The 100 Most Livable Cities in the World
Many people dream of packing up their belongings and starting a new life abroad — even if it’s just for a little while. With technology making remote work much easier and globalization expanding the reach of companies, it is easier than ever to fulfill this dream.
But not all cities are created equal when it comes to offering the best quality of life. So while you're fantasizing about international adventures and cultural immersion, just remember to consider everything in a city from its culture to its healthcare and education systems.
These are the best places to live in the world. They also are pleasant to visit and nice to dream about traveling to in the future. Which of these livable cities inspire you the most?
100. Wroclaw, Poland
Beautiful Wroclaw kicks off the list of 100 most livable cities in the world. It is known for having one of the prettiest old town squares in all of Poland.
Market Square features colorful townhouses as well as the Gothic Town Hall. Other points of interest include the Wroclaw Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
Wroclaw has a large expat and immigrant population that add diversity to it. It also has a reasonable housing market, which makes it attractive to anyone looking to move to Europe without worrying about a high cost of living.
Note: These rankings are based on Mercer's 2019 global livability report and The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index 2019. Because of the unusual circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have used the 2019 rankings.
98. Victoria, Seychelles (Tie)
The capital of the former British colony of the Seychelles is an all-around pleasant place to live. The island nation is located in the Indian Ocean, known for its warm waters and beautiful beaches.
Nature enthusiasts will love taking up hobbies like scuba diving and hiking or simply visiting the Seychelles National Botanical Garden.
Victoria, like most of the Seychelles, is a highly developed African nation. It has a stable economy and little political conflict. Jobs are also widely available, and the housing market, though not necessarily cheap, is not plagued by prohibitive prices either.
98. Zagreb, Croatia (Tie)
Croatia's capital is affordable, peaceful, walkable and beautiful. The town center is filled with Austro-Hungarian architecture, a vestige of the city's importance to the former empire.
The tree-lined streets are full of small cafes, where locals enjoy sitting down and catching up with friends or with a good book. The Zagreb Cathedral is the city's most defining landmark, and the old town square that surrounds it is a popular tourist hub.
Zagreb's economy is diverse and stable, which attracts expats looking to work and invest in Eastern Europe.
97. Panama City, Panama
If you want to live in Miami without living in Miami, head to Panama City, the capital of Panama.
This Central American cosmopolis is a major trade and commerce hub, which should be expected given that the Panama canal connects the Atlantic and the Pacific. Its control of a major trade route fuel the Panamanian economy and brings in a lot of foreign investment.
For expats and travelers, the city offers great nightlife and pretty urban beaches. Though petty crime is common, Panama is politically stable and the capital is not directly affected by the drug wars that plague other places in the region.
96. Johannesburg, South Africa
South Africa's largest city, Johannesburg is the informal financial capital of the country. Though its cost of living is higher than in other cities in South Africa, unemployment is relatively low, and there are job opportunities across several industries.
Johannesburg is also known for its important history as the home of Nelson Mandela. Many of the city's landmarks revolve around the struggle to end the racist apartheid regime.
The city is also one of the friendliest toward sexual minorities in Africa, with its pride parade being the continent's largest.
95. Cape Town, South Africa
One of South Africa's three capitals, Cape Town is the country's most famous and, perhaps, most exciting cities. Whether you're visiting or planning on making a home here, Cape Town is simply easy to fall in love with.
Things to do include hiking to the top of Table Mountain (or taking the cable car), enjoying the beach (or watching wild penguins enjoy it), and visiting historic sites such as the prison where Nelson Mandela was once held.
Food is a big part of the culture, with braii, the country's typical BBQ, having an important place in social interactions. Wine is also cheap and abundant. You'll also find a strong cafe culture that is encouraged by the city center's walkability.
94. Busan, South Korea
South Korea's second city is prettier than the capital of Seoul, if only because coastal cities are hard to beat. As a trading port, Busan can boast a robust and stable economy. Like the rest of the country, it is incredibly safe — you'll likely see people leaving phones or laptops unguarded at cafes or even bars.
The strong sea winds also lower the air pollution that plagues Seoul. The one drawback to living in Busan would be the strenuous work culture of the country, which sees people working more hours than almost any other country.
In terms of entertainment, Busan is a perfect mix of Buddhist temples by the sea, colorful hill neighborhoods, a diverse restaurant scene and beaches.
93. Santiago, Chile
Chile as a whole is the most politically stable country in South America and enjoys one of the country's strongest economies. Job opportunities aren't lacking, and several foreign companies have headquarters in the capital. The country is also actively trying to attract startups to its cities, particularly Santiago.
Surrounded by the Andes, Santiago is also a beautiful city. Many of Chile's main museums are here, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Arts and the National History Museum.
Urban green spaces can be found throughout the city as well, making it easy to enjoy the city's pleasant weather.
92. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's capital is a historical port town with beautiful architecture, expansive beaches and really great food.
San Juan really has everything you could want from a coastal city, with people enjoying the friendliness of locals as well as the numerous art museums, historic structures like El Morro and great nightlife.
If the city doesn't rank higher it's because it is fairly expensive to live in — blame it on mass tourism — and the levels of inequality and crime are also high.
91. Buenos Aires, Argentina
In terms of architecture and urban planning, Buenos Aires is certainly the most European city in South America. You can see remnants of Spanish colonialism in the Pink House, the presidential house, and in centuries-old structures like the Teatro Colon.
But what makes Buenos Aires amazing are its own characteristics. The food and wine are sublime, and the sound of tango, a source of national pride, often floats through the air. The city also has important museums like the MALBA, which is dedicated to Latin American art and boasts some of the most prestigious universities in the region.
Sadly, Buenos Aires is far down the livability list because of the economic instability that the country has struggled with for decades.
90. Riga, Latvia
If you want to live in a European capital without dealing with lots of tourists that invade in summer, Riga is a solid option.
The Latvian capital is undeniably beautiful, particularly in its old town, where you can see medieval and art nouveau architecture. Riga has several art galleries and museums, many of which showcase the work of local artists.
The city is also fairly close to nature, so you can always escape to the nearby woods if you need a break from noise and people.
89. Athens, Greece
Athens is one of the cradles of Western civilization, being a powerful Ancient Greek city-state. Historical figures like Plato and Aristotle once called it home.
The city is filled with ancient ruins that speak of its rich history. It is centered around the Acropolis, which was built as a temple for Athena. It also holds a vast collection of archaeological artifacts.
With good weather, friendly people and tasty food that is actually healthy, Athens is an ideal place to live. The city is affordable and safe and has several hills with lookout points to drink coffee or catch a sunset.
88. Durban, South Africa
Though Durban doesn't enjoy the fame of Cape Town or Johannesburg, it has the highest quality of life in South Africa. The coastal city is multicultural, with a large Indian population that has added to the unique feel of the city.
Water is the main draw in Durban, whether it be the beach, the city's coastal promenade or its waterpark, uShaka Marine World.
86. Tallinn, Estonia (Tie)
Like many other European capitals, Tallinn's pride is its old town, which has well-preserved medieval and gothic architecture. And its position on the Baltic Sea serves as a major trade center for its economy through trade.
Estonia is also investing in innovation and technology and even announced a digital nomad visa long before the practice expanded worldwide.
Though the Baltic cold means you won't be enjoying beaches and too much warmth, the city's coastal location does provide beautiful scenery and fresh seafood galore. Unlike other capitals in the region, Tallinn is affordable and has low tax rates, making it a pleasant place to live.
86. Limassol, Cyprus (Tie)
Cyprus has long been a connection between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. As such, it's been an important trading post for thousands of years and has seen its fair share of territorial disputes. The Mediterranean country is divided into Greek Cyprian and Turkish Cyprian territories, reflecting the influence both cultures have had in its history.
As can be expected from a country with such a coveted position, Cyprus has a strong trading economy. Limassol is its economic and tech center. The city has been making an effort to attract international investment and innovation.
Despite the internal conflict between the Greek and Turkish sides, Cyprus is safe, developed and easy to move around it. It also has the majestic rocky beaches and delicious food people have come to expect from the Mediterranean.
85. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia's uber-modern capital is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Southeast Asia, with large Malay, Chinese and Tamil communities. The city enjoys a high quality of life as well as a relatively low cost of living.
It is very safe for a city its size. Air pollution, which plagues most metropolises, is its one downfall.
But expats love Kuala Lumpur for its vast entertainment offerings, proximity to nature and temples, varied food, and exciting nightlife. The city's twin Petronas Towers dominate its skyline.
84. Taipei, Taiwan
If you ever meet anyone who doesn't love Taipei, let us know, because we've yet to find a single person. The Taiwanese capital sits at the crossroads of history, with ancient temples as well as skyscrapers. The city's National Palace Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world. Markets and street food abound, coexisting with luxury malls and boutique shops.
Taipei is also one of the most tolerant cities in Asia towards the LGBTQIA+ community, with expats and travelers often reporting feeling safe without having to hide their identity.
This friendliness is extended toward most everything else, with locals being known for their hospitality.
83. Port Louis, Mauritius
Located on the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is proud of its high quality of life, strong social programs and political stability. The country has one of the strongest economies in Africa and relatively low poverty rates.
As the capital, Port Louis is a major trading center and where many of the industries of the country are based. Residents and visitors enjoy the city's dining and shopping scene, particularly at Caudan Waterfront. The cuisine is particularly exciting, as the country's history of colonialism and immigration has meant an interesting mix of flavors.
Port Louis is also the type of lucky metropolis that is located very near nature, with the mountains at its back and the ocean at its feet.
82. Warsaw, Poland
The weather and the food may not be great, but Warsaw makes up for it with safety and a plethora of cultural activities. As the Polish capital, it has numerous historical landmarks such as the Royal Castle and Kazienki Park, a former royal summer house.
There are also several museums in the city such as the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
Warsaw is the economic center of Poland and is a livable and walkable city. Although it ranks better in terms of tolerance than most other places in Poland, it still has conservative attitudes against LGBTQIA+ individuals.
81. Vilnius, Lithuania
Tourists in Vilnius gravitate toward —surprise, surprise — its historic center, where architectures from different time periods display their beauty.
Expats and entrepreneurs, on the other hand, head toward the city's business center, where you can find headquarters for established brands as well as startups.
Vilnius has one of the fastest public Wi-Fis in the world, affordable housing. It's also relatively cheap compared to other places on the continent.
80. Bratislava, Slovakia
Although the Slovakian capital is sorely underrated by tourists and expats alike, it is easily one of the most pleasant cities in Central Europe. It is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains and built along the Danube.
Urban green spaces are common, the city is extremely walkable and there are vineyards within its vicinity. The question really should be, why would anyone not want to move here?
The Bratislava Castle towers over the city, making its skyline immediately distinguishable.
78. Montevideo, Uruguay (Tie)
Uruguay may be one of South America's smallest countries, but it manages to have a bit of everything within its borders. The country is known for its progressive social policies, its beaches and its strong mate culture.
Montevideo is a modern city that is the country's financial capital as well as its political capital. Expats enjoy a good quality of life, great public transportation and low cost of living.
The city also does great in terms of entertainment, nightlife and social activities.
78. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Tie)
Dubai may be the United Arab Emirates' most famous city, but Abu Dhabi is its glittering capital. The city can only be described as a modern and luxurious destination, with impressively high skyscrapers by the sea.
Abu Dhabi is a major financial hub of the Middle East, with oil and commerce being two of the most important industries. But for all its modern comforts and high-end restaurants, the city is one of the region's most expensive places.
That can make it difficult to afford unless you land a very well-paying job.
77. Seoul, South Korea
Half of the South Korean population lives in the metropolitan area of Seoul, meaning this gigantic megalopolis has about 25 million residents. The good news is that the capital city is so well-organized that the amount of people isn't very much of an inconvenience. Its metros never reach the level of uncomfortable fullness of other cities like Paris, New York or Tokyo.
Seoul's Achilles' heel is the air pollution that usually settles over its skyline. But if you can put this aside, it is simply one of the best cities in the world, especially to live in. The nightlife is incredible, with multiple fun and affordable activities huddled in its party districts. Eating out is surprisingly cheap, especially if you opt to enjoy the country's rich cuisine. The city is also clean and very safe, with even petty crime being uncommon.
There's also a perfect mix of modernity and history. For shopping, you'll find some of Asia's largest malls as well as traditional markets with centenary history. Royal Palaces, Buddhist temples and traditional Hanok houses are complemented by high-rises and one of the fastest internets in the world. South Korea is also one of the most innovative countries on the planet.
76. Budapest, Hungary
Founded through the union of the cities of Buda and Pest, this city on the Danube is a Central European treasure. You can still find vestiges of Roman settlement, including a public bath culture that is still strong and that makes this a perfect destination for a spa retreat.
The city is also undeniably beautiful, particularly in areas next to its river, where you can see both the Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament building. This beauty does not mean you'll be paying Parisian-type prices.
On the contrary, the city is affordable.
74. Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Tie)
In a span of about 50 years, Dubai has quickly made a name for itself as an international city. What was once a small fishing town fell on good fortune in 1966 when oil was discovered in waters off its coast, leading to a construction boom that increased the city's population by more than 300 percent between 1968 and 1975.
And the city hasn't really stopped since. In fact, Dubai is home to the most completed or topped-out skyscrapers than any other city in the world, and its 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the world's tallest. Apart from taking in the city's ever-expanding architecture, visitors can spend hours exploring the historic souk districts looking for spices, silver and gold. On the outskirts of the city, you'll also find the Arabian Desert with its pink-hued sand dunes, beckoning visitors to come for a Jeep tour.
74. Ljubljana, Slovenia (Tie)
Slovenia's capital and largest city also happens to be the country's most livable because it still has a very peaceful vibe. The Ljubljanica River divides the city's old town and commercial district, and it is lined with outdoor cafes that make a nice spot to rest in between exploring the pedestrian-only streets.
Ample green spaces provide places to escape and read a book. After all, what UNESCO describes as the "City of Literature" is the perfect place to do just that, and with more than 500,000 members at the city's library, you won't be the only one.
73. Detroit, Michigan, United States
Detroit sits along the Detroit River and is perhaps best known as being the center of America's automobile industry, with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler all headquartered here. But the city's contribution to music, art and architecture also gives it a diverse culture.
It started as the birthplace of Motown music in the 1960s but is now known for its influence on techno, jazz, hip-hop, rock and even punk music. It also has an extensive list of museums to visit, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Science Center and Motown Historical Museum, to name a few.
72. Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
An overseas region and department of France, Guadeloupe is an island group located in the Caribbean. Pointe-a-Pitre, located on Grand-Terre, is its capital and largest city.
A vibrant, economic hub, Pointe-a-Pitre features streets dotted with colorful 19th-century buildings as well as busy markets selling everything from tropical produce to exotic spices and colorful clothing. The yellow Cathedral de St. Pierre et St. Paul is one of the city's most iconic landmarks.
71. Hong Kong
With one of the densest populations in the world, Hong Kong is city living at its finest. Because it was a British colony until 1997, it's often described culturally as a beautiful blend of the East and West.
While most of the population is Chinese and practices traditional values that emphasize family, for instance, its political, social and economic development is much more similar to the United Kingdom.
Cantonese cuisine is delicious throughout the metropolis, and Cantopop (Cantonese popular music) is making an international name for itself in the mainstream music scene.
70. St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Situated on the Mississippi River, St. Louis is your classic Midwestern city.
The city's diehard baseball fans welcomed the construction of the new Ballpark Village, a 10-acre entertainment plaza that complements the St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium with the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum as well as a Budweiser Brewhouse beer garden.
Of course, if you want to see the city from great heights, take a ride to the top of the 630-foot Gateway Arch monument, which is the world's tallest arch.
69. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague stands out for its colorful, historic baroque architecture, especially in Old Town Square. In 2017, Prague was listed as the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Rome and Istanbul.
One of the capital city's biggest attractions is Prague Castle, built in the ninth century to the tune of about 8.3 million square feet, which makes it the largest ancient castle in the world. What makes it even more remarkable is that the president of the Czech Republic still does business here.
66. Miami, Florida, United States
Miami ties with Los Angeles and Houston in the 66th spot, which is interesting since all three of these cities happen to be some of the most diverse in the U.S. Miami, of course, has a large Latin American population. And with that comes a natural vibrancy.
Get a taste of the city's Cuban culture in Little Havana, where you can play dominoes with locals in Maximo Gomez Park or try some of the best Cuban sandwiches at Versailles Restaurant. Of course, a trip to Miami wouldn't be complete without a visit to Miami Beach where some of the best swimming and people-watching abounds.
66. Los Angeles, California, United States (Tie)
Expansive Los Angeles has all you could ever want in a place to live or visit — and yes, the Hollywood elites who set up roots here make it all the more desirable. But celebs aside, the beaches, music, art, food and nightlife scene are ever-changing.
Catch a comedy show on Sunset Boulevard, take in the new artwork of downtown or participate in a drum circle at Venice Beach. Each of the city's neighborhoods has its own distinct personality, which means there's something for everyone in Los Angeles.
66. Houston, Texas, United States (Tie)
What has long been associated with NASA and the oil industry has become a melting pot of cultures. In fact, Houston is the most diverse city in the U.S., above more obvious choices like New York or Los Angeles. A wide variety of food and restaurants have even earned Houston recognition as one of America's best foodie cities by several sources.
You could spend days in the city's Museum District, home to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural science, Contemporary Arts Museum and Houston Zoo, to name a few attractions.
64. Atlanta, Georgia, United States (Tie)
A Southern city with a history, Atlanta played important roles in both the Civil War and the civil rights movement. And from that history has grown a city rife with culture and attractions.
Make your way to Centennial Olympic Park, the site of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, which is surrounded by attractions such as the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel, CNN Studio Tours, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
64. Belfast, Northern Ireland (Tie)
The capital of Northern Ireland is a major port city with a significant role in the Industrial Revolution. In fact, its claim to fame is the building of the RMS Titantic, a fact that is celebrated in the city's Titantic Quarter.
Visitors can check out Titantic Belfast, a museum with nine interactive galleries dedicated to the ship's legendary history.
63. Dallas, Texas, United States
Yes, cowboy culture reigns supreme here, but a quick visit to this Texas hub will make you realize it's so much more than that of its stereotypes. World-class dining and a blossoming arts scene have put Dallas on the map in terms of places to live and visit.
Check out Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre urban green space located above a massive freeway, for food trucks and weekly events such as outdoor yoga or dance classes. And just across the street is the Dallas Museum of Art, where general admission is free. It's one of several arts venues that make up the 20 square blocks of the city's Arts District — touted as the largest urban arts district in the U.S.
62. Nagoya, Japan
Nagoya is known worldwide as the epicenter of the Japanese automotive industry, with Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi factories as well as museums dedicated to their history. Plus, it's home to the traditional samurai and ninja cultures.
But delve back even deeper into the city's history, and you'll find the Nagoya Castle that was one of the country's largest during the Edo Period from 1600 to 1868. The castle town eventually grew up around it to become the fourth-largest in Japan.
61. Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
A city known for its water, Minneapolis sits on both banks of the Mississippi River and has 13 lakes as well as several creeks and waterfalls.
While people usually come here for natural surroundings, they stay for the culture. In fact, it's this very place where Bob Dylan, Prince and, yes, Lizzo launched their music careers.
It also happens to have one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the U.S.
60. Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig is perhaps overshadowed by other German cities like Berlin and Munich, but it happens to be the country's fastest-growing city — and with good reason. It's one of the few German cities that held onto its historic architecture, restoring buildings to their original grandeur when the city was a hub of arts and culture before World War II.
As such, it's also one of Germany's most beautiful, ripe with young creative types who were priced out of the country's larger cities. That means you can expect lots of live music and old buildings that have been converted into art studios.
59. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh lies at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers and is known as the "City of Bridges" for the 446 bridges that cross these waters. What was once an industrial hub for steel manufacturing among other goods has turned into an epicenter for health care, education and technology industries.
It also has quite an interesting arts and culture scene. After all, Andy Warhol was a Pittsburgh native, and his work is celebrated in the Andy Warhol Museum — the largest in the U.S. dedicated to a single artist. And its ToonSeum is only one of three in the U.S. dedicated to cartoons. Fun fact: Pittsburgh was the birthplace of community-owned television and is where "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was originally filmed.
58. Osaka, Japan
Formerly known as Naniwa, this city once served as Japan's capital and has a massive castle to prove it. Completed in 1590, Osaka Castle was meant to be a symbol of a new, united Japan under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but he died eight years later, and the castle was destroyed in 1615. However, visitors can still visit the newly reconstructed castle, which is surrounded by citadels, stone walls and moats.
Visitors can also walk the beautifully manicured grounds of Shitennoji Temple, one of Japan's oldest, for free, or pay an admission fee to enter the five-story pagoda where Prince Shotoku is enshrined as a statue of Kannon.
57. Aberdeen, Scotland
This Scottish city has all the things you love about the United Kingdom without the crowds. With 45 parks and gardens, this city is especially beautiful in the spring when its 2 million roses, 3 million crocuses and 11 million daffodils are in full bloom.
Make sure to take a walk along Aberdeen's section of the North Sea Trail, which includes its popular long, sandy beach.
56. Rome, Italy
What's not to love about Rome? Yes, it can get hot and overcrowded with tourists come summertime, but its rich history alone is worth the visit. Check out the ancient Colosseum (still the largest amphitheater in the world) where gladiators once fought. Or walk the ruins of the Roman Forum where Julius Caesar spent most of his days.
Then, move on to the city's Renaissance and Baroque architecture, especially the city's piazzas and the famous Trevi Fountain that took shape during these definitive periods. And don't miss the delicious pasta, pizza and gelato followed by a delicious apertif.
55. Yokohama, Japan
Japan's second-largest city (by population) lies just south of Tokyo. What was once a small fishing town has become one of the country's major port cities. Its economy is strong, especially in the shipping and biotechnology industries, making it a great place to live for people working in those fields.
Visitors will want to check out the city's Chinatown (the largest in Japan) as well as the beautiful Sankeien Garden. Foodies also might get a kick out of the Ramen Museum and Cupnoodles Museum, dedicated to the beloved foods.
54. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
A city rich in American history, Philadelphia was one of the nation's capitals during the revolution while Washington, D.C., was under construction. In fact, it's where the Declaration of Independence was signed. But even more, it's the birthplace of many U.S. firsts, such as the first library, hospital, medical school, stock exchange and even zoo.
With 67 National Historic Landmarks, it's easy to get lost in the city's history, but it also has a burgeoning food and entertainment scene from craft breweries to farmers' markets to public art — with one of the largest collections in the country.
53. Washington, D.C., United States
The capital city of the United States beckons people with its countless national museums and landmarks. The National Mall is not only home to sites like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but it's also a prominent gathering place for political protests, concerts, festivals and even presidential inaugurations.
Of course, a visit to the Smithsonian Institution's many museums will get you up close and personal with President Lincoln's top hat or Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" aircraft.
If you can, visit D.C. in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, an annual occurrence that is also celebrated with the three-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival.
50. Chicago, Illinois, United States (Tie)
The 50th spot is a three-way tie between Chicago; Birmingham, U.K.; and Kobe, Japan. Chicago is a city made up of several small towns, as all of its neighborhoods have their own style, history and personality. Its downtown is one of the most beautiful in the U.S., proudly showcasing the city’s history as the center of several architectural revolutions.
Despite Chicago’s distinct division into neighborhoods, Millenium Park is where everyone gathers, whether to take pictures of the iconic Bean sculpture, to play and picnic on the grass (when the weather permits it) or to take in the views of the mighty Lake Michigan. The city can also brag about its world-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and local dishes like its mouth-watering, deep-dish pizza.
50. Birmingham, England (Tie)
Though certainly not one of the U.K.’s biggest tourist draws, the industrial city of Birmingham is a truly English city. At one point, it was the center of the Industrial Revolution, a fact that can still be seen in the number of warehouses and factories that dominate its streets.
Today, these are often turned into bars and boutique stores, but the city maintains its distinct grit that refuses to cave into the millennial trendiness that has afflicted so many other cities.
50. Kobe, Japan (Tie)
You probably know about Kobe because of its beef, which is widely touted as the best in the entire world. This alone should be reason enough for anyone to come — and stay — here, but the city is also more than pampered cows.
For one, you’ll also find one of the best sakes in Japan and one of the country’s oldest Shinto shrines. On any given weekend, you can go up Mount Rokko by foot or cable car and get astonishing views of Osaka Bay. In the spring, the city blooms with life, with cherry blossoms and tulips bringing colors after the long, harsh winter.
49. Tokyo, Japan
One of the four cities to come in at 49th place on Mercer’s list, Tokyo also earned seventh place in the EIU ranking, which is why we gave it the 49th position above the other three. The Japanese capital is one of the largest and busiest metropolises in the world. It attracts people with its futuristic design, flashing billboards and a wide variety of quirky themed cafés.
The city can definitely be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost in its array of never-ending things to do, but there’s also spaces of quiet tranquility where you’ll hear more birds than cars. Transportation is extremely efficient (though we’d recommend avoiding it during rush hour), and safety is rarely a concern.
48. Glasgow, Scotland
Kept lively by the large student population, Glasgow is an exciting city. It houses the National Theatre of Scotland, the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet — indisputably claiming to be the cultural center of Scotland.
Live concerts, pubs and museums are set in the city’s beautiful Victorian and Art Nouveau buildings. Glasgow is also one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly cities in Scotland, with the Pink Triangle district welcoming everyone.
46. Seattle, Washington, United States (Tie)
The honor of 46th place goes to the famously rainy Seattle, tied with Madrid. The largest city in Washington state is known for housing the global headquarters of big players like Amazon and Microsoft. Its skyline is defined by the Space Needle, which can usually be seen against the backdrops of the nearby mountains.
The only thing that Seattle residents care about as much as the tech industry and a great cup of joe is getting outside to do some forest bathing.
46. Madrid, Spain (Tie)
It’s difficult to know where to even begin with Spain’s capital of Madrid — its main public square, Puerta del Sol, or its expansive Parque del Retiro or its incredible El Prado and Reina Sofia Museums.
The city is walkable yet counts with a great metro system; it is steeped in history but filled with modern offerings; its large boulevards are lined with the most exclusive fashion boutiques but also with tiny alleys that house local handicraft stores. The city has its own ecosystem, and its residents love it.
45. Edinburgh, Scotland
Nestled within Scottish hilltops, it is difficult to understate Edinburgh’s astonishing beauty. The center of Scottish rulers for hundreds of years, the city holds some of Scotland’s most important historical landmarks and artifacts, including Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish crown jewels.
It also has more modern offerings, including the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe.
44. New York, New York, United States
Let’s be honest: If the world had to choose a capital, it would probably be New York. You’ll find the United Nations headquarters, the center of American finances at Wall Street and more museums than you could ever possibly visit.
Then, there’s Central Park, the lungs of the city and the place every New Yorker heads to when they need to “leave” without actually leaving. If you want to throw tranquility aside and step into a river whose powerful current will sweep you off your feet, New York is your city.
43. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a poster child for overtourism, but we can’t blame the crowds: This city is simply one you cannot miss.
Besides its beautifully preserved Gothic Quarter, the Catalan city has something no other city on Earth does: the flair of Antoni Gaudí. From La Sagrada Familia to Park Güell, his unique designs are the architectural language of the city. There are also great beaches, good weather, numerous large parks and, of course, tapas galore.
41. London, England (Tie)
London is tied with Milan in the 41st spot, and we honestly cannot stress its allure enough. Movies might depict the city as gray, rainy and somewhat bland, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the city is gray and it is rainy, but it doesn’t have a bland hair to it.
Its incredible museums have some of the most important collections of art and artifacts on the planet, and its landmarks like Big Ben, the Tower of London and the London Bridge are worthy of their reputation. Add to this a pub on every corner, any type of food you could possibly desire, a fast and efficient transit system and an eclectic culture that fosters diversity, uniqueness and individuality.
41. Milan, Italy (Tie)
Italy’s fashion capital and business center attract people who like to dress up even when they go to the grocery store because you can expect everyone else to do the same.
The city also houses the Italian headquarters of tech giants like Google and Apple, has famous art pieces like Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other place in Italy.
40. Lyon, France
If Paris is too big, expensive and busy for you, there’s always Lyon. If for nothing else, come to Lyon for the food. After all, the city is the gastronomical capital of France! Its UNESCO-listed Old Town is decorated with medieval and Renaissance architecture, and it’s still filled with bouchons — centuries-old taverns — where you can sample regional delicacies.
Lyon also has a great public transit system that allows you to explore its more modern parts as well as go up to see its Roman Amphitheatre and its hilltop basilica.
39. Paris, France
Perhaps the most famous city in the world, Paris needs no introduction. Everyone knows what there is to see here: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and — once restorations have been completed — Notre Dame. But the reason why Paris has captured the imagination of countless poets, writers, artists and filmmakers is simply that there is no other city in the world like it. Not only because of its unique urban planning but also because of its relaxed brasseries, gorgeous parks and beautiful boulevards.
There are drawbacks for locals and tourists though. The city is expensive (even by European standards), the sky is gray for a great part of the year, and apartments are the size of shoeboxes. That said, where else can you plan to get lost and somehow always end up running into an indie cinema that only shows black and white movies or an artist’s studio or an alternative space that’s part second-hand store, part underground club?
37. Honolulu, Hawaii, United States (tie)
Tied with Lisbon, Portugal, in the 37th spot is the capital of Hawaii, which is no stranger to tourists anyway, who invariably have fantasized about visiting its perfect beaches at least once.
Sitting at the foot of the dormant Diamond Head volcano, Waikiki Beach is the center of the tropical city’s social life. You’ll see a lot of five-star hotels and chain restaurants, but if you care to search, you can still find the spirit of Aloha that has never left the island.
37. Lisbon, Portugal (Tie)
The underrated Portuguese capital is a sunny, friendly, walkable, gorgeous city that is unfazed by its own allure. Still safe from the pressures of overtourism, Lisbon takes things slowly and savors them. A favorite local pastime is to simply head over to one of the city’s several viewpoints and take in the scenery while enjoying some vino verde (green wine) and good conversation.
If you’re visiting, don’t worry about hitting all the landmarks — that’s not what Lisbon is about. Rather, stroll along admiring the azulejos (ceramic tiles) that decorate the houses, fill yourself with enough pastéis de nata (a local pastry) to weigh in on the everlasting debate about which bakery does it best, and do day trips to nearby beach towns.
36. Boston, Massachusetts, United States
The New England city par excellence, Boston maintains many of its cobblestoned streets and beautiful red-brick houses. As the oldest big city in the U.S., Boston was the epicenter of some of the most significant events in the nation’s history, particularly leading up to its independence.
Spend time in the city’s museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, which has the largest permanent collection in the country and which houses Gilbert Stuart’s unfinished portrait of George Washington, the inspiration for the image on the $1 bill. If you’re a sports fan, then you will not be disappointed. Bostonians take few things as seriously as pride and loyalty in their teams.
35. Brisbane, Australia
If you like year-round sunshine, world-class museums and friendly locals, Brisbane is right there waiting for you. Australia’s third-largest city brings in a steady stream of national and international visitors looking for a fun urban experience.
Take advantage of the city’s cultural offerings at the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and Sciencentre. Around the city, you’ll find beaches, vineyards and the adorable Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
34. San Francisco, California, United States
Hilly San Francisco is iconic for its cable cars, its Golden Gate Bridge and its neo-hippie culture. Be prepared to spend more than you had imagined, yet be happy to do so — yes, that $4 loaf of freshly baked bread is absolutely worth it.
When you’re not taking in the city’s silver-screen-worthy vistas, you can take advantage of the various parks and reserves that surround it.
33. Dublin, Ireland
World-renowned beer is enough to bring a steady stream of visitors to Dublin, but its canals, centuries-old landmarks and extreme walkability convince many to actually make a move here.
The Irish capital scored well for culture, air quality and safety, all factors that are important for both residents and travelers. Must-see places include Dublin Castle, the National Museum of Ireland and the 12th-century St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
32. Calgary, Canada
Calgary is a small-city heart hidden within a big-city body. High rises and modern bridges line the banks of the Bow River, and trendy bars and restaurants establish it as a cosmopolis. But despite its shiny exterior, Calgary will always be a cowboy town deep inside.
Its annual rodeo, The Calgary Stampede, is still one of the city’s most popular events, and any outsider who laughs about this can prepare to be met with the extremely rare Canadian hostility. The city is also super close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains and is the gateway to the astonishing Banff National Park, the first reserve of its kind in Canada.
31. Helsinki, Finland
Like other Baltic capitals, Helsinki is a leader in sustainability, design and effective urban planning. However, it manages to keep its own flair with its unique architecture and effortless je ne sais quoi that straddles between a strong historic legacy and a futuristic outlook.
Follow the path of Finnish history at the National Museum, visit the red-crick Uspenski Cathedral, and walk around the sleek Design District. Then, indulge in locally sourced seasonal food, which has been a thing here way before it was cool.
30. Canberra, Australia
Like any capital, Canberra guards Australia’s history more than any other city. You’ll find government buildings like the Parliament House as well as other cultural landmarks like the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.
Its historical legacy is accompanied by modern buildings that paint a pretty skyline over the river. The city is close to several bushland reserves and national parks.
29. Adelaide, Australia
Ranked No. 10 by the EIU, Adelaide is certainly a great city for expats and travelers. It offers everything other large Australian cities do: museums, a lively pub scene and great international restaurants. But it adds a sunny disposition, mild climate and some of the cheapest city prices in the country.
Given its rapid expansion, there is a great need for talent, so working holidayers and long-term expats tend to be welcomed.
28. Brussels, Belgium
Beautiful Brussels has the best qualities of a European capital without the crowds, prices and size of other cities like Paris and London. You’ll find different architectural styles, most distinguishingly Gothic and Art Deco, as you walk around the city, weaving in and out of alleys and squares.
Needless to say, you must stuff yourself with fries and waffles, then wash them down with internationally renowned beer.
27. Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart has been honored not only as extremely livable but also as the least stressful city in the entire world in 2017. Its secret? A strong economy, large green spaces and great citizen culture.
Basically, everyone is happy to be here and families have plenty of opportunities for outings that are safe, educational and fun. The city is also surrounded by vineyards, which is probably a big part of why its residents are never stressed.
25. Singapore (Tie)
Singapore tied with Oslo, Norway, for the 25th spot. After all, its microscopic size hasn’t stopped it from becoming a cultural, culinary, architectural and financial powerhouse. The city-state is a conglomeration of cultures that mix together while also managing to maintain their own distinct identities. Perhaps this is why the food is amazing — so much so that even street food stalls have managed to earn Michelin stars.
Of course, the piece de resistance of the nation is its Gardens by the Bay, arguably the most interesting urban park in the world, with towering metal trees that collect solar energy and rainwater. Singapore’s love of harmony between design and nature is also on display at Changi Airport’s Jewel complex, which exhibits the tallest indoor waterfall in the world.
25. Oslo, Norway (Tie)
Oslo is deeply committed to fostering contemporary art, creating the next architectural trend and breaking sustainability records.
Public transportation is accessible and efficient, maritime and Viking museums and relics abound, and you are merely a stone's throw away from fjords, ski slopes and forests.
23. Stockholm, Sweden (Tie)
Tying with Nuremberg, Germany, in 23rd place is the exciting city of Stockholm. Made up of more than a dozen islands splattered around the Baltic Sea, the Swedish capital enchants all those who step foot into it. In the center, cobblestoned streets, a 13th-century cathedral and the Royal Palace receive most of the city’s visitors, but you’ll also find locals taking strolls and enjoying the beauty of their city.
Stockholm can also boast impressive accessibility for those with mobility issues, something many European capitals have yet to catch up with.
23. Nuremberg, Germany (Tie)
Nuremberg is famous for the criminal trials that decided the fate of war (and human rights) criminals after World War II. This historical episode can’t be ignored, regardless of how long you’ll be in the city, but it’s certainly not the only thing you’ll remember.
For one, Nuremberg was an important historical center from the Middle Ages, even acting as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire and housing many German Kings in its Imperial Castle, which continues to stand to this day. Like many German cities, its Old Town has traditional architecture that is truly a pleasure to explore. The city is also walkable, safe and culturally rich.
21. Montreal, Canada (Tie)
Montreal tied with Perth, Australia, for 21st place. There is a kind of grit to the city that contrasts the beauty of other Canadian cities like Quebec and Ottawa, but it’s the metropolitan equivalent of messy and effortless chic. You won’t find yourself staring in awe as you walk around the city — although the colonial buildings of Vieux-Montréal certainly have their charm — but you also won’t believe the number of festivals, events and fairs filling up the calendar.
The city also has some of the best food in the entire country, even beating Toronto in this aspect.
21. Perth, Australia (Tie)
Where do people who love cities but hate crowds go? Perth. The most remote large city in the entire world, this literal oasis in the desert is a paradox people can’t get enough of. It checks all the requirements of a cosmopolitan city: ballets, theaters, art galleries, international fare, street art and open-mindedness, but it brings all this without the pollution, traffic, and crowds other cities haven’t been able to control.
And take a quick detour out of the city, and you’ll find yourself in the Australian outback — where else can you say that?
19. Hamburg, Germany (tie)
Tied with Ottawa, Canada, for 19th place, the port city of Hamburg is a fluvial wonderland. Its history centers around its canals, which continue to provide classic scenes of boats slowly crossing under bridges.
In Hamburg, you can look one way and see the historic buildings of Old Town, then look the other way to find the shiny high rises of New Town. The dual spirit of the city is captured in its two most iconic buildings: the green-roofed, 18th-century St. Michael’s Church and the all-glass Elbphilharmonie, built on top of an old brick warehouse.
19. Ottawa, Canada (tie)
The Canadian capital may not be the country’s largest city, but it’s most definitely one of its most picturesque. Adorned with Victorian architecture, Ottawa boasts the National Gallery of Canada and the UNESCO-listed Rideau Canal.
A true confluence of English and French-Canadian culture, you’ll hear both languages widely spoken. You’ll also find diverse food, a great infrastructure, a friendly culture and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Luxembourg as a whole is sadly neglected as an incredible European destination. Nestled in between Belgium, France and Germany, the tiny city-state flourishes with expansive nature and well-preserved history. Its homonymous capital is the quintessential European town, complete with a winding river that wraps around a medieval Old Town where you can find cafes and local shops selling handmade souvenirs.
This is not the place to go if you want to party until dawn. Rather, come here to visit or live if you’re looking for peace and beautiful landmarks without the crowds and long lines.
17. Melbourne, Australia
If you go by the EIU’s rating, Melbourne is honored with the coveted second place. The city ranks extremely high in terms of stability, healthcare, culture, education and infrastructure. Although at first glance you could confuse the Victorian capital with other big, modern cities, once you allow yourself to explore its folds and corners you discover that it has a spirit of its own.
Yes, it has the expected cafe, culinary and brewery offerings, and it’s where all the alternative folks in Australia seem to gather, but what sets Melbourne apart is its humble attitude. This is the city that knows it’s amazing but doesn’t hang it over anyone’s head. It’s secure and confident in a way that is not off-putting, but rather attractive and welcoming.
16. Toronto, Canada
As the biggest city and financial center of Canada, Toronto is an amazing place to live. Sure, the metro isn’t as extensive as that of other North American cities of its size, but it’s good enough to get you anywhere in Old Town and Midtown.
The city offers all the food you could ever want, varying from authentic gochujang chigae in Korea Town to imaginative fusion restaurants. There are also many green spaces spread throughout the city, which makes for a pleasant stroll from spring to fall.
15. Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand’s capital sits at a connecting point between North and South islands. If you want to explore both, Wellington serves as the perfect base. With the spirit of a big city, but the geographical expansion of a mid-sized city, the capital strikes a balance that many people find extremely attractive.
Expect a hip coffee and brewery scene and some of the country’s best museums and galleries — but also strong winds that are not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer warm tropical climates.
14. Bern, Switzerland
If you want something calmer than Zurich and less modern than Geneva, then the Swiss capital might strike the right chord for you. With origins dating back to the 12th century, Bern seems to be straight out of a storybook.
The city coils around the Aare River, dotting its emerald waters with stone bridges that look like they could have a friendly troll living underneath. Outside of the medieval center, you’ll find buildings designated to commerce and bureaucracy.
13. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is not the most beautiful city in Europe, but it might just be its most electric. Of course, there is the weight of its history, which spans centuries and has seen the rise and fall of many an empire and the world’s most infamous dictator, but Berlin’s attractiveness is not all about its past.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s impossible not to get emotional when visiting its museums and memorials or when standing in front of what is left of the Berlin Wall. But you’ll also feel the pull of the quirkiness that seems to charge the air. Different and unique seem to be the norm, and partying is its own way of life.
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Though Amsterdam is suffering from the pressures of overtourism, people can’t seem to keep themselves from visiting — or living in — it. This is because it is a city like no other.
Sure, the architecture might be found in other cities in the Netherlands, and it’s not the only place in the world crisscrossed by the scenery of canals, but there is something in its laid-back attitude that is simply irresistible. Add to this its cafe culture, expansive bike paths and artistic legacy, and you’ll quickly see what the fuss is all about.
11. Sydney, Australia
Tied with Amsterdam as No. 11 on the Mercer list, we included it above Amsterdam because it was also ranked No. 3 by the EIU. For most, Sydney needs no introduction. Australia’s most famous city counts with iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
For travelers and residents, Sydney offers a large expat population, a beautiful modern skyline and several beaches, including the world-famous Bondi Beach. The nearby Blue Mountains National Park is a mere two hours away from Sydney, making it a preferred weekend excursion spot for city dwellers.
10. Basel, Switzerland
Many people use Basel as a mere landing point to explore nearby Zurich, but this beautiful city on the Rhine is a destination in itself. Its Town Hall and Gothic cathedral dominate the skyline of the medieval town center, and its unique position close to both Germany and France gives it a particular cultural mix.
But what really sets this city apart is its art scene, most famously exemplified in the ART Basel festival, which is now celebrated in several locations worldwide.
9. Geneva, Switzerland
Though Geneva is not — as many believe — the capital of Switzerland, it is a city of worldwide importance. As the headquarters of the World Health Organization, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organization, Geneva is a confluence of nationalities and cultures. It is also home to the European branch of the United Nations, meaning that diplomacy is basically a way of life here.
This makes it easier for expats to adapt and find support systems and for travelers to traverse through the city. This perfectly planned city offers all the luxuries you could want and an interesting culinary mix.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
The EIU places Copenhagen at the No. 9 spot, with a perfect score in education and infrastructure. The city is famous for its picturesque Nyhavn, with colorful houses and docked boats lining the canal. Castles and palaces abound, as do high-quality eateries — there are more than a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants!
Besides this, Copenhagen receives worldwide praise for its commitment to sustainability, which is most visible in the large number of people who move around the city by bike.
7. Frankfurt, Germany
After World War II, Frankfurt went in a different direction from other German cities and decided not to rebuild its destroyed historic center. This decision has been recently reversed, with great works being undertaken to restore part of the city to its pre-war glory.
However, in the time in between, the unusual move allowed Frankfurt to develop a personality of its own that sets it apart from other European cities. You’ll still find the beautiful squares and traditional houses turned into taverns, but you’ll also see numerous skyscrapers, a large number of expats and a pulsing nightlife.
6. Düsseldorf, Germany
Unlike Munich, Düsseldorf isn’t normally on the tourist radar. This is definitely a loss for travelers, as the city is perfect for people who love modernity and luxury. King’s Avenue is filled with designer shops from some of the top brands worldwide, so those in the know skip crowded Paris and come here to shop instead.
There’s also a thriving art scene and a perfect balance of centuries-old buildings and modern industry. In terms of quality of life, Düsseldorf offers great infrastructure, safety and pleasant public spaces.
4. Munich, Germany (Tie)
Famous for Oktoberfest and its undeniably fun Hofbräuhaus, it’s not hard for a traveler to imagine themselves living in Munich. Tied with Auckland, New Zealand, in fourth place, the city is welcoming, much more so than other places throughout Germany with locals who seem to want to strike up a conversation over pints of beer.
Of course, Munich is much more than beer and good times. Its central square, Marienplatz, is incredibly well-preserved and manages to coexist with a thriving contemporary art scene. The efficient infrastructure of the city makes it an extremely pleasant place to be in, whether for a couple of days or a couple of years.
4. Auckland, New Zealand (Tie)
New Zealand’s largest city is often confused for its capital. Located on North Island, Auckland is exciting for both city and nature lovers. Its Viaduct Harbour is filled with cafes, restaurants and bars. The nightlife is probably the best in the country, and there are always expats to be found, mostly made up of travelers on a one-year working holiday visa.
When you’re ready to get out of the city, you just need to head to Auckland Domain, a large park built around a volcano (don’t worry, it’s extinct!). You can also explore the islands of nearby Hauraki Gulf, do winery tours and hike to your heart’s content.
3. Vancouver, Canada
Tied in third place with Munich and Auckland in Mercer’s report, Vancouver also ranked No. 6 in the EIU report. The city is the perfect blend of modern urbanity and breathtaking nature, juxtaposing its clubs and office buildings with nearby mountains and an extensive coastline.
Museums like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology bring up the city’s cultural points. Need more convincing? Fresh seafood abounds, and diversity fosters a spirit of openness and acceptance.
2. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is so perfectly manicured and clean, it can sometimes feel like a carefully planned amusement park rather than a real, living city. It only takes a few minutes there, however, to feel the thriving pulse of its soul.
Visitors and locals love strolling around Old Town, watching flocks of swans floating on the Limmat River and hanging out in the trendy spots that the large student population basically guarantees. The city is also extremely safe while managing to keep a relaxed vibe.
1. Vienna, Austria
The gorgeous city of Vienna came out on top of both lists as the most livable city in the world. No one who’s ever visited can actually dispute this ranking, as Vienna has great infrastructure, incredible cultural offerings, a rich history and beauty in every corner. What’s more, there are large green spaces throughout the city, and locals most definitely take advantage of them whenever the sun comes out.
Both travelers and residents can enjoy the vestiges of the powerful Habsburg monarchy, coffee with sachertorte and the unrivaled musical legacy of the Vienna State Opera.