Over the past few years there has been a seismic shift in the way street art is viewed. Once an underground movement classed as an act of vandalism, the thought-provoking imagery is now seen to add to a city’s unique character.
Nearly every city has graffiti clad walls but many destinations with the help of prominent street artists such as Banksy and Blu have helped to create a form of urban creativity. More often a megaphone to the social and political issues surrounding the city.
Must see street art cities
Many people travel the globe to encounter iconic landmarks, majestic animals or beautiful vistas but have you ever considered visiting a destination for its street art?
Here are 9 travel bloggers who may just convince you to do just that as they share some of their favourite street art from cities around the world.
I’m kickstarting the list with the home to some of the best classical art in the world. No surprises that in today’s society it also boasts a booming contemporary art scene. Rome is where modern street art blends with ancient architecture creating incredibly powerful murals.
Street art in Rome
On a recent street art tour from a back of a Vespa – Audrey Hepburn eat your heart out! I discovered neighbourhoods beyond the city centre such as Testaccio with its fabulous Jumping Wolf mural and Ostiense and its Wall of Fame on Via dei Magazzini Generali.
Pigneto was a favourite, its shabby charm reminded me of Shoreditch. Traditionally a poor working class quarter, it is fast becoming the hipster capital of Rome.
It was also a hangout of director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who shot his first film Accattone (1961) on the mean streets. In a piece by Maupal, Pasolini’s eye gazes in black and white over Pigneto. Titled the eye is the only one that can see the beauty after a poem by Pasolini about beauty and vision.
One thing I can definitely recommend on your next trip to Rome – Go jump on the back of the vespa and discover the street art beyond the city walls.
Read More: Vespa Street Art Tour in Rome
New York, USA
Contributed by Lynn and Justin – Mad Hatters NYC
It’s really not an exaggeration when we say that you can find street art everywhere in New York City. But if you’re a true street art enthusiast, then a single mural or two won’t quench that thirst. What you’re really looking for is a street art gallery, where the art goes on for miles. One such graffiti mecca you need to add to your list is The Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn.
Street art in Brooklyn
In a city like New York, which offers an overabundance of options, no individual location offers as much bang for your buck. Like the city itself, The Bushwick Collective draws the most diverse local and international talent you could ever hope to find confined to such a small area, particularly during their annual block party. We absolutely love this particular New York street art destination because every time we visit–and we have visited more times than we can count!–it’s as if we are visiting again for the first time.
There are discoveries abound, whether it’s a slew of new artists or bigger, more complex murals. Every year the art spreads further out, with The Triangle (St Nicholas Ave & Troutman St) as its epicenter, growing wider and wider. If you’re the kind of person who thinks “too much is not enough”, then The Bushwick Collective is for you!
Contributed by Dave McClane – Man vs Globe
Those looking for street art in London should look no further than Brick Lane; London’s most famous ‘open-air gallery’ and the epicentre of the city’s street art scene. Some of London’s most famous pieces can be found here, such as ROA’s huge, three-story tall crane on Hanbury St and Banksy’s pink car tucked away in the Truman Brewery. However, to see some of the best work, I recommended heading away from Brick Lane itself and discover the art that’s daubed on the side streets.
London street art tour
A few of my favourites are Jim Vision’s incredible ‘Paradise Lost, in the Midst of Things’ on the side of Banglatown Cash & Carry in Hanbury Street and the pieces by Fanakapan, ThisOne and Mr Cenz tucked away in a nondescript yard just off Brick Lane, halfway between Fashion Street and Fournier Street. However, the art on display in the area is continually changing, with old pieces painted over at a rapid rate, so no two visits to Brick Lane are the same.
Read More: A Walking Tour of Brick Lane’s Street Art
Contributed by Anita Sane – The Sane Travel
Street art of Reykjavik is very colourful and many visitors of the city admit it as one of the most memorable sights of Reykjavik. Those artworks help brighten the city up during dark winter months. As by its nature street art is a temporary occurrence and every visitor sees different pieces of art.
Reykjavik street art
The latest of them in Reykjavik are the result of Iceland Airwaves festivals held in Reykjavik every year by Iceland Air. It brings together artists from all over the world to create their artworks inspired by music. Starting in 2016, Wall Poetry pairs 10 musicians and 10 street artists to interpret songs and combine artistic styles.
Results of their common work are quite striking like this artwork on the building at Hverfisgata created by a Canadian visual artist Li Hill inspired by the song Pale Green Ghosts by John Grant. The details of the dancer’s face are so elegant and so strange, floating above the neighbouring dwelling houses and office buildings.
Read More: Amazing Street Art of Reykjavik
Contributed by Eulanda and Omo – HDYTI
Some of the best street art in Valencia can be found in the neighbourhood of El Carmen. It’s easy to go exploring by yourself and stumble across various murals, however, having the keen insight of a local always trumps wasted hours of sporadic exploration.
Street art tours in Valencia
We took a street art tour with Lenny Chen of Valencia Urban Adventures, and soon discovered the wealth of Valencia’s street art labyrinth.
While maneuvering our way through El Carmen, we came across pieces of street art which hinted at collaboration between various parts of Valencian society. Like many other cities, the lines of legality of street art in Valencia have become blurred.
Commissioned pieces turned buildings, hotel lobbies and garage doors into captivating murals. This collaboration between the artist and the community introduced a creative dimension to the city’s already rich cultural tapestry and suggested an accommodation by Valencian society of those who chose the medium of street art for their creative expression.
Valencia’s street art scene is one that incites viewers to interact with the space it inhabits. Its direct and subliminal messaging also challenged us to think about our own sometimes passive attitudes towards society and life.
Contributed by Mel Schaffer – BRB Travel Blog
In Montreal, you don’t need to search for hidden alleys or rooftops to catch urban art, in fact, it is the contrary. The city has become a hub for graffiti, murals, and urban art. Luckily, to admire these you don’t need to pay an expensive ticket to a site, these are free and are scattered through the different neighbours. It seems that almost every building and walls are decorated with gigantic works of art giving a vibrant and colourful personality to the city.
The Saint-Laurent Boulevard, one of Montreal’s busiest street, is where you will find the most graffiti and murals. All you need to do is, stroll down the street and hunt down these gems.
Contributed by Esra Alhamel – Arabian Wanderess
I heard about the street art in Lisbon and knew it would be worth my while, but it was even better than anything I imagined. The street art there is not only an expression of creative ideas, but it extends beyond that to social causes like restoring the image of one of the oldest neighbourhoods there: Alfama.
Street art in Lisbon
The street art extends outside of the city centre and the popular areas further in the city to encourage tourism to expand, so the tourists are not all populating one specific site. Three days in Lisbon were barely enough to scratch the surface, but I managed to see the main street art pieces, some creative graffiti and the street art hall of fame wall, which was half an hour away from the centre and can be reached on foot or public transport. There are street art tours available if you are interested in learning about the history and the artists or you can do a DIY graffiti and street art tour too. I loved the tagged trams as well, which felt like a nice representation of Lisbon and its art.
Read More: Lisbon DIY Graffiti Street Art Tour
Contributed by Paula Morgan – Sydney Expert
Street art lovers visiting Sydney are advised to jump a train to Newtown, just ten minutes west of the city centre for mural nirvana. This suburb located on the edge of the city and Sydney University is buzzing with life and home to a huge concentration of high-quality large-scale murals. From political pieces questioning issues of environmental damage and gender equality to fun pretty pieces designed to make you smile there is so much here to see you will find a couple of hours disappear before you know it.
Newtown and neighbouring suburb Enmore take their street art seriously. The area has been attracting street artists since the 1980s with the cities best-known mural the Martin Luther King I have a Dream Mural on King Street now heritage listed.
In recent years the local council has established programs to increase mural art as a way of beautifying the area. Property owners are matched with artists who create new art on walls that have previously attracted tagging or were just plain unattractive! There would be well over 100 works in the area. If you are short of time head to Lennox Street which is a 1-minute walk from the main road. This street is home to no less than half a dozen life-size murals in just 2 blocks.
Read More: Finding Sydney’s Best Street Art
Contributed by Rhonda Albom – Albom Adventures
Surrounded by brightly decorated walls, you can feel the uniqueness of Valparaiso as you soon as you enter the city. Unlike the rest of Chile, where street art is either illegal or restricted, in Valparaiso it’s encouraged and often commissioned by the city government.
Where to find street art in Valparaiso?
My favourite spot is the narrow pedestrian streets on Cerro Conceptción. Here, the two-story buildings are nearly fully covered in vibrant designs, creating an almost open tunnel effect as you walk down the street. Artworks are often politically motivated and include cartoon-like characters, realistic pieces, and tagging. Culturally, it is not cool to paint over another artist’s work, so there is minimal overlap, but rather one design after the next.
To find more of the boldest and best Valparaiso street art, head to Cerro Alegre and Cerro Bellavista. Valparaiso is a city built on 42 hills or cerros in Spanish. Therefore, it is not surprising that another prominent feature of the city’s art is elaborately decorated staircases. These impressive designs are created by talented artists who achieve the illusion of a single image when standing at the base and looking up. We have seen it both painted and in mosaic.
I hope this collection of fantastic street art destinations will help inspire future trips. Just shows that you don’t need to be in an art gallery to enjoy amazing art. We’re lucky enough to have it all around us, sometimes we just need to open our eyes.
I’d love to know where you’ve seen the best street art. Let me know in the comments box below.
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