So, you’re thinking about booking a city trip. You want to go somewhere cool and hip, trendy and vibrant, unique and fresh. You’ve settled on Berlin, San Francisco, or another city break destination that you know will be just perfect. What next? You pick your neighborhood, of course...
The 7 cool neighborhoods below are all hip, trendy, vibrant, unique or fresh in their own fashion, some boasting a vibrant culinary scene, others fit to bursting with dingy, smoky drinking dens. Take your pick!
There are two sides to de Pijp, which sits just south of Amsterdam’s historic city center. During the day, it’s all about shopping stalls and cappuccinos, with the animated traders of the outdoor Albert Cuyp Market providing the goods, and the nearby cafes the caffeine. Those same cafes give the neighborhood its second side, in the evening transforming into lively, hip bars that buzz long into the night with the sound of a trendy Dutch crowd and the clink-clink of beer glasses.
Pushed to name a hip neighborhood in London and you'd probably reach for Shoreditch first. However, you could – and should – just as easily pick Clerkenwell. Brimming with creativity and some of the best restaurants in London, Clerkenwell is almost effortlessly cool. Head to eclectic Exmouth Market at lunchtime for some Ghanaian, Thai or Mexican street food, before washing it down with a pint of ale in one of nearby Holborn’s historic pubs.
You can’t move for cool neighborhoods in New York City, but what perhaps makes East Village stand out is that it’s not yet completely gentrified. Yes, you’ll find the boutique brands and swish cocktail joints, but there’s also an abundance of record shops, vintage clothing stores with actually-vintage clothing, and dingy, dark dive bars pelting out punk music. East Village boasts one of the city’s best and most diverse nights out or, for something a little more downbeat, look out for a poetry recital in St Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery.
Helsinki sits at the cutting edge of pretty much everything, and Kallio is no different. Not only the most pronounceable neighborhood in Helsinki but also one of its most unpretentiously cool, Kallio combines street art, pop-up restaurants and trendy bars with pleasant green spaces and the city’s oldest public sauna. You can fulfil your vintage shopping needs at Hakaniemi Market Hall, which is also a great spot for arts and crafts, fresh produce and something tasty for on the move.
You know that a neighborhood has got something going for it when there’s a burrito named in its honor. Mission Street in the Mission District is the heart of San Francisco’s Latin American community, particularly between 14th and Chavez where you can pick up a hearty Mission Burrito. The locals drink cappuccinos and cocktails in the trendy cafes and bars, pick up fresh produce from the colorful markets and corner stores, hang out and play frisbee in Dolores Park – sounds good, right?
You’ll find plenty of Prague’s magic in and around its cobblestone streets and courtyards. For the most boisterous neighborhood bars, however, no-nonsense Zizkov is the place to be, where the smoke-filled pubs are as noisy as the beer is cheap. It’s not quite Prague Castle, but the striking Zizkov Television Tower is something of a neighborhood icon, if not for its communist-era design and David Cerny’s crawling baby sculptures, then for its bar, restaurant and exclusive, one-room hotel.
Berlin is a cool city with plenty of cool neighborhoods. Kreuzberg is one of them; Prenzlauer Berg, another. Friedrichshain resembles the former more than the latter, but the neighborhood certainly shares traits with both. The colorful, cutting murals that adorn the East Side Gallery are a must-see, as much as the trendy bars and cafes that line Revaler Strasse or Simon-Dach-Strasse are a must-experience. Looking for a nightclub housed in a former power plant? Friedrichshain is where you’ll find it.