Escadaria Selarón (Selarón Steps)
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Gorgeous Painted Stairs Around the World

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Escadaria Selarón (Selarón Steps)
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16th Avenue Tiled Steps
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16th Avenue Tiled Steps

San Francisco
This tourist favorite is "painted" with tiles. It's a mosaic wonder (and a San Francisco freebie) on Moraga Street between 15th and 16th avenues in California's famed city by the bay and the result of a grassroots beautification effort. The collaboration to create a "sea to stars" design up some 163 steps in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood was started by residents nearly 20 years ago and completed by the community.

Batu Caves
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Batu Caves

Gombak, Malaysia
There are no bats at Batu Caves – this destination takes its name from the Malay word batu which means rock. This Hindu shrine is a hillside series of caves and temples, with a rainbow of an impressive staircase. How impressive? Travel Awaits notes it "could be the most colorful place you ever visit."

Yaletown Mural
Lukas Lundberg (@lukeart_046)/Yaletown Business Improvement Association

Yaletown Staircase Murals

Vancouver, Canada
To brighten up the community and support local artists, the Yaletown Business Improvement Association has unveiled an art project featuring staircase murals. Unveiled earlier this summer, the project got off to a whimsical start with a dog-themed work by Lukas Lundberg. Stay tuned for more.

Related: Beyond the Museum: Spectacular Outdoor Art You Can See for Free

Rainbow Vortex Stairs
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Rainbow Vortex

Salt Lake City, Utah
The reasonably-priced Salt Lake City has some cultural freebies, too. The Gateway, a downtown arts district, offers an opportunity to see several colorful staircases. Among the options are "Rainbow Vortex," (a Pinterest favorite), "Mountains," and "Inspiration." Earlier this spring, The Gateway's "Drive-Thru Art Stroll," ideal for these challenging times, included a peek at "Ombre Stairs," by the Urban Arts Gallery.

 Escalinata de Santa María del Monte
Escalinata de Santa María del Monte by Gmelfi (None)

Grand Staircase at Santa Maria del Monte

Caltagirone, Italy
This Sicilian tourist attraction traces its roots back to the 17th century, a swath of some 140-plus steps decorated with hand-decorated ceramic tiles. It's a year-round showcase of local craftsmanship that twice a year turns into an even bigger art event, when the steps are festooned with potted plants and then candles as part of two local festivals.

Related: Stunning Public Art, Music, and More at Airports Around the World

Hong Kong On Steps
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Hong Kong On Steps

Hong Kong
"Hong Kong On Steps: Tales of Our City" is an ongoing public art project that turns the functional into the wildly creative. This ambitious undertaking showcases the nearly two dozen staircases of the creativity collective PMQ, "a stage for creative happenings." Mod and bold, the themes have ranged from a pinball machine to "Marshmallow Planet."

valparaiso piano stairs
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Piano Stairs

Valparaíso, Chile
This is one tourist attraction "in tune" with its surroundings (and in the same city as a cool rental home). The so-called Piano Stairs (or Staircase) can be found on Beethoven Street in this port city. The stairs reflect the city's artsy, hipster vibe and stopping for a selfie on them is considered a must for visitors.

koi stairs
koi stairs by Wei-Te Wong (CC BY-SA)

Koi Staircase

Seoul, South Korea
If you venture to South Korea for its abundance of jobs for expats, you'll find that murals are a popular form of street art in Seoul – and steps are the focus for the often-visited Koi Staircase. The fish-themed work was created in 2005, part of the Ihwa Mural Village, a colorful destination in itself.

Rainbow Staircase
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Rainbow Staircase

Istanbul, Turkey
A little money for paint – and a lot of determination – turned a formerly workmanlike staircase into a burst of color. In 2013 a local man spruced up the neighborhood with $800 and a few days' labor to create a well-received rainbow. The city wasn't pleased, soon painting over it all in a drab gray. Luckily, community outrage led to a municipal effort to restore the rainbow (and create other similar steps throughout the city).

Scala (Holsteiner Stairs)
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Scala (Holsteiner Stairs)

Wuppertal, Germany
Color plus text are the statement in this effort by German artist Horst Glasker. The work, formally called "Scala, Ascension In Tribute To Humanity," covers the more than 100 steps not only with an array of hues but also words and phrases that reference "an emotional aspect of the human condition." Translated into English, these words include rage, fear, luck, joy and love, among countless others.

Micheltorena Stairs
Enrique E./Yelp
Women are heroes stairs
Amazon

"Women Are Heroes" Staircase

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Internationally acclaimed artist JR – known for his intense portraits, as celebrated in the 2017 documentary "Faces Places" – turned a violence-prone area of this Brazilian city into a destination for thoughtful art with his 2008-2009 project "Women Are Heroes." The photographic works, including a dramatic staircase, were created "to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society but who are the primary victims of war, crime, rape and political or religious fanaticism."

Escadaria Selaron
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Escadaria Selarón (Selarón Steps)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you're looking for something free to do in Rio, hit the stairs. Escadaria Selarón is an artistic work created to honor the locals, a "tribute to the Brazilian people" created by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón. The heart of the tile, ceramic and mirrored work are hues of blue, green and yellow, a nod to the Brazilian flag.

Rose Staircase
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Rose Staircase

Tehran, Iran
They say roses are difficult to cultivate, but that doesn't seem to be the case in Tehran. That's where a dramatic grove of roses blooms eternal in what's sometimes called the Haft Peykar Stairs.

Rainbow Stairs Lebanon
Diego Fiore/istockphoto

Rainbow-Colored Stairs

Beirut, Lebanon
Lebanese artists joined together as a collective called Dihzahyners to add a colorful pause to the Middle Eastern city. Paint Up, an ongoing project, revitalizes historic stairways all across the city in vivid hues and geometric patterns.

Dalí Steps
Dalí Steps by Scott Rettberg (CC BY-SA)

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Salvador Dalí Steps

Philadelphia
Though the stairs in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are best known for being featured in the movie "Rocky," in 2005 they got a makeover. The only American venue to host the centennial retrospective devoted to the Salvador Dali, the museum used the stairs for a portrait of the Spanish Surrealist — and left it in place even after the exhibit left town. The painting has since been removed, but remains a memorable one.

Related: Most Iconic Staircases Around the World