Street art has become an increasingly accepted and popular part of urban life in the 21st Century. On this page (updated in April 2020) we list some of the very best street art cities across the world. The journey takes us from the home of Bansky in England right around the Earth to Asia, Oceania as well as both North and South America. Any street art lover will want to try and visit these cities and check out the many amazing murals the next time they get a chance.
The World’s Top 10 Street Art Cities
Home of the world’s most famous street artist, the mercurial Banksy. This city perhaps better than any tells the story of how in no time at all street art has grown from something people frowned upon to something which is widely accepted in society and has helped attract thousands of new visitors to Bristol. Head to the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for a Banksy exhibition or follow the walking tour routes to discover his work which still decorates the walls of several streets in this city which features on our UK backpacking itinerary.
Mexico City, Mexico
The enormous capital of Mexico has often struggled to forge a positive reputation for itself and has never really been a big travel destination. However if you do find yourself in Mexico City, then be sure to check out its street art which is popping up all over the place. There’s even a cool street art tour you can do which isn’t a bad idea here as you’ll easily get lost if you don’t really know where to find it. You may even get to meet one of the city’s prominent street artists.
The German capital is now barely recognisable from the divided city it was for 3 decades in the late 20th Century. Thankfully street art is everywhere and helps tell the story of torment and change that this incredible town has gone through. The best of it is to be found on one of the few remaining stretches of the old Berlin Wall, known as the East Side Gallery. You can find out more about it here.
Montreal is another rebellious city with a big underground culture and its walls are increasingly being covered in street art. There are plenty of murals and galleries to check out while it holds a large festival of urban art each year that is one of the biggest of its kind in the world.
One of the most colourful cities in South America, Valparaiso is a wonderful place for those with an artistic inclination and is a great example of a city that has truly embraced street art with its steep hills and winding streets covered in imaginative murals. Valpa is just a cool place to hang around for a few days and has been rather aptly described as a mini Berlin by the sea, although it certainly still has a Latin soul.
The crumbling Portuguese capital is a fabulous location for street art with rustic buildings and cobblestone streets prime for adaption. It has a huge number of abandoned buildings and factories which have been converted into grungy night clubs, art galleries or just left to rot. Many of them are now covered in gigantic pieces of street art and with the Portuguese government seemingly helpless to salvage this city, the underground artists have taken things into their own hands and have successfully managed to brighten up the decaying walls of old Lisboa.
Read more – What they don’t tell you about living in Lisbon
São Paulo, Brazil
The largest city in South America is perhaps the continent’s best for street art although it has some stiff competition with the likes of Bogota, Buenos Aires and Rio also good places to go. Head to the brilliant Batman Alley and its neighbouring streets for some wonderfully artistic designs. It’s not the only district worth checking out though but in such a huge city you have to do some digging around to discover the best of it. We have a separate piece on the monster that is São Paulo here.
Almost certainly the best city in Oceania for all things urban art and an essential stop for anyone backpacking Australia. The local powers that be have approved many outdoor sites across the city to be adorned in street art. Some of the best locations to check it out include Centre Place, Union Lane, Hosier and Rutledge Lane, opposite of Federation Square and of course ACDC Lane!
One of the best cities for street art in Asia. Taipei has always been one of the most rebellious cities in the continent with the ongoing battle against Chinese influence and the protection of Taiwanese culture the overlying theme. Its best street art site was the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory – a derelict building/unofficial art gallery but this has been renovated in recent years. Check at the time of your visit to see if it’s possible to go there and catch a glimpse of any remaining street art.
Our rundown of the best street art in the world ends in Malaysia. While it may not strike you as an obvious street art destination, there is plenty to be found in the capital Kuala Lumpur although the most interesting work is found further north in Penang. Plenty of it is quite peculiar and will leave you scratching your head as much as anything in this extremely diverse and intriguing city which has many competing cultural influences.
This article was last updated in April 2020.