South America’s emerging hipster cities

Published August 12th, 2013

Who knew hipsters existed outside the realm of Brooklyn, Hackney and Melbourne, but apparently they do. The newest wave of cities to be invaded by wi-fi demanding, loafer wearing, organic kale smoothie drinking folk? The cities of South America. While the continent still remains at the final frontier of adventure travel, South America’s big smokes have begun to adopt their fair share of trendy hole-in-the-wall bars, sneaker boutiques and street-style bloggers. If you’re keen to break-up your epic South American adventures with some more civilized city-time, then these are the places to add to your itinerary.  

  Lima, Peru With its own fashion week and own version of The Hamptons (Paracas), Lima is quickly becoming South America’s answer to New York. For all its trendy ocean views, cutting-edge restaurants and surf-rock bands (you head me), it’s the Peruvian capital’s art scene that truly makes this hip city, a hipster one. With practically a new opening every night, the scene in Peru is much more rebellious and DIY in its ways, with many houses converted into galleries and invitations sent out via Facebook.   The place to be: Catch an indie band and the city’s latest underground artists at the Miraflores house-turned-gallery called Bruno Gallery.     Bogota, Colombia Don’t be so shocked. If travel blogs and articles are to be believed Bogota is the new place to be. No longer a city to be afraid of, safety has become a thing of the norm in Colombia’s capital, and so has partying, with Bogota’s younger generation emerging to enjoy themselves with a range of dance parties, art opening and concerts. With a new zest and appreciation for life in their city, Bogota’s happening scene is relativity free of pretention. Instead, locals are out to really make the most of their city and genuinely take great pride in putting on a good time for everyone.   The place to be: La Dayliciosa, an event that the New York Times describes as ‘part dance party, part rock show and part art opening.’     Buenos Aires, Argentina If South America was to have a hipster capital, Buenos Aires would have to be it. Both slick and rugged in the most perfect way, the Argentinean city has all the hallmarks of a hipster city from its bohemian vibe right through to its cutting-edge fashion, boutique cafes and very good-looking locals - known as portenos. The dining and nightlife scene in particular is where BA really shines, best experienced in a traditional grill house called a parilla and the bars and clubs of Palermo.   The place to be: Of all the hip and happening venues in Palermo, Niceto takes the cake. Hosting a bunch of local and international rock, pop, electronic and indie acts each night (Thursday night is drag queen night), the music and vibe here is anything but commercial.     Sao Paulo, Brazil In the lead up to the World Cup, all eyes might be on Rio, but it’s Brazil’s largest city, affectionately known as Sampa, that remains the country’s cultural capital. Granted, it’s not hard to run into an art gallery or a museum in Sao Paulo, but for the best hipster handouts you’ve got to venture a little further. The bohemian neighbourhoods of Vita Madalena, Bella Vista and Galeria Ouro Fino are a great place to start. It is here you’ll find fantastic shopping (sneaker boutiques and all), chilled out bossa nova bars and pulsating clubs where nightlife photographers score the crowd.   The place to be: If street art is your thing, then you’re going to love Sao Paulo. So good is the art that the city runs a number of street art tours. If you want to go it alone though, head to Vila Madalena where much of the laneways are covered in colourful murals.   José Ignacio, Uruguay Like Uruguay’s answer to the Hamptons, the resort town of José Ignacio is the only place to be in the summer. As a result, the usually sleepy fishing village of José Ignacio is no stranger to a jet-setting model, New York fashion editor, and fixie-riding tech start-up. The attraction? It’s practically world’s away from the nearby Punta del Esta, South America’s answer to flashy and trashy Ibiza. As a result, José Ignacio is seen as a much more chicer and civilized option. In José Ignacio, the hotels are boutique, nightlife comes in the form of cocktails by the pool and dining-out is a case of spot-the-celebrity.   The place to be: Whether for a sleep, a drink or an instagram, the jet-set hipster stay of choice is La Posada del Faro.  

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Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.