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The thrill of travel often shares similarities with stirring street art – there are no rules and ‘discreet and determined’ can be just as exciting as ‘big and bold’. Seeking out or simply discovering street art in the lanes and alleyways of new cities is one of our favourite adventures (alongside devouring street-eats and downing ice cold beers with beachside sunsets – fickle we know). And the best bit is that street art often changes so a return visit is always welcome, with new illustrations and artwork awaiting you.
Here is our guide to 20 of the best street art cities in the world with some excellent recommendations from other travel bloggers.
Best street art cities in the world
As well as cool coffee stalls and sublime streetfood bites, Melbourne’s alleys and backlanes are awash with the best Australian street-art. The vast majority can be found in and around Melbourne CBD – the top spots to check out are Hosier Lane (this has to be seen to be believed – there isn’t a spare inch of paint-free wall), AC/ DC Lane, Rutledge Lane and Caledonian Lane.
Outside of the city, you can see the southern hemisphere’s tallest mural in Collingwood, on the side of an apartment building. The Melbourne streets around Fitzroy also host a large number of street art and huge murals (the extra canvas space makes the artwork feel less claustrophobic as each piece is generally in isolation and not on top of another, like it can be in say Hosier Lane).
Taiwan generally is a treasure trove of street-art. Most cities in Taiwan are home to a cultural park, which are generally old factories or government buildings that have been converted into sites housing expos, museums and an array of trendy arts and craft stalls and boutiques.
We visited several Taiwanese cities including Tainan, Taichung, Taipei and Jiufen but for us, Kaohsiung was the star of the street art show – particularly the artwork at Pier 2 Art Center, a colossal cultural complex spread over several old industrial warehouses, with epic art all around (including sculptures) and views of the ocean.
Fact – Berlin is awesome. Like, amazingly awesome. With its interesting history, hedonistic nightlife and great German food (gimme the wurst!), it is a brilliant place to visit. Add to that list Berlin’s beautiful and poignant street-art and murals, particularly the artwork that now adorns the remains of the former Berlin Wall.
Located in East Berlin’s Friedrichshain neighbourhood, the mural must-do when visiting is to walk along the East Side Gallery, an open-air 1.3km stretch of the wall, depicting back-to-back murals with personal tales of Germany’s modern political history. Opened in 1990, the East Side Gallery features around 120 different artists from all over the world.
Cape Town, South Africa
Contributed by Rose from Where Goes Rose?
Many people think of Cape Town as a glamourous destination which it is in many ways. However, there’s a very cool and quirky side to the city, especially in up-and-coming neighbourhood, Woodstock. This area was once undesirable but has become hip thanks to independent businesses like the Old Biscuit Mill Market and the colourful, alternative street art.
The Cape Town street art can be explored independently or with a guide. Much of it tells the story of the country’s struggles. You will see images of rhinos, giraffe and blue cranes which are all endangered South African species. As of 2017, the sale of rhino horn has been made legal which presents challenges for the animals.
You can also see animals relating to social justice including a colorful globe behind bars, identical to one painted nearby in Nelson Mandela’s jail cell. Other images show local Cape Tonian imagery like Table Mountain and allude to local myths and legends from the region.
To take a tour of the street art in Cape Town, take a walking tour with Anima Tours departing from the Woodstock Exchange. Wandering the Woodstock street art is a great way to spend an afternoon, taking in views of Cape Town as a backdrop.
Contributed by Joella from Roving Jo
If you are looking for great street art then you must come to Miami’s Wynwood Art District where a once run-down neighbourhood has been transformed into a world renowned artistic heaven.
Start in the center at Wynwood Walls. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest artists of graffiti and street art together in one place displaying their designs over the 80,000 square feet of wall space. The art changes periodically, and since its inception over 50 artists representing around 16 countries have exhibited their work here. Artists such as Aiko (Japan), Maya Hayuk (USA,NY), Lady Pink (Ecuador), The London Police (Amsterdam), and many more.
Continue exploring the surrounding streets and find your own gems. Street art is everywhere and the area is constantly evolving with new murals popping up to include art from well-known and emerging artists. This ensures that no two visits to Wynwood will be the same and you will always find new exciting pieces with each visit.
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Georgetown is possibly our favourite place in the whole of Malaysia – not only does it have some of the best street food ANYWHERE in the world (and believe us when we say we’ve tried loads!) but Georgetown is also graced with the most incredible, beautifully detailed and interactive murals, which have become so famous now, that people head here just for the street art trail.
The main street art scene began back in 2012 when the Penang Council hired European artist Ernest Zacharevic to produce a series of vibrant murals around the town, depicting a modern take on the rich history of the local area. They now adorn and breathe new life into old houses and Chinese shops, and more have been added by other artists.
The best areas to see Georgetown’s glorious street art are Armenian Street, Weld Quay and Lebuh Leith – for a full guide depicting all of the main street art murals, visit our Georgetown street art blog >
Contributed by Emily from London City Calling
Kaunas is Lithuania’s second-largest city and was the first city in Central and Eastern Europe to be named as a UNESCO City of Design. While it isn’t a place which is most people’s radar, for street art lovers it definitely should be!
One of Kaunas’s main draws is the colourful murals you’ll find all across the city. The most well-known piece is the impressive ‘Wise Old Man’ mural which consumes most of the wall of an abandoned factory in the city centre. The man himself as well as the pipe he’s smoking, decorated with constellations, are symbols of wisdom.
Another important area for street art in Kaunas is Kiemo Galerija (or The Courtyard Gallery), a free open-air street art gallery in a small courtyard where many Jewish families lived during the interwar period. The open-air gallery began when one resident began using the walls to paint other residents portraits and tell their stories. Today the courtyard is free for anyone to visit and admire the amazing artwork depicting stories of romance, family and memories of Lithuania’s tragic past.
New Delhi, India
Contributed by Soujanya from The Spicy Journey
New Delhi, the capital city of India is known for the chaos on the streets, the overwhelming sights and smells, a wide range of street food and the historical monuments. What very few people know about Delhi though, is that it has a fascinating art district. The Lodhi art district in Delhi is India’s first open-air art district. This less-known attraction is located in the Lodhi colony, just under 4 km from India Gate.
The St+Art India foundation organised an art festival, where over 25 artists from all over the world came together, over a course of two months in 2016, to transform the humble Lodhi colony into a public art district. Visitors can now take a walk through the colony to witness the artwork painted across walls. This art district in New Delhi was the start of a series of public street art beautification projects across India.
Contributed by Kimberley from Two Travelling Toques
Toronto is a great city to view street art. Located in several areas in the city, you’ll find some of the best graffiti artists work in the world. It really shows how multi cultural Toronto is by the unique and colourful displays found throughout the city. Maps are even available to guide you to most of the street art locations dispersed around Toronto.
One of the best locations to view these unique murals is in an area called Graffiti Alley. You can find Graffiti Alley just south of Chinatown on Rush Lane. Walk west over to Portland Street, and east all the way over to Spadina Ave.
The best thing about all this street art is, you can return a year later and witness an entirely new scene.
São Paulo, Brazil
Contributed by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
São Paulo is absolutely bursting with street art, and you’re sure to come across some great murals as you wander around the city. The best place to start is the trendy neighbourhood of Vila Madalena, and specifically the narrow pedestrian street known as Beco do Batman, or “Batman’s Alley”. Every inch of wall space here is covered in art, and a visit here is one of the most popular things to do in São Paulo.
Some of São Paulo’s most famous artists include Eduardo Kobra, who goes by just “Kobra”, and the twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, who are better known as Os Gêmeos, which means “the twins”. Here’s a quick language lesson for when you’re discussing street art with locals: in Brazilian Portuguese, street art is called “graffiti”, whereas what English speakers would think of as graffiti (i.e. vandalism, not art) is called “pichação”.
Contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland and has a growing street art scene. Starting in the 1990’s, it exploded in 2015 and 2016 with a collaboration between Urban Nation and the Icelandic Airwaves Festival. This project, known as Wall Poetry saw international artists depict the work of local musicians across the city – many of these can still be seen on Laugavegur Street.
Around the central area of the city a number of the shops are also home to unique pieces of commissioned work and the parking areas and alleyways that link Laugavegur Street and Grettisgata Street have some bright and vibrant pieces of artwork. In the docks area of the city the street art is more photorealistic and sees some stunning monochrome portraits by Guido Van Helten, a complete contrast to the whimsical work within the city streets.
Contributed by Teja from Teja on the Horizon
My favourite street art city is hands down Valparaiso, and I say that after having visited both Melbourne and Penang, Malaysia (my home country). I can give many reasons why I think the street art in Valparaiso is the best in the world, and I could say that it’s because of the coded messages they often contain, the diversity of its topics, and its roots as a form of expression during Chile’s authoritarian period.
But really, it boils down to the sheer prolificness – if you want to find the famous artworks, take a walk along Urriola Street, and down Almirante Montt Street. I highly recommend taking the free street art walking tour to learn all about prominent artists. The entirety of downtown Valparaiso has become a canvas – and I do mean every kind of surface. So explore, and you will quickly see why Valparaiso is genuinely a great street art city.
Contributed by Lindsey from Seven Day Weekender
Montréal is a city bursting with creativity. From the food and drink scene to the music scene to the art scene, inspiration is around every corner in this city. Street art (which in Montréal they refer to as mural art) is no exception — and it’s the perfect way to get a street-level view of the city’s rich arts culture. Mural art is so respected that there are two annuals festivals dedicated to it.
Many of the murals are located in the Plateau neighbourhood but my suggestion is to not limit yourself to those off Saint-Laurent Boulevard. One of the most famous, and most photographed, murals in the city is of Montréal icon, singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen (painted by artists Gene Pendon and El Mac), located downtown on Crescent Street. To get a good overview of Montréal’s murals consider heading to the city for Under Pressure in Quartier Latin in August, or MURAL festival in June, as well as checking out the lesser known street art on Rue de Boisbriand.
Los Angeles, USA
Contributed by Jenifer from The Evolista
Los Angeles definitely deserves its reputation as one of the best street art cities in the world. A one mile walking tour through the LA’s Arts District will take you by a myriad of incredible, thought provoking murals. The street art scene took off in the 70s when it was a dangerous warehouse area. Now gentrified, it’s filled with great restaurants, bars and art galleries while still preserving the industrial feel of the past.
Melrose Avenue is another hotspot of LA street art. There is a smaller but significant amount of work on and around Abbott Kinney in the Southern California Beach area of Venice. Local and visiting artists from around the world like D*Face, Retna, Shepard Fairey, Vhils and WRDSMTH, among others can be found in LA.
Contributed by Lauren from Always Find Adventure
In Valencia, Spain you’ll find artists like Hyuro, Escif (the Spanish Banksy), PichiAvo and various artists out of the XLF crew such as Xelon, Julieta and DEIH. Smaller iconic works you’ll see throughout the city include David de Límon’s masked men (or ninjas), pink bunnies by Barbi, and people with 4 eyes by Chikitín.
El Carmen, the old part of the city, is where most of the street art is concentrated. Just walk down any of the streets there and you’ll find what you’re looking for. The “Rosita Amores queen of the Valencian paella” by Luis Montolio is located on Calle Corregería and “The Kiss” on Calle de los Colores. Other great streets to wander include Calle de la Estameñeria, Plaza del Tossal, and Calle Cabellero.
Contributed by Alex from The Wayward Walrus
Walk less than 10 minutes in any direction in Lisbon and you’ll inevitably come across some form of street art, oftentimes right next to the beautiful, colorful azulejo tiles that have become synonymous to Portugal’s image. Today, taking a stroll through the streets of Lisbon is almost like walking through an open-air art museum. One that boasts contemporary designs and a myriad of street art techniques featuring anything from the traditional spray paint and stencil to installations created entirely from the waste of man.
Although the city is full of steep hills and inclines, walking through the streets of Lisbon is the best way to spot the multitudes of street art treasures hidden in alleys and next to tram lines full of tourists. As one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Bairro Alto is one of the best areas to catch glimpses of street art and graffiti here. In particular, check out areas like R. São Pedro de Alcântara, Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus, Rua da Vinha, and Rua de São Boaventura.
Contributed by Megan from meganstarr.com
One of the most renowned cities in the world for street art is the capital of Colombia, Bogota. You can find street art all over the city but the district of La Candelaria has become synonymous with graffiti and street art. The history of street art in Bogota began years ago but was really made famous in 2011 when the city decriminalized street art and graffiti after a 16-year-old street artist was killed by police. Protests began and it eventually led to the creative form of expression being decriminalized.
It is essential to add a street art tour or stroll through La Candelaria to your Bogota itinerary. You will find colourful messages across the walls of cafes, hostels, bookstores, and more. Many messages and scenes you will see will convey messages of women’s rights, indigenous rights, and activism against climate change. There are so many interesting things to see in Bogota, but definitely don’t pass up taking in the city’s street art!
London’s street art scene is generally concentrated in East London (although you’ll find awesome art everywhere you go in the capital). The best cluster of London street art can be found in Shoreditch, especially the side-streets near to Shoreditch High Street Station, particularly King John Court and Ebor Street, and also Hackney Wick (one giant canvas – although this is on the wane as the area becomes gentrified).
Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunner’s stunners are not only its incredible coastal peninsula or historic station, but also its massive collection of murals. Dunedin’s delightful street art is all over downtown with around 30 epic large scale paintings to see, with a dedicated map listing them all as a route available from the Dunedin i-Site (tourist information).
Even if you aren’t purposefully looking for them, you can’t fail to spot the artwork as they are so huge. Dunedin’s street drawing began after an inaugural street art festival was held in 2014, whereby several Kiwi and international artists were commissioned to create artwork. Since then, the locals have really got behind it and the number of murals continues to increase – sweet as! Check out our guide to Dunedin >
New York, USA
The Big Apple is renowned for having some of the best street art and boasts a wonderful collection of professionally commissioned commercial art adorning skyscrapers and municipal parks through to the more gritty gangster style graffiti. Top picks for New York street include the Bowery Wall Mural, the Lower East side’s Freeman Alley, the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem and The Bushwick Collective (the latter has over 50 murals, commissioned by a local neighbour who wanted to help reclaim the area, with a vast array of street art).
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