Leake Street tunnel a.k.a Graffiti Street is a hidden gem and definitely a place worth a visit in London alone or with friends.
Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel, also known as Banksy Tunnel is a hidden street behind Waterloo station. A tribute to the enigmatic and famous painter and artist Banksy (the real identity of the latter is not yet known).
The Graffiti Tunnel is one of the best meeting places for graffiti artists (professionals and amateurs).
Graffiti is permitted by the City of London. This allows street artists to freely express their imagination and their art in total legality.
It is actually possible to create graffiti and drawings in a variety of styles and forms, all of which are legal. If you’ve always wanted to do street art in an urban area and let your imagination run wild, feel free to go there.
This 300-meter-long tunnel was made famous in 2008 by street artist Banksy, who discovered it and arranged an event inviting graffiti artists from across the world to convert it into an art gallery.
Today’s Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
The Leake Street Tunnel is more than just a street. It is regarded as a reference for street art in the world as well as a place of artistic expression.
It has undergone several refurbishments over the years and several lighting fixtures have been installed. Thanks to this, the works of graffiti artists stand out even more.
If you are planning a vacation in the UK capital, be sure to include a visit to this unusual place in your program.
The place can look very dark and bluish. Some of the tunnels were dimly lit, so the artists didn’t necessarily wanted to be dragged there.
Their works can be seen as soon as you enter the tunnel, you are overwhelmed by the many tags and many colours, and all the walls from bottom to ceiling are covered with paintings. I felt like there’s no little space left on the wall.
You may appreciate graffiti of various types, sizes, and degrees, but you can also see certain artists at work; men and women, and don’t even notice passers-by or interested individuals who stop behind them with cameras around their necks.
This place can be busy whilst artists are refining their work. The atmosphere here is unique and colorful, making you feel like you are in another universe. If you appreciate Banksy’s poetic, humorous and political work
The old railway tunnels adjacent to the Waterloo tunnel have been restored to create a space for entertainment and culture; therefore you will be able to notice the presence of unusual bars, cafes and restaurants.
The ones you will definitely see are the Vault, The Rat Bar @ 26 leake street and the Banh Bao Brothers (20 Leake Street London). The latter is a venue specialised in Vietnamese cuisine.
The atmosphere was rather quiet even if I suspect that this is the case in the evenings, the whole thing has nothing to do with what I discovered on my first visit there.
It turned out to be a beautiful place, especially beautiful graffiti, street art in short.
Essentially ephemeral art, these works may change on a daily basis but in the end it doesn’t matter when you get there; If you’re a fan of street art and graffiti, you’re sure to find some stunning pieces to admire.
Graffiti Tunnel Opening Hours
The Graffiti Tunnel on Leake Street is open to the public seven days a week; Bars, cafes and restaurants are now generally open daily according to signage from 10:00 a.m. to midnight.
How to get there?
The Graffiti Tunnel on Leake Street is located near the London eye, a 5-minute walk from Waterloo Station. Address: Leake Street Lambeth, London SE1.
The nearest underground station: Waterloo can be reached by Jubilee Line, Northern Line, Bakerloo Line and Waterloo & City Line.
Beneath the crowded platform of Waterloo Station and its trains is a playground for some street performers. It will take you to an area where graffiti is allowed, called: Waterloo Station Street Art Tunnel or Banksy Tunnel.la graffit
In any case, there is no doubt that Leake Street is a space where creators and street artists are free to express themselves to some extent.
Without this art on the walls, you’d just go through a dark and dirty tunnel, but instead it’s full of color, political expression, humor and unique design.
Lift up your eyes and look around… you will achieve Admiration! It is a place where you can take a lot of pretty pictures, so I highly recommend to take a DSLR and even a tripod if you want to take pictures of mint quality!