably view scenery.


In keeping with the limited budget proposed by this guide, afforable hotels and bed & breakfasts ($150 or less) are preferred accommodations located near the muesum, rather than the railway station, so that one can easily return from the museum to the hotel duing the day to rest up.

The IBIS Budget Hotel chain in Europe positions itself strategically in the hospitality market, offering a compelling balance between affordability and comfort. Priced slightly above options like hostels with shared bathrooms or pensiones, In a few cities (e.g., Dresden and Berlin), these accomodations are within a walk to the picture galeries where one of mare painings by Vermeer are houses.

IBIS Budget finds its niche in the sweet spot of budget hotels, making it an appealing choice for travelers who seek a good product at a fair price without the need for luxurious splurges. While the standard flagship IBIS hotels are known for their "above and beyond" staff culture, including a 15-minute service guarantee, the IBIS Budget sub-chain, with its lower pricing, slightly scales back on these additional services. This trade-off reflects in a more streamlined, yet still comfortable and stylish, hospitality experience, catering to budget-conscious travelers who do not want to compromise on the basics of quality accommodation. For those balancing cost with comfort during their travels across Europe, IBIS Budget offers a reliable and economically viable option, especially for trips where luxury is not the primary focus but a decent, comfortable stay is still a priority. Breakfasts (at an addition cost) are all-you-can-eat and are for many travelers conveneint way to begin the morning.

The more upmarket within this group are Mercure and Novotel and Sofitel being the top. If you find Ibis not available there's often a Mercure or Novotel not far away, and they're not too much more expensive.

First Steps: Essential Vermeer Travel Checklist

If your travel plans include seeing one or more paintings by Vermeer, consult the index of the EV Complete Vermeer Catalogue to determine if the work is currently on display at its permanent location. It's advisable to contact the museum to confirm that the painting(s) you wish to see are indeed on display and that there are no changes to the opening schedule or special holidays during your planned visit. Email addresses and telephone numbers for all collections can be found in the EV section of Vermeer Museums. Keep in mind that special Vermeer exhibitions or exhibitions featuring works by Vermeer can be major cultural events, potentially resulting in crowds and challenges with viewing and ticketing. You can find details about upcoming special events and exhibitions related to Vermeer's art by clicking here.

Thus, before making any travel plans, it is indispensable to contact each collection in advance to ensure that the painting(s) by Vermeer will be available during the days of your stay.

Vermeer Paintings Travel Too!

Globe with traveling Vermeer paintings


In the wake of Vermeer's growing fame in the twentieth century, many of his paintings have traveled extensively worldwide. While these journeys aim to raise public awareness and appreciation of Vermeer's art, a significant number of specialists believe that the inherent risks in such extensive travels expose the paintings to various stresses that could compromise their delicate structures. Additionally, the unpredictability of long-distance flights poses unforeseen dangers. Moreover, large-scale exhibitions are crucial for a museum's prosperity, and as such, institutions are often hesitant to publicly discuss issues resulting from loans to other museums.

The map on the left illustrates all the journeys Vermeer's paintings will have undertaken from 2003 to 2012, covering approximately 300,000 miles of air travel. Some paintings have traversed the same route more than once. Most of these flight miles were spent crossing the Atlantic Ocean or flying over Siberia. To put this in perspective, Earth's circumference is approximately 24,901.55 miles, and the average distance to the moon is 238,857 miles. Notably, Vermeer himself is known to have made just a single trip to Amsterdam late in his life, a mere sixty-six miles in a straight line from his hometown of Delft.



Attention: there is no a direct equivalent of InterRail or Eurail passes for air travel within Europe for a fixed fee.

  • InterRail Global Passes http://www.interrail.net/english/index.php
    For European residents. The total duration of the ten-city travel and stay would be trip would last 21 days. This number which would keep us in the limits of a 22-day InterRail Global Pass which cost Euro 479.00 and Euro [4239,00 439,00] for senior citizens (over sixtys).
  • Eurail Global Pass http://www.eurail.com/eurail-passes/eurail-global-pass
    For non-European residents. There is a large variety of different of passes regarding specific areas in Europe to choose or the number of travelling days within a month etc. For example: a pass with the validity of 15 travelling days within 2 months costs $739.00 (2nd class) while a stay of 21 days costs $ 619,00 (2nd class). A Benelux (i.e. Belgium/Netherlands and Luxembourg)-Germany Pass costs $395.00 with 10 travelling days within 2 months. Attention: A Eurail Pass has to be ordered 6 months before the issuing date.

    InterRail Global Passes
    InterRail and Eurail stand out as widely favored pass systems that grant travelers remarkable flexibility and convenience for traversing Europe by train. Here's an in-depth exploration of these two options:

    InterRail: European Residents

    • Geared Towards Europeans: InterRail is tailor-made for European residents, providing them with an outstanding opportunity to embark on European train adventures with a single pass.
    • Array of Pass Types: An array of InterRail pass types awaits, ranging from Global Passes that encompass multiple European countries to One-Country Passes, honing in on the exploration of a specific nation.
    • Varied Durations: InterRail's Global Passes come in varied durations, offering options like 5 days within 15 days, 7 days within 1 month, or continuous passes spanning 15 days, 22 days, or a full month.
    • Travel Flexibility: InterRail Global Passes offer the invaluable flexibility of selecting the number of travel days within the pass's validity period, aligning seamlessly with each traveler's unique plans.
    • Comprehensive Coverage: Generally, InterRail passes extend their reach to encompass a vast majority of European countries. However, it's prudent to scrutinize the pass you choose to ensure it covers your intended destinations.
    • Seat Reservations: Some train journeys may necessitate seat reservations or additional fees, underscoring the importance of strategic planning and advance reservations for specific routes.
    • Attractive Discounts: InterRail pass holders often bask in the added perk of enjoying discounts on ferry crossings, bus services, and entrance fees to various attractions, in addition to the convenience of train travel.

    Eurail: Non-European Residents

    • Eurail is meticulously crafted for globetrotters hailing from beyond Europe's borders, offering them akin benefits to InterRail while catering explicitly to international tourists.
    • Diverse Pass Selection: Eurail presents an assortment of pass options, spanning Global Passes that span multiple countries, Select Passes designed for specific nations, and Regional Passes tailored to particular regions.
    • Flexible Duration Choices: Eurail Global Passes boast remarkable flexibility, with choices like 5 days within 1 month, 7 days within 1 month, or continuous passes for durations spanning 15 days, 22 days, or a full month.
    • Extensive Coverage: Much like InterRail, Eurail passes typically encompass a broad spectrum of European countries. However, the specific countries covered may vary based on the pass category selected.
    • Tailored Travel Flexibility: Eurail Global Passes extend the privilege of tailoring your journey by choosing the number of travel days within the pass's validity period, empowering travelers to design an itinerary that aligns seamlessly with their vision.
    • Seat Reservation Awareness: Travelers should remain cognizant that specific train routes may necessitate seat reservations or entail additional fees, making careful planning and seat reservations for specific journeys advisable.
    • Alluring Perks: Eurail pass holders can revel in a host of attractive benefits, including reduced rates on select ferry routes, discounts on scenic train rides, and enticing deals on city passes.

    Ultimately, the decision between InterRail and Eurail hinges on your residency status and the particulars of your travel agenda. As you embark on this train-bound European odyssey, it's essential to meticulously scrutinize the array of pass types, their coverage, and the associated terms and conditions. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently select the pass that harmonizes most harmoniously with your needs and aspirations.

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