Asian Cities Included In The World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods List

Time Out recently revealed that Nørrebro in Copenhagen tops its fourth annual World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods list: the cultural and culinary hotspots that are also leading the way as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

Since 2018, Time Out’s annual list of the World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods has been collated using the experiences and opinions of thousands of locals in hundreds of cities around the world via the annual Time Out Index survey, combined with the expertise of Time Out’s international network of local editors and city experts. This year, more than 27,000 city-dwellers around the world were asked to nominate their city’s coolest, most underrated and most culturally exciting neighbourhood. To create and rank the final list, Time Out’s local expert editors and writers rated neighbourhoods for great vibes, food, drink, nightlife, emerging culture, community spirit and resilience. They also considered sustainability and innovative green initiatives along with other quality-of-life factors that promote stress-free living. 

Caroline McGinn, Global Editor-in-Chief of Time Out, said, “Time Out’s annual list of the World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods is a love letter to the city at its most joyful and surprising. It celebrates the hyperlocal places where the cities of the future are being made up, on the spot. In the last 12 months, grassroots community culture has been vital to preserving the health and optimism of city-dwellers and the restaurants, bars, galleries and culture spots that make cities such a crucible of invention and social life. It’s been inspiring to see how much energy there is in these areas, where communities have come together, hung out and made new stuff, as well as supported other businesses and each other. You’ve probably never heard of most of the neighbourhoods on the list but these are places where a ‘better normal’ is emerging. I can’t wait to visit.”

  1. Nørrebro, Copenhagen

Nørrebro is a diverse district where history meets ultramodern architecture on the northern side of Copenhagen’s lakes, and it truly has it all. In a city proudly known for its food and drink scene, Nørrebro has seen a flurry of new openings this year from bakeries to natural wine bars, all with a focus on local, seasonal (and often foraged) produce. The neighbourhood was host to the city’s Pride march this summer, when WorldPride came to Copenhagen – the most significant LGBTQ+ event in the world. In a year where community has been more important than ever, Nørrebro has no shortage of innovative initiatives including Nørrebrogade’s Car-Free Sunday where traffic is swapped for live music and flea markets, and Usynglige Stier (‘Invisible Paths’) a new, interactive art exhibition that brings fun and a splash of colour to the neighbourhood’s most vulnerable areas.

  1. Andersonville, Chicago 

Chicago’s historic Swedish district is now best known for its LGBTQ+ nightlife and the Clark Street corridor of bars and restaurants, with new openings aplenty in the past year and the Taste of Andersonville event spotlighting beloved local institutions. Andersonville’s proximity to beaches and coastal parks has made it an even more appealing place to live and visit in the past 18 months, with a conscientious community launching initiatives like Clark Street Composts – a pilot programme for eco-friendly composting. Visit in June to get involved in Andersonville Midsommarfest, an annual street festival that serves as a celebration of the area’s Swedish heritage, local businesses and LGBTQ+ culture.

  1. Jongno 3-ga, Seoul

Surrounded by well-known palaces, galleries and other tourist spots, historic and eccentric Jongno 3-ga is the heart and soul of Seoul – just ask the grandfathers huddled around baduk boards and look out for the cart vendors selling traditional toffee on Songhae-gil. You’ll also want to hit up its jewellery shops, the restaurants serving North Korean food and the many hidden cafés and beer houses. It’s also home to Seoul’s LGBTQ+ district which is vibrant and bustling once more after a tough 18 months.

  1. Leith. Edinburgh

This north Edinburgh neighbourhood is best known as a cultural melting pot, home to big arts institutions like the once-abandoned Leith Theatre, alongside up-and-coming spots like the Biscuit Factory with its performance space and workspace for more than 30 creative businesses. Looking for something to eat? The Leith Arches is a two-tiered pub and events space and home to rotating food vendors, a programme of wellness events and the always-excellent Bross Bagels. Alternatively, head down to the harbourside to Michelin-starred The Kitchin – one of the best restaurants in the UK.

  1. Station District, Vilnius

Station District is the creative soul of Vilnius where you’ll find the city’s best street art, including a giant Tony Soprano statue. It’s packed with cafés, international cuisine and clubs and venues in the most stunning Soviet buildings: from Kablys, a riotous nightclub with a Berghain-style door policy to the Loftas Art Factory, a factory that’s been turned into a sprawling community-oriented venue hosting gigs, fashion shows and screenings.

  1. Chelsea, New York

For the first time in three years of Time Out’s Coolest Neighbourhoods list, it’s a Manhattan district taking the top spot in New York. Chelsea is making huge strides and setting a great example when it comes to sustainability, community and green space: Little Island (a new floating park), The High Line and Hudson River Park have all provided open space for people who needed it more than ever in 2021.

  1. XI District, Budapest

Also known as Újbuda, Budapest’s XI District stretches south along the Danube and until recently was mainly known for the art-nouveau Gellért Baths. In the past year, much of the city’s cultural life has migrated to the greener Buda-side of the river, where the bohemian cafés, bars and independent art galleries of tree-lined Bartók Béla Boulevard have become a hub of activity. There’s also an annual festival that brings concerts, parties and art to the street for a neighbourhood knees-up, and a once-abandoned open-air theatre, a bar in a former bus depot and even a concert hall on a decommissioned Ukrainian stone-carrying ship.

  1. Ngor, Dakar

In Ngor, on Dakar’s northwestern tip, you’ll find diving, fishing and surfing, as well as vibrant waterfront restaurants and rooftop bars like Bakékou, which serves cocktails and ceviche as night falls. Head just 400m off the mainland and you’ll hit Ngor Island, a picturesque labyrinth of narrow bougainvillaea-lined streets, golden sandy coves, street art and unique architecture. To preserve Ngor’s beauty on both sides of the bay, local groups, residents and businesses regularly organise beach clean-ups and implement non-plastic initiatives. The Dakar Biennale – Africa’s largest contemporary arts fair – is the perfect time to visit, as the water temperatures start to rise.

  1. Sai Kung, Hong Kong

It’s not hard to see why Sai Kung is known as the ‘back garden of Hong Kong’: it is home to idyllic beaches, abundant green spaces, country parks, and picturesque hiking trails. Home to a close-knit community which focuses on healthy and sustainable living, it also brims with organic farms, health food shops, eco-friendly venues and zero-waste stores. Friends of Sai Kung (FSK) is an environmental community group that runs beach clean-ups, recycling events and seminars to preserve Sai Kung’s environment.

  1. Richmond, Melbourne

Richmond has it all: it is a fabulous location for live music, culture, food, bars and sport, and each of its three main strips have a distinctive feel to them. Victoria Street is Melbourne’s go-to destination for Vietnamese food; Bridge Road is known for its fashion and furniture factory outlets, and Swan Street is home to some of the suburb’s best restaurants and cafés, as well as its sports hub. A very community-minded suburb, the Richmond Churches Food Centre has been distributing food to those in need for the past 30 years – including throughout Melbourne’s lockdowns. Yarra Council was also one of the first local governments in the world to declare a climate emergency.

  1. Neukölln, Berlin

The past and the present collide in Berlin, and no neighbourhood captures this better than Neukölln. Despite the rise in trendy restaurants, bars and boutiques, the multicultural atmosphere survives with plenty of grocers, cafés and community centres that are owned by the families and immigrants who have long called Neukölln home. It’s also become an epicentre for protests and demonstrations in favour of racial justice, affordable housing and other social causes.

  1. Centro, Medellín

Grab an artisanal beer at an indoor market, head to one of the area’s beautiful, chaotic plazas, or pull up a stool at one of the many tiny bars that are opening as Medellin emerges from its pandemic slumber. The last 18 months have seen the Centro neighbourhood become a haven of leafy boulevards, cycle lanes and community-led miniature ‘pocket parks’, which play host to more than 300 newly planted trees. Want your nature with a side of techno? Head to the Baum Park rave in the Botanical Gardens.

  1. Dalston, London

Dalston is London in a nutshell: great pubs; exciting restaurants old and new; green space galore; and excellent nightlife. Plus, it still retains its moral compass with vegan cafés, second-hand shops and the highest number of Low Traffic Neighbourhood streets in the city. Dalston-dwellers are an engaged, energised bunch, regularly getting involved in volunteer work and community initiatives like maintaining the veg patch at Eastern Curve Garden which also plays host to craft and children’s workshops and seasonal events like the annual display of spooky Halloween pumpkins.

  1. Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Silver Lake radiates carefree vibes in the face of lingering uncertainty, from hiking up its colourfully-painted stairs to wandering the Saturday farmers’ market. You can also hop on the new on-demand, point-to-point ‘Micro’ bus and get anywhere in the area for just a dollar. Oh, and there’s a renewed campaign to remove the fences and restore the green space at the neighbourhood’s namesake reservoir.

  1. Dublin 8, Dublin

Dublin 8 captures the essence and charm of the Irish capital and has managed to stay culturally and architecturally unique while the rest of the city around it develops. The neighbourhood is the place to find vintage and bric-à-brac shops, street art, museums, markets and quirky cafés, and is also home to some of the city’s most exciting foodie talent. We’re particularly fond of Dublin Food Co-op – an organic food store that plays host to sustainable workshops and other community initiatives. From the end of October to January 2022, Dublin Zoo will be transformed by the ‘Wild Lights’ epic art installation, or if you prefer your art in a gallery, check out the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

And further neighbourhoods on our top 49 list are:

  1. Zoloti Vorota, Kiev
  2. Noord, Amsterdam
  3. Villeray, Montreal
  4. Surry Hills, Sydney
  5. Ancoats, Manchester
  6. Sagene, Oslo
  7. Old Xuhui, Shanghai
  8. Centro, Mexico City
  9. Gràcia, Barcelona
  10. Saúde, Rio de Janeiro
  11. Kemptown, Brighton
  12. Sololaki, Tbilisi
  13. Brickell, Miami
  14. Ouseburn, Newcastle
  15. Barranco, Lima
  16. Chamberí, Madrid
  17. Vinohrady, Prague
  18. Katong, Singapore
  19. Anjos, Lisbon
  20. Daikanyama, Tokyo
  21. Haut-Marais, Paris
  22. Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
  23. Foz, Porto
  24. Central Square, Boston
  25. Mount Pleasant, Vancouver
  26. Jamestown, Accra
  27. Centro, Oaxaca
  28. Mouassine, Marrakech
  29. Dubai Marina, Dubai
  30. Kadikoy, Istanbul
  31. Poblacion, Manila
  32. Ari, Bangkok
  33. Koregaon Park, Pune
  34. El Arrayán, Santiago