A ton of street art, quirky cafés and an underground club scene are just some of the hallmarks of a 'cool' neighborhood. In other words, we're talking about the unashamedly hipster areas where twenty-somethings hang out, and the places that you'll actually want to visit. Find out the best bit of your next city escape with this curated list of the coolest 'hoods around.
No list of the coolest districts in the world would be complete without mention of one of Tokyo's neighborhoods. Shibuya comes out on top because the area's bustle is legendary. For starters, come see the famous Shibuya Crossing, which is meant to be the busiest intersection in the world. Bill Murray fans will recognize the spot from the movie Lost in Translation. The neon lights, towering billboards, and waves of pedestrians are incredible to just stop and watch. Despite the rush, Shibuya has quieter, more relaxed areas, too. Stop by the Meiji Shrine to escape the rush of the streets, or explore Omotesando Hills for all the fashion and shopping you could ever want (let alone need...). Then slow down at Ganso Kujiraya (but skip the whale on the restaurant menu!), and wash it all down with rum at exclusive eight-seat bar, Los Barbados.
South London's Brixton 'hood has been labeled the city's new Shoreditch (AKA hipster-ville) for a good year or two now. Once defined by the 1981 Brixton Rising (a violent clash between its residents and the police), it's now a little grimy but definitely becoming the city's next 'it' spot. Browse the eclectic shops along Electric Avenue, sample the cocktail menu at Seven at Brixton, and Insta your artisan gelato at Lab G. Fans of binge-watching Orange is the New Black (erm, everyone) will adore eating at The Clink, Brixton Prison's very own restaurant. Fun fact: David Bowie was born in Brixton, so come ready to ogle at the mural in his memory.
Bushwick, New York City
Brooklyn's up-and-coming coolest neighborhood is just a quick walk from the Jefferson Street L train stop, but is maaany miles from ordinary. The neighborhood's buildings prove a colorful canvas for local street artists, called the Bushwick Collective. Stroll past the outdoor gallery (and LOL at the artwork of Trump styled as Heath Ledger's Joker) en-route to hip French bistro, Mominette. Mominette is just one stop on any foodie's must-munch list. Slip through a secret door disguised in a bookcase to a hidden patio at Appalachian eatery Montana's Trail House, or grab a slice of wood-fired pizza at Roberta's (no biggie but even Beyonce has been spotted here). The crowning jewel of this hipster hotbed is the House of Yes – a former ice warehouse that now hosts everything from circus performances and burlesque shows to poetry readings and immersive film screenings. Bushwick's vibe is equally irreverent and joyful, a feeling perhaps best captured by the neighborhood's annual 'Smallest Penis in Brooklyn' pageant. The joys...
East Austin, Austin
When thinking of hip cities across the US, the coasts usually steal the spotlight, but Austin, Texas can sure hold its own. More specifically, the East Austin district is the youngest and most fun 'hood around. Stop by the HOPE Farmers Market held every Sunday and you'll see why – the army of local food trucks stuffed with delicious eats pretty much sums up this area. Next, check out the local music venues and the hidden art scene (we've uncovered it here already – you're welcome). November is the best time of year to catch the neighborhood art scene when hundreds of artists participate in the East Austin Studio Tour. All in all, this area is unpolished and, to use a hipster favorite, 'authentic'. A night out for drinks will lead you not to a sleek cocktail lounge, but to one of the neighborhood's many dive bars. The area also has some of the best hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in the city. Skip the expected and enjoy East Austin's gritty, offbeat vibes.
Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
While Brazil is known for producing some of the most drop-dead-gorgeous people on Earth (oh hey, Adriana Lima), Rio de Janeiro's trendy Ipanema district is one of the best places for watching 'em. The district's LGBT community and young partiers flock to the beaches to surf and sunbathe. And though the neighborhood is flanked by the famous Copacabana and Leblon districts, Ipanema is the real can't-miss party spot. Hit the nightclubs – Baronneti, if you love EDM, and even if you don't – then wander its art galleries during the day. Be sure to try the national dish of black bean and pork stew with rice at Casa de Feijoada. Ipanema is also a killer spot to catch Rio de Janerio's famous street parties, where everyone floods the streets in a riot of color. The 2017 carnival season starts this November and continues until February. Put it in your iPhone calendar, like, now.
Kreuzberg is the rebellious heart of Berlin, with all the vibes to match it. The neighborhood proudly sports graffiti on nearly every available surface and embraces everything counterculture. During the days of the German Democratic Republic, Kreuzberg was surrounded by the Berlin wall on three sides. The neighborhood developed a unique identity and has since become of one of the hottest spots in the city. Eat an ever-popular Döner kebab at the street side Imren Grill, or meet the neighborhood's avant-garde denizens at coffee house and bar, Ora. For indie music lovers, you can't miss the Lido concert venue. Kreuzberg also has a grungy streak with clubs loud enough to make your ears bleed (in an, um, good way). VIVA recommends Watergate, a club for techno music fans and anyone who enjoys a terrace with a good river view.
Logan Square, Chicago
After you emerge from the underground Logan Square L station, you'll be met with a brightly-colored mural, as vibrant as this 'hood itself. This Northside Chicago district is widely recognized as the epicenter of the city's hipster movement. If you're a fan of the odd #throwbackthursday post, stop by Emporium Arcade Bar to play all the retro video games you loved as a kid. You can't miss the food either – sample delicious tapas at Azucar, or get your drink on at Revolution Brewing, a Chicago staple. Rent a Divvy through the city's bike sharing system to join the locals on two wheels – resplendent with tattoos and man buns. Then walk down Logan Boulevard to admire beautiful walk up homes shaded by rows of trees, or head up Milwaukee Avenue to check out the mix of neat shops, containing everything from book shops to tattoo parlors.
Mile Ex, Montreal
In 2012, the restaurant Mile-Ex opened, and the name was quickly adopted by the surrounding neighborhood. This district was once an industrial part of town with little in the way of eateries and entertainment, but now, it's one of Montreal's go-to neighborhoods, industrial roots and all. The wildly popular bar Alexandraplatz holds court in an old garage – order a glass of wine or a whole bottle (there's nothing disappointing on the list). And, of course, vie for a spot at one of Mile-Ex's communal tables. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but the street food and seafood menu is well worth the wait. Mile Ex's streets meander in fits and starts with little forethought, but it's this feeling that captures the neighborhood's funky and untraditional spirit. Be sure to check out the poutine and minimalist decor at Le Ballpark, then chill at Dispatch Coffee, a neighborhood fave.
King Street in Newtown is one of Sydney's most iconic thoroughfares. With industrial beginnings, hippie influences and a colorful LGBT community, anything goes in this fun, artsy, left-wing area. Take a stroll to enjoy the street art lovingly painted by local artists, then spend more than you really should at the mishmash of delightfully offbeat shops. Pop into The Vintage Drawer and pick up a vintage skirt that even Regina George would admit looks totally fetch, then cross the street to browse for antiques. There's no shortage of amazing food from all over the globe, either. Don't miss Bloodwood, with a menu stuffed with everything you could ever hope for, from fried chicken to grilled octopus. Students from Sydney Uni are a big part of Newtown's crowd too, taking advantage of the ever-changing array of small bars, cracking restaurants, music gigs and weekend events.
Fairytale great, Hans Christian Anderson, lies buried in Nørrebro's Assistens Cemetery. If this historical resting place isn't enough to lure you to Denmark's most multi-ethnic 'hood, then come for the collection of cafes, bars, and restaurants that have something for everyone. Eat your fill of breakfast food at Møller Kaffe & Køkken morning, noon, or night. Then sip on beer at hip brewpub BRUS, and dance to live music at Rust nightclub. The avant garde has found a happy home in Nørrebro and its cobbled streets — specialist coffee roasters, gourmet food connoisseurs, and artists all add to the ambiance. You can't not love the buzz.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Los Angeles oozes cool from Bel Air to Hollywood, but hipsters have firmly claimed their territory in Silver Lake, lined with indie shops along Sunset Boulevard. Order breakfast from the Yeastie Boys Bagels food truck (the food will tickle your fancy as much as the pun), then sip on Intelligentsia coffee and window shop the quirky boutiques at Sunset Junction. Of course, no ultra-cool neighborhood is complete without its own hip music venue, so hit up The Satellite for live music, drinks, and a photo booth for you and the squad.
Golden sand beaches and amazing Pacific blue waters are probs the images that come to mind when thinking about Hawaii, but the island state is also home to urban hotspot and capital city, Honolulu. The city's coolest neighborhood is, without a doubt, Kaka'ako. The area hosts fashion shows, film festivals, and art shows, as well as an insane array of options for the inner shopaholic (especially at the Night Market). Another cool spot to visit is Honolulu Beer Works. The neighborhood pub crafts its brews from a seven-barrel system, and features 10 beers on tap. Every hangry foodie should also reserve a table at 53 by the Sea. Afterwards, explore the colorful street murals – they're so expansive they literally cannot be missed, and they never get old because they're replaced every Feb. All in all, the city blends the natural beauty of Hawaii with an unconventional edge – get on it.