Whether you’re visiting a city for the first time or the hundredth, discovering somewhere a little off the beaten track should always get a tick off the list. Europe is bursting with cool and quirky neighbourhoods, often offering a more authentic experience of the place you’re visiting. In this article we breakdown the most unmissable districts in Europe, packed full of independent shops, stylish cafes and vibrant street art to help make your trip unforgettable.
1 AMSTERDAM-NOORD, AMSTERDAM
Home to the city’s young and artistic, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam-Noord makes this list. Hop on a free ferry from behind Amsterdam Centraal station and you’ll find some of the city’s most innovative architecture and most serene views. Go on the highest swing in Europe at A’dam Tower, explore the former shipyard of NDSM or visit Pekmarkt for a spot of antique shopping. Whatever you end up doing, you’re sure to be away from the crowds.
2 CHRISTIANIA, COPENHAGEN
Perhaps the quirkiest of quirky neighbourhoods in this list is the freetown in the middle of Copenhagen. Christiania may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely a place you have to experience on a trip to the Danish capital. The place is covered in insane, vibrant street art but, as drug laws in the freetown are a lot different to the main city and the rest of Europe, don’t be tempted to take photos. Check out the Christiania art shop where you can purchase posters of the street art and take photos out the front.
3 KREUZBERG, BERLIN
The cool yet chic style of Berlin’s Kreuzberg district is what makes it a favourite place to hang out for locals and tourists alike. You’ll find trendy bars, ever-changing street art and pop-up shops around every bend, plus a popular Turkish Market comes to town every Tuesday and Friday. Be sure to indulge in a doner kebab, a Berliner’s go-to fast food staple. The hipster flair of this Berlin district should definitely be near the top of your hit list on a city break here.
4 BELLEVILLE, PARIS
Nestled up in a north eastern arrondissement of Paris is the creative Belleville (or ‘Beautiful Town’) neighbourhood. Plastered in awesome street art and lined with independent cafes and shops galore, Belleville has a totally different feel to the more glamorous and expensive central Paris. If you need more reason to go than just to check out the quirky shops and art, Parc de Belleville boasts some gorgeous city views with the Eiffel Tower in shot. Head there on a late sunny afternoon with a bottle of wine and watch the sun as it sets over Paris.
5 SHOREDITCH, LONDON
Just a short tube journey from London’s notoriously plush centre is Shoreditch where you’ll find all of the city’s quirky shops and bars and one of the best markets in the city. Head to Boxpark for a unique pop-up shopping experience inside old shipping containers and Brick Lane and Spitalfields for cool clothes and an amazing variety of street food. A night out in Shoreditch is perfect for those looking for a more alternative, laid-back vibe with plenty of dancing, drinking and live music involved.
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6 HOLESOVICE, PRAGUE
Prague’s old fairytale air mixes with the today’s modernist flair in the Holesovice neighbourhood of the city. It’s considered by art buffs to be one of the best areas to get your creative fix as within it stands Veletrzni Palac, a world renowned art gallery. Even if you’re not that into the arty stuff, Vnitroblock is a minimalist exhibition space where you can go just to relax with a coffee in a stylish cafe, or buy designer Czech clothing. The nearby Letna Park is a glorious spot to bask in the summer sun and take in some awesome city views.
7 NORREBRO, COPENHAGEN
Cobbled streets, interesting art and stylish design shops all over the place, Norrebro has made its mark on Copenhagen in recent years and for good reason. Of course, like most of the city, the buildings are all high and colourful, but the young, trendy vibe of this district is something you can’t miss on a trip here. The Assistens Cemetery is a great place to cycle through, with tall, narrow trees lining the path and Hans Christian Andersen’s burial site as something to explore.
8 POBLE SEC, BARCELONA
If you’re looking for more traditional Barcelona, Poble Sec has a Catalan charm that will give you one of the most authentic local experiences in the city. You’ll get the liveliness of central Barcelona combined with the quietness of an authentic residential area of the city, plus the crowds of tourists are most likely elsewhere. The area is cheap and restaurants, bars and cafes are definitely not difficult to come by. Sit with a refreshing, al fresco glass of wine in one of the small plazas on a Friday evening where you’ll often find locals dancing.