From Warsaw to Oslo, Budapest to Rome, Europe is brimming with trendy neighborhoods that offer a myriad of hip dining establishments, quirky cafes, eclectic stores and contemporary art centers. Attracting a vibrant crowd, each district is a cultural wonderland in its own right and we have identified the 12 coolest areas that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
In the past, Warsaw’s Praga awas considered to be a district with the highest crime rate in the city – how times have changed. Since then, the eastern area hugging the Vistula river has blossomed into one Europe’s creative hubs, with many of its abandoned warehouses and disused factories being transformed into hip bars, clubs, restaurants and art spaces. Today, the district attracts young crowds of boho-types who rightly acknowledge that this up-and-coming district is where the pulse of Warsaw can really be found.
It has long been known that the whole of Amsterdam is effortlessly cool, but one of its neighborhoods particularly defies all expectations. Located in the north of the city, Amsterdam-Noord is repeatedly being recognized as the city’s trendiest place to be. Peppered with old warehouses and disused shipyards, the neighborhood now offers some of the most cutting-edge architecture, a plethora of artist studios and cooperatives and a smorgasbord of new bars and restaurants. This creative hub is an essential visit for anyone in the area.
Berlin has repeatedly been named Europe’s coolest city and without a doubt, Kreuzberg is its most trendy neighborhood. A severely run-down area a decade ago, since then, waves of European expats and German cool cats have descended upon the distinctly Turkish part of town, making it into their very own adult playground. Stretching from the leafy Bergmannstraße all the way to the river at Oberbaumbrücke, this is really the place to see and to be seen in. From the eclectic bars, affordable Turkish food joints, boutique stores on the hip Oranienstraße and the legendary club scene pumping away into the early hours of Monday morning, Berlin as we know it today would be nothing without Kreuzberg.
7th District, Budapest
Since the Second World War, Budapest lay forgotten on the European scene. However, in the face of the rise of loud and trendy metropolises such as Berlin and London, the Hungarian capital has also been cultivating its own kind of cool. In particular, the city boasts an offbeat selection of ruin bars – watering holes that occupy the spaces of abandoned buildings. Many of these are located in the city’s 7th District, including the famous Szimpla. Decorated with a mismatch of objects and bizarre furniture, it offers a fantastic night out, as well as countless exhibitions, movie screenings and concerts.
Grunerløkka is Oslo’s most edgy and trendy district and is the ultimate pocket of cool. Over the last decade, the industrial area has been transformed into a vibrant neighborhood that easily competes with its Scandinavian neighbors for the prize of the best city district. Explore the Birkelunden flea market on Sundays, visit the designer shops and browse through numerous galleries, before taking a break at one of the many artisan coffee shops or microbreweries in the vicinity.
Sweden oozes cool with its long white nights and minimalistic design, and Stockholm’s Södermalm only enhances this hip reputation. With a relaxed and creative vibe, this district is a labyrinth of fantastic spots to eat and drink and is the place to go for unique boutiques offering Swedish fashion. Notably, Söder is also home to one of the most reputable art bookstores in Europe, Konst/ig Books. Before leaving the area, be sure to take in the best panoramas of the city – the climbs up to Fjällgatan and Monteliusvägen are definitely worth the effort.
London’s cool crowd just keeps moving further east to areas such as Dalston. A few years ago, the area’s run-down status offered affordable rents and thus, attracted a hoard of trendy design students and eccentric expats. Now the value of the district has soared, bringing with it an energetic vibe that pours out of Dalston’s many eccentric cocktails bars, independent restaurants, art-book stores and edgy boutiques. Located near the legendary Broadway Market and the green spaces of London Fields, for many there is simply no reason to ever leave.
Canal St. Martin, Paris
Head northeast of jam-packed Le Marais and Paris will reveal one of its hippest hubs. On warm evenings, young crowds of locals meet up with friends and indulge in delicious wine on the side of the Canal St. Martin. The whole area up to the Point Ephémère cultural center is saturated with cocktail bars, long-standing beer haunts and quaint bakeries. Although this is now one of the most gentrified areas of the French capital, it has still retained much of its charm and local flavor.
Milan’s Brera is undoubtedly the city’s cultural nerve center. Home to a myriad of home design boutiques and the renowned Pinoteca di Brera, a prestigious academy, this is one of the most stylish districts in Italy. Naturally, the area is awash with Italian designer boutiques and is a fashion paradise for visitors. For those with deep pockets, you really cannot do better than 10 Corso Como, which sports all of the above but with the welcome addition of a fantastic cafe and revolving gallery space.
Located in the north of the city, Nørrebro is a must-see for those visiting Copenhagen. It is rightly regarded as one of the top foodie destinations in the country and boasts a tremendous number of cafes, Danish bakeries and reputable restaurants. As well as being a gastronomic hotspot, the area’s Jægersborggade – a delightful cobbled street full of coffee shops, vintage clothes stores and inviting wine bars – never disappoints. For a short break, head to the Assistens Cemetery nearby, the resting place of Hans Christian Andersen.
Barcelona’s Gracia is one of the city’s hippest areas and bursts with an infectious youthful energy. Wander through its maze of narrow streets filled with bars, shops and restaurants waiting to be explored. Located near the famous Park Guell, the area is a great spot to grab a drink after climbing to marvel at the view from the gardens, complete with gingerbread houses and mosaic lizard sculptures. In mid-August, the district hosts a loud and boisterous week-long festival, so for those up for the challenge, this would be a perfect time to visit the city.
Rome is one of the most touristic cities in Europe but for those who know where to look, it offers areas off the beaten track that are brimming with undiscovered cool vibes. One such area is Pigneto, which is teeming with local shops and specialist boutiques. Alongside a wide-ranging selection of authentic bistros and wine bars, a special highlight is the Kino, an independent cinema with an eclectic program of art-house films. For a different experience of Rome, Pigneto is the cool place to be.