Time Out revealed today the top 40 coolest neighbourhoods around the world: the places that balance great local culture, food and fun with support and kindness for their communities during the turmoil of 2020.
Since 2018, the annual list has been collated from the opinions of locals via the annual Time Out Index survey of over 38,000 global city residents, answering where they most loved spending their time out around their city. To rank the list this year, Time Out’s global network of editors and experts factored in not just great vibes, food, drink, nightlife and independent culture, but also community spirit, praising the neighbourhoods where people showed unconditional love and support for the communities and local businesses who represent the soul of the city.
The neighbourhood which reached the number one spot, being named the coolest neighbourhood in the world, is Esquerra de l'Eixample in Barcelona. Despite its image as a residential part of the Catalan capital, it has shown incredible community spirit in 2020 with neighbourhood initiatives like the Hidrogel Sessions, in which neighbours organised mass dance parties on their balconies during lockdown. It’s also home to a number of vital gathering spaces, like the community-run Espai Germanetes garden, and great independent businesses such as Odd Kiosk: the world’s first LGBTQ+ magazine kiosk.
Maria José Gómez, Editor of Time Out Barcelona, said: “We are honoured that Esquerra de l’Eixample has been chosen as the coolest neighbourhood in the world this year. In Barcelona, as in many cities, people are living much more locally. The life of the city has moved from the centre to the neighbourhoods, and the Esquerra de l’Eixample is a perfect example: its community feels closer than ever, having rediscovered the area’s courtyards and used the power of entertainment and culture to keep spirits alive through lockdown. Now life in the neighbourhood seems more intense and vibrant, with the bars, restaurants and terraces (safely) buzzing.”
James Manning, International Editor of Time Out, said: “With global travel in disarray, this year our annual list of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods is less about planning your next trip and more about celebrating the hotspots that are pointing the way forward for city life. In tough times, neighbourhoods are more important than ever – and these are places where the soul of the city is on full display, thanks to independent businesses, local culture and community initiatives. Consider this list a worldwide shout-out to the strength, spirit and resilience of city-dwellers.”
Time Out is encouraging people to share their favourite neighbourhood spots through #LoveLocal to encourage more visitors and support local favourites.
Read the full list at timeout.com/coolest-neighbourhoods
1. Esquerra De L'Eixample, Barcelona
At the number one hotspot, Esquerra De L'Eixample in Barcelona is 2020’s coolest neighbourhood in the world. The Spanish neighbourhood achieved the coveted first spot based on its tight-knit community, great local businesses and LGBTQ+-friendly culture. During lockdown, locals gathered together en masse for the pop-up Hidrogel Sessions, where residents held dance parties from their balconies in fancy dress to keep community spirit up during this time. Meanwhile, a local Mutual Support Network was created to help the most vulnerable, and Ada Parellada from the well-known Semproniana restaurant started cooking for health workers.
2. Downtown, LA
Downtown LA became a pivotal, central location for peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations, making it the place where the city could express its soul and solidarity. The L.A. Live plaza was dedicated to the commemoration of Kobe Bryant, with locals lighting candles and flowers to show their love and support for the LA legend’s life. Downtown didn’t stop there at supporting its community: hospitality businesses helped feed undocumented restaurant workers and MOCA and the Broad museum kept art alive for locals’ mental stimulation.
3. Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
In third place, Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong has been reinvigorated by young creatives. Usually, Hongkongers venture to the neighbourhood on the weekends to discover new artists, interesting cuisine and shop vintage and exciting designer clothing as well as traditional textiles. But during the pandemic, the neighbourhood showed heart with non-government organisations set up to help the vulnerable and a local hostel offering housing to the homeless.
4. Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York
Bedford-Stuyvesant may look like a snapshot of the past with its brownstones and leafy streets, but it has become New York’s greatest future thinker, serving as the main hub for Black Lives Matter protests and sprouting new initiatives such as Bed-Stuy – helping to protect the most vulnerable. Locals were kept entertained by Billie Holiday Theatre who organised socially-distanced theatrical productions and Peaches Hothouse served up the best fried chicken in Tompkins, within an outdoor seating area.
5. Yarraville, Melbourne
The 5th spot has been awarded to Yarraville in Melbourne, where creative locals (and an incredible food scene) have kept spirits high through two tough lockdowns. Local artist Lee Smith-Moir painted ‘happy signs’ on walking tracks and skater Belle Hadiwidjaja has been roller-skating through the streets in different costumes, keeping families entertained on their daily walk.
6. Wedding, Berlin
Wedding is a multicultural, multigenerational community that has stayed extremely loyal to local businesses, including its longstanding restaurants such as Asia Deli on Seestraße. The community has also welcomed new additions like vegan-friendly Italian Sotto and Michelin-star Taiwanese restaurant Cozymazu and Ernst. Recently, local activists won a campaign to remove the colonial-era street names of the so-called Afrikanisches Viertel (African Quarter).
7. Shaanxi Bei Lu/Kangding Lu, Shanghai
This buzzing destination is a hub for Shanghai’s LGBTQ+ community thanks to local lesbian, bi and trans bar Roxie. Not only that but the neighbourhood has innovative new cafés, bars and restaurants including petite natural wine bar SOiF, Japanese-Americana mash-up Lucky Diner and the exciting new arrival of all-day roller skate bar Riink.
8. Dennistoun, Glasgow
Over the last decade, young students from Strathclyde University have breathed new life into Glasgow's Dennistoun area. East Coffee Company and Mesa offer exciting brunches on the buzzing Duke Street and innovative craft breweries are moving in. During the pandemic, the area was strengthened by initiatives like the Zero Waste Market – a refill grocery shop for boxes of essential foods – and Alexandra Park’s Food Forest, where locals of all backgrounds meet to plant and grow for a more sustainable future.
9. Haut-Marais, Paris
Less touristy than the main Marais district, Haut-Marais draws foodies with upscale restaurants like the Enfants Du Marché, set within the historic walls of the Marché des Enfants Rouges. Visitors are also set for culture, with world-leading contemporary art galleries like Suzanne Tarasieve, Emmanuel Perrotin and Thaddaeus Ropac setting up shop here. At night the area is alive with cocktail bars such as Little Red Door, Bisou and Candelaria. There’s also Jacques Genin café, owned by the celebrated chocolatier who, at the start of the pandemic, donated 500kg of artisanal chocolate to frontline health workers.
10. Marrickville, Sydney
Marrickville is a true melting pot of Portuguese, Vietnamese, Italian and Greek migrants who have helped cultivate the area’s exciting food scene making it one of Sydney’s most exciting places to wander and explore. The once-industrial corner has been transformed by its resident artists and LGBTQ+ community into of Sydney's most desirable postcodes.
And further neighbourhoods on our top 40 list are:
- Verdun, Montreal
- Kalamaja, Tallinn
- Hannam-dong, Seoul
- Bonfim, Porto
- Ghosttown, Oakland
- Chula-Samyan, Bangkok
- Alvalade, Lisbon
- Noord, Amsterdam
- Centro, São Paulo
- Holešovice, Prague
- Lavapiés, Madrid
- Opebi, Lagos
- Narvarte, Mexico City
- Uptown, Chicago
- Little Five Points, Atlanta
- Wynwood, Miami
- Phibsboro, Dublin
- Nørrebro, Copenhagen
- Bugis, Singapore
- Gongguan, Taipei
- Soho, London
- Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City
- Melville, Johannesburg
- Kabutocho, Tokyo
- Porta Venezia, Milan
- Taman Paramount, Kuala Lumpur
- Allston, Boston
- Bandra West, Mumbai
- Arnavutköy, Istanbul
- Banjar Nagi, Ubud
Notes to Editors
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About the methodology
As part of the 2020 Time Out Index, more than 38,000 people were surveyed in cities worldwide about the best neighbourhoods in their city. They were asked: What’s the best area in your city for eating? What’s the best area in your city for going out and having fun? What neighbourhood do you love most in your city? What’s the most overrated neighbourhood in your city? And what’s the most underrated neighbourhood in your city? Survey data was then weighted and put to a local Time Out editor or contributor in each city to finalise the definitive list of the planet’s cultural and culinary hotspots that have also shown community spirit and driven local initiatives during the pandemic.
About Time Out Group plc
Time Out Group is a global media and entertainment business that inspires and enables people to explore and enjoy the best of the city. Its digital and physical presence comprises websites, magazines, Live Events and Time Out Market. Across these platforms Time Out distributes its curated content around the best food, drink, music, theatre, art, travel and entertainment across 328 cities and in 58 countries. Time Out, listed on AIM, is headquartered in the United Kingdom.