Do you have something special that draws you to travel? This could be the culture, the history, the landscapes, the food, or a number of other aspects. For me, it's a more modern take of discovering the vibrant street art of a new destination. I view every brick wall or hidden alley as an open canvas just begging to be filled with creative optimism and beauty.
The street art scene has undergone a massive shift in the past several decades. What was once thought an act of vandalism is now a celebrated form of public art, entering the mainstream in major metropolises across the globe. Some artists aim to brighten up their neighborhoods, while others have political points to make. No matter the reason, it's amazing how a splash of paint can transform a community and tell the story of a culture without a single word.
Let's take a journey around the world to the top cities with streets alive and thriving in full color!
Melbourne is easily my favorite city on the globe for street art! There are dedicated public spaces where street art is legal, so the artists don't have to sneak around in the dead of night to paint the city. Hosier Lane is the epicenter of the city’s street art scene.
Melbourne Street Tours are guided by the passionate artists themselves! Get insider knowledge on the history and the hidden underground treasures. (69 $AUD for a 3 hour tour) They also offer free hand and stencil workshops if you want to learn a bit of the art form yourself! Or, to save a buck, take a self-guided tour using this map.
An alternative form of graffiti that is less permanent but equally as colorful is yarn bombing. (Also known as yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting) Find yarn in Melbourne in all different forms - knit, crocheted, cross stitched - across trees, benches, poles, fences, bridges, statues and more.
The Wynwood Arts District, once a neighborhood of empty warehouses, has brought a ton of bright and playful color to Miami since 2009. The star of the show, Wynwood Walls are located at NW 2nd Avenue between 23rd and 28th Streets, but you can also find street art scattered throughout the city across shops, restaurants and bars.
Just by taking a walk around the city, you can find art at every turn. However, if you prefer to learn more of the history behind it, there are guided tours available; one of which includes a beginner graffiti lesson!
Berlin is a city with a hipster flair and a thriving art scene, named as a UNESCO City of Design. Ever since the reunification of Germany, the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall has been covered with murals of political statements galore.
Tags, paintings, paste ups, stencils, murals, and sculpture cover everything from houses to shop fronts, to trains, bridges and historical monuments. The Alternative Berlin Street Art tour is just 14 € and will cover all these bases.
Another Australian city makes the graffiti hot list! The hip and funky suburb of Newtown is the where street art got it's roots in Sydney, boasting some of the best in the city's Inner West. Just take a stroll down King Street and you will find it at every block.
Near Sydney Uni you will find a tunnel with a colorful pedestrian walkway. In an initiative designed to foster a creative outlet for students, anyone with a paint can is welcome to spray as long as they follow the university’s guidelines prohibiting offensive marks. The turnover of artwork is high, as works get painted over frequently, providing an ever changing backdrop for the community.
Budapest is known for it's bohemian vibes and the street art scene first hit the city guerrilla style. Today, the murals are more widely accepted and even celebrated. The most common place to find street art is in the Jewish Quarter in the 7th district, but you can also find it on buildings around the city as well as in the eclectic ruins bars.
Prague, Czech Republic
The highlight of Prague's street art scene is the famous Lennon Wall in Mala Strana, the Lesser Town. During communist rule, young Czechs used this wall as a canvas for release and to and spread hope. Following the assassination of John Lennon in 1980, this wall has been covered with graffiti inspired by this legend as well as lyrics from Beatles' songs.
Other areas to check out:
Now typically I am not a huge fan of guided walking tours. But, while traveling Europe, I discovered the beauty of alternative tours. Locals or expats take you beyond the tourist destinations to the heart and soul of the city. Rather than history or architecture, you get a taste of a city's modern culture and street art. And many times they are free! Alternative Athens street art tour is one I had a great experience with.
The exciting thing about street art is that it is ever-changing and never permanent, so each new visit will move you and arouse your senses. These are just a few of my favorite cities, but more amazing street art can be found in Reykjavik, New York City, Atlanta, Rio De Janeiro, Bogota, Cape Town, Mexico City, London Los Angeles and Buenos Aires, and more!
Do you enjoy seeking out street art on your travels? What is your favorite city for street art?