There are must-sees, of course, but to really get under the skin of Europe’s great cities go for our pick of less-touristy districts
Gothenburg is a city that’s easy to love. While Stockholm tries hard to impress, with polished, hyper-stylised spots, the second city is more naturally cool, and nowhere more so than Järntorget and Långgatorna, where locals go to let off steam. This spot on the south bank of the Gota was once where sailors and dockworkers with money in their pockets went looking for a good time, and a lively pub culture marks the neighbourhood to this day. It also had a seedier side that has long been replaced with restaurants, culture and even an annual street party, Hela Dagen Lång, that is the closest thing Sweden has to Notting Hill Carnival.
See and do
Whether it’s wafting from a bar or performed live at one of the many venues, music is a constant theme on Långgatorna, and vinyl junkies will find two of Gothenburg’s best record stores within a two-minute walk of each other. Dirty Records (Andra Långgatan 4) boasts a carefully collated selection of LPs ranging from funk to 1960s psychedelia – take time to mull over your purchase in their inhouse cafe. A few minutes west is Gothenburg’s biggest secondhand music shop, Andra Långgatans Skivhandel (no 33), where it’s worth setting aside some time to dig through endless shelves of records. There are rarities to be found, and patience will be rewarded.
When it comes to entertainment, this part of Gothenburg brims with choice, boasting two of the city’s most-esteemed cultural venues. Housed inside an old cinema, Pustervik (Järntorgsgatan 12-14) has been entertaining locals since the early 1900s and is the place to go for live music plus a range of club nights. Folkteatern, on nearby Olof Palmes Plats, hosts high-quality theatre, film screenings, and other spoken-word and music performances.
For something less highbrow but still highly satisfying, wander up Järntorgsgatan to Zamenhof (Esperantoplatsen 5), a huge space open from breakfast until late where the jewel in the crown is a vintage games room. Relive your childhood on its arcade and pinball machines, tackle giant Jenga, or take on some locals at table tennis.
Eat and drink
For a reasonably priced meal in a striking venue, visit Kafé Magasinet (Tredje Långgatan 9) in the neighbourhood’s former auction house. Sourdough pizzas are the speciality and a cosy, plant-filled terrace with a glass roof means you can feel as though you’re outdoors without being at the mercy of Gothenburg’s changeable weather.
Next door, Tacos & Tequila (Tredje Långgatan 9) is a hugely popular lunch and dinner spot, known particularly for its blackened salmon ceviche. Queuing for a table may be necessary but the no-reservations policy is a blessing: Swedes book tables weeks in advance if they’re given the chance.
The Gothenburg beer scene has exploded in the past decade, so find out what all the fuss is about by rounding off the day at Soho Beer House (Andra Långgatan 5). This cosy but lively bar has a vast selection from the city’s micro-breweries and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you pick. Dugges, a brewery at the vanguard of Gothenburg’s craft beer surge, is a must for beer fans.
Where to stay
You won’t find a hotel in Långgatorna and that’s good: it keeps the authentic, local feeling alive, but a 20-minute walk or 10-minute tram journey links the neighbourhood with Gothenburg city centre. There, Avalon Hotel (doubles from £86 B&B) vaunts its feng shui certification, and has stylish rooms plus a rooftop pool with a great view.
University Quarter, Brussels
This part of Brussels, on the public transport network but pretty much off the tourist trail, has as many elderly residents as young professionals looking for bars and boutiques. You’re as likely to find yourself talking to a new arrival from Africa, opening his dream restaurant, as to a septuagenarian Belgian bar owner. In recent years, the student population – the city’s main French and Flemish universities are here – has attracted emerging talent and new investment. Until the end of 2020, the red-brick former army barracks immediately north of the Etterbeek train, tram and bus stops is home to the See U project full of sustainable small businesses, including Brussels’ first pushchair-friendly cafe, a cinema, a velodrome and a weekly organic market.
See and do
The area is a paradise for entrepreneurs. Wine, spirits and cigar shop Boire et Fumer (Drink and Smoke) has been at 38 Avenue de l’Université for 57 years. Since 2005, it has been run by local Philippe Degand. At 62 rue des Hellènes, surveyor Jean-Baptiste Jonné retrained as a chocolate maker to open his first shop, L’Alchimie du Chocolat, in 2001. Ariane Noël, the manager of independent clothing boutique Cheep (110 Avenue des Saisons), says her clients range from young students to women in their 90s. Another female entrepreneur, Rachida Bouganzir, oversees the Haricot Magique cafe at See U, with a large indoor and outdoor site for parents and small children. After shopping and coffee, head to the Cimitière d’Ixelles to admire art nouveau tombstones at a site calling itself the Père Lachaise of Ixelles.
Eat and drink
Place de la Petite Suisse is the place to go for quality Asian food, with Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants jostling for space. Bar Le Montmartre on the same square has been an institution for students, academics and couples looking for a quiet pastis or evening of live music since the 1960s, though beer fans also like Tavernier (445 Chaussée de Boondael). The pricey Caves d’Alex restaurant (14 rue Eugène Cattoir) moved last year from near the European Parliament to a spectacular former wine cellar. La Verveine (375 Avenue de la Couronne) serves French-Moroccan fusion food in a relaxed setting. Across the road at no 570 is Café Ricardo’s, serving excellent Portuguese food to a mostly Portuguese clientele.
For sinfully good pastries, gluten-free bakery Chambelland opened its first branch outside Paris at 42 Avenue de l’Universite in 2018, while artisanal boulangerie La Fleur du Pain has just opened a new branch at 449 Chaussée de Boondael this year.
Where to stay
The lack of tourists means there are no hotels in the quarter, but a short ride away on the number 8 tram is Avenue Louise and the Pantone Hotel (doubles from €59 room-only) where rooms are allocated based on the guest’s “mood and preferred colour”.
El Cabanyal, Valencia
While the rest of Valencia was being treated to a Bilbaoesque makeover in the early 2000s, the rightwing city council of the time had it in for the fishing quarter of El Cabanyal, 5km east of the centre. It wanted to drive a swanky new avenue through the quaint streets, demolishing 1,600 houses, many of them decorated with original art nouveau tiles. It was classified a “listed area of cultural importance”, but the district was nonetheless threatened with compulsory purchase orders and destruction, until protests by local campaigners finally saw the scheme blocked by the courts.
Over the past few years, El Cabanyal has been on the up, but this authentic slice of the city remains undiscovered by most tourists. While there’s a newly cosmopolitan vibe, the quarter’s traditional personality is being cherished by incomers, and the new shops and bars springing up everywhere tend to respect and adapt the vernacular architecture, rather than replace it. It’s a doddle to get here on the metro and, because it’s pancake-flat, it’s enjoyable to explore by bike. Hire one at Santamarcelita (Calle de la Reina 11) for €10 a day, or join a guided cycle tour with Poblados de la Mar (€25pp, in English on Mondays and Fridays at 10am), starting at bike shop Todobici on Calle Serrería.
See and do
From Las Arenas beach turn up Calle Mediterraneo, following the tram tracks – but keep an ear open as they move silently. Because of El Cabanyal’s grid layout, it’s difficult to get lost. The area is home to two excellent and under-visited museums: Museo Semana Santa Marinera (Calle del Rosari 1, closed Mon, free Sun), explains the rituals of Easter week; and Museo del Arroz (Rosari 3, €2, closed Mon, free Sun), housed in an old rice mill, has the lowdown on the main ingredient of classic paella.
Not all the tiled houses are in good repair – and all are private, so admire from the outside only. Examples to seek out are Calle Lluch 219 (the upper storey), Calle Progreso 262 and Calle Mediterraneo 37, which has a tiled mosaic showing oxen hauling a fishing boat out of the water at the top of its facade.
El Drac del Cabanyal (Calle de la Reina 191B) sells traditional tiles and other handicrafts and, on the next street, Hilos, Cuerdas y Redes (Calle Lluch 159) is a traditional shop selling nautical rope and other boating accessories. Bookshop-cum-bar La Batisfera (Calle de la Reina 167) is a beautiful place to browse Spanish and English books, and the bar has good vegetarian options.
Mercado del Cabanyal (every day except Sunday) is a mini-version of Valencia’s central market, selling local specialities such as horchata (a milk drink made from tiger nuts), while the Thursday Mercadillo street market on Calle Vilar sells mainly clothes and homewares.
Eat and drink
There are plenty of traditional spots in El Cabanyal: Casa Montaña (C/Jose Benillure 69) is a classic bar that has been going since 1836, where specialities include anchovies and mussels in various ways, but do try the baby broad beans sautéed with Iberian ham. The wine selection covers pretty much all of Spain. For authentic fishy cuisine (such as savoury cake made with squid ink and locally cultivated oysters) head to Taska Lareina (C/Reina 173) in a basement behind one of the Cabanyal’s best facades.
For a straightforward, cheap meal try Bodega Bar Flor (C/Marti Grajales 21) next to the market, which has been serving the locals since 1893 (rice dishes predominate: you can’t go wrong with paella but, for something different, try arròs amb fesol i naps – rice with white beans and turnip). Ca Tere (C/Reina 61), in another modernist building, also specialises in rice, but without so much choice.
The best place for breakfast is Horno San Vicente (Progreso 148) which sells fresh ensaïmadas, soft coiled buns made with lard and dusted with sugar. The best horchata is from ice-cream specialist La Jijonenca (C/Padre Luis Navarro 307, and Paseo Neptuno 26). For snacks, La Pascuala (C/Lluch 299) serves prodigiously large bocadillos.
The hippest place for a drink is La Fabrica de Hielo, a huge bar in a former ice factory, one road back from the beach (C/Jose Ballaster Gonzalvo 37). It has a busy programme of live music and arts events and tapas supplied by a food caravan.
Where to stay
On a palm-lined street in the middle of the district, Apartamentos Barracart (from €100 a night) has seven bright, large-windowed apartments. Hotel Neptuno (doubles from €75 B&B) is a spacious option right on the beach. Further south, near the port, Balcon al Mar (doubles from €55 room-only) is a pleasant, inexpensive place, with bikes for guests to use.
With city-centre rents skyrocketing, this once-bourgeois enclave is fast finding favour with a young, creative crowd. It is only a 20-minute walk from downtown and handy for primary exit routes: Porto’s main bus terminal and train station are on the doorstep and there’s a metro line to the airport.
See and do
There are no malls in Bonfim, but plenty of cool independent stores, mostly on Rua de Santo Ildefonso. Keep an eye out for bookshop Inc. (no 25), a recent outpost of lifestyle outlet Patch (no 95), and the intimate emporium of cheeses and preserves that is Queijaria Amaral (no 190).
Being home to Porto university’s fine arts faculty means Bonfim has always had an active arts scene. For contemporary art, the Senhora Presidenta (Joaquim António de Aguiar 65) and Lehmann + Silva (Duque da Terceira 179) galleries never disappoint. For fans of documentary photography, the recently launched Salut au Monde! (Santos Pousada, 620) is a must.
For superb views over the Douro, stroll around the Parque de Nova Sintra (R. do Barão de Nova Sintra). Once private, this small leafy park is now owned by the water authority and has a wonderful collection of old fountains.
Eat and drink
One of the joys of Bonfim’s relative seclusion from Porto’s tourist boom is the plethora of old-school places to eat. For a classic neighbourhood dinner, try Madureira’s (Rodrigues de Freitas 1) for grilled tiger prawns or a francesinha (doorstep meaty sandwich). Local favourite Casa Aleixo (Estação 216) does a mean octopus with rice. Pulled-pork sandwiches at Casa Guedes (Praça dos Poveiros 130) are another local staple.
Alongside these is a string of exceptional new eateries. Top of the list is Pedro Limão, on Bonfim’s western side, run by an architect-turned-chef serving fine dining at fair prices (10 courses €49); it recently added studio rooms upstairs. If meat-free is your bag, back towards the centre Árvore do Mundo (Duque de Loulé 228) and Manna (R. da Conceição 60) serve splendid vegan/veggie fare (Manna also does yoga classes).
As for cafés and bars, there’s one on nearly every corner. Hip hangouts include speciality coffeehouse Combi (Morgado de Mateus 29) and brunch-lunch-coffee bar Bird of Passage (Duque de Loulé 185). For great cocktails (and pizza), head to TerraPlana (Av. Rodrigues de Freitas 287).
Where to stay
Bonfim’s charm owes much to its elegant, early-20th-century townhouses. None is classier than myhomeinporto (from €200 for 2 nights), a boutique guesthouse run by former interior designer Juan de Mayoralgo. Similarly stylish is the 10-room, French-inspired Cocorico guesthouse (doubles from €90 room-only).
Even a decade or so ago, Neukölln, in south-east Berlin, was something of a backwater – a no-man’s-land beyond the trendy centre. Then the district’s cheap rents and gritty vibe were discovered by the international creatives and students, who moved in among the Turks, Kurds and Arabs to create today’s multikulti ambiance. Shack-like kebab shops and smart restaurants, shisha cafes and shabby-chic dive bars, underground art galleries and commercial casinos sit side by side, and there is always something new to discover.
Head to the main drag, Sonnennallee, for tasty, cheap Palestinian and Lebanese food; stroll south-west to villagey Rixdorf, passing stone churches, cobbled streets and lovely Comenius botanical garden; for late-night drinks, try hip Weserstrasse; and for indulgent brunches and vintage browsing it’s hard to beat the area that overlaps with Kreuzberg (Kreuzkölln). The coolest area is probably dynamic, fast-changing Schillerkiez, next to Tempelhof park, site of the former city airport and Berlin airlift, which is now a vast recreation area where it’s possible to land-surf, cycle and rollerblade down the former runway.
See and do
Given the creative influx and affordable rents, it’s no surprise to find a wealth of galleries and cultural spaces in the neighbourhood. These tend to be small and experimental like Loophole (Boddinstrasse 60), a club and music venue in a former brothel that also does site-specific works. The larger Kindl Centre for Contemporary Art (€5, under-18s free, Am Sudhaus 3) is in a former brewery and has installations and live performances.
The district is well known for its vintage shopping and for stores that double as cafes. Sing Blackbird (Sanderstrasse 11) has shoes, jewellery and secondhand clothes, as well as juices, vegan pancakes and bagels. Rag and Bone Man (Briesestrasse 9) focuses on home decor and flowers, tipping into therapeutic services such as counselling. Shio (Weichselstrasse 59) works with local designers and stocks pretty and ethically minded papercraft, jewellery, clothes and home design objects. For food, the Turkish market by the Landwehr canal on Maybachufer has a great range of fresh produce and textiles every Tuesday and Friday.
Eat and drink
For something cheap, cheerful and filling, hole-in-the-wall Berlin Burger International (Pannierstrasse 5) has specialities such as the Godmother, with mozzarella and serrano ham, plus killer sweet potato wedges. Vietnamese joint Hamy (Hasenheide 10) also offers delicious daily lunch specials for just €5, while vegans will enjoy Two Planets (Hermannstrasse 230), whose offerings include a famous sourdough bread with avocado, delicious cakes and great salads. Swisher options include Lavanderia Vecchia (Flughafenstrasse 46), which serves rustic trattoria food in a former launderette, and chic new dessert restaurant Coda (Friedelstrasse 47), which has won a Michelin star for its innovative menu of savoury, as well as sweet, concoctions. The full set menu costs €138 a head but come after dinner and sit at the bar for a cocktail and à la carte option.
For post-dinner drinks, there are a dozen great bars on Weserstrasse alone, from the grungy, arty Ä (no 40), with its flea market furnishings and foamy draft beers, to swankier cocktail bar TiER (no 42) just up the street. In summer, head to Klunkerkranich (Karl-Marx-Strasse 66), hidden away on the rooftop of a shopping mall, with a laid-back DIY aesthetic, decent DJs and views over the city. If you want to take things up a notch, Sameheads and Griessmühle will take you through to the next day, sometimes even longer.
Where to stay
There aren’t many hotels here, but the Hüttenpalast (from €70 a night) is quintessential Berlin with its self-built/decorated caravans and huts inside a former factory.
The Powiśle district’s main boulevard on the left bank of the Vistula was once the preserve of dodgy bikers and lonely fishermen. Thanks to Poland’s economic boom it now resembles a carnival every summer, when the temperature usually tops 30C. Time to abandon preconceptions that Warsaw is grey and cold because in the best part of the year it really is green and hot. Pubs and riverboats offer craft beers and cocktails, with street food ranging from pierogi dumplings to pho soup (Warsaw has a big Vietnamese community). Powiśle was on the frontline in the Warsaw uprising against Nazi Germany and wears its shrapnel scars with pride. It’s fitting that the district is now all about people having cycling, roller-blading, volleyball, trampolining, picnics, people deckchairs, ice-cream, live music, dancing and playing in the sandfun.
See and do
In the summer, the best way to approach Powiśle is by the free, seasonal tramwaje wodne (water trams) that ferry people to and from the wild beaches on the opposite bank of the river, or with a Veturilo city bike (March-November only) – your first 20 minutes is free. The major Powiśle landmark is Warsaw University Library (open to the public as well as students), which has an impressive facade of copper panels with texts in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Old Russian and Old Polish. Its roof garden has a spectacular view. The adjacent Copernicus Science Centre is ideal for children, who can spend hours at the interactive displays. For shopping, Femi Stories (Browarna 4) has women’s and girls’ clothing from independent makers. Poland is one of the biggest producers of furniture in the world, and while buying chairs is rarely an option for holidaymakers, Moma Studio (Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 45) also has unusual home- and kitchenwares. Down towards the Świętokrzyski bridge, Elektrownia (Zajęcza 2b), a former power station, is gradually filling with high-end shops and restaurants – worth a visit for the early 20th-century industrial architecture.
Eat and drink
Elektrownia’s fine-dining restaurant is Niewinni Czarodzieje 2.0, where options include beef carpaccio with truffles. Warsaw is one of the world’s top vegan-friendly cities, and Powiśle’s established contribution is Veg Deli (Radna 14), with pumpkin burgers and spinach and “feta” ravioli. Also worth exploring are the seasonal barges and street food stalls by the river, which change every year.
Where to stay
At Powiśle’s southern edge, Inbed Hostel (dorm bed from £9, en suite double £26 B&B) has bright, modern rooms close to the underground. By the riverside park is the mid-range Logos (doubles £45 room-only). A luxury option is Robert De Niro’s Nobu at the Rialto (prices tba), opening in the city centre this spring.
North of central Prague, on the Vltava’s left bank beyond Letná park, Holešovice was for a long time seen as a bleak district with little to offer locals, let alone visitors. Its impressive resurgence over the past decade or so has been largely thanks to creative and commercial entrepreneurs taking advantage of low rents and empty spaces – apartment blocks, factories – to create a vibrant infrastructure of galleries, shops, cafes, clubs and bars. Although not as postcard-pretty as Stare Mesto (the old town) or Mala Strana over the river, Holešovice’s blend of industrial buildings, 19th- and early 20th-century tenements (with some lovely art nouveau blocks) and occasional communist behemoths makes for interesting meanders, and there are cultural treats aplenty too.
See and do
Holešovice is home to big hitters such as the sprawling, plane-train-and-automobile-filled National Technical Museum (Kostelní 42), and the Veletrzni Palace (Dukelských hrdinů 47), part of the city’s National Gallery, but there’s plenty of contemporary art on offer too. The Dox Centre for Contemporary Art (Poupětova 1) helped put the district on the map when it opened in 2008, and runs consistently great exhibitions inside a former factory complex. At the revitalised Prague Market (on Bubenské embankment), a former slaughterhouse now houses international theatre and circus space Jatka 78 and the Trafo Gallery. Other hotspots include the Chemistry Gallery near the Hlávkův bridge, cultural centre La Fabrika (32 Komunardů) for theatre and concerts, and the highly popular Bio Oko independent cinema on Františka Křížka street, which hosts events and festivals. For a splash of green, Letná park’s hilltop location offers fine views across the city as well as beer gardens and, a few minutes’ walk north, Stromovka, the former royal game reserve, is the city’s largest green space.
Small but vibrant Veverkova street has become a mini-hub for shoppers, thanks to several retail hotspots in close proximity. Right by Bistro 8 (see below) is Garage Store (no 6), for sneakers and vinyl, and fashion store Jakoby (no 8), for unisex coats, dresses and jumpers, plus vintage outlet Recycle With Love. Right across the road (no 7) is the shop of designer Helena Darbujanova, who sells her own chairs, tables and lamps alongside work of other Czech designers, and Page Five (no 5) which stocks an international array of books, magazines, and posters, and also hosts launches and events. Another great event to look out for is the pop-up Mint Market, which brings together Czech interior, fashion and jewellery designers in Prague Market and other venues.
Eat and drink
The range of dining and drinking options here is healthy and growing all the time. There’s a choice of hip breakfast and brunch hangouts, from Cafe Letka (Letohradská 44) with its rough walls and handsomely large windows, to the spacious industrial chic of Vnitroblock (Tusarova 31), which doubles as a gallery and concept store. For tasty Czech pastries and cakes, head to the simple Erhart patisserie (Milady Horáková 56). The stylish Bistro Jankovcova (Jankovcova 14a) has sweet or savoury breakfasts, soups and salads, and Bistro 8 (Veverkova 1410/8) serves Sunday brunches, brisket burgers and pulled pork tacos. For dinner, check out swanky SaSaZu in Prague Market, which matches Asian fusion cuisine to regular DJ sets, or Bar Cobra (M Horáková 8), whose menu spans mezze plates, wild boar with noodles, and a great selection of wines and cocktails. If you still have energy to hit the dancefloor, grungy Cross Club (Plynární 23) has live shows, DJ nights and themed parties pretty much every night, while the slicker Mecca (U Průhonu 3) is the spot for house music all night long.
Where to stay
There are a few options for overnighting in Holešovice. Budget travellers can bed down at the friendly and vibrant Sir Toby’s hostel (private doubles from £30 room-only). Slightly more upscale is Mama Shelter (doubles from £50 room-only), in a former listed communist hotel.
The Ostiense neighbourhood, right on the Tiber river, was once the site of a power station, a restless river port and a gasometer, whose skeleton still looms. It’s named after Via Ostiensis, an arterial road that ran in ancient times from the city’s cattle market to the port town of Ostia. Today, Ostiense has shaken off its industrial past to become a bastion of new restaurants, street art and bars. A scattering of campuses mean there’s a big student population, but there’s also an international crowd, drawn by reasonable rents and a metro link to the city centre. Come here to eat sumptuously and admire historic sites far from the masses.
See and do
One of the city’s four major basilicas, St Paul’s Outside the Walls on Piazzale San Paolo 1 enjoys a quiet stream of visitors, a far cry from its more famous counterpart, St Peter’s. While it suffered a fire in the 19th century and underwent lengthy repairs, its ancient mosaics and 13th-century cloister were spared. The latter serves as a lovely spot to unwind after a day’s sightseeing. Further down Via Ostiense lies Centrale Montemartini, arguably Rome’s most underrated museum. Originally an electricity plant, the space was abandoned until 2005 when it was chosen to house artwork from the overcrowded Capitoline Museums. Seek out its delightfully jarring juxtaposition of delicate classical statues and defunct diesel engines and turbines. Head north towards Trastevere and the city centre (keeping an eye out for vibrant street art) and have a look round the Non-Catholic Cemetery, the final resting place of Romantic poets and former Rome residents John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley (Via Caio Cestio 12). The ancient pyramid of Caius Cestius, constructed in about 12BC, keeps a staid watch over the cemetery. Visitors are allowed inside the pyramid on a guided tour the third and fourth Saturday and Sunday of every month (entrance on Via Raffaele Persichetti).
Shops aren’t Ostiense’s forte, but cheese, olive oil, pasta, wine and other edible souvenirs can be purchased from gastronomic megastore Eataly, on the south side of Ostiense train station. Beyond the basilica, zero-waste shop Negozio Leggero sells anything from beauty products to chocolate to spices, all packaging-free (Via Chiabrera 80).
Food and drink
Locals and expats flock to restaurant and micro-bakery Marigold (Via Giovanni da Empoli 37), run by Sophie, who’s from Denmark, and her Calabrese partner Domenico, for its cosy atmosphere and homely dishes. Instead of the traditional Italian breakfast of caffè and cornetto (croissant), they serve dishes like eggs benedict, pancakes or fluffy cheese omelettes. At lunch and dinner there will be handmade pasta and plenty of vegetable-lush dishes too.
Doted on by critics – it even made the Michelin Guide’s coveted Bib Gourmand list this year – Trattoria Pennestri (Via Giovanni da Empoli 5) flirts with both traditional Roman and gourmet cuisine. Tuck into a glossy plate of carbonara, or mains such as roasted octopus with peppers, mint and yogurt; and suckling pig with porcini mushrooms and myrtle. There’s no chance you’ll wangle a table without booking.
Staunch titans of cucina romana such as tripe, cacio e pepe, and salt cod anchor the kitchen of Osteria Fratelli Mori near the cemetery (Via dei Conciatori 10). It’s also one of the rare Rome restaurants that can easily accommodate a large group. Once the sun goes down, head to Caffè Letterario (Via Ostiense 95), a cafe, bookshop and cultural space that moonlights as a cocktail bar. In hot weather, sip a glass of red on the terrace at T-Bar (Via Ostiense 182) or in the Instagrammable courtyard of Porto Fluviale (Via del Porto Fluviale 22). For late-night munchies, chocolate-chip-studded sweet buns from Il Pangocciolaio (Via dei Magazzini Generali 15) hit the spot.
Where to stay
Gasometer Urban Suites (studio with kitchenette from €86) is a former wool processing plant turned hotel with a gym and roof terrace.
In between the touristy Skadarlija quarter, the huge Kalemegdan fortress and banks of the Danube, Dorćol has a comfortable air about it that doesn’t immediately scream cool. But it has always been the pace-setter for the city’s bars and restaurants. The tree-lined streets of its southern part – Gornji (Upper) Dorćol – have the usual Belgrade hotchpotch of early 20th-century villas and Tito-era flats, with the occasional art nouveau beauty. This is classic bar territory, with new openings and old favourites alike squeezed into streets such as Strahinjića Bana, Kneginje Ljubice and Kralja Petra.
But head into Dornji (Lower) Dorćol towards the Danube and things get grittier, with funky little cafes, craft breweries, arts centres and street art taking over rundown industrial buildings. It’s not pretty, but it’s where things are moving along briskly.
See and do
Dorćol Platz (Dobračina 59) in Dornji Dorćol is a collection of old industrial buildings that have been transformed into a nicely scruffy cultural centre with a cafe and garden. It hosts everything from gigs and vinyl markets to festivals, including the Mikser Festival of Design, held each May. From here it’s a few minutes’ walk to the Museum of Science and Technology (Skenderbegova 51), whose exhibits trace the story of technology in Serbia in an entertaining way. Fans of vintage gear should check out Jane Doe Vintage Shop (Kapetan Mišina 17) and its larger concept store and bar (Gospodar Jevremova 25). Dorćol isn’t particularly awash with green spaces, but it does have a lovely, wide cycle and footpath along the Danube, and past Novak Djokovic’s Novak Tennis Centre.
Eat and drink
The choice of bars and restaurants in Dorćol is quite dizzying. There are traditional and long-established favourites on leafy Strahinjića Bana but a short walk to the south, Blaznavac (Kneginje Ljubice 18) serves £4 cocktails and £1.50 pints of beer in a fantastically bonkers garden and equally eccentric interior. It’s just a few feet from Iris New Balkan Cuisine (Kneginje Ljubice 11), which does more elegant versions of hefty Serbian dishes, including pork neck (£7).
The craze for craft beer hasn’t passed Belgrade by: there are several brewpubs around Dorćol. Gvint Brewery in Dorćol Platz is a genial place to try lagers and ales for about £1.50 a pint. At Beogradski Market (Žorža Klemansoa 19), craft breweries such as Dogma and Tron share the vast hangar-like space with food stalls selling anything from tapas to sushi.
In the midst of Dornji Dorćol’s street art and ramshackle former workshops, fine-dining restaurant Homa (Senjanina Ive) stands out with its gleaming white minimalism. Plates of poached trout with trout roe (£14) and steak tartare with bone marrow (£12) are pricey by local standards, but worth it.
Where to stay
Fifties decor meets industrial chic in Smokvica B&B (doubles from €65), with six airy rooms in a 1929 villa in Upper Dorćol. Its lively bar and restaurant spills into a courtyard garden.
Quartier de la Réunion, Paris
The 20th arrondissement, in eastern Paris, is well-known for the place where Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf are buried, but a short walk away, hidden from the crowds, is a genuine village, Charonne, little known to tourists. Circular Place de la Réunion, laid out in 1850, is the heart of this friendly, bohemian quartier populaire, a multicultural area of working families, artists and musicians. The square comes alive on Thursday and Sunday mornings, when it teems with people browsing market stalls set up by butchers, cheese- and fishmongers, and fruit and vegetable sellers.
But there is another hub here that is open every day, from 7am to 2am. Café Sans Nom, on the corner of rue de la Réunion, does not need a name (or a website) as it is more a community centre for everyone living in or passing by the square, from school-run mums or pensioners sipping a coffee while reading newspapers and books from the cafe’s free library, to the crowd who arrive for drinks after midnight.
See and do
You won’t find chic boutiques in this neighbourhood, but rather quirky, ethical shops such as L’Escargot d’Or (53 rue de Bagnolet) where Gilles Coolen roasts fairtrade coffee beans and makes delicious artisan chocolate. On the other side of the street (no 52), Agnès Baracco stocks Au Bon Vingt, her pioneering natural wine cellar, with over 400 varieties, which she loves explaining to visitors. At no 69, La Botica (no 69) is a new shop and gallery showcasing young artists, designers and stylists, with changing themes that cover photography and illustration, jewellery and vintage clothes, prints and ceramics.
Eat and drink
Everyone’s favourite Sunday begins at 6pm in the funky Quartier Rouge bistro (52 rue de Bagnolet), which hosts a weekly three-hour jazz jam session. Entry is free and a glass of wine is €3.50, but be sure to contribute when the musicians’ hat is passed round. It also serves tasty no-frills French cuisine, but for a bit more choice, take a five-minute walk to romantic rue des Vignoles, which is lined with laid-back bars and restaurants. La Petite Fabrique (no 15) is a spacious bio-canteen offering a perfect combination of organic cuisine (maybe vegetarian paella, juicy beef tournedos or a vegan sweet potato gratin with seitan sausages) and natural wines, served at long communal tables.
Almost next door, Les Mondes Bohèmes (no 31) is a popular hangout whose verdant covered terrace resembles a greenhouse; it’s great for salads, burgers and ice-cream.
Wander down some of the narrow plant-lined alleyways (impasses) off rue des Vignoles – perhaps the evocative Impasse Satan or bucolic Impasse Poule – and imagine the time when this was all vineyards, la campagne à Paris. For a last drink, finish up at the arty Moki Bar (no 61), enjoying its kitsch 1970s decor and pinball machines, exhibitions, funky music and great mojitos.
Where to stay
Recently renovated Hôtel Terre Neuve (doubles from €99 room-only) is five minutes’ walk from Place de la Réunion, but the fashion-minded may prefer the Philip Starck-designed Mama Shelter (doubles from €139 room only), the first of this now-global hip hotel chain.