So you've done the museums, you've seen the galleries, now its time to hit the streets and explore some of the best districts for street art around the world. It's everyone's secret favorite art form – accessible, edgy, and perfect for the Insta – so why not take some time of our your travel schedule to give it a proper browse? Now you can, with this definitive guide to six cool neighborhoods, the local haunts within them, and, of course, where exactly to spot the coolest graffiti, murals, and more.
Best Streets: Hanbury Street, Brick Lane
Best Time: June to August, when the warmer weather leads to pop-up shops and rooftop bars
Not only does Shoreditch have some of the best curry your taste buds will ever experience (*cough* Dishoom *cough*) but this London neighborhood also boasts quite the history. It's home to The Ten Bells, the pub where Jack the Ripper was said to find his victims, but it also has some of the best street art in London. The area is covered in art by both local and internationally known artists, including gigantic mural pieces along with mixed media installations. Most notable is Brick Lane, where street art is in abundance – even hidden on street signs and in the windows of restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled as not to miss pieces that blend into the environment.
Don't miss Hanbury Street either, which is just off Brick Lane. This street is home to huge mural pieces, including a renowned multistory bird by artist, Roa. If you look hard enough you might even find a piece done by the well-known Banksy. The rest of the neighborhood is pretty hip – home to spots like Cereal Killer Cafe which is, you guessed it, a vintage-style cafe dedicated to good old-fashioned breakfast cereal. Another must-go is the ever-trendy Boxpark Shoreditch, a mall constructed entirely from refitted shipping containers. It is home to high fashion brands, quirky cafes, and outdoor bars.
Best Streets: Mühlenstraße, Skalitzer Strasse
Best Time: October to December – come for Oktoberfest, then stay for the Christmas Markets
Unless you've been living under a rock for quite some time, you're sure to have heard about that little old thing called the Berlin Wall. The barrier was famously decorated after its collapse, painted with messages of love, celebration, and political activism. Make sure to see the longest remaining portion of it at the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße. Just nearby lies Kreuzberg, a downtrodden area that was once cut off by the wall and is now filled with artists and change-makers who are in full command in taking back the dark memories and history of the area and turning them into something positive. And by that we mean twenty-something hipsters, and a community of Turkish immigrants, too (that make for a damn fine weekly market).
One of the best pieces to see in Kreuzberg is the giant astronaut mural done by an artist named Victor Ash, which you can even see while riding the U-Bahn. But head to Schleseisches Tor, in the neighborhood's east, and you'll spot a whole lot more. Just outside the station and toward the Overbaum Bridge, warehouses and old factories are literally covered in graffiti and art. If you don't fancy figuring out exactly where they lie, simply book a street art workshop for a genuinely non-cringe insight into the culture.
Central Business District, Melbourne
Best Streets: ACDC Lane, Union Lane
Best Time: September to November. Enjoy the nice weather while beating the holiday tourists.
Known for its tucked-away alleyways, or "laneways" lined with restaurants, cafes, and people so trendy they look like they've just walked out of some Kanye-inspired fashion show, Melbourne is home to some top-notch street art. And it's the Central Business District (CBD), where artists reign supreme. Just to the south of here, Hosier Lane is the ideal place to start your tour of the street art. Wander the area to admire the colorful expressions of art that include it's signature stencil style, but also a ton of murals. Make sure to see ACDC Lane, an alleyway named in honor of the famous Aussie band, and while there, pop into Cherry – a bar where Lady Gaga was turned down in favor of a local band. But don't just look at the walls – artists recently spray-painted an abandoned car gold, creating a different in-the-moment installation style.
Some other noteworthy streets include Flinders Court and Union Lane. Considering it's at the center of the main shopping drag, Union Lane does not boast as many cool bars and restaurants as you'd expect, but it is absolutely covered in ever-changing art. Visit in Fall, so you don't have to battle the usual summer vacay tourist crowds. While there, find your way through a secret elevator entrance to Goldilocks Bar on Swanston Street, a hidden gem with an intimate rooftop area.
Brooklyn, New York
Best Street: Bedford Ave
Best Time: July or August, for outdoor movies and concerts aplenty
While an obvious choice, Brooklyn, New York, still remains pretty unbeatable for iconic street art. A mecca for artists, NYC can attribute its growth of the street art to the subway system where artists would graffiti the subway cars, allowing their art to travel the city. This diverse community is the ideal place for art to flourish. Visit Coney Island’s Mural and see work done by the Os Gemeos Brazilian Twins (their works can also be seen in districts like Shoreditch and Kreuzburg – the brothers get around), and The Bushwick Collective, an outdoor exposition of a collection of street artists, and favorite spot for color-craving visitors.
Side note: Bushwick is as gritty as it is cool, and home to some of Brooklyn's best eats (hit up garage-like Union Pizza Works, or Mominette Bistro, with its beautiful backyard). But don't get so full you neglect to check out nearby DUMBO, or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, to explore the central arts district. Also mosey through Williamsburg for some of the best vintage boutiques shops in the area. Not only does it have great speakeasies (check out Larry Lawerence), it also has established itself as a key center for street artists to exhibit their artwork. Even Banksy has displayed his recognizable style in the area.
13th arrondissement, Paris
Best Streets: Rue René Goscinny, Avenue de Choisy
Best Time: The Chinese New Year
Ready to be romanced? Fall in love with the street art in the Paris, France, most particularly, the 13th arrondissement. Get lost in the Left Bank as you meander the streets to see pieces done by artists like Invader, Blek le Rat, and C215. Off the beaten tourist path, this area is predominantly an Asian community and is home to the Chinatown district. The area is filled with Asian restaurants, markets, tea rooms and even a Chinese McDonalds. Galerie Itinerrance, a gallery that supports the street art and which also holds exhibitions displaying the murals, also calls 13th arrondissement home.
Although not usually a major tourist area, the 13th arrondissement has perhaps the highest concentration of street art. Other attractions include the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the recently updated National Library, and Butte aux Cailles, a village-like neighborhood that features cobblestone streets and unusual shops. art deco houses. From there, walk to The Pont des Arts (or Love Locks Bridge, to those of us without a swoon-worthy accent). This bridge used to be decorated in thousands of locks belonging to lovers who had thrown their keys into the Seine river below. Controversially, the locks were taken down to due their weight – around 45 tons – in order to make sure the bridge wouldn't collapse. However, the bridge was turned into a public gallery for street art to immortalize the love of couples around the world. Sweet.
Centro Histórico, Mexico City
Best Streets: Calle Dr. García Diego, Calle Zacatecas
Best Time: Día de los Muertos celebration
A new wave of street art is being developed and explored in Mexico City, especially in the city center, or Centro Histórico. Not only are artists pulling inspiration from Mexican cultural and symbols, but they are also bringing the pieces into the social media driven age. Street Art Chilango is an example of artists doing just that. Led by Alex Revilla and Jenaro de Rosenzweig, this artistic venture pulls the history of the dense city with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Color is also a key component is the huge mural pieces that are being seen in the city center. Mexican culture also heavily influences the street art in the city center. For example, on Calle Zacatecas, there are murals that reference Aztec, Maya, and Olmec civilizations.
Other notable areas include Foro Cultural MUJAM and Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexicano (vintage toy museum), which is the epicenter of many colorful works of art. Other attractions in the area include the Templo Mayor archeological site, which was one of the main temples of the Aztecs. Make sure to also spend an evening at Miralto, a rooftop bar that looks over the Centro Histórico. Stroll the streets to admire buses decorated in spray paint, stickers and other mixed media.