Cornwall Road, London, street art

The UK’s best street art cities

3 August 2022

Street art has come a long way since it was born on the streets of Philadelphia and New York in the 1960s. Now a global phenomenon, street art decorates towns and cities around the world, attracting tourists from all over trying to catch a glimpse of the latest pieces of urban art.

From the heights of Scotland to the South West coastline, the UK is lucky enough to be filled with unique street art by some of the world’s most acclaimed artists. With all this art waiting to be discovered, the question is, where’s the best place to find it?

We’ve combed through social media, tallied up Instagram hashtags, TikTok views and Google searches, and can now share with you the most popular street art spots in the UK.

Top 10 street art cities

1. London

Cornwall Road, London, street art
Cornwall Road, Waterloo. Credit: SWR

With almost 550,000 Instagram hashtags and 27.6 million TikTok views, London has been crowned the top UK city for urban art. We can’t say we’re surprised. In fact, London was the first British city to join the street art movement.

Street art rose to prominence in the US back in the 60s before jumping across the pond to London in the 70s. The art movement erupted in the English capital, with notable early artists including Lee Thompson, also known as Kix.

Street art hotspots in London

Credit: street_art__photos

London has become synonymous with the street art movement with unique pieces across all the city’s streets. Here are some must-see spots:

  • Shoreditch: Head to the courtyard of the former nightclub Cargo to find a treasure-trove of urban art, including Banksy’s Guard Dog
  • Waterloo: Leake Street Arches are covered in art and are frequently updated with new works
  • Camden: Hawley Mews and Hawley Street are home to great artists, including Otto Schade
  • Brixton: Find a renowned David Bowie memorial by Jimmy C on Tunstall Road
  • Croydon: Visit Queen’s Gardens and Surrey Street Market to discover up-and-coming talent

Street art events in London

As you’d expect from a tourist mecca, London has plenty of urban art events, including tours that target specific areas of London. Our favourites include Alternative London and Strawberry London in the East End for a guided tour.

Feeling inspired? Create your own work of art by booking a Graffik Gallery or Alternative London workshop.

Travelling to London by train?

There are plenty of ways to reach London by train, no matter where you’re travelling from. Find trains running from the south west to London Waterloo, Vauxhall, Clapham Junction and more.

2. Bristol

@chloerosinacollins Bristol Street Art is just something else 🪐 #bristol #fy #streetart #fyp #grafitti #fypシ #upfest #foryou #upfest2022 #foryoupage #upfestbristol #foryourpage #upfestbristol2022 #lifestyle ♬ Music For a Sushi Restaurant - Harry Styles

Credit: chloerosinacollins

Bristol and street art go hand in hand. With over 90,000 Instagram hashtags and 31,000 TikTok views, there’s no denying Bristol street art is a hot topic across social media.

The city’s links with this movement date back to the 80s, but it gained momentum in the 90s. One of the city’s earliest artists includes the internationally known Banksy, along with 3D, or Robert Del Naja, who later became a member of the electronic band, Massive Attack. In 1998, an event called Walls on Fire celebrated and encouraged this art form; the city hasn’t looked back since.

Street art hotspots in Bristol

We can’t discuss Bristol street art without mentioning Banksy. Although his identity is a mystery, there’s no doubt he’s shaped the urban art scene in Bristol and beyond. His best pieces include Mild Mild West, Rose Trap, Grim Reaper and Valentine’s Day.

Stokes Croft is an area filled with alternative artists and new commissions always appear. Must-see murals include the Community Wall and Tsunami of Roses. Make sure you head south to Bedminster for even more art. As the site of the annual Upfest urban art festival, there’s plenty to see here.

Street art events in Bristol

Where the Wall offer a tour that will cover not only Banksy but other prominent Bristol artists too. If you want to take things at your own pace, download the Banksy Bristol Trail App to explore all of the artist’s work in the city. Then try your hand at the craft by attending one of Graft’s workshops.

3. Manchester

Credit: moxsblag

The capital of the North, Manchester, has racked up over 34,000 Instagram hashtags and 209,000 TikTok views. Clearly, there’s much to explore in the red brick city.

The street art scene is relatively new to Manchester and took off in 2016 after the Cities of Hope festival. This festival brought together the world’s best artists, challenging them to decorate Manchester’s streets with murals of critical social issues.

Today, Axel Void, Akse and Faunagraphic are just a few prominent artists you’ll find while wandering Manchester streets.

Street art hotspots in Manchester

You’ll find most of Manchester’s street art in the bohemian Northern Quarter. Start at Port Street to find murals by Mateus Bailon, Faunagraphic and Nomad Clan. Then head to Stevenson Square, where disused public toilets are frequently updated with new artwork. Next, stroll through Thomas Street, High Street and Salmon Street, where new additions can always be found.

Manchester street art events

Skyliner’s Modern History of the Northern Quarter is a popular, award-winning tour in Manchester that visits key murals and discusses their story. For another thrilling experience, head to an Art Battle Manchester event, where you can watch artists working head-to-head, creating masterpieces in just half an hour!

4. Glasgow

@walkingtoursinscotland Glasgow’s street art is so unique. Come and see it with us! 🧡 www.walkingtoursin.com/tours #streetart #streetarttour #glasgow #scotland #graffiti ♬ What You Know - Two Door Cinema Club

Credit: walkingtoursinscotland

With over 30,000 Instagram hashtags and 36,000 TikTok views, Glasgow ranks fourth in our top UK street art cities.

Urban art took off in Glasgow in 2008 as the city hatched a plan to revitalise tired-looking buildings and areas that weren’t on the tourist trail. Since then, the city has fully embraced this art movement, with many streets dancing with colour.

Street art hotspots in Glasgow

One of the most prominent names in Glasgow street art is Smug, whose work is dotted around all corners of the city. Head to Ingram Street car park for Fellow Glasgow Residents, a collection of murals celebrating local wildlife. Just around the corner from Glasgow Cathedral, the giant St Mungo mural is a modern-day depiction of the city’s patron saint. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is another example of Smug’s fantastic work, found on Mitchell Street.

Glasgow’s the proud producer of Tennent’s Lager, and you can find artwork dedicated to the beverage near the brand’s factory. The Glasgow Panda by Klingatron on Mitchell Lane is another popular piece in the city, along with the badminton mural on Wilson Street, commemorating the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Glasgow street art events

You can embark on the Walking Tours In… Glasgow street art tour to uncover all the masterpieces the city has to offer. But Glasgow events don’t just stop at guided walks. Yardworks is an annual summer festival celebrating all things street art.

5. Liverpool

@escapade_z Amazing street art 🎨#streetart #art #foryoupage #foryou #fyp #liverpool #escapade ♬ Packs and Potions - HAZEY

Credit: escapade_z

Liverpool may be a small city, but it packs a punch in terms of culture and vibrancy. It’s great to see this city make our top five, with over 10,000 Instagram hashtags and 1,700 TikTok views.

Street art in Liverpool dates back to the 70s when murals dedicated to artists like Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd were found across the city. Fast forward to today, and it’s filled with beautiful artwork partly thanks to the 2018 Contrast Murals Festival, which boosted the city’s enthusiasm for urban art.

Street art hotspots in Liverpool

@theguideliverpool Just some of the amazing street art the Baltic Triangle has to offer 🤩 #liverpool #fyp #streetart #baltictriangle #foryoupage #merseyside #art ♬ Sunny Day - Ted Fresco

Credit: theguideliverpool

Many of Liverpool’s murals can be found in the Baltic Triangle, a once derelict neighbourhood full of life today. On Jordan Street, you’ll discover Akse’s ode to LFC legend Jürgen Klopp, and up-and-coming artists frequently update the skatepark on Jamaica Street.

Paul Curtis is among Liverpool’s most prolific artists. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Abbey Road album, Curtis was commissioned by The Beatles Story to create a mural at Cains Brewery Village. The nearby For All the Liver Birds on Jamaica Street is another must-visit that makes a great photo backdrop.

Liverpool street art events

If you’d like to explore your creativity, why not attend a workshop? Zap Graffiti offer expert-led classes where you can leave with your own piece of urban art.

Street art hotspots in the South West

Top 5 street art cities

2. Cheltenham

Credit: urbanartistry.co.uk

Cheltenham may not seem like a hub of street art, but we’ve seen the Cotswolds town blossom with murals since its Paint Festival was born. This event is a must for anyone who loves urban art.

Brewery Quarter, North Place car park, St George’s Street and the High Street are top places to visit for high-quality art. Curtis Hylton is a prominent local artist who often creates nature-inspired large-scale murals.

3. Gloucester

@lunalotusuk finished Library mural! #natureart #muralist #mural #streetart #gloucester #gloucestershire #library #muralartist #fyp #whatartistsdo ♬ Chilled Vibes - ItsMelo

Credit: lunalotusuk

Street art has become core to Gloucester’s regeneration efforts, and Rainbow Square is one of the newest additions. Local artist, Tash Frootko, has transformed a humble residential area into a vibrant, colourful attraction. At the end of the street, you’ll find a mural by Zoe Power, a Bristol-based artist.

You can also follow the Gloucester City Council-funded Urban Art Nature Trail. Artists including Jon D’oh and Flava have transformed 75 unassuming utility boxes into imaginative works of art, which can be found across the city.

4. Swindon

Street art came to Swindon in the 80s thanks to arts officer Terry Court and local artist Ken White. Although most of White’s murals haven’t survived, one has stood the test of time; The Golden Lion Bridge. This mural is so adored by locals that White has returned to refurbish it three times!

Discover Banksy-inspired art on Eastcott Road. Regent Circus boasts a mural of local wildlife by Martin Travers.

5. Bournemouth

The seaside town of Bournemouth is no stranger to street art. In fact, Bournemouth has witnessed a burst of creativity in recent years, changing outdoor spaces for the better. Take the Upside Gallery, a project funded by Arts Council England that’s given a bleak underpass a new lease of life thanks to the works of internationally acclaimed artists.

You can also head to the beachfront and walk the Selfie Wall Trail. You’ll find a series of artwork along the promenade from various artists, the perfect backdrop for a selfie!

How to get there: Travelling from London? It takes less than two hours to get to Bournemouth from London Waterloo.

Embark on your street art adventure and explore fantastic UK towns and cities offering world-class art. Whether you plan to spend a weekend discovering urban art in Shoreditch or around the seaside streets of Bournemouth, make sure you plan your journey in advance to get cheap train tickets.

Methodology

We found the best locations for street art by collating Instagram hashtags and TikTok views for each town and city using the search terms ‘[town/city] street art’ and ‘street art [town/city]’ to capture all relevant data.

The same terms were used to gather UK Google search volume between the dates May 1 2021 - April 30 2022.

We input these three metrics into a weighted rank (40/20/40 respectfully) to provide our final results.