As you walk around, one of the first things you’ll notice is that London has a lot of street art – especially in certain areas of the city. Find yourself in Whitechapel, Shoreditch, or Camden, and you’ll be astonished at the incredible artwork literally all around you. Most interesting for those not familiar with street art, there are actual masterpieces of the craft on public display and exposed to the elements – and the risk of being covered up by future works.
Luckily, there are some folks in London who are experts in this form of art, and willing to serve as docents in the open-air “museums” (streets and alleys) where street art is on display. In this post, I’ll cover the best street art tours in London, so you can choose one or two (perhaps in different parts of the city) to learn more about this aspect of culture in the city.
Personally I love street art and love learning more about it, and these street art tours give you the chance to do the same. Some even offer a chance to try your hand at making street art – and all offer awesome Instagram photo opportunities at some of the most colorful places in London. Strap on your walking shoes, open your mind, and explore London through the best street art tours available.
Alternative London Street Art Walking Tour
Alternative London Tours is a well-established company that first curated tours to explore the East End, London’s cultural and creative hub. Their portfolio offers four London street art tours. If you’re all about history, you can choose from their knowledge-focused tours, where guides will take you to explore London’s huge array of artworks as you learn about the history and evolution of this art form and its place in the community.
Those with a more artistic side can enjoy their Street Art Tour & Workshop alternative. You’ll first explore the East End and get an up-and-close view of London’s incredible street art scene. Then you will go to their purpose-built street art workshop studio to learn the basics of making street art. Local artists will teach you and guide you through the Stencil making process and the different techniques to create your design. Then, you’ll learn spray-can techniques to create your very own stencil masterpiece.
By far, the highlight of their tours is that your tour guides are local street artists and experts. So you know you’ll leave with insightful and first-hand experience of this unique world.
Camden Street Art Tours
Camden has a long history of street art, dating back to the 1980s when the urban form of expression began gaining popularity in the UK. Camden Street Art Tours offers experiences that focus on Camden’s incredible murals and art-filled alleys.
Their tours last two hours and cover over 100 pieces of street art and graffiti. Your tour guide, Nelly, knows her stuff pretty well, so you’ll walk away with tons of fascinating facts about the street art world. She will share all about street art rules, codes, the artists, and the meaning behind their works, plus cool stories only locals know. While their tour focuses solely on the historic part of street art, you can also combine it with their graffiti workshops should you want a hands-on experience.
Camden Street Art Tours are perfect for people with tight schedules or for travelers who prefer intimate experiences. The company is flexible and open to accommodating a tour that fits your itinerary. They also organize private tours if you’re traveling with a big group or would like to book the experience for your family only.
Free Street Art & Graffiti Tour (Strawberry Tours)
Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t partake in amazing tours. To no surprise, Strawberry Tours runs its own street art tours. True to its philosophy, the company offers the Free Street Art & Graffiti Tour, a comprehensive two-hour experience accessible to all pockets. The tour takes you through London’s thriving urban art and graffiti scene and all the controversies it has awakened since it became popular in the 80s.
Strawberry tour guides are young volunteers with a deep love and fascination for street art. They’re highly charismatic and share their tastes in street art and their honest views on why it is a crucial form of expression in the city. Their tour covers numerous pieces, including Banksy, Zabou, Roa, and Jim Vision. You’ll also walk through Shoreditch’s iconic Brick Lane.
Volunteers run these London street art tours every Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday on a pay-as-you-wish basis.
London Graffiti and Street Art Tour (Free Tours by Foot)
Free Tours by Foot also takes you to explore East London and its eclectic street art. The London Graffiti and Street Art Tour focuses on five areas: Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, The Old Jewish Quarter, Shoreditch, and Brick Lane. You’ll see iconic sights by world-famous artists throughout the tour.
This tour is unique because the guides take you to locations you would probably overlook, like parking lots or alleys. You’ll also see various pieces that demonstrate the diverse range of street art styles and hear some fascinating stories behind each work. Since the tour guides are fans of street artists themselves, you’ll be able to pick up some street art lingo.
While the tour focuses on London’s street art scene, the guides share historic bites on what made the East End the multicolor and creative nook it is today. You’ll learn a bit about the immigrants that made the East End their home and how this eclectic community evolved from Victorian slums to a trendy district.
Shoreditch Street Art Tour
Dave runs the Shoreditch Street Art Tour, one of – if not the – best street art tours in London, with a 4.9-star rating on Google reviews. Dave is one of the most knowledgeable tour guides on street art in London – some reviewers calling him “an absolute professor of street art & graffiti.” He is entrenched in London’s street art culture and points out themes, artists, techniques, and details that you would otherwise miss.
You’ll also learn the political motivations behind some art pieces – in case you didn’t know, street art has been a potent political tool in London and globally. Moreover, Dave not only knows the ins and outs of London’s street art, but he’s also well-versed in the global street art scene sharing the latest updates on international artists and their works.
Since his tour is highly comprehensive, I think it’s an excellent introduction to the international community of street artists working in Shoreditch at the moment. His tours run from 10am to 12:30pm; however, make sure you check out his website for updated information.
Street Art London Tours
Street Art London runs the widest of street art tours in London. Currently, they have three offers. Their principal tour explores Shoreditch, which houses some of London’s biggest street art murals. They run these tours on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 10 am.
They also have two other alternatives for travelers who want to explore less popular (but equally fantastic) areas where street art flourishes in every corner: Hackney Wick and Dulwich tours. In recent years, Hackney Wick has witnessed the emergence of a thriving street art community.
The tour walks you through the works of Ben Eine, Paul Insect, Broken Fingaz Crew, Faith 47, Sweet Toof, and Paul Insect, who have painted murals on the derelict industrial buildings. Their Dulwich tour explores the artwork that the Dulwich Street Art Festival left in 2013. You’ll see the murals of some of the world’s greatest street artists, including Phlegm, ROA, Conor Harrington, MadC, REKA, RUN, and Pablo Delgado. Even if you don’t know these names, you’ll still be astonished by their work.
If you ask me, I believe their Shoreditch tour is perfect for first-timers or travelers with little knowledge about street art. In contrast, Hackney Wick and Dulwich tours suit visitors familiar with the most popular street art in London.
Unexpected London Street Art Tour
Savio is in charge of taking you to the most artistic corners of London in this Unexpected London Street Art Tour. He is famous for running tours in a small group format that focuses on a particular area or subject (in this case, street art and music) while still covering London, architecture, and general history.
The experience lasts three hours, with Savio taking you through different neighborhoods where street art covers alleys, windows, and walls. Besides explaining the different methods and social messages behind art pieces, he provides you with a historical perspective of the city, making you appreciate the story behind street art.
Savio also plays excellent music from his backpack while walking and includes short stops at locally-known coffee shops and buildings along the way. Oh, be ready to sample the most delicious gourmet chocolate at a fabulous Ghanian chocolate shop on this tour.
Have any questions about these street art tours in London – or have you done a different one that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments, or join the conversation in my London Travel Tips Facebook community.