Rick Steves Shares His Clever Tip For Finding The Trendy Neighborhood Of Any European City

It's easy to find the typical tourist traps across Europe's ever-changing cityscapes. Tucked within the vibrant yet over-popularized city districts, they stick out from a mile away, permeated by crowds of visitors eager to see, do, and taste all that a city has to offer. Many of these traditional hotspots characterize Europe's urban wonderlands with charming, often-cobbled city streets, and iconic districts like London's West End or the Pantheon area in Rome are worth a quick detour. However, a local's perspective will always leave you with a more authentic impression of a city's cultural identity. 

As a frequent European traveler who's fluent in the culture and customs of many countries, Rick Steves has an innate talent for spotting Europe's best trendsetting neighborhoods. Directing travelers away from the overcrowded streets of central areas and into the overlooked, exciting neighborhoods of these cities is his specialty. Steves has more than one tip to share with those hoping to get off the beaten path and explore these cities in a true local fashion. 

Not only will you be guided away from the frenzy of traffic that permeates central plazas, but you're also more likely to manage the cost of exploring different regions of Europe, experience a deep dive into the city's culture, and gain a distinctive local perspective of the area. These hip, local neighborhoods are often characterized by a shortage of big-chain brands, like Starbucks and Pret a Manger, replaced by creative studio spaces and independent boutiques.

Scope out the local's spot

Harder to spot, yet always worth the treasure hunt, Europe's trendiest districts are often hidden in plain sight. While no two districts are the same, many do share similar striking elements that indicate their reputation as a "hipster" hub. Craft coffee houses, vintage markets, and vibrant nightlife pubs whose bars are filled with 20-somethings are a few surefire signs that indicate you've found what you're looking for. 

According to Steves, these trendsetting districts are not always necessarily remote and off-the-grid. Some are rather central but carry an unmistakable charm. The locals who walk these streets often carry divergent energy and an easygoing, relaxed pep in their step. It's not uncommon for them to be considered lively nightlife districts with many emerging restaurants, pubs, and nightlife bars. Meals also tend to be more affordable here, beckoning tourists and locals to gather over inventive, budget-worthy fare. 

It's a common characteristic for these up-and-coming areas to support local creatives, many of whom flock to these districts with big dreams for a business, brand, or creative contribution to their city. Not to say these areas are grungy, but they certainly don't behold the same elegant appearance as areas like London's Hyde Park. It's just not the style of these trendy streets, as they often trade a modish image for quality finds and sweet contentment. Street art is another strong indication that the area you're perusing is part of a trendier, hipster area of town — fueling the community's creative energy.

Explore Europe's trendiest districts

Not to exclude iconic cities and districts, like London's West End, Rome's Pantheon area, or downtown Glasgow from the first-timer's tourist guide, but many of these cities have districts that far surpass their neighboring streets. Leicester Square and Covent Garden may be the typical tourist spots to frequent on the West side during your London travels, but Steves recommends the East End instead. The East Side is a colorful canvas of dainty boutiques, vintage thrift shops, flower markets, and street food carts. Shoreditch, in particular, is often where some of the city's best-emerging restaurants gain momentum before expanding their operations into more upbeat, central hubs. 

A hipster hotspot full of lovely hidden gems, the residential district of Monti in Rome is Steve's alternative pick over the popular Pantheon area. Located near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, this part of town is a beacon for younger generations on late-night outings. Known for its excellent wine bars, exuberant window-shopping scene, and funky cafes, Monti provides visitors with a much-needed break from Rome's large tourist crowds

Home to one of the longest roads in all of Glasgow, the West End has been dubbed as one of the "world's coolest neighborhoods," according to the Glasgow Times. It's not hard to see why Rick Steves gave this European neighborhood a shoutout. The area is home to Glasgow's vibrant street art scene, budget-friendly dining options, and family grocers, making it every bit the quintessential local spot.