With a post-communist and increasingly cosmopolitan vibe and plenty of artistic creavity juxtaposed with historic sites and pockets of conservative attitudes, what was formally known as Eastern Europe has some extraordinary places to visit. Fancy yourself as a bit of hipster? If so, our guest blogger Jules Bukovsky, a traveller and expat with a taste for art, retro cafes and unusual places chooses her favourite places to visit, from old markets to independent film festivals…
Poland has seen a sharp rise in both the native and tourist populations of hipsters, it is the only country that has two of its cities making it onto my list of Eastern European meccas. When visiting the country’s capital city of Warsaw travellers are in for a whole host of cultural delights that would make any indie-loving individuals eyes widen with excitement.
Although the whole city has a lot to offer, one specific area which stands out as a go-to spot is that of Praga, which can be found in the North East of the city centre. With everything in this area from museums to parks, the stand out attraction here is the Bazar Różyckiego.
The Bazar Różyckiego is the oldest existing market in the city steeped in history as an important social meeting place in WWII and area to buy everything from medical supplies to ammunition. This market has now swapped war supplies for clothes, food to accessories. Although this market is often overlooked by the average traveller as a dull and dark place, its charm and atmosphere can be appreciated by the eye of culturally educated.
Other key hangouts in the area include the Solec 44 restaurant for modern cuisine and catching up with friends, Warszawa Powisle for drinks and socialising, Bar Warszawa for as they say ‘shots, music, fun’ and the Powisle district in summer for open air gathering places.
I doubt you will be surprised to find Berlin on the list of hipster meccas. In recent years this city has become a hub of indie culture and everything that surrounds it. With streets lined with vegetarian restaurants, coffee shops and scarf wearing bearded men on fixie bikes, this place is a hipster’s dream.
Similar to Warsaw, Berlin has a standout area of interest in Kreuzberg. Straddling both East and West Berlin this is an area of historical importance including Checkpoint Charlie as one of the sites of interest. Once one of Berlin’s poorest areas it won’t take you many strides into the area to realize its appeal with street art on every corner, bustling bars and coffeehouses.
Although there are a handful of ‘attractions’ in this area, the best use of your time is to spend it browsing the vast array of second-hand stores, many of which double up as coffee or juice shops. If you want to be in the know when chatting with your friends on your return we highly recommend taking the Berlin Graffiti and Street Art tour around the city.
The capital city of Romania offers a chaotic but brilliant experience for the hipster-traveller. Although the old town of the city used to serve as the heartbeat for the hip-crowd it now attracts crowds of tourists so large that it no longer serves its purpose. Instead, the insiders are now slowly migrating out to the Floreasca area in the north of the city.
This area is becoming increasingly popular with those that wish to explore the unpopular. With an eclectic mix of individuals walking the streets, everything from families to supermodels can be found enjoying the culture of this space.
Key spots in this area are the wide open spaces of bars such as E3 and venues such as Gradina Floreasca that offers both live music and an open-air pool. The number one hipster haunt in the city remains A1, a bar and restaurant that remains open all day and night.
Riga, Latvia is one of the rising stars of hipster must-visit list. The tick-sheet of indie owned locations grows every year in this city and there is always a gem waiting to be found around the next corner.
Get involved in the city by getting a trim in the uber-hip and retro styled Wood Religion Barber Shop where a young tattooed and super stylish creative will restyle your hair to make sure you don’t look out of place. Once your do is sorted, get down to the Humana Vintage Butik to browse through the trendy second-hand clothes to complete the look.
The second Polish city on the list of must-go meccas, Krakow is a worthy addition. Not least because of the growing population of young hipster and cultural elite flocking to the city. Krakow may be infamous for its tragic and haunting past but it has a growing popularity with hip youngsters, this is despite its conservative nature when compared with Warsaw and could well be due to the various cultural venues, shops and festivals that happen throughout the year.
Truly catering to every taste, we recommend the top hipster event in the city to visit is the International Festival of Independent Film Off Camera. Once you have had your fill of being sat watching indie films, visit the Polish Poster Gallery where you can spend hours browsing and appreciating film posters from history as well as buying copies to take away. For day to day hipster hangouts, head down to the old Jewish district of Kazimierz for bustling bars and eateries.
Clearly, what was formally known as Eastern Europe has a lot to offer hipster tribes. With key attractions that remain somewhere just off the radar of the average tourist, each city we have included on this list offers an individual and unique experience for the hip travel crowd. Spending time in each of these locations will certainly add to your repertoire of interesting places to talk about amongst friends.
All words and photos by our talented guest blogger Jules Bukovsky. She is a traveller and expat with a fondness for art, retro cafes and unusual places, she has been travelling extensively in Latin America and Europe and a year ago she moved to Poland to get closer to the origin of her family. Follow Jules on Twitter.