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Art is a given for almost every traveller visiting Europe.  Bursting with renowned museums and iconic masterpieces, mentioning the continent’s art scene conjures images of reverently wandering gallery halls.  Well the works of the masters are certainly not to be missed, opportunities for a far more irreverent artistic experiences abound throughout Europe.  Make the world your museum by exploring the vibrant street art scenes of these European cities.

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Bristol, UK

For the last decade or so, Bristol has been synonymous with street art.  One of Banksy’s playgrounds, the city has served as a canvas for many of is most famous works, including his famous Naked Man piece on Park Street.  Bansky is only the beginning in Bristol, however.  The attention to his work has inspired an appreciation of street art in Bristol, and the walls are full of interesting pieces.  The UpFest, an annual street art festival, brings new work to the city’s street art landscape every year.

In the evenings, wind down from your street art explorations by enjoying some of Bristol’s fascinating underground music scene, or grabbing a pint of cider in one of the many pubs populating this university town’s excellent nightlife scene.

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Berlin, Germany

A creative spirit permeates Berlin, imbuing the city with an ingenuity that pours onto its walls.  Start with the moving, government-sponsored East Side Gallery, featuring pieces by a variety of artists commemorating this pivotal piece of Berlin history and the spirit of reunification and rebuilding that followed.  The neighborhood of Kreuzberg is a street art museum in itself, boasting four-story-tall political murals by Italian artist Blu, a mural installation by French artist JR, and Victor Ash’s looming astronaut, considered to be the largest stencil drawing in the world.  And that’s all just for starters.

While you’re in Berlin, spend some time soaking up the mix of poignant history and delightfully weird rebuilding.  Absorb the heartbreakingly beautiful Holocaust memorial, and then cheer up with a bizarre foray into some of the cities enticing abandoned buildings.  In the evenings, explore the city’s eclectic nightlife.

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Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is best known in street art circles as the home city of ROA, whose trademark massive animal images grace walls world over.  You’ll also find figures by Ecce diving into the city’s waterways, Blisser’s beautiful strange characters peering from brick walls, and much more.  There’s also the ever-changing Werregarenstraat, or graffiti alley.  The entire road is dedicated to street art, and is one of the few places in Ghent where it is completely legal.  For a guide to the city’s urban delights, join a Street Art Belgium Tour, or download one from their website.

When its time for a break, get off your feet and enjoying a peak into Ghent’s history with a cruise through the canals.  Tours are fun and affordable, at 5€ for a 40 minute float amongst the city’s highlights.

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