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These 5 cities are experiencing a design boom

cities Image credit: Matthieu Salvaing

From Cape Town's Silo district to Joburg's Keyes Art Mile and Durban's Station Drive, South African cities are championing culture and creativity, and tourists and locals alike are flocking in to enjoy them first-hand. Looking beyond our home turf, it's clear to see how entire cities are shaped around design – Milan, for example, which we profile in the June 2017 issue of House and Leisure. Here we explore five more 'designer cities' which deliver on cutting-edge aesthetics as well as plenty of character. Our advice? Visit these as soon as you can before their popularity skyrockets.


cities MAAT Museum. Image credit: Matthieu Salvaing

As though hit by a sudden wave of creativity, the Portuguese capital has had a design explosion, giving way to an almost cult-like following for all things Lisbon-related. We're pointing the finger at the new generation of architects and designers who have quickly taken charge and transformed the city. From a terraced limestone 'beach' abutting the Tagus River to the MAAT Museum, Lisbon is not the same as it was five years ago, and it promises much more to come. Right now, there are more cranes decorating the skyline than cathedral spires, and we can't wait to see what the new generation has in store.


cities Image credit: Dezeen

Although Peru has always been a tourist destination – chiefly for its magnificent historical wonder, Machu Picchu – the capital of Lima is adding to the package by developing its own urban wonders. Along with the rise of the Peruvian food movement, the city is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of South America's hippest hotspots. With a thriving contemporary art scene, design-centric boutiques, cutting-edge art hotels and top-class education and architecture (the UTEC university campus has been named the Royal Institute of British Architects' 'Best New Building in the World'), Lima is a must-visit venue for contemporary culture seekers. Bonus prize: keep an eye out for Peruvian culinary legend Virgílio Martínez, who has branched out from his Lima restaurant Central and recently opened a new eatery in Dubai (aptly named... Lima).


cities Image credit: Krzysztof Bak

Wrocław (pronounced 'Vrots-wahv') is a city so creative that even its name is fun to say. Situated in Western Poland, it's still relatively unknown, despite the fact that it was declared a European Capital of Culture in 2016. Our favourite two things to look out for in this characterful city are the colourful and ornate Renaissance buildings dotted here, there and everywhere, as well as the Wrocławians' charmingly odd obsession with dwarves. Take yourself on a little treasure hunt around the town and see if you can spot all 163 of the little bronze gnomes.


Montreal, Canada, is creeping up the scoreboard for the best design in 2017. Designated a UNESCO Design City in 2006, it will soon be hosting the World Design Summit in October. With a rich multicultural fabric, the creativity of Montreal lies in its people. Home to 2 million workers, 50% of whom are bilingual and a fifth of whom are trilingual, more than 100 languages are spoken here, and it's clear to see that diversity can truly inspire creativity in this metropolis.


cities The Church of San Antonio de la Polana. Image credit: Radisson Blu

Despite its economic and social challenges, Maputo is creatively progressive, with a thriving cultural scene. When a wave of avant-garde architects arrived in this Portuguese capital, they took their sudden freedom and came up with buildings that celebrated modernism – with a tropical twist. Although it's by no means new, this city is still fairly under-the-radar, yet bursting at the seams with great design – from the architectural details that dot the skyline to the exuberant murals located throughout. Read our guide to Maputo here.