Picturesque and thought-provoking, art and the natural landscape combine beautifully at these city, coastal and countryside parks.
1) Austrian Sculpture Park, Graz
The Austrian Sculpture Park sits in a seven-hectare park designed by renowned Swiss architect Dieter Kienast, on the outskirts of Graz. It’s home to more than 60 sculptures by Austrian and international artists such as Fritz Wotruba, Franz West and Yoko Ono. Lotus ponds, landscaped lawns and a lush forest form a background to the contemporary sculptures. Some pieces look like toys dropped from a giant’s pram: a huge pink ball, a concrete boat, aeroplane parts. Bookings for guided tours and workshops can be made on the website.
• Free, Open daily March-October, 10am-8pm
2) Kröller-Müller Museum, Arnhem, Netherlands
Best known for its Van Gogh collection, the Kröller-Müller Museum is in the Hoge Veluwe national park near Arnhem. Its sculpture garden is one of the largest in Europe, with more than 160 sculptures in 25 hectares of landscaped hills and valleys. The collection includes work from the 19th century to the present, from artists including Barbara Hepworth, Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet and Marta Pan. Two restored pavilions, by Gerrit Rietveld and Aldo van Eyck, house some of the collection.
• Admission to Hoge Veluwe national park, adult €9.15, child €4.60, museum entry adult €18.30, 6-12 years €9.15, Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4.30pm
3) Vigeland Park, Oslo
4) Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
On the North Zealand coast, 25 miles north of Copenhagen, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art has landscaped lawns and stunning views of Øresund Sound. Founded in 1958, it was intended to be a hub for modern Danish art but branched out to include the work of well-known international artists. A semi-circle of buildings among the trees encloses the garden, with more than 60 sculptures. The Louisiana shop stocks a range of products representing the best of Scandinavian design.
• Adult £13, under-18s free, Open Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-6pm
5) Lough Boora Discovery Park, County Offaly, Ireland
A peat bog in Ireland’s Midlands may seem an unusual setting for a sculpture park but Lough Boora, which once supplied over a million tonnes of peat every year, is now a sanctuary for wildlife and home to 24 land sculptures, inspired by the area’s industrial heritage. Pick up a brochure at the visitor centre for details on the more iconic artworks before setting off on the two-mile sculpture trail, one of five themed routes around the park.
• Free, Open year round
6) Middelheim Museum, Antwerp, Belgium
Established in 1950 as an exhibition, Middelheim became a permanent fixture and is now one of the world’s largest outdoor sculpture collections – and still growing. More than 250 works are to be found around the 30-hectare grounds, from Rodin to present-day artists, including Turner prize winner Richard Deacon – who has 10 works on display this summer (until 24 September). It’s a beautiful place to wander; or if you’re visiting at the right time, join one of the free monthly guided tours.
• Free, Open daily, from 10am, all year round
7) Domaine du Muy, Provence, France
In a beautiful valley near St Tropez, this new trail traces a route via 40 works of art. It was opened in 2015 by Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand – nephew of the former French president and a gallery owner in Paris’s Marais district for more than 30 years – and is one of several sculpture parks in the area, including Chateau La Coste, Commanderie de Peyrassol and Foundation Venet. The park is currently open until mid October and admission is free, though potential visitors must register online prior to their trip.
8) Skulptur Pilane, Gothenburg, Sweden
A giant white marble head stands atop a rocky plateau. With its eyes closed it looks particularly serene and who wouldn’t be in the ancient, rugged landscape of Tjörn island, an hour north of Gothenburg. Contemporary works by international artists punctuate the stone circles and grazing sheep. This is not a manicured park with trails to stick to – some works involve a bit of a climb, so bring sturdy boots.
• Adults £7, Open daily, 9am-7pm, June to September
9) Skulpturenpark-Waldfrieden, Wuppertal, Germany
Established by the British sculptor Tony Cragg, who bought the villa and land in 2006, this park features three dozen sculptures set among its leafy grounds. Concerts and lectures are also held regularly at the park. Guided tours are run every Saturday at 3pm and cost an additional €4 on top of the admission price. The park is 40 minutes north of Cologne, which has its own sculpture park: Skulpturenpark Köln.
• Adults €10, students €6, Open March to October from 10am-7pm, and November to February 10am-5pm
10) Chianti Sculpture Park, Italy
In a magical woodland setting, the Chianti Sculpture Park has a thought-provoking collection of work that bridges the gap between art and nature, organic forms and manmade objects. Founded in 2004 and covering 17 acres of land rich with oak and ilex trees, the park features works such as Jeff Saward’s The Labyrinth, a spiralling green-glass maze, and Benbow Bullock’s towering stainless steel columns Homage to Brancusi, both of which play with the dappled light of the forest. During summer concerts are held in the park’s amphitheatre, while the adjacent gallery, La Fornace, is home to an impressive collection of contemporary sculpture from around the World.
• Adults €10, children €5, Open all year round but visitors are advised to call ahead of their visit between November to March