Street art has the power to turn dilapidated neighbourhoods into thriving hipster hotspots, pulling in the tourists with a fee-free exhibition of work by some seriously talented artists from around the world. Pack your camera and join us on our tour of the world’s best street art spots.
Berlin’s famous East Side Gallery is the longest open air gallery in the world. This section of the Berlin Wall was painted with more than a hundred murals, most of them politically charged, with 118 artists from 21 countries creating the artworks as a celebration of freedom following the fall of the wall. One of the most famous murals ever created is found here, depicting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker locked in a kiss.
Miami is an arts hotspot, hosting the Art Basel exhibition each year, and street art in particular thrives at the Wynwood Arts District. The Wynwood Walls transformed a derelict warehouse district into a street art gallery that attracts the world’s best; works by 50 artists from 16 different countries colour an 80,000ft stretch of wall in the sun-soaked city.
New York is a hotbed for creativity, particularly in the borough of Brooklyn. Once a crime-ridden no-go for tourists, the destination now thrives in a haze of antique and vintage shops, quirky coffee bars, gastro-pubs and of course, street art. The borough’s Bushwick neighbourhood is home to the Bushwick Collective, one of the world’s most notable street art collaborations. After the death of his father on the then-gritty streets, Joseph Ficalora set about transforming the rundown neighbourhood with the help of his favourite street art creators. Today, those same streets display works by hundreds of artists and Ficalora has been credited with the gentrification of the area; thousands now head here on street art tours and the place has become a hipster heaven.
Portugal’s colourful capital is a cruise favourite and its historic neighbourhoods are littered with vast murals, some of them covering entire buildings. The Crono Project was introduced to regenerate derelict areas and the result is mind-blowingly good artwork. A six-storey burglar creeps through the starlit windows of a residential building on the Av Fontes Pereiva de Mero, and at the Jardim do Tabaco, an old customs building provided a blank canvas for an incredibly intricate collaboration by two of street art’s biggest names, Pixel Pancho and Vhils. Elsewhere, the Hall of Fame in Amoreiras is Lisbon’s longest stretch of murals, some of which have been here since the 1990s.
Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ provide the subject matter for much of the street art in Belfast, and there is a religious or political theme to almost every mural. The 40ft-long Peace Wall is the most visited of all Belfast street art and the Shankhill Road side is considered its best section for viewing; visitors are invited to scrawl their signature alongside that of the Dalai Lama. Other notable murals tend to display paramilitary influences, dedications to football teams and Northern Irish players such as George Best, and tributes to the RMS Titanic.
You’ll come across street art at almost every turn on a stroll of the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, and the murals look even more incredible bathed in the ethereal glow of the midnight sun. The hip neighbourhood of Hversvigata is a good starting point for seeing some of the city’s best examples, many of which reflect the Icelandic way of life and dedication to all things natural.
Australia’s second largest city is arguably its coolest, thanks in part to its maze of painted laneways. Melbourne’s street art is up there with the very best, some of its works commissioned by the City of Melbourne government authority, others the product of rogue artists keen to fill their next blank canvas. The ever-changing Hosier Lane is the most iconic street art spot in the city and a must visit; you’ll find countless street art tours on offer here, some of them led by art historians.