The 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world revealed, from Accra to Tbilisi

The coolest neighbourhoods in the world have been named by the influential Time Out guide, and it’s Embajadores in Madrid that takes the top spot.

But it’s the area that’s come 11th that is the most interesting – Peckham, in London. It’s a part of the UK capital that was once a byword for decay and the butt of jokes – and indeed featured in sitcom Only Fools and Horses – but is now lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups.

The list was put together by local Time Out editors, city experts and 15,000 people surveyed across the world and also features the likes of Fitzroy in Melbourne, Enmore in Sydney and Highland Park in Los Angeles. Here we put the spotlight on the top 13 – in order of coolness.

1. Embajadores, Madrid

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Madrid’s Embajadores tops the list as the world’s coolest neighbourhood right now with its exciting nightlife and fabulous food, street art and high culture, says Time Out.

The guide says: “This is where people from near and far live side by side, cooking up a bustling cultural life. To the north, Plaza Tirso de Molina is home to florists by day, and at night fills with revellers queuing to get into Medias Puri, the city’s club of the moment.

“To the south are two huge cultural centres, Tabacalera and La Casa Encendida. In Embajadores, Visitors can dine on divine Moroccan lamb tagine for an absurdly low price or Indian specialities served atop a flowery oilcloth and relax with a cocktail in the legendary Sala Equis, a former adult cinema that is now a drinking hole.”

2. Euljiro, Seoul

The #Euljiro neighbourhood of Seoul still smells like fresh ink when you walk through its industrial streets. Made up mostly of printing presses, warehouses and old-school fried chicken eateries – like Manseon Hof (#만선호프) – Euljiro has become the latest hotbed of hidden bars and cool cafés. The contrast is most noticeable at night as printers pore over tomorrow’s paper and trendy kids crawl into seemingly abandoned warehouses. Dine with ajeosshis (middle-aged Korean men) at one of Euljiro’s acclaimed eateries and head towards the neon lights for a drink at @seendosi afterwards to experience the best of both worlds. ?: Hahna Yoon ?: PixHound/@Shutterstock #50nabes . . . #seoul #korea #wanderlust #travel #instagood #imagineyourkorea

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When walking through its industrial streets, says Time Out, Seoul’s Euljiro neighbourhood still smells like fresh ink.

It continues: “Made up mostly of printing presses, warehouses and old-school fried chicken eateries, this neighbourhood has become the latest hotbed of hidden bars, restaurants and cafés.

“At night, printers pore over tomorrow’s papers and trendy kids crawl into seemingly abandoned warehouses. Bedazzled with neon signs and indie-music posters, Seendosi is a bar located on the fifth floor of an apparently derelict warehouse; the prelude to getting here includes walking up four flights of pitch-dark stairs.”

3. Nueva Villa de Aburrá, Medellín

Far west of #Medellín’s best known hotspots, the city’s rockers, punks and metalheads thrive in Nueva Villa de Aburrá. It’s home to La Villa, a horseshoe-shaped plaza that transforms daily from a stately promenade to a throng of music-loving youth. With a history of peaceful political protest, Nueva Villa de Aburrá has established itself as a neighbourhood of free love and sociopolitical engagement – making it number three on our list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. It’s a place that celebrates new traditions, like its now annual hot sauce and electronic music festivals, challenging outsider expectations of Colombian life. ?: Maggie Clark ?: Pedro Alvarez Espinosa #50nabes . . . #columbia #wanderlust #bikelife #graffiti #instatravel

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Medellín’s rockers, punks and metalheads thrive in Nueva Villa de Aburrá where every day La Villa – a horseshoe-shaped plaza – transforms from a stately promenade to a throng of music-loving youth, says Time Out.

Over the years, the guide continues, this neighbourhood has established itself as a place that celebrates new traditions – think annual hot sauce and electronic music festivals or the Los Molinos shopping centre, where monthly staged spectacles (dinosaur amusement parks; superhero-themed gladiatorial contests; fairy-tale swan rides) add a touch of whimsy to community living.

4. Metaxourgeio, Athens

The once-grand neighbourhood of #Metaxourgeio in #Athens was almost abandoned for years, but now a patchwork of artists, activists and NGO volunteers are breathing fresh life into it. Its crumbling neoclassical buildings are emblazoned with emotionally-charged murals by local graffiti writers. Shabby-looking brothels and squatter spots – tragic reminders of the decade-long economic downturn – have slowly given way to bars (like vintage-themed @BlePapagalos) and tavernas that hum with activity until the early hours. The @Communitism Project, a huge mansion being restored by local and refugee artists, houses exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and parties; it encapsulates young Athenians’ creative energy and ability to make something from nothing. Metaxourgeio is a neighbourhood in that magical, transitional phase where it truly feels as if anything could happen next, making it number four on our list of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. ?: @jessica_fm_bateman ?: Stelios Kazazis / Flickr #50nabes . . . #graffiti #art #greece #athensart #streetart

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Abandoned for years, the once-grand Metaxourgeio neighbourhood is being revived thanks to a diverse group of artists and activists, encapsulating young Athenians’ creative energy, says Time Out.

It continues: “Crumbling neoclassical buildings have been emblazoned with murals, shabby-looking brothels and neglected houses have given way to bars and tavernas that hum with activity until the early hours.

“There are exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, parties and one highlight is LaTraac – an adults-only skate bowl that transforms into one of the city’s coolest hangouts come nightfall thanks to an outdoor bar and regular DJs.”

5. Princípe Real, Lisbon

The name of our fifth coolest neighbourhood in the world literally means ‘Royal Prince’, and with bars, stores, and art galleries everywhere,� Princípe Real in Lisbon is clearly attempting a rise to the throne. Hang in the coolest bars, like @cincolounge, shop at eclectic stores (one of them, @_vintage_department.com_, has a stuffed polar bear to greet you), hit up its colourful club nights (Príncipe Real is Lisbon’s gayest neighbourhood) and refuel at the hottest restaurants, like @a_cevicheria_chefkiko, where a giant octopus hangs overhead, and you can wash down your meal with a pisco (or three). ?: @timeoutlisboa ?: @memmoprincipereal #50nabes . . . #principereal #lisboa #lisbon #lisbonlovers #lisboalive #travel #portugal #instatravel #visitlisbon

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There are not only amazing restaurants from tapas to ceviche, cool bars, stores (one of them, Vintage Department, has a stuffed polar bear greeting customers) and art galleries everywhere in Princípe Real – this neighbourhood is also home to brilliant club nights, says Time Out.

It continues: “Those looking for great cocktails should head to Cinco Lounge to relax on sofas and savour some of the 100 drinks on offer such as Madagascar bourbon with vanilla vodka and fresh pineapple.

“Every Saturday, an organic fair with little stalls brings a bit of country life to this neighbourhood.”

6. Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Paris

The historic cradle of Paris’s Kurdish and Indian communities, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis has a unique style: a brilliantly surreal mess. Greasy spoon cafés rub shoulders with hip, high end restaurants and some of the city’s oldest establishments, like @bouillonjulienparis, which is classified as a historical monument. At @lamano.paris DJs and live artists swing sounds from salsa to nu-disco, and the crowd is just as eclectic: a melting pot of guys in Supreme, girls in Céline and dressed-down thirty-somethings. Only in SSD can you tour the bars for €4 in the company of hip-hop royalty and old-school bohemians, which is why it’s number six on our list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. After a day exploring the area, rest your head at @amourhotels, a trendy anti-palace designed by French graffiti artist @andresaraiva ?: @timeoutparis ?: @leblogdemax #50nabes . . . #Paris #ParisFoodGuide #strasbourgsaintdenis #parisgram #parisjetaime #igersparis #instaparis

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The historic cradle of Paris’ Kurdish and Indian communities, Strasbourg-Saint-Denis has a unique style: a brilliantly surreal mess, says Time Out.

It adds: “The trendiest gourmet restaurants rub shoulders with greasy spoon cafés and some of the city’s oldest establishments, like Brasserie Julien, classified as a historical monument.

“At La Mano club, DJs and live artists swing sounds from salsa to nu-disco, and the crowd is just as eclectic: guys in Supreme, girls in Céline, hip hop royalty and old-school bohemians.”

7. Neukölln, Berlin

Neukölln is the constantly-evolving anti-establishment melting pot at the heart of #Berlin hip, and number seven on our list of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. Look past the #graffiti and grime and you’ll find an area constantly reinventing itself. What was once abandoned is made new, turned from wasteland into the latest smoke-filled bar, vegan café or unmarked gallery – all independently run. On Wesserstrasse, bars like TiER and Ä serve art, performance and booze to a cross-section of Berlin society. On Maybachufer, locals laze by the canals and wander the Turkish market. It’s a neighbourhood that revels in its originality, and when the urban landscape wears you down, you can head to Tempelhofer Feld, a vast airport reclaimed by Berlin’s citizens as a free-for-all park. ?: Duncan Madden ?: Dagmar Schwelle/@VisitBerlin #50nabes . . . . #neukölln #Germany #Berlingram #Berlinstagram #Berlininlove #Wanderlust #Berlinlife

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Neukölln is a neighbourhood that is constantly reinventing itself and revels in its originality, states Time Out.

It adds: “What was once abandoned is made new, turned from wasteland into the latest smoke-filled bar, vegan café or unmarked gallery – all independently run.

“On Weserstrasse, bars like TiER and Ä serve art, performance and booze and on Maybachufer, locals laze by the canals and wander the Turkish market.

“Sundays are best spent drinking and dancing to underground electronic beats at Griessmuehle, a former grain mill boasting dancefloors, makeshift furniture and an amazing garden overlooking the canal.”

8. Yanaka, Tokyo

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Yanaka is cool, says Time Out, but in an unassuming way and even though it is right next to the busy tourist hub of Ueno, this neighbourhood remains tranquil.

It continues: “Always having captivated visitors with its antique atmosphere, a new creative energy has been breathing new life into its streets and buildings recently, without altering its old-world allure.

“Some of the city’s best restaurants, artisan workshops and galleries co-exist with magnificent temples and shrines. Modern art gallery Scai The Bathhouse shows cutting-edge exhibitions by local and international artists in an over 200 years old former bath house.”

9. Highland Park, Los Angeles

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Highland Park – LA’s leafy, low-key neighbourhood – has shed its former dive-bar vibe to become a hub of handsome cocktail spots and the city’s most exciting nightlife scene, says Time Out.

It continues: “While York Boulevard has been buzzing with gastropubs for a while now, the recent arrival of vegan cafés, limited-batch dumplings and an order-by-the-ounce pizza shop have turned Figueroa Boulevard into an aspiring dining destination.

“One culinary highlight is Otoño, thanks to chef Teresa Montaño’s fresh take on Spanish tapas, with dishes like tuna and anchovy goat butter and farmers’ market vegetable paella.”

10. Fitzroy, Melbourne

Formerly a working class suburb north of Melbourne’s Central Business District, Fitzroy has become the city’s artistic haven, placing it at number 10 on our list of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. Hip Melburnians shop here for designer brands (like @alpha60), vintage clothes and records; new street art magically appears on walls throughout the suburb; and Australia’s top chefs and bartenders (plus newbies with a dream to share) open up new restaurants, cafés and bars seemingly every week, from vegan destinations @smithanddaughters and @redsparrowpizza to the George Costanza-themed @georgesbarfitzroy. ?: @timeoutmelbourne ?: Graham Denholm ?: #EverfreshStudios #50Nabes . . . #fitzroy #melbourne #melbourneshuffle #melbourneeats #streetart #graffiti #WelcometoFitzroy

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Fitzroy turned from a working-class suburb into Melbourne’s artistic haven, says Time Out.

It continues: “This is where Melburnians shop for designer brands and vintage clothes, records and quirky finds.

“New street art magically appears on walls throughout Fitzroy and Australia’s top chefs, newbies and bartenders open up restaurants, cafés and bars seemingly every week. At the weekend, Rose Street Artists’ Market visitors can browse clothing, jewellery, paintings, sculpture and designs, and meet the people who made them.”

11. Peckham, London

Over the last few years, Peckham has cemented itself as London’s preeminent cultural hotspot, making it number 11 on our list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. The streets are lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups. With some of the British capital’s most reputable arts colleges just a short bus ride away, the area has become a breeding ground for southeast London’s burgeoning creative scene while staying true to its multicultural roots. At the cavernous Khan’s Bargains, art kids and African families shop for homewares and nick-nacks shoulder to shoulder, while the neighbourhood’s worst-kept secret, @frankspeckham, is a concrete-tastic rooftop art bar popped above a multi-storey car park that lends itself perfectly to cocktails at sunset. . ?: @timeoutlondon ?: AC Manley / @Shutterstock #50nabes . . . #peckham #timeoutlondon #londoncalling #iglondon #visitlondon #thisislondon #se15

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Over the last few years, Peckham has cemented itself as one of London’s preeminent cultural hot spots.

Its rise up the hipster-o-meter has been meteoric, in fact.

Time Out says: “Streets once associated with the sitcom Only Fools and Horses are now lined with video arcade bars, cult nightclubs and street food pop-ups. With some of the most reputable arts colleges just a bus ride away, the area has become a breeding ground for south-east London’s creative scene while staying true to its multicultural roots.

“One of the top places to visit is Peckhamplex which is stuck in the ’90s in a good way with its retro decor: tickets at this multi-screen cinema are a cheap £4.99.”

Peckham is also home to one of London’s very best restaurants – Peckham Bazaar.

12. Noord, Amsterdam

With a grittier landscape, industrial roots and room to move, Noord is decidedly removed from the Amsterdam 17.8 million tourists visit each year. It’s that quasi-seclusion that puts it at number 12 on our list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Locals are drawn to the area because the rent is cheaper and there’s no overcrowding; instead, there’s a sense of experimentalism that draws adventurous visitors as well. The restaurant scene in Noord is nothing to sleep on, particularly the Mediterranean-influenced dishes at @hangaramsterdam. Afterwards, grab some local beers at @oedipusbrewing while channeling your best Dutch self. ?: Laura Collins ?: @koennemans #50nabes

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With its industrial roots, Noord is decidedly not attracting many of the millions of tourists visiting Amsterdam.

Time Out says: “Locals are drawn to the area because there is no overcrowding, the rent is relatively affordable and there is a sense of experimentalism.

“It only takes a free ferry service across the River IJ to be greeted by head-turning landmarks like the futuristic Eye Filmmuseum and A’dam Tower (where, on the rooftop deck, Europe’s highest swing offers breathtaking city views). Closeby is NDSM Wharf, a former shipyard turned art and culture hub which is home to culinary hotspot Pllek and hosts Europe’s biggest monthly flea market, IJ-Hallen.”

13. Ancoats, Manchester

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Formerly infamous for seedy street scenes, Ancoats has emerged from the ashes of its industrial past to become the hangout of choice for Manchester’s cool kids, says Time Out.

“Abandoned cotton mills are being transformed into affordable co-working spaces and river-facing apartments. Colourful street murals, craft beers, artisanal bakeries and gin joints add an extra shot of hipster hotness, and the funky Hope Mill Theatre is where local performers come under the spotlight.”

FROM PECKHAM TO LA: THE 50 COOLEST NEIGHBOURHOODS IN THE WORLD

1. Embajadores, Madrid

2. Euljiro, Seoul

3. Nueva Villa de Aburrá, Medellín

4. Metaxourgeio, Athens

5. Princípe Real, Lisbon

6. Strasbourg-Saint-Denis, Paris

7. Neukölln, Berlin

8. Yanaka, Tokyo

9. Highland Park, Los Angeles

10. Fitzroy, Melbourne

11. Peckham, London

12. Noord, Amsterdam

13. Ancoats, Manchester

14. Enmore, Sydney

15. Bandra West, Mumbai

16. Shuk HaPishpeshim, Tel Aviv-Jaffa

17. West Village, New York

18. West Loop, Chicago

19. Tangba Jie, Chengdu

20. Osu, Accra

21. City Bowl District, Cape Town

22. Sant Antoni, Barcelona

23. Monti, Rome

24. Leith, Edinburgh

25. Hornstull, Stockholm

26. Sololaki, Tbilisi

27. Phibsboro, Dublin

28. Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro

29. Former French Concession, Shanghai

30. Roma, Mexico City

31. Cedofeita, Porto

32. Prawirotaman, Yogyakarta

33. Wynwood, Miami

34. Hayes Valley, San Francisco

35. Wan Chai, Hong Kong

36. Ari, Bangkok

37. Petite Italie, Montreal

38. Karlín, Prague

39. Dufferin Grove, Toronto

40. Central District, Seattle

41. Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires

42. Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur

43. Kadıköy, Istanbul

44. Tanjong Pagar, Singapore

45. Kitay-Gorod, Moscow

46. Langstrasse, Zurich

47. Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi

48. South End, Boston

49. Sanlitun, Beijing

50. Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai

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