Street art beautifies an urban setting. Though once controversial, today, people are seeing the value of cities with imaginative, colourful and well-thought-out graffiti. Want to explore the best destinations with unique art in Europe and beyond? If you love street art, here are the cities you ought to know about.
What would a city trip be without art? In Europe, you don't need to wait in line or pay of tickets in a museum to see some stellar works - simply hit the streets, where thousands of pieces of street art await. Large murals on factory walls, bold upcycling sculptures with political connotations, and colourful stencils in hidden alleyways abound. Our detailed guide presents six European cities with real masterpieces on the streets. Get walking, and keep your eyes wide open. And get ready to get goosebumps!
For a city known for its greyness, London sure is colourful. For over 20 years, graffiti legend Banksy has been leaving his colourful stamp on the city. From London, Banksy-fever has spread across the globe, giving the city and its works cult status among street art fans.
Looking for art in Barcelona? The Picasso Museum is not the only place to go. Simply step outside and gaze at the walls on the small alleys and avenues of this Catalan capital to find graffiti in all the rainbow's hues. Besides the squeaky-coloured murals by El Pez, you'll find other masterpieces by Btoy and Zosen Y Mina shaping the cityscape.
Ah, Berlin. Coined "poor but sexy" by a former mayor, head straight to East Side Gallery for the best in Berlin street art. The longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall was converted into a freely accessible open-air gallery in 1990 and painted by 118 international artists. Or, head to the RAW grounds in Friedrichshain with its many artworks, raw charm, techno clubs and shabby-chic bars. Experience magnificent works by well-known artists likened to Banksy. However, home-grown 1UP Crew radiate authentic street charm.
While Portugal is famous for its bright tiles on house facades, there is also an impressive amount of urban art. The coastal city of Porto is proof that artwork on the streets is not just for megacities. Masterpieces are scattered all over Porto and Gaia rather than being concentrated in specific locations, with legendary murals by Portuguese artists including Vhils and Daniel Eime.
Start with the former industrial district Metaxourgeio, where murals line up on the huge factory walls. See brilliant portraits alternating with black and white stencils. Alexandros Vasmoulakis is known for his rousing mixed media artworks, Woozy a lively and colourful artist and Kez is an iconic local minimalist. Sonke's black and white lines are hard to miss.
Unique works of art start at the centre of the Croatian capital. Hybrid figures of animals and humans by OKO can be found in most corners of the city, as well as incredible animalistic Trompe-l'œil. Encounter photo murals and paintings by French artist Julien de Casabianca and the Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac at the food market Dolac.
Artists outside of Europe also have fascinating tales to tell through their work. Not only providing creative scenes for the public for free, but also adding value and flavour to downtrodden boroughs, street artists are often local heroes. Tourists with artistic eyes can spot global talents in the alleyways and crumbling edifices of the following cities.
New York, the finest city in the USA for art, is filled with galleries and streets dedicated to street art. Since the early 60s, graffiti artists have been tagging their masterpieces some evolving into elaborate murals. Some wall sections have been scribbled by now world-renowned graffiti artists. Neighbourhoods such as Bushwick and Chelsea are Meccas for this; Bushwick, the working-class district attracts streets artists with its industrial landscape. Williamsburg also presents a good selection of galleries and art studios.
Newcastle has been subjected to a cultural renaissance over the previous decade with street art playing a crucial role. Trevor Dickinson is one of the biggest names in the art scene whose intuitive Instagram-worthy paintings in the Newcastle Museum invite art lovers to create their own narratives. Together with John Earle, Dickinson created the amazing Merewether Aquarium/beach tunnel - a previously bleak pathway turned into an underwater fantasy. Around the city, paste-ups, murals, stencils, and mosaics will delight travellers. Many artists reveal the origins of their graffiti while others commemorate comic books and advertisements. Newcastle's beach-side areas and downtown aren't the only places with such delights.
Buenos Aires is hailed for its rich art culture, with sculptures and structures imprinted with sophisticated graffiti. This includes the works of American Ron English, Frenchman Jef Aerosol, and Spanish Aryz. Themes range from Argentine soccer victories to political commentaries. The stencils and murals have been crafted by both local and international artists to great acclaim.