The Top 40 World's Coolest Neighbourhoods In 2020

Natasha Hinde
·Reporter at HuffPost UK
·4-min read

A trendy – not to mention, friendly – district in Barcelona, Spain, has been crowned 2020′s coolest neighbourhood by Time Out.

Esquerra de l’Eixample bagged the top spot based on its tight-knit community, great local businesses and LGBTQ+-friendly culture.

For this year’s list, Time Out based its chart on the usual factors – a neighbourhood’s atmosphere, the food and drink, nightlife and independent culture on offer – but the pandemic has meant there’s been a new factor to consider: a neighbourhood’s community spirit.

“In Barcelona, as in many cities, people are living much more locally,” said Maria José Gómez, editor of Time Out Barcelona. “The life of the city has moved from the centre to the neighbourhoods, and the Esquerra de l’Eixample is a perfect example: its community feels closer than ever, having rediscovered the area’s courtyards and used the power of entertainment and culture to keep spirits alive through lockdown.

“Now life in the neighbourhood seems more intense and vibrant, with the bars, restaurants and terraces (safely) buzzing.”

During lockdown, locals in Esquerra de l’Eixample gathered together en masse for pop-up Hidrogel Sessions, where residents held dance parties from their balconies in fancy dress to keep community spirit up. Meanwhile, a local support network was created to help the vulnerable, and Ada Parellada from the well-known Semproniana restaurant started cooking for health workers.

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Los Angeles cityscape at dusk. (Photo: LeoPatrizi via Getty Images)
Los Angeles cityscape at dusk. (Photo: LeoPatrizi via Getty Images)

The list of neighbourhoods has been collated from local opinion via the annual Time Out Index survey, spanning 38,000 global city residents.

Downtown, LA, was crowned the second coolest neighbourhood after it became a pivotal, central location for peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations earlier in the year.

The LA Live plaza was also dedicated to the commemoration of Kobe Bryant, with locals lighting candles and flowers to show their love and support for the LA legend’s life.

Meanwhile food and drink outlets helped feed undocumented restaurant workers and MOCA and the Broad museum kept art alive for locals’ mental stimulation during the pandemic.

Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong came in third place. Usually, people throng to the neighbourhood at the weekend to discover new artists, tasty cuisine and shop vintage and designer clothing as well as traditional textiles. But during the pandemic, the neighbourhood showed heart with organisations setting up to help the vulnerable and a local hostel offering housing to the homeless.

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This year’s list is more about celebrating the hotspots that are pointing the way forward for city life, rather than planning your next trip, said James Manning, Time Out’s international editor. “Consider this list a worldwide shout-out to the strength, spirit and resilience of city-dwellers.”

Some UK neighbourhoods made it on to the list, too. Dennistoun in Glasgow came in at number eight. Students from Strathclyde University breathed new life into the area, writes Time Out. And during the pandemic, the area was strengthened by initiatives like the Zero Waste Market – a refill grocery shop for boxes of essential foods – and Alexandra Park’s Food Forest, where locals of all backgrounds meet to plant and grow for a more sustainable future.

Phibsboro in Dublin and London’s Soho also made an appearance in the top 40. Check out the full list below.

The top 40 coolest neighbours in the world:

1. Esquerra De L’Eixample, Barcelona

2. Downtown, LA

3. Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

4. Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York

5. Yarraville, Melbourne

Yarraville, Melbourne (Photo: John W Banagan via Getty Images)
Yarraville, Melbourne (Photo: John W Banagan via Getty Images)

6. Wedding, Berlin

7. Shaanxi Bei Lu/Kangding Lu, Shanghai

8. Dennistoun, Glasgow

9. Haut-Marais, Paris

10. Marrickville, Sydney

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11. Verdun, Montreal

12. Kalamaja, Tallinn

13. Hannam-dong, Seoul

14. Bonfim, Porto

15. Ghosttown, Oakland

16. Chula-Samyan, Bangkok

17. Alvalade, Lisbon

Alvalade and the Bela Vista park, an Lisbon neighborhood at sunset panorama  (Photo: J.M.F. Almeida via Getty Images)
Alvalade and the Bela Vista park, an Lisbon neighborhood at sunset panorama (Photo: J.M.F. Almeida via Getty Images)

18. Noord, Amsterdam

19. Centro, São Paulo

20. Holešovice, Prague

21. Lavapiés, Madrid

22. Opebi, Lagos

23. Narvarte, Mexico City

24. Uptown, Chicago

25. Little Five Points, Atlanta

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26. Wynwood, Miami

27. Phibsboro, Dublin

28. Nørrebro, Copenhagen

29. Bugis, Singapore

30. Gongguan, Taipei

31. Soho, London

Nighttime scene in Frith St. Soho (Photo: Howard Kingsnorth via Getty Images)
Nighttime scene in Frith St. Soho (Photo: Howard Kingsnorth via Getty Images)

32. Binh Tanh, Ho Chi Minh City

33. Melville, Johannesburg

34. Kabutocho, Tokyo

35. Porta Venezia, Milan

(Photo: zazamaza via Getty Images)
(Photo: zazamaza via Getty Images)

36. Taman Paramount, Kuala Lumpur

37. Allston, Boston

38. Bandra West, Mumbai

39. Arnavutköy, Istanbul

40. Banjar Nagi, Ubud

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.