When I asked travel bloggers to tell me their favorite cities for street art all over the world, I was overwhelmed by all the amazing responses. So much so, in fact, that I had to create two separate posts to contain all the beautiful art – check out the first part of the street art series here! Europe is home to some of the best street art, so I decided to create a whole post dedicated to street art exclusively in Europe – and not just the heavy hitters like Berlin and Barcelona. Who would have known you’d find amazing street art in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in Ponta Delgada, Azores (which is part of Portugal), or in tiny Larnaca, Cyprus? Read on to discover some amazing new street art locales to add to your bucket list or your next European adventure!
I was completely surprised and amazed by the street art in Athens, Greece. It shouldn’t be any surprise considering the word graffiti steams from the Greek word graphi. Athens’ street art is diverse, covering subjects ranging from Greek mythology to political statements, and of course, love. I loved so many pieces, but my favorites were of crazy curly-haired ladies that could be found across the city. I later learned the story behind this awesome vixen. The story is that a guy whose girlfriend broke his heart decided to remind her of his love by creating these piece, resembling her, along her route. Sad and romantic – all in the name of love and art.
Great neighborhoods to explore for street art in Athens are: Anafiotika, Psiri, Plaka, Exarchina, Gazi and Metaxourgeio.
Further reading: Check out some other street art in Athens here!
In many cities in the world, street art or murals are the work of graffiti artists. The themes they chose are often personal or whimsical. But in Belfast, Northern Ireland, all street art is political.
The street art in Belfast in centered in two sections of the city that fairly close to each other: The Shankill Road neighborhood and the Falls Road neighborhood. In a city that has been deeply divided and tragically scarred by “The Troubles,” the murals are every bit as charged. However, these days, many murals are taking a softer, more conciliatory tone as “The Peace” has settled into the city – and economic progress has follow. The murals today serve as much a remembrance of the bad times as they are a call to protest.
Regardless of political ideology, the murals – all the murals – are extremely powerful statements.
London! Although grey and wet for half the year, it can sure do graffiti culture well. London is awash with street art, and the world’s best artists all end up here at some point tagging up walls with the rest of the cool kids. Southbank is probably my favorite spot in London for graffiti – head down towards the skate park by the bridge and you’ll be rewarded with some epic montages and mind-blowing visuals! Other infamous spots include the ever-cool Shoreditch and Hackney, and if you head to The Grange in Camberwell you’ll see ‘Choose Your Weapon’ – my personal Banksy favorite.
Valentina of Guenda’s Travels (find her on Twitter & Facebook)
Ghent is just not a simply a very nice town to visit, but there’s also plenty to see. It’s a completely “graffiti friendly” city and along its roads and alleys we can find some pretty good works. Around Ghent there are a lot of very colorful street art works, but there’s an alley in particular where you can find lots of them, so if you don’t have a lot of time, you can just decide to walk along this tiny road and discover some. I am talking about Werregarenstraatje or Graffitistraatje, which host hundreds of different graffiti. If you do have enough time, like about half a day, well, then you have to try the Concrete Canvas Tour that will take you to the most famous masterpieces in town on a 7 kilometer route.
Łódź (pronounced “woodge”), a city in central Poland with a rich industrial heritage, is probably the most alternative and creative place in Central Europe. One of the ways to redefine the present of the city was street art. Łódź was probably the first city in Poland where murals were introduced, playing an important role in shaping the cityscape. In 2009 the local foundation Urban Forms invited local and international world famous artists (INTI, ROA, or Etam Cru just to name few) to create art on the walls of Łódź. What we can see now is a great urban gallery, perfectly fitting the vibe of the city. The best way to enjoy Łódź street art is to download the map from the foundation’s website and track down all the works – there are over 30 of them marked there, but that’s not all Łódź has to offer!
I visited Belgrade for the first time this past summer, and it was a great surprise. The city blends old and new well, and I was conquered by the Savamala neighborhood, which is often considered the hipster neighborhood of the city. It’s nice to bike around the river, or walk through the narrow alleys to find the graffiti. You can find some beautiful ones, and a few from famous graffiti artists such as Blue. You can also join one of the many tours that will show you the area and help you find the best graffitis. The neighborhood also offers traditional kafanas where you can eat for very cheap, quirky cafes, and nice bars (often open air during the summer) that offer a vibrant nightlife. Ready to dance by the river?
Berlin is undoubtedly the coolest city I have ever been to; I am not a cool enough person to be there. Between the history, the food, the green spaces, and the bars, Berlin gives the impression that there is always more to discover, that you will never experience it all. My favorite part of Berlin though (after the cheese!) was the street art.
Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
Ponta Delgada in the Azores surprised us with an incredible amount of beautiful street art. Yearly the city hosts an urban art festival, which draws artists from around the world. Down alleys and along highways, street art is everywhere. We found small pieces while walking near our hotel and larger murals on the side streets of downtown.
Brighton is a wonderful seaside town, just an hour from London by train. It’s known for its bohemian vibe, a great music scene, the stunning Royal Pavilion, a thriving LBGT community and, among other things, its street art.
The most famous example has to be Banksy’s Kissing Policeman. You’ll find it on the corner of Trafalgar Street and Frederick Place, on the side wall of the Prince Albert pub. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the railway station. The colorful wall of fame that surrounds the Banksy is a tribute to musical legends, a collaboration between graffiti artist Req and the original creator, SinnaOne, together with Chris Steward, the owner of the pub. Everyone who is anyone is there, from Elvis to Amy Winehouse.
If you continue east along Terrance Street and turn south into Terrance Lane, you’ll find another favorite haunt of mine. The walls either side of this narrow road are covered in street art and every time I visit new pieces appear, a continually evolving work of art. These are just a couple of highlights, but if you explore Brighton’s streets, you’ll find many more wonderful paintings depicting a myriad of subjects. It’s a fabulous town that I never tire of visiting.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can barely walk 100 meters through the city of Bristol, in England’s west, without stumbling across an interesting lane way or street full of incredible art. But for diehard street art fans this won’t come as a surprise, because this is where world famous street artist Banksy hails from.
For me, it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise discovering this world-class street art scene on my day exploring the city with friends. There are hundreds of awesome pieces to be found around the city. But I found this one, my favorite, right in the heart of the city on Nelson Street. It’s called ‘See No Evil’ and was created by famous Italian street artist Mr. Wany.
If you want to time your visit to Bristol just right and really appreciate its street art, then head there in July for Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, UpFest. This festival attracts artists from all over the world wanting to add their mark to any vacant piece of wall to be among street art royalty.
Barcelona has a great street art scene. Historically, building facades in Barcelona were very ornate and colorful (check out the work of Antonio Gaudí, for example), and the city’s street art is both complement and contrast to this.
There are a wide variety of styles and graffiti works in all sizes, ranging from small tags to massive multi-story murals. The shutters on the city’s many shops and bars are popular canvases for works of street art, many of them commissioned by the shops’ owners. Barcelona is also home to many works of Francisco de Pajaro and his “Art is Trash” project that turns trash into creative art installations.
One of my favourite places for street art is the Túnel de Mundet, which has become a bit of a street art gallery. Passeig Taulat (on the corner with Lope de Vega street) in Poblenou is also full of interesting works and often busy on the weekends. If you want to see more hidden works, try one of the free walking tours that Barcelona Street Style Tour offers. Or if you’d rather explore on your own, take a walk through the neighborhoods of Gotico or Raval – preferably at a time when most shops are closed and the shutters are down.
A few years ago we visited Cyprus, where Stefan’s family is from. Larnaca is the main transport hub into and out of the island, where the main airport is based. It’s also the go-between town connecting Limassol and the east of the island and a vital stop over if you’re relying on the buses instead of renting a car.
Whilst waiting for the bus in Larnaca we had some time to kill, so we walked around the backstreets of the city and stumbled upon this gem. The words on this street art literally translate to: “Put fire into everything which takes your fancy, into everything which eats at your soul”. At that particular moment the intense heat was eating away at our soul, so we hurried into a cafe and had a nice cool frappe coffee to cool down.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-series! Please be sure to check out some of the contibrutors’ awesome websites to learn more about these fantastic cities.