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Photograph: © ShutterstockReykjavik, Islândia

This surprising destination was just named the world’s most relaxing city break

It scored best in a ‘serene cities’ index which looked at pollution, sunshine hours and the friendliness of locals

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Take a deep breath, and think about the most relaxing holiday you can imagine. It’s likely that a beach or a peaceful getaway in nature springs to mind, but it turns out that cities can be pretty serene places to switch off, too. 

MoneySuperMarket travel insurance has developed a ‘serene cities’ index, and it evaluated 75 cities on factors including air, light and noise pollution, traffic congestion, average sunshine hours as well as the happiness and friendliness of locals. 

So where is considered the most relaxing city in the world? It was Reykjavik. Iceland’s wonderful capital city scored an impressive 85.5 on the serenity index, thanks to its good air quality, low pollution levels, happy locals and bags of green space – in fact, it scored well across the board. 

The Estonian capital of Tallinn came in second place, scoring 82.3 thanks to its quietness and super efficient infrastructure. In third, it was Bergen, a city on the west coast of Norway which had some of the cleanest air and lowest light pollution levels across the whole study. 

What’s more, European cities quietly knocked it out of the peaceful park in this study, claiming every spot in the top 10. But where in the world is the least relaxing city?

No, it’s not Las Vegas, Paris or London – it’s (drum roll, please!) New York. And sure, we’re big fans of the Big Apple here at Time Out (it came first in our best cities ranking for 2024, after all), but the hustle and bustle of New York hardly gives ‘relaxation’.

These are the ten most relaxing city break destinations in the world

  1. Reykjavik
  2. Tallinn
  3. Bergen
  4. Vienna
  5. Stockholm
  6. Vilnius
  7. Ljubljana
  8. Munich
  9. Zurich

If you’re looking for some more global city inspiration, why not have a look at our list of the best cities in the world for 2024?

Did you see that this city has been voted Europe’s best destination in 2024?

Plus: These are the cheapest (and most expensive) European cities for remote workers.

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