A foodie hub in the Danish capital that’s seen new businesses thrive even in the depths of the pandemic has been crowned the world’s coolest neighborhood by Time Out.
Nørrebro, Copenhagen topped the global media brand’s 2021 list, which was compiled via a survey of some 27,000 people living in cities across the world and narrowed down by Time Out’s global team of editors.
In the wake of Covid-19, Time Out says community spirit played a big part in selecting the top districts.
“The pandemic was pretty crushing for cities and culture and hospitality businesses,” Caroline McGinn, Time Out’s global editor in chief told CNN Travel. “But each of these places has its own story to tell about how people came together to support each other - and inventing new grassroots culture along the way.”
Andersonville in Chicago, known for its thriving LGBTQ+ scene and green spaces, came in at number two on Time Out’s list, while historic Jongno 3-ga in Seoul, South Korea got the number three spot.
Number four went to the Edinburgh neighborhood of Leith, a former industrial area of the city that’s got a burgeoning creative scene and a growing list of top restaurants. Rounding out the top five is the artsy Station District of Vilnius, in Lithuania, with Time Out praising the city’s street art and bar scene.
Number one neighborhood Nørrebro was recommended by Time Out not only because of its bustling businesses old and new, but for its recent community initiatives, from a car-free Sunday program to an interactive art exhibition named Usynglige Stier (“Invisible Paths.”)
Copenhagen was also recently recognized as the world’s “safest” city, by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index (SCI). This week, the city’s Noma restaurant was also crowned the world’s best.
“Ratings aren’t the whole story, it’s also about the vibe,” said McGinn, explaining that the Time Out editors finessed the list with an important localized perspective.
“City neighborhoods are dynamic, they change quickly. And that can be a really good thing: looking at some of the cool ideas that became reality really quickly during Covid.”
Time Out also says sustainability was at the forefront of its decision making: number two pick Andersonville, Chicago, was celebrated for its eco-friendly composting program Clark Free Composts, while Sai Kung in Hong Kong (number nine) was commended for its zero-waste stores and environmental group Friends of Sai Kung.
McGinn said the Time Out survey underlined how cities have been impacted by the pandemic differently, but one unifying factor was “a big shift towards localism and hyperlocalism, which is here to stay.”
“People hung out in their neighborhoods, depended on them for sustenance, community and social life, and in many cases fell in love with them,” she said.
Time Out also highlighted must-visit businesses and landmarks for each neighborhood – from live music venue the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne (number 10) to coffee shop Graine D’Or in Ngor, Dakar (number eight).
Such local spots are the “soul of our cities,” said McGinn.
“When Time Out curates the best of the city, our editors are on the hunt for joyful surprises: the off-radar, new, local spots that don’t have a slick marketing department but are wonderful. We look for all the obvious things – flavor, authenticity, excellence – but also the secret sauce, venues where the vibe and the experience really swing, and seem definitive for this place and time.”
‘Deep sense of community’
Thomas Spelling, co-owner of Nørrebro coffee shop and bakery Rondo, which was highlighted by Time Out, said the area benefited from a strong sense of community.
“I think that’s part of the appeal about Nørrebro,” he told CNN Travel. “It’s mostly a residential area and a lot of the businesses have strong bonds to the neighborhood.”
His comments were were echoed by the team at The Barking Dog, a Nørrebro bar also named by Time Out as a local highlight.
“We could not be more proud to see Nørrebro on the list. Not only is the bar located in Nørrebro, quite a few of us from the company also live here. Some of us have a hard time finding a reason to leave the area most days,” it said in an email.
“Nørrebro is full of diversity, adventure and craft. There is a deep sense of community amongst residents and businesses which speaks to the constant evolution of the neighborhood as a whole.”
Time Out’s Top 10 Coolest Neighborhoods
1. Nørrebro, Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Andersonville, Chicago, USA
3. Jongno 3-ga, Seoul, South Korea
4. Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
5. Station District, Vilnius, Lithuania
6. Chelsea, New York, USA
7. XI District, Budapest, Hungary
8. Ngor, Dakar, Senegal
9. Sai Kung, Hong Kong
10. Richmond, Melbourne, Australia