The top cities according to Time Out revealed — where does New York rank?

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By Dan Sears

Start spreading the news, Time Out ranked the 50 best cities in the world and people want to be a part of it — New York, New York, that is, which came in at no. 1.

Time Out interviewed its 100-plus staff of travel writers and editors as well as 20,000 city denizens about the culture and nightlife of their city, food quality and cost, as well as how romantic their city is and how they feel living there. 

The list also reflects how cities have bounced back from the pandemic. 

“As our global ranking shows, cities haven’t just pulled together through the pandemic—they’ve come out reborn and are back, better than ever when it comes to going out and experiencing great things to do,” Time Out’s travel editor Grace Beard told Forbes. 

Coming in second behind New York is Cape Town, South Africa, London, England, Berlin, Germany, and Madrid, Spain. 

1. New York

Not only do people love living in “the city that never sleeps,” but around 15% of those surveyed said they want to move to New York. 

People cited the city’s “world-class” cultural institutions, great theater scene, as well as its many top-notch offerings. 

“New York tops this year’s world’s best cities list both for its quality of life for locals and for its global appeal for visitors,” Time Out wrote.

“The city was ranked highest by its residents across the board, from food and drink to nightlife, culture and beauty, and it was also the place city-dwellers from around the world would choose if they could move to any other city,” the outlet added. 

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As Gen Z might say, New York has “main character energy,” and it’s no surprise that many books, movies and TV shows feature a protagonist living in the bustling metropolis. 

Time Out asked Candace Bushnell, the author of “Sex in the City,” why she thought New York was so special. 

“New York has so many things: it has culture, it has society and it also has really interesting people and I always feel like, every time I go out in New York, I’m going to have at least one really interesting conversation with somebody,” she said.

“New York is also a place where people come to make it. Nobody comes to New York saying, ‘Oh I’m going to fail or do nothing,” she added.

Cape Town, South Africa came in at number two, in part because of its stunning beauty. derejeb – stock.adobe.com

2. Cape Town, South Africa

Some of the main reasons this city came in at no. 2 is because of its stunning beauty and “multicultural soul.”

“With Table Mountain – laced with well-marked walking trails – at the heart of a peninsula fringed by glorious beaches, it’s not hard to be smitten by Cape Town’s natural beauty,” Time Out contributor Richard Holmes said. 

“But spend a few days here and the Mother City’s multicultural soul quickly shines through,” he added.

The city’s “creative landscape is alive with new energy,” and there’s an abundance of art and public events. 

“Cape Town scored highly across the board. A whopping 100 percent of locals said the city is beautiful and that it made them happy, while Cape Town’s culture scene ranked highest in the world for its quality,” Holmes.

Berlin, Germany is known for its bustling nightlife scene and great public transportation. Rico Oder – stock.adobe.com

3. Berlin, Germany 

New York may be known as the city that never sleeps, but Berlin’s nightlife scene rivals that of any city in the world.

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“We know well that Berliners like to party, and if our survey’s anything to go by, they’re in the right place for it – Berlin’s nightlife scene had an impressive 82% approval rating,” wrote Berlin-based Time Out contributor Nathan Ma.

While not known for having the friendliest residents, Berlin has the reputation for being the “European capital of cool” and in addition to having an amazing nightlife scene, it’s an accessible city. 

“Getting between the 12 districts with public transportation is easy, but renting a bike is a great way to see the city. Bike lanes criss-cross the capital, and there are seemingly endless wide open green spaces,” wrote Ma. 

London, England has a diverse community and a plethora of things to do. Maridav – stock.adobe.com

4. London, England

This European city is great because of its residents as well as the wide variety of things to do. 

“Londoners make London great. Nowhere else in the world can you rub shoulders with such a diverse yet weirdly homogeneous group of people,” said Editor at Time Out London, Joe Mackterich. 

“Our galleries are free. Our parks are massive. Our pubs are legendary. Our kebab meat is plentiful. There’s no city like it, and if you don’t agree, we genuinely don’t care. But please visit!”  he added.

Not only does London have “more to do than anywhere else on Earth,” residents are happy.

“Despite what you might’ve heard about misery and rain, 94 percent of Londoners said they’re happy and 95 percent said they find the city beautiful. London also had the third-highest ‘pull factor’ of all cities surveyed, with 9 percent of respondents saying they’d move there if they could,” Mackertich explained. 

Madrid, Spain is home to the world’s best chef and has beautiful historic neighborhoods. anekoho – stock.adobe.com

5. Madrid, Spain

Spain’s capital city opens its arms to visitors, it has a bustling nightlife scene and is home to “the best chef on the planet”: David Munoz. 

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“Whether you’re from Madrid or not, when you’re here, we’re all Madrileños. It’s a welcoming and lively city that stands out for its exciting (daily) nightlife, its spectacular food, its internationally renowned chefs and its vibrant culture,” said Marta Bar of Time Out Madrid. 

It also has historic neighborhoods and luxury accommodations for tourists. 

“The essence of Madrid is found in its neighborhoods, where lifelong neighbors and century-old stores coexist with new art galleries and specialty cafes,” Bar said. 

Tourists aren’t the only ones happy in the city either.

“Did we mention the food is fantastic? Well, it’s worth reiterating – Madrid’s food scene got a very impressive 94 percent approval rating from Madrileños,” she said. 

The top 10 best cities in the world

  1. New York
  2. Cape Town
  3. Berlin
  4. London
  5. Madrid
  6. Mexico City
  7. Liverpool
  8. Tokyo
  9. Rome
  10. Porto
  11. Paris
  12. Mumbai
  13. Lisbon
  14. Chicago
  15. Manchester
  16. São Paulo
  17. Los Angeles
  18. Amsterdam
  19. Lagos
  20. Melbourne
  21. Naples
  22. Singapore
  23. Miami
  24. Bangkok
  25. Lima
  26. Budapest
  27. Beijing
  28. Dubai
  29. Montreal
  30. Glasgow
  31. Sydney
  32. Buenos Aires
  33. Kuala Lumpur
  34. Manila
  35. Seoul
  36. Hanoi
  37. San Francisco
  38. Barcelona
  39. Abu Dhabi
  40. New Orleans
  41. Philadelphia
  42. Austin
  43. Boston
  44. Accra
  45. Marseille
  46. Taipei
  47. Istanbul
  48. Osaka
  49. Hong Kong
  50. Vancouver
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