Top 30 Best Cities in the World Today
|Top Best 30 Cities in the World Today|
They are lauded as the world's most thorough cities ranking, based on original methodology that analyzes key statistics as well as user-generated reviews and online activity in channels such as Google, Facebook and Instagram.
Based on each city's performance in the 24 factors analyzed, these are the World's Best Cities for 2021:
List of top 30 best cities in the world today
Which is the best city in the world right now?
The ‘Capital of Capitals’ reigns atop the planet’s best cities, sparked by the 2012 Summer Games and a coordinated effort to harness the global obsession ever since. The World’s Best Cities ranking is the most comprehensive city ranking on the planet, based on entirely original methodology that uses the opinions of the people who matter most: visitors and residents.
|Photo: Travel Places|
London topped our ranking and there is a lot to unpack in the city’s performance. It reigns atop our world cities ranking because it is the only city on the planet that finished Top 10 in all six of our categories. London’s magnetism is certainly world-renowned, with a record volume of visitors streaming into the city—19.1 million in 2016, a 2.6% increase from 2015’s record. Despite terror attacks and Brexit (more on that in a moment), the city looked to set yet another record in 2017. Incredibly, annual visits are now more than 25% higher than five years ago.
London ranks #1 in our Programming category, an index that measures visitor and resident experiences in the subcategories of Shopping, Culinary, Nightlife and Culture, where the city placed no lower than #2.
That openness is why 60% of the city voted to stay in the EU in the Brexit vote in 2016. And it’s why after every terrorist attack, the city’s streets seem to grow denser and its population more vigilant but also more empathetic to the sanctuary sought in their city.
The agency with its finger on the pulse of all these aggressive retention and attraction initiatives is London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency that promotes London internationally “as the best city in the world in which to invest, work, study and visit.”
We reward the city’s hospitality with Instagram posts, Facebook check-ins and glowing posts online—travelogs that powered the city to #1 in our Promotions category, creating inspiration for future visitors and residents planning to experience the world’s best city for themselves.
For all the talk of learning from the pandemic, one city appears to be going all-in on the hard lessons it gave and their application to molecular urban change.
|Photo: World of Wanderlust|
While the face of Paris’s pandemic evolution is Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her aggressive empowerment of self-propelled mobility—from a city-wide speed limit of 30 km/h in August to the addition of more than 30 miles of bike paths reaching across most arrondissements—it’s the citizenry’s embrace of this boldness that is changing the city’s fabric for good.
Paris is aptly nicknamed both the City of Love and the City of Light. Even though winters can be cold and rainy, there’s never really a bad time to go. It’s romantic year-round and the lights of the Eiffel Tower glitter, rain, or shine. With Valentine’s Day coming, Paris may be on your mind — for a couples escape, a family vacation, or a getaway with friends.
The French Riviera, Bordeaux’s vineyards, and Provence’s lavender fields may already be on your radar, but there’s still more to see and do. Sip wine in a castle in the French countryside, explore one of France’s most incredible medieval citadels, or admire 6,000-year-old megaliths. Here are some other destinations to visit in combination with Paris.
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#3. New York
If there’s one thing that defines New Yorkers, it’s a certain brash resilience. That’s why it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that NYC got high marks for just that quality in this year’s survey, coming in as the ‘most resilient’ of all North American cities.
|Photo: Laois Today|
From the continued success of its Open Restaurants initiative (which transformed sidewalks into vibrant community hubs) to its new Key to NYC program (encouraging vaccine uptake), Gotham has managed to survive and thrive over the past 12 months. Thanks in large part to that iconic can-do attitude, it found creative solutions to changing health precautions – and now the streets are buzzing once again.
The special thing here is their very own floating ‘island’ park hosting cultural events that are free to all. We’re leading the way in being a truly exhilarating place to live. NYC was voted the most ‘exciting’ city in the world and ranked second for "discovering new things".
Moscow is the capital of Russia, its political, economic, and cultural centre. This is the most populated city in Russia and Europe. For many people fr om Russia and other countries the capital of Russia is a city of magnificent opportunities.
|Photo: Go Backpacking|
Moscow is very much like any other European capital as far as its infrastructure and lifestyle are concerned, while its people do not differ much from those living in other metropolises, such as London and New York. That is why foreigners find it so easy to adapt to life in Moscow.
There's always something going on in Moscow: exhibitions, festivals, performances, excursions, concerts, quests, marathons... You can have a great time in Moscow and you don't have to spend a fortune either: get a bird's-eye view of the city, take a boat ride down Moscow river, descend 65 metres below ground to the Cold War bunker, take drawing or guitar classes, take a tour around Moscow's bars or take part in wine tasting, enjoy roller skating in a park, or visit a maze of mirrors...
This Is One of the Best Cities in the World for Students. Moscow was included in Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking of top world cities for students in 2014 and 2015. Among other things, the experts evaluated how popular the metropolis is among students, how prestigious its universities are, and whether there are opportunities for study.
Many international tourists are surprised at the number of parks, gardens, and garden squares they find in Moscow. There are over 120 of them here. We are mostly talking about spacious green areas with everything you could possibly need for comfortable recreation, including benches, Wi-Fi, cafes, pathways, sports facilities and much more besides. The parks always host all manner of interesting activities, including festivals, concerts, and special events.
A true city on the rise, Dubai ranks as the fifth-best city in the world, but first in overall safety. It is also the city with the highest rate of foreign-born residents, due to its importance in worldwide business operations and tourism. With a futuristic design, sustainable approach and boasting some of the world's superlatives: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, for example, Dubai is only expected to grow in popularity as a tourist destination in the years to come.
Dubai’s standing was boosted by its many attractions, as well as the coming Expo 2020 Dubai. The report also pointed to attractions such as the Museum of the Future and a plethora of new hotels, including the 795-room Atlantis The Royal, as reasons the emirate performed so well in this year’s ranking.
The report also noted that Dubai has “attracted the highest proportion of the foreign-born population of any city worldwide”, but has also, despite its influx of new residents and focus on economic development, been able to maintain its position as the safest city in the world.
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Tokyo ranks as the sixth-best city in the world, taking first place in the restaurants category and second for the number of Global 500 headquarters located within the city, second only to Beijing. The city spent billions on improving infrastructure and creating tourist attractions for the Olympics, and it's growing as a more accessible destination for individuals with disabilities, improving the city based upon the idea of "universal design."
The face mask, that quintessential pandemic-era staple, was already a common accessory among Tokyoites way before Covid hit, which is perhaps why life here never really slowed over the past year. An overwhelming 82 percent of survey respondents said Tokyo was great for ‘discovering new things’ – look around and you’ll notice loads of new venues and attractions have cropped up across the city over the past 18 months. Some 73 percent of those polled also said the city is great for ‘getting around without a car’. The city’s super-efficient public transport system ensures everyone can easily enjoy all that the city has to offer.
Asia’s financial powerhouse turns its ambitions to elevated infrastructure and homegrown innovation.
Singapore’s 50-year rise from politically unstable, resource-poor and unskilled ex-colony to talent- and capital-hungry shipping hub (the world’s busiest) and, subsequently, Asia’s wealth management capital, is place-brand engineering at its most ambitious. Small wonder, then, that the city has never finished out of the Top 10 in our six years of this ranking.
Singapore’s reinvestment into research, talent and corporate headquarters recruitment ensures it will be home to a sustainably wealthy citizenry for decades to come. It’s why the city-state continues its ascent among the planet’s most prosperous cities (ranking #12 for 2022), with a growing cluster of Global 500 companies (ranking 43rd).
#8. Los Angeles
The second city located in the U.S. to rank on this list, Los Angeles is known for its culinary, entertainment and tourist appeal. It ranks eighth overall but ranks as the third top trending city on Google. It also ranks fourth as one of the world's best university cities. People have also flocked to the city in hopes of fame and fortune, or of spotting the famous in local cafes or restaurants.
|Photo: Time Out|
L.A.’s best assets have always been outdoors, but the past year and a half spurred new appreciation for all-season farmers’ markets, beach weather in the winter and a bit of solace on a canyon trail. Angelenos are always inventive (hence why it voted the second-most ‘creative’ city in the world) – and that was especially the case as entire city blocks turned into art installations, holiday cheer went to the drive-through, mutual aid networks sprouted up on sidewalks and seemingly every parking lot became a drive-in. Now if we could just use some of that creativity to rein in the housing crisis (87 percent described L.A. as ‘expensive’; the rest must’ve just sold their two-bedroom bungalow for a cool million).
|Photo: Earth Trekkers|
The popular cruise port and tourist destination of Barcelona, Spain ranks as the ninth best city in the world, taking third place for its nightlife and fifth in positive Tripadvisor reviews. With great year-round weather, perfect walkability and a lot of outdoor green spaces, Barcelona is made for exploration, drawing millions each year, to its residents' dismay. Overtourism isn't a problem since the pandemic, though a city that thrives off of its nightlife did take a hard blow to its local businesses.
Finestres, a 600-square-meter bookstore dedicated to the pleasure of reading. It’s not only one of the best places to find new books, but also a thoroughly relaxing spot to sit back and read. Most impressively, it only opened in April this year.
The people-powered rebirth of Spain’s kinetic capital was sideswiped by the pandemic. Madrid suffered greatly during the pandemic early on, when it was one of the planet’s hardest hit capitals, as it does today, with the Delta variant running uncontrolled and various nations banning travel to Spain.
But the city, in our Top 10 for only the second year in a row, is getting back on its feet, continuing a much-needed investment in its bounteous (but long-dormant) infrastructure and public assets that is fueling the Spanish capital’s city-building legacy.
In Madrid, it starts with focusing on existing assets and the conviction that everything old can be new again. It’s not just the well-known cultural bounty. Madrid is, more importantly, finally committed to the modern reinvention of the city focused on its citizenry. The Buen Retiro (“pleasant retreat”) park in the city center was formerly owned by the monarchy, but in 1868 was handed to the public—who have made plenty of use of it ever since. It’s been making news again this year, when Madrid’s tree-lined Paseo del Prado boulevard and the adjoining Retiro Park were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Though the city is so rooted in tradition, the pandemic has indisputably propelled Rome into the twenty-first century. With brand-new bike lanes, electric scooters for rent on every corner and an explosion in outdoor dining, it’s never been a better time to enjoy alfresco entertainment in the Eternal City.
|Photo: Wonder Wall|
Some 90 percent of locals said Rome was good for ‘culture’ and new pre-booking options at the city’s major museums and attractions are helping offer a safe and enjoyable experience for travellers. This is a great year to get outside and stroll through the city’s many panoramic villa parks: 30 percent of respondents agreed this is one of the ‘greenest’ cities they’ve visited (believe it or not, that’s a lot compared with most cities). And you can finally book a table at your favorite trattoria online – see, there are some silver linings.
If only all cities had: Fresh drinking water flowing out hundreds of fountains dotted throughout the city. (Don’t forget to bring your reusable bottle!)
Qatar has its sights set on becoming the next tourism hot spot in the Middle East, with Doha as its crown jewel. In less than a century, Qatar went from poor UK colony with a dwindling fishing industry to independent nation that today is the richest state per capita in the world—with booming infrastructural development to match.
With shrewd investment of oil wealth, the Qatar Investment Authority is estimated to be worth more than $300 billion, a portion of which is channeled back into the country and into Doha, up an astonishing 11 spots in this year’s ranking, including topping the global list for Prosperity.
Doha will use the 2022 FIFA World Cup to show off its dynamic mix of traditional souks, iconic landmarks, ritzy shopping malls and five-star hotels, to say nothing of its #7 ranking in Safety. But with a poor migrant labor force toiling for an oligarchic elite (leading to a dismal ranking of #244 for Income Equality), there’s work to do.
Chicago, the "Windy City," ranks as the thirteenth best city in the world. It's the sixth top trending city on Google and ranks eighth in the product category, which includes subcategories like attractions, museums, conventions and airport connectivity. It's the second-largest economic powerhouse in the country and the seventh in the world, attracting culture and prosperity, which it shows in its world-class museums, nightlife and universities.
The UAE’s second city passes on the ostentatious and pursues the culturally significant. While Dubai has massive shopping malls and the world’s biggest, tallest and most expensive everything, Abu Dhabi is quietly continuing its promotion and focus on heritage and a rich cultural tapestry. It invests in bringing artists and creators as guests for residencies and multi-show dates.
|Photo: Rayna Tour Blogs|
The city has a knack for attracting permanent international talent as well, hitting #1 in our Foreign-Born Population subcategory and #23 in our Educational Attainment subcategory.
The buzz could be because the city is positioning itself as a leading global arts and culture hub, with the world’s largest mosque, and museums designed by just about every starchitect you can think of. While the Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi is already open, the city is hard at work on Saadiyat Island on the construction of a Norman Foster-designed Zayed National Museum, a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Tadao Ando’s Maritime Museum and a Performing Arts Centre by the late Zaha Hadid. The city’s #241 ranking for Museums is bound to improve in coming years. As will its #61 ranking for Promotion, a shockingly low score when you consider the buzz in this ambitious city of the future.
#15. San Francisco
San Francisco has never been known to follow the pack. And when things got tough over the past year, SF sprang into action with one of the strictest Covid responses in the US. But that didn’t dampen community spirit in the Bay Area: businesses got creative to stay afloat, while innovative initiatives like the SF New Deal put restaurant employees to work making meals for those in need. Neighbors stepped up to take care of each other through far-reaching mutual aid networks, and one genius even had the idea of hanging sourdough starters from trees to fuel all the baking people took up.
If only all cities had, hundreds of beautifully crafted parklets that now make the city feel like one giant street party (plus the kind of weather that allows for outdoor dining year-round).
|Photo: Tinh Hoa|
It may be better known for its raunchy nightlife—still going strong at #10—but Amsterdam is stepping away from its seedier elements, going so far as to move the red-light district out of the famed De Wallen neighborhood to the outskirts of the city while banning non-residents from cannabis cafés and ditching tours that glorify the city’s baser side. Stepping into the pandemic tourism crater are tours focusing on the city’s enviable livability and Dutch history.
To that end, educating residents about their city is also paramount and, earlier this year, a book exploring the city’s role in the organization and management of the global slave trade was made available for free to residents.
#17. St. Petersburg
There are many cities that vie for the title of Venice of the North. Only St. Petersburg is worthy. Imperial capital for two centuries, city of 40 islands and 342 bridges, St. Petersburg has been steadily climbing the rankings, from #54 to #35 to #16 and, now, just one spot down after one of the most challenging years in the city’s recent memory.
|Photo: Shutter Stock|
Russia’s Euro 2020, held over the summer of 2021, spiked the city’s COVID infections to their highest levels yet. Around the same time, the year’s other wrath—extreme weather brought about by climate change—also hit, baking St. Petersburg with the city’s highest June temperatures ever recorded.
|Photo: Culture Trip|
Nearly half of Toronto’s population was born abroad, making it a wonderfully diverse city to live in or visit. Like any other major city, there’s a downtown, but Toronto is best explored through its multicultural neighborhoods—and the foods you can find there. You’ll encounter not one but three Chinatowns, a Korea Town, as well as a heavy Ethiopian influence in Queen West and Latin American parts of Kensington Market.
It’s not exactly surprising that more than two-thirds of our respondents described Sydney as ‘beautiful’. Whether you’re in one of our national parks, sunbathing on one of our 100-plus beaches or enjoying a harbourside sundowner at the Opera Bar, there’s barely a corner of this town that isn’t drop-dead gorgeous. But she’s not just a pretty city. Sydney has one of the most diverse, multicultural populations in Australia, particularly in the western suburbs, where life is especially tough right now under lockdown. The good news? Vaccination rates in Sydney are the highest in the country, so as we approach summer, we’re getting ready for the revival of the city as lockdown lifts.
The Greening the City initiative, a huge project to improve parks, green roofs and plant thousands of new trees. The aim is to cover more than 40 percent of the city with greenery by 2050.
Germany has evolved into a symbol of tolerance. No other city in the country embodies these sentiments quite like its capital.
Berlin is a city where remnants of a fragile history mingle with a present where being whatever you want to be is not just encouraged but embraced. Though it was spared the initial death toll of the early pandemic (possibly thanks to the country’s science-friendly attitude and chancellor) the city that has held a Top 5 global Nightlife position since we started keeping track had to cancel its various celebrations of diversity for the first time ever, with parties like the Karneval der Kulturen and the famed Berlin Pride celebration not quite the same virtually.
#21. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is burned in our collective consciousness from a thousand heist movies, but you don’t really know the city until you’ve experienced it in all its neon glory. It’s also evolved substantially in recent years, becoming a family-friendly destination (yes, really) and even more of a food lover’s paradise with the new Singapore-style hawker center that opened at Resorts World Las Vegas in 2021, while offering more intimate lodgings like 2019’s NoMad atop the Park MGM.
|Photo: Money Inc|
America’s intriguing capital city has the world’s attention—and is working to keep it.
“Before COVID, 2020 was going to be one of the busiest ever for D.C. development, and a lost year will only accelerate the planned $10 billion in the city-building pipeline,” says Resonance. “Food and dining is also helping D.C. pursue equity with Market 7, a sprawling food hall touting Black-owned businesses. The jewel in the city’s culinary crown is the $250-million RiverPoint, two blocks from Audi Field, between Capitol Riverfront and the Wharf, with piers, waterfront activity, and plans for new restaurants.”
|Photo: Move to Turkey|
Istanbul has taken a big hit from Covid, but the city hasn’t been beaten. Turkey’s biggest city and its intrepid entrepreneurs have done their best to weather the storm and have really rallied in step with the vaccine rollout. Istanbul kept its spirits up during the pandemic through community projects like the Sen Güvende Kal (‘You Stay Safe’), a Unesco-commended initiative from Umut Karakuş of meze bar Muuto. This brought chef-cooked meals to the doorsteps of over-65s across the city. A proposal by the mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, meanwhile, encouraged wealthier citizens to come to the aid of families adversely affected by the crisis.
Istanbul has always offered some of the best cultures this side of Europe – with 71 percent of locals rating the arts scene highly in our survey – so it was fitting enough that theatre was one of the first things to come back to life as lockdown lifted.
Where modernism was born, the future is doing just fine. Fresh ideas are blowing through the city that gave birth to modernism—creating a place that’s becoming the benchmark for urban livability, sustainability and equity. Small wonder, then, that Vienna shot up eight spots in our rankings from last year.
Just consider housing: 60% of the city’s population resides in subsidized apartments. The city also ranks #16 globally for Income Equality. Vienna is also the European standard for public transit, with almost half of the city’s population holding an annual transit pass—and using it religiously.
|Photo: The Beijinger|
Beijing is where young Chinese go to prove themselves to the world. The city is the centre of China’s art, culture, media and business (and politics, unfortunately, but that’s a different story). We are dreamers, innovators and plain hard-workers, from the musicians rocking School Bar and Modernista (which, like most venues, have been open since March 2020, when the city contained Covid) to the couriers who criss-cross the streets on scooters, saving up their money to send home to family. And respondents feel the same way: 51 percent called Beijing a ‘dynamic’ city (which feels 49 percent too low). Some 73 percent also called the city polluted, but they’re still here for a reason: Beijing is where you need to be.
If only all cities had: Old Beijingers, the straight-shooting, proud, potty-mouthed, chess-playing retirees found in the city’s ancient hutong (alleyways) who speak in the no-frills slang of a bygone era, and are neither afraid to criticise the government nor tell you to get off their proverbial lawn
Still the fascinating gateway into Eastern Europe’s secrets, Praha radiates confidence and dares visitors to keep up—and fall in line.
For a city reeling from the impact of the pandemic, Prague is taking bold steps to reinvent its cityscape and visitor economy, “return to normal” be damned. This demand for new rules of engagement comes at a time when, during the first three months of 2021, Prague recorded an almost 94% decrease in tourism compared to 2019. As it gets up off the mat, the city is making deliberate and long-lasting decisions to ensure its #6-ranked Museums and #7-ranked Attractions are accessible to everyone, not just the drunken lads who once descended on the historic splendor of the past, hunting for cheap laughs.
Milan was ground zero of the coronavirus crisis in Europe in early 2020. Once the lockdowns ended, the no-nonsense Milanesi quickly took action to prevent the pandemic from killing the spirit of the city. Kilometres of bicycle lanes have been added, many streets have been closed off to cars to become ‘pedestrian zones’, and restaurants and bars have pivoted in order to be able to serve clientele outdoors – even if the northern Italian city’s climate is not always conducive to eating or drinking alfresco. In our survey, 91 percent of locals rated Milan’s cuisine highly, and we can’t say we’re shocked.
Places like Cascina Cuccagna, an eighteenth-century farmhouse that – despite its very urban location near Porta Romana – has been renovated to serve as a gathering place promoting sustainability and urban agriculture. The sprawling space houses a restaurant, cooking school, farmers’ market, and has two courtyards and a large garden.
#28. San Diego
Southern California’s urban ideal offers free sunshine and keeps a good thing going—across two borders.
|Photo: Talkov Law|
The city’s culture is heavily influenced by its location on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round climate, its natural deep-water harbor, and its long association with the U.S. Navy. Along with being the headquarters of several major national defense contractors, San Diego is also home to the largest naval fleet in the world.
Tourism is a major industry owing to the city's beaches and numerous tourist attractions such as Balboa Park, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, the San Diego Black Film Festival and Street Scene Music Festival.
#29. Hong Kong
|Photo: The New York Times|
Hong Kong is one of only a few major cities that managed to avoid a full lockdown, so things have felt relatively normal this past year. Even with phased venue closures and strict social-distancing restrictions, restaurants, shops and transport never stopped operating, and major events like Art Basel and Art Central returned. Today, you could wine and dine in the city or even hit up the club – it’s almost like it’s 2019 over here.
The entrepreneurial spirit and sense of togetherness that helped the city keep its residents safe during last year’s world crisis.
|Photo: Cathay Pacific|
Melbourne gets locked down, but we get up again. As the city struggles through its sixth hard lockdown in 18 months, there is still a lot of love to be found in this fine Australian city. It’s clear Melbourne’s food and drink culture is the best in the country, with more than 94 percent of locals ranking the city highly for its bars and restaurants. Even in the depths of lockdown, Melburnians can still get their fix of top-notch lasagne, incredible Indonesian staples, or sticky-sweet desserts delivered to their doors – and it’s great to see the community supporting each other with such zeal.
A cohort of incredible community-minded groups, like Sikh Volunteers Australia, that distribute food and necessities to their neighbors.
List of top 100 best cities worldwide 2021:
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