The world's greatest city?

New York, London, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Mumbai... you choose

The world's greatest city? Union Square, Tokyo. World's Greatest Cities book cover
By Aleida Strowger

A panel of Time Out experts selected 75 cities to celebrate in the book 'The World's Greatest Cities' according to six criteria: Architecture, Arts & Culture, Buzz, Food & Drink, Quality of Life and World Status. In conjunction with our local correspondents, the panel then awarded the cities scores in each category and totalled them up for an overall ranking. The results are both fascinating and often surprising.

But now we want to know, which city, or cities, do you consider to be the greatest in the world and why?

The World's Greatest Cities: Order your copy now from the Time Out shop.

The results

Here are the top ten world cities as voted for by the Time Out panel:

1. New York, USA

Architecture: 9

Arts & culture: 10

Buzz: 10

Food & drink: 9

Quality of life: 6

World status: 9


Total/60: 53

2. London, UK

Architecture: 7

Arts & culture: 10

Buzz: 9

Food & drink: 9

Quality of life: 6
World status: 9
Total/60: 50

3. Paris, France

Architecture: 9

Arts & culture: 9
Buzz: 6
Food & drink: 9

Quality of life: 7

World status: 8


Total/60: 48

4. Berlin, Germany

Architecture: 7

Arts & culture: 9
Buzz: 9

Food & drink: 6

Quality of life: 7

World status: 8
Total/60: 46

Equal 5th. Barcelona, Spain

Architecture: 9

Arts & culture: 7

Buzz: 8

Food & drink: 8

Quality of life: 8
World status: 4


Total/60: 44

Equal 5th. Chicago, USA

Architecture: 9

Arts & culture: 8
Buzz: 7

Food & drink: 7

Quality of life: 7
World status: 6
Total/60: 44

Equal 5th. Tokyo, Japan

Architecture: 7
Arts & culture: 6
Buzz: 9

Food & drink: 10

Quality of life: 4
World status: 8
Total/60: 44

8. Istanbul, Turkey

Architecture: 7
Arts & culture: 7
Buzz: 9

Food & drink: 7
Quality of life: 6
World status: 7


Total/60: 43

Equal 9th. Rome, Italy

Architecture: 9

Arts & culture: 7
Buzz: 7
Food & drink: 6

Quality of life: 6

World status: 7


Total/60: 42

Equal 9th. Sydney, Australia

Architecture: 7

Arts & culture: 6

Buzz: 7

Food & drink: 7

Quality of life: 10
World status: 5


Total/60: 42

The world's greatest cities

Remind yourself about why you love a city so much by following the links through to one of our online city guides:

Almaty, Kazakhstan (this website is written in Russian)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Athens, Greece    
Bangkok, Thailand
Barcelona, Spain
Beijing, China
Beirut, Lebanon    
Belfast, N Ireland    
Belgrade, Serbia    
Berlin, Germany
Bogotà, Columbia    
Brasilia, Brazil   
Brussels, Belgium
Bucharest, Romania (this website is written in Hungarian)
Budapest, Hungary     
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cairo, Egypt    
Cape Town, South Africa    
Chicago, USA
Copenhagen, Denmark    
Dakar, Senegal    
Delhi, India
Dubai, UAE
Dublin, Ireland
Edinburgh, Scotland
Florence, Italy    
Glasgow, Scotland    
Hanoi, Vietnam    
Havana, Cuba    
Hong Kong, China
Istanbul, Turkey
Jakarta, Indonesia    
Johannesburg, South Africa    
Kingston, Jamaica     
Kolkata, India    
Krakow, Poland    
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kyoto, Japan
Lisbon, Portugal (this website is written in Portuguese)
London, England
Los Angeles, USA
Madrid, Spain
Manchester, England    
Manila, Philippines    
Marrakech, Morocco    
Marseille, France    
Melbourne, Australia    
Mexico City, Mexico
Miami, USA
Milan, Italy    
Moscow, Russia (this website is written in Russian)
Mumbai, India
Naples, Italy    
New York, USA
Paris, France    
Prague, Czech Republic    
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil    
Rome, Italy    
San Francisco, USA   
Sana'a, Yemen    
São Paulo, Brazil
Seoul, Korea    
Seville, Spain    
Shanghai, China
Singapore
St Petersburg, Russia (this website is written in Russian)
Stockholm, Sweden
Sydney, Australia
Tel Aviv, Israel (this website is written in Hebrew)
Tokyo, Japan (beta website)
Toronto, Canada   
Vancouver, Canada
Venice, Italy (website coming soon)
Vienna, Austria    
Washington DC, USA

Similar features

The world's best music festivals
Europe's best beaches
Europe's best second cities

Buy the book

World's Greatest Cities book

The World's Greatest Cities book draws on Time Out's unique urban expertise and its unrivalled collection of photography to present portraits of the world's 75 most exciting cities. This book is a celebration of their beauty and diversity, the people who built them and the people who live in them.

Buy your copy now from the Time Out shop and save 40% online.

Time Out publishes city guidebooks and magazines to 50 of these cities. All are available at a discounted price from the Time Out shop.

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By MadMan69 - Apr 26 2013

London is better but also worse for architecture than New York. The best London buildings are better than the best New York buildings, but, due to bombings in the war there are a lot of ugly brutalist buildings in London. Thankfully, a lot of these are being demolished for awesome looking glass buildings, of which actually fit into the beautiful old buildings of London.

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Congratulations, you missed the only important criteria when considering the merits of a city...the people. How often have you had abuse screamed at you by a complete stranger in New York, London or Paris? What are your chances of being a victim of casual violence these 'great' cities? How many people would stop and help someone who's lying unconscious on a pavement? Cities are made of people not concrete, material wealth or party zones.

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By Thom - Feb 22 2013

London has spectacular architecture that is considerably more diverse than NYC. No city on earth has such a mix of old and new. Paris is largely antique, NYC is largely modern skyscrapers. London has it all, warts and all.

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By Simeon - Feb 15 2013

It is incredible that NY gets two point more than London for Architecture. In London, from Chelsea and Kensington in the west all the way through to the financial district in east central, the architecture is elegant and varied. And now, to add to the historical buildings, there is a boom in skyscraper construction and tall residential towers around the city.

NY is dominated by skyscrapers which does make for an iconic skyline - the best in the world. The skyscrapers give it a real sense of occasion.

But, in terms of variety and elegance, London's architecture has to be the best in the world, a blend of European history with an increasing number of Manhattan style skyscrapers, it's gradually becoming the best of both worlds. Cannot understand why it only gets 7!

In terms of atmosphere, I think NY has always been known to have a buzz and vibrancy like nowhere else. Although London has always been grand, it perhaps has always remained slightly more sedate, maybe reflecting the personalities of the two countries. But with London getting increasingly taller with bold new skyscrapers and a changing skyline full of light, variety and drama, this could perhaps be about to change.

I cannot understand though why these two cities - culturally and economically the most influential in the world, only get 9 points. There are no more powerful cities in the world than these two so to not get 10 each is strange to me.

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By Andrew - Feb 9 2013

To give New york the same award as London for architecture as London is a joke, when it must be about sterile concrete and glass monoliths. The fantastic stonemason's skills in many of London's buildings that stretch back centuries make and the sheer history with which many ancient European cities are imbued makes a joke of those with the opinion that New York's architecture somehow compares or equals.

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By Duko - Feb 5 2013

Central London is far classier, more regal, opulent looking. It feels more civilized and some of the shops/shop fronts are really high end/upper crust. It is the better city for shopping, fashion and high end dining. Nyc simply has no parallel for elegant areas in london like regent street, knightsbridge, kensington, mayfair, chelsea. The feel of london is culturally richer, more refined, more interesting and more layered. It is a slightly more dangerous city for petty violence due to the drinking culture and the weather around december-february is awful.

Nyc is grittier, somewhat untidier, and the architecture is less subtle. The skyline is far bigger but that gets old fast. Manhattan is busier than central london - and all the areas of interest are in your face, crude and loud - like a down scaled theme park. The grid layout makes navigation easier but also gives one less incentive to go exploring.

I would say NYC appeals more to the young/hyperactive/ADD types who are impressed by frivolities and blunt impressiveness - "oh cool ... Big skyscapers". London is more for those who are mature, cultured, eclectic and refined (and preferably loaded).

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By josepha - Feb 4 2013

5 reasons New York city is the greatest city in the world
1. U.N Headquarter is located in N.Y.
2. It is the most populous city in the greatest country i.e U.S.A
3. The tallest building in the world i.e World Trade Centre is already situated here.
4. One of the best institutions(Harvard University) is located here
5. Many respected persons, celebrities, richest people are living in this city.

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By Joseph - Feb 4 2013

5 reasons New York city is the greatest city in the world
1. U.N Headquarter is located in N.Y.
2. It is the most populous city in the greatest country i.e U.S.A
3. The tallest building in the world i.e World Trade Centre is already situated here.
4. One of the best institutions(Harvard University) is located here
5. Many respected persons, celebrities, richest people are living in this city.

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By Camembert - Jan 10 2013

New York
Paris
London

London must be behind Paris, it's a shame !!

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By John - Jan 2 2013

Los Angeles will be the 5th position because it is much greater than Barcelona

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By sammy - Jan 2 2013

My choice is New York city. New York is the largest city in the United States of America, if it is the largest city in the greatest country, i'm very sure that New York will be the greatest city in the world

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By Joseph - Jan 2 2013

New york is the greatest city in the world. It's also bigger than London

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By DeRozan - Dec 30 2012

I'll take Toronto over most of these cities

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By madison - Dec 29 2012

Ive lived in Manhattan all my life, with both parents from Europe, (mom Palermo Sicily, dad Paris, France) Ive been all around Europe and although they are all gorgeous and lively world class cities, none of them compare to the energy you feel when your in New York.

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By Dunc - Dec 27 2012

I think this is a good list. But honestly have to agree that London is the greatest city in the world. really not sure how NYC can score more than London for architecture.

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By Valentine - Dec 24 2012

Sorry, meant Guggenheim museum is a bit over-rated architecturally, not MOMA... not that anyone really cares of course, ho-hum, lol, innit, etc

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By Valentine - Dec 24 2012

To those asking why New York is rated 9 for achitecture but London only 7... I'm not sure, but as a Londoner I would say there are still quite a lot of ugly 1960s/70s office blocks around here. Think of those ugly blocks you see on the north bank near blackfriars bridge/st pauls, the southbank buildings in the same area, victoria st, the sorting office on new oxford st, etc. These are all in really central locations too. The post-modern stuff that came up in the 80s isnt much better. Take a look at Charing Cross station when crossing the river, its really bad! That one at the junction near Bank... man, what a stinker! Some of the new buildings are bad, like the Strata Tower and the Paddington Basin, truly international- class awful!

There are pockets of good stuff, the City churches say, stucco areas like Pimlico and Sth Kensington, Shard, but too much good stuff got wiped out during or flattened after the war.

Havent been to NY so cant comment on the 9, suffice to say the MOMA is a bit over-rated and the WTC replacements are really bad!

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By Alexander - Nov 1 2012

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By Mainwarng74 - Nov 1 2012

Both cities are lovely but London takes the crown now. the vibe on the streets was electric throughout the olympics. I'll never forget my time there

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By Charlotte - Nov 1 2012

For me it will always be New York. The excitement and atmosphere are electric. I am in love with this city.
As a Brit, of course London is special and I go there as much as I can but I agree with this list.... New York, then London. And Paris is definately a worthy third!

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By Percival Sweetwater - Nov 1 2012

When I remember London, I first think of beautiful regency architecture, juxtaposed with vibrant modern glass constructions, luxury goods shopping/haute cuisine in Knightsbridge and Regent Street; the magnificent view walking north over Waterloo Bridge and elegantly beautiful river promenades.

When I remember New York City, I first think of dilapidated/crumbling infastructure, the near-ubiquitous smell of dumpsters and piles of trash on the sidewalks, suffering heat exhaustion from the shockingly brutal sweltering summer heat, and stepping in human faeces in Central Park (someone gave me very 'cogent' advice on how to distinguish human and dog waste).

It's shocking how much NYC has deteriorated over the past few years; given that perhaps as little as 4 or 5 years ago, I would have rated NYC to be categorically ahead of London. Now it has stagnated, and seems to be in decline in many respects; whereas London has vastly improved in almost every index (largely as a result of substantive net influx of money from foreign investors).

The feel and ambience of Central London has changed accordingly; and now offers a far more interesting and culturally-finessed (though less frenetic/energetic) walking experience than in Manhattan. I'm somewhat amazed (like many others here) as to how Timeout can rate the architecture in NYC to be superior to the of London, not only marginally, but by a full two points!

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