One of the latest, greatest mysteries of the art world is the Bristol-born graffiti artist Banksy. His identity remains one of the biggest secrets and subjects of interest of the past three decades and rumours swirl every time a potential clue about who he is surfaces.

Once just a kid on the streets of Bristol with a can of spray paint in his hands, his works – often subversive and politically-charged - now fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds. Thanks to his Bristol beginnings, the city, renowned for its street art-covered walls, is home to many of his early works.

Visiting Bristol is an absolute must for Banksy fans, so we’ve put together a little guide on how you can have a Banksy-themed weekend in the city.

Banksy's 'Well Hung Lover' on Park Street, central Bristol
Image: Banksy's 'Well-Hung Lover' on Park Street

Seek out Banksy artworks at your own pace

Hunting out ‘Banksys’ in Bristol is a fun way to discover the city’s unique creative culture. The Banksy Bristol Trail by Cactus Apps is an easy-to-follow smartphone App that lets you explore the remaining Banksy artworks that are dotted around the city. The App is packed with in-depth features on Banksy and his formative years in Bristol in the 80s/90s street art scene.

Banksy's 'The Girl With The Pierced Eardrum' street art on Bristol's Harbourside - credit Visit Bristol
Image: Banksy's Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' near Bristol Marina

Start off with a guided street art tour

Street art tours are a Bristol ‘must-do’ experience, with professional artists guiding visitors around the city's ever-changing urban outdoor galleries.

Where The Wall run Bristol Street Art Walking Tours all year-round, plus a Banksy self-guided walking tour which offers an insight into the world of Banksy and other iconic artists. You can also book a private tour if you'd prefer to be in a smaller group.

One of the guides from the 'Where The Wall' street art tour in Nelson Street, central Bristol - credit Paul Box
Image: Where the Wall street art tour, credit Paul Box

Explore Banksy artworks at your own pace with Visit Bristol’s free, self-guided Banksy Walking Tour of the city.

Or go back through 1,000 years of Bristol’s fascinating history while seeking out the city's best street art on a Blackbeard to Banksy The Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour (11:30am most days of the week). The two-hour tour takes in medieval parts of the city, old pirate haunts and Bristol’s beautiful Harbourside.

Tour group looking at street art
Image: Blackbeard to Banksy walking tour

Graft will also whisk you around the city to show you some of the key graffiti spots in central Bristol. Take in murals from Banksy to Inkie as well as some of the lesser-known artists and hear the stories behind the culture that makes Bristol the graffiti capital of the UK.

A person lining up a canvas before spraying paint at Graft Bristol - credit Yuup
Image: Spray painting with Graft, credit Yuup

See where Banksy made a gigantic splash in Bristol

In the summer of 2009, Banksy held an almighty homecoming when he took over Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for the 'Banksy versus Bristol Museum,' exhibition which saw crowds queueing for hours for a glimpse of his works. Banksy paid Bristol City Council just £1 to hire the venue, and the event generated tens of millions pounds for the local economy. He left behind a memento, the ‘Paint-Pot Angel,' which can be seen inside the Museum today.

Banksy versus Bristol Museum in 2009. Credit - Tangent Books
Image - Banksy vs. Bristol Museum exhibition, credit Tangent Books

If you didn’t hear about Banksy’s Dismaland, where were you? In 2015, in his classic secretive style, without any warning, rumours spread like wildfire about another Banksy exhibition at Weston-super-Mare – a seaside town just outside Bristol. The exhibition Dismaland – which transformed the dilapidated lido at Tropicana on the seafront into a depressing Disneyland - gathered worldwide attention and put the little town on the world art map.

Since Banksy left, the place has been far from dismal. The Tropicana now plays host to large events throughout the year, from festivals and exhibitions to open air gigs. Travel by bus, car or train.

Have a go at Banksy-style stencils

Bring out the budding Banksy in you and try a graffiti workshop! Where The Wall's "Introducing Stencil Art" Spray Sessions run every Saturday, and mid-week during school holidays! All ages and abilities can try their hand and you can take your masterpieces home. Tickets cost £15 for under 16s and £20 for adults – click here to book.

Discover Banksy connections around the world

Bristol activists founded Europe’s only Palestine Museum in Europe in 2013. Inside you can see unique photographs, clothing and exhibits and discover Bristol’s connections with Palestine - including Banksy’s murals along the barrier wall in the West Bank.

Interior of the Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre in central Bristol - credit Bristol Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre

Image: Bristol Palestine Museum

Pick up a Banksy-inspired souvenir

Pick up a Banksy keepsake at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – here you’ll find books on Banksy, a street art memory game, cards and more. Or pop into M Shed (temporary guardian of Banksy’s Grim Reaper since it was removed from Thekla’s hull to preserve it) for a wide selection of quirky gifts that capture the spirit of Bristol, including Banksy books.

Eat like Banksy

Biblos – known for its Lebanese and Caribbean wraps and mezze - was Banksy’s chosen caterer at Dismaland. If it’s good enough for Banksy, it’s good enough for us! Try it for yourself - Biblos have a restaurant in Stokes Croft, one of Bristol’s street art quarters. 

Street art murals on Stokes Croft, Bristol - credit Visit Bristol

Image: Murals on the side of the People's Republic of Stokes Croft

Soak up the street art in Stokes Croft

The great thing about Banksy is that one of his creations could pop up at any time, so why not scour the streets of Bristol and see if you can be the first to spot it! The bohemian area of Stokes Croft is one of the beating hearts of Bristol’s street art culture, and many businesses in the area commission graffiti artists to paint their premises.

It’s also home to Banksy’ first known large wall mural, ‘Mild Mild West’, which reigns high above The Canteen’s outdoor space opposite a large mural of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid. 

Banksy mural with teddy bear throwing molotov cocktail - credit Paul Box

Image: Banksy's 'Mild Mild West' mural, credit Paul Box

Marvel at the murals in North Street

Put down the Apps and maps and go discover Bristol’s constantly-changing vibrant facades for yourself. Another one of the best places to see street art in Bristol is North Street in Bedminster.

From a Church courtyard, to Redpoint Climbing Centre and the side of The Tobacco Factory, the walls here are given an annual makeover during Upfest, so it’s almost certain you’ll see something new even if you’ve visited before. And thanks to the festival, the incredible pieces are all within a short walking distance of each other.

'The Six Sisters' artwork at the Upfest street art festival on North Street, Bristol - credit Hannah Judah
Image - The 'Six Sisters' artwork on North Street, credit Hannah Judah

Gaze at the graffiti on Nelson Street

Once a fairly lacklustre backstreet, Nelson Street was transformed during the See No Evil urban art festival a few years ago. Although many of the artworks have disappeared following the street’s redevelopment, several pieces still remain and they’re pretty hard to miss! Still standing tall is Nick Walker’s suited man, at 20 metres in height. The enormous ‘Wolf Boy,' Stik’s Stik person and the striking ‘woman and child’ painted by Walker, Aryz and El Mac all make quite a statement on the street.

Various pieces of street art on the side of buildings in Nelson Street, central Bristol - credit Blackbeard to Banksy Bristol Walking Tour
Image - Street art on Nelson Street, credit Blackbeard to Banksy Walking Tour

Watch street artists in action


If you're visiting Bristol in spring, you can time your stay to coincide with urban paint festival Upfest, Europe’s largest, free, live street art and graffiti festival. Held every other year, the event brings hundreds of cutting-edge artists from all over the globe to Bedminster to create colourful eye-popping murals on various locations in the area before your very eyes. As well as being visually spectacular, there’s also scrumptious street food, art workshops and live music. And who’s to say Banksy isn’t also in the crowd?

An artwork at the Upfest street art festival on North Street, Bristol

Image: Mural by street artist Aches painted on North Street during the 2022 edition of Upfest

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