The World’s 10 Greenest Cities of 2020

Vienna tops Resonance’s annual list of the world’s greenest cities based on criteria like air quality, walkability, and access to recycling and composting programs.

The World’s 10 Greenest Cities of 2020

Vienna’s plentiful parks and popular electric trams helped it top this list of the greenest cities in the world.

Photo by Shutterstock

When factors like weather, diversity, and nightlife are considered, London tops the list of the world’s best cities, according to Resonance, a consultancy group in real estate, tourism, and economic development. But when it considered the elements that distinguish the world’s greenest cities, a capital in continental Europe came out on top.

Vienna may have only ranked 36 in Resonance’s overall list, but it ranked number one in this new list that was released on Earth Day. So what makes Vienna so green? For one, the Austrian capital gets 30 percent of its total energy needs from renewable sources, not to mention half of its population uses public transportation to get to work. Then you add in access to a high number of public green spaces, city-wide recycling and composting programs, and 135 farmers’ markets and it’s not hard to see why Vienna bests the competition.

To determine which cities would be considered for the list, Resonance Consultancy looked at the world’s 50 most-visited cities as measured by the total number of reviews they receive on Tripadvisor, which is why you won’t see eco-friendly cities like Copenhagen here.

To create an index of the greenest cities, Resonance ranked those 50 cities by nine different metrics, which each carried equal weight in this index. Those metrics included the percentage of the city land dedicated to public green spaces, the percentage of total energy needs met by renewable sources, and the percentage of the population who use public transportation to go to work. Other criteria included the city’s walkability (sourced from, availability of city-wide recycling and composting programs, and the number of quality farmers’ markets.

It also factored in each city’s water consumption (in liters) per capita per day, and air quality for particle pollution based on PM10 concentration. (PM10 describes “inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller,” according to the EPA.)

According to those criteria, these are the top 10 greenest cities in the world:

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Munich, Germany
  3. Berlin, Germany
  4. Madrid, Spain
  5. São Paulo, Brazil
  6. Manchester, United Kingdom
  7. Lisbon, Portugal
  8. Singapore
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  10. Washington, D.C.

It’s no surprise to see cities on this list like Amsterdam, where biking is popular and the government has banned all gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030. But unexpected cities, like São Paulo and Manchester, also made the top 10 thanks to good air quality, high walkability scores, and a large number of farmers’ markets (192 and 172 respectively, according to data sourced via Google Maps by Resonance).

To see more about Resonance’s methodology and the world’s greenest cities, visit

>> Next: How to Help the World When You Can’t Leave the House

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR