Worldwide icon-chevron-right The 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world

The 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world

With the help of local Time Out editors and experts, we reveal the 50 neighbourhoods you have to visit right now

By James Manning, Time Out editors and Time Out contributors |
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Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Photograph: Courtesy Bussey Rooftop Bar

It’s easier than ever to travel like a local these days: we stay in homes instead of hotel rooms, we never get lost, we can hail a cab anywhere and translate any language in seconds. But in the best cities in the world, there’s still one big difference between visitors and residents: location. Experiencing a city like a local means getting off the tourist trail and discovering the places where clued-up residents actually hang out. And that’s exactly what we’ve done to compile our epic list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world right now.

As part of our Time Out Index 2019 survey, we asked more than 27,000 city-dwellers around the world about the best, most overrated and most undervalued neighbourhoods in their home town. Then, armed with their opinions, we went to the experts – Time Out editors and contributing writers who know the city like nobody else – and asked them to pinpoint the one neighbourhood in their city with the biggest buzz about it right now.

We wanted to know: are there great new venues opening? Can most people still afford to live there? Is it a place where travellers can discover the best of a city’s up-and-coming art, culture, food and drink? And most importantly: does it instinctively feel like a neighbourhood whose star is on the rise?

Then we argued a bit, ranked each neighbourhood against 49 others from across the world, and came up with what we reckon is the definitive list of the planet’s cultural and culinary hotspots right now. Be sure to click the ‘Read more’ buttons for loads more insider tips from our local experts. Time to tear up your travel plans: these are the places to be in 2019.

Visited one of our top spots? Share the love on Instagram by tagging @TimeOutEverywhere and using the hashtag #50nabes.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our countdown of the 50 best things to do in the world

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50 neighbourhoods to visit in 2019

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akacorleone
Photograph: Zof / Creative Film Production

Arroios, Lisbon

In Lisbon’s multicultural parish of Arroios, the new coexists with the classic and diversity is everywhere. Along Avenida Almirante Reis and its arteries, you can be dazzled by open-air galleries, such as urban artist Akacorleone’s recent reinvention of the Campo Mártires da Pátria basketball court. You can taste flavours from the four corners of the world, from the best dim sum in the city at Grande Palácio Hong-Kong to top-drawer Mexican at El Taco Chingón. You can get cultivated at the neighbourhood’s many cultural centres, and discover historical treasures such as the neoclassical São Lázaro Municipal Library, the Portuguese capital’s oldest. The temporary closure of Arroios metro station hasn’t taken the wind out of the area’s sails: hop off at another stop such as Anjos, or rent a scooter in Praça do Chile and discover the neighbourhood on two wheels.

EAT The longest queue on Almirante Reis speaks for itself: the venerable Ramiro remains one of the best seafood restaurants in town. Shovel down clams, peel some prawns, share a plate of ham, clean out a stuffed crab, split a traditional prego sandwich and empty some beers.

DRINK Occupying a nineteenth-century palace, Casa Independente was the place that put Arroios back on Lisbon’s nightlife map. It’s an artistic project of the Ironia Tropical cultural association, so it’s not just a good place for a drink but also a restaurant and live music venue.

DO From exhibitions and fairs to plays and live gigs, anything can happen at the Mercado de Culturas: a multipurpose space in the old nave of the Mercado do Forno do Tijolo. By 2021 it will have a new neighbour: the House of Diversity, housing Lisbon’s official support centres for LGBTQ+ people and minorities.

STAY Neya Lisboa Hotel keeps racking up awards thanks to its eco credentials. It’s energy-efficient, recycles as much as possible, has bicycles for guests and its Viva Lisboa restaurant serves a Mediterranean menu made from seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. —Raquel Dias da Silva, Time Out Lisbon

LOCALS SAY There are lots of independent things happening, young people, artists and people from all over the world. A neighbourhood that people used to be afraid of is now Lisbon’s dynamic, intercultural hub.

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Flamingo Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa is to Tokyo what Brooklyn is to New York, only cooler. Less commercially developed than the nearby city-centre neighbourhoods of Shibuya and Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa (often known simply as Shimokita) packs a hip vibe, a countercultural legacy of underground cool and a whole lot of street cred. Nestled among the vintage and consignment shops that the neighbourhood is famous for, you’ll also find a host of quaint, independent restaurants, cafés and bars. It’s a favourite haunt for Tokyo’s creative set, especially fashion folks who love digging for grungy styles that are the antithesis to cutesy, kitschy Harajuku. And although it may feel like you’re far away from central Tokyo, the neighbourhood is easily accessible from Shibuya station and is the perfect size to explore on foot.

EAT Shimokitazawa is known for its plethora of Japanese curry restaurants, and Ten To Sen serves up a lip-smacking hybrid of spicy ramen and soup curry.

DRINK Second-hand vinyl and good drinks go hand-in-hand at Upstairs Records & Bar: the shelves are stacked with disco, funk and house records, while you’ll find rare gin and whisky at the five-seater bar.

DO The number of vintage and consignment stores in Shimokitazawa can be overwhelming, but it’s always worth hitting up Flamingo Shimkitazawa as well as Stick Out, where everything in-store is priced at just ¥700 (about £5 or $6.50).

STAY The trendy and well located Shimokita Hostel has a cool DIY design aesthetic and offers capsule-like bed spaces and private rooms, along with a co-working space. —Time Out Tokyo editors

LOCALS SAY ‘Shimokita is young, fun and fairly affordable, and people don’t assume that I’m a tourist when I’m exploring with friends. There are a lot of eclectic shops and fun places to eat.’

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Rele Gallery in Onikan, Lagos

Onikan, Lagos

Past, present and future collide effortlessly in Lagos’s historic district of Onikan. A cool wind blows through the private green spaces of its military barracks and its narrow streets, which represent an architectural catalogue of the city’s history: the colonial houses of the pre-independence era, the boom of the ’70s and today’s Western-style steel and mortar structures. The landscape is still changing: larger buildings are sprouting upwards, including a football stadium and multi-storey car park, even as creatives flock to the area in search of authentic surroundings. 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.

EAT The number one place, hands down is Ghana High. 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 4pm – they sell out quickly.

DRINK For a local experience, grab a local brew (Trophy, Star or Orijin) at Fisto Bar, 18 Berkeley Street. And you haven’t lived until you’ve been to hFACTOR’s rooftop at 26 Moloney Street for one of their STROBE safe space parties.

DO Dive into Balogun Market, which sprawls in ever-changing locations across Lagos Island – just ask someone for directions. Lagosian markets are notorious for being heady on the senses, but a calm approach to them can reveal many hidden secrets. Once you’re done, seek refuge at contemporary art space Rele Gallery and women-only co-working space Tribe XX Lab, both on Military Street.

STAY Located at 30 Ajasa Street, Plan B is a B&B and cultural hub that shares its space with social impact accelerator Mitsio Motu. Or head over to Victoria Island where you’ll find 16/16, another boutique residence and incubator space (run by yours truly!).Tushar Hathiramani

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Nordufer and Torfstrassensteg, Wedding
Photograph: Dagmar Schwelle / VisitBerlin

Wedding, Berlin

Rising rents and an influx of start-up cash have changed the face of the German capital, but in Berlin’s Wedding neighbourhood, old traditions die hard. Dirt cheap and still sexy, the city’s most underrated district champions the off-the-radar charm that Berlin was once known for, and which is becoming increasingly hard to find in places like Neukölln and Kreuzberg. Home to sprawling working-class communities of generations-back Germans and immigrants alike, the area (including neighbouring Gesundbrunnen, though it hasn’t been officially part of Wedding since 2001) is known for its bustling markets, classic German pubs and vast public spaces that haven’t yet been scooped up by property developers hoping to make a quick buck from the city’s housing shortage. Whether you’re cosying 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.

EAT Tuck into something tasty from the rotating menu at MARS Küche & Bar, the on-site café at crematorium-turned-cultural centre Silent Green, which serves comfort food with a German twist.

DRINK Drop into Freya Fuchs in a quiet, residential corner of Wedding for a taste of the classic German pub experience: warm service, cold beers and an inviting atmosphere with charm to spare.

DO Stop by SAVVY Contemporary to get properly acquainted with Berlin’s world-renowned art scene. This under-the-radar performance space and community centre is known for unapologetically challenging the status quo in a city already famous for pushing the envelope.

STAY Wedding lags behind flashier neighbourhoods when it comes to hotels, but head to mk | hotel near Osloer Strasse for a well-earned night’s sleep, then rent a bike and head back into Wedding to explore. Nathan Ma

LOCALS SAY It’s authentic and international, with few tourists and many real Berliners. There’s plenty to do but also peace and quiet.

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Street art in HIstoric Filipinotown, Los Angeles
Photograph: Noted Media

Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles

As L.A.’s other gentrifying areas ditch any sense of character and culture in favour of the latest generic-chic hotness, Historic Filipinotown is propping up its own. Pop into its places to eat, which include some of the city’s most exciting new openings, and you might spot a map that highlights other Asian-American-owned restaurants in the area. HiFi – as it’s known for short – reflects L.A. as its best: a convergence of cultures where the savoury Asian porridge at Porridge & Puffs feels right at home with the ’90s hip-hop vibes at HiFi Kitchen, the mother-and-son chewy noodle recipes at Woon and the floral-filled celebration of black art at Bloom & Plume Coffee. 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, with the blocks in between dotted by a beautifying, neighbourhood-wide mural project spearheaded by The Gabba Gallery.

EAT Bring along your biggest crew to The Parks Finest BBQ to tackle as much of the Filipino-American menu as possible. But good luck trying not to fight your friends for the last licks of Mama Leah’s coconut beef adobo.

DRINK Look for the lit-up coupe-glass sign out front of Genever, an Art Deco den owned and run by women. The gin-focused seasonal menu means every visit is different – but that’s just more reasons to keep coming back, right?

DO 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.

STAY You’ll find a few cosy bungalows along the area’s side streets on Airbnb, but for proper hotels you’ll need to look about ten minutes’ drive away. We suggest the boutiquey Hotel Covell in Los Feliz or the relatively affordable Freehand in Downtown L.A.. Michael Juliano, Time Out Los Angeles

LOCALS SAY HiFi is a spirit as much as an area, a place that feels refreshing and honest in a Los Angeles landscape that is quickly becoming over-funded and monotonous.

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The Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart CBD, Hobart's coolest neighbourhood

The Waterfront, Hobart

Back in January 2011, lucky high-roller David Walsh put his gambling millions into opening a world-class art museum in his home city: Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania. 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 travellers of all stripes and persuasions. Rocketing numbers of visitors are discovering Hobart’s jaw-dropping eucalypt forests, world-leading whiskey, gin and wine and incredible, seafood-driven dining scene, while the annual journey from the mainland for the Dark Mofo winter solstice festival is becoming a mandatory pilgrimage for Melbourne and Sydney cognoscenti. Hobart’s star isn’t just on the rise: it’s positively meteoric. And for now at least, the city’s historic waterfront is the place to feel at the centre of it all.

EAT 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. The menu changes daily based on what’s in season and what the chef fancies foraging on her way to work.

DRINK If Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ had a penchant for booze instead of books, her library would look like the four-level back bar at Society Salamanca (which comes complete with a sliding ladder to access the highest shelves). Find it two minutes into the neighbouring Battery Point district.

DO Did we mention the Museum of Old and New Art? The free-thinking gallery features everything from ancient Greek amphora to boundary-pushing avant-garde works. Catch the ferry there from the waterfront – we recommend you either board early enough to claim a sheep-shaped seat to ride on, or book the ‘Posh Pit’ with unlimited drinks and canapés on the 25-minute journey.

STAY In a converted waterfront warehouse, the Henry Jones Art Hotel combines modern luxury with industrial chic and more than 500 pieces of contemporary Tasmanian artworks lining the walls. On a Saturday it’s an easy stroll to the crazy popular Salamanca Market, stuffed with fresh produce and Tasmanian-made art and crafts. Cass Knowlton, Time Out Australia

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Porte Saint-Denis, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis
Photograph: Flickr / Cristian Bortes

Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Paris

Far be it from us to neglect the stylish addresses of the Haut-Marais or the bistronomic renaissance of the 11th arrondissement, but SSD remains the centre of Parisian cool. 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. Nearby, multicultural Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis is changing without stumbling into the gentrified clichés of areas like SoPi. More and more boboïsé but still alive and kicking (and, in parts, a little dodgy), this is still a place where cultures rub shoulders in a way that’s constantly refreshing.

EAT Pizza lovers, Da Graziella is your Holy of Holies: a wood-fired oven, art nouveau walls, and that great speciality of Naples: the pizza fritta!

DRINK Behind a decrepit facade and an inch-thick layer of posters hides one of the best cocktail bars in Paris: Le Syndicat. Their creative cocktails are made with 100 percent French alcohol.

DO During Fashion Week, the whole of Paris flocks to impeccably designed Hôtel Bourbon (if they can get in, that is). Sip a mezcal cocktail in the ground-floor bar before descending to the basement club to move to electro-funk and hip hop sounds.

STAY 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. —Houssine Bouchama, Time Out Paris

LOCALS SAY There’s everything you need here: good restaurants, different and interesting people, culture nearby and nightlife.

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Ditmars Boulevard subway station, Astoria, Queens
Photograph: Flickr / Jana Markova. Mural: Lady Pink

Astoria, New York

Over the past few years, NYC’s creatives have been flocking to Queens – many opting for the borough’s boho-cool DIY mecca Ridgewood, the artist lofts of Long Island City and the sleepy environs of Woodside. But for our money, Astoria is where it’s at. 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 neighbours from around the globe. You could think of Astoria as a more sensible, melting-potty alternative to overdeveloped North Brooklyn – and not just because the rents are way more affordable. From the stretch of Steinway Street lined with Egyptian restaurants and hookah bars to the gorgeous street art at the Welling Court Mural Project and some of the city’s most idiosyncratic museums, it’s got all the diversity, flavour and energy that some people complain you can’t find in New York these days.

EAT A delicately crispy outer shell; a richly savoury, melt-in-your-mouth ball of chickpea bliss; a chewy wrapping of laffa bread: the falafel at Zyara on Steinway St offers a transcendent eating experience.

DRINK Who doesn’t dig idyllic tree-filled courtyards filled with happy people toting huge glasses of Czech beer? The expansive outdoor-drinking staple Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden ticks off all of those boxes and more – and has been doing so for more than a century.

DO Film buff? Consider Museum of the Moving Image your HQ. This unique institution covers expert insight into how the movies are made alongside antique zoetropes and one of the world’s leading video game collections. Keep your eye on its calendar for super-rare film screenings and blockbuster retrospective exhibits.

STAY Situated one block off Astoria proper, the Paper Factory Hotel – once an actual paper factory and before that a radio manufacturer – is an art-filled monument to the area’s industrial past, and probably the swankiest place nearby to rent a room. Miles Raymer

LOCALS SAY It’s the most diverse spot in the city with great food, great artists, great people and so much culture to immerse yourself in.

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Calle del Oso, Embajadores, Madrid

Embajadores, Madrid

No other neighbourhood 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. Florists arrange their bouquets in Plaza Tirso de Molina next to the bold murals of street artist Okuda. Next to the Indian restaurants that have been popping up around Calle de Lavapiés, you’ll find traditional eateries like the legendary Melo’s, where punters gather to order their famous zapatillas (two slices of bread, as large as a skateboard, stuffed with heaps of Lacón pork and tetilla cheese). Each May brings CALLE Lavapiés, an event in which dozens of urban artists decorate the facades of landmark bars and shops, and in October you can eat your way through the neighbourhood during the Spanish capital’s most delicious gastronomic happening: the Tapapiés tapas festival.

EAT For a quality cheap-and-cheerful meal, head to the Mercado de San Fernando at the weekend, where you’ll find gastro stalls to satisfy any craving. Try Rincón de Manolo for a montadito (a type of tapa on bread) of Iberian ham with a bottle of beer for just €5.

DRINK Cocktail bar Ciriaco Brown has a classic look that mixes antique furniture from the Rastro market and Castilian wood, giving it a touch of luxury that just begs for a Gimlet.

DO Formerly one of the last active X-rated cinemas in town, Sala Equis reopened in 2017 as an ultra-modern bar. It also has a screening area for arthouse films (don’t worry, nothing too racy).

STAY Nearby you’ll find some hip hostels like The Hat, which has one of the best rooftops in Madrid. But if you’re looking for something a bit classier, opt for Artrip, a hotel that exudes artistic taste. —Josep Lambies, Time Out Madrid

LOCALS SAY It’s where you can find the most authentic places in the city, and the most interesting people.

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Dusek's, Pilsen, Chicago
Photograph: Clayton Hauck

Pilsen, Chicago

With its distinctive murals and strong public art scene, Pilsen could well be Chicago’s most recognisable neighbourhood. 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. The neighbourhood’s main artery is 18th Street, a lively stretch of pavement that’s dotted with fantastic taquerias, bars, thrift shops and cafés. But make time to wander off the beaten path to discover the splashy murals lining streets and alleyways, many of which tell stories of the area’s eclectic past.

EAT Once you’ve had your fill of carnitas and mole (tough, we know), nab a table at Thai and Danielle Dang’s Vietnamese restaurant HaiSous (now also in Time Out Market Chicago), where the parade of mouthwatering dishes coming from the kitchen includes chicken wings lacquered in caramelized fish sauce and golden-hued curry studded with sweet potatoes and young bamboo.

DRINK The cocktail menu at swinging piano bar Tack Room is worth the trip alone, but plan your visit around the live music line-up that runs from Thursday through Saturday. Order the poblano-scented Southwest Cobbler before dropping a request in the piano player’s jar. And yes, singing along is encouraged.

DO You don’t have to pay a cent to visit one of the US’s largest Mexican art collections at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Its impressive 10,000 permanent pieces plus regularly rotating exhibits include folk art and photography, paintings and sculptures – all curated by passionate experts dedicated to engrossing visitors in the rich history of Mexican art.

STAY To fully immerse yourself in the neighbourhood you’ll want to book an Airbnb, and there are plenty of spacious lofts to choose from. Otherwise, check-in at The Hoxton in the West Loop and hop on the CTA’s Pink Line when you’re ready to head back to Pilsen. Morgan Olsen, Time Out Chicago

LOCALS SAY Culturally, it’s one of the Chicago neighbourhoods that has stayed intact. It has a beautiful art scene and a wonderful community.

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Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Photograph: Courtesy Bussey Rooftop Bar

Peckham, London

Over the last few years, Peckham has cemented itself as London’s preeminent cultural hotspot. Streets once associated with the sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ are now lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups. Over this past year more and more restaurants, bars and club nights have established themselves along the area’s well-known Rye Lane, as well as snaking around to previously residential backstreets. With some of the capital’s most reputable arts colleges just a 436 bus ride away, the area has become a healthy breeding ground for south-east London’s burgeoning creative scene while staying true to its multicultural roots. At the cavernous Khan’s Bargains, art kids and families shop for homewares and nick-nacks shoulder to shoulder.

EAT Rye Lane favourite Taco Queen fills its soft-shell tacos with anything from spicy pulled pork to fried avo. You might as well get one of their Margaritas whilst you’re there.

DRINK 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 thank Frank’s, with the same breathtaking cityscape panorama and delicious cocktails.

DO Peckhamplex is stuck in the ’90s in a good way: as well as the retro decor, tickets at this much-loved multi-screen cinema are still a ludicrously cheap £4.99 all day long.

STAY Nowhere does pubs like London, and The Victoria Inn – a country-style gastropub near Peckham Rye – has a set of boutique guest rooms upstairs to rest your head after last orders. —Grace Goslin

LOCALS SAY There’s so much going on that I can’t keep up, but it’s all down-to-earth and friendly – nothing pretentious. There’s a good mix of young people and families and an amazing mix of cultures, which makes it a great place to live and play.

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Goja Art Gallery
Phuthip Wattanakeesuntorn/Time Out Bangkok

Soi Pridi Banomyong/Phra Khanong, Bangkok

As the once-favoured districts of Thonglor and Ekkamai have become too packed and expensive, 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). 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. Swing by for a cup of artisanal coffee at Karo Coffee Roasters, snap photos of the street art around W Market, mingle with like-minded individuals at one of the area’s many excellent new bars, and breathe in the fresh energy – while it’s still here.

EAT Located in a super-low-key ‘food court’ near Soi Pridi 43, Larb Lub Lub (‘Secret Larb’) is well worth the walk up the main road. Join the clued-up locals and Japanese expats savouring north-eastern Thai fare alongside surprisingly fresh sashimi and Japanese bites at this clandestine joint.

DRINK Clouds Across The Moon captures its owner’s nostalgia for the ’80s with its interior and futuristic drinks. Or there’s Cielo Sky Bar at W District, where you can take in the mesmerizing night view of Bangkok.

DO Shop for fun, antique collectables at Masaru Japan Store, then check out contemporary art by breaking Thai and Japanese artists at Goja Art Gallery (which also hosts regular hip hop nights).

STAY Local Time offers a friendly and fuss-free stay in one of its dormitory-style rooms, as well as fun activities like beer tasting, yoga and jam sessions. —Top Koaysomboon, Time Out Bangkok

LOCALS SAY It has a great location, not far from the city centre but quiet enough. My friends live in the area and there are cafés, street food and markets.

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People shopping at Footscray Market
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Footscray, Melbourne

Whoever came up with the phrase ‘west is best’ must have been thinking about Footscray. This inner-city neighbourhood is the brightest jewel of west Melbourne, primarily thanks to the migrant communities that call it home. A melting pot of cultures from places as far-flung as Vietnam and Ethiopia have brought touches of their home countries, which means you can scoop up a goat curry with fresh injera, slurp up pho and hunt down the best cannoli in town – all in the same street. And hot on the heels of the neighbourhood’s foodie reputation is its growing arts scene, thanks largely to the Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC): a central hub for cultural expression, contemporary arts and community involvement.

EAT Like we said, food is a big part of Footscray’s appeal – and Vietnamese banh mi is the neighbourhood’s sandwich of choice. Our recommendation is Nhu Lan bakery, where you can score a baguette with shredded pork skin for about the same price as the train ticket you bought to get here.

DRINK Mr West is Footscray’s venue for lovers of good booze: craft beer, good wine, better spirits and great cocktails are the big draws here. It’s the place to be on a lazy Sunday arvo with the sun gleaming in through the dog-friendly smoko area.

DO You’ll find exotic fruits, cheap butcheries, fresh seafood and speciality stores selling anything from Chinese sauces to Mexican condiments at the gastro cornucopia that is Footscray Market.

STAY Spend the night at The Plough Hotel, a multi-tasking space that’s part-restaurant, part-bar and part-hotel, with just under a dozen comfortably minimalist boutique rooms.Cass Knowlton, Time Out Melbourne

LOCALS SAY It’s multicultural, has great bars and food, and it’s cheap(er) and has fewer annoying wanker bros than other parts of the city.

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Zhongshan North Road, Taipei
Photograph: Diamo Laung Bobpuao / CC BY

Zhongshan, Taipei

The centre of Taipei’s high life in the ’70s and ’80s, the area around Zhongshan MRT station has reclaimed its spot as the Taiwanese capital’s hottest neighbourhood. Still replete with the elegance of yesteryear, the tree-lined main avenues pulse with crowds heading for new, ultra-modern concept malls – Eslite Spectrum is the latest. But slip away from the traffic crush of Zhongshan Road and it all becomes sleepy and hushed – at least until the lanes to the east, known as Little Japan, spring alive at night with sushi, ramen restaurants and hip cocktail bars. The lanes to the west, meanwhile, are the realm of Taipei’s youth, with ever-increasing numbers of funky boutiques, kooky cafés, cinemas and galleries springing up in renovated heritage buildings.

EAT Nothing says ‘Taipei’ more than a fragrant bowl of xiao long bao (soup pork dumplings) from Din Tai Fung, a homegrown hero that’s now conquering the world. At the Zhongshan branch, away from the tourist hotspots, you’ll catch a more local clientele.

DRINK 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.

DO Grab a bag of popcorn for an arthouse cinema screening at SPOT – Taipei Film House. It’s in a graceful, white colonial villa that was once the home of the US ambassador.

STAY At the offbeat and creative Play Design Hotel, you get to decide what furniture and fittings – all designed in Taiwan – you want in your room. —Dinah Gardner

LOCALS SAY I love it because it’s so diverse: Taiwanese, Japanese, historic and modern.

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Nordoy Hotel in Kerem Hateimanim, Tel Aviv's coolest neighbourhood

Kerem Hateimanim and Shuk HaCarmel, Tel Aviv

‘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. 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. A smattering of the quaint one-storey buildings have been swapped out for sleek apartment complexes, but the Kerem’s authenticity has remained, flanked on one side by a glittering stretch of Mediterranean Sea and on the other by the sprawling Shuk HaCarmel: Tel Aviv’s best known market and the neighbourhood’s coolest hangout. Just grab a cold beer and a snack from the Shuk and stroll down the Kerem’s lanes – packed with veggies, fruits, jewellery and Hamsa symbols – all the way down to the beach.

EAT A stone’s throw from the Shuk in an entirely bare-bones set-up, HaBasta (‘The Stall’) turns out market-fresh gems like bourekas sartanim: a puff pastry filled to bursting with blue crab meat.

DRINK Throw back shots of arak, the Middle Eastern answer to ouzo, at legendary Tel Avivian mainstay HaMinzar, which is open round the clock and boasts hordes of night owls and early-morning drinkers to prove it.

DO Every Friday, the Kerem ignites with people and the hustle around the Shuk goes in overdrive before the weekend Sabbath. Pop in early to any of the alfresco cafes and places to eat lining the cobblestone alleys and then head over to the parallel Nachalat Binyamin Artists’ Market, which buzzes every week with artisans and street performers.

STAY The stunning, rose-coloured 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. —Elianna Bar-el, Time Out Tel Aviv

LOCALS SAY It has it all, from the market and entertainment to community life. There’s a magical atmosphere on Friday at noon.

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Flats in Kypseli, Athens

Kypseli, Athens

Just north of the city centre, beyond the notorious anarchist enclave of Exarchia, Kypseli is one of Athens’s oldest neighbourhoods. Over the past few decades, a host of migrant communities have settled amongst its eclectic mix of neoclassical, Art Deco and post-war architecture, making it one of Greece’s few truly multicultural neighbourhoods. More recently, the city’s artist community has begun making it home too. The Fokionos Negri boulevard encompasses this meeting of worlds: old Greek men sit playing dominoes in the square, hip bookshops and galleries draw curious eyes nearby and Ethiopian restaurants sit next to traditional kafeneios.

EAT The tiny-but-always-packed Asia Minor is the place to gorge on mouth-watering Kurdish food. Start with a meze of dips and tabbouleh salad before tucking into a spicy kebab. Booking is advised on weekends.

DRINK Famous for its Negronis and mid-century décor, Au Revoir is reportedly the oldest bar in Athens. Today, Kypseli’s art crowd pack it out every night of the week.

DO Spend a lazy Sunday afternoon people-watching on leafy Platia Agiou Georgiou, refuelling at one of the traditional tavernas or sipping a beer at trendsetting hangout Village.

STAY Airbnb is your best bet within the neighbourhood itself – otherwise, try the pretty Quinta guesthouse in nearby Exarchia.

LOCALS SAY Kypseli just has an amazing energy to it – there are people from all over the world here but it still has a real village feel. It’s vast and small at the same time.

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Jalatlaco, Oaxaca's coolest neighbourhood
Photograph: William Wood

Jalatlaco, Oaxaca

A neighbourhood deeply rooted in tradition, Jalatlaco has recently started attracting the attention of a contemporary crowd. Just a hop, skip and jump from the busy centre of Oaxaca, these cobbled streets lined with colourful houses and street art are now sprouting new galleries, design shops and restaurants. The best time to visit is during Day of the Dead, when the streets overflow with people joining the neighbourhood fiesta. But year-round you can wander along the ridiculously picturesque Miguel Hidalgo street with Mexican flags billowing overhead, bumping into local artists (and only the occasional tourist), or amble down Aldama to revel in the urban art and sip a coffee in one of Jalatlaco’s myriad of quaint cafés.

EAT The shabby-chic courtyard at arts centre and restaurant El Armadillo Negro is a great spot to chow down on a freshly made quesadilla with lashings of salsa.

DRINK Enjoy an early evening Margarita at Los Pilares Hotel before hitting the mezcal bars in Oaxaca city centre.

DO Join the local crowd and check out an exhibition opening at warehouse-style gallery Córdoba Galería + Lab, where you can sip on a mezcal and take in some of the most contemporary, cutting-edge art in town.

STAY The typically Mexican pink walls at the uber-photogenic City Centro Oaxaca Hotel are offset by the blue of the rooftop pool and the green of the San Pedro cacti lining the terrace. —Susannah Rigg

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Tan Dinh Church, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Photograph: Ngô Trung / CC BY

District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Still often referred to by its pre-communist name of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s largest city: a jewel that blends French colonial history with a robust street food culture and rapid modern development. The city is broken into 24 numbered districts: District 1 is the frenetic downtown area, while District 2 is an expat-heavy suburb of international schools and western-style beer gardens. But if you’re looking for the city’s crossroads of local culture and cosmopolitan flair, head to District 3 – a buzzing but less well-trodden neighbourhood where exciting new developments coexist with a sense of history. Here you’ll find colonial-era churches and villas alongside Buddhist pagodas and some of the city’s most renowned street food stalls. By night, head to one of the district’s live music mainstays, which attract hip locals and a few of the more adventurous tourists.

EAT For some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat, hit Nguyen Thuong Hien, also known as ‘snail street’: a world-famous thoroughfare of fresh snails and shellfish in a variety of preparations from noodles to soup.

DRINK Don’t let the city’s ubiquitous, non-stop electronic music fool you – Saigon was once a bona fide rock ’n’ roll town. Vestiges of that culture still remain at bars like Yoko Café, a favourite of locals and expats alike, where local bands take the stage with live rock, jazz, and more heavy sounds.

DO One of Saigon’s most iconic landmarks is the somewhat surreal bright pink Tan Dinh Church, built by the French in the late nineteenth century. Beyond its eye-grabbing colour, it’s worth visiting for its gorgeous gothic architecture. Your Instagram will thank you.

STAY Skip the big chains and opt for the exceptionally well-trimmed, French-inspired Bach Suites Saigon. Every room comes with a king-sized bed plus a dining and living room and kitchenette, and it’s steps away from Turtle Lake, a popular local hang.Dan Q Dao

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Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar
Photograph: Alejandra Carbajal

Juárez, Mexico City

Berlin, Liverpool, Hamburg, London… no, you’re not in Europe – these are all the names of streets in Colonia Juárez. Running alongside Reforma, one of Mexico City’s most important avenues, Juárez combines an aristocratic past and eclectic architecture with the city’s most exciting new openings. In the ’60s, the centre of this venerable neighbourhood became the Zona Rosa: CDMX’s epicentre of intellectual and bohemian life and the bastion of the city’s LGBTQ+ party scene. (It’s since attracted a new wave of arrivals as the Mexican capital’s Koreatown.) Despite terrible earthquakes in 1985 and 2017, Juárez continues to flourish: walk its streets today and you’ll find an endless supply of new restaurants, galleries, bars, and shops showcasing some of the most creative and enticing food, drinks and design in North America.

EAT One of the newest openings in the neighbourhood, Niddo has quickly become one of the best restaurants in the city thanks to its incredible comfort food (the grilled cheese sandwich is a must-try) and and chic décor. Don’t be put off by having to wait a few minutes for a table: it’s definitely worth it.

DRINK Finding the hidden entrance of Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar is an experience itself. Once you make it inside, start at the top of the cocktail menu with the 5 O’Clock Tea Time: gin, lime sugar, cardamom, and prosecco.

DO Chocoholics, take a bite out of the delicious MuCho Mundo Chocolate Museo. It’s a whole museum dedicated to promoting the history and culture of chocolate: one of Mexico’s most celebrated, delicious, and loved ingredients.

STAY It’s technically in the neighbouring Colonia Cuauhtémoc, but Hotel Carlota is the perfect location when visiting Juárez: minimalist and highly stylized, with an outdoor pool surrounded by trees for some much-needed greenery. Bonus: it’s pet-friendly. Mariana Guillén, Time Out Mexico City

LOCALS SAY I love the tranquility of Reforma, the trees and museums, the proximity to other areas and the variety of places to go out at night.

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Rambla del Poblenou, Barcelona
Photograph: Shutterstock

Poblenou, Barcelona

Poblenou was the hub of Barcelona’s industrial revolution, but nowadays, in the blocks stretching north-east from Parc de la Ciutadella, you’ll hardly see any signs of the textile and transport businesses that were built in ‘the Manchester of Catalonia’ in the early twentieth century. Instead, you’ll come across digital marketing agencies, amazing co-working spaces, lavish speciality coffee shops and art galleries, all set in massive industrial buildings. Just when you think you’ve stepped into an episode of ‘Portlandia’ dubbed into Catalan, you’ll reach Carrer de Marià Aguiló, the residential heart of the neighbourhood. Residents can’t walk 50 metres along here without a few friendly hellos to acquaintances. This is the real Poblenou: a beachside village within a city, still staving off gentrification (plenty of shops still close on Saturday afternoons) amidst the new industry of the twenty-first century.

EAT La Rambla del Poblenou is a little more touristy than the surrounding streets, but it’s got one major saving grace: it’s where you’ll find Els Tres Porquets, an excellent Catalan restaurant serving up locally sourced haute cuisine.

DRINK Balius combines classic cocktails and the Spanish recipe book. Try the Atascaburras (‘Donkeystopper’), which is based on a recipe documented in ‘Don Quixote’.

DO Wander down to the beach and book yourself in for a paddleboarding class at La Base Náutica, a municipal water-sports school with a year-round programme. You’ll never go back to pilates.

STAY The delightful Hostal Poblenou is set in an elegantly restored building, with light and airy bedrooms and breakfast served on a plant-filled terrace. —Ricard Martín, Time Out Barcelona

LOCALS SAY ‘It combines restaurants and bars with design studios, art galleries and urban art – but at the same time it preserves neighbourhood life and doesn’t have the tourist crowds of the city centre (at least for now).’

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Jamestown street scene, Accra, Ghana
Photograph: Daniel Neilson

Jamestown, Accra

One of the oldest and most historic districts in Accra, Jamestown is filled with visceral sensory experiences that can shock, delight, perplex and confront its visitors. Sitting right on the Gulf of Guinea coast, this densely populated traditional Ga fishing community is a labyrinth of streets and alleyways, constantly filled with the sounds of children playing, the smells of smoking fish and ocean salt, and the ongoing activity and entrepreneurialism of a community that hustles hard. New hangouts are attracting creatives from Ghana and abroad, bringing art, live music, food and cocktails to Jamestown and offsetting the colonial history that still speaks through the whitewashed and peeling walls of the forts that line the High Street.

EAT Sprawling open-air bar and restaurant Onikan is so close to the shoreline that it’s hard to avoid the ocean spray. Sit here at sundown for views all the way to Osu’s Christiansborg Castle, best enjoyed over a cold Club beer and a big plate of jollof with red fish.

DRINK Built by its owner, architect Joe Osae-Addo, Jamestown Café is a magical little sanctuary with an art gallery, outdoor bar and dining area and space for live music and concerts.

DO Brazil House art space is a major hub for Jamestown’s creativity, as well as being the ancestral home of the Tabom people: a group of Afro-Brazilian returnees who settled in Ghana.

STAY There’s very little visitor accommodation in Jamestown proper, but if you want a super-fancy hotel situation, check out the Kempinski or Movenpick hotels, both a half-hour walk into town. —Anna Robertson

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International Jazz Festival stage in Verdun, Montreal
Photograph: Alexanne Brisson

Verdun, Montreal

We’re calling it: the city-within-a-city neighbourhood of Verdun is the most up-and-coming place on the island of Montreal. From exploring the joie de vivre of its bustling main strip, Wellington Street, to relaxing in parks alongside the Saint-Lawrence River, it’s a well-kept secret among locals – and exceedingly welcoming to visitors too. With nearly 350 years of history, it’s actually one of Canada’s oldest cities: a historically working-class area that was (despite Montreal’s reputation for raucous nightlife) officially dry between the years of 1965 and 2010. Today it’s flush with restaurants both new and time-honoured, serving iconic Québécois food as well as creative eats loaded with flair, and there’s a fresh collection of bars to booze at between the regular street fairs and festivals.

EAT Check out the inspired menus at Beba, where chef Ari Schor – who’s cooked for Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama – turns fresh, local produce into inimitably delicious plates like warm empanadas or chanterelle mushrooms on cheesy polenta.

DRINK Pay a visit to Benelux, which was the first fully-fledged bar to open in Verdun after it broke its longstanding alcohol prohibition. There you’ll find refreshing and heady microbrews by the pint or growler. Enjoy lounging on their expansive terrasse come summertime.

DO If you’re in Montreal in summer for the International Jazz Festival, check out Verdun’s satellite stage: the first of its kind at this world-class event. Then follow that up with a visit to the neighbourhood’s new urban beach for some sun, sand, and river swimming.

STAY Get a classic home-welcoming feel at La Petite Bourgeoise, a cheekily-named 1920s B&B that retains all its old finishings while offering modern hospitality. Its location makes it a great base to grab a ride or a bike downtown, or dip in and out of Verdun at one’s leisure. Jean-Pierre Karwacki, Time Out Montreal

LOCALS SAY There’s a strong community life, with family and cultural activities always going on, plus it’s near the water and has lots of restaurants and bars.

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OCT-Loft
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Overseas Chinese Town, Shenzhen

Shenzhen has gone from a sleepy fishing village to a megalopolis of 12.5 million in a little under 40 years, turbocharged by its status as China’s first ‘special economic zone’. Its western Nanshan district has become China’s Silicon Valley, with tech giants like Huawei, Tencent and DJI all headquartered here. And Nanshan’s hub is the Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) neighbourhood: a collection of former warehouses now turned into a leafy, well-heeled residential district centred on the buzzing arts and design complex OCT-Loft. This is the only place in the world that you’ll find cool contemporary galleries, bookshops, jazz bars and cafés sitting alongside a string of quirky theme parks, including one with a collection of miniature world landmarks.

EAT Head into OCT-Loft off Wenchang Street and sample Magpie’s Chinese-European fusion menu of continental dishes sprinkled with Chinese herbs and spices, washed down with molecular cocktails in an industrial-chic space.

DRINK Don’t miss the ales and seasonal beers in the grubby-cool taproom of Shenzhen’s most celebrated craft microbrewery, Bionic Brew. It’s located on a chaotic, urban pedestrian street with plenty of wee-hours street food on offer.

DO Once you’ve meandered around the chill, repurposed warehouses that comprise the OCT-Loft arts and design district, lighten up with a trip to one of OCT’s offbeat theme parks. Ride the rollercoasters at Happy Valley or see mini versions of the Kremlin and Sydney Opera House at Window of the World.

STAY The European-inspired Intercontinental Shenzhen is far and away the best night’s rest in OCT. Aim for a room with a balcony overlooking Shenzhen Bay towards Hong Kong, with a view of the full-size Spanish galleon that overlooks the outdoor pool. Megan Eaves

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Launderette
Photograph: Jessica Attie

Holly, Austin

‘Keep Austin Weird’ is the rallying cry you’ll see plastered on walls, T-shirts and car bumper stickers across the Texan capital – and by ‘weird’ they mean laidback, earthy and cool. No part of the city epitomizes that vibe more than East Austin, and at its heart you’ll find the hip haven of Holly. Bordered by the river to the south, East Cesar Chavez to the west and Govalle to the east, this is where you’ll find many of Austin’s buzziest (and quirkiest) bars, as well as the city’s hottest new BBQ joint (not a title thrown around lightly down here), La Barbecue. Very much a rising cultural hub, Holly attracts artists, musicians and young creatives like metal filings to a magnet – and it looks like it’s only going to get weirder.

EAT Launderette, a beautifully converted laundromat on Holly Street, is currently cleaning up in the brunch stakes. Regulars swear by the cloud-like whipped ricotta toast and the juicy pork shoulder hash – an impeccable hangover crusher.

DRINK You can put Lustre Pearl East in the same category as ‘Aliens’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Terminator 2’: a sequel that clearly outshines the original. This converted wooden home with a huge backyard and a craft cocktail list to match is considerably vibier than its downtown forebear, and an excellent option for a spot of alfresco drinking.

DO Beat the (near-permanent) Texas heat by sauntering down to Edward Rendon Sr Park, perched on the banks of the Colorado River. Here you can fire up a communal BBQ, picnic beneath shady trees or dive into the open-air swimming pool as you watch Austin’s daily life flow by.

STAY A five-minute Uber ride away, the newly opened East Austin Hotel is an airy boutique property with a distinctly chilled vibe and a buzzing rooftop bar and pool. Jonathan Thompson

LOCALS SAY It’s convenient, near good food and chill.

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Rua José Paulino, Bom Retiro, São Paulo
Photograph: Alf Ribeiro / Shutterstock.com

Bom Retiro, São Paulo

Over the past few centuries, the neighbourhood of Bom Retiro has been the first to welcome many of the immigrant communities that make São Paulo the city it is today – and every wave, from Italians to Jews to Koreans and now Bolivians, has left its mark. Located in the historic centre, ‘Bomra’ (as it is affectionately known by locals), has long been recognised as one of the best places to eat in the metropolis: gastronomic highlights are condensed around Rua Guarani, a local hub of Korean cuisine. But the area is currently undergoing a process of rebirth and renewed interest: family restaurants meet young zine-makers, new clubbing spaces are born near museums. Much like São Paulo, Bom Retiro never stops changing, and that’s what makes it special.

EAT Right at the border with the neighbouring Barra Funda neighbourhood you’ll find one of the neighbourhood’s gems: the inconspicuous Capivara Bar. They don’t take reservations but offer a highly-praised and ever-changing menu, updated daily on Instagram.

DRINK There are plenty of great ways for visitors to end their night in the area – but none are better than sharing some soju and delicious Korean food with friends at low-key gastrobar Pojang Macha.

DO Of course you’ll want to go shopping for cheap clothes, nicknacks and accessories on Rua José Paulino, and see art at the massive Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, the city’s oldest art gallery. But make sure to check out the schedule at Casa do Povo too. With a history of resistance dating back to its post-war foundations, this building is home to many events hosted by young artists, and a great place to go support independent creators.

STAY Many beautiful apartments in ’30s buildings have been modernised by their owners, making staying at an Airbnb a good bet here. Just make sure to stay close to an underground station such as Tiradentes or Luz, so you can make the most of the whole sprawling city. —Biju Belinky

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Fenix Food Factory in Katendrecht, Rotterdam's coolest neighbourhood
Photograph: Iris van den Broekk

Katendrecht, Rotterdam

Rotterdam and its citizens have long done things their own way, an attitude that gives the city its distinctive character and sense of exuberance, and nowhere is this more pronounced than Katendrecht. Formerly the city’s Chinatown and favoured haunt of sailors, scoundrels and ladies of the night, this peninsula on the southern bank of the Nieuwe Mass has become the hippest, liveliest part of town without losing any of its rough charm. Young couples and the cosmopolitan congregate around the cute restaurants and cool bars of Deliplein, catch shows at the Walhalla Theatre, or simply stroll along the waterfront admiring the prominent skyline of neighbouring Kop Van Zuid and the boroughs to the north.

EAT Posse is not just a restaurant – it’s also a vintage emporium, gallery, and bookstore. The shabby-chic industrial interior and huge black-and-white photos are the perfect backdrop for unfussy, homely food. The fish is particularly great: they have not just one but two ‘catch of the day’ options.

DRINK Make like a local and head to the rough diamond that is Café de Ouwehoer. Whisky is the speciality here – it has the best selection in the town – so grab a spot on one of the studded green leather banquets, admire the quirky wall décor and have a few wee drams.

DO The SS Rotterdam, moored at the neighbourhood’s eastern tip, is a fabulous experience in its own right – it has guided tours, bar, restaurants, and more. But for something truly unique head to the Dutch Pinball Museum. Playing the hundred or so machines here, some dating from the early 1900s, isn’t just damn good retro fun – it’s also an education in the history of pinball. Happy flipping!

STAY Just over the Rijnhaven Bridge in Kop Van Zuid, the art deco Hotel New York is one of the city’s most historic buildings and perfectly blends old-world elegance with contemporary design. Its river views are spectacular too. Derek Robertson

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Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza, Ancoats, Manchester

Ancoats, Manchester

Once synonymous with gang violence and post-industrial seediness, canalside Ancoats has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, emerging as the new hangout of choice for Manchester’s many cool kids. Abandoned cotton mills have been converted into affordable co-working spaces and river-facing apartments, while microbreweries, colourful murals and specialist coffee shops crop up faster than it takes to say ‘make mine an Indian Pale Ale’. Meanwhile, a growing flurry of Vietnamese restaurant-opening activity on Great Ancoats Street and nearby Oldham Road has earned this part of the neighbourhood the nickname ‘Little Vietnam’, boosting Ancoats’s growing reputation as a foodie hotspot.

EAT In 2018, the Vietnamese owners of Viet Shack upsized from a much-loved street food spot in the Arndale shopping centre to a spot on Great Ancoats Street, bringing along their in-demand pho – and huge crowds of devotees.

DRINK In an unassuming shed on the Piccadilly Trading Estate, Cloudwater Brewery is a buzzing spot for beer-loving party people, and no wonder: its brews have been ranked among the best in the world.

DO Catch a show at Hope Mill Theatre, a Grade II-listed former cotton mill which has gained a reputation as one of the UK’s leading independent theatres. Local performers and writers come under the spotlight here, and there’s a funky bar-restaurant on site too.

STAY AC Marriott tipped the neighbourhood further towards full-blown gentrification when it opened a slick 172-room hotel here at the tail end of last year, but you might prefer to stay in one of the area’s Airbnb properties, including a houseboat right on the Ancoats canal. Lucy Bryson

LOCALS SAY It’s community-spirited and really cool, with lots of history. The open spaces are really lovely, and a huge number of restaurants and bars have opened here recently.

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Eldorado General Store, Corktown, Detroit

Corktown, Detroit

The energy in Detroit has been building over the past few years, and the best place to experience that buzz right now is Corktown. With its strong Irish heritage, Detroit’s oldest neighbourhood is now the place to be for craft cocktailing, vintage shopping and checking out some of the city’s most up-and-coming chefs. Packed full of everything from freshly baked bagels to craft coffee and Thai-inspired cuisine to slow-roasted BBQ, Michigan Avenue is a great place to start your adventures. But make sure to veer off the main strip to discover rainbow-coloured Victorian homes, quirky little shops and historic pubs.

EAT Hometown hero Kate Williams still holds court at Lady of the House. Brunch is a highlight here: get a massive stack of pancakes for the table with smoked maple syrup.

DRINK Sip handcrafted cocktails at Two James Spirits, Detroit’s first distillery since Prohibition. Order a sweet and spicy Dr Strangelove made with the house spirits: Doctor Bird rum and Dos Jaimes Joven mezcal.

DO Corktown’s shops are stuffed with unique goods. Score vintage finds at the Eldorado General Store and Mama Coo's boutique, flip through vinyl records at Hello Records and Underground Vinyl and sort through four storeys of secondhand reads at John K. King Used & Rare Books.

STAY Boutique hotel Trumbull and Porter is full of local art, including Michigan-made furniture in all the rooms. Party (or sleep) like a rock star in the Rolling Stones Suite: a refurbished version of room 132, where the band stayed way back in 1964. Samantha Lande

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Gemmayzeh, Beirut
Photograph: Diak / Shutterstock.com

Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël, Beirut

Take a stroll on a warm evening along Rue Gouraud and Armenia Street – the main thoroughfares connecting the sister neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël – and you’ll understand what makes locals boast about Lebanon’s capital. While steeped in tradition as one of the world’s oldest cities, Beirut also maintains innovative sensibilities. Low pastel buildings nestle up against modern high rises. Independent restaurants cook up both classic Lebanese dishes and international fusion. Partygoers crowd bars serving the locally brewed beer Almaza or cocktails made with Lebanon’s national drink, arak. You’ll find contemporary galleries just a stairway away from the Sursock Museum, housed in a nineteenth-century mansion. Lined with cafés and bars, spots like the St Nicholas and Vendome Stairs are ideal for people-watching over a Lebanese coffee.

EAT Situated in an Ottoman-era house, Mayrig offers classic Armenian dishes based on recipes passed down through members of the diaspora in Lebanon. Try the manti: meat or spinach dumplings served with a tomato sauce and yoghurt.

DRINK One of Gemmayzeh’s oldest bars, Dragonfly offers creative cocktails and small bites served by waiters in lab coats. Continue your night out with a glass of homemade wine with a view at Sole Insight on the Vendome Stairs.

DO Mingle with Beirutis and expats alike at Riwaq café’s weekly open mic, where one performer might hold a short oud concert and another perform slam poetry.

STAY The Grand Meshmosh Hotel, a hostel on the artsy St Nicholas Stairs, is ideal for solo travellers or small groups. Or check out the hip new hotel Lost, next to popular coffee shop Sip, which has cosy rooms above its sleek bar. Jake Pelini

LOCALS SAY It’s filled with so many gems: stunning architecture, local cafés, art galleries and delicious food. If you live here for long enough, you end up knowing everyone.

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Puente de los Suspiros, Barranco, Lima
Photograph: Christian Vinces / Shutterstock.com

Barranco, Lima

As the hip, bohemian neighbour of middle-class Miraflores, Barranco has emerged from dive-bar territory into chic hangout without losing its gritty vibe. The 1920s architecture of faded Art Deco mansions and leafy boulevards forms much of its appeal, but its artistic roots run deep too: vivid flourishes of street art give purpose to an afternoon wandering here, emblazoned on crumbling walls by Peruvian muralists such as Jade Rivera. In the evenings, Barranco hums with youthful energy as artists and intellectuals argue politics into the wee hours in trendy cocktail bars and vanguard restaurants. On weekends, its Plaza de Armas heaves with gourmet food festivals and local musicians.

EAT Sample Peruvian ingredients – from the unusual to the downright obscure – with a 17-course tasting menu at Central, which has been called one of the world’s best restaurants. It moved to the neighbourhood last year.

DRINK The compelling cocktail menu and location within a restored mansion has made Ayahuasca into a local institution. Try the heady Ayahuasca Sour, made with pisco macerated in coca leaves.

DO Satisfy your sweet tooth with a guided tasting of El Cacaotal’s ‘library’ of Peruvian chocolate – all of it single-origin and bean-to-bar. You’ll learn about the subtle influences of terroir and climate on the flavour of chocolate brought directly from the Amazon.

STAY Dive into the Barranco’s artistic roots at Second Home Peru: a sea-fronting, art-adorned guesthouse and the former residence of Limeño artist Victor Delfin (who often pops back for a visit). Steph Dyson

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Piccino, Dogpatch, San Francisco
Photograph: Flickr / Dale Cruse

Dogpatch, San Francisco

In a city where technology is king, the Dogpatch – a neighbourhood of repurposed dockyard buildings on the easternmost edge of the city – has become a destination for assorted creatives, artisans and makers. The main drag along Third Street – which you can roam on foot or by hopping on the T line of the Muni Metro – is a browser’s dream: you’ll find shops for gourmet food (sample the ice cream at Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous), a studio to buy custom-made clogs, a smattering of craft breweries like Harmonic and Triple Voodoo and an entire museum dedicated to crafts and design. Off the main strip, the area’s abundant warehouse space helps maintain the area’s edgy, thriving art scene.

EAT Order the khichdi bowl, made from lentils and rice, at Besharam. It was inspired by a dish chef Heena Patel made weekly during her childhood in India.

DRINK Sip a Pisco Sour at School Night, which is only open from Monday to Friday. Check to see if the rooftop terrace is open when you visit – it’s one of San Francisco’s best.

DO See what’s going on at the Dogpatch Arts Plaza, a new creative hub that has turned what was a dead-end street into a huge public outdoor art gallery for large-scale installations and live concerts.

STAY A short walk to the north over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, Hotel Via is sleek, monochromatic and modern. The cosy roof deck has fire pits and heat-lamps for winter plus views over to Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Sarah Medina, Time Out San Francisco

LOCALS SAY I’ve got many childhood memories of the area and it hasn’t changed too much, unlike the rest of the city.

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Vesterbro, Copenhagen's coolest neighbourhood
Photograph: Martin Heiberg

Vesterbro, Copenhagen

Vesterbro’s seedy past as Copenhagen’s red-light district has given way to culture, nightlife, and bustle. Stretching south-west from the famous Tivoli Gardens, this creative hotspot is now home to artists, designers, filmmakers, and photographers, and a slew of organic food joints, vintage boutiques and craft beer bars have followed in their wake. For top eats, head to the charming, kitschy Værnedamsvej – known as the city’s ‘Little Paris’ – and the Meatpacking District, while those wanting to shop till they drop (in Scandi style, of course) are best served by Istedgade. Vega attracts the coolest bands, and if you just want to chill, the leafy enclave of Skydebanehaven is a much-loved local oasis.

EAT There’s a simple philosophy behind the food at Cofoco, a bright, bare-brick basement in the middle of Vesterbro: take the best Danish ingredients and prepare them simply and elegantly. All dishes come as small plates, allowing you to taste more, so you’ve got no excuse to skip the ribeye– it’s one of the best in town.

DRINK Spread over three floors of a former eigteenth-century apothecary, the ultra-trendy cocktail bar Lidkoeb is cosy and inviting – all dark wood, vintage pendant lamps, and sheepskin throws. It’s where beautiful Danish people go to sip killer cocktails, including the Østersø Cola: Pimms, vodka, peach liqueur, and (that most Danish of ingredients) liquorice.

DO No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a trip to Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest amusement park, which combines old-fashioned family fun with modern amenities. Ride the Rutschebanen, which is among the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world; see the city from 260 feet up on the Star Flyer; or chill in the immaculate Japanese Garden.

STAY Housed in the old Carlsberg brewery, one of Copenhagen’s most iconic buildings, the recently opened Hotel Ottilia is a masterpiece of chic, industrial design: raw concrete, light installations, and panorama windows come as standard. There’s a rooftop terrace with incredible views and a daily Wine Hour from 5pm, with a free glass for all guests. Derek Robertson

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Seochon Gyedan-jip – 서촌계단집

Naeja-dong, Seoul

Many guidebooks will recommend Seoul’s hanok villages: the clusters of traditional Korean houses dotted around the city. But just south-west of Gyeongbokgung Palace, there’s a hanok neighbourhood that’s a world apart from the Korean capital’s tourist trail. Previously a tiny residential neighbourhood of hanoks, Naeja-dong began to garner attention a couple of years ago when two renegade whisky bars – Tender and Cobbler – set up shop in the area. Open the doors of the hanoks here now and you won’t find traditional interiors but creative cocktails, aromatic coffees and hole-in-the-wall places to eat. The narrow alleyways between the houses retain their quiet feel, and knowing locals still whisper on the way to their destination, as if to hold on to their secret spots just a bit longer.

EAT Feast on gamjatang (pork back stew) at tiny, homey restaurant Halmae Jip – meaning ‘Grandma’s House’.

DRINK There are fine whiskies and original cocktails at Cobbler, a neighbourhood pioneer that appropriately dishes out fruit cobbler with its alcoholic beverages.

DO Tap into your inner Robin Hood by booking in for a lesson in traditional Korean archery at Hwanghak Jeong. This active archery range over the road from Naeja-dong dates back to 1922.

STAY You’ll want to a few nights at Nagne Guesthouse, a boutique hanok hotel with modern rooms and friendly service. Hahna Yoon

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Yppenplatz and Brunnenmarkt, Vienna's coolest neighbourhood
Photograph: Paul Bauer

Yppenplatz and Brunnenmarkt, Vienna

Vienna is traditionally known for lavish baroque facades and imperial grandeur, but the Austrian capital’s edgier side can be explored in its sixteenth district, Ottakring. Home to Ottakringer, the city’s last big brewery, this is fast becoming Vienna’s cultural hotspot. Its energy is focused in the streets surrounding Yppenplatz, just off the traffic-ridden ring road, where you’ll find some of Vienna’s hippest hangouts. Once you’ve checked out the cafés on the square, grab a cheap eat from the selection of the city’s best Turkish cuisine at the bustling Brunnenmarkt (which gives the neighbourhood its alternative name of Brunnenviertel). Chaotic and charming in equal measure, this is a neighbourhood that mingles young and old, Viennese and tourists, without losing its unique character.

EAT Restaurant Wetter, a converted launderette, serves up delicious and authentic Italian cuisine. The menu changes daily, but if you see the homemade ravioli, order it.

DRINK Sample a glass of Austrian wine at Truksitz Vinotheque. The house grüner veltliner is a must.

DO Immerse yourself in the buzzing atmosphere of the Brunnenmarkt. Amid the abundance of seasonal fruit and vegetable stands, which burst with colour in the summertime, you’ll discover tasty Middle Eastern treats, including inexpensive falafel sandwiches, flaky börak pastries filled with cheese or meat and honey-drizzled baklava.

STAY Zum Goldenen Kegel Hostel is a charming, family run hostel in a 300-year-old building. It’s a stone’s throw from Thaliastrasse U-Bahn station, putting the city centre less than 20 minutes away. Kate Jackson

LOCALS SAY It’s green but still busy, with a unique mix of cultures.

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Easton, Bristol
Photograph: Paul Box

Easton, Bristol

With globe-spanning food and drink, a plethora of community projects and a genuinely neighbourly atmosphere, no wonder Easton’s residents are so enthused by their laidback part of town. This ever-evolving suburb, a half-hour wander away from the centre of Bristol, is a chilled and friendly haven for hip young families, alternative-leaning young professionals and indie business owners alike. Although it’s only a ten-minute train ride from plush, leafy Clifton, Easton couldn’t be more different, drawing its charm from an authentically messy melding of many cultures: cuisines of all kinds line the main high street of Stapleton Road, while cosy and colourful St Marks Road has a villagey feel with its trendy pizza joint, peaceful church grounds, ornate mosque and celebrated international food shop, Sweet Mart.

EAT Real Habesha Restaurant serves slow-cooked Ethiopian dishes that represent incredible value for money. Order the house special to sample the whole menu at once.

DRINK The Sugar Loaf is Easton’s quintessential friendly, fuss-free boozer. Play some pool, have a pint and get knee-deep in some banter with the locals in its palatial beer garden.

DO Catch a film at East Bristol Cinema, a not-for-profit, volunteer-run community cinema that pops up at hotspots across east Bristol like community centres and car parks. It’s way more atmospheric than a night at the multiplex.

STAY It’s all pretty residential in Easton, but a short walk away in neighbouring St Philip’s is Bristol Beer Factory flagship’s pub, The Barley Mow, which has a bookable apartment upstairs. Sammy Jones

LOCALS SAY Easton has a strong sense of identity and community, from the summer street parties to the annual Grand Iftar.

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Junction Craft Brewing
Photograph: Junction Craft Brewing

The Junction, Toronto

Located in west Toronto, this former industrial area once dubbed ‘the ‘Wild West’ has experienced an eclectic boom over recent years. Criss-crossed with the veins of the Canadian railway, The Junction is a charming ’hood ripe with independent retail and a collection of coffee shops, restaurants, and local businesses. More or less bounded by St Clair Avenue to the north and Annette Street to the south, the Junction has maintained its small-town, industrial vibe, providing locals and visitors a slower-tempo escape from downtown hustle. The mixed bag of creatives, families and OG locals have made this neighbourhood a hidden gem amidst a sprawling city.

EAT Keep it local and head to neighbourhood staple Farmhouse Tavern for seasonal, Canadian cuisine.

DRINK For great cocktails and Balkan-inspired bites visit Blua on Keele St. More of a craft beer lover? No problem – stop by for local suds at the Junction Craft Brewery.

DO Catch a late-night show at the lively Junction City Music Hall: a low-key basement venue that’s a regular stop on Toronto’s grassroots music scene.

STAY Unless you’ve got a friend in the neighbourhood and can snag a spot on the couch or a spare bedroom, Airbnb is your best bet around here. Sandra Osojnik

LOCALS SAY It’s an up-and-coming area with lots of microbreweries and restaurants popping up – and it’s family-friendly too.

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Bananamoon
Photograph: Brian Sweeney

Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

Titled after the Victorian cast-iron river crossing at its heart and the subway station beneath, Kelvinbridge has long been a hub of Glasgow’s student-friendly West End. But recent years have seen a spate of new additions to the neighbourhood’s already rich cultural and social fabric. From riverfront craft beer bar Inn Deep to dependably unchanging traditional boozer The Doublet, there are good watering holes galore. The café scene thrives thanks to places like whole foods institution Roots, Fruits and Flowers and cosy Kelvin Pocket. The long-empty Lansdowne Parish Church, with its towering gothic spire, now hosts Webster’s Theatre and bar-bistro, while independent music station LP Radio broadcasts from a record shop turned studio across the road. It’s all brought a fresh buzz to an area packed with historic architecture and lush green spaces.

EAT Just try walking past peerless patisserie Broken Clock, with its eye-grabbing window display of luxurious cakes, and not stepping inside.

DRINK Berlin meets Glasgow at pre-clubbing nightspot Bananamoon, a stylish retro-modern corner bar that could have been someone’s front room in the ’60s.

DO Kelvinbridge is where it’s at for boutique shopping in Glasgow, whether it’s fashion or design, vintage or contemporary. Try on some cool secondhand threads at Glasgow Vintage Co and Retro, and complete the look with a handmade watch from Paulin.

STAY Spanning four floors of a refurbished Victorian townhouse, The Alfred is a smart and simple sister hotel to Òran Mór – the unmistakable church-turned-bar, restaurant and venue further down Great Western Road. It’s the ideal base for exploring the area. Malcolm Jack

LOCALS SAY Warmth of community, interesting people young and old, indie shops and new cool cafés… I’m so full of appreciation for my neighbourhood right now.

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Piazza & Chiesa Santo Spirito, Oltrarno
Photograph: Archphotos / Shutterstock.com

Oltrarno, Florence

Florence may be one of the world’s most visited cities, but cross the Ponte Vecchio into the Oltrarno neighbourhood and the crowds are replaced by a more relaxed atmosphere with a local vibe. Oltrarno, which literally means ‘beyond the Arno river’, is the city’s thriving bohemian district, filled with artisan studios, family-owned restaurants, hip cocktail bars and panoramic parks. There’s a strong community feel here, with locals lingering over coffee in the small piazzas, and plenty of street art that adds a contemporary pop to its winding alleyways. And for tourists that do manage to cross the river, Oltrarno offers abundant rewards: hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo, San Miniato al Monte or the Forte Belvedere for the greatest skyline views in the city.

EAT Trattoria Cammillo is an institution in Florence: first opened in 1945 and still run by the Massiero family, it serves the city’s signature Florentine steak and other hearty dishes in a delightfully old-school atmosphere.

DRINK Florence is filled with cosy wine bars and Il Santino is one of the best. With a focus on Tuscan wines, it’s a nice place to enjoy a glass of Chianti and a tagliere of local meats and cheeses in an intimate space.

DO The Pitti Palace is one of the main draws of the neighbourhood, but leave time to explore the elegant Boboli Gardens. A sort of outdoor museum, the gardens are home to ancient and Renaissance statues, ornate fountains, fruit trees and beautiful landscaped spaces with views of the city.

STAY SopraArno Suites is a chic bed-and-breakfast in a sixteenth-century palazzo. The handful of bedrooms are all individually designed with bespoke art and vintage furnishings; many even have ceiling frescoes and free-standing baths. Livia Hengel

LOCALS SAY I love Oltrarno’s vibrant energy – it reflects an artisanal heritage that still retains a community connection.

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Old Havana, Havana, Cuba
Photograph: Flickr / Richard Hurd

Old Havana, Havana

With its primped up plazas, ragged buildings, baroque churches, alfresco cafés, cool bars, shops, galleries and creative barrios, Old Havana is somewhere you’re sucked into and will find it hard to leave. In the last ten years, Havana’s historic quarter has emerged from a Communism-induced snooze to become the most exciting part of the 500-year-old Cuban capital. The ancient Spanish colonial roads of tutti-frutti mansions and apartments are packed with roadside music bars, fruit and veg sellers and pedicabs, and picturesque corners smell of crushed fruit, freshly brewed coffee, tobacco and diesel. Stroll the narrow streets to take in its beauty, bravura buildings and daily rhythms.

EAT The roast suckling pig banded in moreish crackling is the standout dish at Ivan Chefs Justo, a restaurant in an eighteenth-century colonial pile hitched to the edge of Old Havana.

DRINK The cool spirits of Havana hang at restaurant El del Frente’s alfresco rooftop terrace. Order the Piña Coladas in recycled jars, the house gins, or the Raining Geisha: a vodka, ginger, honey, and cucumber mix for a refresher in the tropical heat.

DO In untouristy southern Old Havana, once the haunt of sex workers and famous Cuban pimp Alberto Yarini, the San Isidro District of Art is reviving historic city streets with street murals festivals and galleries.

STAY With a piano, sofas to lounge on, a plant-filled patio and work by well-known Cuban artists on the walls, Spanish-colonial townhouse apartment Gardens is a beautiful, light urban oasis close to the popular Plaza del Cristo. Claire Boobbyer

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Lilliput Stores, Stoneybatter, Dublin

Stoneybatter, Dublin

There’s nothing new about Stoneybatter itself: with its red-brick terraced houses and the regular clop of a horse and cart still heard on the road, this village-in-the-city has long been one of Dublin’s favourite districts. But the past year has seen a string of great new openings, from vegan cafés to hot new bars, challenging other neighbourhoods vying for the crown (we’re looking at you, Phibsborough). Stoneybatter has stood the test of time, it’s one of the most central places where young people can still afford to live (just), and the neighbourhood pride is strong – visit during the village festival and you’ll see what we mean.

EAT You can’t go wrong with the newly-opened Grano. This family-run Italian joint serves up top-notch Calabrian cuisine, with pasta made right in front of your eyes.

DRINK Head to modern pub The Belfry and you’ll always find a crowd, most of whom spill out into the yard with a glass of the bar’s own barrel-aged cocktails (the Negroni is excellent).

DO Amble around the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History in the Collins Barracks, where you’ll find exhibitions covering everything from Irish clothing throughout the years to modernist interior design. The temporary exhibition on the 1916 Rising is exceptional.

STAY A five-minute walk away in neighbouring Smithfield, The Hendrick is a brand new boutique hotel with an incredible selection of art curated by Dublin street artist James Earley. —Nicola Brady

LOCALS SAY It’s the go-to spot for new eateries, and its local pubs and rock bars are the city’s hidden gems. Plus it’s not very touristy, which is nice.

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Gellert Hotel in Bartók, Budapest's coolest neighbourhood

Bartók, Budapest

While foreigners flock to the bar hubs of Pest, locals are crossing the Danube to Buda and the terrace-lined avenue of Bartók Béla út. The Bartók vibe is best illustrated by ELEVEN Tavasz, the spring festival of art, design, music and food involving the numerous galleries, cafés and boutiques to have set up between Gellért tér and Móricz Zsigmond körtér since 2017 or so. Interspersed by the reassuring rattle of the old-school 47 and 49 trams, lively Hungarian coffee-fuelled chatter lends a timeless touch and echoes the hood’s literary heyday of a century ago.

EAT A bit like Hungarian ratatouille, the lecsó at Béla comes with feta, fried egg or sausage. Its aroma evokes the era when explorer László de Almásy (of ‘The English Patient’ fame) lived in this very house.

DRINK The funky housemate of literary café Hadik, Szatyor (‘Bag’) offers a raft of craft beers, including summery Rafa by local brewers Fehér Nyúl: an organic sour IPA with lemon zest.

DO Perhaps the most famous baths in Europe’s spa capital, St Gellert Spa and Swimming Pool is both a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and a whole bunch of watery fun. Don’t miss the outdoor wave pool, which was the world’s first when it opened in 1927.

STAY Separately managed beside the spa, the Hotel Gellért wowed guests before the war and its façade was one of Wes Anderson’s models for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. It still packs in old-school grandeur, even if rooms today barely justify its four-star status (though its recent sale should bring improvements). —Peterjon Cresswell

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Serasker Caddesi, Kadıköy-Moda, Istanbul
Denizce/Shutterstock.com

Kadıköy-Moda, Istanbul

Located on the Marmara Sea coast on the Asian side of town, the corner of the Kadıköy district known as Moda has soared in popularity over the past few years. Hundreds of new bars, cafés, restaurants, and trendy boutiques have opened here, making the area a must-see for those wanting to get a feel of how Istanbul really hangs out these days. But while it’s become hard to keep a tally of all the new openings, it’s the classic neighbourhood hangouts that best represent Kadıköy’s perennial charm. And if you’re still not convinced to make the journey over the Bosphorus, consider this: the ferry there might just be the best way to soak up Istanbul’s inimitable views.

EAT Situated right next to the hustle and bustle of the fish market, Çiya Sofrası serves up a daily changing menu featuring long-forgotten Anatolian delicacies. The restaurant is run by chef and culinary anthropologist Musa Dağdeviren, whose recent appearance on Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’ has made him something of a local celebrity.

DRINK Opened in late 2016, Bina is one of Kadıköy’s most popular bars and regularly hosts concerts curated by independent magazine Bant. The bottom-floor garden is a wide-open, smartly designed space with plenty of room to wind down with friends over a few drinks, while the ground floor hosts DJs until well after midnight.

DO Housed in a beautiful building built in 1927, the Süreyya Opera House is the prime location to catch an opera or ballet on the Asian side of Istanbul. It’s worth a visit for the architecture alone: nostalgia gleams from the walls of its Art Deco foyer.

STAY The DoubleTree by Hilton isn’t exactly in keeping with Kadıköy’s hip ethos, but it’s the best choice for a comfortable stay in a neighbourhood where third-wave cafés overwhelmingly outnumber hotels. —Yusuf Huysal, Time Out Istanbul

LOCALS SAY It’s where I’ve lived since I moved to Istanbul. I love its soul: the way the streets are alive. It’s always full of innovation.

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Downtown Miami, Miami's coolest neighbourhood

Downtown, Miami

Downtown areas of major cities get a bad rap: dirty, desolate and with nothing more than skyscrapers to hold your attention. But Downtown Miami is changing that. In the last couple of years, streets that bustled with business types and mom-and-pop shop owners during the day now buzz with hip Miamians at night. Bar-hopping is finally an option, and you don’t even have to take the Metromover (the city centre’s free passenger trolley in the sky) to bounce from watering hole to cocktail lounge to jazz club. More places to drink and new restaurants are expected to come, and Downtown is already the only place in Miami to get its second wind after-after-hours – the city’s only 24-hour nightclub, E11EVEN, holds court in the thriving quarter.

EAT Small but charming, Catalonian restaurant NIU Kitchen serves plentiful tapas and copious wines from Spain and around the world. The llamàntol (lobster) with a glass of orange wine will be the things you dream about long after your meal.

DRINK The atmosphere at Lost Boy is casual but there’s nothing relaxed about its beverage programme, which is stacked with microbrews, craft cocktails and seemingly every spirit known to mankind. There’s also a pool table, a piano (play at your own risk) and darts, should you need something to do besides hold your drink.

DO HistoryMiami chronicles the city’s abbreviated but fascinating history, from the city’s first settlers to its many migration waves to its evolving queer community, with a remarkable collection of photographs. Though it’s away from Downtown’s greater-known cultural institutions, Frost Science and PAMM, it’s worth the detour.

STAY The beautiful boutique Eurostars Langford is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and once operated as a bank. Today, it’s a stunning hotel close to all the area’s major sites with sizeable rooms and modern amenities. —Virginia Gil, Time Out Miami

LOCALS SAY It’s cheap, grimy, fresh and metropolitan, with good culture, food and historical buildings.

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Kilo Lounge, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore
Photograph: Singapore Tourism Board

Tanjong Pagar, Singapore

No other neighbourhood captures Singapore’s transformation from fishing village to major trading port to modern metropolis like Tanjong Pagar. The fishermen’s huts have been replaced by the tall, glossy skyscrapers of Singapore’s Central Business District, and during the week, neighbouring Tanjong Pagar is crawling with white-collar workers. But the neighbourhood hasn’t lost its old-world charm: traditional nineteenth-century shophouses line Tanjong Pagar Road, and hawker stalls dish out classics from yesteryear. And the ‘cape of stakes’ is on the cutting edge too: swish new restaurants gun for Michelin stars and accolades, and clubs and bars draw sharp-dressed locals for underground fun once business hours are over.

EAT Amoy Street Food Centre is where you’ll find new-age hawkers redefining what Singaporean food ought to be. Try A Noodle Story, which serves Singapore-style ramen, and Chop Chop Biryani & Meats, which pairs Indian-style nasi biryani with Cantonese roast meats.

DRINK There's no shortage of award-winning cocktail bars here, but to beat the crowds, navigate Tanjong Pagar’s back streets to Junior: a pocket bar that holds no more than 20. It changes its menu every six months or so, setting the tone for cocktail trends in Singapore.

DO Enter by the graffiti-smeared back alley and meander the jungle-like walkway to the heart of Kilo Lounge, Singapore’s coolest underground club. It pumps out hip hop, techno, reggae, dancehall and dub beats as well as hosting big-shot international DJs.

STAY Call it a day at the new Six Senses Maxwell, a luxurious home away from home housed in a storied block of conserved shophouses. Nicole-Marie Ng, Time Out Singapore

LOCALS SAY Awesome restaurants, great clubs (c’mon Kilo and the 1980s arcade!), lots of coffee – and it’s close to everything.

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Bandra West, Mumbai
Photograph: FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock.com

Bandra West, Mumbai

The financial and cultural capital of India is known for being a city that never sleeps, and it’s Bandra West that contributes most to this reputation. While neighbouring South Mumbai is all about the old-world charm of its Art Deco architecture, Bandra West mixes tiny time-warp lanes full of Indo-Portuguese colonial-style homes with the larger-than-life mansions of celebrated film stars. Indelibly associated with the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, the area has always attracted artists of all sorts, which is why you’ll spot murals and caricatures of film stars in every bylane. But don’t miss the biggest show of all: Bandra boasts the most spectacular sunset view in the city, best viewed from the area’s famous Band Stand.

EAT Lose yourself in a bowl of shoyu ramen with a side of tuna zuke at minimalistic Japanese spot Izumi on Linking Road: the area’s most famous bargain-hunting street.

DRINK Fancy a game of spot-the-Bollywood-A-lister? Head to One Street for stiff cocktails, great music and perhaps a glimpse of some famous faces.

DO Visit Bandra’s Roman Catholic basilica Mount Mary Church, which first opened in 1760. It’s an oasis of peace in the city – except during the feast of the Virgin Mary in September, when the church becomes the centre of a week-long festival called Bandra Fair.

STAY At the five-star Taj Lands End you can wake up to the view of the magnificent Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge. But if you don’t mind roughing it, Namastey Mumbai Backpackers at Pali Village offers the real Bandra experience. —Kasturi Gadge

LOCALS SAY It’s the perfect blend of cultures and languages, home to some of the best food joints in the city and always ready to experiment.

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Johnny Hiller Potato Head

Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

The opening of the Sai Ying Pun MTR station in 2015 started a steady influx of younger crowds and hip new openings to this neighbourhood on the west side of Hong Kong Island. Now the old-school charm of heritage businesses like the historic dried seafood stalls that still operate on Des Voeux Road West is mixed in with some of the city’s best bars, coffee shops and places to eat, as well as the eco-chic Live Zero: Hong Kong’s first plastic-free bulk food store. Do keep your wits about you when visiting: due to the recent protests (happening mainly on the weekends), it’s advised not to wear black or white and to avoid government and police buildings as you check out the ’hood.

EAT Potato Head dishes up some damn tasty authentic Balinese food in a laidback space that’s ideal for a lively dinner or boozy brunch. Listen out for their music room: it’s the perfect after-hours spot, with a nightly programme ranging from jazz to disco.

DRINK Take refuge at Premier Cru, where you can choose from thousands of different French wines from the Rhone Valley and Burgundy regions. There’s a lovely hidden terrace out back where you can chill out or enjoy private tastings.

DO Poke your head around Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company, and see if you can spot owner Raymond Lam amongst the towering stacks of bamboo steamers. It’s one of the few steamer shops left where everything is handmade, and you can marvel at Lam’s skills as he keeps the craft alive.

STAY Rest your head at the achingly cool Island Pacific Hotel Hong Kong, a few moments away from the MTR station. This striking blue skyscraper built on reclaimed land has unparalleled waterfront views. —Angela Hui

LOCALS SAY There's a great vibe: it's artistic and less hectic than other areas. It has great restaurants, access to the sea and Hong Kong University, which makes it feel young.

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Former French Concession, Shanghai
EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

Old Xuhui, Shanghai

Old Xuhui has been Shanghai’s hottest neighbourhood for as long as most people can remember, and it shows no sign of being displaced any time soon. This place has it all: charming cafés, forward-thinking restaurants, hidden cocktail dens making world-class drinks, boutiques carrying local designers and underground clubs where you can dance into the early hours. A distinctive blend of foreign and local influences creates a vibe that’s uniquely Shanghai.

EAT At contemporary 20-seater Bird, a menu of small plates made for sharing rotates almost monthly. The playful mix-and-match of culinary influences pairs well with a selection of natural wines.

DRINK In an area known for its excellent coffee shops, unassuming café-bar Ars & Delecto takes things a step further with stellar classic cocktails and more experimental sips that showcase ingredients from across the globe.

DO Shanghai fashion is having a moment – so step through a leafy lanehouse courtyard and into boutique Labelhood Pillar to browse some of the country’s most exciting emerging and established design talents, all in one place.

STAY Capella Shanghai sits in 55 renovated traditional Shanghai shikumen villas right in the heart of Old Xuhui. It’s not cheap, but luxury with a sense of place is rare. —Time Out Shanghai editors

LOCALS SAY It has an exotic Shanghaïnese vibe yet at the same time reminds me of Europe, and has great diversity in restaurants, bars, clubs, and inhabitants!

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IT Corner, Melville, Johannesburg
Photo: Rich T / Shutterstock.com

Melville, Johannesburg

Leafy, historic Melville was historically all-white, but 25 years into South African democracy it has become one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the city. Its situation between two of South Africa’s leading universities, Wits and UJ, makes it home to academics, artists, expats and students living in communal digs, resulting in the most eclectic high street in Johannesburg: 7th Street. Take a stroll and you’ll discover an ever-changing cross-section of all-day places to eat, coffee shops, bistros, hookah lounges, themed restaurants and dive bars, all nestled between antique furniture shops, niche galleries and thrift stores.

EAT The smashed avo ‘wake-up’ is a must-try for brunch at new neighbourhood favourite The Whippet. Dining solo at a window seat makes for great people watching, but arrive early at the weekend to avoid the queues.

DRINK Settle in for an adventurous cocktail at Melville’s newest addition, Anti-Social Social Club. Get their signature Smoked Maple Old Fashioned served with a strip of maple bacon, or a fruity, east-Asian inspired Watermelon Tom Yum cocktail.

DO Take a walk down to Bamboo Lifestyle Centre at the bottom of Melville and head on through their upstairs gallery for fine art and a great view of Joburg’s urban forest. Then hit up the Convoy store downstairs: it’s a women’s clothing and accessory space featuring only premier South African designers.

STAY Melville is filled with an array of guesthouses. Stay close to the high street at 84 on Fourth just off the 7th, or head up to Pablo House for panoramic views of Joburg west. Thando Moleketi-Williams

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Vintage cars along Naplavka riverbank in Prague
Photograph: MaxPixel

Nové Město, Prague

If you’re looking for cool, the first step is usually ‘escape the tourist centre’ – but the ongoing artistic revival of Prague’s New Town is creating reasons for residents and visitors to stick around. This U-shaped neighbourhood curves around the cobbled Old Town, connecting three distinctive squares. Between the architectural beauty of Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square), the Art Deco arcades hidden around Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) and the greenery of Karlovo náměstí (Charles Square), you’ll find locals escaping the selfie-taking crowds in the Franciscan Gardens, shooting the breeze in century-old coffee houses or drinking beers along the Náplavka riverbank while visitors photograph the swans.

EAT Part-butcher shop, part-restaurant, Kantýna sits inside a gorgeous former bank building. Our tip: crack out Google Translate to help you choose your meat and communicate how you’d like it cooked.

DRINK A century ago, the newly independent Czechoslovakia was all about elegance and café culture. Grab a window seat at Kavárna Lucerna and channel that First Republic style by talking arts and politics over (incredibly cheap) Pilsner. It’s part of a complex that also includes a concert hall, basement bar, cinema and eclectic warren of shopping arcades.

DO Crowdfunding, industry support, and youthful enthusiasm helped NaFilM (the Czech National Film Museum) find a permanent home in 2019. Try the interactive exhibits curated by local film students, then walk to Edison Filmhub for a new English-friendly arthouse cinema experience.

STAY Pale pastels and vintage details define the aesthetic at Miss Sophie’s. Try its new private spa for 90 minutes of jacuzzi, sauna and minibar access, with Bluetooth speakers so you can set your own soundtrack. —Auburn Scallon

LOCALS SAY I love that there are people working on making New Town better for locals, not just for tourists.

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Mural of Eddy Grant in Dorćol, Serbia
Photograph: John Bills

Dorćol, Belgrade

It is a typically Belgrade phenomenon that one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods remains its most exciting, creative and inventive spot. Split into Upper and Lower portions and occupying the area between the Danube and the centre of the Old Town, Dorćol represents the past, present and future of this infectious city. It brings to the table everything that makes Belgrade special: an intuitive understanding of the importance of a lively social life, a total disregard for whatever constitutes ‘the norm’, and an unrelenting commitment to absolute artistic integrity. It just happens to do it all in some of the best cafés in the whole region.

EAT Head to Marukoshi in Lower Dorćol to check out Belgrade’s growing Asian food scene, or stop by Walter for something a little more Balkan (ie, a shedload of grilled meat).

DRINK The British-inspired Gunners Pub is a beer lover’s paradise, while café-bar Meduza has a creative atmosphere by day and an engaging vibe at night.

DO Nip to Jevremova to see Bajrakli, Belgrade’s only mosque (the city once had more than 250). Or try to tick off all of the murals painted by supporters of Belgrade football team FK Partizan, which include portraits of Joe Strummer, Morrissey, George Orwell and reggae-pop star Eddy Grant.

STAY As well as being one of the most popular bistros in the area, Smokvica (‘Little Fig’) has some seriously charming rooms available. The breakfast is magnificent. John Bills

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