Reopening in Munich this May is the Lenbachhaus, home to the world’s largest collection of early Modernist Blaue Reiter paintings. The refurbished galleries now also host a first-rate collection of international contemporary art.
In Bavaria, the new Museum of the Bavarian Kings occupies a grand former hotel on the shore of the Alpsee, adjacent to the fairy-tale Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles.
St. Kilian’s Cathedral — the main church in Wurzburg, and the fourth-largest Romanesque cathedral in Germany — has reopened following a 3.2 million-euro renovation. The ornate stucco decoration inside has been spiffed up and the cathedral’s two organs restored.
Hamburg’s city center is taking on a new look, thanks to the urban renewal project called HafenCity. Built on 400 acres reclaimed from disused docklands right along the Elbe River, this roughly 15-block area in the city center is filling up with “starchitect”-designed buildings and waterside cafés. The anchor is the gigantic, architecturally striking Elbphilharmonie complex, home to a concert hall, hotel, apartments, and shopping center (due for completion in 2015).
In Budapest, riverboats operated by the transit authority now connect strategic locations throughout the city. Although not as quick or convenient as Budapest’s subway or trams, the boats are a romantic, cheap alternative to pricey riverboat cruises on the Danube.
Up on Castle Hill, the Royal Wine House has closed (at least temporarily), but the nearby House of Hungarian Wines has reopened, offering a survey of Hungary’s wine-growing regions.
At St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, visitors can ride an elevator up to the newly opened Cathedral Treasury. The substantial treasures of the cathedral had been ignored in the nearby (and outmoded) cathedral museum, so they’ve been moved into the church, filling a space high above the nave on the west portal wall.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is reopening its Kunstkammer (Cabinet of Wonders) exhibit to show off the lavish curiosities the Habsburg emperors gathered to impress their friends and enemies.
Vienna’s train stations will be in disarray for the next few years, as the city rebuilds its central station and remodels several others. The wonderful Westbahnhof (West Station) has already been beautifully renovated — with the 1950s shell now filled with a modern mall of services, shops, and eateries.
After a bit of a shakeout in the recently refurbished Impressionist galleries of the Musée d’Orsay, paintings have settled into permanent locations, offering a fresh view of this rich trove of masterworks. The long-closed Picasso Museum should finally reopen in summer 2013. Meanwhile, the Rodin Museum is undergoing a major renovation until 2014. While statues will be moved around and some rooms will close altogether, the museum’s lovely gardens will remain open.
There are several intriguing new tour options in Paris. Classic Walks offers new Easy Pass tours that allow you to skip the lines at major sights such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower (www.easypasstours.com). TripUp’s pedicab tours, helmed by hard-pedaling drivers, are a charming way to experience Paris at a snail’s pace (www.tripup.fr). If rumbling around Paris in a funky old Citroën 2CV convertible à la Inspector Clouseau sounds like your kind of fun, check out Paris Authentic (www.parisauthentic.com) or 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie (www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com).