Mexico City credit: Museo Nacional de Arte
Mexico City credit: Museo Nacional de Arte

The World’s 20 Best Cities for Culture right now according to Time Out

Mexico City takes the crown as the world’s cultural capital right now

Written by
Time Out PR

Today Time Out has released its first ever ranking of the World’s Best Cities for Culture – with Mexico City taking the crown as the world’s cultural capital right now. 

Mexico City locals praised their city for the quality and affordability of its culture scene, and rated very highly the Mexican capital’s mighty array of museums – including the grand Palacio de Bellas Artes and the iconic Frida Kahlo Museum – many of which are permanently free, or offer free entry on Sundays. The world-renowned Día de Muertos street parade and the Festival del Centro are annual events that CDMX locals and visitors alike look forward to each year. 

Prague came next, with locals dubbing its simply stunning architecture a veritable outdoor museum. Cape Town came in third – ranking highest of all cities in one of the two criteria used for the ranking, the quality of its cultural offerings. This was followed by Buenos Aires, whose theatres were praised as must-visit cultural destinations. Athens rounds off the top five, with locals pointing to its annual festivals and long cultural history. 

To compile the list – the full list can be found here – Time Out, the global media and hospitality brand which inspires and enables people to experience the best of the city, surveyed over 21,000 people around the world about culture in their city. Each city was then ranked according to how well locals scored the culture scene for quality and affordability. To create and rank the final list, Time Out editors narrowed down the selection by excluding cities with lower overall scores, and only including the highest-scoring city for each country to ensure the list reflects cultural cities globally. 

In addition, four ‘spotlight’ cities have been added to the final ranking: Florence, Marrakech, Abu Dhabi and Seoul. These cities weren’t surveyed but were nominated by Time Out editors and local contributors – who know these cities inside out – as cultural capitals that deserve a special spotlight right now. 

Grace Beard, Travel Editor at Time Out, says: “This is the first time we’ve carried out a city survey focused on culture, with over 21,000 city-dwellers having a say on what’s great about their city’s culture scene. One of the most essential factors that went into this ranking is how locals scored their city’s culture scene for affordability – which is why for example London, although a hotbed for culture, isn’t on the list this time around. From Mexico City, praised by locals for the diversity, vitality and affordability of its art scene, to the largest free open-air festival in Vienna, these are cities where art and culture won’t break the bank. Add in our four spotlight city picks, chosen by Time Out’s clued-up writers and editors, and you have an essential guide to today’s cultural capitals.”

For the full list of the world’s 20 best cities for culture right now along with details from Time Out’s local experts on why they have made the grade, please visit

  1. Mexico City, Mexico
  2. Prague, Czech Republic
  3. Cape Town, South Africa
  4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  5. Athens, Greece
  6. Edinburgh, Scotland
  7. Vienna, Austria
  8. Madrid, Spain
  9. Florence, Italy
  10. Melbourne, Australia
  11. Paris, France
  12. Montreal, Canada
  13. Marrakech, Morocco
  14. São Paulo, Brazil
  15. New York, USA
  16. Tokyo, Japan
  17. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  18. Mumbai, India
  19. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  20. Seoul, South Korea
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