The 30 Most Beautiful Cities in the World

As has been the cases with all my 30 Best lists, the 30 most beautiful cities in the world was a difficult list to come up with. It’s hard to compare cities on seven continents plus everywhere else in the world. The 30 best cities in the world or the 30 best cities in Africa or 30 best capitals of Europe were much more straight forward and based on experience mainly. The 30 most beautiful cities in the world is based on beauty. But how is beauty measured?
Las Vegas, Vegas, Bellagio Fountains, Nevada, USA
I judged beauty based mainly on the eye test. For instance, if you’ve been to Cape Town, you cannot argue that it isn’t beautiful especially from afar. Yes, like any city it has bad parts as well but the overall look and views of the city are breathtaking especially with the natural beauty within such as Table Mountain.
Cape Town, South Africa, Table Mountain
Many of the cities included here have gorgeous skylines or are set on the water. These are two factors in what I consider beauty. A city like Chicago in winter is very ugly but during summer is amongst the most beautiful cities on Earth shimmering off Lake Michigan. I can say the same about Seattle in the rain versus when it’s sunny.
Barcelona, Spain
Cities like Rome and New York can be very dirty in places for sure. However, there is so much beauty in each city that they must be included in a list like this. I could go on and on but beauty in the form of what a city looks like to me from my eye is what this list is based on. Do you agree with the 30 most beautiful cities in the world?
Rome, Italy
30 Chicago, USA
29 Panama City, Panama
28 Montreal, Canada
27 Tel Aviv, Israel
26 Rome, Italy
25 Saint Petersburg, Russia
24 Las Vegas, USA
23 Abu Dhabi, UAE
22 San Diego, USA
21 Budapest, Hungary
20 London, England
19 Seattle, USA
18 Tokyo, Japan
17 San Francisco, USA
16 Hong Kong, SAR China
15 Singapore, Singapore
14 Barcelona, Spain
13 New York City, USA
12 Prague, Czech Republic
11 Dubai, UAE
10 Amsterdam, Netherlands
9 Miami, USA
8 Istanbul, Turkey
7 Sydney, Australia
6 Vancouver, Canada
5 Shanghai, China
4 Paris, France
3 Stockholm, Sweden
2 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1 Cape Town, South Africa

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  1. I’ve been to about 20 of these and it’d be hard to argue against Cape Town. Although Las Vegas I may have an issue with.

  2. Jonatas from Boston says

    I’ve been to 21 of the 30 (much better than my 2 from your 30 best islands list). I agree that Paris is the most beautiful of all land locked cities, but the murky seine is simply incomparable to the Atlantic. The natural beauty of Rio is unmatched, place the Christ Redeemer statue on Manhattan and no one would have voted it a new 7 wonder of the world, but on a mountain overlooking Rio and it’s magic. I loved San Diego, but I wouldn’t put it in the top 30, I’d place Madrid, Florence even Boston over San Diego.

  3. Hey, I’ve been to 20 of the 30!

    Cape Town and Rio are certainly a worthy 1-2. I would rank Hong Kong much higher than its place on this list, and definitely ahead of Singapore. The view from the Peak, or looking across the harbour from Kowloon, is spectacular. I would probably also rank St. Petersburg higher.

    Did you include Miami Beach (which is technically a separate city, although it gets confusing) as a factor in why you ranked Miami so high? The art deco section of South Beach sure is gorgeous.

    I’ve been to Panama City, and the old section was nice with the architecture evocative of the French quarter of New Orleans (another city that could have been considered); but I was surprised to see it in a top 30 of most beautiful cities. The modern part of the city seemed pretty generic.

    I think I would find a way to make room for Venice and/or Florence.

    • Hey buddy! I agree about Venice and Florence obviously but just didn’t consider them big enough cities to include. Basically with Panama City I included it for its skyline from a distance and uniqueness in Central America. Miami is basically for Miami Beach of course but also views from the bay and Brickell as well, With all that water and big beautiful buildings, it’s hard to say it’s not gorgeous-plus I go there tomorrow!

  4. Edit: I’ve been to 21 of these cities, not 20. 🙂

  5. Hi Lee, I agree with you making Stockholm, Sweden as 3rd position, but I haven’t visited other first two Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but I had been in Stockholm, Sweden for 2 years, I visited most of the part of Stockholm, It’s also called city on water and capital of scandinavian countries. Thanks for coming up with a great list of cities, I have a plan to visit all of the cities you have listed here.

  6. I have been to all of your top 10 except Rio. Pictures of Rio are usually spectacular and I will be there for the Olympics next year to check it out. However, I would replace Miami with San Francisco but being a native makes me bias.

  7. Lombok Wander says

    Cape Town is lead !

  8. Miami, USA? HMM.

    how about Samarkand, uzbekistan?

  9. It’s not that i don’t like modern cities (i love NYC, San Fransisco and Shanghai, and Rio, Cape town and Hongkong have beautiful viewpoints) but i think that most people find Lisboa, Florence, Venice, Sevilla, Porto and Edinburgh more beautiful than Chicago, Panama City, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, San Diego, Seattle, Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai, Miami and even London.

    I didn’t even mention smaller cities like Brugge, Gent, Bologna, Sienna and Granada. Can’t believe the 26th position of Rome.

  10. Top 30 most beautiful cities: Stockholm #3. Top 30 capitals of Europe: Stockholm #8. Strange………

  11. I thought Panama City was pretty blah except for the skyline. As far as Vegas? It was an experience for sure, but not much of a city and certainly not a beautiful one. Rome exceeded my expectations. Medellín as a whole maybe isn’t the prettiest, but waking up to hills full of flowering trees and green in the morning is pretty spectacular. And NYC, where I live? The architecture is quickly being obliterated by tall, glass and metal buildings with no character. Manhattan is very Anytown (or city), USA in a lot of parts these days.

  12. Absurd list of somebody who has travelled to the easy famous places, but hasn,t been interested in finding the real beautiful ones. An example: I travelled all over Spain five years ago and I can say that considering Barcelona and not Seville or Granada is terribly nonsense.

    • Eric Hadley-Ives says

      Seville is certainly beautiful, but it’s tiny compared to the cities on the list. Perhaps he is limiting the selection to cities of a certain size. And, as lovely as Seville is, Barcelona has a more dramatic natural environment with the coast and the hills (although Granada does have some impressive mountains). Also, Barcelona has tremendous beauty in its architecture, with good representations of an ancient city and then the bold works of the late 19th and early 20th century adorning it. Seville is also an architectural gem, but does it have the quantity and variety of styles one finds in Barcelona?

  13. Hi Lee . I had been in some those cities . But please look carefully in their weather cos in some big city’s weather very very dirty i couldn’t breath . See in central asia cities

  14. I must just say that I find Cape Town even more beautiful up close. Beautiful people and Stunning, detailed architecture. Most of the suburbs and surrounding towns are exceptionally picturesque too. White beaches and Freezing cold turquoise water.

  15. Ebi Goodland Biakpara says

    Paris is the most beautiful to me

  16. Rome and Venice are number one and two nothing even close.Itaky overall the most beautiful country. I have been all 30 I would save 5 of them.

  17. Eric Hadley-Ives says

    I’ve been to 19 of your 30, and I agree with you that those 19 are all quite beautiful. Shanghai seems a little higher on your list than where I think it ought to be, and Chicago seems to me deserving of a higher position than it has. It does seem we’re restricting your list to major cities with at least hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, because I could think of many large towns or small cities that are more beautiful than these cities you’ve listed, but I think they must be too small to count. The only omission I can think of would be Busan, Korea. It is geographically delightful, and it has enough interesting architecture within it to be considered for the list. Portland, Oregon might also fit on the list, but you already have Vancouver and Seattle, and perhaps didn’t want to overload the list with all three of North America’s Pacific Northwest cities.

  18. Cape town is de best i did love to visit other cities but iam now stuck here cape town

  19. Vladimir Garcia says

    I Have Being In Many Beautiful Cities Like Paris,stockholm,amstadam And Miami But I Still Found Limbe City In Cameroon The Best,although It’s Very Small In Size As Compared To The Others Cities,but It’s A Very Nice Citie When It Come To Peace, Life Style And With Many Touristic Site For Many Visiting Tourist.Caira In Egypt Is Also Not An Exception When It’s Come To Beautiful Touristic Site.

  20. I think that Paris is more beautiful and also Switzerland I love these place………????????????????????

  21. Incredible what a silly list !!!!!
    And Venice?
    Do you really mention Panamá city before Buenos Aires?
    You should travel for more and then speak about.

  22. Capetown is ugly… not popular… very small amount of attractions…Should be out of the top 20…

  23. PLS Venice and capetown which is the most beautiful???

  24. Good list! I haven’t been to Cape Town, but Stockholm is an underrated gem and is probably the most beautiful city I’ve been to. I’d also include Innsbruck in here somewhere, imo!

  25. I’ve been to 21 out of the 30 on your list. Most of them I’ve visited more than 2 or 3 times and I have lived in 3 of them! New York (7 yrs), London (4 yrs) and Rio (1 yr). In 2018 I will spend 4 months in Cape Town too, which will be quite interesting. I’ve been to over 60 countries and I have never seen a city more striking than RIO. Yes it’s got a lot of problems we all know about and violence there is a new thing that started in the past 20 yrs due to socialist ideology that protects criminals “the victims of society” over whoever they attack. Prior to 1984 the city was pretty safe, anyway. Rio isn´t only about Christ The Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and the beaches, it has a lot of historic areas and historic buildings that Match those of Buenos Aires, it has incredible Baroque Monasteries, museums, one of the world’s 10 most beautiful libraries (Gabinete Português de Leitura) and one of the world’s 10 most beautiful cafés (Confeitaria colombo), plus the side trips from Rio such as the Austrian towns of Petropolis, Teresopolis, New Friburgh. Rio is unmatched to me for it has the world’s most unique combination. As Brazil grows and gets more developed this city will get more and more attractive. Cape Town should definitely be in the top 5 too, but behind Rio for sure, with all due respect for this incredibly amazing city too. Now…. to me your list has some major problems! For instance….. HONG KONG behind Shanghai? Did you ever visit these cities? In China HK beauty is UNMATCHED, in Fact I think HK should be in the TOP 5 with Rio and Capetown. I Love Singapore, but HK is more beautiful for sure.I Love Shanghai, I was there a couple of months ago, love it, but it doesn´t come close to HONG KONG. HK is a mixture of Rio (with less history and not so great beaches, but with stunning mountains too) and NYC (except that the skyline is like that of 2 NYC facing each other and at night it has the world’s prettiest city skyline). I Love Abu Dhabi too, but places like Vienna and Lisbon are not only more beautiful than Abu Dhabi, but also more beautiful than San Diego, Seattle, Panama City, etc. How can you make a list of the world’s top 30 most beautiful cities and not include LISBON, VIENNA and BUENOS AIRES? That’s not possible!

  26. What about nigeria, i think Nigeria should appear in the list

  27. paris is beautiful

  28. José Cruise says

    1. Rio 2. Cape Town 3. Vitoria (Brazil) 4. Sydney 5. Lisbon 6. Monte Carlo 7. New York 8. Paris 9. Venice 10. Auckland (New Zealand) 11. Mbabane (Swaziland). 12. Not sure.

  29. Placing Stockholm ahead of Paris is a strange choice indeed.
    Actually placing any city on earth ahead of Paris is not quite right.
    But then again Lee is a man who believes Roger Federer isn’t the greatest tennis player of all times, so everything is possible 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for your great blog, keep up the great work!

  30. John Ranno says

    I was blown away by the skyline of Chicago at night. It has one of the most beautiful downtowns I’ve ever seen!

  31. Carole Vincent says

    Have been to 13, including 8 in your top 20, and loved them all!

  32. I think New York City is a rat infested dump. Some of the newer skyscrapers are monstrosities.

    Hong Kong is my favorite.

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