Finding under-the-radar gems is one of the best parts of travelling – but unless you know a local, it can be hard to know where to go in popular tourist destinations.
To mark the magazine’s 50th anniversary, Time Out’s editors and city experts have compiled a list of the 50 coolest neighbourhoods around the world after surveying 15,000 people globally about which areas have the best buzz, cool new openings, are affordable to live in, are great for visitors, and feel like they’re “on the up.”
The top places include lesser-known cultural and culinary hotspots, from Athens to Accra.
Scroll down to see the top 25 coolest neighbourhoods on the planet to visit in 2018.
25. Hornstull, Stockholm, Sweden
Located on Stockholm’s Södermalm island, this neighbourhood is buzzing with cafés, LGBT+ bars, and indie clubs, according to Time Out. It’s also home to Tantolunden beach, where locals go for a swim or a BBQ in the summer. Bio Rio, a 1940s-era arthouse theatre, also showcases Swedish indie films.
24. Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
You may think you known Leith from the movie “Trainspotting,” but it’s much less rough now – it even had two Michelin-starred restaurants, and a vibrant, cultural bar and pub scene.
23. Monti, Rome, Italy
Once the red light district of ancient Rome, Monti feels like a small town, according to Time Out, and boasts wine bars, restaurants, and an “artsy crowd.” One must try the “shabby-chic” Black Market Hall, which serves up craft cocktails and an “underground vibe.”
22. Sant Antoni, Barcelona, Spain
You’ll find the latest fashion and food trends in Sant Antoni, which sits beneath Barcelona’s Montjüic hill with “a perfect mix of old and new.”
21. City Bowl District, Cape Town, South Africa
Some of the best bars and restaurants in the city – and even the country – can be found in the City Bowl District, which is surrounded by the iconic Table Mountain. Time Out suggests trying cocktail bar Outrage of Modesty.
20. Osu, Accra, Ghana
While it can be “a bit seedy” according to Time Out, Osu comes alive at night thanks to bars, clubs, and chop houses. Head to Oxford Street, which backs onto the coastline and boasts bars like Front/Back, which offers both cocktails and contemporary art.
19. Tangba Jie, Chengdu, China
Tangba Jie has a mix of modern and traditional Chengdu, with a thriving food scene boasting alleys with street eats and late-night snacks.
18. West Loop, Chicago, US
The West Loop is the city’s foodie destination, home to some of Chicago’s best chefs and restaurants. It’s also popular among young families (with dogs) for a stroll along the footpaths.
17. West Village, New York, US
Take in the spirit of New York amongst the West Village’s record stores, vintage shops, Japanese-style drinking dens, jazz clubs, and even drag performances at the city’s oldest cabaret club, The Duplex.
16. Shuk HaPishpeshim, Tel Aviv, Israel
Packed with rowdy bars and busy alleyways, this neighbourhood is home to Jaffa’s flea market, “a maze of traditional stalls, punctuated by indie designers and eclectic design shops,” according to Time Out.
15. Bandra West, Mumbai, India
Think seaside vistas and “crumbling bungalows” for this locale, set to be the most vibrant part of the city.
14. Enmore, Sydney, Australia
This creative, laid-back neighbourhood is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat, wandering some shops, and taking in impressive street art.
13. Ancoats, Manchester, UK
Ancoats, once a seedy spot with an industrial past, is now one of the coolest places to hang out in Manchester, thanks to its affordable co-working spaces, river-facing apartments, craft breweries, gin joints, and colourful street murals.
12. Noord, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Not normally as attractive to tourists, Amsterdam Noord offers affordable rent and “a sense of experimentalism,” according to Time Out. Visit a former shipyard, which is now home to art and culture, as well as Europe’s biggest month flea market.
11. Peckham, London, UK
Video arcade bars, nightclubs, and street food will greet you in Peckham, which is close to reputable arts colleges and boasts the Peckhamplex, a retro 90s multi-screen cinema.
10. Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia
Once a working-class suburb, Fitzroy is now an “artistic haven,” and the best spot to shop for designer and vintage clothing, records, and browse bits and bobs at the Rose Street Artists’ Market on weekends.
9. Highland Park, Los Angeles, US
This leafy, low-key neighbourhood now has plenty of cocktail spots, gastropubs, vegan cafés, and even an order-by-the-ounce pizza shop, which can be found on Figueroa Boulevard.
8. Yanaka, Tokyo, Japan
Even though it’s right next to the tourist hub of Ueno, Yanaka is a calm and cool spot with “creative energy,” featuring some of the city’s best restaurants and galleries as well as temples and shrines.
7. Neukölln, Berlin, Germany
Neukölln is “constantly reinventing itself and revels in its originality,” according to Time Out. Once an abandoned wasteland, it’s now packed with bars, vegan cafés, and galleries. Head to bars like TiER and Ä for art, performance, and drinks, or on Sundays, check out Griessmuehle, a former grain mill with dance floors, makeshift furniture, and a garden overlooking the canal.
6. Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Paris, France
Time Out calls Strasbourg-Saint- Denis “a brilliantly surreal mess,” with a mix of gourmet restaurants, greasy spoon cafés, and historic monuments.
5. Princípe Real, Lisbon, Portugal
Head here for great tapas, bars, and art galleries, as well as nightclubs and cocktail bars – or an organic fair on Saturdays, if that’s more your style.
4. Metaxourgeio, Athens, Greece
The Metaxourgeio neighbourhood is being revived after being abandoned for years, with murals cropping up on crumbling buildings, and neglected houses and even brothels being turned into bars and tavernas. Be sure to check out LaTraac, an adults-only skate bowl.
3. Nueva Villa de Aburrá, Medellín, Colombia
Nueva Villa de Aburrá celebrates new traditions, according to Time Out – it’s home to annual hot sauce and electronic music festivals, and is a favourite spot for rockers, punks, and metalheads.
2. Euljiro, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul’s Euljiro neighbourhood smells like fresh ink, according to Time Out – which makes sense once you realise it’s home to printing presses. However, its warehouses also boast bars, restaurants, and cafés. Check out Seendosi, a fifth-floor bar in what appears to be a derelict warehouse, complete with neon signs and indie music posters.
1. Embajadores, Madrid, Spain
The coolest city in the world in 2018, Madrid’s Embajadores is complete with great nightlife, fabulous food, culture, and street art, according to Time Out. “To the north, Plaza Tirso de Molina is home to florists by day, and at night fills with revelers queuing to get into Medias Puri, the city’s club of the moment,” the magazine writes. “To the south are two huge cultural centres, Tabacalera and La Casa Encendida. In Embajadores, visitors can dine on divine Moroccan lamb tagine for an absurdly low price or Indian specialties served atop a flowery oilcloth and relax with a cocktail in the legendary Sala Equis, a former adult cinema that is now a drinking hole.”
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