Playa del Carmen, with its US inspired ‘Quinta Avenida’ (Fifth Avenue) and reputation for resorts, might not seem like an obvious street art destination in Mexico, but there is actually a vibrant scene of street artists painting the town red (and blue, and yellow…). In fact, there are a surprising number of murals running the length of the aforementioned Quinta Avenida, which continue right up towards Punta Esmerelda and you can even spot a Farid Rueda mural at one of Playa’s hostels!
Mexico City, the chaotic Mexican capital, is easily one of the, if not best, then very well-known and popular street art destinations in Mexico. In fact, there are numerous collectives and artists (like Axolotl Collective and Lesuperdemon) that are constantly working to revitalise the city’s walls, painting and repainting culturally inspired designs and whimsical patterns on buildings across the capital. If you’re new to the city, start in Roma and Condesa, before branching out to other street art hotspots.
San Miguel de Allende is primarily known for being a ‘little USA’, thanks to the swell of snowbird retirees who either live there permanently or quite literally flock down for the winter. Add that to the petite and colonial nature of the town and you haven’t exactly got a destination that screams ‘great Mexican street art’, and, to an extent that’s true. After all, you do have to venture a little out of the centre to Barrio Guadalupe to find it, but it’s there and there’s plenty to go around.
The south of Mexico City state and city of Puebla make for a great day trip from the capital, as well as a top Mexican street art destination. Numerous walls and streets are plastered with vibrant murals and artworks, although some of the best are rather annoyingly alongside large highways—good luck getting a non-blurry snap of them! Even so, there are still plenty of pieces to admire on foot in the historic centre too.
Puerto Vallarta is best known as a popular, laidback tourist destination on the opposite side of the country from resort-happy Cancun. It’s not typically considered an amazing street art destination in Mexico though, although that’s generally an opinion shared by those who don’t know where to look. In fact, and partly thanks to a project promoting the protection of coral reefs, there are tons of colourful murals smattered around the place.
An island escape that’s gradually showing up on the radar of even the most casual tourist in Mexico, Isla Holbox lies just off the Yucatan Peninsula and is growing in renown among those holidaying in Cancun and the surrounds. You wouldn’t necessarily expect a petite island to have lots of murals though, but… you’d be wrong. Isla Holbox might be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in art (and jawdropping natural beauty).
Moving north, to the border city of Tijuana, which, as with many US-Mexico border locations, has a rich and vibrant culture all of its own and a street art scene to match. While other locations tend towards abstract images and bold colours, the street art in Tijuana leans heavily on political messages of resistance and awareness. Considering the problems that have plagued the area in the recent past, that’s perhaps not surprising. Oh, and there are also plenty of zonkey images (zebra donkeys).
Baja California Sur, especially at the very extreme south of the peninsula, is known for artsy heritage, including gallery walking tours in San José del Cabo. This artistic flair extends to La Paz, with its wealth of street art murals which depict everything from sea creatures to striking human faces and the ever-present Katrina skulls. Don’t write off La Paz as a mere beach destination in the future then, as it has so much more to offer.
Finally, Monterrey is practically an obligatory if unexpected mention in the world of Mexican street art, principally because it was the birthplace of a now Latin America-wide street poetry movement, Acción Poética. This movement focused, at least at the beginning, on forefronting poetry and music through writing stanzas and lyrics in bold black paint against clean white backdrops. While these ditties can be seen across Mexico, Monterrey remains the OG spot to find them.