It’s possible to experience some of the most magical art in the world without setting foot inside a gallery.
Paris has the Louvre. London has the Tate Modern. Barcelona has the Museo Picasso and Rome has the Galleria Borghese. But these cities also all have incredible street art, making a stroll through their streets a completely immersive art experience in and of itself. And they’re not the only ones: Here are 12 cities bringing fabulous art to everyone who walks their streets.
WHERE: Dublin, Ireland
The average city street contains plenty of things that aren’t particularly inspiring to look at, but since 2015, Dublin has sought to change that with its Dublin Canvas initiative. This public art project has, to date, transformed 192 gray metal traffic light control boxes into eye-catching, thought-provoking artworks, with 104 boxes waiting to be painted in 2018.
City Centre Mural Trail
WHERE: Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow has embraced street art with open arms. Its City Centre Mural Trail began in 2008 and has since revolutionized buildings, vacant shop units, and hoardings scattered around empty land. Highlights include the U.K.’s largest mural, spread across more than 1,000 square meters on a building and several tributes to Billy Connolly, a beloved Glaswegian comedian.
WHERE: Mexico City, Mexico
WHERE: London, England
As London’s self-proclaimed “home of street art,” Croydon is the perfect location for the RISEgallery, which runs the Arts Quarter—a community project created to turn public spaces into artworks. Steps, bridges, walls, and shop fronts feature everything from spaghetti-eating pooches (à la Lady and the Tramp) to Aztec-style patterns.
Lisbon Urban Art Gallery
WHERE: Lisbon, Portugal
Filmmaker, photographer, and creative director Daniel Soares—the heart behind Lisbon Urban Art Gallery—accepted a challenge from to create a campaign to change its residents’ minds about street art. Cars, waste removal trucks, and bottle recycling containers were turned into artworks that captured the attention of over 3,000 visitors in one month. To turn hate of street art into love of street art, some of the artists involved in the project drove members of the public around the city (in the painted cars, of course) to share their passions for the art form.
WHERE: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona may have once been home to Picasso and Dali, but it also has a thriving street art scene that began in the back streets of the Gothic Quarter and has popped up on abandoned buildings, doorways, and road signs. The city also has a purpose-built graffiti park—Gardens of the Three Chimneys—where artists can paint without worrying about recrimination. Wallspot, formerly Murs Lliures, manages spaces for legal wall painting in Barcelona.
WHERE: Prague, Czech Republic
Street art is perhaps most meaningful in countries that forbade free expression under communist rule. These restrictions didn’t stop street artists in Prague from speaking their minds via paintbrushes, a practice that’s remained consistently stalwart strength to strength over the years. One of the most prolific (and respected) street artists in the area is Pasta Oner, who has livened up the city’s storefronts, construction yards, walls, and columns with his designs. His “Choose to Be Happy” mural, featuring the Hand of God (or the hand of Mickey Mouse, perhaps), is unforgettable.
WHERE: Rome, Italy
Roman artist Alice Pasquini’s work can be seen in galleries across the world, but also on urban surfaces and walls. You could stumble across her outdoor work anywhere from Aberdeen to Buenos Aires, but her presence is strong in her home city. One of her most recent works in Rome was created in support of A Sud, an environmental group that has been fighting for the rights of Latin American communities for 15 years.
WHERE: Vancouver, Canada
Os Gemeos means “twins” in Portuguese, and it’s also the collective name for Brazilian street artists Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo, who happen to be twin brothers. The creative duo has hosted exhibits all over the world, and for the 2014-2016 Vancouver Biennale, they created a 360-degree, 70-foot tall mural across the Ocean Concrete manufacturing and distribution plant on Vancouver’s Granville Island; it’s their biggest public mural to date.
WHERE: New York City, New York
Brooklyn native Joseph Ficalora’s Bushwick Collective came to life as a single mural in 2011 and has since grown into a world-famous open-air gallery in Bushwick. It displays the street art skills of local, national and international artists, such as and features such famous faces (on the walls, at least) as Biggie Smalls and Donald Trump.
Melbourne Street Tours
WHERE: Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne offers a vast range of street art (both official and unofficial) throughout its intricate backstreets and tucked away in its hidden corners. To get the most out of your street art experience, put yourself in the hands of Melbourne Street Tours and let practicing artists show you the city’s undiscovered gems in person.
WHERE: Paris, France
Parisian street artist Seth (Julien Malland) bases his vibrant, large-scale designs on celebrations of tradition and they often include simple, often childlike characters. His work can be found throughout the world and on many Paris streets, such as his wonderful umbrella mural on Rue Émile Deslandres, Paris 13.