The top 10 coolest neighbourhoods to visit in 2017 - according to Lonely Planet

Dubai's Business Bay and London's Tooting feature in list aimed at "ambitious travellers hungry to experience the world's up-and-coming neighbourhoods before they get too big"

Aerial view of Business Bay, Dubai.
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The trend for wanting “local experiences” when we travel – such as connecting with creative communities in a shared workspace or shopping at a local farmer’s market – and the ease with which we can now do this thanks to homeshares, rideshares and the trend for co-working spaces - has led travel media company Lonely Planet to mine its local experts to produce a list of the “10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world right now.”

The list includes The Triangle in Lisbon, Vesterbro in Copenhagen and Business Bay in Dubai. "While mainstays like New York, Paris and Rome have rightly earned their place in the public consciousness, today's traveller can experience cities in ways their parents couldn't," said a spokesperson for Lonely Planet. "The landscape of cities and neighbourhoods are less defined and constantly transforming and reinventing themselves. Visitors are going beyond public transportation routes and downtown hotel blocks, and discovering burgeoning industries and creative communities outside major tourist attractions and city centres."


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Dubai features in Lonely Planet's top 10 coolest neighbourhoods


Lonely planet said that the list was “For ambitious travellers hungry to experience the world’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods before they get too big,” and that “the next hip new neighborhood might be the once-gritty industrial area, like LA’s now-trendy Arts District, or the streetblock with a booming new restaurant scene.”

Lara Brunt, an Australian travel and lifestyle journalist based in Dubai, who writes for Lonely Planet and nominated it for the list, said: “Once a soulless expanse of half-built office towers, Business Bay is reinventing itself as a waterfront leisure destination. Stroll the 12km-long promenade, watching ferries cruise south to Dubai Marina and north to the Al Fahidi Historic District. Away from the water, Bay Avenue is the community’s buzzing heart, with casual restaurants, a pleasant park and weekly farmers’ market during the cooler winter months.”

Also featured is Borgo San Frediano in Oltrarno, Florence, accessible via an Emirates flight to Bologna, which The National has previously featured as a My Kind of Place cityguide. "The San Frediano neighbourhood is breathing new life into the Oltrarno area, known for its artisans. First stop is Gesto, where the salvaged and upcycled vintage interior blends nicely with their tasty, tapas-style bites," says Georgette Jupe, is an American writer based in Florence.

G3X69C Restaurants at Piazza and Basilica Santo Spirito in Oltrarno in Florence - Tuscany / Italy  in the Blue Hour - April 2016. dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo
Restaurants at Piazza and Basilica Santo Spirito in Oltrarno, Florence. dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

Next up is Seongsu-dong in Seoul, a direct destination with Etihad, Emirates and Korean Air. "Labelled the Williamsburg of Seoul, this industrial hub owes its new reputation to its salvaged industrial spaces that have been transformed into cafes, restaurants, galleries and independent shops. Sip on a cup of single-origin coffee and watch as the old and new combine to create something beautiful," says Hahna Yoon, an editor and writer based in Seoul.

Cafe Onion in Seongsu-dong, Seoul. Copywright Ki-Sun Lee / Ahn Graphics
Cafe Onion in Seongsu-dong, Seoul. Copywright Ki-Sun Lee / Ahn Graphics

In Lisbon, a direct Emirates route from Dubai and also featured in The National this week, "The Triangle" is an "up-and-coming neighbourhood" that "boasts originality and a near-absence of tourist crowds. Spend an afternoon browsing speciality stores like travel bookshop Palavra de Viajante, custom-blend tea vendor Companhia Portugueza do Chá, and boutique grocery store Mercearia Poço dos Negros," says Sandra Henriques Gajjar, a Lisbon-based travel blogger.

Sidestep the crowds and stop for coffee in Lisbon's Triangle area, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Hello Kristof
Sidestep the crowds and stop for coffee in Lisbon's Triangle area, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Hello Kristof

Vesterbro, Copenhagen, also a direct Emirates route, is "packed with cool independent shops, street markets, restaurants and bars. Come hungry: the old Kødbyen Meatpacking District (a distinctly hip pocket within the Vesterbro area) and the newly opened WestMarket ( are crammed with foodie options, while craft-beer lovers can sample the goods at local brewers Mikkeller and Fermentoren," says Caroline Hadamitzky, is a travel writer and tour guide based in Copenhagen. Earlier this year, The National's Ultratravel magazine reported on Vesterbro.

Meat packing district of Vesterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark
Hungry city trippers should explore Vesterbro's meatpacking district, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Annapurna Mellor / Getty Images

Damansara Heights in Kuala Lumpur, a direct flight with Emirates, Etihad and Malaysian Airlines, has also been selected. "One of the richest addresses in Kuala Lumpur, this neighbourhood has retained its personality while reaping the best of gentrification. Swing by Plaza Damansara, a beat-up area seeing an uptick of shiny shops and restaurants such as café-bakery Huckleberry, Skullduggery speakeasy and Flour, a North Indian restaurant that peddles a knockout biryani," says Kong Wai Yeng, is a Kuala Lumpur-based writer.

Book a table at one of Damansara Heights' coolest restaurants, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Sitka / Studio
Book a table at one of Damansara Heights' coolest restaurants, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Sitka / Studio

In New York, served by both Etihad and Emirates, Sunset Park is "One of Brooklyn's most exciting under-the-radar neighbourhoods, hosting a heady mix of cultures and traditions. At the centre of it all is Sunset Park itself. Set on one of the highest hills in Brooklyn, it offers spectacular views of lower Manhattan for the locals and visitors who flock here on summer evenings," says Robert Balkovich, a Brooklyn-based writer.

Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.  Panorama at dusk from high point in Brooklyn.
Sunset Park in Brooklyn offers spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Copywright Barry Winiker / Getty Images

In Botofago, Rio de Janeiro, a direct Emirates destination, "Talented young chefs, entrepreneurs and creatives are the driving force behind an increasingly exciting nightlife. The focus is on originality and collaboration, with established spots like Bukowski and Comuna being joined by funky new concept bars and multipurpose spaces," according to Travel and food writer Tom Le Mesurieris.

Aerial view of touristic point from the Rio de Janeiro city in a day light
Join creative types and party people in up-and-coming Botafogo, Rio. Copywright Moskow/Getty Images

Frelard, in the northern part of Seattle, accessible on a direct Emirates flight from Dubai, has also been chosen. "In the space between two of Seattle's most popular neighbourhoods, a new community has slowly been taking shape. Stop by to explore a thriving habitat for the area's best restaurants, bars and breweries beyond Seattle's main tourist sights," says Valerie Stimac, is a Seattle-based travel writer and editor. Fly to Seattle direct from Dubai with Emirates.

Between two already cool neighbourhoods, a whole new hangout has emerged, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Geoffrey Smith
Between two already cool neighbourhoods, a whole new hangout has emerged, says Lonely Planet. Copywright Geoffrey Smith

In London, served by Emirates, Etihad, British Airways and Virgin, the unlikely area of Tooting has also made the list, being described as "A captivating affair, revelling in multiculturalism and originality. Its high street is one of the best 'curry corridors' in the country, and contains some superb South Asian restaurants. Shop inside the eclectic Tooting Market, and check out quirky bars and pubs like The Castle, The Antelope and The Little Bar, says Will Jones, a London-based writer.

The frontage of Tooting Market, a South London shopping institution
Is Tooting London's next big thing? Copywright Will Jones / Lonely Planet