Atmosphere is everything when it comes to painting outdoors with wind whipping off the sea or a constant chorus of cicadas inspiring artists to create and relax. Southern Europe holds an incredible variety of land and seascapes, with Spain, Italy and Cyprus all offering myriad Mediterranean subject matter. Further south, Morocco’s windswept dunes and whitewashed alleyways have long inspired artists, although painting in Romania, within the domain of Dracula, is equally as atmospheric. From a small ship cruise around the west Scottish coast to the tropical plantations and beaches of Sri Lanka; the world’s a blank canvas when choosing a painting vacation.
Southern Cyprus

1. Southern Cyprus

Set on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, the village of Lefkara provides the perfect place to paint a kaleidoscope of contrasting Mediterranean sea and landscapes. Lefkara has long been famed for its lace production, and opportunities to explore the narrow alleyways and gaze over the rooftops from above, allow for an inspiring experience for all levels to enjoy.

2. Italy

Relive the Renaissance via the frescos of Florence as you embark on an artists' odyssey amongst the sun scorched hillsides and wine groves of Tuscany. Over the border in neighbouring Umbria, cooking lessons combine with art classes to conjure cultural creativity against medieval backdrops. Italy excels when it comes to ambience, and it will excite and reinvigorate art lovers and artists alike.

3. Morocco

The folds of the desert under the setting sun; mint tea, tagines and open fires; camel rides to nomadic Bedouin encampments; painting vacations in Morocco summon up no end of subject matter for aspiring artists. Make your way through the medina maze of Fez before entering the foothills of the High Atlas and embarking on an adventure amongst the Islamic architecture and oases of Erg Chebbi.

4. Romania

Beautiful Brasov sets the scene for a painting vacation in Romania. Tucked within the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov brings the medieval heritage of Transylvania to life with everything from deep dark forests to the towers of Bran Castle allowing imaginations and creativity to run wild. Studio time blended with expert instruction and free time to explore adds up to a legendary location for art to take flight.

5. Scotland

Ah, can there be an ambience quite as magical as the Isle of Mull or the Morvern Peninsula? A small ship cruise of the Outer and Inner Hebrides is what awaits escaping artists with mist shrouded lochs, castle ramparts and a couple of wee drams in Tobermory, adding to an often ethereal atmosphere. With more colourful contrasts than a clansman's kilt, Scotland never fails to evoke an artist's most courageous strokes.

6. Spain

Escape into the surprisingly green scenery and out-of-the-way rural villages of Spain and you'll discover an untouched artist's palette just waiting to be explored. The southwest region of Extremadura expands cultural and creative horizons against a joyously untouched rural background. Further south, Andalucía unveils Moorish influence, seascapes and mountains as part of an abundance of inspirational subject matter.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Painting or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.


Anthea Gage is vice-president of West Scotland for the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. She is also a tutor for St Hilda Sea Adventure, our Scottish painting vacation experts. She shared with us her tips for painting in Scotland.

Scottish strokes for artistic folks

“Scotland is still in many places wild and untamed. The scenery is hugely varied and the weather ever changing. This means that the quality of the light, a primary issue for artists, is also ever changing. The quality of light affects how an artist or anyone actually sees the colours around them. To this day, artists gravitate to the coasts and hills to study the changing effect of light on the landscape.”

Artistic differences

“Every artist is different; every situation teaches a new lesson in how to interpret the landscape. People paint by photograph or outdoors and sometimes back up sketching or painting outdoors with photographs when back in the studio. Some artists travel for inspiration and many come to Scotland for that, while others like to settle in a place to absorb its subtle changes and details.”
Mary King is guide, tutor and founder of our Moroccan painting vacation specialists, Vistas Sketching Vacations:

Making the most of Morocco

“Artists love the dramatic scenery and the historical culture in equal measure. They love the ‘authenticity’ of Morocco, the friendly welcome and the sense that it’s different from anywhere else. Also, most visitors fall in love with the desert. I find that my painters are not typical tourists who swoon over sites such as Ait Benhaddou; mine tend to prefer the lesser visited, quieter and more remote spots not usually seen on a regular tour. Sunsets and stars are a big desert feature, though for painting, one kind of needs daylight.”

Painting time

“Tuition and painting go hand in hand. Visiting artists sketch or paint, and I’m on hand to offer advice and guidance. Apart from a couple of longer driving days, we spend the majority of each day sketching. If I do a demonstration it takes only minutes. The vacations are about their painting.”

Art equipment

“I provide all the art materials you’ll need during the vacation and send a list of general things to bring, although rarely will you need to purchase anything extra special.”


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful painting vacation tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your paintbox.
The weather made the vacation as we were able to paint in early November in warm sunshine, but otherwise the mix of people on the course contributed to an interesting week as there were some serious painters and others who just wanted to dabble.
– Patricia Diango in Spain
“Don't overload yourself with canvases as they are too heavy – take good acrylic paper, paints as recommended (plenty of paint as you will use a lot - I took 75ml tubes which was fine) and a retarder as the paint dries quickly in the sun.” – Lorraine Rutter in Spain

“If you are an artist or just want to learn to sketch, the scenery is so inspiring! If you are worried about traveling alone, no need to be. The trip is very well organized and Mary is great! As soon as you meet your group you will be totally comfortable!” – Kathleen Bignell in Morocco

“I really had a marvellous experience of the desert life, very spontaneous, often stopping to paint buildings, doors, etc. as we passed by. Hamid was a fantastic driver and went out of his way to show us his country. I adored Hassen's Guest House in the desert – very rustic – and it even has a swimming pool! Mary was a wonderful teacher and very patient and she tried to get the best out all of us. She had given us tasks to do, so it was very helpful as we sketched.” – Pauline Lawton in Morocco
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Eddy Klaus] [Southern Cyprus: Leonid Mamchenkov] [Tuscany: Giuseppe Mondi] [Morocco: Sergey Pesterev] [Romania: Dinu Lazar] [Scotland: Mike Smith] [Andalucia: Tomas Hornos] [Skye: oldskool photography] [Toubkal: Louis Hansel] [Spanish yellow wildflowers: Willy Vethulst]