Proud Philadelphians are united by a common love of food, football and welcome-to-the-family friendliness. But there are also distinct differences in the districts beyond the traditional tourist destinations. From the edible offerings of East Passyunk in South Philly to Fishtown’s hipster territories, The City of Brotherly Love is also known as a city of unique neighbourhoods. So lace up your walking shoes, refuel with a cheesesteak and catch a vibe at one of the unmissable boroughs that make Philadelphia so fabulous.


The historic heart of Philadelphia can be found downtown, and is packed with the city’s most well-known sites. These include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House. Nonetheless, it’s not just a crash course in American history. The stately architecture, leafy streets and close proximity to the Delaware River make it very family friendly by day. And there are some great options for a night out, including the fashionable restaurants on Market and Chestnut Streets. Check out The Continental, Fork and Amada, which are all brilliant.


Lying north of the Old City, Fishtown’s roots are of a classic working-class town – so-called for its role in the commercial shad-fishing industry. However, today this former industrial hub has been transformed into a hipster’s haven – with the past two decades bringing an influx of Instagramable music venues, studios, galleries, restaurants and cafes (La Colombe and Suraya are two of the best) – and transforming it into a popular urban locale.


Northern Liberties (an ex manufacturing district that links Fishtown to the Old City) has also become incredibly trendy among sophisticated, bohemian types. The Piazza is a shopping complex (built on the site of an old brewery), and home to some excellent craft beer halls and food festivals. Try to catch the 2nd Street Festival in August.


A plethora of luxury spas, designer stores and five-star hotels entice travellers to this exclusive (and expensive) neighbourhood – with affluent, town-housed residents also calling it home. But, you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the finer things in Rittenhouse. While ritzy Parc restaurant is an institution, other more affordable offerings include alfresco dining that spills out onto sidewalk cafes (Rouge is excellent), small galleries, locally owned boutiques (like DFTI) and cocktail bars. The manicured park which shares its name with the neighbourhood is also a wonderful spot for a relaxed sunny stroll – and it’s completely free.


Though still primarily populated by Philadelphia’s Italian- and Irish-American migrants, aspiring artists have begun to move into this affordable enclave. But it’s not all budget boarding here! As well as cute boutiques and independent retailers, a mix of classic, old-school and highly acclaimed modern eateries have earned Passyunk Avenue in the East Passyunk neighbourhood (“Pashyunk” to the locals) a place on “Food and Wine’s list of 10 Best Foodie Streets in America”. Visitors to this walkable stretch of the city can join the cheesesteak debate at Pat’s versus Geno’s – the rivals who are situated on opposite ends of the same block and have duked it out for the title of city’s best for 50 years. Don’t miss the Singing Fountain at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street, or a visit to South Philadelphia Sports Complex, either.


When the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rapped about being “West Philadelphia born and raised” it’s possible that he may have spent some of his time in University City! Named for the presence of The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, this area is a vibrant hive buzzing with student-budget-friendly activities, like casual bars and street food. However, its adjacent position to Centre City means more upscale experiences can be had on Walnut Street.