If you’ve ever wondered how European cities rank when compared to one another, then we have good news. The Mercer Quality of Living Survey and the Economist Intelligence Unit Living Index measure numerous variables — such as crime rates and health care — to break down how cities around the world stack up.
The most recent surveys can be used to determine which cities in Europe are the most livable. For instance, Madrid is bursting with culture while Birmingham is up and coming. Whether you’re thinking of where to travel or planning a permanent move, read on to see how European cities compare.
Birmingham is a city in England that is on the up-and-up. Back in 2013, the city wowed citizens with a spectacular Library of Birmingham that features an amazing exterior design. The city’s council viewed the library as one of their finer projects in a long list of reconstruction plans.
Birmingham’s next project was a revamped New Street Railway Station, which was completed in 2015. Passengers gave the station a 92% satisfaction rating in 2018, making it the third-highest in the UK, according to BBC News. The city is on track to build more public spaces in the next few years.
Fans of striking Victorian architecture will find themselves in awe of Glasgow, Scotland. In addition to being a historic gem, the city is also bustling with life as it is the most populated city in Scotland and the third in the UK.
By day, you can go sightseeing to take in the gorgeous historic buildings, and by night the metropolis has plenty of pubs that feature live music and dancing. The city is also the home of the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, and the National Theatre of Scotland.
Madrid’s streets are lined with grandiose buildings that are so breathtaking they might make your neck sore from looking up so much. The capital of Spain also features lovely parks and highly-acclaimed museums with renowned European art.
As the most-populated city in Spain, the culture is palpable wherever you go. Plaza Mayor is at the city’s center and a must-see for lovers of historic architecture. Other jaw-dropping spots are the Royal Palace and the Crystal Palace. Don’t forget to stop in at a tapas restaurant while you’re there.
It’s not hard to see why Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland once you consider its rich culture. The city is a dream for art and history buffs as it features a wide variety of museums. For a breathtaking view of the land, head up to Arthur’s Seat.
The extinct volcano is the highest spot in Edinburgh and a great location to take in and appreciate this historic city. For more spectacular views, be sure to pay a visit to Edinburgh Castle, a fortress that dates back to at least the Iron Age.
Initially a Roman city, Barcelona offers incredible ruins to see alongside plenty of Spanish culture, making it one of the world’s leading most-visited cities. One of the most popular spots is the street La Rambla, as it is nothing like the roads you’re used to seeing.
Lined with rich trees and paved for pedestrians only, the compact street acts as a border between the city’s East and West sides. Take a tram through the city’s vibrant buildings and be sure to check out the art museums, one of which features well-known artist Pablo Picasso.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the capital of England, London. See where British monarch coronations take place at Westminster Abbey, meditate by the famous Thames river, and take a photo in front of the famous clock tower.
As the largest city in England, it attracts all walks of life; you can expect to hear hundreds of different languages as you walk through its streets. Take a ride on the London Eye for an exhilarating sightseeing experience and discover how London finds the balance between innovative and historic.
Regarded as one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan screams “upscale.” Located in northern Italy, the city is adorned with exquisite restaurants and shops fit for the most fashion-savvy. The historic spot also features the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, Milan Cathedral.
The city features incredible parks, monuments, castles, and more. It’s the home of Prada and Versace, and the people of Milan only add to the city’s magical feel. Visit the Pinacoteca for your art fix and be sure to stop at Italy’s oldest shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Though Paris often steals all the thunder when it comes to cities in France, Lyon is a spot not to be overlooked. The town sits at the spot where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet. Water runs between the buildings and glows with city lights at night.
Wander through ancient architecture and be sure to visit the Presqu’île, which is the heart of the city and full of shopping, dining, and other institutions. If nothing else, the city is worth living in because its inhabitants are called a gorgeous name: Lyonnais.
After the way we spoke about Lyon, it should come as no surprise that Paris is next on the list. The Eiffel Tower and the Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral are both must-sees, but even the smaller details of the city, such as boutiques and shops, are worth the visit.
Houseboat cafes and an old train depot repurposed as an Italian eatery are just a couple examples of what makes this city so charming. From Roman history to contemporary art districts, Paris has something to offer to a spectrum of people.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a hilly town full of vibrancy. Located along the Atlantic coast, the city has noteworthy seafood restaurants and gorgeous ocean views. One of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon is full of history.
Observe the city from above at the ancient São Jorge Castle. Many of its ancient buildings have been modernized and restored over the past few decades. Also, be sure to visit Lisbon’s suspension bridge and the National Azulejo Museum.
Siting on Ireland’s East coast is its capital and largest city, Dublin. Although it has a large surface area, it has a little more than a million inhabitants, according to the World Population Review, which is far fewer than tiny New York City’s eight million.
By day, you can enjoy historic sights like Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s cathedral. Be sure to check out Phoenix Park, which is so large that it contains a zoo! By night, enjoy live music and grab a brew in the city that is home to Guinness.
Sitting in the Gulf of Finland is its impressive capital, Helsinki. The city is surrounded by water so many of its sights, such as the Helsinki and Uspenski cathedrals, overlook harbors. The seaside city is full of lush greenery and beautiful architecture.
Check out the National Museum for a look at Finland’s history back to the Stone Age. Then jump back to the modern world by paying a visit to their contemporary art museum, Kiasma. Be sure to visit the Market Square for some unique treats.
Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium but is also widely regarded as the European Union’s capital since it is the heart of their administration. Check out the Atomium monument and museum for a sight you’ll only see in Brussels.
The Pis statues are other must-sees that are unique to the city. Full of restaurants and breweries with outdoor terraces, Brussels is a great spot for all-day dining and nightlife. Be sure to catch a show at the Royal Flemish Theatre of Brussels.
Known as a manufacturing hub in Germany, Stuttgart is home to both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche’s headquarters. Both car manufacturers also have museums in the city. At the same time, Stuttgart also has plenty of greenery and a massive zoo and botanical garden called Wilhelma.
The city’s rich soil has made it a hotspot for agriculture for thousands of years, so you can expect to see some gorgeous, natural expanses. The city’s innovation combined with its historic significance makes it an ideal spot for a variety of interests.
Surrounded by water and rich with history, Oslo is a gem that more people should be talking about. One of the spots that is a must on any agenda is their Viking Ship Museum, which offers a look at ships from the 800s!
Oslo is also known for its impressive fjord, which is an extension of the sea between cliffs. Catch a glimpse of the amazing fjord views while skiing at Holmenkollbakken for a truly breathtaking experience.
Stockholm is an island lover’s dream as it encompasses 14 islands of the Baltic Sea. Sweeping bridges elegantly connect the islands, and ferries and boats offer one-of-a-kind views. Wander along cobblestone streets at Gamla Stan and pay a visit to the centuries-old Storkyrkan Cathedral and the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace.
Literature fans will appreciate the city’s Nobel Museum. Stockholm also has an incredible food scene that offers both traditional cuisines and newer, more innovative options for diners.
Nuremberg is well-known for its historical landmarks and for being a noteworthy spot in the Middle Ages. History buffs will love the way the city seems to transport you back in time in terms of its aesthetic.
The Way of Human Rights monument is an important visit as it is dedicated to world peace. Another significant sight is the Kaiserburg Castle, which was a vital part of the Holy Roman Empire and will certainly give you a sense of yesteryear.
Hundreds of canals cross the German city of Hamburg, filling the streets with glistening water. With a central boulevard connecting New Town and Old Town, you should have no problem navigating through this mesmerizing city.
Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city, after Berlin, and is known for its incredible port. Lovers of the nightlife have to visit the city’s entertainment district at Reeperbahn. The Speicherstadt, pictured here, is the largest warehouse district in the world and is profoundly beautiful.
Luxembourg is a tiny country in Europe whose capital city is, not surprisingly, Luxembourg City! The mostly rural spot is full of incredible nature parks and is located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Belgium, France, and Germany, where many of the other cities on this list lie.
Luxembourg City is well known for its medieval old town. Stand wide-eyed before gorgeous castles, palaces, bridges, and cathedrals, or escape into the dense Ardennes forest.
Switzerland’s capital, Bern, may not be seaside, but it does feature the gorgeous Aare River that is sure to provide that peaceful sensation living near water can offer. Speaking of water, be sure to visit their Parliament Square, which has charming water fountains that underscore its beautiful buildings.
One of the more well-known spots here is the Berner Münster, a cathedral from the Middle Ages. Much of the city’s architecture was inspired by the cathedral, so you’ll have a great sense of history when wandering through this town.
Famous Berlin is Germany’s capital city and its largest city in terms of area and population. Furthermore, it is the most populous city in the European Union, making it a perfect spot for urban dwellers.
It’s famous Philharmonic Orchestra is a must-see for music lovers, as is the Berlin Opera. Fans of museums will be in heaven on Museum Island, and artists will appreciate the expansive art culture of the city, which offers countless galleries and events.
The capital of Netherlands, Amsterdam, has a beautiful canal system you’ll have to see to believe. Its deeply artistic culture is exemplified in the city’s Museum District. From the Van Gogh Museum to the Stedelijk museum of modern art, there’s a variety of spectacular artwork to praise.
Wander through the canals while enjoying brunch on a boat, do some shopping at the Albert Cuyp Market, or ride your bike through vibrant parks or along one of the city’s many cycling trails.
Basel is a quaint city in Switzerland that offers a medieval old town and a 12th-century Gothic cathedral with city views. The city has the most museums of any city in Switzerland, offering dozens of spots to take in the rich history.
One of these museums is the Kunstmuseum Basel, home to one of Europe’s oldest fine art collections. While exploring the town, be sure to stop for a slice of honey cake, which was created by their gingerbread makers hundreds of years ago.
Also in Switzerland is Geneva, which is the second-most populous city in the country. It sits at the southernmost side of Lake Geneva and offers magnificent views of the Alps and Jura mountains.
In addition to being a hotspot for skiing, watersports, and hiking, it also has an old town that features cobbled streets and the ancient St. Pierre cathedral. Be sure to pay a visit to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.
The charming town of Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and home to the Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, and the Renaissance-era Rosenborg Castle. You can feel the sense of grandeur in the air as you walk along canals lined with vibrant homes or tour its many gardens.
Literature buffs should pay a visit to the Little Mermaid sculpture in honor of Hans Christian Anderson. The Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest operating amusement park and a striking combination of historic architecture and modern technology.
Complete with skyscraper buildings, Frankfurt is a metropolis resting in central Germany on the river Main. That’s because much of the city was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in all its modern glory.
Visit its Old Town for a historic feel, especially around the holidays when they host to their annual Christmas market. Fans of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe may want to pay a visit to the author’s former home, now called the Goethe House Museum.
Düsseldorf is a German city known for its fashion industry and art scene. It also offers famed finance trade fairs and is the home of several important corporate headquarters. The city’s Old Town is to the East while its more modern hub is to the West.
The street Königsallee is lined with boutiques and a noteworthy shopping spot. Be sure to check out the Rhine River promenade and Rhine Tower.
Munich is the city in Germany where the famous Oktoberfest originated and still takes place annually. Its Old Town features a Neo-Gothic town hall where actors reenact stories from the 1500s.
Between the impressive architecture present throughout the city and its countless museums, you may find yourself dizzy with wonder. Visit the Englischer Garten public park for green views that seem to expand forever. Floating through the park is the manmade river Eisbach, which offers a unique surfing feature to make up for the town’s inland location.
Zurich is the financial capital of Switzerland, which explains its reputation for boasting all things luxurious. Full of high-end shopping and lavish restaurants, the town is considered by some to be the most expensive city in the world.
Even the water looks crystal clear enough to drink and you get both a river and a lake in this lush city. Nature-lovers will also appreciate the surrounding mountains, which offer spectacular views from its upscale cafes and eateries.
Austria’s capital, Vienna, takes the crown for being the most livable European city, and it’s not hard to see why. Home to greats Mozart, Beethoven, and Freud, Vienna has both an artistic and an intelligent heritage.
Full of both historic and contemporary buildings, the city is sure to make you feel at home regardless of your stylistic preferences. The architecture is united by a certain charm unique to the area, which may help to explain why the city is so famous for its cultural events.