The world’s best cities revealed: New York tops the list, followed by Melbourne, Chicago, London and Los Angeles

New York: Lukas Kloeppel
New York: Lukas Kloeppel

New York was today revealed as the world’s number one city in the Time Out Index. Its unbeatable combination of excellent food and drink, culture, fun and entertainment earned the Big Apple the coveted top spot as the world’s best city right now, followed by Melbourne, Chicago, London and Los Angeles.

The Time Out Index is based on the experiences and opinions of more than 30,000 people in 48 cities around the world, as well as the views of Time Out’s global network of local editors and city experts. City-dwellers answered survey questions on eating, drinking, culture, nightlife, relationships, community, local neighbourhoods and happiness to rate what it is like living in their city in 2019. Finally, the Time Out team crunched the numbers, combining them with their local expert knowledge to compile the definitive ranking of the world’s best cities right now: timeout.com/bestcities

The top five cities in the world

New York tops the list as the most diverse city in the world and has the best culture: a huge 91% say there is always something to do or see in the so-called ‘capital of the world’. New Yorkers are proud of their diversity and acceptance which they will celebrate in 2019 with WorldPride. Other world-class arts and culture highlights and events this year include the inaugural season of new interdisciplinary cultural institution The Shed, the World’s Fare Festival of International Cuisine and the unveiling of four new public landmarks honouring trailblazing women. New York also ranks highly for eating, drinking, live music and nightlife, earning it the accolade of one of the cities that most people worldwide want to visit in 2019, second only to Tokyo.

In second place, Melbourne ranks highly across the board for happiness, creativity, eating and live music.  Melbourne has always been famous for its music scene, with more live music venues per resident than any other city in the world, and respondents confirmed that they are making good use of these, with one in four Melburnians going to a concert in the past week. 82% say the quality and choice of dining options is unbeatable, and they are the world’s second biggest brunchers.

Chicago is at number three, but second to none in the rankings for eating, drinking, fun and happiness. In fact, it is the happiest city in the world, with 85% of residents saying they have felt content in the last 24 hours. When it comes to food and drink, Chicagoans can’t speak highly enough of their dining and imbibing scenes, and more than anywhere else, its residents simply think their city is unbeatable (98% said it was great).

Despite the current political uncertainty ahead of Brexit, Londoners are proud of their city when it comes to culture, food and live music. London proved itself as a diverse, multicultural and creative city in the ranking. The unpredictability of Brexit also doesn’t seem to be putting off travellers, as London is following right behind Tokyo and New York as the city most want to visit this year.

Completing the top five of this year’s Time Out Index ranking of the best cities and showing that some long-held stereotypes are true is Los Angeles: full of happy, meditating and mindfulness-practising residents who describe their city as creative, diverse and dynamic. Angelenos are the most likely to dine out among residents of any U.S. city, thanks to an exciting food scene that has finally caught the attention of the rest of the world.

From hangovers to sleepovers: other fun findings

Outside of the top five, many cities around the world in the Time Out Index have stand-out statistics, either confirming local clichés or defying them.

Bangkok is the world capital of eating on your feet: people there devour more street food, visit more food markets and pick up more takeaways than anywhere else, three times a week on average.

No other city can outdo Madrid when it comes to bars and going out: the city is the world leader with their love of going to bars (44 times a year) and clubs (19 times) and drinking beer. This may explain why they are also the least stressed city on the planet: less than a third (29%) say they have felt stressed in the past 24 hours.

Paris, paradoxically, is the most sociable place in the world despite Parisians proclaiming their city to be the least friendly. Parisians meet up with their friends most frequently, go out on a weeknight most (41 times a year) and go to the most art exhibitions, galleries and museums (23 times a year). Parisians also have more sex on average than anyone else in the world: 33 times a year. And on a related note, the French capital is the most sleep-deprived city in the world (66% have felt sleep-deprived in the last 24 hours) – quelle surprise!

Viva Las Vegas, the city rated number one in the world by its residents for amazing nightlife. But visitors beware: a night out here will set you back, as this is also the third most expensive city globally for a night out. Unsurprisingly, Las Vegans are the biggest cocktail lovers (leading a top ten made up entirely of North American cities including Boston, Miami and Montreal).

Berliners are curbing the excess: they are most likely to be vegan (8%) or reducing meat (29%), and have the highest proportion of drinkers cutting down alcohol (1 in 4). The city isn’t losing its edge though: it is the most creative and multicultural, and ranks number one in the world for live music.

Tel Aviv residents solidify their risqué reputation: they take the most drugs, have the most one-night stands and are most likely to cheat on their partners. But watch out, as this is also the city where people are most likely to bump into someone they know.

The home of Bollywood is a hub for cinema and theatre lovers: people in Mumbai go out to see films and drama more than anyone else, checking out 31 movies and 24 shows and plays a year.

People in Hong Kong are mad about dining out, eating at restaurants more often than anyone else. And getting home on a full stomach is easy in the world's most convenient city. Meanwhile, people in Singapore are so dedicated to the city’s great food that they are most likely to queue for their favourite restaurant.

Manchester is home to the highest percentage of drinkers in the world. But what goes up must come down: Mancunians have more hangovers than anywhere else, spending a whopping 25 days a year suffering the aftereffects. So what is their secret to surviving? It could be something to do with the fact that 44% of residents can’t make it through the week without a comforting cup of tea and 79% without a good laugh.

People in Edinburgh were most likely to say their city is beautiful and residents in employment clock up the fewest working hours a week (35.3 hours). But Scotland's largest city Glasgow comes top of the world ranking for friendliness and affordability.

It is no surprise that Porto, the home of fortified wine, has the biggest wine drinkers in the world (with the fewest drinkers cutting down their booze consumption). Locals are also the most positive about their city changing for the better. 

James Manning, Global Projects Editor of Time Out said: “Time Out has been helping people explore and enjoy the best of the city since 1968, starting in London and now curating the best of 315 cities. The Time Out Index lets us understand what makes the world's greatest cities tick right now. The cities at the top of our list are centres of diversity, diversion and dissent dotted across the world: places where anything can (and does) happen, where new ideas, delicious food and world-class art and entertainment are born every day, and where people from all corners can come together with a shared civic identity. Every single one of these cities should be on your travel bucket list for 2019.”

Will Gleason, Deputy Features Editor of Time Out New York added: “It was truly heartwarming to see New York come out on top in this year’s Time Out Index as not only the best city in the world right now, but also as the most diverse city and the one with the best culture. Over the last few years, NYC has staunchly maintained its welcoming spirit and also made exciting cultural strides forward by giving a voice to many who have in the past been voiceless. It’s an electrifying time for those of us who live in the city of Lady Liberty.”

 

The world’s best cities right now, according to the Time Out Index 2019:

  1. New York
  2. Melbourne
  3. Chicago
  4. London
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Montreal
  7. Berlin
  8. Glasgow
  9. Paris
  10. Tokyo
  11. Madrid
  12. Cape Town
  13. Las Vegas
  14. Mexico City
  15. Manchester
  16. Philadelphia
  17. Barcelona
  18. Buenos Aires
  19. Lisbon
  20. Washington DC
  21. Tel Aviv
  22. Mumbai
  23. Toronto
  24. Birmingham
  25. Dublin
  26. São Paulo
  27. Miami
  28. Porto
  29. Singapore
  30. Edinburgh
  31. San Francisco
  32. Dubai
  33. Munich
  34. Vienna
  35. Shanghai
  36. Moscow
  37. Delhi
  38. Seattle
  39. Sydney
  40. Abu Dhabi
  41. Hong Kong
  42. Boston
  43. Rio de Janeiro
  44. Marseille
  45. Bangkok
  46. Kuala Lumpur
  47. Beijing
  48. Istanbul


Find out more about the Time Out Index at
timeout.com/timeoutindex