We’ve told you where hipsters hang out in the United States, and which neighborhoods they’re moving to next. We’ve told you where not to go on the ENTIRE PLANET if you can’t stand waxed beards, organic kale, or fixed-gear bikes. And then, in a crazy attempt at inclusion, we flipped the script and tried to defend the hipster. Which was much harder than you think.
So what now? Well, we’re going back to telling you where they live. But this time in Europe! We identified the one neighborhood in each EU country (not every European country, in case you’re about to start screaming “Where’s Switzerland???”) with the healthiest mix of top knots and tattoos, flea markets and fusion shops.
This district is tiny but dense with trendy boutiques, cafes, and hip bike shops (Ciclopia, anyone?). The southern border is the Naschmarkt area -- one of Vienna’s best-known markets, where over 120 vendors peddle local and exotic produce/spices to foodies eager to jazz up their schnitzels and burenwursts. Opt for the Naschmarkt flea market on Saturdays to find some truly bizarre, possibly fantastic treasures.
While Downtown Brussels has all of the off-beat things a self-consciously cool traveler needs -- ale brewed by monks, shops full of lace, tagged abandoned buildings -- it’s also full of tourists. Thanks to the two universities in its neighborhood, Ixelles ditches touristy trinkets for student-pleasing moves, like the killer indie vinyl record store (Veals & Geeks) and the glorious rabbit stews at Les Brassins.
Hidden behind a nondescript wooden door down a dark alley in this Sofia neighborhood is Hambara, a cozy bar and hangout of artists/intellectuals that’s lit by hundreds of candles. It used to be a secret refuge during the Communist regime for choice individuals who knew the password. Does one hipster bar make an entire neighborhood? Of course not, which is why you should also check out A:part:mental (punctuation mandatory) -- a cozy (and again, signless) cultural center on the second floor of a century-old building where folks play piano, watch movies, and do their freelance art.
Trg Bana Jelačića, Zagreb
Martićeva St in Zagreb is enough to make all your hipster dreams come true with counter-culture bookstores, wine bars, and specialty meat shops selling all of the charcuterie-board fixings. Booksa is Zagreb’s first bookstore/coffeehouse where all intellectuals come together to talk about smart things and use swear words, and only the truly hip and informed know to ditch the bigger, more touristy Dolac Market for the Kvatrić version.
Old Nicosia, Nicosia
Kala Kathoumena coffee shop serves the hipsters of Cyprus who bring freshly rolled cigarettes to this quaint, vine-covered café. As far as nightlife goes, New Division boasts graffiti-covered walls, repossessed furniture, and the dinginess of a run-down building, so you best believe this is where they head post-cafe to stare indifferently at each other while partaking in obscure music and decently priced drinks. For a little Zen action, Utopia Shop offers tea and treats, as well as activist lectures and yoga.
First stop, Holešovická Tržnice. It’s a giant indoor and outdoor market with an eclectic variety of stalls and plenty of pho (the energy source of the hip). Also find art galleries, café-bookstore Ouky Douky (where beatnik original Alan Ginsberg used to perform readings), coffee you can only pay for with Bitcoin at Bitcoin Coffee (and no, we're not making this stuff up), and fantastic food and cheap/good beer at the microbrewery Pivovar Marina.
Jægersborggade St in Nørrebro is practically infused with the smell of roasted coffee beans -- luring those wearing beanies like moths to flames -- the product of specialty coffee roasters arriving in the area a few years ago. In this once-shabby district, sample more than 40 varieties of beer, meet eco-conscious locals, and shop in boutiques full of handcrafted wool and organic goods. This stop’s weird mix: The Laundromat Café. Make laundry fun(ish) with coffee, cake, and Wi-Fi. Actually, hipsters might be onto something here…
Once the seedy part of town (so essentially the natural hipster launching grounds), Kalamaja’s wooden houses, Russian flea market, and soothing sounds from the seaside make for a quaint historic district populated by artists and other young Tallinners. Most shops and eateries are as cozy as your grandmother’s living room -- though maybe in a slightly more ironic fashion. And in case there was any doubt, the bike shop, JOOKS Bike Studio, has a café inside.
Brunch strikes again! Most are buffets (because they like big brunch and they cannot lie); some are themed, such as vegetarian or raw, sushi, jazz, yoga, or flea market (because those are types of brunches in Helsinki); and almost all serve Finnish homegrown delicacies. When they’re not eating all the brunch, the working-class neighborhood full of young entrepreneurs also offers cheap beer, vinyl record stores, secondhand shops, and pop-up restaurants.
Canal Saint-Martin, Paris
Along the Canal (built by Napoleon using a tax on wine, which couldn’t have made him popular), you’ll spot bohemian musicians strumming their guitars, shabby-chic bars, picnicking couples, and trendy bistros. Point Éphémère -- a former Art Deco warehouse that later became art-squatter heaven -- is the hippest attraction. This multidisciplinary art zone covered in graffiti is home to exhibitions and concerts put on by independent pop, rock, electro, and hip-hop artists.
A West Berlin neighborhood best seen by bike and best experienced through brunch, Kreuzberg is hip with hubbub. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, area artists treated deconstructed concrete like canvas and East Side Gallery was born. With the largest Turkish population outside of that country, you can find crazy good menemen at La Femme, or just go take down a couple of Club-Mate ICE-tea KRAFTSTOFFs (iced maté tea) at the Tempelhofer Freiheit park, made from an old airfield. Also, in case you need clothes, check out hip-central boutique, Voo Store. Some of its things are so cool you won’t know how or if anyone actually wears them.
Tourists avoid this area, likely because it’s full of left-wing intellectuals who are swimming in that socialist lifestyle. We’re talking welcomed squatters, co-op living spaces, a free health clinic, independent bookstores reprinting revolutionary works, and an appropriated parking lot serving as a community vegetable garden. Activists are at home, with graffiti tags reading “We Hate the Police” and “F*ck the Capital.” Welcome, anarchist hipster, to your paradise.
District VII, Budapest
No surprise here, right, especially considering “ruin pub” is a phrase that needed to be coined because so many abandoned buildings have been turned into bars. These bars feature live music and adorn their walls with art exhibits, incorporating computer parts and digital graphics, and film projections. They are also populated by mostly 20-somethings looking for $1 glasses of wine (and that’s realistic!). On top of that, Budapest hosts Sziget Festival, known to be the European version of Burning Man. Go ahead with your bad selves, free spirits.
‘The Hipster Triangle,’ Dublin
Yes, this is really a thing. And yes, as you might imagine, you’ll never be too far from an organic/vegan/locally cultivated dish -- or a Mason jar beverage. Everything in this area is home-grown and carefully crafted, but above all, kitschy as hell. Head to Designist for practical housewares with flair or Irish Design Shop, where seriously hip couples can embrace their internal need to DIY and learn how to make their own wedding rings. Your move, Williamsburg.
Historic, gritty, and full of tattooed fashionistas sporting top knots -- that pretty much paints the picture of Pigneto. It's not the spot in Rome to take in ancient ruins, as much as it's the place for street art, wine bars, and indie electronic music. Pigneto was once a sketchy 'hood filled with drugs and prostitutes, but today it rocks an eclectic array of eateries and a trendy, must-hit cinema/bistro called Kino.
Miera Iela, Riga
The name translates to “Peace Street,” so yeah, you already know where this is going. Riga’s (possibly already played if you believe Internet commenters) bohemian hub is loaded with all your requisite vintage shops, art galleries, and florists, not to mention cafes with live tunes (DAD Cafe), a popular chocolate factory (Laima), and local brewery (Labietis).
Whether for real or as a joke, in 1997 the people of the Užupis declared the neighborhood an independent republic with its own national anthem, constitution, president, and army of 12 (angry?) men. Surprisingly, no government recognizes the tiny neighborhood nation.
During the Soviet era, it was Vilnius’ most dangerous and neglected district which explains why -- as is the case with all dangerous and edgy neighborhoods -- the artists eventually moved in. Also, the Art Academy was just across the bridge. Today, expect alternative fashion festivals, poetry readings, concerts, exhibitions, and coffee houses, not to mention artists squatting in abandoned buildings near the river.
City Center, Luxembourg City
OK, so admittedly, Luxembourg is NOT a hotbed of hipsterdom. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any neighborhood in the country that folks would be like, “Oh yeah, that’s definitely where all the cool kids hang out.” Some suggest Bonnevoie or the Grund as possibilities, while others immediately declare them crazy for even suggesting it. That said, the City Center is at least the spot where you’ll be in the thick of all the food/drink action. Be sure to check out the bar Interview -- it combines dark wood and vintage lighting with cigarette smoke and some easy-going reggae.
Old Town, Valletta
Valletta checks a couple of the boxes on the coolness exam, including: an eclectic bar with vegan food, recycled furniture, and an unspoken rule to “unplug” and spend more time with the people in the room and not your phone (check, hit Gugar); a hip Italian joint peddling crazy-popular handmade pastas (check, that would be Soul Food); an old covered market with sweet antique ironwork (and… we’re done here).
Once a warehouse wasteland (cue the invasion), today this Amsterdam district is your hotspot for restaurants, startups, flea markets, and festivals. Self-guided bike tours (naturally) offer a close-up view of the historic architecture, shipyards, and wooden barns/churches, while Tolhuistuin (a former space owned by Shell Oil) is a summer-only cultural playground with theatre, concerts, restaurants, and, yeah, even a hip-hop dance school.
Again, not surprising but Praga was at one time the most undesirable part of Warsaw. The neighborhood, however, has since traded the city’s highest crime rate for experimental cuisine, artists, and craft cocktails. Be sure to check out the avant-garde photography-based collective in Czułość Gallery; it started as a space for small, private showings but has since morphed into a spot where kids in black T-shirts throw wild parties.
Rua de Miguel Bombarda, Porto
No, a shopping mall is certainly not where you’d expect to find people trying to escape the mainstream, but the Centro Comercial Bombarda in Porto’s art district is no ordinary mall -- it’s stocked exclusively with indie Portuguese designers peddling vintage clothes, handmade collectables, and other niche alternative schwag. As for the ‘hood in general, it’s all about co-working spaces and wine-themed hotels.
Any joint that brands beef gut as an expensive delicacy is the type of place fit for bourgeois hipsters, right? Well, at Cotroceni’s Ciorbă de Burtă, you’ll find a tasty beef tripe soup made with pork leg, garlic, buttered milk, and vinegar (along with cow stomach, of course). The neighborhood, which was once the site of a 17th-Century monastery-turned-palace, now appeals to the bearded set with places like Control Club (for some serious synthesizer action) and Carol 53, an old house repurposed into a shared-space art center party spot.
Old Town, Bratislava
It’s the eateries in Bratislava that reveal the city’s alternative side. For starters, check out U Kubistu: from the outside, it looks like a boutique that sells clothes and home décor items. Step inside, however, and bam… it’s a bistro with carefully curated coffee, organic meat, and vegetarian food. Meanwhile, Urban House fits the trendy coffee shop aesthetic to a tee with its communal wooden tables, bookshelves, and mismatched metal chairs. But wait, there’s also an EDM/reggae bar that hosts board game nights and a café whose name translates to the word “mustache.”
Once a military barracks, Metelkova is now a seven-building stretch (navigable by fixed-gear bike!) that’s home to amazing nightlife, legal public art, and illegal public art (read: graffiti). Oh yeah, also edgy boutique hostels like Celica -- a former prison with artist-designed rooms, multiple cafes and restaurants, and even a museum on the ground floor.
While many might argue for Malasaña, Gracia’s an energetic and tight-knit ‘hood that welcomes everybody -- including hipsters in hordes -- with big, open arms. Indie cinemas, cafes, and designer clothing stores (one named Boo actually uses 1920s-era Barcelona telephone cabins as its changing rooms), not to mention Park Güell -- one of the world’s coolest parks, with colorful mosaic lizards, phallic mushrooms, and stunning tilted buildings -- put this place firmly on the list.
Seemingly existing to cater to vintage clothing junkies, Södermalm brings its Swedish fashion A-game. So much so that even Vogue has even given the ‘hood its rightful props. (Although does that mean it’s officially played?) Waxed mustaches, vinyl records, trendy boutiques -- Söder does it all -- and musicians and artists are known to find a happy home here. The choice hybrid in this Stockholm hub? A surf shop AND clothing store AND espresso bar, where you can knock wetsuits, sundresses, and lattes all off your shopping list at once.
For the record, England’s most hipster ‘hood was Shoreditch. That is, until it got all expensive and forced the organic urban farming masses to this East London spot four miles from London’s city center. In addition to its vintage shops offering mismatched furniture and ‘70s-era clothes (Beyond Retro), Dalston also boasts its share of communal tables and craft cocktails (see: Tina, We Salute You) along with undiscovered musicians and pop-up events in places like Roof Park, which is exactly what it sounds like -- an outdoor venue on top of an old factory.
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Nadia Imafidon is Kansas-based magazine editor, freelance writer, and singer in soul/funk band Sharp 9. The size of her hair very closely resembles the size of her ego and she woke up like this. Bow down to @nadia_imafidon on Twitter.