Top 10 European cities

Whether you’re planning a trip to Europe or looking to stay a little longer, you may want to check out the Forbes list of the top ten most livable European cities. The list was compiled using data from an annual survey by global consultancy Mercer.

The survey took into account factors that affect quality of living, including political stability, economic environment, crime, medical services, education, public services and transportation, availability of consumer goods, housing and culture and entertainment. (Affordability was not one of the criteria.)

Europe’s 10 most livable cities

1. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich’s population may be tiny – 376,815 at the end of 2007 – but the city enjoys over 2,000 bars and restaurants (including one with original Picasso and Cezanne paintings on the walls) and a breathtaking view of the Alps and Lake Zurich. Taxes are among the lowest in Switzerland, and residents pay no inheritance tax. The city scored high in nearly all areas on the Mercer survey, including good medical facilities. The downside? The city’s gloomy weather and heavy traffic.

2. Vienna, Austria (Tie)

The entire city centre of Austria’s political, cultural and economic capital has been designated a United Nations World Heritage site. It also has excellent education and infrastructure, as well as high-quality housing in the city centre.

2. Geneva, Switzerland (Tie)

Over half of Geneva’s population has a foreign passport, according to the region’s statistics office – not surprising given the heavy presence of United Nations agencies and organizations such as the Red Cross. As a result, the city is geared to an international population, with private banking facilities, private hospitals and international schools.

4. Dusseldorf, Germany

Over the past several years, Düsseldorf has invested heavily in building up its infrastructure and international transport connections. The city, located on the banks of the Rhine, has a plethora of consumer goods and is considered the fashion and shopping capital of Germany. Düsseldorf has a thriving economy and is headquarters for some of Germany’s largest companies.

5. Munich, Germany (Tie)

With a population of 1.3 million, Munich is the largest city to make it into Europe’s top 10. Best known for its annual beer festival, the city also enjoys a thriving economy, driven by the information technology, biotechnology and publishing sectors. However, the city has a dearth of international schools and air pollution is high.

5. Frankfurt, Germany (Tie)

The financial capital of Germany has some spectacular architecture, including the opera house and cathedral, and a vibrant cultural scene. The city has excellent hospitals, shops and a thriving economy. (It is home to Europe’s second-largest stock exchange and Deutsche Bank’s headquarters). Areas where the city didn’t score well include the poor availability of housing in the city centre and heavy traffic.

7. Bern, Switzerland

Bern, located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, is the world’s second-safest city, according to Mercer. It has 6 kilometers (4 miles) of shopping arcades, and while the city may not have a buzzing nightlife, it does have excellent medical facilities, including the world-famous University Hospital Insel. (It was in Bern that Albert Einstein worked out his theory of relativity while working in the city.)

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

Living in Copenhagen is pricey – but the city boasts 11Michelin-star restaurants and, according to Mercer, is among the best-served cities in terms of international schools and private medical facilities. However the city’s love of bikes (it is sometimes referred to as the city of cyclists) means that traffic congestion drags it down the overall rankings.

9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam’s red light district and liberal policy on drug use don’t do much for its family-friendly reputation. Yet families can enjoy the city’s canals, parks and museums, as well as the best selection of international schools in Europe. Its ranking is dragged down by a lack of city centre housing and air pollution.

10. Brussels, Belgium

The administrative center of the European Union is among the best-connected cities in Europe, with high-speed rail connections across the continent and to London. It also has a large number of schools serving the expatriate community. On the downside, the city has a large amount of traffic congestion and a high level of air pollution.


To read more on the survey, click here.


Photo © harryfn


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