The Best Cities in the World for 2021

A ranking of global cities for a post-pandemic world
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Before 2020, cities ruled. They were epicenters of economy and culture, hubs of travel, the nerve centers of politics and social change.

But then the virus emptied city streets, taking lives and decimating economies in major cities like New York, Madrid, and Milan. Early on, New York became the tragic ground zero of the outbreak in the U.S., and one of the liveliest cities in the world suddenly became deathly quiet. Paris, still reeling from terrorism, protests and the inferno of its beloved Notre Dame, shut down.

As the pandemic continues, with the promising gradual dispersement of a vaccine, the things that make cities great may have changed, and taken on a new perspective. We are rethinking urban landscapes, and have new appreciation for aspects of life like clean air, nature, community and small, local businesses.

With the optimistic outlook that the devastated travel industry will once again thrive, Resonance Consultancy, an international consultant in tourism, real estate and economic development, ranks the world’s cities for a post-pandemic world in their 2021 World’s Best Cities Report.

“Global cities are the engines of the world and the badges of human ingenuity,” the report states. “Yes, they’ve stalled, exposing long-ignored foundational and institutional problems manifesting on their streets and in their hospitals and seniors homes. But they’re also leading — like they always have — the recovery and future-defining next stage of human innovation.”

To rank the top 100 of the world’s cities (principal cities of metropolitan areas with populations of more than one million) Resonance Consultancy used a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 25 areas grouped into six alliterative categories. These are:

  • Place, which includes weather, safety, sights, outdoors, COVID cases (based on July numbers)
  • Product, including airports, attractions, museums, universities, convention centers
  • Programming— culture, nightlife, dining, shopping
  • People,— diversity and educational attainment
  • Prosperity, including Global Fortune 500 headquarters, GDP, income equality, unemployment rate
  • and Promotion, including the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online

Based on the report, these are the best cities for 2021. Populations are for metropolitan areas.