This city officially has the cleanest air in Europe

After measuring pollution levels in over 300 European cities, officials revealed where you can breathe easiest

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Umeå, Sweden
Photograph: Shutterstock

There’s nothing quite like getting out of the muggy fog of a city and gulping down some deliciously fresh air. But, believe it or not, some cities actually boast quite clean air – yep, even the big ones.

A recent study from the European Environment Agency (EEA) has looked at air quality in 340 European cities and ranked them based on the cleanness of their air. The study primarily examined concentrations of a kind of fine particulate matter called PM2.5, which is measured in micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3).  

Unsurprisingly, a load of Scandinavian cities dominated the top 10. The eastern Swedish city of Umeå came top, while Stockholm, Uppsala and the inland Finnish city of Tampere all featured in the top ten. (Stockholm is the highest-ranking national capital on the list, with Tallinn and Reykjavik also featuring.)

Outside of northern Europe, the opposite side of the continent also fared pretty well: Faro in Portugal came second and the Madeiran capital of Funchal came third.

That’s the good news. The bad is that only 11 out of the 340 cities in the EEA’s study met the WHO’s standard for acceptably clean air, which is 5 μg/m3 of PM2.5. Uh-oh. (Naturally, the UK, being no longer in the EU, wasn’t covered by the study – but the average concentration of PM2.5 in UK cities in 2021 was around 8 μg/m3.)

Here are the top ten European cities with the cleanest air, according to the EEA.

  1. Umeå, Sweden
  2. Faro, Portugal
  3. Funchal, Portugal
  4. Tampere, Finland
  5. Narva, Estonia
  6. Stockholm, Sweden
  7. Uppsala, Sweden
  8. Tallinn, Estonia
  9. Bergen, Norway
  10. Reykjavik, Iceland

If you’re interested in reading the full list, you can find out more here and plan a holiday that’ll do your knackered lungs some good.

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