What are the best street art cities in the UK? Besides street art capitals London and Bristol, you have far more places to see mural art and graffiti in Britain. After having explored street art cities around the world from Marseille to Dunedin (New Zealand), I’m staying closer to home this time for my list of top 10 street art cities in the UK.

The best places to see street art in the UK

Granted, considering the UK covers four countries, a list of only ten cities seems far from complete. And as I continue my travels through England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland I’ll probably add more cities to this list. But for now, here are some top destinations to get started.

Top 10 street art cities in the UK

Listed in alphabetical order, the following cities all make for great British city breaks!

1. Aberdeen (Scotland)

The northern Scottish city of Aberdeen first appeared on my radar a few years ago after seeing photos of Nuart Aberdeen on social media. Established in 2017, this annual event has quickly grown into one of the preeminent street art festivals in the UK.

During the first three editions of Nuart Aberdeen, over thirty spectacular murals have been created by some of the world’s top street artists. Amongst them were artists such as Smug, Bordalo II, Fintan Magee and Ernest Zachaveric, whose works I first discovered on my street art explorations of Singapore.

Besides live paintings, you can also attend talks, walks, workshops, film screenings and other cultural events at Nuart Aberdeen. Usually taking place over three days in April, 2020 sees a special lockdown edition online.

Website: Nuart Aberdeen
When does Nuart Aberdeen take place?
Nuart Aberdeen takes place over three days around mid-April.
How to get to Aberdeen?
You can fly directly to Aberdeen International Airport. Alternatively, fly to Edinburgh and take the 2.5-hr direct train from there.

2. Belfast (Northern Ireland)

Prior to my work visit in 2015, I hadn’t even considered the presence of street art in Belfast. Coincidentally, we were booked into a hotel in the Cathedral Quarter. Not only a vibrant and culturally rich district of Belfast, but also a great street art neighbourhood.

street art in Belfast by Conor Harrington of two men in Baroque-style in a sword fight
Conor Harrington mural in Belfast

I even got a taste of spray-painting myself when I accidentally participated in a graffiti workshop by local artist Eoin McGinn. Struggling to spray-paint a straight and even line, I learned first-hand that creating street art is hard work!

Besides some great contemporary street art, Belfast is also home to a great number of political murals. Our hosts drove us to West Belfast to photograph them but I felt a bit awkward about this as it’s still a tricky situation. However, as they reflect Northern Ireland’s troubled past, these political murals do (literally) paint a picture of the country’s history and identity.

Street in West Belfast covered in political murals
Political murals in West Belfast

Where to find street art in Belfast?
The best places to find street art in Belfast are: High Street Court, Hill Street, Kent Street, Lower Garfield Street, North Street, Talbot Street and Union Street.

3. Bristol (England)

Being the hometown of possibly the world’s most famous street artist Banksy, Bristol boasts an impressive art and music scene. In my opinion, Bristol is definitely one the most notable street art places in the UK!

street art in Bristol by Irony+Boe of a funny life-size pigeon peeking round the corner
Irony+Boe in Bristol

You won’t have any problems finding murals and graffiti in Bristol. However, my tip for you is to venture a bit further south and explore Bristol Bedminster. This Bristol neighbourhood is host to the annual event Upfest, Europe’s largest free street art and graffiti festival.

street art in Bristol by Insane51 who's on a cherrypicker whilst painting
Work in progress: Insane51 painting his 3D mural for Upfest Bristol 2018

Upfest covers almost 1.5 kilometres of North Street and also its surrounding streets, with the cultural hub The Tobacco Factory as its centre. With hundreds of artists and visitors alike flocking down to Bristol Bedminster, you’ll sense a true laidback festival vibe. There’s live painting, music, food, drinks, nice people and even the occasional shower, typical festival weather indeed.

street art in Bristol by My Dog Sighs of a cute cartoon figure on a house
My Dog Sighs in Bristol

Website: Upfest
When does Upfest Bristol take place?
Upfest takes place over three days in summer (typically late July, but sometimes earlier).
How to get to Bristol?
You can fly directly to Bristol Airport or take the train from London.
Combine your Bristol city break with a visit to nearby Bath
Within 15 minutes you’ll find yourself in the quaint city of Bath, famous for its Roman baths and being the hometown of British author Jane Austen.

4. Cardiff (Wales)

When I think of Wales, I first think of breath-taking landscapes, dramatic cliff views and rolling hills. Then I’d think of castles and elegant architecture. I’d in fact think of many other things before street art in Wales would come to mind. And yet, its capital city, the cultural hub of Cardiff, boasts a great number of grand murals.

In recent years, the public walls of Cardiff have transformed into large canvasses for some of the most terrific national and international artists.

5. Cheltenham (England)

This entry is a bit of a naughty one. Because, mostly famous for its horse jump racing, Cheltenham is a town and not a city. However, I chose to add it to this list because of its annual Cheltenham Paint Festival. Over the last three years, this free festival has invited some of my favourite artists such as Irony, Trust Icon and My Dog Sighs.

Website: Cheltenham Paint Festival
When does Cheltenham Paint Festival take place?
The 2020 edition of Cheltenham Paint Festival is scheduled to take place from 4 to 7 September. The organisation expects to welcome around 130 artists who will paint at various locations across town.
How to get to Cheltenham?
Take the direct GWR train from London Paddington Station to Cheltenham Spa. The journey takes just over two hours.

6. Glasgow (Scotland)

What I remember most vividly about my trip to Glasgow was being told that George Square, where our hotel was located, had been the filming location of one of the most dramatic scenes of the zombie film World War Z. This was where all hell broke loose early on in the film and Brad Pitt and his family had to leave the car. Supposedly taking place in Philadelphia, this iconic scene was actually filmed in Scotland’s largest city.

street art in Glasgow by Smug portrait of a man with a bird on his finger
Smug in Glasgow (Photo credit: tarid_arm on Pixabay)

Whilst following Brad Pitt’s footsteps (at a much slower pace and less panicked mode), I fortunately didn’t come across any zombies. I did however come eye to eye with some beautiful murals. I later learned these were part of the Mural Trail initiated by the Glasgow City Council. Featuring numerous large-scale murals, walking the trail will keep you entertained for one or even two days.

street art in Glasgow by Rogue One of a taxi floating in the air by balloons
Rogue One in Glasgow (Photo credit: Catherine Alard on Pixabay)

7. Leicester (England)

Combining history, interesting architecture, urban art and swanky cafés, Leicester was the perfect destination to celebrate our wedding anniversary last year. Located in the East Midlands, Leicester is a little gem worth visiting. It’s one of the most fascinating places I’ve visited in recent years. If you’re into culture and history, then Leicester is a real must-visit.

First you have the impressive Guildhall building that has been frequented by notables such as William Shakespeare! But Leicester’s true historical gem is the tomb of Richard III. The unmarked grave of this English king, killed in battle in 1485, was lost for centuries. Until its incredible discovery in 2012 when they found it under the council car park in Leicester! This location now houses the Richard III visitor centre. You can visit his tomb, worthy of a king, in the Leicester Cathedral next to it.

street art in Leicester overlooking the canal telling the story of Narcissus and Echo
N4T4 in Leicester

However, personally, the real icing on the cake of our day trip to Leicester, was its impressive collection of street art. To my great surprise and delight, I spotted some of the largest and most beautiful murals here, thanks to the annual mural and graffiti festival Bring the Paint. The best places to see street art in Leicester are around Graff HQ (4 Norths Mills, Frog Island, LE3 5DL), a great place to stock up on art supplies or to have a vegan lunch. But also the Cultural Quarter (including Rutland Street and Yeoman Street) is a must-visit area.

Website: Bring the Paint
When does Bring the Paint festival take place?
Bring the Paint normally takes place during the last weekend of May. The next edition will take place in 2021.
How to get to Leicester?
Take the direct East Midlands Railway train from London St Pancras to Leicester. The journey takes just over an hour.

8. London (England)

London isn’t only the capital of England, but in my opinion also the street art capital of the UK. I might be biased though because this is the British city I know best. Having lived near Shoreditch, London’s main street art neighbourhood, this is where my love for urban art took off when I immigrated from the Netherlands to the UK in 2012.

street art in Shoreditch, London, purple and pink portrait of a woman by RONE on her side holding a rose
RONE in Shoreditch, East London

In hindsight, I realise I was incredibly lucky to have landed in this hipster London neighbourhood. It introduced me to some of the world’s best urban artists and graffiti writers, but also to the supportive blogger community.

Discover all top 10 London urban art hotspots in my full London street art guide.

street art in Camden, London, a realistic painting of a chimpanzee by Gnasher
Gnasher in Camden, North London

Where is the best street art in London?
Considering its sheer size, you’ll find several urban art hotspots in London. The alternative areas of Shoreditch (East London) and Camden (North London) aren’t only popular tourist destinations, but also two of the best places to find murals in London.

street art in Shoreditch, London, by Sr.X
Sr.X in Shoreditch, East London

9. Manchester (England)

If I were to move to another city in the UK, Manchester would be a serious contender. It has a vibrant art scene, charming architecture reminiscent of the typical New York brownstone buildings and super friendly people.

street art in Manchester called Sisyphus by Alex Void
Axel Void in Manchester

Known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the Suffragette Movement, Manchester has played a significant role in British history. Today it’s the third largest city in Britain and also one of the best street art locations in the UK.

Where to find street art in Manchester?
Fortunately, the centre of Manchester is much smaller than London, making it a lot easier to navigate around the city in search of street art. Especially the trendy neighbourhood of Northern Quarter boasts a great number of fantastic murals but also dozens of hipster cafés, bars and restaurants.

10. Sheffield (England)

In recent years, the vibrant city of Sheffield has been voted as one of the top 10 student cities in the UK. However, my first association with Sheffield is illustrator and painter Phlegm.

This outstanding artist whose work adorn walls all over the world, is one of my favourite artists. His captivating monochrome works always feature his signature mythical features and conjure up some magical landscape. Calling this city his home, you’ll find several Phlegm murals in Sheffield.

Other Sheffield-based muralists, graffiti writers and paste-up artists include D7606, Faunagraphic, Kid Acne, Pete McKee, Mila K and Rocket01.

funny street art in Sheffield by Pete McKee of an old man and women kissing
Pete McKee in Sheffield

Where to find street art in Sheffield?
Use this Sheffield street art map to find all the local artworks and artist information.
How to get to Sheffield?
Take the direct East Midlands Railway train from London St Pancras to Sheffield. The journey takes just over an hour. Alternatively, take the London North Eastern Railway train from London King’s Cross to Doncaster. Change for the Crosscountry or Northern trainline from there. The total journey takes just over 2 hours.

Have you been to any of these British street art cities? Which ones are you keen to visit next?
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina

Liked this top 10 street art cities in the UK? Pin it for later!

37 Comments

  1. I love Manchester so much – it’s my favourite British city and I spent so much time there when I was younger. The Northern Quarter is such a special spot, and I love its ever changing street art. We went to Cardiff last year and I’m so gutted – we didn’t spot ANY street art. R isn’t as into it as I am, and I’d hate to drag him round the city on the lookout for it xD

    • I agree, Manchester is one of my favourite British cities too!! ^-^ Ah what a shame you didn’t get to see the street art in Cardiff. But perhaps you’ll get to visit one of the other great British street art cities in the near future. If it’s somewhere in London, you won’t have to go at much length to see street art either which would be good for R 😉

  2. There are so many amazing street murals in the UK. I love chasing street art, I have done it in Nepal, Thailand and India. I love to travel to places and explore its street arts.

  3. When we visited London last time, we stayed close to the London Bridge and Tower, so we had a food tour through Shoreditch and East London. There we saw many street murals and were really impressed!

    • Ah yes, Shoreditch really is the best place to see street art in London! Glad you got to enjoy the neighbourhood I give walking tours in that area as well highlighting the local (immigrant) history and street art 😉

  4. I’m very lucky to live in Bristol so I see a lot of the artwork! Banksy is such an enigma here, there’s been a lot of debate about who he actually is. His work is amazing, I have a copy of one of his paintings in my house.

    • Ah what a great city to live in! And amazing you have one of his paintings too! A friend of my husband was once housemates (or schoolmates, can’t remember) with Banksy but I feel awkward asking about it 😉

  5. I never would’ve guessed that cities in the UK have this much street art! Having not yet had the chance to visit the UK, I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I’m able to make my first trip! Leicester especially intrigues me, and the pictures you’ve got for it are stunning.

  6. Woah I wasn’t expecting to see Leicester on this kind of list! I’ll have to go back and visit next time i’m in the area.

    i love all of these, but Belfast is the one that draws me in most. I love the mix of modern street art intermingled with the deep history of the older political artwork.

  7. oohh love these Zarina! I’ve seen a few in Glasgow and Belfast during recent trips and found them incredibly fascinating. Another city which I loved for its murals was Lyon which has some of the most beautiful, and realistic wall art.

  8. Love this! I travel to London usually a couple times a year for work, and I really haven’t taken time to explore the street art scene! I have been missing out. I didn’t realize Banksy is from Bristol. So cool! It is also fun to hear how you’ve seen work from one artist all over the world! Are there any destinations you’ve visited specifically to see the work of an artist you follow?

    • Oh yes! I didn’t intend on visiting many cities on our two New Zealand trips, but after learning about the great amount of street art in Christchurch and Dunedin I made special stops there. However, we had already booked those trips so in a way it wasn’t that extreme perhaps. I do want to make a special trip to Penang, Malaysia, just for its street art though in future 🙂

  9. Street Art is a fascinating window to the culture of a place. The street art of UK is so vibrant and spectacular. Each of these cities seems to have its own hallmark.

  10. This is such an awesome list! I have not been to most of these cities. The street art in Sheffield looks awesome!

    • I really must check out more street art in the UK as I always do in other countries but not closer to home. I have been to Bristol a couple of times but don’t remember the street art so will have to have a better look for it next time! Shoreditch is an area of London I haven’t explored much of either, but need to as it looks so cool! This just makes me realise how much of the UK I still haven’t seen!

  11. Absolutely stunning. Until now, I had always though of South and Central America and the Caribbean when it comes to street art, but it seems the UK is up there with the other countries. Thank you for sharing.

    • Oh definitely, especially London considering its size and several outstanding street art hotspots! And so many street artists from all over the world come though London too, that’s where I got to know their art from most of the time actually. But on the other hand, I like your input here too as I didn’t know the Caribbean was good for street art too, so thanks for that tip as well 🙂

  12. Wow, you’ve included some amazing murals. I’d love to go back to the UK to see some of these, once I can travel internationally again. I have enjoyed the murals in Nashville TN and my hometown of Melbourne FL. Thanks for sharing some beautiful street art.

  13. Wow! I didn’t know there were so many amazing street murals in the UK! Sometimes I travel to places and do walking tours just for the street art!

    • Ah that’s so great you’ve already explored some UK street art cities during those walks! Which cities have been your favourites regarding street art?

  14. What a fantastic post! This is such a unique and interesting piece to write about – I had no idea there was so much street art! There are some really talented artists out there – great pics.

  15. Hi Zarina

    Lovely article. You should check out Liverpool (either look at my website or take a look at my video photo montage at Vimeo.com/itsabouttheart) and Birmingham, which are both excellent street art cities as well. There are also a number of smaller towns in the northwest that have incredible street art – Blackburn and Blackpool in particular.

    Ant

    • Thanks Ant. I’ve been to Liverpool and Birmingham before but it always rains when I’m in the first city (which stops me from exploring the streets more extensively) and that latter I’ve only visited very briefly and didn’t get the chance to see any street art. I will need to return to both of them 🙂 And I especially appreciate you suggesting Blackburn and Blackpool as I wasn’t aware of any street art there so thanks for all the suggestions 🙂

  16. OMG I love this! Such a unique guide. Definitely want to save this for future travels. Thanks!

  17. Excellent Write up having Visited Bristol Brighton Sheffield Shoreditch Birmingham Nottingham as I live in Leicester

    • Thanks Alan! That’s really nice to hear you liked my post 🙂 I’ve been to all the places you mention too, but I have to admit that my trips to Birmingham and Nottingham were quite a while ago and quite short so never really got to explore the artworks there. Hopefully one day soon!

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It