It’s undeniable – Berlin is bursting with expression.

From the tops of trains, doorways, playgrounds or even private residential balconies, as the street art and graffiti capital of Europe, no surface is safe. Whether you’re coming for the clubs or the cultural history, you can’t escape the colourful concrete. FACT.

Here are five things you should know about the street art culture in Berlin.

1: Street artists are basically the Suicide Squad

Yeah, it might be everywhere. But unless it’s a mural, it’s actually illegal to decorate a wall with spray paint, no matter how cool the design. Which is why graffiti and street artists make like superheroes with aliases and costumes (read: balaclavas) in the middle of the night.

Berlin Street Art

From hauling themselves over balconies at 3am to hurdling the train tracks at a full sprint, you think you know, but you have no idea what these guys (and gals) go through to create this epicness.

So what’s the punishment you ask? You’ll be fined the cost of covering the wall in a fresh coat of paint, plus the postage cost of sending out your fine in the mail.

2: Spray cans are just the beginning

Yep – they’re a crafty bunch. From stencils to paste-ups, to splattered lines with fire extinguishers, Berlin’s street art knows no bounds.

A cool example of a paste-up is this one:

Found all over Berlin by an artist called Sobr. The iconic ‘It’s time to dance’ girls are glued to the wall, saturated in glue and covered in confetti. Super cool.

3: It started with an elephant.

Modern graffiti came to Berlin from the USA and can be traced back to a graffiti artist by the name of “Cornbread” in Philadelphia. He tagged the name ‘Cornbread’ everywhere and when a case of mistaken identity left him “dead” in the public eye, he tagged an elephant with ‘Cornbread Lives’ to prove he was still alive.

From there, hip-hop culture catapulted ‘tagging’ which spread to Europe thanks to the American army. The kids who grew up here decorated the Berlin Wall with symbols and scrawlings. As the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, East Berliners were exposed to colourful Western expression. Berlin street art culture was history.

Berlin Street Art

4: Some pieces take up to three days to complete.

The ‘piece’ in graffiti/street art terms is the masterpiece. An example of one is here:


To the amateur eye, it’s like a mish-mash of zigzags and paint splat, but it actually spells out a name. Pieces like this can take days to complete. In the dark. And out of sight.


5: Speaking of, there’s respect on the street.
Although it might look haphazard, there’s an unspoken rule among street artists – as well as not revealing identities, you actually can’t paint over another artist’s work. If you do, well, there’s gangs to contend with and you might soon find your art completely painted over as well.

Things you never knew about the street art culture in Berlin

Have you been to Berlin?

See our fave Berlin trips here.

Mitzi Wilson
Mitzi is Topdeck’s Content and Social Media maniac. Based in London, she’s gonna see the world and write about it. After trekking through jungle in Nepal, stacking it in snow in Japan, partying under the full moon in Thailand, eating ALL the things in Penang and living in a van for three weeks while road tripping from Vancouver to LA, Europe is fully on the radar. You can follow more of her adventures here.