A museum tour can get pretty dry, but if you choose your sites wisely, it can also be the highlight of your vacation. Great museums compile an inspiring collection of cultural treasures to engage your mind, and maybe even leave you with a new perspective at the end of your holiday. From legendary archaeological finds to the greatest painted masterpieces on earth, check out these fantastic sites for an enlightening glimpse into the foundation of contemporary art and culture.

Le Louvre, Paris, France

Le Louvre Paris France

Known far and wide as the quintessential art gallery, the Louvre houses some of the nation’s – and the world’s – most precious artistic treasures in its 20 rooms. In this legendary palace you’ll find the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, among a host of other masterpieces from the Renaissance, plus a good helping from the French School and eastern antiquities. The Louvre is one of the largest museums on earth, and the most visited: tourists flock to its opulent palatial façade all year round, so it may be best to reserve your ticket in advance.