Discover the 5 Graffiti Capitals of the World

Why spend money to travel to an art museum when we live amongst masterpieces every day? If you are looking for new ways to discover your city’s beauty, consider accessorising your daily walks with a graffiti tour! Endless shapes and sizes, powerful messages and stunning colours - you’re bound to be charmed. So what are you waiting for? Saddle up and travel with us as we uncover the top 5 graffiti capitals around the world.

Caption: Street view of one of the graffiti districts, Mitte, in Berlin, Germany.

- © Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock

1. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is home to rich history and especially expressive artistic streets. Indeed, once disguised as a monstrous and barren wall separating the East to the West of the city during the Cold War, the last existing part of the Berlin Wall stands proud today as an open air museum to display its wall art, also known as the East Side Gallery. Stretching for 1.3 kilometres, it displays the original artistic pieces of Western Berliners since 1870, as they were the only side allowed to approach the wall. They used this opportunity to express their social unrest and political frustration, until the collapse of the wall on the 9th of November, 1989. Indeed, these large, unbeaten parts of the wall are concrete memories carved out of social disruption during the Soviet occupation, but ultimately giving birth to a new artistic movement in the country and the rest of the world.

The East Side Gallery, Berlin.

- © ilolab / Shutterstock

The districts that are worth seeing for street art are - all of them! Indeed, Berlin is flooded with street art, despite local authorities discouraging it. But we’ll help you narrow down which areas to focus on: Friedrichschain, Kreuzberg, and Mitte districts, as well as the Prenzlauer Berg. All in all, Berlin is a city disguised as an ocean of street art by talented locals (such as Blu or El Bocho) and world famous artists (such as Bansky) and Victor Ash’s iconic “Astronaut Cosmonaut”.

Astronaut mural by Victor Ash, Berlin.

- © carol.anne / Shutterstock

Finally, a personal favourite is the “Kiss of Friendship” mural by Dmtri Vrubel that portrays Leonid Brezhner and ErichHonecker locking lips, in the political effort of displaying an image of equality, peace, and respect.

A famous mural by Vrubel in Berlin, Germany.

- © Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

Our favourite hotel in Mitte, Berlin

Looking for a quick and easy getaway to visit one of Berlin’s most colourful and youthful neighbourhoods? Look no further, we’ve got the hotel just for you: Hotel Luc.

Hotel Luc, Autograph Collection Berlin
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Hotel Luc, Autograph Collection

A lovely hotel located in Berlin's Mitte district.
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2. New York, U.S.A.

The New Yorker graffiti scene has moved around the city over the years. Initially, the graffiti movement started in Queens due to a housing crisis that fuelled anger from a disrupted neighbourhood, provoking artistic frustration on the walls of state buildings. Since then, artists have moved their works to the walls of Brooklyn’s neighbourhood, Bushwick

Mural Art in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

- © Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Notoriously known for its nightclubs and hipster ambiance, this was a natural choice for artists to roam the streets of Bushwick and to express their creativity or add more colour to dark brick walls. Collectives for street artists, such as the Bushwick Collective, allow solo artists to freely express themselves on pre-authorized walls without having to think about property disruption. These areas are generally located on St Nicholas Avenue and Troutman Street - so we highly recommend you head there first, before uncovering other hidden gems surrounding the neighbourhood!

A Bushwick Collective mural in Brooklyn, New York.

- © Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

More centrally, we have the Bowery Mural located in Manhattan’s Soho district. Although very touristic and busy, it is still worth seeing during a visit on the island. A recent indigenous art piece features a flowered girl with piercing eyes with a jungle-themed backdrop: 

Wall Art along the Bowery Mural on Houston Avenue, NYC.

- © Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

Further up Manhattan lays the groundwork of the Friends of the High Line collective, located on the city’s famous ‘High Line’ walk path stretching from 34th street to Upper Western Manhattan for up to 2.5 kilometres. This particular mural is located on 22nd street and allows artists to show off their talent for a limited time. Here is an example of such works: 

A mural portraying a patriotic sailor reunited with his wife, on New York’s high line.

- © marcobrivio.photography / Shutterstock

Finally, original areas dedicated to graffiti located in Queens still feature artists through the Welling Court Mural Project. Indeed, artists aligned with this project often express political or moral opinions in order to stir public opinion or denounce unjust and unhealthy habits. Such is an example, promoting the importance of going vegan and adopting abandoned animals:

Finally, north of the island is Harlem and its Graffiti Hall of Fame founded in 1980. This collective has welcomed young artists from various backgrounds with unique artistic directions for close to 25 years. They are extremely active on their instagram page and are truly committed to promoting local artists and their artistic messages to the world.

Our favourite hotel in New York’s Upper West Side

Discover New York’s Arthouse hotel located right by the High Line: covered in art inside and out! 

Arthouse Hotel New York
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Arthouse Hotel

A lovely hotel located in the Upper West Side, New York.
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3. London, U.K.

London is known as one of the best cities to experience variety in street art. As a large and extensive city, it hosts six main districts that contribute to the graffiti scene: Shoreditch, Brick lane, Leake Street, Camden, Bethnal Green, and Brixton

Shoreditch is a lively and colourful part of downtown central London. Easily accessible, it is the best place to go for post-work drinks or simply to take in the hipster ambiance. Today, its brick buildings are embedded with artistic talent. Indeed, the street art here accentuates the theme of the neighbourhood and its architecture, full of inspiration and colour! 

Street art on a tall building in Shoreditch, London.

- © Monkey Butler Images / Shutterstock

Brick Lane - otherwise known as the epicentre of street art in London - is notoriously known as the best place to get acquainted with this art form. This is where it all started, and where beginners learn from their mentors. Enjoy strolling through this district as every other street hosts facades of technicolour and powerful imagery. An outdoor gallery! 

Graffiti on the walls of Brick Lane, London.

- © EQRoy / Shutterstock

Leake Street is renowned for its graffiti tunnel under the Waterloo station, where Banksy hosts his annual CANS festival, inviting street artists from all over the world to compete in their talented projects, and where the group Femme Fierce (an all-female street artist collective) took over to express female specific issues through wall art.

The Leake Street graffiti tunnel, London.

- © Pravine / Shutterstock

Camden district is most renowned for its outdoor and indoor markets along its very own canal. However, the beauty doesn’t stop here. When in Camden, you feel like time rolls back to the 70s as walls and seamless decorations from local shops and artists invade the streets. Indeed, Camden used to be the most popular place to display street art, however since its massive influx of tourists, local authorities have decided to be more restrictive on this liberty. However, despite its many art-stripped walls today, you may still find some breathtaking pieces here and there from brave artists who still come to remember Camden as it once was. 

Street view in Camden Town, London.

- © Szabolcs Magyar / Shutterstock

Next up, we have the original neighbourhood that inspired the world renown artist, Bansky: Bethnal Green. Bansky, a local of the area, first displayed his work here before reaching widespread acclaim and fame. Today, his recent masterpiece stands proud and tall on a local building to commemorate the start of his career:

Banksy’s “Sunflower” displayed in Bethnal Green, London.

- © chrisdorney / Shutterstock

Finally, Brixton is the up and coming place for artists to showcase their finest projects. Some, of course, need some work, whereas others, such as the David Bowie memorial portrait, have become true landmarks of the district, attracting people from all over the world to pay their respects and admire this breathtaking artform. 

David Bowie portrait wall art in Brixton, London.

- © Svet foto / Shutterstock

Our favourite hotel in London’s trendy Shoreditch district

Spend a weekend in London’s citizenM in Shoreditch: idealistically central and vibrant and crawling with street art - it can’t get better than that! 

citizenM London Shoreditch London
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citizenM London Shoreditch

A lovely hotel located in London's Shoreditch district.
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4. Buenos Aires, Argentina

With almost no restrictions or regulations around spray painting and street art, sunny Buenos Aires is a graffiti haven. There is no limit to creativity and property as even locals embrace this fashionable art on their wall facades. In fact, there is no need for authorization or consent from property owners for any given wall, leaving the city a blank canvas for artists to unleash their creativity for the rest of the world to admire!

Large murals on public building facades in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

- © Autumn Sky Photography / Shutterstock

Committed groups, such as the Buenos Aires Street Art ****collective, aid new artists to display their graffiti work on large scale platforms by promoting them on their socials. Such masterpieces include the recent creation of “Portrait of girl smelling sunflowers” by Juli Bussot painted on a mural in Caballito, Buenos Aires. 

Finally, this organisation in particular also organises the Graffiti Baires annual event, which hosts over 30 artists from all over the world every spring. 

Colourful wall art in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

- © EQRoy / Shutterstock

Another recent addition to the collective’s gallery is the Brazilian artist, Luis Bueno, who was invited to paint a mural on the walls of the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires. He was instructed to paint something that would symbolise friendship between the two countries and their complementing cultures. The following mural showcases the Brazilian football icon Pele and the Argentinian tango legend, Carlos Gardel, sharing an embrace:

Our favourite hotel located in Buenos Aires’ Palermo

Enjoy a lovely stay at Palermo’s Hotel Costa Rica offering 5 star service at a more than reasonable price in central Buenos Aires. Esthetically pleasing and as comfortable as it can get! 

Hotel Costa Rica Buenos Aires
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Hotel Costa Rica

A lovely hotel in Buenos Aires' Palermo district.
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5. Lisbon, Portugal

Welcome to the Portuguese world of street art and chaos. Indeed, Lisbon’s wall art is a bit hazardous, but all the while charming and impressive.

A graffiti mural across a whole building in Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Travel Faery / Shutterstock

Lisbon allows a vibrant splash of technicolour to brighten its ancient architecture and to please both locals and tourists. Moreover, artists collaborate through their pieces, rendering aesthetically pleasing murals unifying various artistic genres, fluctuating between classical and technical masterpieces.

Graffiti displaying Portugal’s traditional music genre Fado, in Lisbon.

- © Phil Darby / Shutterstock

There are countless districts to admire such murals in Lisbon, but four main areas remain the most popular: Alfama, Graca, Cais do Sodré, and the Barrio & Baixa districts. 

The Alfama district is the oldest district for graffiti, displaying an impressive amount of bright colours that truly rejuvenate and revive the ancient neighbourhood. The Graca district, on the other hand, is known as the “up and coming” district for graffiti art, is an ideal place to display your pieces for all to see on their way up to the city’s best lookout points! 

Graffiti mural displayed on a local building in Garca, Lisbon.

- © BreizhAtao / Shutterstock

On another note, the Cais do Sodré district, the hipster and trendier part of town, is popular for its nightlife scene and noisy environment - the best kind to appreciate youthful art forms such as graffiti. Finally, the central area that combines the Barno Alto and Baixa districts is the easiest place to find hidden graffiti gems, alongside the metro or Tram lines for instance. 

Graffiti along the tram lines in central Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Linsey McNeill / Shutterstock

Our favourite hotel in one of Lisbon’s graffiti districts

ON/SET Alfama Lisbon Cinema Apartments offers the absolute best to its clients. It provides all necessary commodities in a quiet area of Alfama, guaranteeing complete comfort and perfect sleeping conditions. On top of all of that, the interior design is to die for! Wait no further and book your stay here: 

ON/SET Alfama - Lisbon Cinema Apartments Lisbon
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ON/SET Alfama - Lisbon Cinema Apartments

A lovely hotel apartment located in Lisbon's Alfama district.
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£120 /night
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by Lena COLIN
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