January 24, 2024

The 50 Best Cities in the World in 2024

We quizzed thousands of city-dwellers to rank the best cities in the world right now. Ready?

What makes a city great? Some would say it’s all about buzzing neighbourhoods, affordable food and drink and a mighty selection of things to do, from art galleries and museums to live music and theatre. Others might highlight things like the happiness of its locals, access to green space and strong community vibes.

We factor in all that and more in our annual survey, which asks city-dwellers around the world to tell us what it’s like to live, work and play in their hometowns right now. Thanks to the opinions and insights of locals on the ground and our global network of city experts, we’re able to create a global ranking of the world’s best cities – and the 2024 results are in.

As in previous years, the basis of the ranking remains our global survey of the people who know their city best: the locals. Working with research company Potentia Insight, we surveyed thousands of city-dwellers about the quality and affordability of food, culture and nightlife in their city. We also asked locals how their city makes them feel: are they happy there? Is it a beautiful place? Is it easy to make social connections? Their thousands of responses gave us a unique insight into the reality of living in the world’s greatest cities right now.

Now that international travel is forecast to bounce back to the highest levels since 2019, many travellers will be planning a city break this year – so in 2024, we added a little extra weight to a city’s global appeal. Each survey respondent was asked which other city they would most like to live in, and we polled more than 100 well-travelled Time Out staff writers and editors, based all over the world, for their take on which cities are particularly exciting places to visit right now.

So, ready to find out which cities came out on top this year? On your marks, get set…

The 50 best cities in the world for 2024

1. New York
What makes us great: You know it as ‘the city that never sleeps’ because many of its restaurants, bars and shops are open 24 hours a day, but the adage extends to New York’s spirit, too. This vibrant metropolis is always adapting, always innovating and always pushing the boundaries. It's never asleep. It's fully awake. That means constant must-see exhibits across the city’s galleries and museums, including the MoMA, the Whitney and the American Museum of Natural History. Its neighbourhoods hold the foundation together with their respective community-led events like the Queens Night Market in Flushing, the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown and the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights. No matter the time of year, there’s always a good party to go to, from a ‘Sip and Stitch’ gathering inside a designer's Chelsea studio to the all-out blowouts at Bushwick's House of Yes. All of this set within the historic boundaries of the city makes NYC shine despite its grit.

Visit now because: NYC is having an incredibly busy Broadway season this spring. Not only are top-rated shows like Sondheim's ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ continuing, but the city will see a deluge of new productions, including the highly-anticipated ‘The Notebook’, ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘The Who's Tommy’. Make sure to bookmark our guide to upcoming Broadway shows now.

The big numbers: There’s no denying the allure of the Big Apple. When it came to the city people wanted to move to most, New York was head and shoulders above the rest, with 15 percent of survey respondents saying they’d relocate there in a heartbeat.

2. Cape Town
What makes us great: With Table Mountain – laced with well-marked walking trails – at the heart of a peninsula fringed by glorious beaches, it’s not hard to be smitten by Cape Town’s natural beauty. But spend a few days here and the Mother City’s multicultural soul quickly shines through. In the District Six Museum and on Robben Island you’ll get to grips with the country’s turbulent history (remember that South Africa marks 30 years of democracy in 2024), while the colourful homes of Bo-Kaap are an invitation to discover the city’s vibrant Cape Malay community. More and more visitors are using tourist dollars to support independent businesses in townships, while Cape Town’s creative landscape is alive with new energy. Studios, galleries and public events abound – come for the Investec Cape Town Art Fair each February – while Cape Town is also famously the most LGBTQ+-friendly city on the continent.

Visit now because: The new Time Out Market Cape Town is buzzing! You’ll find a dozen of the city’s most creative chefs under a single roof, all set within an historic building on the charming harbourside V&A Waterfront.

The big numbers: Cape Town scored highly across the board. A whopping 100 percent of locals said the city is beautiful and that it made them happy, while Cape Town’s culture scene ranked highest in the world for its quality.

3. Berlin
What makes us great: Berlin is so much more than its clubs, its galleries, and its reputation as the European capital of cool. The city might not be known for its friendliness, but Berliners are the heart and soul of the German capital. Whether you’re posted up at a smokey pub in Neukölln for people watching, finding your footing on the dancefloor in Friedrichshain, or making your voice heard at any number of community-led protests in Kreuzberg, you’re sure to find your place with likeminded people in Berlin. Getting between the 12 districts with public transportation is easy, but renting a bike is a great way to see the city. Bike lanes criss-cross the capital, and there are seemingly endless wide open green spaces (Tempelhof Field, a disused airport tarmac turned into a massive park, is a local favourite).

Visit now because: This year marks 20 years of Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke, Berlin’s best-known karaoke bar. Join in the celebration this November, or drop in seven nights a week to belt out your favourite showstopper from the comfort of a private booth. Feeling brave? Take it to the main stage.

The big numbers: We know well that Berliners like to party, and if our survey’s anything to go by, they’re in the right place for it – Berlin’s nightlife scene had an impressive 82 percent approval rating.

4. London
What makes us great: Londoners make London great. Nowhere else in the world can you rub shoulders with such a diverse yet weirdly homogeneous group of people. Is our home as friendly as Dublin, as beautiful as Paris or as gastronomically hyped as Tokyo? No. But judging by the fact London is consistently named the best city in the world, Europe, and so on, it obviously doesn’t matter. Our galleries are free. Our parks are massive. Our pubs are legendary. Our kebab meat is plentiful. There’s no city like it, and if you don’t agree, we genuinely don’t care. But please visit!

Visit now because: There’s quite simply more to do here than anywhere else on earth, but in recent years our fair city’s been criticised for an ailing nightlife scene. Well, that’s all changed. London now is home to a whole bunch of massive, cutting-edge nightclubs. What they lack in underground grittiness they make up for in jumbo sound systems and killer lineups. Pay a visit to Outernet, Drumsheds or KOKO Electronic to see what we’re on about.

The big numbers: Despite what you might’ve heard about misery and rain, 94 percent of Londoners said they’re happy and 95 percent said they find the city beautiful. London also had the third-highest ‘pull factor’ of all cities surveyed, with 9 percent of respondents saying they’d move there if they could.

5. Madrid
What makes us great:
Whether you’re from Madrid or not, when you’re here, we’re all Madrileños. It's a welcoming and lively city that stands out for its exciting (daily) nightlife, its spectacular food, its internationally renowned chefs and its vibrant culture. Don’t just listen to us: in the last year alone, Salmon Guru was crowned one of the best cocktail bars in the world, David Muñoz has once again been voted the best chef on the planet and the Royal Collections Gallery was one of the most important museum projects in Europe. Big names aside, the essence of Madrid is found in its neighborhoods, where lifelong neighbours and century-old stores coexist with new art galleries and specialty cafe – as is the case in Carabanchel, chosen as the third best neighborhood in the world in 2023. Given all of that, it’s no wonder Madrid is so popular with tourists – as evidenced by the amount of new hotels (most of them luxury) opening their doors around the city, from The Madrid Edition to the UMusic Hotel and the Thompson Madrid.

Visit now because: Any time is a good time to come and enjoy Madrid, but in 2024 the city will experience an explosion of international concerts due to the renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. In the coming months, Taylor Swift, Luis Miguel and Karol G will be coming to the Spanish capital. In addition, The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) will perform on no less than three nights in another of the city's stadiums, the Metropolitano, home of Atlético de Madrid.

The big numbers: Did we mention the food is fantastic? Well, it’s worth reiterating – Madrid’s food scene got a very impressive 94 percent approval rating from Madrileños.

6. Mexico City
What makes us great:
With a museum on every corner, it’s no surprise Mexico City was named the best city in the world for culture in 2023. There’s plenty more where that came from this year, with exciting emerging art spaces like Laguna, new galleries like Naranjo, and eagerly awaited international exhibitions like Damien Hirst at Museo Jumex. CDMX is also at the forefront of a vibrant gastronomic revolution, from mushroom cultivation at Tencui, Japanese coffee at Panya and the best brisket at Ahumados Pelican. The dark kitchens of Roma will surprise you, San Miguel Chapultepec’s artsy offerings will captivate you, breakfast in Condesa will be delicious and an afternoon in Coyoacán will be unforgettable. Get ready to fall even more in love with our neighbourhoods, our food and our warmth when you visit CDMX this year.

Visit now because: In the summer, the Cineteca Nacional will open a new home in the Bosque de Chapultepec, featuring eight theatres and an outdoor forum.

The big numbers: Mexico City scored highly for its overall liveability, with 100 percent of locals naming the city beautiful, 96 percent saying they were happy there and 94 percent saying it’s easy to make friends.

7. Liverpool
What makes us great:
There's more to Liverpool than Beatles tours and football matches. In fact, it's one of the best places in the world to go for a guaranteed-good-time. The true city that never sleeps, spots such as 24 Kitchen Street, home to some of the city's best DJs, or dive bars like Salt Dog Slims provide ample opportunities for late nights. But the city looks just as good in daylight, with a smiling face on every corner, and plenty of up-and-coming talent to champion, whether you're sampling small plates at Michelin-mentioned Belzan or checking out the work of local artists at FACT Picturehouse.

Visit now because: Still on a high off the back of hosting Eurovision, there's plenty of music events to look forward to in Liverpool this year. In The Park, hosted by much-loved local singer-songwriter Jamie Webster in collaboration with Cream Classical, will see dance anthems from over the years accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra.

The big numbers: Liverpool scored 89 percent for the affordability of its culture scene, making it the cheapest city on the list for art and culture.

8. Tokyo
What makes us great:
Much has been said about Tokyo’s efficiency. Its wide-reaching network of public transport is always punctual and the urban landscape is world-renowned for being unbelievably clean and well designed. But what makes Tokyo truly exciting is its dynamism. This is a city that never stays the same – there’s always something new and innovative to discover here. Some of the world’s greatest restaurants are now in Tokyo (Massimo Bottura’s Gucci Osteria, Antwerp’s Michelin-starred Le Pristine, and MAZ, sister to Peruvian 2023 World Best Restaurant Central – just to name a few) while cocktail bars are experimenting with local ingredients like miso. Plus, the city now has three gin distilleries focusing on Japanese spirits and botanicals, new shopping malls with rooftop gardens, architect-designed public toilets, a flurry of new openings from anime centres to art galleries… it’s difficult to keep up at times, but we don’t expect anything less from this vibrant city.

Visit now because: The all-new teamLab Borderless digital art museum is opening in Azabudai Hills complex in central Tokyo on February 9. This is arguably the most anticipated new opening of 2024, as the museum promises a number of never-before-seen digital art installations making their world debut.

The big numbers: If our survey is anything to go by, Tokyoites are a merry bunch. 94 percent of locals said the city made them happy. With so much to do, see and (most importantly) eat, are we that surprised?

9. Rome
What makes us great:
Regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Rome lures travellers with its ancient history, fabled cuisine and laid-back lifestyle. From the majestic Colosseum and intricately carved Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps and Pantheon, the city’s architectural splendours provide a theatrical backdrop for daily life. Locals still shop for fresh produce in cobblestone piazzas while nuns gather over coffee and schoolchildren visit iconic artworks in the city’s many museums. Spanning over 2,000 years of history, Rome is a city with layers: head underground to sites like the ancient Roman houses of Palazzo Valentini and the Basilica of San Clemente, and see the city from a bird’s-eye view atop the Castel Sant’Angelo fortress and the terrace of Gianicolo.

Visit now because: A city historically beloved for its guanciale (pork) and offal, Rome is finally welcoming more plant-based restaurants to cater to changing palates. Try Buddy for a decadent vegan brunch, Grezzo for dairy-free gelato and don’t miss Romeow Cat Bistro’s new vegan pastry shop, Julietta.

The big numbers: No surprises where the Italian capital scored highly. The city’s fabled food scene scored a 98 percent approval rating, with the same percentage of locals saying they found Rome beautiful.

10. Porto
What makes us great:
There’s good reason we chose Porto as this year’s best European city break. Portugal’s second city is a place where you eat well and drink better. In this wine capital, your glass will never be empty: check into a wine hotel like The Yeatman, The Lodge, or Wine & Books; sip and snack at stylish wine bars like Genuíno, A Certain Café, or Tia Tia; learn about all things vinho at the impressive World of Wine (WoW), a kind of wine-themed Disneyland; and see where the magic happens on a tour of one of the cellars in Gaia (we recommend Sandeman, Cockburn's, and Cálem, to start).

Visit now because: Time Out Market Porto opens in 2024 with the best of the city under the same roof. And what a roof – the market will be installed in a wing of the historic and beautiful São Bento Station, a property of public interest, which was designed by renowed architect Souto de Moura.

The big numbers: With those azulejo-tiled buildings and Duoro views, it’s no wonder 98 percent of locals would call their city beautiful. It’s also one of the highest scoring cities for romance, with 82 percent of locals saying it’s easy to find love in Porto.

11. Paris
12. Mumbai
13. Lisbon
14. Chicago
15. Manchester
16. São Paulo
17. Los Angeles
18. Amsterdam
19. Lagos
20. Melbourne
21. Naples
22. Singapore
23. Miami
24. Bangkok
25. Lima
26. Budapest
27. Beijing
28. Dubai
29. Montreal
30. Glasgow
31. Sydney
32. Buenos Aires
33. Kuala Lumpur
34. Manila
35. Seoul
36. Hanoi
37. San Francisco
38. Barcelona
39. Abu Dhabi
40. New Orleans
41. Philadelphia
42. Austin
43. Boston
44. Accra
45. Marseille
46. Taipei
47. Istanbul
48. Osaka
49. Hong Kong
50. Vancouver

Copyright 2024 ime Out England Limited and affiliated companies owned by Time Out Group Plc. All rights reserved. From https://www.timeout.com.
Edited by Grace Beard. Contributors Time Out editors & Time Out contributors.

To view all articles, check out the Internet Travel Monitor Archive