What exactly is a hipster? Sure, many of us have our own preconceived notions about what it means to be a hipster – and most of those ideas aren’t very nice. But the literal definition of a hipster is this: “A person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.”
Over the last few years, hipster culture has become huge. And whether you know it or not, you probably engage in something that people would consider “hipster-ish.” Sure, there are the obvious things – skinny jeans, beards, indie music and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Hipsters tend to prefer local, craft beers and small, indie businesses, as opposed to big, corporate megastores. And really, can you blame them?
If you think about it, many of us can benefit from hipsters moving into our areas – besides the rising cost of living associated with them, that is. Who would really complain about having more art galleries or local restaurants? Or venues that play live music and pubs that sell unique, local beers?
Which is why, as much as we hate to say it, many of the cities on this list actually sound pretty awesome when you think about.
20. Toronto, Canada
West Queen West, a neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, underwent a transformation that we’ve seen over and over again in recent years. A once poor area primarily made up of immigrants and industrial workers, has suddenly become hip and cool.
Of course, along with that, property values have risen as the younger, artistic types move in and take over. This neighborhood is home to Toronto’s art circuit, including the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art which hosts shows that are free for the public – something that’s rare in this day and age.
There’s also the Drake Hotel which doubles as a live music space that features contemporary art exhibits as well. And don’t worry, there are plenty of places to eat as well, including coffeehouses and diners that specialize in comfort food and local craft beers.
19. Paris, France
Paris. The city of wine, romance and artists. And yes, those artistic types have brought a touch of the modern, bohemian lifestyle to this classic European city. Specifically, in the Canal St. Martin neighborhood, where it’s not uncommon to see intricate works of graffiti lining the canal walls.
A popular place for students and artists to hang out, and who can blame them? The area is beautiful all on its own. And with the large selection of restaurants and bars, it’s easy to find yourself simply watching others as they stroll by.
You can expect to see angsty university students with beards reading alongside beautiful model-types posing for photos alongside the canal.
18. Tel Aviv, Israel
When one thinks of Israel, hipsters probably aren’t the first things that comes to mind. Especially considering all the conflict going down in that area right now. But there’s a neighborhood known as Florentin that routinely gets ranked as one of the most hipster neighborhoods in the world – and with good reason too.
Florentin, as with many neighborhoods mentioned here, started out as a working-class district filled with warehouses and factories. But today, the population has shifted from working-class to artists and creative types, and it’s been this way for some time. Probably before many of us even knew what a hipster was, Florentin was already there, way ahead of us with their walls filled with graffiti art and poetry.
17. Austin, Texas
Hipsters? In Texas? When most people think of Texas, they tend to think of cowboys and rodeos, not skinny jeans and art galleries. But those preconceived notions couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, Austin’s unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” The motto is intended to encourage people to support local businesses and anything indie. And you’ll find a ton of indie stores and restaurants, along with live music and novelty shops. Some might even say Austin is more hipster than Portland, though that might be a tough call to make.
16. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is already a hip destination, and we’re not even talking about the hipsters yet. Known for its beautiful beaches (and women), very few people would think twice about a vacation here.
But little do most folks know, B.A also has a neighborhood that’s a hipster haven. Palermo has several districts including Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood – which happens to be the nightclub district.
The SoHo district might remind tourists of the NYC SoHo area back in the 1970s. The neighborhood is filled with low-rise buildings and trendy, unique shops. Some might sell colorful wool or architecture-themed dresses. You never know what you might find as you meander the crumbling streets of Palermo.
15. Madrid, Spain
If you’re a hipster, or as they call you in Spain a modernos, and you’re lucky enough to find yourself vacationing in Madrid, you don’t want to miss out on visiting Malasana. Malasana is a vibrant and lively quarter that’s considered the center of the hipster trend.
There’s a nightclub for every interest, including a few that specialize in BDSM, nudists, 1980s themes and other non-mainstream interests. Also, there’s a small gay scene located nearby in Chueca.
And if clubbing isn’t your thing, you can always find great shops, most of which are not mainstream. There are second-hand vintage shops, used book stores, fancy pastry shops, ethnic restaurants, bohemian cafes, and so much more.
14. Portland, Oregon
There’s no way we’d have a list like this and not include the inspiration for the television series, Portlandia. That just wouldn’t be right. Portland has been a hot city in the United States for the last few years, and recently it even ousted the nation’s capital as the top city for people to move to.
More people move to Oregon than move out, and a large chunk of them happen to be young Gen Xers. Part of the appeal is the affordable cost of living, especially compared to San Francisco and Seattle, both of which are relatively nearby. But Portland has a wealth of stuff to offer hipsters too – including outdoor activities galore, local farms, and bike paths that make owning a car unnecessary.
13. Amsterdam, Netherlands
If you’re ever in Amsterdam and you wonder where all the hip, young people are, then all you have to do is look north.
The Noord neighborhood is separated from the rest of Amsterdam by a body of water, so yes, it’s easy to forget it’s there at all. But if you want to find it after arriving at Central Station, just look where everyone else is going and then go in the other direction.
The Noord area was once derelict, but as with many hipster cities, it’s now young and revitalized. Abandoned warehouses have been turned into restaurants, festival spaces and headquarters for start-ups – mainly creative in nature. And there’s also the flea market to top all flea markets, the biggest one in Europe, that takes place there monthly.
12. London, England
While not terribly surprising to see London on a list like this, you might be surprised to find out that perhaps the most hipster neighborhood of all isn’t Hoxton, but Dalston.
Dalston is home to the Ridley Road Market where fruits, vegetables and butchers all sell their goods. The area has attracted immigrants for over 100 years, and because of this, it’s diverse, offering the residents a variety of choices when it comes to food, drink and entertainment.
You might find Caribbean food on Ridley Road, and Polish delicatessens down the street. But this area hasn’t always been thriving. In fact, many considered this part of town to be dying until the renovation and reopening of Dalston Junction Station, which is connected to the East London extension.
All of this came about with London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics, and as is typical with gentrification, property values have since gone up at a rapid pace.
11. Melbourne, Australia
Fitzroy was Melbourne’s first suburb, created in 1839. Today, it offers up one of the most bohemian and hip neighborhoods in Melbourne.
So what does a hipster do when visiting Fitzroy, you ask? Well, they might grab breakfast any time of day or visit any one of Brunswick Street’s pubs or bars. Or they might wander the many vintage shops or visit a record store, or even visit the Rose Street Artist’s Market on Saturday.
Of course, no hipster neighborhood would be complete without art, and Fitzroy has plenty of that to offer up as well. There’s plenty of street art and murals, along with art galleries and studios. You can even take a creative workshop.
There really is everything a hipster desires here in Fitzroy, but it’s not the only part of Melbourne that’s drawing in the Gen X crowd, so you surely want to check out the rest of the city as well.
10. San Francisco, California
San Francisco, specifically the Mission District, is hipster heaven. Like many areas on this list, the Mission District used to be the poorer part of town, mostly for working-class people.
Perhaps due to the ridiculously high rents in San Francisco, young hipsters flocked to the Mission District and made themselves at home – raising property values and rents along the way. A number of artists also moved into the neighborhood, and even with the rising rent prices, many immigrants continue to live there, making for a diverse and interesting community.
There are a number of festivals, art centers, restaurants and bars, many of them local, that draw people here. Not only that, but the Mission walls and fences are decorated with a number of murals that are inspired by traditional Mexican paintings by Diego Rivera.
9. Tokyo, Japan
When you think Tokyo, you probably don’t think bohemian and hippie culture. You probably envision busy streets filled with people and bright lights, and for parts of Tokyo, that’s very much how it is.
But just a short train ride away, you’ll also find the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa, otherwise known as Shimokita by the locals. This neighborhood has been at the forefront of the hipster culture for decades now, and to this day, it’s still very much a place to visit for vintage stores, record stores, small theaters, live music and more.
Shimokita is also a very colorful place, with tons of murals and street art decorating the neighborhood. It’s no wonder this neighborhood is so popular with hipsters, both Japanese and foreign alike.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is quickly becoming one of Europe’s top foodie destinations, and many of the great restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses that stand out also happen to be located in the hippest part of town – Norrebro.
Within Norrebro, you’ll find Jaegersborggade, which is its own little village filled with artists, environmental activists, and foodies. While the area wasn’t always as trendy as it is today, the resurgence can be credited to the arrival of the Coffee Collective, a specialist coffee roaster, and Noma, a restaurant that has been ranked as the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine.
The former sous chef of Noma admitted that he originally opened the restaurant where he did simply because it was the only neighborhood he could afford. But now, it’s credited with helping revitalize the area, bringing in more restaurants and nightlife.
7. Helsinki, Finland
Separated from the city centre of Helsinki by the Siltasaarensalmi street and over a bridge is where you’ll find the neighborhood of Kallio. The bridge, in a way, symbolizes the divide between the more bourgeois centre and the working-class Kallio.
Because Kallio is the working-class area, rents have historically been cheaper than other parts of the city. Most of the flats are small, which makes them suitable for younger, single people including students and artists.
However, due to the popularity of the area, rents are increasing. The neighborhoods of Kallio and Harju have a reputation of being more bohemian and liberal than other parts of the city, and there are number of unique shops, restaurants and galleries for residents to enjoy alongside a number of adult stores and strip clubs as well.
6. Seattle, Washington
You wouldn’t expect a list like this to not include the birthplace of Starbucks and grunge music, would you? What kind of list would this be without Seattle?
Seattle just happens to be one of the biggest hipster havens in the United States. There isn’t just one neighborhood where the trendy, modern types hang out, oh no. You can expect to see bearded men and skinny-jean wearing chicks at Capitol Hill, an area that seems to be the epicenter of cool.
But you also have neighborhoods like Ballard and Georgetown that are also hipster meccas. One of the most popular places for hipsters to eat brunch, however, is at Linda’s Tavern on Capitol Hill. It just so happens to be the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive.
Of course, no hipster city would be complete without craft beer or specialty breweries, and Seattle has you covered there too. In fact, you can go on a brewery tour including one where you’ll ride on a 16-passenger pedal-powered vehicle. Only in Seattle, right?
5. Montreal, Canada
The Mile End neighborhood of Montreal is often called the Hipster Capital of Canada. It’s no surprise when you think about it. Artists such as Mordecai Richler and the band Arcade Fire are known to have started out their careers here. For many, walking around the neighborhood reminds them of Brooklyn, New York.
Artists are to be found on every street corner, including at least one collective in a former tire factory. There are artists who use recycled materials or who specialize in screen printing, and no matter what creative venture you’re looking for, chances are, you’ll find it here.
And of course, no hipster haven would be complete without restaurants that cater to unique tastes, and Mile End has all of that and more, including a bakery that specializes in gluten-free and dairy-free products called Mi and Stu.
4. Stockholm, Sweden
Meander through the streets of Sodermalm, a neighborhood located in Stockholm, Sweden, and you’ll find vintage stores, unique shops, art galleries and more alongside wonderful restaurants and bars to stop in for a drink.
If Sodermalm sounds familiar, it might be because Lisbeth Salander and other characters from the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson hail from here, and much of the action from the books take place in this very district. It’s easy to see why Larsson would choose this area once you take a look.
Some of the best views of Stockholm are located within the district, including Fjallgatan and Monteliusvagen. Also, you can find art galleries galore in Horsgatspuckeln. But if you’re truly looking to meet other hipsters, then check out the Hornstull area, which has recently undergone a revitalization.
3. Riga, Latvia
The Miera Iela literally translates to Peace Street. What better term for a Hipster neighborhood than that? What might surprise you, however, is that such a street isn’t located in San Francisco or Portland or not even anywhere in Spain.
No, the Miera Iela is located in Riga, Latvia. A stroll down the Miera Iela will have you convinced, however. You’ll be surrounded by art galleries, vintage shops, restaurants featuring acoustic concerts and more.
But don’t think that Peace Street is the only hipster haven in Riga. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Riga has recently seen a flurry of hipster neighborhoods popping up all over the place. Many of the places the hipsters occupy include parts of the city that were long forgotten. But the young, creative types took this as a challenge. They transformed these areas into beautiful, cozy places where everyone can spend time, socialize and relax.
2. Berlin, Germany
Hipsters flock to Berlin. While the entire city is a mecca for Gen Xers, there’s one particular neighborhood that is the reigning kingdom of Hipsterdom: Kreuzberg.
What was once a very disadvantaged and poor area is now alive and hip once more, with street art, gourmet coffee houses and trendy bars, all catering to the young and hip. For many, this is an interesting transformation.
You see, Kreuzberg was once a divided city, with the Berlin Wall splitting it down the middle. Because of this, it was one of the poorest cities in all of Berlin. But ever since the Wall came down, it’s become the epicenter of everything awesome about Berlin.
1. Brooklyn, New York
Some consider Brooklyn, most notably the Williamsburg neighborhood, to be the American hub of Hipsterdom.
Williamsburg is home to 113,000 residents of a variety of ethnic groups – including African Americans, Italians, Jews, Dominicans and more. The area used to be fairly affordable, which is what drew in many of the artistic types to the area. And today, it’s considered an influential neighborhood for indie rock, even being the place of origin for electroclash.
But not everyone is pleased with hipsters moving into the neighborhood. Hasidic Jews clash with the trendsetters, claiming that the trendsetters are not only an eyesore for the community, but they’re causing rents to skyrocket. And the latter is true (no comment on the former). Rents have gone up tremendously over the years, making it less and less affordable for current residents who have lived here for years.
The Guardian, Visit Victoria, Telegraph, The Globe and Mail,
Ottawa Citizen, Visit Finland, USA Today, Smithsonian Mag,
The Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Lonely Planet