New Study Says These Are the 10 Best Cities in Europe in 2024

Istanbul cracks the top 10, Berlin is on the rise, and this city remains No. 1 in Resonance’s annual best-in-Europe rankings.

Aerial view of the Tower Bridge in London, one of London's must-see landmarks in London.

Easy to identify, easy to love: London sits atop the Resonance rankings of Europe’s best cities.

Photo by RAW-films/Shutterstock

In these days of digital nomadism and working remotely, a list of Europe’s best cities has even greater value—and this annual ranking by Resonance, a consultancy group in real estate, tourism, and economic development that AFAR has partnered with for several years, has the most thorough, holistic approach around.

“It’s not just best city to live, it’s not just best city to work, or best city to visit,” said Chris Fair, president and CEO of Resonance Consultancy. “It’s taking a cross section of all those factors.” In 2024, Resonance updated its metrics to focus on three key areas—livability, lovability, and prosperity—that cover everything from GDP to housing affordability, green spaces to nightlife, and even a city’s social media presence, all in a painstaking effort to paint a more comprehensive picture of Europe’s best urban centers.

This year’s list of Europe’s 100 best cities (we’ll excerpt the top 10 below) considered 180 metropolitan centers with a population of 500,000 or more. Looking for some “spin the globe” inspiration for where to go next? You’ll find it here, from Aachen to Bratislava to Zurich.

How the best city rankings work

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).

Despite the continental pandemic recovery, urban populations across Europe are dealing with fresh crises: economic, environmental, and humanitarian. ”Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has scarred our rankings for the second year in a row,” says Fair. ”In our view, no city can be a ‘Best City’ if it is part of a country that is taking unprovoked action against another, and we have, once again, disqualified Moscow, St. Petersburg, and all other Russian cities from this year’s report.”

Here’s how Europe’s best cities ranked in the 2024 report, released March 5, 2024:

Big Ben and River Thames

London ranked No. 1 in culture and educational attainment.

Photo by S. Borisov/Shuterstock

1. London, England

Rankings: No. 1 in Culture and Educational Attainment
*also World’s Best City of 2024

“London is rarely quiet these days,” says Resonance. Most of the Tube’s lines now run at its pre-pandemic cadence, with added metro stops like Bond Street’s Elizabeth station, opened in October 2022. Thanks to policies that give the United Kingdom the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 countries, 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,” Resonance says.

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.

River boat on Seine near Eiffel Tower

Paris ranked No. 1 in sights/landmarks and global Fortune 500 companies.

Photo by Shutterstock

2. Paris, France

Rankings: No. 1 in Sights/Landmarks and Global Fortune 500 companies
*Holding at no. 2

“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 improving. Better 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.

Colorful five-story buildings along street

Berlin climbed from No. 7 last year to No. 3 in 2024.

Photo by Shutterstock

3. Berlin, Germany

Rankings: Startups (3), Culture (4), Nightlife (5)
*Up from No. 7

No surprise here: Berlin ranked in the top five for Culture, Museums, and Nightlife, attracting visitors and residents alike with its “raw, unabashed urbanity and self-expression,” says Resonance. It has been a haven for Ukraine refugees as well as entrepreneurs looking to set up shop: According to Berlin Startup Map, the city currently has about 4,400 startups. “The talent is also attracting massive domestic and foreign investment into the city and its suburbs.”

Why we love it: Two major museums have moved into the new Humboldt Forum in the heart of the city: the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art. A dozen other museums are set to open or have opened, with collections ranging from the world of the samurai to video games. Bonus: The European Sleeper night train (with lie-flat beds in cabins) now connects Berlin and Brussels via Amsterdam. It gets you from Berlin to Brussels in less than 12 hours.

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

View of Sant'Angelo Bridge and the Vatican

Visit Rome for the restaurants and a walk through history.

4. Rome, Italy

Rankings: Restaurants (1 - tie), TripAdvisor reviews (2)
*Up from No. 8

“Few cities serve up the ability to walk Western history like Roma,” says Resonance, and “declarations of love for the city have multiplied with social media channels, of course, and Rome trails only London and Paris in our important Promotion category, including No. 2 for TripAdvisor Reviews. Mix in underrated parks and greenways (Rome ranks no. 8 in our Outdoors subcategory) and its thousands of portals back in time (Sights and Landmarks rank in the Top 3 in Europe) and it’s easy to see how Rome remains an urban treasure.”

Why we love it: Rome landed on AFAR’s “Where to Go in 2024 list thanks to an influx of top-tier hotels, amenities, and restaurants. As Laura Itzkowitz reported, “Anantara is one of several hotel brands imbuing the city with a more international flair. Just in 2023, InterContinental, Bulgari, Edition, and Six Senses each debuted new properties in Rome. In the pipeline: hotels by Four Seasons, Rosewood, Nobu, and more. “Rome is coming out of a crazy year full of visitors and openings,” says Elisa Valeria Bove, CEO of the private tour company Roma Experience. “Before, people stayed in Rome for two or three days. Now people stay five, six days, or even a week.”

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

An empty cobblestone street in a Madrid neighborhood

Madrid is bouncing back from the pandemic in a conscientious way.

Photo by Alex Vasey on Unsplash

5. Madrid, Spain

Rankings: Restaurants (1 - tie), Culture (3)
*Up from No. 6

“Madrid, sometimes overlooked for Barcelona’s beaches and parties, is confidently telling its story these days,” says Resonance. “Perhaps the biggest news is Madrid’s beautiful measures to combat climate change and pollution, by way of a 76-kilometre urban forest network with nearly half a million new trees. . . . This ‘green wall’ is projected to help absorb 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The new Santander Park is an instant citizen and visitor destination (that used to be a golf course).”

Why we love it: On both our radar and Resonance’s are more than 20 new hotels and nearly 100 restaurants that have opened, or will open, in an already culture-rich city bouncing back from the pandemic in a big way—and in a conscientious way, reports Resonance: “Many of the high-end hotels are committed to reuse—from the Madrid Edition by Marriott International, housed in the old Monte de Piedad de Madrid building, to the stunning Metrópolis building’s new life as a boutique hotel, spa, private club and home of multiple restaurants.”

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

A bird's-eye view of the sun setting on Prague, with castle and bridge views

Prague ranks in the top 10 of lovability and livability.

6. Prague, Czechia

Rankings: Poverty Rate (1), Attractions (2)
*New to the top 10

“Pandemic lockdowns broke the overtourism wave that was cresting over Prague’s beguiling Gothic streets, allowing the city to implement resident-first policies and maintain a sense of ownership. It’s a massive job in any city, much less one that threads the needle as one of the world’s rare urban centres that ranks in the Top 10 in both our overall Livability (#7) and Lovability (#8) indices. Still, over the past 18 months, city leaders made long-lasting decisions to ensure that Prague’s #3-ranked Museums (ahead of places like Berlin, Rome, and Madrid) and Attractions (which trail only London) remain accessible to the citizens who supported local when tourism didn’t.” Thanks to Prague’s youthfulness (university students from around the world descend here annually), much of the fun is affordable—and poverty rates are the lowest on the list.

Why we love it: Prague is complex and unfiltered in the best possible way. Step back in time to the city’s Bohemian past—the Old Town Square, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, the romantic Charles Bridge—before visiting the somber memorial to its Communist rule. Prague seems to bask in modern optimism, as evidenced by such landmarks as Frank Gehry’s Dancing House Hotel and DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.

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

View of city's rooftops from Gaudi Park Güell in Barcelona

Park Güell in Barcelona is a Gaudi highlight.

Photo by Luis Pina/Shutterstock

7. Barcelona, Spain

Rankings: Restaurants (1 - tied), Nightlife (2)
*Down from No. 4

Barcelona is an almost ideal European city, with great weather year-round and “era-spanning neighborhoods that are destinations at all hours,” says Resonance. The big news this year is that Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia is nearly finished (!), and the city “just opened its €50-million Consell de Cent, 21 pedestrianised blocks that used to be a four-lane cross-town street, part of what is being called a ‘green axis’ urban park in an area popular with both locals and visitors.”

Why we love it: This Spanish city is home to miles and miles of beaches, iconic parks, and Gaudí’s iconic architectural landmarks. But we could just as easily get lost in El Born and the Gothic Quarters’ labyrinths, looking for dumplings or the best Catalan restaurant.

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

Street scene, featuring a woman biking, from a shop window in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is at the forefront of sustainable tourism.

Photo by Ériver Hijano

8. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rankings: Labor Force Participation (3), Startups (5)
*Down from No. 3

Amsterdam continues to be a city to keep an eye on, with its evolution “led by visionary mayor Femke Halsema (literally: she’s also a filmmaker), the first non-interim female mayor in the city’s history,” says Resonance. “Her administration’s practical stewardship of a place (and citizens) often abandoned to the tourist euro is co-authoring a future of accountability by everyone who calls the magnetic Dutch capital home.”

Why we love it: With nonstop flights from most U.S. cities, Amsterdam’s easy accessibility—and beautiful canals and world-class museums—make it a popular stop for any Euro trip. In addition to its top-notch cultural offerings, Amsterdam is 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.

The hotel's central location is ideal for first-time visitors who want to focus on historic attractions.

The Peninsula hotel’s central location is ideal for first-time visitors who want to focus on historic attractions.

Courtesy of The Peninsula Istanbul

9. Istanbul, Türkiye

Rankings: Restaurants (1 - tie), Airport Connectivity (3)
*New to the top 10

“The ancient collision between Europe and Asia radiates in Türkiye’s (and Europe’s) largest city. It’s why the city is among the most beguiling for its sense of place, inside and out. Its Top 10 Sights and Landmarks ranking, as well as its impressive No. 4 spot in our Outdoors subcategory, will improve due to the extensive renovations completed for the Turkish Republic’s centennial in October 2023.”

Why we love it: Know someone who mentioned visiting Istanbul in 2023? We’re not surprised. Following a devastating earthquake in southeastern Türkiye in February 2023, the nation (and an active tourism arm) has rallied to make the country—and, by extension, its global hub, Istanbul—the most visited destination of 2023. It helps that Istanbul has one of the best new airports in the world (IST). A recently reborn Galataport waterfront district—running a mile along the sparkling Bosporus Strait—now has an underground cruise terminal and high-end restaurants and hotels, including the much-celebrated Peninsula Istanbul.

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

The sun rising behind the Duomo in Milan, Italy
Milano is a city fully immersed in culture.

Ouael Ben Salah/Unsplash

10. Milan, Italy

Rankings: Biking (4), EV Charging Stations (5)
*New to the top 10

“The birthplace of Armani, Versace and dozens of other megawatt icons is no longer content with being Europe’s fashion and design center. Or even Italy’s financial heart. Milan is driven, as always, by its entrepreneurial hunger and is increasingly fueled by wealthy newcomers. This strategic proximity to other European capitals and alpine resorts pulling in the global elite also won the city the 2026 Olympic Winter Games and a rush of development that includes a long-awaited train link between Milan Bergamo Airport and the centro.”

Why we love it: Milan is incandescent—an extension of the creative spirit imbued here for centuries. It’s a city fully immersed in culture. Whether the art of the aperitivo, the spectacular art scene, or an amazing panorama of architecture that spans styles and millennia, Milan is an oasis of style, art, and architecture.

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

To see the full list of Europe’s 100 best cities, visit Read on for the best cities in the U.S.

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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