What are the best cities in the world? Every year, Time Out surveys more than 20,000 people around the world to identify the best cities to visit right now. This year, Edinburgh topped the list as the best city in the world, followed by Chicago, Medellín, Glasgow and Amsterdam. Two other North American cities were also in the list of the top 20, including Montreal (at number nine) and New York (at number 20),
“It was great to see so many amazing North American cities included once again in Time Out’s global list of the best cities in the world,” says Will Gleason, Time Out’s Content Director North America. “It was especially heartening to see Chicago snag the number two spot this year with local Chicagoans shouting about the Windy City’s exciting food and drink scene and world-class art and culture.”
Overall, Edinburgh, Scotland was named the best city in the world. “The city ranked highly across the board, topping the global chart as the most beautiful and the most walkable city in the world,” says Gleason. “Edinburgh is also much loved as a great place for a stroll through nature and has heaps of new exciting things to do.”
There were some big changes from last year’s Time Out list, when the top five featured San Francisco, Amsterdam, Manchester, Copenhagen and New York. According to Gleason, the 2021 list focused more on the best cities to live and examined how these places pulled together through the pandemic, with an emphasis on community spirit, resilience and environmental initiatives.
“It was much more about living in the city, rather than going out, and what this felt like during the pandemic,” says Gleason. “What we found back then was that you’d think a pandemic might defeat the point of living in a city when we couldn’t really go out, but the results showed that community spirit was higher than ever, with people supporting each other as well as local businesses and initiatives.”
One of the reasons San Francisco didn’t break the top 20 this year: “90% view the city as expensive,” says Gleason. But the city still had some good things going for it. It was named the most progressive city, a high percentage (80%) said the city is beautiful, and 80% said it’s not stressful.
New York City also had a big drop—down 15 slots from last year, when it was voted number five. According to Gleason, only 23% of respondents said it’s a friendly city, 93% viewed it as expensive and 61% said it is not relaxing. But there were enough good things this year to keep NYC in the top 20. It was named the number one city on the list for resilience, as well as number three for art, culture and museums. It was also voted the number one place people would go if they could move to any other city.
According to Gleason, the 2022 list was more focused on what make cities great places to visit, including eating and drinking; art, culture and museums; and nightlife and party going. What it shows: Travel is back. “Now, after a prolonged period of limited travel, the world is opening up and people are itching to get back out there and explore cities again,” he says.
You can see the full list of the world’s 53 best cities here, or read on to learn more about the cities that ranked in the top 20.
The World’s 20 Best Cities In 2022
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
Why it’s Great: “Edinburgh is this year’s number one city and it’s not hard to see why: the city ranks highly across the board and comes out top as the most beautiful city in the world (according to 95% of residents) and also the most walkable city (said 93%)—a perfect combination for visitors looking to explore historic landmarks, architecture and scenic hotspots on foot,” says Gleason.
Why it’s Great: “Whether you want to try world-class dining from high-end restaurants to outstanding family-run eateries, party until 4am at historic clubs, spend a day soaking up the sun along Lake Michigan, see iconic artworks or just wander among different neighborhoods—all this is putting the city on the map for visitors,” says Gleason.
3. Medellín, Colombia
Why it’s Great: “For those looking for a good time, Medellín in Colombia is the place to visit this year. It tops the charts for its food and drink (97%) and nightlife and partying (90%) scenes, as well as ranking first for community spirit (94%). And there are several design-forward boutique hotels popping up all over the city, showcasing impressive Colombian craftsmanship,” says Gleason.
4. Glasgow, Scotland
Why it’s Great: “Glasgow is the friendliest city in the world this year (78% of locals agree). It’s also the second most affordable city (with 87% saying it wasn’t expensive) so 2022 is the perfect time to visit and explore the place and meet the locals in this city that excels at being outgoing and at going out,” says Gleason.
5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Why it’s Great: “For those looking for a city where they can be themselves, look no further than Amsterdam, the easiest city in the world to express who you are (according to 89% of residents) and the second most progressive in the world. It also comes as no surprise that 100% of residents say it is easy to cycle around the city,” says Gleason.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Why it’s Great: “Head to Prague and hop on a tram to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world (globally, it ranks third for this). 90% of locals view their city as beautiful, and 96% say it is easy to get around on public transport—two factors that make for an attractive way of life, and the perfect city break,” says Gleason.
7. Marrakesh, Morocco
Why it’s Great: “Looking for a holiday romance? Marrakesh tops the charts as the easiest city in the world to hook up with people (according to 69% of residents). For those just looking to make friends or meet interesting people it’s still a top spot—it comes second for making new friends, and number one for getting to know your neighbors,” says Gleason.
8. Berlin, Germany
Why it’s Great: “Affordable, easy to get around, and always something to do? Berlin makes for the perfect break this year according to locals. It ranks second for ‘variety of things to do’ and is the city described the least by locals as expensive. Berliners are also in love with their public transport system; 97% praised it, which was the highest of any of the cities surveyed,” says Gleason.
9. Montreal, Canada
Why it’s Great: “Montreal is a real all-rounder with a top-notch food and drink scene (93% said it’s easy to find a great meal), alongside great art and museums (82% think there’s always something good on) topped off by a chance to relax and enjoy green spaces and nature (80% think it’s easy to take a walk),” says Gleason.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
Why it’s Great: “Travelers should head to Copenhagen if they’re looking to enjoy one of the world’s greenest cities, as it ranks second in the world for sustainability (75% praised it), walkability (86% of locals singled this out) and ease of getting around by bike (97%). The city has also seriously embraced its waterways, with hydrofoil bikes, floating saunas, jacuzzis and even kayak bars galore,” says Gleason.
11. Cape Town, South Africa
Why it’s Great: “And relax… as Cape Town has been ranked the best city in the world to do this, thanks to 87% of residents’ votes. It’s also the second most beautiful (according to 97% of residents), third best for its ‘variety of things to do’ (93% singled this out) and ranks highly for its food and drink scene,” says Gleason.
12. Madrid, Spain
Why it’s Great: “Madrileños recommend their city for all of the quintessential things which make up a great break; 94% praise the Spanish capital’s food and drink, 95% rate its art and culture highly thanks to the high-calibre museums and 86% of locals say the nightlife is excellent,” says Gleason.
13. Manchester, England
Why it’s Great: “Mancs have voted their city the second friendliest (gaining 74% of locals’ votes), losing out only to Glaswegians. The city also came second for its resilience (67% of residents) and third best for progressiveness (65%),” says Gleason.
14. Mumbai, India
Why it’s Great: “Mumbai is a city which loves to come together to celebrate life and each other; locals voted it the third best global city both for nightlife (with 89% saying there is always something to do, behind just Medellín and Miami) and for community spirit. It also scored highly for its food and drink scene,” says Gleason.
15. Melbourne, Australia
Why it’s Great: “A wave of new post-pandemic bar and restaurant openings has seen the city retain its top 15 position this year, with 92% of residents lauding its food and drink scene. Known for its friendliness and hospitality, it’s no wonder that only 11% of locals view it as a stressful place to live. There is also lots of culture to enjoy with live music, outdoor installations and stunning semi-permanent exhibitions,” says Gleason.
16. Taipei, Taiwan
Why it’s Great: “Taipei has secured its new entry in the best cities list due to an impressive 86% of locals surveyed seeing it as safe and 92% praising its public transport. Its newly-opened Performing Arts Center, the night markets, a brand new rooftop club with great vistas and the centuries-old temples are just some of the attractions putting the city on the international must-see map,” says Gleason.
17. London, England
Why it’s Great: “Londoners regard the city’s variety of things to do as its strongest selling point (94% of locals praise this), securing it the top spot for this globally. The capital also secured second spots for art, culture and museums (96% of Londoners surveyed have singled this out), and for diversity (94% said this but Toronto’s locals score their city even higher). It is the third-best city globally to express yourself (85% of locals) as well as to have fun,” says Gleason.
18. Porto, Portugal
Why it’s Great: “Porto’s explosion of exciting new restaurants and bars in the last few years has earned its position as the third best city in the world for food and drink (96% of locals think so),” says Gleason.
19. Lyon, France
Why it’s Great: “Lyonnais believe the city’s food and drink scene (95% of those locals surveyed praise it) and beauty (88% of those locals who responded chose this word to describe their city) are its USPs—these are the key factors which have secured its top 20 ranking and make it a new entry in the best cities list this year,” says Gleason.
20. New York City
Why it’s Great: “NYC tops three categories in this year’s judging criteria; it’s the city most Time Out readers want to visit in 2022, the place they dream the most of moving to and is also the world’s most resilient city. It has been voted third best for art, culture and museums (96% of locals recommend it for this),” says Gleason.