Hippest Neighbourhoods To Check Out
Who doesn’t love a city break? They’re a chance to dive straight into a country’s culture. It’s here you’ll find out how much it balances work and pleasure, and how much attention it lavishes on the arts – and all these aspects are complemented or contrasted nicely with its more rural areas.
Now, a couple of decades into low-cost airlines, we might want to venture further afield than the heart of the city. Whether it’s to seek out lesser-known areas than the well-trodden tourist trail, discover a new part on a repeat visit, or get a flavour of local life, there’s much to be said for including a sojourn around a neighbourhood away from the centre of town. And lucky for us, we’re not short of exciting, vibrant areas to explore.
If you’re planning a city break soon, here are our favourite neighbourhoods to check out.
Liberties, Dublin, Ireland
In times gone by, the Liberties – a 20-minute westerly walk from the centre of Dublin – was only ever visited by tourists for the Guinness Storehouse. Open-top buses would drop people off outside its famous gates, amongst a very old and residential area of terraced cottages. Today, it’s a hotbed of activity. After the Guinness Storehouse, the next stop should be Teelings Distillery, to find out all about how Dublin’s most prolific whiskey is made. Then stop off at the antiques quarter of Francis Street. For a bite to eat, there’s plenty to choose from – we’d recommend modern Italian Proof, or The Lab, which specialises in experimental pizza. To round off a day in the Liberties, check out a show at Vicar Street. As a medium-sized venue, it has a busy schedule of top-notch comedy gigs and ace live bands.
Nordhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark is known for being miles ahead in its quest for sustainability, and nowhere is this better seen than the new neighbourhood of Nordhavn. An 8-minute train ride from central Copenhagen brings you to this former port, now turned into a neighbourhood entwined with waterways that bring a sense of calm to the urban area. In the summer (or winter if you’re brave enough!) there’s even an area where you can go for a dip – you’ll see locals sunning themselves and socialising throughout the day. It’s also well equipped with plenty of destination restaurants, like the taqueria Hija de Sanchez Cantina, brought to us by former Noma chef Rosio Sanchez. Best of all, each aspect of Nordhavn was created to be as sustainable as possible, so hanging out here is a notably green choice.
Mile End, Montreal, Canada
Let’s face it: everywhere is cool in Montreal. The dual-speaking city is one of the most youthful and modern in Canada, but nowhere is having a moment as much as Mile End. Located within the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, it’s only just off the beaten track – and there’s loads to explore within. It’s home to a thriving arts and culture scene – you can enjoy a night out at URSA mtl (singer Martha Wainwright’s community art and event space) or Casa Del Popolo. As alive as the area stays at night, it’s also bustling during the day. From its green areas to the skateboard park to independent shops a go-go, there really is something for everyone. When it comes to famous food, the bagels in Mile End are a particular source of pride and given its authenticity thanks to its Jewish community. And don’t leave without brunch with a middle eastern twist at Le Sparrow – it’s a hipster’s paradise.
Neukölln, Berlin, Germany
The cutting-edge city of Berlin is well-known for its alternative area of Kreuzburg, where you’ll find warehouse parties side-by-side with squatter’s art studios and gritty street art. But in recent years, you’ll find a new area flourishing: that of Neukölln, in the south of the centre. It was previously centred around Templehof Airport, once Europe’s largest airport. When it closed in 2008, the demographic of area shifted: now, you’ll find cute coffee shops mixed with flavourful Turkish restaurants, family outings mixed with hipster crews. The airport itself has transformed into a spacious, flat park that hosts major events and conferences, and all around it’s filled with bars, boutiques and hang-out joints that give the area a revived sociable feel. Better still, as tourists aren’t yet common, prices remain reasonable.
Letná, Prague, the Czech Republic
Tourists don’t always venture out to Letná even though it’s a 15-minute walk from the old town – largely because it’s across from the River Vltava that slices the city in two. Those that venture across can find a whole different vibe in Letná. With a huge, hilly park as its focal point, it’s an oasis of calm in the capital. In addition to great views of the Old Town, you’ll find Stalin Square (a reminder of its communist past), flower gardens and giant beer garden. Outside of the park, there are a huge number of art galleries, independent shops and cafes to browse around, making it a perfect day trip from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist area.
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