Ranked: The 15 Coolest Neighborhoods In The World

Forbes 1 month ago

There's nothing better than traveling like a local, and when you're heading to a city, one of the best ways to experience a place is by visiting a cool neighborhood. There's something about a cool neighborhood that has endless appeal: It's the antithesis of gentrification in our increasingly homogenized world, with a Starbucks on every corner. A cool neighboorhood is loaded with personality—a place where ideas are created and trends are launched. A place that is truly authentic, with up-and-coming culture, hot restaurants, happening bars and a cost of living that's relatively affordable.

Time Out magazine recently surveyed more than 27,000 people around the world, asking them to name the best and most underrated neighborhoods in their respective cities. Combined with the knowledge of local Time Out editors and city experts around the world, the brand ranked the coolest neighborhoods. Arroios, Lisbon came out on top, with Time Out naming it the coolest neighborhood in the world. "More than a neighborhood, it’s a world in itself, and its many impressive kilometers of streets are packed with open-air galleries, restaurants from all corners of the world, public services, cultural and sporting venues," wrote Raquel Dias da Silva, an editor at Time Out Lisbon. "New businesses sprout like mushrooms, living side by side with traditional commerce—if you can’t find it in Arroios, it’s probably coming soon."

What's the top neighborhood in the United States? A hint: It's in Los Angeles. "As L.A.’s other gentrifying areas ditch any sense of character and culture in favor of the latest generic-chic hotness, Historic Filipinotown is propping up its own," raves Time Out.

Here, we've got the top 15 coolest neighborhoods in the world , with a snapshot about why each place made the list and what not to miss. And because this is Forbes Women, we pulled out notable spots for women to visit in many of these locations. so read on for the top 15 places that should be on every savvy traveler’s bucket list and to see Time Out's full list of the 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world, go here.

1. Arroios, Lisbon

Cool Factor: "A neighborhood of contrasts, Arroios stands out from the other parishes of Lisbon for the multiculturalism of its people and places," says da Silva. Located along the western coast of the city right on the Atlantic Ocean, Arroios is the largest parish in central Lisbon, though "you can walk across it in half an hour," says da Silva.

Don't Miss: "If you only do one thing," says da Silva. "Look for the longest queue on Avenida Almirante Reis—it’s the easiest way to find the institution that is Ramiro." This down-to-earth Portuguese restaurant serves some of the best seafood in town.

Great for Women: Check out Mezze, a Middle Eastern restaurant where the staff is almost entirely made up of Syrian refugees, including many housewives-turned-chefs who would have struggled to find job opportunities otherwise. The restaurant is the brainchild of a group of women who wanted to help young people—especially women—integrate into the workforce.

2. Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Cool Factor: "Shimokitazawa’s relaxed bohemian vibe is a welcome respite from Tokyo’s fast-paced, frenetic energy," writes Time Out Tokyo's Kaila Imada. "The neighborhood, affectionately known as Shimokita by the locals, is an incubator for small, independent businesses and it’s particularly known for two things: its treasure trove of vintage fashion and its love for vinyl records."

Don't Miss: Shimokitazawa is known for its Japanese curry restaurants. The place to go: Ten To Sen, which "serves up a lip-smacking hybrid of spicy ramen and soup curry," says Imada.

Great for Women: Take a walk through the neighborhood with Marina, a woman who used to be an international film correspondent and now runs a restaurant in Shimokitazawa and does guided tours of the area.

3. Onikan, Lagos

Cool Factor: "Past, present and future collide effortlessly in Lagos’s historic district of Onikan," says Time Out's Tushar Hathiramani. "We know the story of rapid urbanization when we see it, but Onikan is weirdly different: the energy of this place is built on a cycle whose bedrock is community, constantly regenerating itself."

Don't Miss: "The number one place, hands down is Ghana High," says Hathiramani. "This stalwart from the ’80s, at 15 Macarthy Street, serves up the best jollof rice, plantain and beans with your choice of protein. Go before 4 p.m.—they sell out quickly."

Great for Women: Onikan is home to one of Nigeria's first women-only coworking spaces: Tribe XX Lab, on Military Street.

4. Wedding, Berlin

Cool Factor: "Whether you’re cozying up for a beer in one of the many well-worn post-war kniepen still in operation or heading to an underground art show, Wedding is a playground for those looking for a glimpse of Berlin’s glory days," says Time Out.

Don't Miss: "If you only do one thing," writes Time Out Berlin's Nathan Ma. "Head to the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates for a first-hand look at Bauhaus buildings designed by some of the movement’s top architects. Built between 1919 and 1934, these social housing complexes survived the Second World War and were listed as a Unesco world heritage site in 2008."

Great for Women: Check out Berlin’s world-renowned art scene at SAVVY Contemporary, which Time Out says is "unapologetically challenging the status quo in a city already famous for pushing the envelope." This is partly due to the talents of female artistic co-directors Antonia Alampi and Dr. Elena Agudio, as well as founder Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.

5. Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles

Cool Factor: "HiFi—as it’s known for short – reflects L.A. as its best: a convergence of cultures," says Time Out. "The area is still in the early stages of its rise, but you’ll find activity buzzing along the area’s eastern stretch of Temple Street near Echo Park, as well as west on Beverly Boulevard toward Westlake."

Don't Miss: "Hop aboard a jeepney—a colourful, stretched-out jeep-bus that’s one of the most ubiquitous modes of transportation in the Philippines for the Classic Hidden HiFi Jeepney Tour and immerse yourself in the history of HiFi, with stops at local mainstays like Temple Seafood Market and Unidad Park."

Great for Women: Historic Filipinotown has an Art Deco drinking den owned and run by women: Genever. "The gin-focused seasonal menu means every visit is different," says Time Out. "but that’s just more reasons to keep coming back, right?

6. The Waterfront, Hobart

Cool Factor: "Hobart’s star isn’t just on the rise: it’s positively meteoric," says Time Out when describing the capital of Tasmania. "And for now at least, the city’s historic waterfront is the place to feel at the center of it all."

Don't Miss: "Almost as soon as it opened, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) suddenly transformed Hobart from a ‘why would I ever visit’ to an ‘I must go right now’ for art lovers, culture junkies, foodies, wine connoisseurs, adrenaline freaks, nature lovers and travelers of all stripes and persuasions."

Great for Women: The Waterfront is home to Franklin, a leading restaurant with a female chef. "If you want the full fine dining experience of Tasmania’s freshest produce treated in the best possible way (and trust us, you do), splurge on Franklin," says Time Out. "The menu changes daily based on what’s in season and what the chef fancies foraging on her way to work."

7. Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Paris

Cool Factor: "SSD remains the centre of Parisian cool," says Time Out. "That’s thanks in large part to a man, Arnaud Lacombe, who have turned Rue des Petites-Écuries into the home of some of the city’s hippest venues—from restaurant and wine bar Déviant to the Hôtel Bourbon nightclub."

Don't Miss: "Hôtel Grand Amour is a trendy anti-palace designed by French graffiti artist André, with touches of Parisian counterculture, Hermès products in the bathroom and unexpectedly reasonable prices," says Houssine Bouchama of Time Out Paris.

Great for Women: Graziella Buontempo runs Da Graziella, a wood-fired oven pizza place in a city where good pizza is hard to find. She sources many of the simple, authentic ingredients from her native Naples.

8. Astoria, New York

Cool Factor: "Astoria is where it’s at," says Time Out. "Climb down the stairs from the elevated subway station at 30th Avenue and you’ll find yourself caught up in a bustle of people running errands at decades-old shops, lingering over meals at buzzy new restaurants and rubbing elbows with neighbors from around the globe."

Don't Miss: "You’ll find a vast range of locals running errands at decades-old shops, feasting at new restaurant openings and raising huge glasses of Czech beer at the outdoor-drinking staple Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden."

Great for Women: Owner Nicole Panettieri's chic boutique Brass Owl is filled with cute accessories, some ready-to-wear and small gifts. "She also hosts awesome workshops, pop-up shops with other local brands and artists as well as sales," says Time Out.

9. Embajadores, Madrid

Cool Factor: "No other neighborhood in Madrid is as lively and diverse as Embajadores, which spans the multicultural barriada of Lavapiés and the site of El Rastro, the city’s historic flea market," says Time Out. The most diverse and lively neighborhood in Madrid, Embajadores mixes the florists of Plaza Tirso de Molina with Indian restaurants, bars serving traditional Spanish montadito tapas, street art, and hip bars such as Sala Equis: a former X-rated cinema that serves cocktails and screens arthouse films. Wondering when to visit? Try October for the Tapapiés tapas festival, or May for CALLE Lavapiés, an event in which dozens of urban artists decorate the facades of landmark bars and shops.

Cool Factor: "With its distinctive murals and strong public art scene, Pilsen could well be Chicago’s most recognizable neighborhood," says Time Out. "First established as a welcoming home for Czech, Polish, German and Italian immigrant communities, by the ’70s Pilsen had a flourishing Latino population, bringing with it world-class institutions like the National Museum of Mexican Art as well as some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine you’ll find anywhere in Chicago.

Don't Miss: "After dinner, piano bar Tack Room is the place to be, where the live music line-up includes audience requests and singing along is very much encouraged."

Great for Women: Masa Madre is a Mexican-Jewish pastry spot owned by two women in Pilsen.

11. Peckham, London

Cool Factor: "Over the last few years, Peckham has cemented itself as London’s preeminent cultural hotspot," says Time Out. "Streets once associated with the sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ are now lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups."

Don't Miss: "Rooftop bar Frank’s Café is Peckham’s worst-kept secret—but head over to another local institution, the versatile club venue-meets-art space CLF Art Café (known to all as the Bussey Building) and you’ll find another incredible spot for drinks with a view, the Bussey Rooftop Bar. It’s usually a tad less rammed than Frank’s, with the same breathtaking cityscape panorama and delicious cocktails."

12. Soi Pridi Banomyong/Phra Khanong, Bangkok

Cool Factor: "Young locals and trendy expats have set off eastwards and landed on the streets off Soi Pridi Banomyong, an area also referred to as Phra Khanong (after the local Skytrain station)," says Time Out. "They’ve given this once-peaceful, now-buzzing residential quarter of Bangkok the multiracial vibe it never had: now its elegant, decades-old homes and old-school shophouse restaurants are dotted with cool cafés, hip bars, DIY galleries, chic boutiques and open-air markets masterminded by creative types."

Don't Miss: The Goja Art Gallery is home to contemporary art by breaking Thai and Japanese artists, and also hosts regular hip hop nights.

Great for Women: Check out Trackaddict Record—a tiny shop packed with rare vinyl—and hot rooftop jazz bar Dumbo. The woman behind both spots is Tuangpat “Ploy” Rattanavatin, the daughter of a musician and an obsessive vinyl record collector.

13. Footscray, Melbourne

Cool Factor: "Whoever came up with the phrase ‘west is best’ must have been thinking about Footscray," says Time Out. "This inner-city neighborhood is the brightest jewel of west Melbourne, primarily thanks to the migrant communities that call it home."

Don't Miss: "Food is a big part of Footscray’s appeal—and Vietnamese banh mi is the neighborhood’s sandwich of choice," says Time Out, which recommends Nhu Lan bakery. "You can score a baguette with shredded pork skin for about the same price as the train ticket you bought to get here."

14. Zhongshan, Taipei

Cool Factor: "Still replete with the elegance of yesteryear, the tree-lined main avenues pulse with crowds heading for new, ultra-modern concept malls," says Time Out. "But slip away from the traffic crush of Zhongshan Road and it all becomes sleepy and hushed."

Don't Miss: "No question: Bar Otani is the coolest Japanese joint in Zhongshan. With no music, no noise, and almost no light in the place, it’s all about the tastes magicked up by master mixologist Otani-san."

15. Kerem Hateimanim and Shuk HaCarmel, Tel Aviv

Cool Factor: "‘Operation Magic Carpet’ was the top-secret operation that transported nearly 50,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949 and 1950—and this is where many of them settled," says Time Out. "Literally meaning ‘the Yemenite Vineyard’ but more often simply dubbed ‘the Kerem’, Kerem Hateimanim is a progressive hotbed of sun-chapped surfers, strolling Filipino caretakers, hungry foodies, global nomadic types and ageless Yemenites hawking home-cooked deliciousness straight out of their ground-floor kitchens.

Don't Miss: "The stunning, rose-colored Hotel Nordoy, originally built in 1925, displays the White City’s Eclecticist architecture at its most pristine. Holding court midway down Nahalat Binyamin Street, it features a rooftop spa and a killer Israeli breakfast."

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