20 of the most exciting street art cities in the world
Leave it to street art to put a smile on your face when and where you least expect it—or simply inject some artistic nuance into your day. Although some cities have made an art form out of banning street art (boo!), there are still plenty of places around the planet where you can go to get your fill. From Germany and South Africa to the land down under, this list covers some of the most exciting street art cities in the world.
For creative inspiration, it’s hard to beat Montreal. This Canadian city is full of galleries, street art, and colorful murals, including the famous Leonard Cohen mural on Crescent Street. A bike tour with Spade & Palacio is a great way to see it all while enjoying fun commentary from local guides.
One of the major artistic capitals of Europe, Berlin brims with fascinating street art that goes beyond the open-air East Side Gallery (a.k.a. the remains of the Berlin Wall). The neighborhood of Kreuzberg is a great place to just go for a walk and admire the many murals, but you’ll find them all over town too.
New York City, NY
A Michael Jackson mural by acclaimed Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra is one of the latest street art wonders to appear on the streets of New York City (you’ll find it in the East Village). Other places around town to look for public art are the corner of Bowery and Houston, the neighborhoods of Bushwick and Williamsburg, and Freeman Alley on the Lower East Side.
Abandoned buildings in Lisbon have become blank canvases for street art, and that’s transformed the Portuguese capital into one of the best places in the world for seeing colorful and powerful public art. Works by famous street artists such as Italy’s BLU are among the many murals you can feast your eyes on in the city of Fado music.
There’s more street art than you can shake a baguette at in Paris: almost everywhere you go in the City of Light, there’s something colorful and artistic to see. In fact, Paris was one of the first cities to explode onto the global street art scene. The Oberkampf neighborhood has become particularly well known for its walls, which feature works by such artists as Jerome Mesnager and Nemo for all to enjoy.
The outdoor museum known as the Wynwood Walls near downtown Miami is the place to go to take in a whole bunch of ever-rotating street art in the city. And Miami is at its artistic best every December during Art Basel Miami, which attracts artists and collectors from the world over for one of the most high-profile art events on the planet.
Public art and street art planted their seeds in Philly decades ago, and that’s why today, it’s one of the best cities in the world for seeing murals and graffiti art. Much of what you’ll see has its roots in the Mural Arts project, which also runs tours on a regular basis.
Mexico City, Mexico
Famous for its wonderful museum, the metropolis of Mexico City is almost just as well known for its impressive street art, which you’ll find at every turn. Murals by artists such as Mr. Fly make for plenty of Instagram fodder, but works by virtually unknown artists can be just as impressive too.
With an edgy, alternative vibe that world travelers love, Valparaíso in Chile happens to be a hotbed for street art. Valpo Street Art Tours provides a good overview of the port city’s most famed works, but there’s also a good chance you’ll happen upon many of them while doing your own wandering around town.
Prague, Czech Republic
You’ll find joyful and angst-filled subjects alike in the street art of Prague. The John Lennon wall is probably its most famous collection of colorful graffiti, but don’t forget about the street art tribute to Czech literary giant Bohumil Hrabal at the Palmovka metro station.
Located in central Poland, Lodz turned to street art as a way to refresh its look and give the city a much-needed cultural injection. It worked. Today, you can see large-scale works by famous street artists from France, Spain, Brazil, and other countries painted on old city buildings and walls.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Many Brazilian cities beat to a street art drum, with walls and buildings prettied up with paintings and murals writ large. To see some of the best of them, you should head to Rio de Janeiro. The Santa Teresa and Lapa neighborhoods are particularly well known for their walls, but you’ll see street art most anyplace you go in Rio.
Street art is alive and well on the streets of Reykjavik, where you’ll be treated to one stunning mural after another.
Australia’s second-largest city (after Sydney) comes first when it comes to artistic culture and street art. Melbourne’s most popular “graffiti laneways,” as the Aussies call them, include Caledonian Lane, Cocker Alley, and Rutledge Lane. Street artists actually lead the tours run by Melbourne Street Tours.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Gritty Johannesburg has long been the seat of South Africa’s most influential art movements, so it’s no surprise that this is where you’ll find some of the best street art on the African continent. Look for works by American street artist Pose, as well as a beautiful depiction of zebras by South African artist Faith XLVII.
Los Angeles, California
The downtown L.A. Arts District is an ever-changing urban canvas of street art, and you never know what you’ll find with each new visit. Look for iconic works bursting with color by such famed street artists as Hueman, Annie Preece, and many others.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Powerful earthquakes have destroyed many historic buildings in Christchurch, which lies on New Zealand’s beautiful South Island, but the city has emerged as a world capital for street art. Walls here feature works by both Kiwi and international artists, and you can use the city’s free bikes for getting around to explore.
George Town, Malaysia
The capital city of Penang in Malaysia, George Town is one of the most interesting places to see street art in Southeast Asia. Look for the amazingly realistic works of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, whose depictions of children will be sure to blow your mind.
Singapore’s Aliwal Street, where you can find the Aliwal Arts Centre, is considered one of the best places in all of Asia to see street art. And if you thought Singapore was nothing more than a squeaky-clean, chewing gum–free city, you’ll be astonished by the splashes of creative color here. Be sure to take a walk through the streets of Little India and the hip hood of Tiong Bahru for street art spotting.
Some cities are far friendlier to street artists than others, and Bogotá, Colombia, is one of them. The sheer abundance of colorful walls, murals, and paintings plastered across the city is overwhelming; you could spend days on end just admiring them. Vertigo Graffiti is the city’s most famous crew, but they are just the tip of the art iceberg here.
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