Want to explore a city from a unique perspective? Sign up for a graffiti tour. You’ll learn the rich history of street art, view the community’s best tags and murals, and maybe meet some of the local artists. Some tours even conclude with a workshop that lets you create your own masterpiece. Here are our favorites from around the world.
There’s no shortage of artistic graffiti in New York City, but if you want to see the best works, head to the Williamsburg or Bushwick neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Several companies offer tours of the area’s tags, murals, and posters, including Brooklyn Unplugged Tours ($40) and Street Art Walk ($20). Free Tours by Foot provides free tours with the understanding that you will tip the guide accordingly at the end.
You could walk the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District on your own, but you’d miss out on the insights of the local muralists and graffiti artists that serve as tour guides at LA Art Tours ($12). Expect to see works by some of the best local and international artists, such as Shephard Fairey, Mr. Cartoon, and Nuke. Graff Tours, has a Los Angeles location, too ($25).
When graffiti got out of hand in Philadelphia, the city challenged offenders to paint murals through its Mural Arts Program. Today, the project boasts three guided tour options for visitors looking to explore the City of Murals: the Trolley Tour ($30), the Mural Mile Walking Tour ($20), and the Love Letter Train Tour ($20) of 50 murals that were painted on rooftops.
Ex-graffiti artist Steam156 guides participants on two and three-hour walking tours of London’s street art (€20 and €15, respectively) through London Graffiti Tours. We like the all-city tour (€30) because it includes a stop at the infamous Leake Steet Tunnel, the largest wall where you can legally paint. Bring your own can of paint if you’d like to try.
The City of Lights also has its fair share of graffiti. Book a tour with Underground Paris to explore either Belleville, one of the city’s most famous street art neighborhoods, or the new mural district, 13th Arrondissement. Both tours cost €20. Underground Paris also offers a graffiti mural workshop (€35) that allows you to work as part of a team to paint a full-scale mural.
Years ago, Amsterdam officials opted to stop fighting graffiti and, instead, create places to paint. In some areas, the city has actually sponsored graffiti artists and commissioned them to decorate eyesores. The result is a vibrant street art scene that you can experience through Alltournative Offering Tours (€12per person, minimum four people).
Buenos Aires gets a lot of well-deserved attention for its graffiti, but Valparaiso, Chile, has a noteworthy scene, too. Take the GraFREEti tour offered by Valpo Street Art Tours (free but tip appropriately) to learn about local artists. If you’re ready to unleash your inner artist, sign up for a workshop to learn how to “throw up” tags ($40 USD) or create murals ($60).
Wynwood Walls is the place to go in Miami for street art, and the way to get there is on a Roam There scooter tour ($75). Led by local artists, the tours begin and end on Miami Beach. (Roam There also offers a walking tour, at the same price, if you’re scooter-averse.) Up and coming: St. Petersburg’s Central Arts and Warehouse District has been compared to the Wynwood Walls. Join one of Florida CraftArt’s Saturday morning tours ($19) to learn the story behind more than 30 works of art.