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The 5 coolest neighbourhoods in the world in 2024

It’s that time again. Every year, we ask thousands of city-dwellers to tell us the coolest spots in their cities. What are the places locals love and visitors flock to?

The world’s coolest neighbourhoods in 2024
The world’s coolest neighbourhoods in 2024

Where are the exciting new openings across food, drink and culture? Where are people going out, hanging out and having fun?

The 5 coolest neighbourhoods in the world in 2024

For the sixth year running, the results are in. Over 12,000 people had their say in this year’s shortlist, naming the neighbourhoods in their hometowns where everyone wants to be right now. Then, we narrowed down the selection with the insight and expertise of city editors and local experts who know their cities better than anyone else. To create and rank the final list, we considered factors including community and social ventures, access to open and green space, and thriving street life.

In 2024, our neighbourhoods are more global than ever before. The rise and rise in post-pandemic digital nomadism has led to an explosion of brand-new community spaces, multi-purpose culture centres and more cafés than we can count on two hands. But while most of these neighbourhoods have experienced a transformation over recent years, they remain resolutely local at heart. Slick new developments and cool cafés might bring in new crowds, but neighbourhood stalwarts – from old pubs to family greengrocers – keep it real. 

The world’s coolest neighbourhoods this year are, therefore, places with big personalities. Each area’s diversity is reflected in its food, culture and festivals. Community is key: locals have banded together to rebuild their neighbourhood after disaster, to protest the demolition of much-loved cultural venues or simply to create spaces where people can come together and have some fun. Be it at an all-nighter or on a nighttime bike ride, these neighbourhoods are where the city comes to play. 

So, ready to explore? These 40 spots are the world’s coolest neighbourhoods to be in right now. See you out there.

1. Laureles

Medellín, Colombia

Colombian singer Karol G hasn’t released any hit songs about Laureles like she has about nearby El Poblado, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time. The neighbourhood is home to the famed nightlife strip known as La 70 – where every bar and restaurant floor can turn into a dance floor with the right song – and Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Medellin’s main fútbol stadium and concert venue. And while you might think all of this would make Laureles a bit noisy and hectic, the neighbourhood actually has a pretty laidback reputation. The area outside of La 70 offers tranquillity in the form of parks, tree-lined streets, yoga studios and countless coffee shops. And with the area’s vastly improved restaurant scene and central location, it’s easy to see why digital nomad-friendly highrises such as Indie Universe and Los Patios Cool Living are springing up there. But don’t expect this area to be overrun by expats and tourists like Poblado. Laureles still has a traditional Colombian neighbourhood feel, despite its growing popularity. Fruit vendors push their carts through the circular streets like they have for decades – only now they might know a little more English than they used to.

The perfect day Rise and shine in the new Living by Armóniko, then grab your morning coffee from Rituales Café, which proudly serves coffee cultivated in La Sierra – a reborn Medellin neighbourhood that overcame a violent past. Enjoy a healthy lunch at Saludpan and an authentic Mexican dinner at Chilaquiles before ending your night dancing salsa in the basement of the no-frills Tíbiri Bar.Plan your trip Colectivo SiCLas meets at Carlos E. Restrepo Park every Wednesday for a lively nighttime bike ride that draws 400 to 500 people on average. Don’t have a bike? They’ll lend you one.

2. Smithfield

Smithfield represents the Dublin that refuses to disappear. This Dublin 7 neighbourhood is a space where tradition and activism meet, where long-standing stalwarts co-exist alongside exciting new ventures. You’ll not only find The Cobblestone, a historic pub known as the home of traditional Irish music in Dublin (which saw thousands of musicians march in protest when it was threatened with being knocked down in 2021) but new businesses like Third Space. This social enterprise café serves homemade sausage rolls with bacon jam, all-the-while making the neighbourhood a better place to live. Though the old Smithfieldian haunts (thankfully) remain, the once-empty spaces that sat beside them are today filled with independent bars, vegan-friendly restaurants, artisanal cafés and sourdough pizza shops – deeming the area a must-visit for anyone swayed by no-frills, post-industrial charm.

The perfect day Wake up at The Generator before crossing the square to grab a flat white and Cardi B (a cardamom-infused brioche bun) from Proper Order. Then, walk towards Phoenix Park to spot some deer (or if you’re lucky, catch a sight of the president’s Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bród and Misneach). From there, head for Token, the retro arcade that serves excellent vegan eats. Catch an indie film at the Light House Cinema, then head to Fish Shop, the tiny seafood restaurant (with a killer wine list) where fish and chips are made with high flair. Finally, choose between grabbing a snug at Frank Ryans or making a night of it at The Complex, the live arts centre famous for warehouse raves (sober or otherwise) and art exhibitions.

Plan your trip The Smithfield Fleadh (pronounced ‘flah,’), held on the last weekend of August, is the time to visit for two days of live Irish music, local art and hazy, summer evening pints.

3. Carabanchel

Once known as a proper working-class area outside Madrid’s ring road, Carabanchel has turned into the city’s latest version of SoHo – it’s now buzzing with trendy art galleries and cutting-edge creative spaces. You've got locals who've lived here for donkey's years nipping to the traditional food markets crossing paths with artists who've moved to escape the city centre hustle at spots like the Nave Oporto studio. Yes, like any up-and-coming neighbourhood, the spectre of gentrification is hovering about: the area keeps attracting modern art and design hotspots, like young architects' collective Casa Antillón and Madrid’s biggest and boldest art gallery Veta. But the old-school local joints are still going strong – pop into tapas spot La Casa de los Minutejos for the best pig's ear in town. The area's green spaces have had a facelift too, like the stunning gardens and palace of Finca Vistalegre, recently open to the public.

The perfect day Start with a banging brekkie at Merinas, a new café that also puts on art shows. Head to Sabrina Amrani Gallery for some culture, then discuss the art over a glass of wine and a cheese board at La Grifería. Follow it up with something a bit heartier, like the traditional gallinejas (fried intestines) at Casa Enriqueta. In the afternoon, try some home-brewed beer at Patanel – then grab another at El Observatorio Musical, where you can wander through rehearsal spaces and watch the sunset from the rooftop. Up for a big one? Catch a rock gig at the legendary Gruta 77.Plan your trip Carabanchel is home to the Pradera de San Isidro, the main event of Madrid's celebrations for its patron saint every May 15. You've got free concerts, traditional food stalls and family-friendly activities for a solid ten days.

4. Havnen

Copenhagen’s city architect Camilla van Deurs describes Havnen, Copenhagen’s harbour, as the city’s living room – and we can’t disagree. It’s the place where the city comes to play, whether that’s on boats, floating rafts, paddleboards, kayaks or in its swimming pools. People swim, take solar-powered Go Boats out on the water, rent the free Green Kayak to look for trash as they paddle, and even go urban fishing. ‘Havnen’ is arguably any space by Copenhagen’s harbour, from Sydhavn in the south to the architectural hotspot of Nordhavn in the north, but it’s liveliest around Nyhavn. Here, the Royal Danish Theatre and its hangout space Ofelia Plads overlook the water, and the Kissing Bridge leads to the brand-new Opera Park. But the whole area is seeing a host of new openings, including much-hyped bakery Hart Bageri Holmen and the new ‘urban oasis’ at Papiroen. It’s no wonder everyone wants to be waterfront right now. 

The perfect day Wake up at Kaj Hotel, a floating houseboat hotel, and start your day with the excellent sourdough bread at Hart Bageri. Wander up the harbour from here to Opera Park and head to La Banchina for lunch. Take a dip in the harbour next to it and let off steam in the restaurant’s sauna. Go Boat your way around the harbour in the afternoon, then retire to Rosforth & Rosforth or Den Vandrette for drinks and dinner. 

Plan your trip For long nights and lazy days, it’s got to be summer. But if you’re in the mood for challenging yourself with a bracing winter swim, the city opens new public saunas this winter.

5. Sheung Wan

Hong Kong

Once a neighbourhood known for its coffin shops and funeral-related services, Sheung Wan is now one of Hong Kong's liveliest districts. This is the only place in Hong Kong where you can find a mix of historic temples, antique stores, and dried seafood stalls alongside contemporary art galleries, Melbourne-style cafes, stylish boutiques, and contemporary restaurants. You’ll find hipsters and their pets in chic cafes, while older generations explore bustling wet markets and seafood stalls that stretch all the way to Sai Ying Pun. You’ll never go hungry in this district, with options to chow down on affordable dim sum or sit down for an indulgent omakase or global cuisine at Michelin-starred restaurants. Conveniently just one MTR stop away from Central, you can book accommodations in any CBD hotel or stay nearby at boutique venues like The Sheung Wan by Ovolo or check into The Figo, where your four-legged friends are also welcome.

The perfect day Start your day at Tai Ping Shan Street and grab coffee and breakfast at one of the many pet-friendly cafes. Soul Fresh is a great choice for smoothies and fluffy pandan cake. Visit Pak Sing Ancestral Hall and pray to be blessed with true love, or head to Man Mo Temple to wish for success. Explore the area’s many contemporary galleries, or if you're into history, visit Liang Yi Museum, which houses a collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture. Capture some Instagram-worthy shots of the area’s murals, created for the 2023 HKwalls street art festival. For dinner, do your best to bag a table at Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant The Chairman, and finish off with well-crafted cocktails at Mostly HarmlessPlan your trip Experience the neighbourhood’s creative side at Art Month in March. Contemporary galleries host exhibitions while local bars and restaurants organise pop-ups to celebrate the festivities. 

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