Subterranean wonders: Your ultimate guide to Leake Street Tunnel in London

Once an entrance to the old Eurostar terminal, this space transformed after Banksy curated his renowned 2008 Cans Festival. Now, every inch of the 300-metre expanse is open for artists to leave their mark, creating a hub for evolving urban art.

For art enthusiasts searching for the latest and most varied street art in the city, Leake Street Tunnel is a must-visit. Beyond the art, there’s a whole world waiting to be explored. So, let’s grab our metaphorical spray cans and delve into this kaleidoscope of creativity together

Where is Leake Street Tunnel?

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Leake Street Tunnel is located in London, England, beneath the railway tracks near Waterloo Station.

How to get to Leake Street Tunnel?

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You can take the train, bus or just walk to get to Leake Street Tunnel. Reaching the tunnel is relatively simple by following the directions below: 

Train

  • Take the London Underground or mainline train services to Waterloo Station.
  • Upon arriving at Waterloo Station, head towards the South Bank exit.
  • From there, it’s a short walk to Leake Street Tunnel.

On foot:

  • If you’re already in the vicinity, you can easily walk to Leake Street Tunnel. The entrance is situated off Lower Marsh or York Road, just a stone’s throw away from the station.

Bus:

  • Several bus routes service the Waterloo area, and you can get off at stops nearby, such as those along York Road or Westminster Bridge Road. From the bus stops, it’s a short walk to the tunnel.

Why should you visit the Leake Street Tunnel in London?

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You should visit the Leake Street Tunnel in London because it offers an interactive and engaging experience, serves as a photography paradise, acts as a community and cultural hub where diverse artists converge. It’s also entirely free and accessible to all.

Interactive and engaging

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Unlike traditional art galleries, Leake Street Tunnel offers an interactive experience. Visitors can often observe artists at work, adding a fascinating dimension to the visit. The live creation of art and the opportunity to engage with artists contribute to a dynamic and immersive encounter.

Photography paradise

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For photography enthusiasts, this tunnel provides a plethora of captivating shots. The vibrant and diverse artwork, along with the play of light and shadows in this unique underground setting, offers an excellent backdrop for striking and memorable photos.

Community and culture hub

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Beyond being a hub for art, the tunnel fosters a sense of community and cultural exchange. It attracts artists from all walks of life, both local and international, who converge to share their stories and art, making it a melting pot of diverse perspectives and creativity.

Free and accessible

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One of the best parts about visiting Leake Street Tunnel is that it’s entirely free and open to the public 24/7. Its accessibility and open nature make it an inclusive space where anyone can witness the power and beauty of art without any barriers.

Rules to remember when visiting Leake Street Tunnel

Respect the artists

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Graffiti and street art are often about pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Artists use this space to share their thoughts, emotions, and ideas with the world. By respecting the artists, you’re acknowledging their freedom to express themselves in an urban environment.

By showing respect for the artists and their work, you’re also encouraging new talent to emerge. Aspiring artists see the respect given to their predecessors and feel motivated to pick up a spray can and start creating.

Dispose of trash responsibly

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Sure, it’s an urban landscape, but that doesn’t mean we toss aside good habits. Responsibly throwing away your trash isn’t just about keeping the tunnel clean, it’s also about being kind to our environment. 

Let’s keep Mother Nature happy while we marvel at human creativity, shall we?

Follow legal guidelines

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Every art space, even one as edgy and free-spirited as Leake Street Tunnel, has its ground rules. By following the guidelines, you’re helping to maintain a positive and inclusive environment. 

So while graffiti is permitted in this designated area, it’s important to remember that it’s illegal to create graffiti or street art in unauthorised places elsewhere in the city. Respect the boundary of where art is allowed.

You can learn more about their policies here.

Tips for visiting Leake Street Tunnel

Arrive early

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The early bird catches the art! The tunnel sees a constant influx of artists and enthusiasts throughout the day, and arriving early means you’re right there when the magic is freshly painted. 

It’s like witnessing a canvas come to life, seeing the artists in action, and catching a glimpse of those masterpieces before the hustle and bustle begins.

Check the weather

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The entrance to this urban art sanctuary isn’t sheltered. If London decides to grace the day with a drizzle or a proper downpour, it won’t discriminate – and neither will Leake Street Tunnel’s entrance. 

Checking the weather means you can swoop in prepared, armed with that trusty umbrella to shield yourself from any surprise showers.

Plus, if there’s a specific event or gathering happening at Leake Street Tunnel, knowing the weather forecast becomes even more crucial. It ensures you’re well-prepared to participate and enjoy the creative buzz without weather-related inconveniences.

Capture the moments

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Leake Street Tunnel is constantly changing. New art goes up regularly, and older pieces often get painted over. By capturing the moments through photos, you can witness the artistic evolution of this unique space. 

You might spot a piece that’s gone tomorrow, making your pictures all the more valuable.

Wear comfortable shoes

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You wouldn’t want to be held back by uncomfortable shoes when you’re on the quest to capture that perfect shot of a Banksy-esque piece, now would you? 

Comfortable footwear allows you to move freely, crouch down for that arty angle, and explore every nook and cranny of this ever-changing gallery without worrying about aching feet.

Explore nearby attractions

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The tunnel might be the main act, but the stage is set in the middle of an area teeming with cultural richness. Step out, and you’re just a stone’s throw away from South Bank, a buzzing cultural hotspot where creativity and entertainment collide. 

The Southbank Centre, the London Eye, and the National Theatre are right there, waiting to charm your socks off with their own brand of artistic magic.

Exploring nearby means discovering fabulous eateries. Fancy a bite after your art expedition? There are plenty of quaint cafes, food markets, and riverside restaurants in the vicinity where you can treat your taste buds. 

Where to eat in Leake Street

Draughts

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Location: Arch 16 Leake St, London SE1 7NN, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 7903 441976

Website

Draughts is a unique fusion of a board game café and a restaurant. That’s right – you can enjoy delicious food while challenging your friends to a game of Settlers of Catan or diving into an intense round of Scrabble. 

The walls are adorned with shelves upon shelves of board games, ready to ignite your competitive spirit or spark a friendly showdown.

Let’s talk about the food. Draughts doesn’t just serve your typical pub grub, they elevate it to a whole new level. Their menu is a delectable journey of comfort food, with dishes like loaded fries, gourmet burgers, and mouthwatering vegan options. 

Passyunk Avenue

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Location: 22 Leake St, London SE1 7NN, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 3926 5144

Website

Picture the iconic cheesesteaks, loaded sandwiches, and flavours that teleport you straight to the streets of Philadelphia. Passyunk Avenue is a portal to the tastes of the City of Brotherly Love. 

Their menu boasts authentic Philly cheesesteaks, hoagies bursting with fillings, and other East Coast delights.

What’s a good meal without some fantastic drinks, right? Here, they’ve nailed the art of mixing drinks. So, whether you’re savouring a classic Philly cheesesteak or diving into a loaded sandwich, you’ll have the perfect drink to complement your meal.

Mamuśka!

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Location: 9 Addington St, London SE1 7RY, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 3602 1898

Website

Mamuśka is a treasure trove of authentic Polish cuisine. Think pierogi, bigos, and hearty platters of meats that would make any meat lover’s heart skip a beat. 

Once you set foot here, you’ll feel the vibrant energy pulsating through the place. The lively vibe, adorned with colourful murals and lively Polish music, instantly transports you to the heart of Poland.

Sino Thai Restaurant

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Location: 127-128 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7401 9702

Website

Sino Thai Restaurant is a love affair between two diverse and delicious culinary worlds – Chinese and Thai cuisine. It’s where fiery Thai spices meet the comforting flavours of Chinese dishes. 

You’ll find classic Chinese dishes like dim sum and stir-fries sharing the stage with Thai favourites such as green curry and pad Thai. It’s a gastronomic journey that ensures every palate finds something to rave about.

Nando’s Waterloo

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Location: Unit 5 & 6, The Sidings, Waterloo Station, London SE1 7BH, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 3772 6976

Website

Nando’s is renowned for its flame-grilled, succulent chicken marinated in their signature PERi-PERi sauce. This unique blend of African Bird’s Eye Chili pepper, herbs, and a touch of magic creates a flavour journey that’s both spicy and utterly addictive.

While their chicken steals the show, Nando’s menu offers a variety of options – from wraps to burgers and even vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Their sides like peri-salted chips or spicy rice are the perfect companions to your fiery feast.

Gogo Pocha

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Location: 30 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RG, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 7379 349552

Website

Its name “Pocha” refers to South Korean street food stalls, known for their delectable snacks and drinks. So, imagine a lively Korean pub vibe paired with an incredible array of tasty delights.

At Gogo Pocha, you’ll find an assortment of mouthwatering Korean street food treats. From crispy fried chicken to savoury kimchi pancakes, the menu is a delightful exploration of flavours that transport you to the bustling streets of Seoul.

Gogo Pocha’s food is designed for sharing. It’s a perfect spot to gather with friends, order a variety of dishes, and revel in the joy of communal dining and the spirit of Korean culture.

Frequently asked questions

Who created the street art in Leake Street Tunnel?


The street art in Leake Street Tunnel was created by a variety of artists, including Banksy, who organised the Cans Festival in 2008. The festival was a three-day event that brought together street artists from all over the world to paint the tunnel. 

Are there any events or festivals held in the Leake Street Tunnel?


​​Yes, there are a number of events and festivals held in Leake Street Tunnel like the Cans Festival, Leake Street Arches Graffiti Paint Jam and Lumiere Festival. 

Can visitors bring their own art supplies to paint in the Leake Street Tunnel?


Yes, visitors to Leake Street Tunnel can bring their own art supplies to paint in the tunnel. However, you can only bring paints that are specifically designed for graffiti or street art.

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