15 of the most beautiful cities in the world

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know we’re on a mission to seek out the world’s beautiful places, both through our own travels and our guest bloggers. So when we were contacted by a guy who has developed his own system to rank how beautiful a city is, we were very intrigued. This is his story, and we also reveal for the very first time what cities have come out top…

What makes a city beautiful? Innumerable theories have been offered by aesthetic philosophers, architects, city planners, environmental psychologists, and others. I became curious as to whether “common threads” can be found in the writings of 40 of the most famous commentators on civic beauty, from the Ancient Greeks up to the present.

To make a (very) long story short, my research culminated in the identification of 15 common threads. These common threads can be used to evaluate the beauty of urban places such as “Elegance” –  how refined a city is, “Originality” and “Synergy” – the simultaneous stimulation of several of our five senses!

I have used these 15 common threads to categorize hundreds of beautiful sites in 15 cities worldwide. I have also developed a method for scoring the quality of those sites and accumulating the scores into an overall Cities Beautiful Index for each city. Here are the results using my methodology:

Number 1 – Paris (score of 70)

Paris from Pont de l'Alma

Joint number 2 – Kyoto (score of 67)


Joint number 2 – Istanbul (score of 67)


Number 3 – San Francisco (score of 64)

San Francisco

Joint number 4 – Rome (score of 62)

Pantheon, Rome on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Joint number  4 – Athens (score of 62)


Number 5 – Budapest (score of 61)


Joint number 6 – Buenos Aires (score of 60)

Buenos Aires

Joint number 6 – Rio De Janeiro (score of 60)

Rio De Janeiro

Joint number 7 – Vancouver (score of 58)


You may also like cool hotels in Vancouver.

Joint number 7 – Cape Town (score of 58)

Cape Town

Joint number 8 – Hong Kong (score of 57)

Hong Kong skyline at night by GlobalGrasshopper

Joint number 8 – Barcelona (score of 57)


Number 9 – Jerusalem (score of 56)


Number 10 – Sydney (score of 48)

Sydney Harbour - most beautiful places to spend New Year's Eve

Written by Gil Castle. If you would like to know more about this ranking system visit the website CitiesBeautiful.org which summarizes all his research and provides interactive maps of the several hundred categorized sites in the above cities. Since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, the website also has a series of multiple-choice questions (something quite like a Myers Briggs personality assessment test) that visitors can use to determine their favourites among the 15 common threads.


Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.


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