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.
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!
15 of the best street art cities in the world – an alternative list!
1.Rishikesh, North India
contributed by Sharmistha @ THAT GIRLS LIFE STORIES.
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.
2. Toronto, Canada
Contributed By Tracey @ Journey of a City Girl
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.
3. Granada, Spain
Contributed by Sonja @ Migrating Miss
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.
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.
Contributed by Paulina @ My Travel Stock
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.
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.
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. Be sure to check out the are on your next weekend in Bristol.
7. St Petersburg – Florida, USA
Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views
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.
8. Georgetown – Penang, Malaysia
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.
Jayne at Girl Tweets World has written a complete guide to Georgetown’s Street Art – click the link to check it out!
9. Hongdae – Seoul, South Korea
Photos Contributed by Jayson @ The Travel Debugger
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.
RELATED: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Seoul (inc where to stay & what to eat) to find out all the other incredible things to see and do in Seoul.
10. Melaka, Malyasia
Contributed by Darlene @ Point and Shoot + Wanderlust
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.
11. Buenos Aries, Argentina
Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views
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.
Contributed by Reginia @ Reginina Cordell
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.
13. San Fransisco mission district, USA
Contributed by Carol @ Wayfaring Views
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)
14. London, UK
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.
RELATED: Heading to London for a Weekend? Check out our guide to 48 hours in London including tips on where to stay & where to eat.
15. Melbourne, Australia
Contributed by Me (Vicki!) @ MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld
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.
RELATED: Heading to Oz? Check out these 100+ Things to do in Australia to keep you busy!
Have you visited any of these amazing street art cities? Which one is your favorite?
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Vicki is the Lawyer turned Content Creator, Editor-in-Chief and all round Boss Lady at MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld.
She has lived and worked in 7 different countries and started the site to show everyone that it is possible to travel whilst holding down a full time job (because not everyone can – or wants to – quit and walk away from it all).
Her style of travel has always been to get the best out of a destination as a time poor traveler making the most of limited vacation days and all without breaking the bank; BUT she does know where to save and where to splurge to have the most incredible travel experiences – such as luxury hotels and over-water bungalows, safaris, spas and more(!) – where the situation calls for it.