Of the many attractions that Europe offers to both locals and visitors, street art is the most democratic. First, it’s free and frequently associated with political or social messages. Second, it’s everywhere; you can spot it from the trains between countries, and most cities have neighborhoods or areas popular for their street art and murals. And finally, it’s diverse: Street art features a huge variety of styles and voices, several themes and colors, and even creative ways in which it relates to the physical environment. For those visiting Europe, street art is always a great reason to wander around with a camera. The chance to get lost…
Yes, you might think of Greek ruins and amazing yogurt, but Athens is a mecca for graffiti. You can find it near the university (Polytechnic) in Exarcheia, or walking around Pireaus Street. And, with the old economic crisis, the messages are extremely political. Metaxourgeio, an old industrial neighborhood that is now partially abandoned, is one of the most prolific spots.
Graffiti and street art have long conquered Amsterdam, and you can also find a lot of stickers, posters, and other types of public art – including knitting. The streets to visit are Spuistraat and the picturesque Jordaan neighborhood.
Many people wander around the East Side Gallery to appreciate the Berlin Wall murals, but (sponsored) street art is easier to find between the train stations Bülowstr. and Nollendorfplatz (take the U2 to see them from above). Other spots include Mauerpark – mostly for graffiti tags – and the Priesterweg is a park where you can create your own graffiti legally (pay attention to the rules at the entrance). Of course, also visit the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
Following the trend in many contemporary cities of integrating art murals with residential housing, the place to go in Paris to see some great murals is the area around National (metro line 6). You can find huge reproductions and smaller pieces all the way from National to Chinatown (near Porte de Choisy).
You’ve probably heard of Brick Lane, so I am going to skip that reference — even if the street art there is iconic. You can also walk around other areas of Shoreditch (the best options are Chance Street and Sclater Street) and explore the surrounding neighborhoods until you get to Old Street. Camden, famous for its alternative edge, is also home to plenty of street art murals.
Some huge street art projects are hosted around the Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, near Praça Marques de Pombal. There are also some boards in the funicular that takes visitors from Restauradores to Barrio Alto (the tiny street is called Calçada da Gloria). Graffiti and street art have also been integrated as part of the LX Factory, and you can visit this design and art center for everything from fusion sushi to great bookstores.
Many street artists create works in each city they visit, so don’t be surprised to find works by ROA in both Berlin and London, or by C215 in Paris and Amsterdam, and even the Brazilian brothers Os Gemeos have works in Athens, Lisbon, and Berlin. Other European cities like Warsaw, Ghent, Manchester, and Vienna all have large street art communities as well; you’ll find similar vibes across most of Europe.
You can also try to book a tour with local street artists – there are free (donation-based) and paid tours in almost every European city as the art form becomes more trendy and more popular with visitors.
Pro tip: Use Instagram to find the best street art and murals by searching relevant hashtags (e.g. #berlinstreetart). But don’t forget: In many European cities, street art is still considered illegal and punishable by law (just in case all of this artwork has inspired you to become an artist yourself).
Do you have any favorite street art destinations in Europe? Do you have any suggestions or tips for people? If not, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!