Travel Picks: Top 10 museum destinations

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If you're heading to Paris, you'll stop in at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, in Washington the Smithsonian is a must-see and the Vatican in Rome should be on every museum-lover's bucket list. With that in mind, online travel adviser Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) offers its top 10 museum destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Washington, D.C., United States

If you're interested in history, architecture, art, religion, aerospace, or even wax, Washington D.C. has a museum - or 12 - that will pique your interest. The 19 Smithsonian museums, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum, may appear to eclipse other institutions in the mid-Atlantic city, but other niche museums do just fine holding their own. Spend a morning reflecting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and an early afternoon at Ford's Theater - where Lincoln was shot - before strolling the National Mall and other outdoor hotspots like the spectacular National Arboretum.

2. Cairo, Egypt

It goes without saying that if you're heading to museums in Cairo, you're into history. And you'll get plenty of it at the renowned Egyptian Antiquities Museum, which properly holds the world's largest collection of Egyptian antiquities. The most popular exhibit is the Tutankhamen collection, but be sure to make time for the Mummy Room. The breathtaking spectacle is one-of-a-kind, though you'll have to join the crowd - and turn your camera flash off. Other museums are lesser known, but stand out nonetheless. The Egyptian Ethnological Museum beautifully details daily Cairo life through the city's long history, while the Military Museum is a trip back in time to study ancient warfare in the region.

3. Barcelona, Spain

It's almost unfair how much amazing art is housed in Barcelona's museums - the works of Picasso and Mir, not to mention the largest collection of Catalan art in Spain. Any trip to Barcelona requires paying homage to the strange architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi. Start with La Pedrera. One part apartment building, one part Gaudi museum, La Pedrera is a good primer on the naturalistic forms he preferred. Finish with La Sagrada Familia. The unfinished masterpiece church, under construction since 1882, resembles a drizzled sand castle and embodies the brilliant eye of the great Gaudi. Speaking of paying tribute to offbeat Spanish geniuses, the Dali Museum in Figueres is worth the 90-minute car ride from Barcelona. The museum houses one of the largest collections of surrealist painter Salvador Dali's work - and is a work of art itself.

4. New York, United States

Even New Yorkers who live downtown are willing to venture above 14th Street when the long haul means a visit to the finest mile of museums in the world. Along Fifth Avenue and Central Park's east side, ten museums are densely packed into 22 city blocks, creating the infamous Museum Mile, home to powerhouses like the Frick, the Guggenheim, and grandfather to them all, the Met. The Metropolitan Museum of Art contains more than 2 million works of art, from ancient sculptures to 19th century portraits like Washington Crossing the Delaware. Work your way to the other side of the park if dinosaurs and science are more your speed: the American Museum of Natural History is a guaranteed favorite for museum-goers of all ages.

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