Palace Museum, Beijing, China
With deep ties to Chinese history, the Palace Museum is located inside the stunning Forbidden City. While it would be easy to be distracted by the Forbidden City's nearly 1,000 buildings, make sure to focus your attention on the incredible and vast art collection inside the Palace Museum. Inside the museum, you'll find over 5,000 years of artifacts and particularly extensive collections from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Louvre Museum, Paris, France
One of the world's most iconic museums, the Louvre combines the intricate architecture of its 16th century palace with the modern pyramid designed by I.M. Pei. Inside the museum is over half a million square feet of exhibition space, where visitors can take a peek at such standouts as da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, and Vermeer's The Lacemaker.Paris has many other excellent museums including the Musee d'Orsay, the Pompidou Centre, and the Musee de l'Orangerie.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York
Dive into more than 2 million works of art inside this sprawling New York City complex. This collection, the largest in the United States, has in-depth permanent displays for Ancient Egyptian, Islamic, Roman, European, African, Medieval, and Asian artwork. Some of the most visited pieces include Jan van Eyck's The Crucifixion and Last Judgment, El Greco's View of Toledo, Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait with Straw Hat, and Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream.
Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
Dive into the rich history of Spanish artwork in this stunning museum. Originally a 19th century hospital, the museum's original building has been updated and added onto to create the world renowned museum of today. The Reina Sofia's collection focuses mainly on Spanish artists with particularly in-depth exhibitions on Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Sprinkled throughout the Spanish artists are a few international pieces including those by Max Ernst, Cindy Sherman, and Vasiliy Kandinsky.
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Stroll along the Palace Embankment and take in the beauty that is the architecture of the State Hermitage Museum. The museum is located inside six historic buildings (including the Winter Palace) and is one of the oldest art museums in the world. Although only a small portion of its 3 million pieces are on display at any given time, there's plenty to see and do while you're visiting. Explore the ancient Egyptian artwork, the jewelry and decorative art, paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, and, of course, an excellent exhibition of Russian artwork.
National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan
If you're making a list of honeymoon ideas that involve top notch art museums, unique modern architecture, and exciting rotating exhibits, make sure to include Tokyo's National Art Center. Considered an "empty" museum, the Art Center has no permanent collection, but rather hosts traveling collections. This means that no two visits are the same! Despite not having cornerstone works or a permanent collection, the Art Center remains one of the largest art museums in the world and a must-see when you're in Tokyo.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Take a peek inside and see why the Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands' most visited (and largest) museum. Not only is the museum building itself gorgeous, but the museum's 1 million pieces span over 800 years. Take time and linger in the renowned displays of Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, and Frans Hals. The small but impressive Asian collection and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles are also worth your time.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California
Nestled in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, the Getty Center is the main campus of the Getty Museum. If you're interested in medieval manuscripts, Renaissance paintings, and French Impressionism, you'll have to put the Getty Center on your L.A. itinerary.The Getty has another, smaller campus--the Getty Villa--in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood; that location focuses on ancient Roman, Greece, and Etruscan artwork, and was the original museum when J. Paul Getty started his collection in 1974.
British Museum, London, England
In a city filled with incredible museums (we're looking at you, Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert, and the National Gallery), there's one museum that deserves a place above all the others: the British Museum. With a permanent collection so large that you'll need to devote multiple days to seeing it all, the British Museum allows you to walk through an expansive display of world history, architecture, art, and artifacts from the earliest days of humankind to the present. Highlights include the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian mummies, Mesopotamian collection, and extensive original prints gallery.
Vatican Museums, Vatican City
Definitely not just for the religious-minded, the Vatican Museums hold some of the world's most important religious artwork. Gaze at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and marvel at how Michelangeo had to paint for months on his back in order to create the stunning details of this masterpiece. Head to the Sala Rotunda in the Museo Pio-Clementino to see the Parthanon in miniature--and don't forget to look at your feet while you're there, as the floors are inlaid with intricate mosaics. Learn more about the Ancient Egyptians at the Museo Gregoriano Egiziano, where you can see a replica of the Book of the Dead as well as cat mummies and original papyrus.