8 unmissable places to see street art around the world
Journeys | 19.03.2020
Gone are the days when street art had a bad reputation. No longer is it just about graffiti defacing buildings, or 'tagging' on public property, street art has become just that: an artform which has propelled some of its makers to international stardom. We asked travelling writers, The Travel Scribes, to give us their list of the top 8 street art cities in the world.
Cape Town, South Africa
Down at the very tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, is a small enclave of artists turning the slightly dingy streets of Cape Town into works of art.
Originally created as a form of protest against the apartheid oppression, street art in South Africa has become a way to regenerate communities and bring together people across the racial divide. With its roots in the rebellion against racism and oppression, street art in the city today tackles a multitude of issues; from human rights to even wildlife conservation as seen in the many elephant-inspired works by acclaimed local artist Falko One.
Featuring icons like former president, Nelson Mandela, performing artist, Hugh Masekela, or even the faces of locals, street art can be found across the city. However, it is definitely concentrated in some of the areas previously affected by segregation like District Six, Woodstock and amidst the multi-coloured homes of the Bo-Kaap.
Prominent artists include Faith47, Nardstar, the Bushman and Skumbuzo Vabazo.
Photo: tsn92/Flickr ©
Melbourne, Australia
The second largest city in Australia and often voted one of the world's most 'liveable' cities, Melbourne is known for its coffee culture, friendly people but also its world-class street art.

Back in the 1970's and 80's, the city's youngsters inspired by the graffiti of New York City, started to create pieces in the city centre and along the rail and tram lines. Nowadays you'll find several prominent artworks and also dedicated street alley 'lanes' in the city that you can wander down including Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane, named for the famous rock band from the country.

Melbourne is considered the 'stencil capital of the world' and has some of the most renowned pieces of stencil art – actually the world's first stencil art festival was held there in 2004. Today the best stencil art in the city can be found at Centre Place, near Flinders Lane.
Georgetown, Malaysia
Kittens hiding behind drainpipes, children riding stationary bicycles or massive, impressive pieces – George Town in Penang, Malaysia is a veritable feast for street art lovers and probably one of the most famous for the artform in Asia.

Like many other cities in the world, street art and graffiti used to be considered vandalism until around 2008 when the city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As part of that, steel-rod wall sculptures were erected across the city and residents started to enjoy seeing unique artworks adorning the walls of their city. In 2012 a Lithuanian artist named Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to create six street art pieces – named 'Mirrors' - for the George Town Festival, and the rest is history.
Zacharevic's pieces sparked a trend in George Town with both international and local artists flocking to the city to craft their work. Most of the buildings in the old town now boast expansive artworks and the city has even started to commission 'container art' in public spaces to even further entrench the trend.

Insider Tip: If you love street art and want to visit Malaysia, you could also try the much smaller (and less touristy) town of Ipoh. Known more for its cuisine, the town also saw a visit from Zacharevic and now Ipoh's street art scene is well worth the visit.
Berlin, Germany
During the Cold War, Berlin's infamous wall – which divided the city into two – became a target for many a political artist looking to create murals with a strong symbolic sentiment. This was the beginnings of what is today a thriving street art scene which sees remnants of the wall still bearing beautiful works.
However, did you know that it is technically still illegal to create street art in Berlin, and you can face up to three years in jail?! The only way to go about it is to be commissioned by the government or seek a special approval from the building owner.
Photo: Tupungato/stock.adobe.com
Nevertheless, some of the globe's best examples of street murals are to be found in busy Berlin.
There are allegedly 34 pieces by internationally renowned artist, Banksy, there is the iconic mural from Blu, called 'Pink Man' and there are spaces with ever-changing murals, like the 'Urban Spree' near Revaler Strasse, which changes every few months.
There is also the particularly legendary, 'My god help me survive this deadly love' mural (also known as 'Fraternal Kiss') by Dmitri Vrubel where you'll find lots of tourists congregated, trying to get that perfect snap.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The achingly lovely capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires is a vibrant city with eminently Instagrammable streets and crammed with beautiful buildings, making it the perfect place to add murals onto already gorgeous facades.

What's more, Buenos Aires is unique in that there are virtually no restrictions on where and what you can paint. No laws on getting consent from the authorities (although you have to ask the owner of the property) and definitely no strangle on freedom of speech – you can paint politically sensitive pieces without a worry. This makes the city an attractive place for artists with a strong message, like the piece by artist Blu, who produced a work of the Argentinian people 'blinded' by their allegiance to the country's flag.

Hotspots to see the art around the city include the area around Palermo (particularly Mercado de Las Pulgas), Calle Santa Rosa, the suburbs near Fitz Roy and Castillo Streets or a wander down the main avenue of Libertador to see expansive, impressive murals stretching across huge spaces.
Yangon, Myanmar
You might be surprised to find Yangon on a list of top street art destinations. But more than just the quality of the art you'll find, it's the story behind the project that really tugs at the heartstrings.
In 2016 a local organization by the name of Doh Eain decided to take a 'trash alley' behind the homes in Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon), and convert it into a garden, with a few pieces of art sprinkled in between. The media caught on, investment rolled in and the Alley Project took on a life of its own, with rubbish-filled alleys turned into safe spaces for children to play.
There are now 8 alley gardens stretching between 29th and 42nd street in downtown Yangon, filled with swing sets, kids playing kick volleyball and, of course, striking street art pieces.
The art here is a little more childlike – you're more likely to see brightly-hued giraffes and scenes straight out of storybooks and fairy tales than hard-hitting pieces - but you'll definitely be transported to somewhere that feels far away from the hard streets of Yangon.
The pieces are created by both local artists like Nat Eain Hlaing and Kyi Aung Kyaw, and international artists alike.
Lisbon, Portugal
Like many places in the world, Lisbon in picturesque Portugal has had a slightly long battle between artists and authorities when it comes to street art. While its more accepted today than it used to be (it used to be considered a form of pollution!), you can't just roll up and paint your piece in Lisbon – you'll need to go through a process of presenting your project to the council.
This means Lisbon has an interesting mix of beautiful, almost real-life murals but also an underbelly of 'tagging' that sees amateurs putting their signature on the stunning buildings.
Either way, there are many epic pieces to see, many of them dedicated to the arts and culture scene of the city. You can check out a street art gallery near the famous Elevador da Gloria, you can bar hop in Bairro Alto while taking in the Rua da Vinha, or head to Mouraria where you'll find murals dedicated to a musical style called 'fado', developed in that suburb.
New York City, USA
No list of the world's best street art cities is complete without one of the originals for the artform, New York City in the United States.

This gritty city known for its soaring skyscrapers and bright commercial boards has been a haven for street art since the early 1980's, with so many different forms of the art displayed across the various boroughs, from Harlem to Brooklyn and everywhere in between.
There are eminently famous pieces like Banksy's stencil piece Hammer Boy near Broadway, or the huge Bowery Mural by Keith Haring which has become a hotspot for other artists to produce their own art in the area.
Two of the more recent installations worth checking out are in Brooklyn and within the leafy refuge of The High Line. Brooklyn has an outdoor street gallery founded by The Bushwick Collective which sees murals displayed on the walls all the way from Jefferson street to Saint Nicholas Avenue, all by famous artists like Sticks, Zimad and Blek Le Rat, a Parisian stencil guru.

On the entirely opposite side of the spectrum is The High Line, the elevated urban garden, where you can walk through amazing flowers and garden installations but also see spectacular street pieces like Dorothy Iannone's tribute to the Statue of Liberty.
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