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Visit the Colourful Leake Street Art Graffiti Tunnel in London

For visitors to London interested in the capital’s alternative urban art scene, the colourful Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel is a must-see London attraction.

Located under Waterloo train station, the tunnel links the tourist spots of historic Westminster to the more bohemian district of Waterloo.

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Leake Street Tunnel History

London’s graffiti tunnel popped up on London’s street art radar when the world-famous street artist Banksy held a spray can festival here in 2008. Artists came from all around to be part of this event and by doing so turned this once undesirable area of London into a vibrant urban art hotspot which now hosts London’s largest legal street art canvas.

Graffiti on the wall in Leake Street Tunnel

After the success of Banksy’s event, the local council granted special permission for urban artists to freely express their creativity on the walls and ceilings of the Leake Street Tunnel, nicknamed the Banksy Tunnel, without fear of prosecution. Sadly, no Banksy originals remain in the tunnel.

Freedom to be creative

This iconic art space has now become a magnet for London graffiti artists, muralists, and tag artists as well as global street artists who want to be part of London’s urban art scene.

Wall murals depict subjects including political figures and whimsical characters to more intricate designs and mind-blowing portraits, worthy to be shown in any alternative London art gallery.

Portrait of a lady with a motorbike in front of her in Leake Street Tunnel

Vibrant designs fill the canvas of this 300-metre-long graffiti art tunnel, with not an inch of wall space remaining untouched.

Graffiti in Leake Street Tunnel

The colourful artworks in the tunnel are forever evolving and no two visits will ever be the same. Urban street artists play by the rules that the space is for everyone and know that their graffiti art has a limited time on display. New visuals appear on a regular basis covering over their predesessors; that’s the deal in the Leake Street Tunnel.

If you are lucky you might see one of the street artists in action!

For photographers and, dare I say it, Instagrammers, a visit to Leake Street Tunnel is a chance to capture colourful shots of unique street art images juxtaposed against an industrial backdrop.

Street Art in London Neighbourhoods

While random graffiti still remains illegal in London, areas including Shoreditch and Camden are locations where street art is very much welcomed. Huge murals commissioned by local businesses and councils have re-generated these areas and Alternative London Street Art Tours lure visitors away from central London and into these nearby urban neighbourhoods.

Gorilla art on the wall of Leake Street Tunnel

Entertainment in Leake Street Arches

While walking through the graffiti tunnel at night wouldn’t be my number one thing to do in London, it is home to The Vaults, billed as London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts, which draws an eclectic crowd.

Banh Bao Brothers restaurant is also in the tunnel offering delicious pan-Asian style tapas dishes. If you are in the London tunnel at night be aware of your surroundings as you would in any capital city.

the vaults in Leake Street Tunnel
Sightseeing in the area around Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

At one end of the tunnel, you will be on Lower Marsh, an area known for its hip eating and drinking spots, quirky hotels and the famous Royal Vic Theatre. Stop for a drink at the arty Vaulty Towers Bar or enjoy artisan pizza at Pizza Pilgrims before settling down for the night at Ruby Lucy Hotel.

At the opposite end of the Waterloo graffiti tunnel, you will be near famous London sights such as the London Eye and Westminster Palace. It is here that you can also do one of the best walks in London along the Southbank.

Find London’s Graffiti Tunnel at Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN. Waterloo is the nearest mainline train station.

portrait of a woman on the ceiling of Leake Street tunnel
Street Art Beyond London

Interested in finding out about street art cities in other parts of the world? Check out my street art guides:

19 Best Cities To See Street Art in Europe

10 Best Cities To See Street Art in Eastern Europe

17 Best Cities To See Street Art in Asia

12 Best Cities To See Street Art in South America

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About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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