The neoclassical buildings and well-manicured lawns may give this pocket of Moscow a superficially old-world feel. But dig deeper and you’ll discover a thriving contemporary art scene – especially at the Winzavod and Artplay arts centres – and plenty of charming bars and pubs. In winter, its centrepiece is the sprawling ice-skating rink in Chistye Prudy Park.
Cours Julien, Marseille
Not far from Marseille’s harbourside and set around the palm-fringed square of the same name, Cours Julien is a lively neighbourhood overflowing with bars, cafés and international restaurants. Over the past few months, locals have taken to streetside eating and drinking with greater fervour than ever.
A historically working-class area to the south-east of the city centre, Centocelle is bisected by the striking Acquedotto Alessandrino, a two-millennia-old aqueduct that signals: Welcome to Rome. The food here is homey and top-class; come aperitivo time, you could find few quartieri better. And in the legendary Forte Prenestino community complex (pictured), the area has a truly superb social hub.
Known as the Shore, this harbourside area stretching away from central Edinburgh is fast building a reputation as a cosmopolitan, culturally significant destination in its own right. In normal times, the Leith Theatre is a haven for music and theatre lovers. Must-visit bars and restaurants also abound.
The two main axes in this southern Bristol neighbourhood – North and East Streets – teem with brilliant bars, restaurants and a plethora of independent boutiques. Edging into neighbouring Southville, the Tobacco Factory is one of the UK’s coolest small theatres – instead of live shows, it has hosted farmers’ and craft markets through the summer.
An entry in our list of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods in both 2018 and 2019, this former industrial area once again came top in our survey of Manchester locals this year. To find out what all the fuss was all about, check out Mancunians’ recommendations of the best things to do in Ancoats.
There are more than 30,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago – but Kungsholmen alone has more than enough to keep you busy. This former industrial area now boasts some of the city’s coolest bars, restaurants and vintage stores. Meanwhile, Rålambshovsparken and the Smedsuddsbadet bathing beach have offered locals a serene place to kick back over the past six months.
Oude Noorden, Rotterdam
Unlike much of the city centre, this corner of northern Rotterdam still retains much of its pre-war architecture. The Rotte river, which cuts through the neighbourhood, is lined with all manner of brilliant restaurants and brunch spots including institutions Destino and Bertmans. During lockdown, the Noordplein square has carried on serving as the area’s bustling social centre.
A suburban area to the south-west of Birmingham, Stirchley was raved about by residents of England’s second city – no doubt thanks to its density of independent businesses, pioneering breweries and an excellent community-run market. If you come here any time soon, you’ll want to sample every stop on the legendary ‘Stirchley beer mile’.
Just around the corner from the heaving Jewish Quarter, this studenty part of Budapest is home to a thriving dining-out scene, the always-appetite-whetting Rákóczi Market Hall, and several rather spooky (and very cool) abandoned palazzos.
Okay, so it’s slightly removed from Vienna’s city centre – but it’s still genuinely baffling how Rudolfheim has remained under the radar for so long. With its cheap rents, incredible range of classic Viennese, Turkish and Balkan restaurants, speciality food shops and charming streetside urban gardens, this multicultural district could well be one of Europe’s coolest places to live right now.