The World’s 10 Best Cities of 2024

Resonance’s annual ranking takes into account factors that include a city’s GDP per capita, cultural programming, airport connectivity, even Instagram hashtags.

Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

What makes a city the greatest in the world? For more than 15 years, Resonance—a consultancy group in real estate, tourism, and economic development—has taken a holistic approach to a popular “best-of” list.

Rather than just rely on data around, say, a place’s landmarks or how easy it is to bike there, Resonance uses a combination of core statistics (like GDP and number of Fortune Global 500 corporate headquarters) and qualitative evaluations by both locals and visitors (from online channels like Instagram and TripAdvisor) to paint a more comprehensive picture of a world’s best city.

The organization’s new 2024 World’s Best Cities list has just been released with many familiar destinations at the top. The cities on this year’s list—all with metropolitan populations of more than 1 million—have moved toward a postpandemic reality in their own ways: One rolled out 464 miles of bikeways (San Francisco), while another is imagining a place in which residents can access 80 percent of their daily needs and destinations in less than 30 minutes’ time by foot or bike ride (Dubai).

How the best city rankings work

“This year, we’ve regrouped our previous six categories [Place, People, Programming, Product, Prosperity, and Promotion] into three larger pillars that we utilize in our work with clients—Livability, Lovability, and Prosperity—to define each city’s relative Place Power Score,” Resonance Consultancy president Chris Fair said in the 2024 report. ”Our rankings are still built from 24 subcategories that we analyze to measure the performance of each city. . . . The criteria we select to rank these cities are limited to those that have historically shown positive correlations with attracting employment, investment and/or visitors.”

Livability: This category measures the quality of a place’s environment, both natural and built. Subcategories include walkability (the city’s walkability score on Walk Score), airport connectivity (the number of direct destinations served by the city’s airports), and higher education (the QS Rankings score of the top local university).

Lovability: The lovability pillar considers the vibrancy and quality of a city, as well as how much it inspires residents, businesses, and visitors to promote it. This includes culture (number of quality performing arts and cultural experiences recommended by locals and visitors according to, shopping (number of quality shopping experiences recommended by locals and visitors according to, and number of Instagram hashtags.

Prosperity: The prosperity pillar measures the strength of a city’s human capital. Subcategories include educational attainment (percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher), Fortune Global 500 companies (number of Fortune Global 500 corporate headquarters), convention center size (size of the largest convention center in a city), and poverty rate (percentage of the population living below the national poverty line).

Here’s how the world’s best cities ranked in the 2024 report, released October 3, 2023:

1. London, England

Rankings: Livability (1), Lovability (1), Prosperity (3)

“London is rarely quiet these days,” says Resonance. Most of the Tube’s lines are running at its pre-COVID cadence, with added metro stops like the October 2022-opened Bond Street’s Elizabeth station. Thanks to policies that give the U.K. the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 countries, Resonance says London’s resilience has been “buoyed by a sinking currency that has attracted investment and, of course, previously priced-out tourists. And new residents . . . who can now afford to check off a big item on the multi-millionaire bucket list: property in the planet’s most coveted city.”

Why we love it: London’s main sights might date back millennia, but the capital’s shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants continue to evolve on an almost weekly basis. Whether you’re outdoorsy, hungry, or bringing a family in tow, there’s a distinct London neighborhood to investigate—and it will likely look different from your last visit. For new hotel options, there’s everything from the much-anticipated Raffles London at the OWO to the sustainability-meets-luxury inspired 1 Hotel Mayfair.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to London.

Sidewalk café in Paris

Photo by Catarina Belova/Shutterstock

2. Paris, France

Rankings: Lovability (2), Livability (6), Prosperity (12)

“The city remains the most visited on the planet, with 44 million visitors last year,” Resonance says. “Good thing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport used the past three years of lower volume to invest €250 million into a renovation of Terminal 1. Reopened this year, it now has a colossal junction building and a central lobby full of the latest tech to improve the traveler experience. Rail access and infrastructure are also unprecedented. A seven-hour direct Berlin-to- Paris TGV line launches next year, with more ambitious directs like the Venice-to-Paris Midnight Trains coming in 2025. No matter how they arrive, what Paris visitors new and returning will find is a city that has codified pedestrianism and alfresco living.”

Why we love it: As Paris gears up for the 2024 Olympics, it’s only getting better. Improved infrastructure, a commitment to pedestrians, and luxurious hotels add to a city we love for its world-class art, shopping, and global cuisine.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Paris.

New York City cityscape viewed from Brooklyn Bridge

Photo by Colton Duke/Unsplash

3. New York City, United States

Rankings: Lovability (2), Livability (6), Prosperity (12)

The pandemic exodus led some to believe New York City’s reign was over, but this U.S. city’s number three ranking—the same as last year—proves that it’s not going anywhere. Resonance says tourism numbers for the city are skyrocketing from 33 million visitors in 2021 (which was less than half of 2019’s numbers) to a projected 61 million in 2023. NYC is welcoming back visitors in style with major upgrades to its international gateways: LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport all have new terminals, “with the new Terminal B at LaGuardia alone boasting 35 gates” and looking fine. Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, and Thompson in Midtown are only a few of the impressive hotels ready to host incoming visitors—check out AFAR’s review of the $3,200-a-night Aman.

Why we love it: “The City” (as locals call it) consistently ranks for its culture; this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip hop music’s founding and the 100-year anniversary of the Museum of the City of New York. New sights and landmarks are constantly being added to classics like the Empire State Building, such as the viewpoints from Summit One Vanderbilt’s all-glass exterior elevators.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to New York City.

Cherry blossoms and temple in Tokyo, Japan

Photo by Shutterstock

4. Tokyo, Japan

Rankings: Livability (3), Lovability (4), Prosperity (11)

“The Japanese government remains steadfast, keeping its target of 60 million visitors and $136 billion in tourism revenue by 2030. It’s not as delusional as it sounds: the country enjoyed record tourism for seven straight years and can now accommodate even more, with the expansion of the international terminal at Haneda, the city’s main airport (ranked #38 globally), and a planned 18-minute rail link from arrivals to downtown by 2031,” says Resonance. There’s much ado around Japan’s recent reopening to international travelers—and as the world’s best city for shopping, wallets will likely open on their visit to spots like the newly renovated Miyashita Park.

Why we love it: Ranked number in the survey’s restaurants subcategory, Tokyo is home to some life-changing ramen, making it a destination worth planning an entire trip around food. And if most of your travel budget goes to eating, don’t worry. There are plenty of affordable hotels in Tokyo to book.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Tokyo.

Tree structures at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Photo by Shutterstock

5. Singapore

Rankings: Prosperity (2), Lovability (14), Livability (17)

Shooting up from its number nine ranking on the 2023 World’s Best Cities list, Singapore has become one of the continent’s most captivating cities, according to Resonance. And it’s not just iconic views from the rooftop infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands that are grabbing people’s attention. “A new waterfront district is being explored just south of the airport, called the Great Southern Waterfront, which is slated to build 9,000 housing units along Singapore’s southern coast,” the report says. “Locals are also buzzing about the forthcoming NS Square, a future outdoor multipurpose venue in the Downtown Core area of Marina Bay that will replace the popular Marina Bay floating platform.”

Why we love it: The Little Red Dot, as the city-state is affectionately called, is highlighted for biking and shopping; it earns top spots in our eyes (and stomachs) for its famous hawker stall street food, its garden-like airport terminal, and the reopened Raffles Singapore hotel, which has been welcoming travelers since 1887.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Singapore

Man riding a camel and leading a camel in Dubai

Photo by Shutterstock

6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Rankings: Prosperity (4), Lovability (5), Livability (35)

“Famed for outlandish developments like Palm Jumeirah, home to Atlantis, the Palm and the made-famous-by-Tom-Cruise Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world—the city has, over the years, made breaking world records a national pastime: tallest, longest, fastest, largest,” Resonance says. Moving forward, Dubai’s 2040 Urban Masterplan aims to make it feel smaller by developing a “20-minute city,” in which city residents can access 80 percent of their daily needs and destinations by either a 20-minute walk or bike ride.

Why we love it: Its Museum of the Future; greater accessibility with more than 700 hotel options; a new Michelin guide featuring 89 restaurants, including three with a Green star sustainability honor.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Dubai.

Red bridge during daybreak with fog surrounding the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s iconic landmarks.

Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock

7. San Francisco, United States

Rankings: Prosperity (5), Livability (20), Lovability (28)

Despite San Francisco’s steep population decline and an office vacancy of about 30 percent, city leaders remain “undeterred,” says Resonance: The city is “rolling out the most daring bike and pedestrian infrastructure in America and the protected bike network now boasts 464 miles of bikeways, including 50 miles of new car-free/car-light streets in the past year alone.” Global talent continues to come, thanks to high salaries and the Bay Area, which Resonance says “remains the number one place for start-up innovation, powered by venture capital kept interested in the city’s famed ‘ecosystem’—for talent, for research and for universities.”

Why we love it: Besides being AFAR’s birthplace, there are endless things to do (even for a local). With plenty of vibrant neighborhoods to explore, it’s a no-brainer stop for those on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to San Francisco.

Gaudi rooftop architecture in Barcelona

Photo by Luis Pina/Shutterstock

8. Barcelona, Spain

Rankings: Lovability (7), Livability (10), Prosperity (48)

Why we love it: Barcelona is an almost ideal European city, one with great weather year round and “era-spanning neighborhoods that are destinations at all hours,” says Resonance. Add bike-friendliness to the list; according the World’s Best Cities report, travelers coming to the city will find more than 150 miles of new bike lanes, as well as “daring initiatives like Eixos Verds (Green Axis), a network of quieter roads that share space equally between cars, bikes and pedestrians, and are dotted with benches and community squares.”

Why we love it: This Spanish city is home to miles and miles of beaches, iconic parks, and Gaudí’s iconic architectural landmarks. Its activities aren’t just limited to the daytime—Barcelona ranks number three in the nightlife subcategory.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Barcelona.

People in a bike lane on bikes in Amsterdam

Photo by Shutterstock

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rankings: Livability (5), Lovability (22), Prosperity (24)

According to Resonance, an attitude of care for others and willingness for locals to do the work is reflected in the city’s Top 5 ranking in its Livability score. Just look at the approach Mayor Halsema’s administration took in accommodating unhoused migrants during the refugee crisis. Making its livability sustainable has led to several efforts on the tourism end: Over the summer, city council moved to ban cruise ships from the city center as part of its clean-air efforts. Resonance says “tours and programs focusing on the city’s enviable livability and Dutch history” are also encouraging tourists “from the city center and out to the #8-ranked shopping and #11-ranked museums that pepper the city.”

Why we love it: With nonstop flights available from most U.S. cities, Amsterdam’s easy accessibility—and beautiful canals and world-class museums—make it a popular stop for any trip to Europe. In addition to its top-notch cultural offerings, Amsterdam is also on the forefront of sustainable tourism. In 2018, one hospitality company started to repurpose Amsterdam’s out-of-use bridge houses into charming stand-alone hotel rooms, and by 2030, all gas and diesel cars will be banned from the city.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Amsterdam.

Red pagoda and bridge with intricate yellow designs amidst orange trees.

Seoul’s history can be found in places like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Photo by Travel Take Photos/Shutterstock

10. Seoul, South Korea

Highlighted rankings: Prosperity (8), Livability (26), Lovability (31)

“In an astonishingly short span, South Korea’s capital has 180ed from war-ravaged city to high-tech hub,” says Resonance. “The city’s ascent is boosted by our eighth-lowest Poverty Rate ranking, sixth-most Global 500 firms located in town, and a growing start-up ecosystem waiting its turn to disrupt the incumbents. All that innovation is sated by the 176 Michelin-rated venues that have earned Seoul a #3 ranking in our Restaurants subcategory.”

Why we love it: The Korean wave has brought Seoul into the mainstream as traditions like Korean Banchan have gotten recognition. The food scene can be found in places like Gwangjang Market, “where you can eat everything from a soup of rice cakes and kimchi-tofu dumplings to squirmy live octopus (really),” says Resonance.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to South Korea.

To see the full list of the world’s 100 best cities, visit

This article was originally published in 2020. It is updated annually.

Laura Dannen Redman is Afar’s editor at large. She’s an award-winning journalist who can’t sit still and has called Singapore, Seattle, Australia, Boston, and the Jersey Shore home. She’s based in Brooklyn with her equally travel-happy husband and daughters.
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