Methodology & Criteria


A. Methodology

In order to have the most complete profile of a city, 13 criteria were established. We analysed (via research/literature and personal visits) more than 500 of the best cities worldwide, tried our best to keep everything as objective and logical as possible, and attributed a weight by order of importance to each criterion in order to calculate a general score.

The best cities were ranked based on their general score.

B. Criteria

1. Sights

Everybody is delighted and amazed by impressive sights. Be they natural or man-made, they make a city unique and give it that attraction which motivates one to pack up and go experience it first-hand. Thus, it is by far the most important criterion for the general score and ranking.

The calculation how a city gets its score for its is quite elaborated. We provide a carefully selected top ten lists for each city. Apart from personal visits we consider also various guidebooks, websites etc. in a consensus-based approach.

From a well-populated list of the city’s sights, we value each sight based on the following scale of quality:

10 = top-10 in the world
9 = world-class
8 = outstanding
7 = excellent
6 = impressive
5 = interesting
4 = decent
3 = mediocre
2 = bad
1 = abysmal

An average value is then calculated from the 10 highest scoring sights of the list.

In order to have a metric that represents the sights profile of the city as much as possible, we add bonus points (from 0.25 to 1) based on the total number of sights and the number and quality of excursion possibilities within easy reach from the City (like Versailles near Paris or the Great Wall near Beijing).

In practice, the final sights score of Krakow of 7.45/10 is calculated as follows:

The average of the top 10 sights is 6.2/10
+ 0.75 bonus points for more than 35 sights
+ 0.5 bonus points for the very good excursion possibilities (nearby is WIELICZKA SALT MINES and AUSCHWITZ BIRKENAU former concentration camp).
The total sights score for Krakow is 7.45/10.

Best Cities for Sights: Paris: 9.20, Saint Petersburg: 8.95, London: 8.55

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = extremely high

2. Location

Many of the best cities are attractive to visit merely because of their geographical situation. A city on an island or at least by the sea or a lake has natural resources that already make it more charming than others that are without. In addition, rivers, canals, hills, and mountains (even better, all of them together) grant a very agreeable natural atmosphere to the city.

Method: Analysis via google maps (topography), personal visits and other media research.

Best Cities for Location: Venice: 9.75, Stockholm: 9.25, Vancouver: 9.00

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = rather high

3. Pedestrian Zones

While some people might have no problems strolling next to heavy traffic, it is fairly obvious that a city centre with a lot of pedestrian zones or at least with some car-free streets makes wandering a much more pleasant experience.

Method:  Analysation via google maps, personal visits and other research.

Best Cities for Pedestrian Zones: Venice: 9.75, Fes: 8.50, Florence: 7.75

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = rather high

4. Affordability (Value for Money)

It is logical that when comparing cities, all other criteria being relatively similar, one would rather visit the cheaper one. This choice depends obviously on your holiday budget and it does influence the attraction of a city for most tourists. 

Method: The rating in this category is based on combined statistics (like for instance the Backpacker Index, Hotel prices Index, and Cost of Living index).

Best Cities for Affordability: Esfahan: 8.00, Cairo: 7.00, Chiang Mai: 7.00

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = average

5. Safety

When visiting a city with a high crime rate, the probability that your holiday will go awry is also very high. Strong sensations and adrenaline rush might be attractive in another context but as a tourist generally, the safer you feel, the more you can enjoy the city.

Method: The rating of this criterion is based on statistics (like the Crime Indexes) personal visits and taking into account recent events like terror attacks.

Best Cities for Safety: Singapore: 9.50, Bern: 9.25, Lucerne: 9.00

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = average

6. Cleanliness

While you are walking around and visiting the attractions in a city, notably bad odours, smog, or litter on the streets can and do spoil the experience. Thus, cleanliness has its own weight as a criterion.

Method: The rating in this category is based on different statistics (e.g. Air quality Index – AQI, Traffic congestion index, personal visits and research).

Best Cities for Cleanliness: Singapore: 9.50, Bern: 9.25, Zürich: 9.00

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = average

7. Shopping

Shopping has become an activity that people enjoy more and more while on city trips. Hence, for many the possibility for shopping influences the choice of travel destinations. To be considered are the number and surface of shops and malls, the variety of brands and goods, the shopping hours, as well as the use of foreign languages.

Method: The rating in this category is based on statistics (like the shopping index) personal visits and research.

Best Cities for Shopping: Hongkong: 9.50, New York: 9.25, Bangkok: 8.50

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = average

8. Climate

Obviously, a location with an all year round nice weather is naturally preferable to one where the climatic conditions are usually harsh and cold. On the other hand, one can often go around this problem by choosing a suitable season, which makes this criterion less important. 

Method: The climate rating is based mainly on statistics. The climate rating is based mainly on statistics. A good rating is earned by many months where it is not too cold, not too hot and there is not much average rain.

Best Cities for Climate: Palma de Mallorca: 9.75, Valencia: 9.50, Cape Town: 9.50

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = low

9. People

Very friendly people can represent a significant plus for your visit. On the other hand, when the locals are impolite or there are many pushy salespersons everywhere, this can spoil your visit to a certain degree.

Method: The rating in this category is based on statistics and personal experience. 

Best Cities for People: Reykjavik: 9.50, Auckland: 9.50, Sydney: 8.75

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = low

10. Nightlife

Although one is able to find a nice club in almost every city, having an ample choice or the world’s best club is obviously better.

Method: The rating of this criterion is partly based on statistics and personal experiences but also, we have to admit, on informed opinion. Therefore, it might not be as accurate as the others in this list.

Best Cities for Nightlife: London: 8.75, Paris: 8.50, New York: 8.25

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = very low

11. Transport

Moving easily from Sight A to Sight B is the best way to see a city and what it has to offer. Having a well-connected public transport network enhances and simplifies the experience.

Method: The rating in this category is based on a city’s transport network, statistics, and personal experience.

Best Cities for Transport: Singapore: 9.50, Madrid: 9.25, Zürich: 9.25

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = very low

12. Size

Bigger cities normally have more to offer and tend be more interesting in different areas. However, this fact is already included indirectly in the other criteria (mainly nightlife, shopping and sights) and has therefore little weight. Not only the size of the city but also the size of the urban area has been taken into account.

Method: The rating in this category is purely based on geostatistics.

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = very low

13. Ease of Travel

Please note that this criterion uses western culture as referring point. Most cities in our list have no issues with ease of travel all scoring 9/10.  Notable aspects to consider are for example complicated behaviour codes (no or very restricted public display of affection), enforced dress codes (women/men have to wear very precise types of clothing), any discrimination based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. One can visit some cities only in the company of a personal guide. 

Method: The rating in this category based on research.

Scale = 0-10

Weighting = very low