Museums can be fun…for some people. But if you’re stifling a yawn at the mere mention of one or don’t know how to pronounce “The Louvre,” then don’t force yourselves to wait on seemingly unending line only to be shuffled inside a stuffy building for hours on end. Especially don’t do this on your honeymoon. That said, there’s no rule that says if you hate museums then you can’t enjoy any art. Seriously: Just check out the world of street art.
People have been making their unique mark on walls for centuries, be it through paint, sculptures, even explosions, and they have a lot of interesting—some would argue brilliant—things to say. Plus, exploring these urban outdoor spaces is a genius way to familiarize yourself with a city before really diving into the food and activities that it has to offer. And since street art is often intertwined with the culture and history of a place, you’ll learn a hell of a lot more than anyone posting up shop at the resort for a week. So if you’re on the hunt for metropolitan masterpieces, consider a visit to these cities worthy of that sacred honeymoon time. No indoor voices required.
Havana, CubaHavana, Cuba
A trip to Cuba’s capital can feel like taking a step back in time, what with its abundance of cars from the 1950s, the old architecture, and a lack of easily accessible internet. But their street art scene is anything but dated. Centro Habana, Old Havana, and Vedado have the biggest abundance of graffiti, and Callejón de Hamel—a narrow street tucked away in the Centro Habana district—is covered with colorful mosaic murals and sculptures crafted from old materials like, err, bathtubs. Salvador Gonzáles Escalona started transforming this two-block alley outside his apartment in 1990 and describes it as an Afro-Cuban style that blends surrealism, cubism, and abstract art all into one. (It’s also one of the most prominent styles of street art in the city.) Sundays are a popular day for tourists to visit, thanks to the afternoon rumba sessions, or you could make it a stop during a Ruta Bike Tour of the city.
New York, NYNew York City, NY, USA
Recognized as the birthplace of modern graffiti, the city that never sleeps is one of the best U.S.-based destinations for art addicts. There’s a healthy mix of commissioned and random works to discover, and each borough has its own distinct vibe. In Brooklyn, stop by Bushwick—there you’ll find the Bushwick Collective, not to mention Buff Monster’s comical characters and signature pops of bright pink. Bowery is home to the famous Bowery Mural wall and Banksy’s latest work. And in Queens, the Top to Bottom mural showcases projects from over 60 artists in 14 countries. Oh, and since you’ll probably stop by One World Trade Center anyway, don’t rush through the lobby—it houses a 90-foot mural from artist José Parlá that’ll make you wonder why you quit art class after sixth grade.
Willemstadt, CuraçaoWillemstad, Curaçao
If running isn’t exactly your thing, don’t sweat it—seriously. Opt for a tuk-tuk tour through One Curaçao in this UNESCO World Heritage site instead. Riding around in the doorless taxi means that glorious Caribbean breeze will keep rising temps and humidity tolerable, and your tour guide will stop at all the art-filled hot spots throughout the city on both the Punda and Otrobanda side. If you’re short on time, the Scharloo Abou neighborhood is where you’ll find the most photo-ops, including this Instagram-worthy design on the side of an office building. (Go on, be the Insta-husband she needs.)
Paris, FranceParis, France
Food and fashion isn’t the only great thing the French have to offer—their street art is on point, too. The city of light started upping its game around the ‘80s, when Blek le Rat, one of the most influential pioneers of street art, started painting black rats on street walls. Now, you can find interesting graphics all over. To see hundreds of murals at once, go to the Canal de l’Ourcq in the 19th arrondissement—the area has a hefty mix of work by both pros and amateurs (so you may discover someone new), and you can picnic on the water’s edge or venture through the Parc de la Villette, home to various events and festivals all summer. Other Paris art recs: the 13th arrondissement, Ménilmontant, and Place Igor-Stravinsky. Consider the bike ride to each spot an easy way to ride off those glorious croissants.
Berlin, GermanyBerlin, Germany
During the Cold War, the west side of the Berlin Wall was a symbolic target for politically-motivated art (the east side was clean; residents couldn’t get close enough to tag anything). Since then, the city as a whole has become a must-visit destination for prominent street artists, and it’s ironically known as “the most bombed city in the world” for the overload of spray paint found throughout the city.
But paint isn’t the only medium you’ll find. Artist Jan Vormano is known for creating vibrant art using Legos (and reminding you of your own genius ideas with the toy), while various female artists have helped bring guerrilla knitting, or yarn bombing, to the forefront. Regardless, book a workshop tour with Alternative Berlin: It’s about five hours, all guides are artists themselves (and can explain the cultural context behind each piece), and at the end, you’ll learn beginner graffiti techniques in a formerly abandoned margarine factory.
San Francisco, CaliforniaSan Francisco, California, USA
Between the abundance of luxe spas and close proximity to bay beaches, you guys can’t go wrong with a honeymoon in Golden Gate City. But if street art is a must-do in between all that relaxation, then look to stay in the Mission District—it has the largest concentration of murals in San Francisco, and Balmy and Clarion Alleys are two famous stops. There you’ll find a wide range of bold art from well-known names like Susan Kelk Cervantes, Sirron Norris, and Mel C. Waters. And while Balmy Alley started as a creative protest to human rights and political abuse in Central America during the ‘80s, over time it’s morphed into tackling political, economic, and environmental issues on both a local and national scale. The area is small enough to explore on your own, but again, if you want that background intel, consider a tour with Precita Eyes Mural Arts or Clarion Alley Mural Project.
Porto, PortugalPorto, Portugal
Lisbon is getting a lot of tourist attention right now, but those looking for a more local experience should book a ticket to Porto instead. The second-largest city is on the rise, becoming well-known for its street art after the graffiti war artists had with the government in 2012. If you’re willing to break a sweat, sign up for a street art-themed tour with Porto Running Tours. You determine the distance you’re willing to cover, but the standard options cover six to nine miles with your private guide giving tons of intel and snapping GoPro footage the whole way. Popular stops include this vibrant spray paint mural by MrDheo and reverse graffiti art (AKA carving images using explosives) by Vhils. And since Gaia is only a short distance away, you’ll also run over the famed Dom Luís I Bridge and through narrow wine cellar alleys (don’t forget Porto is famous for their, eh hem, port wine) to get to some seriously inventive installations created out of random materials found throughout the city.