The pros and cons of the Street Art tour
Fascinating and authentic, alternative and local, extravagant and challenging – just a few of the recommendations with which street art tours promoted by various organizations. From a 'walking tour' to a 'bike tour', in combination with a 'coffee to go' or a real 'Street Food Experience', with a Segway or lazily viewing the art from a golf cart; the street art tour can no longer be ignored from the range of tourist attractions in the Netherlands and abroad.
It will not have escaped anyone's attention that street art has become an integral part of the cultural identities of cities worldwide. The art form, which has long since transcended the status of a trend, is now widely used for city marketing. For example, the street art murals can give new areas to be developed a creative impulse, make deprived areas more attractive and connect neighborhoods and residents. And the street art routes give the city a dynamic and contemporary open-air museum.
Whether you ride a Segway past the murals of the East side Gallery in Berlin or take part in a street art tour in Hawaii on a hoverboard, it is certain that every city has its own unique street art experience.
About the street art tours in all its forms will this one blog we will also highlight the street art initiatives in a number of cities. What kind of tours are offered in the Netherlands? Are the routes only found in the city or also in the provinces? What about the street art tours in the rest of Europe and beyond? And what role do these tours, as a cultural product of a creative city, have on its residents and the public outdoor space?
Street Art tours in the Netherlands
Numerous street art tours are offered in the Netherlands. Every relatively large city now has one or more tours, each with its own theme or character. To give you a good overview, you will find a breakdown per province below - and yes, every province is represented!
Looking for miniatures in Friesland
Every province in the Netherlands has its own specialties when it comes to street art tours. To begin with, the province of Friesland. In Leeuwarden, with a map in your pocket, you can look for the almost invisible miniatures by the local artist Michel Tilma. It Miniature people project counts at the time of writing 49 scenes at 38 different locations in the city. The route is attractive for young and old and was co-created with A guide to Leeuwarden. They also organize a 'Free Tour' in the spring and summer months, which takes the participant through various murals and other forms of street art tells more about the history of Leeuwarden.
A musical street art tour in Groningen
The province of Groningen offers a musical street art tour in collaboration with the Groninger museum. The multimedia walking and cycling tour takes you past street art and graffiti murals in the city and, in addition to background information about the artists, includes musical accompaniment selected by Thijs de Vlieger (Noisia) and Frank Post (Posij). You can the city walk start anytime and anywhere with your own phone and earphones. The speakers you will hear during the audio tour are: Aileen Middel (als graffiti artist known as Mick la Rock) and Rayvano Sabajo (rapper and spoken word artist). A bit more traditional in nature, the walking route has been put together by the ANWB. This eight-kilometre route past large and smaller murals is easy to follow via the Eropuit app.
Street art with information via QR codes in Flevoland
Flevoland has recently also gained a number of street art routes. The tour in Lelystad consists of six murals in the Stadshart and three in the Lelycentre and can be easily followed using the SMARTIFY: Museum & art guide app. By scanning the QR codes that have been placed next to the murals, you will learn a little more about the history of the city, the flora and fauna and the surrounding environment, in addition to information about the artwork and the maker himself. Almere is now also a number of walls – and therefore also a street art route – richer. The imposing works of Fanakapan, Hugo Kaagman and NEAN Kingdom can be found via the ANWB Eropuit app, just like in Groningen.
Graffiti art in the former zoo Emmen
In Drenthe you can have one on Saturday and Sunday street art walk books in the former Zoo in Emmen. Graffiti artists from the Netherlands and Belgium have completely transformed the old, gray elephant enclosure into a colorful whole. The more than 2500 square meters of sprayed surfaces in and around the accommodation make this location something special.
Street art via downloadable route booklet
In the province of Overijssel you can go to the site of Street Art Streets download a route booklet that shows you a number of special murals in Deventer.
With a city guide along murals and street poetry in Utrecht
During the 'Greetings from Utrecht' tour you will walk past a large number of murals in the city, but also past highlights from the Utrecht graffiti scene and other forms of street art such as poems, illegally placed figurines and street haiku. A local city guide will take you along the way street art in Utrecht and talks about the background of the works and about the artists. On the basis of the murals you will also learn more about the history of the city and the various neighborhoods of Utrecht. Know more about street art in Utrecht? Check out the related article 'Street art in the neighborhoods of Utrecht' for information about the various Utrecht neighborhoods and the murals to be discovered.
Graffiti murals & street art in North Holland
In North Holland, the larger cities offer various options. In Amsterdam, organizations such as SAMA (Street Art Museum Amsterdam), Alltournative or RUA (Reflexo on Urban Art) offer walking tours that highlight a particular area of the city. SAMA mainly focuses on outdoor art in Amsterdam West and, in addition to two online routes, also offers private walks for a fee. RUA focuses mainly on the huge painted walls of flats in Amsterdam Zuidoost and collaborates with alltournative which also offers a 'walking tour' on the NDSM wharf, or a 'bike tour' through other parts of the capital. In Amsterdam North, the NDSM wharf is a real hotspot for outdoor artists and street artists. Looking for the hidden gems yourself? Read more about the history of before you set off street art in amsterdam.
Street Art routes in South Holland
Local, national and international artists have contributed to the platform's street art tour in recent years The Hague Street Art. You can walk or cycle this free do-it-yourself tour (the extensive route map is online). He guides you through the Binckhorst arts district and the Segbroek district of The Hague, where almost forty large works of art in public space form a public gallery.
Rotterdam offers walking or cycling routes through various parts of the city via the Rewriters app. In this form, the routes can be experienced individually or in small groups, and the app is now completely free! If you want to book a tour for groups (minimum fifteen people) or with an educational purpose, you can choose from twelve routes that you walk together with a guide. Not finished yet street art in Rotterdam? In the blog 'Street art in Rotterdam, from the past to the present' we tell you some fun (and for most still unknown) facts.
And you can also find a free online in the South Holland city of Dordrecht street art track to download. For those who prefer not to go out with their phone in hand, a paper version of the route can be picked up at the VVV Dordrecht. More information about the street art tour in Dordrecht can be found on the website of In Dordrecht.
View Zeeland murals with the ANWB Eropuit app
In Zeeland you can open the ANWB Eropuit app again. This walking route takes you past Zeeland girls, cats and pigeons dozens of meters high, made by national and international artists.
Colorful silos and walls in Gelderland
In Gelderland, Arnhem Life also has a regular tour in addition to a regular tour Self-guided Street Art Quiz Tour composed, in which you compete against your friends, family or colleagues. If you are more into viewing art while enjoying a snack and a drink, the Street Art & High Beer Tour might be something for you - you get it, during this tour you will view the beautiful murals that Arnhem has, accompanied by a beer sommelier who also takes you to a number of breweries. Afterwards you can take a seat in a cozy location for a 'High Beer'. Various beers are reviewed and of course there are also various tasty snacks.
The fact that the street art tour is not limited to urban areas is proven by the Silo Art Tour in the back corner, where silos and sheds have been transformed into outdoor artworks. The tour has been specially developed to strengthen the cultural identity and quality of life of this region. The works of Zenkone, Dopie, TelmoMiel, Paul Wieggers and Smates, among others, can be found in Doetinchem, Bronkhorst-Hengelo, Lochem, Sinderen, Aalten and Winterswijk. Beautiful places that you may not come to as quickly as a Randstad resident, but that get an extra (tourist) impulse due to the artworks created.
DIY and guided tours in North Brabant
In recent years, the province of Brabant has clearly focused on street art in the street scene. In Eindhoven you can enjoy one three hour bike tour that takes you past hotspots such as the Berenkuil where the “Step in the Arena” festival is held annually, hip Strijp-S – a cultural breeding ground on the former industrial estate of the Philips group, Woensel-West – this former Philips working-class neighborhood has changed in a modern, colorful and hip neighborhood and you even visit a street art hotel.
Strangely enough, Den Bosch is not yet equipped with an official one street art tour while there is still plenty to see and tell. Think of the area around the Tramkade and the beautiful grain silos on the site of the former Verkade factory. Or the twenty-three containers in the public space, which have been decorated with street art at the initiative of the Kings of Color Foundation. What is not can still come, of course.
Tilburg, on the other hand, offers you a complete package with the Urban Street Art tour. You can follow this tour with a city scooter, bicycle or on foot. You can pick up the scooter or bicycle after reservation at the Mercure Hotel in the center of the city and on departure you will also receive a well-filled 'Borrel To Go' bag for the road. You can get a drink at various catering establishments on presentation of your route map.
You also come to Breda if street art lover to attract you. From April to October you can join the Blind Walls Gallery Tour every last Sunday of the month. The guide will then tell you all the ins and outs of the murals during an hour and a half walking tour. Would you rather visit the murals in Breda on another day? Then you can use the map on the website of Blind Walls Gallery also on the road. Please note, Breda has more than a hundred works and you will probably have to make choices.
City walks along the street art murals of Heerlen
In Limburg you cannot ignore Heerlen. Heerlen, the city that literally got a face because of its many street art murals, in addition to a number of guided city walks, also has a DIY tour using the ENNE guide and an online tour. With a few taps on your screen you can walk through different rooms (possibly with VR glasses) of the Gallery Encore, where murals are presented with a good dose of street cred. Also check out our previously written article 'The murals of Heerlen as a large open-air museum' for more information about street art in Heerlen.
Selling 'Streetness' as an experience in an 'Urban destination'
As you have read above, the street art tour ubiquitous in the Netherlands. Street art in the form of murals has gained a significant level of institutional approval and is eagerly employed by local private developers, city councils, galleries and other cultural institutions for a variety of reasons. Would the street art tour also have helped to legitimize and construct this art form?
There is no doubt that the walking tours influence the urban character of a city. Take as an example the street art route with the theme: 'Off the beaten track'. This tour takes you to places you would normally not go so quickly. These are neighborhoods with their own character. These can be places where mainly the local population enjoys themselves or a neighborhood that has been designated by the municipality to make it more attractive and safer. In the favorable case, such a neighborhood will improve; in the worse case, these neighborhoods (where no 'tour tourists' used to stay) also lose a bit of their authenticity.
Street art as city marketing?
Where are the limits when it comes to deploying street art as city marketing? The app construction is perhaps the best, because least burdensome, solution. Art lovers have a route and decide for themselves which works they want to see, how long they walk around in a neighborhood and who they go out with. The digital guide can be switched on or off as desired and it does not result in large groups of tourists standing ready with their telephones to take a snapshot. This is the best case scenario. The most unfavorable scenario results in hordes of tourists in small streets where the locals have to draw the curtains to prevent prying eyes.
Fortunately, things are not that far in the Netherlands (yet), unlike Shoreditch, for example. This neighborhood in 'London's East End' was known as a deprived area – full of empty warehouses, factories and workers' homes. If you had no business there you walked around it with a wide berth. Now Shoreditch is completely devoted to Street Art tourism. Every hour, different tours depart from various street corners, taking hordes of tourists in tow. And this is where it really starts to wring a bit.
As a citizen of the world and as art lover would you rather not trudge through a city like a stereotypical tourist. In order not to inconvenience the locals too much, you should at least be a bit 'streetwise' and move through the city like a normal city user. In addition, this tour experience actually deprives you of the opportunity to individually discover what the street has to offer as a museum. In London is after a year research additionally established that the tours not only go to where the street art is, but also the other way around; the street art also goes where the tours are.
Mass tourism vs. 'artist guided' tours by locals
Perhaps the so-called 'Artist Guide' as in Paris offers the solution. This tour offers an alternative view of all the must-see works of art in the Louvre Museum. During your museum visit, a specialized guide will tell the story behind the original works of art from the permanent collection and show you (digital) street artworks inspired by them. These are iconic contemporary examples from all over the world, each of which has its own story.
For those who prefer to really hit the streets for the murals to view there is a nice offer from the organizers of Street Art tour Paris. These dedicated artists and guides are also the creators of the original concept in the Louvre. They are part of the local artist community and are happy to share their knowledge and insights of the Parisian art scene. The tours are given in the artistic district of Belleville or let you discover Vitry-sur-Seine - street art capital of France.
If you prefer to see the XXL murals of the 13th arrondissement by Segway or want to know how the street art was created in Montmartre, that is of course also a possibility, plenty of choices in the city of love. You can even book a tour along the special works along the Canal de l'Ourcq.
Street art tours in Belgium, Germany and other European countries
If you want to follow a street art tour in Belgium, you can indulge yourself in various cities such as Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Brussels and Ostend. Antwerp combines street art with street food. During the walk you will discover the different aspects of street art, from small hidden pieces that you can easily walk past, to the great masterpieces of international artists. You stop twice on the way for an exotic snack and end up on a nice terrace where you can have a drink. For example, take a look at thestreet art street food tour'.
In Ghent, the very extensive offer of the Concrete Canvas tour is highly recommended. You can walk this tour independently or with a guide. In Brussels, a street art tour is available for comic book enthusiasts. For a small fee you can buy a paper map at the local tourist office on which paintings of Belgian and international comic book heroes are marked. Hasselt, not far from the Dutch border, has several DIY routes. And in Ostend you can use the very extensive map of The Crystal Ship App visit more than 70 street art works of art.
Urban Straßenkunst in Germany
Of all European capitals, Berlin seems to be the city with the most street art tours. That is not surprising, if you know a little about the urban art history of this city. In Berlin, street art started on the Berlin Wall. The division between East and West quickly became a place for artists to express their ideas and frustrations. The wall became an outlet. Along part of this wall is now the East Side Gallery, the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing. This large open-air gallery has a length of 1,3 km and houses 118 works by artists of no less than 22 different nationalities. Check out some street art itineraries in Berlin.
One of the most iconic pieces to be found there is the "Kiss of Friendship" between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker. Today, the sense of artistic honesty still prevails in the city. Hard messages and striking images populate almost every street corner. Whether walking with a local guide, by bike or by Segway, you will experience a special urban experience. In addition to the somewhat obvious East Side Gallery, 'Alternative Berlin' focuses in terms of art tour especially on the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg districts. As you make your way through the city, look out for iconic tags and throw-ups from Berlin's biggest street art crew; 1UP.
Modern street art in Imperial Vienna
A good competitor of Berlin is Vienna. By the many street art murals in very diverse districts you learn to appreciate the imperial city in a different way. Whether it's a tour of the many city canvasses on both sides of the Danube Canal or in one of the interesting suburbs, Vienna is certainly not behind when it comes to urban art and murals. Big names in the scene like ROA, Blu, Stink Fish and Shepard Fairey have long since discovered the city. In addition, the rapidly growing local Viennese street art scene is perhaps making an even bigger mark on the city, with names such as Nycos, Frau Isa, Friend, Deadbeat Hero and Skirl. The street art murals in Vienna can be discovered through a private walking tour.
København street art district
Those interested in one street art tour in copenhagen can choose from several options. In the Nørrebro district with the Bolsjefabrikken you will find yourself in the largest open-air graffiti museum that Copenhagen has to offer at the moment. It is a non-commercial area, where many non-profit organizations and cultural associations live behind the graffiti walls. In addition, tours in the Vesterbro districts and the free state of Christiania are also possible.
Tours outside Europe – New York, Miami, Hawaii and Canada
In New York there are several organizations that have committed to giving certain parts of the city a colorful boost; the 'Bushwick Collective' in Brooklyn and 'The LISA Project' in Manhattan. Bushwick has long been a neighborhood with major social problems and today is clearly a lot rougher than the rest of New York. What started as a small-scale project to revitalize the neighborhood has developed into the 'Bushwick Collective' with annual block parties. Such parties (the birthplace of hip hop in the 70s) are literally celebrated on the street and are intended to bring the residents of a neighborhood or 'block' together.
The Bushwick neighborhood has gradually transformed into one open air museum that everyone can enjoy. Legendary names in the street art world such as Blek le Rat, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton as well as famous local artists such as Sara Erenthal, whose work can be seen all over the city, have committed themselves to this organization and visitors from all over the world all over the world are more than welcome. The free-to-pay-what-you-want tour departs daily from the Northeast corner of Wyckoff Avenue & Starr Street.
The Little Italy Street Art Project in NYC
'The LISA Project NYC' (Little Italy Street Art Project) focuses mainly on the walls of 'Lower Manhattan'. The large cast-iron buildings in SoHo, the barracks of the Lower East Side, the bustling streets of Chinatown and the cozy streets of Little Italy serve as the canvas for the meter-high paintings of the LISA Street art tour. You will be surprised how beautiful the graffiti art can be combined with these buildings.
The Coney Island Walls tour
A very special experience is the Coney Island Walls tour. Street art is literally combined with entertainment on this tour. The Coney Island amusement park in the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name has been known for its attractions since 1903. Over time, the lunapark has grown into a true entertainment center full of spectacular attractions and now also features street art. The project, which started in 2015, now has 68 large murals. These are located between the attractions of the amusement park.
Coney Art Walls has brought together some of the best artists to give visitors a art experience to offer in addition to the 'rides' you expect in an amusement park. You have to imagine on this tour that you are enjoying a ride on the rollercoaster one moment and the big one the next murals of this large outdoor museum. From 'New York's finest' such as Lee Quiñones, who stood at the basis of the 'Wild Style', to the Gypsy with Stallions by Miss Van from France – the street art lover will certainly get his money's worth here.
The Wynwood project in Miami
In Miami you have the opportunity to view street art from a golf cart. Driving around with a guide, this experience may be a bit like the experience (as described above) in the amusement park. It will certainly be busy – the Wynwood district, where you can book this tour, has actually been completely taken over by Street Art tourism, just like London's Shoreditch district. The early years of the Wynwood project were really focused on the art itself. Wide streets full of warehouses, breweries and factories with large empty wall surfaces were ideal for the large murals. The founder of the Wynwood Walls project had it right when he set out in 2009 to breathe new life into this forgotten part of Miami through art. In recent years, Wynwood has been overrun by crowds of people wandering the open-air museum streets. Be warned: taking a picture of the artworks without people on them will be tricky!
Montreal's walks on the wild side tour
The Walks on the Wild Side tour in Montreal focuses mainly on the alleys and streets of 'The Plateau', this eastern Canadian city neighborhood with the highest concentration of street art. Many of the less obvious places in the city, the alleys, doorways and abandoned town lots, for example, hide the most beautiful treasures. A street art tour is definitely worth it, because the work of talented Street artists like MissMe, Chris Dyer, Stikki Peaches, Futur Lasor Now, 52hz, Stela+ and Philippe Mastrocola is not always easy to find.
The immense murals of Hawaii
Finally Hawaii. Hawaii is probably not the first place you think of when it comes to a street art tour, but 'the place to be' for lovers of this art form. Since the launch of the POW! WOW! festival, which was first held in 2011 in Honolulu's Kaka'ako District, the street art tour is rightly a 'must do' according to various platforms. Hawaii has a total of 387 murals of which 347 are located in Honolulu. It is probably not the most obvious city trip, but if you go that way, the Hoverboard tour in Honolulu is recommended. You float with a select group (maximum 6 participants) on your self-balancing hoverboard along the immense murals.
Summary and conclusion
Whether you take a Segway along the graffiti murals from the East side Gallery in Berlin or take part in a street art/food tour in Antwerp on foot, it is certain that every city has its own special street art culture. In Montreal, the best works are graffiti-driven and a bit more hidden. Vienna celebrates many homegrown artists. The murals in Rotterdam, but also those in New York and Amsterdam are looking for connection and the range of murals in Miami and Honolulu is now so extensive that you almost have to go there with a golf cart or hoverboard.
Coming back to the question of whether the street art tour ultimately contributed to legitimizing and constructing this art form. The answer to this is yes – often when developing street art a neighborhood or municipality works with a certain theme and with a tour to be set up in mind. Sometimes residents from the neighborhood have a say or a multi-day street art festival takes place with a specific theme. It depends on the organization how free the artists are in their performance. Does this 'restriction' fit with the character of outdoor art, which originally cannot be defined by rules and fixed frameworks? In our view, the answer to that is; Yes and no.
Street art has now become institutionalized. Many artists started on the street and gradually developed into real 'muralists'. These self-taught artists, each with their own carefully developed style and working method, often started in the classic graffiti scene and then grew along with it. With their murals, they are at the basis of this young, eye-catching art form, which tour operators eagerly respond to and which a rapidly growing audience enjoys.
Want to know more about the street art tours?
Do you have any questions after reading this article or do you want to know more about the street art tours? Please feel free to contact one of our specialists. We wish you a lot of fun discovering the colorful murals, surprising outdoor art and 3D illusions. Don't forget to bring your camera for a nice #streetartselfie and don't miss out on this one blog another tour that you think should definitely be mentioned? Let us know!