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The hipster guide to the world! The poor inner-city districts that have become achingly cool (beards optional)
- Once no-go areas, these areas are now firmly on the tourist track
- Williamsburg in New York has been described as a ‘mecca’ for hipsters
- Kreuzberg in Berlin is often referred to as ‘Euro hipster central’
- Riga in Latvia and Tel Aviv in Israel also among world’s trendiest districts
They were once the gritty, run-down areas of a city that most tourists actively stayed away from.
These days however, the world’s edgiest urban neighbourhoods are magnets for the trendiest young crowds.
The former industrial districts of Williamsburg in New York and Dalston in East London have been firmly established as meccas for hipsters in recent years, thanks to an explosion of pop-up restaurants, vegan cafes, Bohemian shops, cutting-edge art galleries and gourmet coffee houses.
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Miera Iela, Riga: The suburb is home to a bohemian community of shopkeepers, publicans, gallery-owners, painters, writers and stylish layabouts
But they are far from the only examples.
In fact, most cities can now lay claim to at least one area that has been overtaken by a dedicated band of alternative artists, bearded creatives and forward-thinking fashionistas.
Travel website Skyscanner has now identified a number of leading hipster hangouts in cities across the world, from Melbourne to Helsinki.
MIERA LELE – RIGA, LATVIA
Riga’s Miera Iela – or Peace Street – is home to a bohemian community of shopkeepers, publicans, gallery-owners, painters, writers and stylish layabouts who congregate at its unusual collection of inspired shops and cafés.
Capital of Culture 2014, Riga, Skyscanner describes the area as ‘a swarm of art galleries, vintage shops, hairdresser-bookstores, restaurants and florists bartering green plants for herbal teas.’
The center of this hipster heaven is the DAD Cafe – a boutique coffee shop that offers home baking and regular acoustic concerts.
Williamsburg, New York: The area was once home to working class Puerto Ricans and Latinos during the 1920s when most of the community worked in the textile factories and breweries
WILLIAMSBURG – NEW YORK, USA
If hipsters have a mecca, it’s most certainly Williamsburg.
‘A world of bow ties, trilby hats, and suede chukka boots, where everyone’s an amateur photographer with an unnecessarily expensive DSLR camera’, according to lifestyle website Thrillist.com.
The area was once home to working class Puerto Ricans and Latinos during the 1920s when most of the community worked in the textile factories and breweries.
In recent years it has been transformed by a thriving party scene by the influx of young professionals and wealthy apartment owners.
Malasana, Madrid: The district is now hailed as the heart of Madrid’s counterculture scene, and has been likened to London’s Camden Town
MALASANA – MADRID, SPAIN
Hipsters are known as ‘modernos’ in Spain.
Despite the different name, they share many of the same characteristics as their fellow fashionistas around the world – a penchant for fixed wheel bikes, beards and vintage outfits.
Malasana is now hailed as the heart of Madrid’s counterculture scene, and has been likened to London’s Camden Town.
The Calle Espiritu Santo features a retro shop, two vintage shops, a florist, vegetable shop, five bars, three bohemian cafes, a retro food shop, two ethnic restaurants and two hip-hop clothing shops.
Amsterdam-Noord, Amsterdam: Off the traditional tourist track, the area has become so hip that energy drink company Red Bull and MTV have opened up offices on the waterfront, along with a host of smaller start-ups
AMSTERDAM-NOORD – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Off the city’s tourist track, the former industrial warehouses of Amsterdam-Noord have now been claimed by the ‘bearded urban explorers’, who use them as art galleries, skate parks, pop-up restaurants, and music festivals.
The area has become so hip that energy drink company Red Bull and MTV have opened up offices on the waterfront, along with a host of smaller start-ups.
People also flock here to buy ‘upcycled’ furniture – old products re-sold as vintage items.
Kreuzberg, Berlin: Still among Berlin’s poorest neighbourhoods, the area is now the centre of the Germany’s digital currency boom, with the world’s highest density of businesses accepting Bitcoin
KREUZBERG – BERLIN, GERMANY
An area referred to as ‘Euro hipster central’, Kreuzeberg is Berlin’s most alternative of alternative districts.
The area previously straddled East and West Berlin when the city was divided by The Wall, and was also known as Friedrichshain.
When the city was reunited, the name was made by flipping a coin. Now it is simply referred to as ‘X-Berg’ by locals.
The walls are peppered with graffiti and street art, while the area is also famous for its boutique shops, diverse mix of international cuisine, gourmet coffee houses and trendy bars.
Still among Berlin’s poorest neighbourhoods, the area is now the center of the Germany’s digital currency boom, with the world’s highest density of businesses accepting Bitcoin.
Sodermalm, Stockholm: The area was recently named ‘coolest’ neighbourhood in Europe by Vogue magazine
SODERMALM – STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Once a working class neighbourhood, Sodermalm is now the Stockholm’s artistic hub and home to hoards of independent shops, cafés, bars and hipsters.
It was recently named as the ‘coolest’ neighbourhood in Europe by Vogue magazine.
The publication wrote: ‘In this day and age, “cool” and “Stockholm” are essentially synonymous.
Think: Long-lit summer nights, minimalistic armchairs. Sodermalm, called simply Soder by the locals, is technically an island, with SoFo generally regarded as the most hipster-centric area, thanks to the boom in trendy shops selling everything from vintage jewellery, to second-hand housewares and vinyl records.
Dalston, London: A street once nicknamed ‘murder mile’ due to its high number of drug and gun related crimes, is now filled with designer denim shops, organic grocers and expensive vintage furniture shops
DALSTON – LONDON, ENGLAND
Situated in the London borough of Hackney, Dalston was once one of London’s most run-down areas.
However, in between the remaining pawnbrokers and bookmakers, the borough’s streets are lined with vegan cafes, cocktail bars and exclusive apartment buildings.
A nearby street once nicknamed ‘murder mile’ due to its high number of drug and gun related crimes, is now filled with designer denim shops, organic green grocers and expensive vintage furniture shops.
Fitzroy, Melbourne: Like so many other ‘hipster’ areas, Fitzroy was once a run down, former industrial suburb full of social housing blocks and drug-fuelled violence
FITZROY – MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Like so many other ‘hipster’ areas, Fitzroy was once a run down, former industrial suburb full of social housing blocks and drug-fuelled violence.
These days, the area of the natural habitat for trendy Melburnians.
Travel magazine The City Lane said of the area’s rapid gentification: ‘Property values are high enough to make buying in the area out of the reach of the very artists and creative types that kicked off the area’s resurgence in the first place.
Former grungy bars, with the occasional fight, have now become expensive restaurants serving amazing food that those living in the council blocks across the road could never hope to afford.’
Fitzroy’s centre is Brunswick Street which is lined vegan restaurants and retro pubs.
The expeditioner notes: ‘The area is packed with the usual mix of the beautiful and the damned: broke students, fashionistas, boho artists and of course 20-something hipsters.’
Norrebro, Copenhagen: ‘The most biked street in Europe and not a McDonalds in sight’ said one local
NORREBO – COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
According to Skyscanner, ‘this is the place for people who love bakeries and pubs with 40 different beers’.
The Laundromat Cafè is typically alternative – a bar where you go to do the laundry use the Wi-Fi, eat cake, and drink coffee while you wait.
‘If you like men with beard, girls in knitwear, organic food and indie music look no further,’ adds one local. ‘We have it all at Nørrebro.
‘The most biked street in Europe and not a McDonalds in sight.’
Beyoglu, Istanbul: Locals note that chain stores are gradually moving in and pushing out many of the independent retailers, cutting-edge design shops, restaurants, and cafes
BEYOGLU – ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Once Istanbul’s fashionable embassy neighbourhood in the late 1800s, the Beyoglu district fell into decline before making a resurgence in recent years.
The side streets are now lined with shops selling antiques and furniture, textiles, pottery, Ottoman embroidery, and kaftans.
However, artist and young creatuves may not be here for much longer – locals note that chain stores are gradually moving in and pushing out many of the independent retailers, cutting-edge design shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Canal St Martin, Paris: The district was given a revival after it featured as the setting for 2001 film, Amelie
CANAL ST MARTIN – PARIS, FRANCE
It was Canal St-Martin’s iron footbridges and tree-lined quays that formed the backdrop for off-beat 2001 indie film, Amelie.
It appeared to herald a revival of area, helping to draw a trendy crowd to its shabby-chic bars. Accommodation website Air BnB remarks: ‘Canal Saint-Martin attracts sundry crowds.
‘Model-types pose along the canal’s banks while unshaven philosophers ruminate waterside and demure couples dine at brightly coloured boulangeries.
‘As a place to see and be seen, Canal Saint-Martin is especially popular with angst-ridden university students—it’s the perfect setting for finding oneself while watching others.’
Florentin, Tel Aviv: The hip suburb has been filled with coffeehouses, bars, and art galleries over the past decade
FLORENTIN – TEL AVIV, lSRAEL
Florentin is a small patch of warehouses, workshops, bakeries and bars which has gradually grown from working class suburb inhabited by Greek and Turkish immigrants to hipster paradise over past ten years.
It has since been turned into a hip area full of coffeehouses, bars, and art galleries, with its popularity said to have been sparked by a popular TV series called Florentin about a group of 20-somethings living in the area.
Visitors can now do graffiti tours around the district, which often feature poems daubed on the walls.
Kallio, Helsinki: ‘The place where poor workers used to live and which artists, students and hipsters have since conquered’
KALLIO – HELSINKI, FINLAND
One local blogger described the city as ‘the bohemian, cool neighbourhood of Helsinki.
The place where poor workers used to live and which artists, students and hipsters have since conquered.’ If you are looking for where the bohemians roam free, your best bet is to head straight to Kallio.
Located in the east of Helsinki, this district primarily caters to a low-budget student, artist and immigrant population.
The Hakaniemi outdoor market offers the opportunity to take a coffee break inside a café tent.
Shimokitazawa, Tokyo: Vogue magazine have praised the area’s trend-setting credentials, saying it has all the nuance and niche of pop Japanese culture, without the neon and the frenzy’
SHIMOKITAZAWA, TOKYO, JAPAN
Described as the Williamsburg of Tokyo, and ‘what the world would be like if it was run by hipsters’. The neighbourhood is populated with the young and trendy and features bars, bike shops, rehearsal studios for musicians, foreign hipsters, and specialty shops.
Vogue magazine have also praised the area’s trend-setting credentials, saying it has ‘all the nuance and niche of pop Japanese culture, without the neon and the frenzy’.
Mission District – San Francisco: One of the oldest neighbourhoods in San Francisco, the Mission District is today ‘a centre of avant-garde and cultural experimentation’
MISSION DISTRICT – SAN FRANCISCO, USA
One of the oldest neighbourhoods in San Francisco, the Mission District is today ‘a centre of avant-garde and cultural experimentation’.
Mission is a creative place, evidenced not only by its graffiti. The Precita Eyes Museum preserves them, and will take you there for a walk.
The New York Times describes the area as maintaining a ‘precarious balance between its colorful Latino roots and a gritty bohemian subculture’ during the 1990s.
Rising house prices forced many of the working class out of the area and upmarket bars moved in, leading to an influx of a young, wealthy hipster crowd.