When I first came to London, I was keen to sniff out every nook and cranny of it. The afternoon teas in sky scrapers, the bizarre bingo nights, the pints of Butterbeer with Harry Potter… I used to sign up to all of it. Then as the years have gone by, I’ve been more complacent with London and all its glory.

Which simply isn’t good enough. We live in the greatest city on the planet right? Why I am not trawling the streets and sniffing up all its juicy goodness? Now’s the time to embrace it. Which is why, I’m going back to basics to hunt down some of the best graffiti in London. From Banksy to Invader, London’s streets are home to some of the most well-known street artists in the world.

Hackney

1. Alternative London Bike Tour

Forget tours by foot, the only way you’re going to see as much street art as possible is by bike. The Alternative London Bike Tour delves deep into the East End’s graffiti history. They’ll point out all the famous people you might know (like Stik), and point out the new ones that have popped up over night. You get to pootle along the canals and venture off the beaten track down dark alley ways (don’t worry, it’s all totally safe) to places you don’t have to reach on foot. With the wind in your hair and your bum on a stylish Pendleton Bike soak up London’s very own street gallery.

Where: 19 Hessel Street, Shoreditch, E1 2LR
Website: www.alternativeldn.co.uk

 

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2. Alternative London Street Art Tour and Workshop

Okay, so now you’ve seen how it’s done by the professionals why not have a go at it yourself? Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, pick up a spray can and a stencil and watch the magic unfold. After a walking tour, where you learn about the history of the art form and pick up a few tips, you then head into a purpose-built graffiti workshop studio where you’ll have a crack at it yourself. Master single or multi-layer stencilling techniques and get some spray can action. You can even paint your own canvas or canvas bag to take away with you.

Where: 19 Hessel Street, Shoreditch, E1 2LR
Website: www.alternativeldn.co.uk

3. Brixton Free Tours By Foot

Brixton’s bustling markets, painted walls and diverse history, make for a thrilling two-hour walking tour. Lay your eyes on one of the most recognisable street art pieces in London – an homage to David Bowie. Not only do you get to look at some of the cool graffiti creations, you also get to sample some culinary delights in Brixton hailing from the Caribbean, South America and Portugal, as well a titbits of organic chocolate, locally crafted beer, and possibly London’s best pizza. You’ll even have the chance to step into the Graffiti hall of fame.

Where: Stockwell Underground Station
Website: www.freetoursbyfoot.com

 

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You also get to sample titbits of organic chocolate, locally crafted beer, and possibly London's best pizza.

Dalston

4. The Line

Meanwhile, The Line has set itself up as London’s first dedicated public art walk. The outdoor exhibition allows everyone to explore street art for free. The route runs between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, following the waterways and the line of the Greenwich Meridian and showcases some of the best international artists from Anthony Gormley to Anish Kapoor. There’s an online guide to help you navigate and you’ll uncover some really wild and whacky pieces, like a sculpture made of shopping trolleys. Unless they just got dumped on the side of the road and people are calling it art….

Where: Greenwich
Website: www.the-line.org

Abigail Fallis, DNA DL90, 2003
Alex Chinneck, A Bullet from a Shooting Star, 2015

5. Strawberry Tours Free Street Art & Graffiti Tour

Back to Shoreditch for another walking tour. This time you’ll be navigating the mean streets of the east with an expert. From Brick Lane to Fashion Street to Bateman’s Row to Spitalfields, everywhere you turn there’s some kind of fascinating work that’ll catch you off guard. The team of guides will also teach you about the history behind graffiti, telling the stories of the most well-known artists like Banksy and El Mac, Stik, Space Invader, Jimmy C, Dscreet and Phlegm.

When: Friday to Sunday
Where: Shoreditch High Street Overground Station
Website: www.strawberrytours.com

6. Street Art Photography Workshops

If you’ve tried walking, cycling and having a go at street art, the next thing on your list should be taking pictures of it. The bespoke Shoreditch Street Art Photography Workshops teach you the fine art of taking photos of graffiti. Think it sounds simple? Think again. There’s more to this than just pointing a camera in the general direction of the wall.  All secrets will be revealed in the classes – no matter what your level of skill – in a quick ‘how to’ slideshow with a cup of coffee. Then you’ll be guided round the streets to get some great shots.

When: Saturdays
Website: www.shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk

7. Camden Open Air Gallery

Over lockdown Camden was turned into an open gallery for street art, with artists taking up spray cans and decorating every shop front, wall and pavement they could get their hands on. Want to find out where the action is? The community art gives artists the chance to showcase their art on whatever they can get their hands on. Check out the website to find out where you can see the artists and you can also get involved with the project through a crowd funding project. 

Website: www.camdenopenairgallery.com

 

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Banksy in Mayfair
Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Stik Graffiti in Shoreditch

8. Do your own tour

Finally, if you want to cover both Camden and Brixton and Shoreditch and all the bit in-between, the best way to do that is to start your own tour. You can find lots of handy guides online (maybe start with this one from blogger Julianna Barnaby…). Don’t forget to include the Leake Street graffiti tunnel, a wander down Brick Lane (maybe even stop off for a curry) and into Shoreditch (take another pitstop at Turman’s Brewery for a beer). Ah, London, it’s great to have you back.


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