15 Of The Best Street Art Cities – The Alternative List

Street art is the new fine art and can be found everywhere. Initially a method of expressing social commentary or political protest, modern day street art stays true to it’s origins in some ways whilst branching out into others. Famous artists such as Banksy, C215 and CRO have brought an already popular medium into the everyday conscious and inspired many other artists to showcase their work. The secrecy surrounding the artists identities remaining because many still believe street art is simple vandalism with an element of criminality. It’s a reflection of society that we salute these ‘criminals’ by photographing their artwork and sharing it with the wider world.

Best Street Art

There have been many articles written about where to find the best cities for street art, such as New York, Melbourne & Bristol – and these still deserve a mention here – but read on for a list of alternative street art cities that are on their way to making the Top 10 lists!

1.Rishikesh, North India

contributed by Sharmistha @ THAT GIRLS LIFE STORIES.

Best Street Art

Located in the foothills of the ‪Himalayas in northern India, ‪Rishikesh is known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Taking the spirit of street art much further, Rishikesh Street Art is not only limited to streets but buildings, broken tin roofs, bridges and more. These master pieces have quietly instigated an art movement in the city of Rishikesh, and led to birth of a visual festival called Rishikesh Street Art Festival.

Best Street Art

2. Toronto, Canada

Contributed By Tracey @ Journey of a City Girl

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Toronto, Canada known as the most culturally diverse city in the world, and this diversity can so clearly be seen through the street art scattered across the city.  There is even a whole almost kilometre long alleyway dedicated to this art,  just west of Spadina Ave and Queen Street West (also known as Rush Lane or Graffiti Alley). This alley is repainted annually, not to rid the city of graffiti but to provide artists with a blank canvas. So it’s not surprising that urban artists come from around the world to also place their mark on the street of Toronto.

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3. Granada, Spain

Contributed by sonja @ Migrating Miss

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Before I went to Granada all I knew was that I had to visit the Alhambra, see a Flamenco show and eat tapas. I didn’t know that another reason I would come to love this Spanish city was because of it’s amazing street art. The biggest collection of street art is in the Realjo quarter, and is by an artist dubbed El Niño de las Pinturas, sometimes referred to as the “Banksy of Spain”. This area was the old Jewish neighbourhood and has the traditional whitewashed walls and smaller streets, perfect for showcasing art. El Niño often includes thought provoking quotes with his artwork, and they are look like watercolour murals than scribbles in spray paint. If you want to see as much as possible be sure to visit when the shops are closed because the artists have taken advantage of the shutters to do their work, and some store owners even actively encourage it. When I see graffiti like this, there is no doubt in my mind that it’s art.

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4.Paris, France

Best Street Art

Contributed by Cass @ Cass Travels

In Paris there is a real emphasis on the history of street art and the identification of where and why the genre transitioned from tagging which was called graffiti to the murals that are now considered art.  They try not to ignore tagging on the assumption that everyone had to start somewhere (even Banksy!) and that the progression to murals is the natural progression of talented artists.

Best Street Art

Artist: Nick Walker

5.Lisbon, Portugal

Contributed by Paulina @ My Travel Stock

Best Street Art

Lisbon is the sunniest city in Europe and wonderful to explore on foot. During those long walks it’s easy to stumble upon some outstanding street art. Very often, but rather at night, you can even spot the artists at work. The city has designated some areas to become canvas for the street artists. Being very creative, the Lisboetas use every available space of those areas, while many also go artistically wild in other unofficial places. The point is, street art is everywhere you go! The results are often really good, adding a lot to the already beautiful cityscape.

In the Alcantara district, near Ponte 25 de Abril, there is a vast underground passage, which serves as a street art gallery. The fantasies of Lisbon’s artists cover every wall and concrete column. In bohemian Barrio Alto the artworks are usually carefully thought out to compliment their surroundings. The same applies to Alfama, where street art often refers to the district’s long history of Fado music.

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6. Bristol, UK

Contributed by Katie @ Feathery Travels

This is Stokes Croft: Bristol’s alternative cultural heart and home to a bohemian selection of squatters, hipsters, and various strains of reprobate who mingle through music, forming the sort of community that doesn’t judge you for your garden. If you want to find Street Art, Stokes Croft is the place to look. Though you may think a long established Banksy would be the highlight of your discoveries, my favorite street artist Phlegm is hiding just around the corner.

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His intricate black and white drawings have the mystical quality of characters from a fantasy novel and here, imposed on top of this red Tsunami, creating a striking, but essentially still playful mural.

As with every thriving art scene, Stokes Croft is ever changing; once anonymous back alleys find purpose, the colours spread towards awkward corners and though it’s a wrench to find old paintings replaced, we are reminded of street art’s inescapable reality – it’s out of our control and that’s why we love it.

Best Street Art

 

7. St Petersburg – Florida, USA

Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views

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Sometimes I stumble across street art in the most unexpected places. This happened to me on a recent visit to St. Petersburg Florida. St Petersburg boomed in the roaring 1920’s as a tourist beach destination and then again in the 1950’s as retirees from colder climates moved south. Flappers and geezers don’t sound like fodder for street art, but the city developed a flourishing art scene in the ‘70s and as often happens, a street art culture followed.  I had the chance to stroll the downtown district on a recent visit. There are murals to be found everywhere in the compact downtown area. You can stop into Florida Craft Art Gallery for a map and to view work from local artists. Then hit the streets and alleyways to soak up the Florida sunshine and great art.

Best Street Art

 

8. Georgetown – Penang, Malaysia

Contributed by Bianca @ My Altruistic Travels

Best Street Art

Malaysia’s UNESCO world heritage city of Georgetown is home to one of Asia’s most distinguishable collections of street art. Roam the colonial style streets throughout the town and you will see a unique collection of hand painted murals and wrought-iron cartoons that depict various historical and modern characteristics of this fascinating city, telling stories of both past and present.

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Artist: Ernest Zacharevic – contributed by Darlene @ Point & Shoot + Wanderlust

 

9. Hongdae – Seoul, South Korea

Photos Contributed by Jayson @ The Travel Debugger

Best Street Art

A university town, Hongdae is famous for being the place to go in the evening for great food and live music. But in more recent times the area has been claimed by creative art students who have decorated blank walls and shutters in and around the university area. There are even strategically placed freestanding cement walls which are constantly evolving as people recycle the space.

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10. Melaka, Malyasia

Contributed by Darlene @ Point and Shoot + Wanderlust

Best Street Art

Penang started the street art trend in Malaysia and Melaka soon followed suit with their River Art Project in 2012. Water has always been a big part of Melaka’s history. It was once one of the world’s most important trading ports. So it also makes sense that they start with the buildings beside the river. The murals painted on old and rundown houses, reflect Melaka’s melting pot of cultures. These colorful and vibrant murals add flavor to the otherwise drab riverside. They are best seen by strolling around the riverside or taking the river cruise. Some of these buildings though were converted into guesthouses for backpackers.

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11. Buenos Aries, Argentina

Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views

Best Street Cities

Walk through the beautiful Recoleta and Retiro neighborhoods of Buenos Aires you’ll find stately homes, art museums and historical buildings. It’s all very genteel and civilized. But visit the Colegiales, Palermo SoHo or San Telmo neighborhoods and you’ll see a side of the city that is more hip, more gritty and chock full of street art. I’m not talking about a wall here and there but rather huge murals that gallop up ten stories of a tenement apartment. Or a whimsical yellow submarine that wraps around two sides of a building. Or a flea market with all of the externals walls covered in art. It’s modern, it’s whimsical, it’s political, it’s cultural and it’s everywhere.

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12. Washington DC, USA

Contributed by Reginia @ Reginina Cordell

Best Street Art

The lists of creatives in DC are as long as it’s political history. Alongside massive gentrification in the Nation’s Capital are extraordinary displays of Washington, DC’s rich history, the creative arts.  Whenever “Washington, DC” is mentioned, we automatically think of politics, presidents, Congresses, Senates, bills, and corruption. But step away from this stereotype and you’ll find wonderful murals by super-talented artists. (more photos of DC street art can be found at blog.reginiacordell.com)

Best Street Art

Artist: Aniekan Udofia

 

13. San Fransisco mission district, USA

Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views
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This piece in Balmy Alley shows the struggle of poor Campesinos to shrug off the bonds of their labor

Visiting the San Francisco Mission district will show you a side of the city far away from the cable cars and Pier 39. This working class neighborhood has always been a stopping point for immigrants moving into the city. In the early 1900’s that meant German, Irish and Italian immigrants. In the ‘50’s-60’s the neighborhood took in many Latino residents. And the Mission is currently being gentrified by dotcom technology workers. All of these populations have left their mark on the neighborhood which you can see by strolling the hundreds of murals on display. Many murals tell stories of the struggle of immigrant populations to make a living and preserve their culture in SF. And there is also a fair dose of political street art. The nonprofit organization, Precita Eyes, concerns itself with promoting and preserving street art. If you stop into their storefront on 24th St and Harrison, they will fill you on in the history of the art pieces and give you a map. Wear a good pair of shoes and keep your eyes open. What you see will amaze you.

(more photos of Mission street art can be found at wayfaringviews.com)

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14. London, UK

Best Street Art

Contributed by Cass @ Cass Travels

London has one of the biggest set of un-commissioned street art in the world. You can find works by Banksy, Stik and lesser known artists and the array of talent on show is incredible. With multiple areas where street art has sprung up all over the city, you can’t go a mile in any direction without tripping over some amazing pieces. Whilst some of London’s residents remain unimpressed with the ‘vandalism’ it is a celebrated part of London’s diversity.

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Artist: Banksy

 

15. Melbourne, Australia

Contributed by Me (Vicki!) @ MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld

Melbourne Loves Street Art

Melbourne’s street art culture is a remnant of a youth who felt disaffected during the 1970 and 1980’s and took their inspiration from the graffiti culture of New York. Since then it has morphed into a sub-culture of its own and Melbourne City encourages it.

There are designated walls and buildings throughout Melbourne where the city grants permits for artists to display their work. On the whole its a system that works well, with new artwork popping up and recycling the walls at irregular intervals. The one thing the city requests is that artist ‘do art; not tags’ – and most artists comply. One thing for is for sure, it’s highly unlikely that if you took yourself on a walking tour a few weeks apart, you wouldn’t be able to find the same artwork! Click here to read my full post on Melbourne’s Street Art.

Melbourne Loves Street Art

Have you visited any of these amazing street art cities? Which one is your favorite?

Related: Still looking for a street art fix? Check out 40 of the best street art captures on Instagram!

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Best Street Art

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84 thoughts on “15 Of The Best Street Art Cities – The Alternative List

  1. Roberta says:

    WOw, many great graffitis here. My favourite has to be number 8. second picture. It’s so nice and the real bycicle just makes it amazing. Thank you for sharing, really great post! 🙂

    adventurousmiles.com

  2. Cassy says:

    Thanks for putting together such a rad list, I fell in love with street art while I was in Barcelona and it’s nice to have a larger list of cities to explore it in. Never would have thought of Toronto!

  3. Gina says:

    Of all the street art I’ve seen, I really liked the street art in Portugal that you have featured here. Who would have thought? 😉 I also live in South Korea so I see street art in Hongdae all the time.

    • Vicki says:

      I would never had picked Portugal either! But it’s great that there are such talented artists all over the world – even in the places you least expect!

  4. Lottie Reeves says:

    This is a great post, the pictures really bring it life and make me want to rush out and explore! I used to live close to Graffiti Alley in Toronto and loved walking down it to see what had changed since last time.

    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Lottie – living near Graffiti alley would have been cool! I’m lucky enough to live in Melbourne where the artwork changes all the time 🙂

  5. Lisa says:

    I’ve been to London a few weeks back and did a little Streetart walking tour. Street art’s just fascinating, I love it! Hope to visit some of those other places soon!!

  6. Jessica Elliott says:

    Loved this! Last year I got to see Melbourne, Penang, Melaka and was just in Seoul. The one that really surprised me last year was actually Noumea, New Caledonia. The first day I was there, they were having a festival and actually had a booth set up for graffiti art. Then I walked the city and understood why!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Jessica! Great you have seen so many of these places and thanks for the heads up on Noumea – i’ll have to keep an eye out for street art coming out of there!

  7. Fran Opazo - La Vida Nomade says:

    This is a great list and I have been lucky to see a few of them!!!! But Berlin is not in the list! Seriously, Berlin must be the world’s capital of street art.

    And I would like to mention Valparaiso as well, which is with no doubt the capital of South American street art 🙂

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Fran – I tired to stay away form the big names to try and discover some new ones – but I agree – Berlin is AWESOME for street art!

  8. Jessica says:

    Awesome post! I’ll definitely be making a day trip to Bristol soon so I’ll have to keep my eyes out for the ones that you posted. I saw a few of Banksy’s last time I was there, and his work used to pop up in Liverpool when I was living there too.

    • Vicki says:

      Thats so cool – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Banksy in person – the one he did in Melbourne was accidentally painted over!!

  9. Katie says:

    This is great. I am not a fan of looking at art in a museum, but street art, that I can get on board with! Seoul in general has a lot of street art, lots in Hongdae like you shared, but tons of other little neighborhoods filled with painted walls and stairs. My favorite is called Ihwa Mural Village right in the middle of Seoul. Many of the stairs are painted with beautiful murals – love it!

  10. Criz says:

    It’s hard for me to pick-up one, I think all of them are cool! But if I have to, I’ll choose the one with the bicycle and 2 kids. Wow, there are so many great artists around the world, many of whom aren’t discover yet. I’d been to Paris twice but didn’t really spot that one you have in here.

  11. Corinne says:

    Vicki, I love this. I do love seeing good street art. I hate seeing “tagging” graffiti, and I see a lot of it in Eastern Europe. Beautiful post.

    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Corinne – I think tagging can be an artform in itself but I’d much rather see murals and intelligent political commentary in clever artwork

  12. Simon says:

    Check out Covington, Kentucky. It’s a border city to Cincinnati that has work from artists like Fail, The London Police and many more.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Simon – I’ll be sure to look into Covington – I thnk it will be perfect for the follow up post – “Street Art Cities You Have Never Heard Of” 🙂

  13. Dave (Silverbackpacker) says:

    A great list of street art cities.. I find that street art really brightens up what could be a dull boring place, and is never out of place. Its nice to turn a corner somewhere and discover whatever the artist has left for us to enjoy.

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Lyn – Valapariso seems to be a big favorite with a lot of people. I haven’t seen it myself but I hope to do so one day 🙂

  14. Stacey Valle says:

    I love street arts! I wish I thought of exploring it when I was traveling in Asia (except when I passed by few likes one of your list, Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea!!). I haven’t been to the rest of those places, but I found couple of wonderful street arts in Los Angeles (where I’m located at) and plan to collect many images and make a post 🙂

    When I came across this, I got excited and told my travel buddy who was just in Washington DC. I sent her the information that you provided, including the intersection. Sweet! I love when people give out the intersection or explain where is it really specifically at. 🙂

    I went to the Art District in Las Vegas and just one in San Francisco, but from now on, I’ll certainly hunt for more street arts in different cities 🙂 I’m hoping to see some awesome arts in Australia and Germany!

    • Vicki says:

      Glad you liked the post Stacey – and if you’re heading to Melbourne in Australia, check out my post on Melbourne’s street art – we have a great street art scene!

  15. Shobha says:

    Fab collection! I was recently in Sao Paolo Brasil and they have got lots of street art. The city actually licenses it because it is a cheap way of beautifying the city. I didn’t realise there was so much street art in Asia as well. There wasn’t much at all in Tokyo but I’ve never been to Malaysia. I’ve got a street art board on pinterest that I’ve pinned this post too.

  16. Pinay Flying High says:

    Very nice collaboration! 🙂 I do love appreciating street art but have not visited any of the abovementioned places. Lol. I spent 4 months in the vicinity of DC and have not even seen any of the street arts there. Lol.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Pinay – it’s a shame you didn’t see any of the street art in DC – but without this post I wouldn’t have known where to look either!

  17. Paula says:

    Wow, hard to pick one. Street art is one of the things I hunt down when planning a visit to a new city. I have visted the street art of Georgetown in Penang – it’s like walking around a pretty gallery, also loved San Fran and DC. I would certainly add New York to this list – we spent 3 days looking a fantastic work there.

  18. Kanika Kalia says:

    Great list of street art cities. I have been to Toronto and I so agree that it has some of the most amazing street arts. One city that I think should make its way to your list is Bergen, Norway. The streets of that city just speak to you. My favorite pic of all the pics on your post is from Lisbon. Its just too good.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks for the heads up about Bergen Kanika – I’m doing a follow up post to this and I think it would be perfect 🙂

  19. Reginia Cordell says:

    I’m heading to Lisbon this summer. I can’t wait to capture the street art and glorious colors that I’ve heard about there. Thank you for featuring my snaps of Washington, DC.

  20. Danielle Des says:

    My favorite to learn about was street art from North India. For some reason I didn’t think that North India would have such an electrifying street art seen but I really enjoyed learning about it. And tin roofs are really impressive!

  21. Tim says:

    Some very cool street art and even though I was waiting to get to your San Francisco section I think plenty of the other cities beat it hands down.

  22. Joy @MyTravelingJoys says:

    This list is great, and I currently live in Melbourne so I recognize that mural! Surprisingly, that one hasn’t been tagged yet as many others in the CBD. There’s also some Stokes Croft in Perth – a great city for street art. A few other destinations to add to your list: Warsaw and Lodz, Poland, and Christchurch, NZ. 🙂

  23. Psychic Nest says:

    Hi Vicki,

    The first photo of the street art from San Fransisco holds such a great meaning apart from how much work the artist put in that piece. Thank you so much for collecting all these beautiful photos!

    Zaria

  24. Katja says:

    This is such an interesting and colourful post. There’s also some great street art here in Mexico City where I live – for your next list!

  25. Stefan says:

    Some of these are super – Paris one my favourite. Glad you got London in there 🙂 Penang is famous for its street art and has a popular tour devoted to seeking each one out.

  26. Lauren says:

    Beautiful list! So funny, I actually grew up in St. Petersburg and it has recently turned very artsy. I dig it.

    Also highly recommend New Orleans for some gorgeous streetart- my favorite is two giant kissing seahorses right by the interstate. And there are a few Banksy spots!

  27. Jimmy and Tina says:

    Stunning collection of photos of street art. I have really enjoyed looking at the pictures. I do think Canada myself has some of the best street art! Although I love the Street art in in California as well!

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