We’re listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor as we type this (the last minute of ‘Job’s Lament’, at this very moment, the bit where it all comes together), so feel free to dismiss any criticism we might conjure up across the next 1,000 or so words.
Hipster culture has come full circle, completing the lifespan of any trend and/or insect. It started as a murmur on the streets of Williamsburg, exploding into a worldwide phenomenon of silly bikes, unnecessary glasses, and Arcade Fire songs before becoming the mainstream behemoth it claimed to despise. Hipster culture is dead; long live hipster culture!
It isn’t dead, culture never dies, but we are now at a point where we can celebrate and enjoy hipster culture once more. Why? Don’t ask us; we’re just here for the coffee, craft beer and cycling. These are the most hipster cities in Europe, whether you want them to be or not.
Copenhagen is the most hipster city in Europe. End of article. Okay, sure, but doesn’t that inherently make it not hipster? You can insert your own back-and-forth debate about the importance of obscurity to hipsters here. This snake has no interest in devouring its own tail. Copenhagen is hipster as heck and damn proud of it, as it should be. Who wouldn’t want good quality craft beer and coffee that focuses on ethical production and sustainability? Copenhagen is proof, if proof were needed, that the heart of hipster culture lies squarely in a desire for things to be, well, not terrible. Nørrebro often gets handed the crown of Copenhagen’s coolest neighbourhood, but visitors will find plenty of quality across the city.
There is no point in us fighting the facts. Our beloved Ljubljana is hipster as heck. The Slovenian capital is small but perfectly formed, does a fine line in adorable yet grand architecture, is packed with quirky bars, cafes and restaurants, and has a bridge with dragons on it. Suppose you were designing a European hipster paradise from scratch. In that case, you’d probably come up with something close to Ljubljana, all the way down to the dude in the main square busting out Slovenian heritage on his accordion next to the statue of a drunk poet. If anyone tells you Ljubljana isn’t hipster, they clearly haven’t been to Ljubljana. We absolutely adore it.
Hipster Ground Zero? Yeah, that’s probably Berlin. The German capital was hipster before hipster became a thing. However, making such statements shows a blatant disregard for language and history. David Bowie was merely a glint in the eyes of John and Peggy when the term was first coined (1940s jazz, for the record), but we’re willing to argue that Bowie was just about as hipster as it got. Berlin remains a bubbling city of innovation and experimentation, where new ways of doing things sit next to old-fashioned plodders, with plenty of mixing and matching along the way. The best way to explore Berlin is on two wheels, riding from one cafe to the next before exchanging coffee for craft beer, Thai food and glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Also, there is a Korean chicken place called Angry Chicken!, and we are a little obsessed with it.
What is the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of Amsterdam? If you answered Johan de Witt, the 17th-century leader of the Dutch Republic who was murdered in the streets and cannibalised in 1672, then kudos to you. Most answers will buzz around weed, cute architecture, cafes, drunk Brits and the Red Light District, in no particular order. Amsterdam is about more than sunburnt guys from Ipswich losing their shirts; the Dutch capital is a city of refined innovation where people are encouraged to be themselves no matter what that means. It is a city of liberal expression, with good coffee, great shopping, crisp craft beer and more cyclists than people. Yes, that doesn’t make sense, but we dare you to prove it wrong. Amsterdam has always been a significant hipster destination, and its place in the Hipster Hall of Fame (probably located in De Pijp or Noord) is well deserved.
Barcelona’s hipster credentials are unmatched. Well, pretty much equal to the other six cities mentioned here, but you get the point. We need an intro for each city. Where should you head first if you were a hipster alien plopped into the middle of Barcelona? There are no bad options, but Sant Antoni makes a compelling case, all coffee, brunch and markets. El Born has shrugged off its affluent past to embrace modern affluence. If you are wondering, that means realising that money is a human construct and it is better to spend it on vinyl than land. El Born gains extra points for being a magnet for artists; by ‘artists’, we mean ‘hipsters’.
Mainland Europe’s westernmost capital has a reputation for excellence, no matter your angle of approach. Lisbon and hipsters? A match made in heaven. More accurately, a match made in LX Factory, the textile industrial complex turned arts district that should be your first port of call. Shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, offices, lymphatic drainage, this place has it all. Come to think of it, Lisbon has it all, with much of today’s hipster activity taking place in the Marvila neighbourhood. We’ll leave you to decide what constitutes hipster activity, but it almost certainly involves Neutral Milk Hotel. Lisbon is a city of artistic metamorphosis in a centuries-old shell, with delicious food and Europe’s best hostels hidden within.
We’ll end with the most hipster country in the history of hipster countries. Iceland is hipster culture personified. No, it doesn’t look as Wes Anderson as Instagram suggests, but it is still a place where young people wear wool and throw themselves into creativity. We’re all for it if that gives us Björk, Olafur Arnalds, and Sigur Ros. Reykjavik is a hipster city, make no mistake about it, but it isn’t going to do the work for you. Iceland requires attention, care and tenderness. It requires guts. The bright buildings, weird street art, and independent vibes offer everything a hipster could desire, but it is a place where a little bit of effort goes a long way. The Skúli sours taste a little bit better for it.