The World’s Most Livable City Is All About Parks, Music, and Seriously Good Cake

Vienna claimed the title of world’s most livable city in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual index for the third time.

The World’s Most Livable City Is All About Parks, Music, and Seriously Good Cake

Once again, Vienna took the top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual ranking.

Photo by Shutterstock

After slipping to 12th place last year due to COVID-19 related closures, Vienna once again topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual ranking of the world’s most livable cities following the reopening of Austria’s borders as well as the city’s museums and restaurants. The city took the top spot in 2018 and 2019.

The rest of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s top 10 is dominated by other Western European cities (Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam all ranked) and Canada (Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto came in third, fifth, and eighth, respectively). Osaka, Japan, and Melbourne, Australia, tied for 10th place.

German cities benefited greatly in the survey in 2022, after rolling back many of its COVID-19 restrictions. To that effect, the most improved city over the last 12 months was Frankfurt, followed by two other German cities—Hamburg and Dusseldorf.

The biggest decline over the last year was seen by Wellington, New Zealand, which tumbled 46 spots in the rankings due to how long its borders were closed due to COVID-19. (New Zealand will open to all travelers this July.) It’s also worth noting Kiev was excluded entirely from this year’s report after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Economist Intelligence Global Livability Index 2022:

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

3. (tie) Zurich, Switzerland, and Calgary, Canada

5. Vancouver, Canada

6. Geneva, Switzerland

7. Frankfurt, Germany

8. Toronto, Canada

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

10. (tie) Osaka, Japan, and Melbourne, Australia

What makes Vienna the most livable of all the great cities in the world? The Economist Intelligence Unit bases its analysis of 173 cities, excluding Kiev, on five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

If you’re considering moving abroad, these categories are all something to be considered when picking a city to begin expat life. But even if you only have a week to spare, Vienna’s cultural scene, walkable city center, and iconic cafés all make it a strong contender for your next city getaway.

Inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Photo by / Shutterstock

It’s worth setting aside an entire afternoon to explore the collections at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, but also make time for the city’s world-class music scene. For just a few euro, you can snag tickets to the standing-room-only section at the Vienna State Opera. It may not be a scientific fact that eating cake makes your life better, but it’s safe to say that Vienna’s famous Sachertorte—a chocolate cake filled with apricot jam—will bring a smile to your face. For the classics, go to Hotel Sacher or Demel; you also can find it at more casual spots, including Café Landtmann or Kaffee Alt Wien.

The Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher in Vienna

The Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher in Vienna

Photo by Leqi (Luke) Wang on Unsplash

Even better, Viennese are happy to welcome travelers to their city. According to a 2019 survey of more than 3,000 residents of Vienna by the Vienna Tourist Board, 90 percent of them said that the city, its residents, and its economy benefit from tourism and 83 percent believe that their everyday life is not disrupted by tourists. To experience Vienna like a local, head to one of the city’s many green spaces. One example that’s slightly off the regular tourist’s map is the leafy tree-lined lanes of the Augarten, also home to a porcelain museum and the MuTh Concert Hall, where the Vienna Boys’ Choir regularly performs.
This article originally appeared online in 2018; it was updated in 2019, and most recently on June 27, 2022, to include current information.

>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Vienna

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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