The world's coolest neighbourhoods: two Portuguese cities make the list

The annual ranking from the Time Out magazine assessed the community spirit of neighbourhoods across the world, fundamental during the pandemic.

The Bonfim neighbourhood in Porto has made the ranking / Photo by Jan Ledermann on Unsplash
The Bonfim neighbourhood in Porto has made the ranking / Photo by Jan Ledermann on Unsplash
27 October 2020, Redaction

Every year, the British magazine Time Out publishes its ranking of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, a ranking that usually focuses on good places "to eat and have fun, with art and culture, atmosphere and personality". Leading the ranking in 2020, a list that consists of 40 neighbourhoods, is the Esquerra de L'Eixample district in Barcelona, followed by Downtown, Los Angeles and Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong completing the top three. However, there is also some Portuguese DNA on the list, with the Bonfim neighbourhood in Porto coming in at 14th place in the ranking and the Alvalade neighbourhood, in Lisbon the 17th coolest neighbourhood in the world.

"In 2020, our neighbourhoods gained a whole new importance," writes Time Out. "In recent months, millions of people have spent much more time at home. Lockdowns and security measures have emptied many shopping areas, but local neighbourhoods have prospered. The corner shop and the local bar have become vital lifelines," the publication recalls, stressing the indispensability of these small independent businesses across Portugal and the world.

Because of this, the ranking, based on the opinion of 38,000 city dwellers from around the world, in addition to the traditional criteria of nightlife, culture, local climate, and food, this year also includes another factor due to the COVID-19 health crisis: the neighbourhood's community spirit.

"Now, more than ever, it's 'cool' to be nice. So the coolest neighbourhoods of 2020 are still those with a fascinating mix of people, food, drink, innovative and inclusive arts and culture, affordable living costs and that hard to define buzz that attracts people from all over the world. But this year, more than ever, they are the areas where people, community and businesses have helped each other: places that represent the soul of the city," the magazine concludes.

As for the coolest Portugese neighbourhoods that made the 2020 list, Porto's Bonfim neighbourhood and Lisbon's Alvalade area also stood out for their community spirit and small business scene. Many locals in Porto, for example, feel that the genuine identity of the city is beginning to disappear in certain areas, however this is certainly not the case in Bonfim with its strong selection of local commerce which is now more important than ever; while the Alvalade neighbourhood of Lisbon is one of the city's most authentic areas with a welcoming atmosphere and a vibrant culture scene

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