Berlin has a long history as a vibrant hub for freedom of expression, from landmark art museums showcasing the German contribution to modern art to the era-defining street art etched by anti-government protestors in the 1960s.
Berlin is still a city that attracts artists from all over the world. No matter where you walk in Berlin, you'll see the impact of art everywhere in this once-divided, now boldly progressive city.
Berlin's street art tells the story of the city in vivid color, from playful murals designed to spark imagination to powerful political pieces tackling pressing social issues. Here’s our guide to the top places to admire Berlin’s street art.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is not only one of the best places to see street art in Berlin, it's also one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The "canvas" for this 1.3km (one mile) open-air art gallery on the east bank of the Spree River is the longest-surviving section of the Berlin Wall.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the winter of 1989, 118 artists from 21 different countries traveled to East Berlin to paint colorful murals depicting the wave of political change sweeping across the world.
Unfortunately, many of the original works have been lost over time, but replicas have been put up in their place. Preservation efforts are in place to protect the handful of original pieces that have survived the three decades since reunification.
From the rounded, colorful cartoon heads daubed by artist, Thierry Noir, to political pieces celebrating the reunification of Germany, these works of art capture the spirit of what it means to be a Berliner.
Essential Experience: Admiring the iconic “Fraternal Kiss”
More widely known as the “Fraternal Kiss,” Dmitri Vrubel's My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love is probably Berlin’s most iconic piece of street art. This powerful statement portrays socialist politicians Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing – a real-life scene from the 30th anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic in 1979.
Right in the heart of Berlin’s busiest nightlife area and not far from the East Side Gallery, the RAW Compound has it all. Set in the derelict buildings of a former train repair depot, RAW is the perfect stop for a quick bite to eat in the middle of the day and is home to some of Berlin’s hippest clubs once the sun goes down. It's also the setting for a busy flea market at weekends.
What many visitors miss amongst the plethora of activities is the fascinating collection of street art on display in this former industrial wasteland. From easy-to-miss miniature sculptures hidden on corners to majestic murals decorating the entrances to dance clubs, the RAW compound is a lively hub for all sorts of counterculture creativity.
This is the kind of place to simply wander around with your camera, searching for artworks on the facades of each building; bring a wide-angle lens to capture larger works.
Essential Experience: Taking a street art walking tour
Every piece of art in the RAW Compound has a history, and there’s no better way to learn the back story of this creative complex than to take a walk with the experts. Whether you book a private guided tour or tag along on a free walking tour, be ready to spend a few hours at the RAW compound discussing and learning about the impact of street art on the city.
From the Pergamon to the Bode, Berlin's best museums tell the story of Germany's history
Formerly considered a no-go zone after dark, the Bülowstrasse was a hotbed of prostitution and drug dealing in the 2000s. That was then – today, the street is the perfect example of how street art has been used to gentrify and revitalize formerly run-down districts in Berlin.
The modern Bülowstrasse is colorful, full of life and adorned with modern art. From political statements to decorative pieces conjured from the imagination of the artists, there are eye-catching works of art to discover all the way along the street.
Travelers strolling along the Bülowstrasse will find two gigantic murals from world-renowned artist Shepard Fairey and the brilliant Urban Nation Museum, Germany's first museum dedicated to street art.
Essential Experience: Diving into urban art at the Urban Nation Museum
An indoor museum for street art? What sounds like a contradiction in terms is actually a wonderful celebration of the art form. The Urban Nation Museum in the Schöneberg district opened its doors in 2017, showcasing the best of Berlin street art, and it quickly became one of the best museums in the city.
From graffiti, murals and canvas paintings to sculptures and art installations, Urban Nation exists to promote all types of street art. You can admire the works of top international street artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Martin Whatson, as well as Berliner graffiti artists such as the 1UP crew.
Initially intended to be a Nazi-era military-technical college, Teufelsberg was turned into a National Security Service (NSA) listening station during the Cold War, before being abandoned for over a decade. Street artists soon took over the buildings as a new urban canvas.
In 2012, the space was selected as the venue for the Berlin Artbase event, and professional and semi-professional artists were invited to create on the concrete walls. The event was canceled when the city government refused to issue a permit, but it planted the seeds of Teufelsberg's creative future.
Teufelsberg has become one of Berlin’s most colorful and beautiful open-air street art galleries, attracting hundreds of tourists during the summer months. Located outside the city center on top of a hill, it’s the perfect destination for a day trip combining hiking and art appreciation.
Essential Experience: Climbing the dome at Teufelsberg
Ascend the pitch-black stairwell in the center of the ruined complex at Tesfelsberg and you'll come face-to-face with a massive painting of a man stretching out his arms, covering almost the entire inside of the dome once used to monitor Soviet communications.
It's one of the oddest pieces of art in the whole complex, with eerie religious overtones. While it can seem ominous at first, the longer you stay inside, the more appealing it becomes.
The 8 best day trips from Berlin
While the whole district of Kreuzberg is studded with street art – including some of Berlin’s most beautiful pieces – Mehringdamm is the hidden gem. To get there, walk from the Hallesches Tor U-Bahn station to Checkpoint Charlie. There you'll stop in your tracks at the sight of stenciled political messages, community artworks and complex and creative murals making powerful statements.
Untitled by Spanish creative duo PichiAvo and Make Art, Not War by the influential Shephard Fairey are two of the most emblematic pieces in this area, but there are many more standout works here, including the captivating Elephant Playing With a World Balloon by Jadore Tong (aka S.Y.R.U.S).
Essential Experience: Appreciating the artistry of Elephant Playing With a World Balloon
The premise of this stunning mural is simple; flanking a tarmac basketball court, a huge elephant adorned with colorful rosettes holds a balloon in the shape of the earth in its trunk. This gigantic and intricately designed piece, located at Wilhelmstraße 7 in Berlin Mitte, is considered by many to be the most outstanding street mural in Berlin. But don’t take our word for it – visit and stand in awe by its grandeur.
Getting around Berlin
Berlin’s best neighborhoods
Top 20 free things to do in Berlin