Worldwide icon-chevron-right The 48 best cities in the world in 2019

The 48 best cities in the world in 2019

We surveyed 34,000 city-dwellers to rank the best cities in the world right now. Ready?
Mexico City
By James Manning and Time Out contributors |
Advertising

What’s the greatest city in the world? It’s not an easy question to answer – after all, cities are full of people and people are full of contradictions. Some urbanites want world-beating restaurants and unforgettable things to do at every turn. Others prefer affordability, good public transport or friendly neighbours. Still, we think we’ve found a way to discover what makes a city great – and which cities are leading the way as more and more of the world’s population joins the great urban migration. How? By quizzing thousands of city-dwellers all around the world for the Time Out Index survey.

In partnership with Tapestry Research, we asked almost 34,000 anonymous city-dwellers – from Melbourne to Madrid, Chicago to Cape Town and Tel Aviv to Tokyo – about food, drink, culture, nightlife, community, neighbourhoods, overall happiness and other factors, such as their city’s beauty, affordability and convenience. Then we put the same set of questions to Time Out’s global network of editors and experts: people who know their cities like nobody else. Finally, we crunched the numbers to create the definitive ranking of the world’s best cities in 2019. Read on to discover them all, and prepare to scrap your travel plans: these are the places to be right now.

Don’t agree with our list? Have your say next time! Follow Time Out Everywhere on Facebook, @timeouteverywhere on Instagram and @timeout on Twitter, and you’ll be the first to hear when we launch our next global survey.

¿No hablas inglés? No te preocupes, puedes leer el artículo en español.

Vous ne parlez pas Anglais? Pas de souci, vous pouvez lire l’article en Français ici.

Não fala inglês? Não se preocupe, pode ler este artigo em português.

The 48 best cities in the world for 2019

1
New York City

New York

They don’t call NYC the capital of the world for nothing. Other cities beat it for specific factors, but it was the Big Apple that came out on top overall – in large part thanks to its ongoing diverse and accepting vibes. As the rest of America struggles with a rising wave of isolationism, New Yorkers voted their city the most diverse in the world, as well as number one for culture and two and three respectively for eating and drinking. Lady Liberty would be proud. Will Gleason, Time Out New York

2
Melbourne

Melbourne

We already knew that Melbourne had more live music venues per resident than any other city on Earth, but the Time Out Index proves we’re obsessed: one in four Melburnians went to a concert in the last week. No surprise, then, that we’re rated the world’s second most creative city. But we’re also the second happiest and among the best for food, drink, fun and multiculturalism: a great all-round combination which propels us to second place in the global ranking. Cass Knowlton, Time Out Melbourne

Advertising
3
Chicago
Photograph: Chait Goli

Chicago

Chicago is second to none when it comes to food and drink: the Midwestern metropolis was ranked number one in the world for supping and sipping. But between Italian beefs and slices of deep dish pizza, we make time to hit the gym: 52 percent of us can’t get through the week without exercise. And it seems that our balanced lifestyle leads to happiness, with more respondents reporting genuine contentment than anywhere else. Morgan Olsen, Time Out Chicago

4
London
Photograph: Johan Mouchet

London

Londoners rave about their city – especially its culture, food and live music scenes – despite the UK capital hitting global headlines for political turmoil and rising crime. Only 6 percent of us said they had felt unsafe in the last 24 hours, compared to almost 80 percent who felt happy. Moreover, the Big Smoke came out as one of the most dynamic, diverse and creative cities on the planet. Brexit? What Brexit? James Manning, Time Out London

Advertising
5
Los Angeles

Los Angeles

It turns out that some of the stereotypes are true, but we’ll gladly own up to them: Angelenos are happy, mindfulness-practising residents of a blossoming city that the majority describe as diverse, dynamic and creative. We’ll credit a hearty slice of that to a tremendous food scene that has only recently caught the world’s attention, but which Angelenos have always been hungry to explore – after all, we dine out more than the residents of any other US city. Michael Juliano, Time Out Los Angeles

6
Montreal
Photograph: Marc-Olivier Jodoin

Montreal

A top destination for letting your freak flag fly, Montreal is one of the best cities in the world to just be yourself – and the vast majority of Montrealers are steadfast in their pride for the city’s diversity, dynamism and creativity. Combine its status as a cultural hub full of self-expression with being the second most affordable city on the planet (with the second shortest working hours), and it’s no wonder that 79 percent of locals report feeling happy. Jean-Pierre Karwacki, Time Out Montreal

Advertising
7
Berlin

Berlin

When Berlin’s city government recently pledged €1 million to soundproof the city’s nightclubs and so safeguard their future, it showcased the importance of nightlife culture to the German capital’s global appeal. Ordinary Berliners agree: 84 percent call the city’s partyleben amazing and its culture and live music scenes score highly too. Berlin also stands out as one of the most inclusive, creative and affordable cities in the world, giving its citizens access to the things money can’t buy: freedom and happiness. Duncan Madden

8
Glasgow
Photograph: Artur Kraft

Glasgow

It’s comfortably the smallest and rainiest city in the top ten, so Glasgow’s lofty ranking may surprise some. But not residents, who love Scotland’s biggest metropolis for its dynamic music, clubbing and food scenes and its daft wit and gregariousness. It’s number one in the world for both friendliness and affordability, and 55 percent say it’s changed for the better – higher than almost anywhere else. If only Glasgow’s weather looked as bright as its future. Malcolm Jack

Advertising
9
Paris
Photograph: John Towner

Paris

The French capital’s reputation for culture is secure: 87 percent of Parisians consider their city’s arts scene to be amazing, and we go to museums and galleries the most often in the world. But it’s not all chin-stroking here. Like last year, Paris comes out as a world capital of debauchery: Parisians have more sex than anyone else, go out most often on weeknights and frequent bars the second most. It seems Paris’s days as a ‘city of sleep’ are over. Houssine Bouchama, Time Out Paris

10
Tokyo
Photograph: aon168/Shutterstock.com

Tokyo

The upcoming 2020 Olympics have injected a much-needed sense of internationalism into Tokyo. This new burst of energy – coupled with the existing rich Japanese traditions, vibrant dining scene (people eat out more often here than almost anywhere else) and overall convenience – has earned us the coveted spot as the best city in Asia. With all this buzz, it’s no wonder this is also the city most people around the world want to visit in 2019. Chee Wah Lim, Time Out Tokyo

Advertising
11
Lavapiés, Madrid

Madrid

For yet another year, the Spanish capital proves no one can outdo us when it comes to drinking and nightlife. Madrileños are the world leaders when it comes to going to clubs and bars and drinking beer – which may explain why we’re also the least stressed city on the planet. Party-seekers, get planning your next trip to Madrid! Marta Bac, Time Out Madrid

12
Cape Town
Photograph: LMspencer/Shutterstock.com

Cape Town

Most visitors to South Africa come for safaris, and Cape Town doesn’t really cater to that taste – but don’t overlook this instantly likeable and captivating city. Nine out of ten Capetonians agree that their city is beautiful, with Table Mountain forming one of the most stunning urban backdrops in the world, and few other cities can offer mountain hiking, lazing on a beach, and checking out a vibrant food and drink scene all in one day. Lizzie Williams

Advertising
13
Las Vegas
Photograph: travelview/Shutterstock.com

Las Vegas

A recent predilection for casino demolitions is a sign of change in Las Vegas. Sin City has become a dining destination (71 percent rated it ‘amazing’ for food), an unlikely hockey town and a hipster haven for those who venture off-Strip. Vegas claims thirteenth spot thanks to its world-beating ranking for nightlife; it also has a greater taste than anywhere else for cocktails, vaping and workplace romance. Maybe casinos are sexier than anyone gives them credit for. Krista Diamond

14
Mexico City

Mexico City

Despite a quarter of people in the Mexican capital continuing to feeling unsafe, locals are proud of their city, especially its food (which is among the top ten in the world) and cultural scene. Residents see more art than anyone except Parisians – which is no surprise, since Mexico City is said to have the second most museums in the world and dedicates an entire month to celebrating cultural institutions. Mariana Guillén, Time Out Mexico City

Advertising
15
Manchester
Photograph: trabantos/Shutterstock.com

Manchester

Thanks to its legendary (and growing) bar and club scene, Manchester is an oasis for party people – and sure enough, around two thirds of locals say their city is amazing for nightlife and drinking. But what goes up must come down: residents here have more hangovers than anywhere else. Maybe that explains why two in five Mancs can’t make it through the week without a comforting cup of tea. Ian Jones

16
Geno's Steaks, Philadelphia
Photograph: Tyler Rutherford

Philadelphia

When asked ‘Which city do you most want to visit in 2019?’, few city-dwellers elsewhere opted for Philly. But its thriving restaurant scene suggests serious foodies should give it a second look. The City of Brotherly Love ranks sixth in the world for food and seventh for drink, and that only promises to improve when the new East Market brings a brewery and host of hip fast-casual joints to the heart of the city. Josh Middleton

Advertising
17
Barcelona

Barcelona

There’s no question that in Barcelona we’re a critical bunch: most of those surveyed think the city is not as great now as it was a few years ago. But it does have its charms and we recognise them, especially when it comes to the local cultural and gastronomical offering and our latest favourite neighbourhood: Gràcia. Why not drop in to one our world-famous music festivals and stick around to discover the lesser-seen side of the city? María José Gómez, Time Out Barcelona

18
Buenos Aires
Photograph: Eduardo Sánchez

Buenos Aires

The Argentine capital is renowned for classic architecture, tango music and a passion for meat. But don’t be fooled: Buenos Aires today is as trendy as they come. The city’s nightlife is the sixth best in the world, and Porteños have broadened their palate with a vibrant and diverse culinary scene (97 percent have good things to say). The city boasts a big heart as well, with locals volunteering with charities and community groups more than anyone else. Pedro Camacho

Advertising
19
Lisbon
Photograph: Pavel Arzhakov/Shutterstock.com

Lisbon

Despite mounting public transport delays and increasing rents, Lisbon remains a great place to live for fans of good weather, good food and good laughs, and the vast majority of Lisboetas believe that the Portuguese capital has changed for the better. Only one in five said they had felt lonely lately, compared to seven out of ten who had felt happy, and locals named it among the most friendly, beautiful and safe cities in the world. Raquel Dias da Silva, Time Out Lisbon

20
Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Residents of the US capital prize the city’s free museums and walkability, and respondents praised its diversity and food scene – they just want someone to share it with. DC is a Tinder hotbed, with the world's highest rate of dating app use. It seems meeting people offline is hard for workaholic Washingtonians, who log more hours in the office than any other American city and can’t fathom a week without checking email. Kate Gibbs

Advertising
21
Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Photograph: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.com

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has a notorious reputation as a wild non-stop city with a great nightlife and music scene, and the Time Out Index supports that: almost 40 percent of Tel Avivians admit to having taken drugs in the past week, more than anywhere else. Our hard-partying ways mean we’re also the most likely city-dwellers to have had a one-night stand (and also to have cheated on a partner, though we’re not proud of that). Nadav Neuman, Time Out Tel Aviv

22
Bandra, Mumbai
Photograph: FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock.com

Mumbai

The home of Bollywood is a hub for theatre and cinema lovers – people here go out to see films and drama more than anyone else – and a sociable place, with eight out of ten saying they went out with friends in the past week. If you want to stay in, that’s great too: fuelled by a wave of new delivery services such as Swiggy, Mumbai also orders online food delivery more often than any other city. Diksha Basu

Advertising
23
Toronto
Photograph: Shawn Goldberg/Shutterstock.com

Toronto

From first glance, sprawling Toronto may seem like any other concrete jungle whose bustling inhabitants pass without a smile. But don’t be fooled by our stoic façades: we’re happier and friendlier than the global average (despite the awful performance of the TTC public transit system). Visitors willing to take a closer look will find Canada’s biggest city has the world’s fourth most diverse cultural make-up and an ever-evolving culinary scene, which two thirds of Torontonians rate as amazing. Sandra Osojnik

24
Birmingham

Birmingham

Like a concrete and terracotta David Bowie, England’s second city continues to reinvent itself. Birmingham – which locals rated as one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world – is transforming as new venues open and the 2022 Commonwealth Games approach. But the city remains welcoming and friendly – so friendly, in fact, that a third of Brummies have sent naked pictures to someone they haven’t met. James Brennan

Advertising
25
Dublin
Photograph: Tilman Ehrcke/Shutterstock.com

Dublin

Sure, Dublin is a city filled with great pubs (and 64 percent of Dubliners have visited one in the last week), but it offers so much more than just booze. New restaurants are popping up every other week, and there’s a young, creative buzz around town. You can be sure of a good welcome, too: three quarters of locals describe Dublin as friendly, and a similar number couldn’t get through the week without a good laugh. Nicola Brady

26
São Paulo
Photograph: R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock.com

São Paulo

Although 38 percent of São Paulo locals reported regularly feeling unsafe, Brazil’s business capital ranks in the top five cities worldwide for food and nightlife. Paulistas seemingly know better than most the value of taking a little break and heading to one of their hometown’s many great restaurants, or off to the clubs and bars of the city centre and Rua Augusta, usually accompanied by a friend or fifteen. Biju Belinky

Advertising
27
Miami

Miami

Traffic, hurricanes and soaring rents are no match for resilient Miamians: about 80 percent of us reported being happy within the last 24 hours. These glass-half-full kinds know how to have a good time, voting the city third in the world for cocktails and eighth for nightlife. And we’re not afraid to spread the joy to tourists: Miami ranks second in the world for locals having shacked up with someone from out of town. Talk about southern hospitality. Virginia Gil, Time Out Miami

28
Porto, Portugal

Porto

The sun doesn’t always shine in Porto, but when it does, Portugal’s second city can be incredible. Unsurprisingly for the town than invented port, we drink more wine than anyone else. Our riverside city is one of the world’s most beautiful, and our culture is vibrant and artistic. And despite an increasing lack of locals in the city centre and rising property speculation, Portuenses are more likely than anyone else to say their city has changed for the better. Mariana Morais Pinheiro, Time Out Porto

Advertising
29
Singapore
Photograph: Annie Spratt

Singapore

You can call Singapore many things – the cleanest, safest and second most green city on Earth, for starters – but it’s definitely not boring. Singaporeans are chuffed with the city’s food and drink offering: we’re more willing than any other city to queue for our favourite eats, and dine out at restaurants more often than the world average too. And to balance out all that gluttony, two thirds of Singaporeans work out every week. Nicole-Marie Ng, Time Out Singapore

30
Edinburgh

Edinburgh

You’re so vain, Edinburgh, you probably think this poll is about you. More people here than anywhere else praise their city’s beauty. It’s not just skin-deep, either: 97 percent of those polled rated the ’burgh as good or amazing for dining out and culture, rising to 99 percent for bars and pubs. Cheers! Niki Boyle

Advertising
31
San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco has suffered growing pains in the last few years as this once quirky enclave for artists and activists has grown wealthier and more flashy. Despite all the changes, though, the city sparks joy in four out of five locals each day. Plus, there’s one major upside to SF’s gentrification: the food. Whether it’s a quick Mission burrito or Michelin-starred fare, San Francisco’s culinary scene ranks among the best internationally. Shoshi Parks, Time Out San Francisco

32
Dubai

Dubai

In a city built for Instagram, one of our most surprising findings was that fewer than half of Dubaians are fussed by the idea of going a week without checking social media. Elsewhere, a reported high cost of living by those polled (with the average night out costing upwards of $130) failed to deter Dubaians from going out – 82 percent of respondents had eaten in a restaurant in the past week. With almost 100 new eateries opening here every month, that’s good news for prospective restaurateurs. Holly Sands, Time Out Dubai

Advertising
33
Munich

Munich

Munich’s reputation is founded on its status as a very modern city which at the same time closely cherishes its past, and sure enough, a slight majority of Münchners say the city has hardly changed since they have lived here. With numerous fabulous green spaces and countless beer gardens, it’s easy to see why locals named Munich the greenest city in Europe; it’s also the cleanest and safest. Paul Wheatley

34
Vienna
Photograph: Girl in a Lightbulb

Vienna

Although Vienna is notorious in Austria for its grant (grumpiness), it’s a sociable place: three quarters of Viennese respondents had met up with friends in the past week. Locals rate the culture scene too, although the city of Klimt, Schiele and Mozart was more likely to stimulate those over 35 than younger residents. And Vienna’s beautiful Baroque architecture may have been what prompted more locals than anywhere else to say their city had hardly changed. Susanne Garber

Advertising
35
Shanghai

Shanghai

Shanghai is a blend of the past and the future in the present, with towering skyscrapers juxtaposed by leafy lanes – but while locals were among the most likely in the world to say the city had changed since they arrived, far more thought this had been for the better than for the worse. Rating their hometown much more highly for fun, cleanliness and convenience than Beijingers, Shanghainese respondents were also more likely to feel happy than those in the Chinese capital. Adam Hopkins, Time Out Shanghai

36
Kitay-Gorod, Moscow
Photograph: Gubin Yury/Shutterstock.com

Moscow

The Russian capital is an undoubted cultural hotspot: 99 percent of Muscovites rate the arts scene positively. This huge city has become greener, more modern and more convenient, and Muscovites have noticed the difference, with more than half saying Moscow has changed for the better in the time they’ve been living there. But when it comes to relationships, they’re in favour of preserving the status quo – a third of Muscovites are single and planning to stay that way. Marina Likacheva, Time Out Moscow

Advertising
37
Delhi

Delhi

It might lack the glitz of Mumbai, but Delhi more than holds its own when it comes to food and family. The gastronomy-packed Indian capital scored first-place honours for tight-knit kinship, with Delhiites connecting with relatives almost once a week on average. Don’t expect only quiet dinners at home, however: the city claimed the number one spot worldwide for staying up until sunrise. And it has a romantic streak too: Delhi is the least favourable city for one-night stands. Ariel Sophia Bardi

38
Seattle
Photograph: Jose Luis Stephens/Shutterstock.com

Seattle

Seattle’s rapid growth over the past couple of decades has been tied to the big corporations headquartered here, like Starbucks and Amazon. That’s probably why Seattleites felt the most stressed of any city in our survey. But 79 percent also reported feeling happy in the last 24 hours, likely thanks in part to the city’s strong live music scene and green living. In fact, fear of missing out runs high here – possibly because there’s so much to do. Megan Hill

Advertising
39
Sydney
Photograph: Leah-Anne Thompson/Shutterstock.com

Sydney

Five years since the notorious ‘lockout laws’ were introduced, Sydneysiders are feeling bereft of after-dark culture: we rated our city worst in the world for nightlife. But what we lack in late-night spontaneity, we make up in health and happiness: 79 percent of us feel content and 71 percent hit the gym, beach or pavements each week, making us the fittest city in the world. And we’re not just buff beach bodies: almost two thirds said there’s usually something good on when it comes to culture. Emma Joyce, Time Out Sydney

40
Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

The capital of the UAE is often in the shadow of its neighbour Dubai, but according to the Time Out Index it has at least one thing that Dubai doesn’t: the world’s highest number of people going dairy-free. Apparently, Dhabians also work harder than everyone else, with respondents currently in employment clocking up 51 and a half hours a week. And it’s a city of change for the better, coming fifth in the world for cities that have improved the most. Paul Clifford, Time Out Abu Dhabi

Advertising
41
Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Dim sum, egg tarts and fatty roasted pork: there are plenty of delicious eats to be enjoyed in well-fed Hong Kong, where more than 90 percent of respondents eat out at least once a week. Hongkongers also know how to kick back with a good drink: nearly all of us praise the local bar scene. But don’t let that fool you – we’re also fitness freaks, with two thirds working out regularly. It just goes to show how diverse this city is. Dorothy So, Time Out Hong Kong

42
Boston
Photograph: Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock.com

Boston

Formerly a meat-and-potatoes town, Boston is now home to a cornucopia of health-minded eateries offering vegetarian, vegan, and coeliac-friendly offerings: in fact, we’re the most gluten-free city-dwellers in the world. And despite our notoriously fickle weather, health-minded Bostonians would rather do anything other than sit in the dark for two hours: how else to explain the fact that we visit movie theatres less often than anyone else? Eric Grossman, Time Out Boston

Advertising
43
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro gets a bad rap for crime and violence, with respondents ranking it the world’s most unsafe city, yet that doesn’t stop thousands of tourists and locals flocking each year to its unforgettable, party-centric Carnival. Perhaps that’s why residents rated Rio the most fun city in South America, as well as the friendliest and most beautiful (those incredible beaches!). Its nickname of ‘the Marvellous City’ seems well deserved. Sarah Brown

44
Marseille

Marseille

Marseille doesn’t have a great reputation – and sure enough, locals rated it the worst in the world for cleanliness (and number one for not being able to get through a week without cigarettes). But there is much more to the Phocean City: it ranks as the most sociable on the planet, and 73 percent of Marseillais felt happy in the last 24 hours. Who wouldn’t in this sunny, multicultural, slightly crazy Mediterranean playground? Elisabeth Blanchet

Advertising
45
Bangkok

Bangkok

Tensions are high in Bangkok due to the impending general elections, the first since the 2014 coup, but that’s not stopping us from doing the two things we love best: eating and socialising! Bangkokians step out to enjoy street food or eat at food markets almost twice a week on average, and are more likely to make new friends and start new relationships than anyone else. Friendly people and abundant food options are just two good reasons to plan a visit. Top Koaysomboon, Time Out Bangkok

46
Kuala Lumpur
Photograph: Inspired By Maps/Shutterstock.com

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur isn’t the happiest city in the world right now, due to the lingering 1MDB scandal and the confusion of a new political era, but KLites are socialising with gusto: each week more than two thirds meet up with friends and another third go on a date. The Malaysian capital’s deliciously thriving dining scene sees it taking second place for frequency of dining out globally – and number one for brunching. Tze Yuen, Time Out Kuala Lumpur

Advertising
47
Beijing

Beijing

With its population of over 20 million people, it’s little wonder that Beijingers find the city a great place to meet new people. Around 85 percent of those surveyed regularly make new friends and meet up with old ones, and Beijing ranked overall as the third best city to start a new relationship. Beijingers also find the Chinese capital a safe and dynamic place to live, though it’s short on green space. Katie Cundale, Time Out Beijing

48
Istanbul

Istanbul

Even following years of excessive development, Istanbul retains its beauty and remains as sociable as ever, with 86 percent saying that they had a night out with friends in the last week. As the lira’s value has dropped, the city has become a considerably more affordable destination for travellers (though less so for locals). And if you like coffee, even better: 97 percent of Istanbulites drink the stuff, more than anywhere else. Yusuf Huysal, Time Out Istanbul

Now discover the world’s coolest neighbourhoods

More to explore

Advertising