Five Beautiful Places to Visit and Live in

Earlier this year the Economist Intelligence Unit published their most popular annual study: a ranking of cities of the world in term of their livability. Surveyed were 140 different cities, each rated on their stability, health care, education, culture and environment. We bring the best to you here. Australia and Canada dominate the Top 10, while Austria, New Zealand and Finland also make an appearance.

These cities are not just a nice place to visit; you could do far worse if you wanted to pull up stakes and find someplace new to live.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Melbourne, Australia

A total of four Australian cities appear on the Top 10 list (Adelaide, Sydney and Perth are the others). However, Melbourne is the one that makes it to the very top. While it is only the second largest city in the country, it certainly doesn’t take second place to Sydney when it comes to culture, with its vibrant visual arts, performing arts and culinary arts scenes.

Melbourne’s City Centre is its most vibrant neighborhood. A major landmark is the Queen Victoria’s Market, consisting of more than 600 shops, ranging from boutiques to specialty food stores, at the Deli Hall. Queen Vic’s Market’s website has a list of all stores and stalls that it hosts. Times and locations of retailers often change by the day and season, so check the website before you make a trip!


Vienna, Austria

The capital of Austria comes second on the list. Featuring an incredible range of great architecture, the city’s old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The historic city centre is enclosed by a circular grand boulevard called the Ringstrasse.


Vienna has a reputation for great classical music, and was  home to great composers, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. The lasting legacy of these four Viennese composers is covered in this New York Times article, which offers both a fascinating read and a video presentation.

The Vienna Philharmonic is also one of the world’s finest orchestras. Its performers are handpicked from the Vienna State Opera’s ensemble, each working their way through a gruelling selection process. If you want to attend a performance of the orchestra, make sure you book tickets in advance.

Toronto, Canada

Along with Vancouver and Calgary, Toronto is one of The Economist’s 10 most livable cities. The city takes pride in its diversity: its many ethnic neighborhoods are a major attraction. On College Street you’ll find Toronto’s Little Italy, a district known for its exciting nightlife and wonderful restaurants. The city doesn’t just boast one Chinatown but three, while vintage shops are everywhere on Queen Street. The core of the city invites walking exploration.


Auckland, New Zealand

The North Island city is also New Zealand’s most populous. The country generally features stunning landscapes, with idyllic mountainsides and white-sand beaches. Don’t miss the chance to climb the imposing Sky Tower, Auckland’s own response to Seattle’s Space Needle and Toronto’s CN Tower.

Other famous destinations on the island are Wellington, as well as charming Hawke’s Bay, a region full of great wines, stupendous nature and art deco architecture.


Helsinki, Finland

The northernmost city on our list, Helsinki, hugs the 60th parallel proudly. Its almost-arctic climate defines much of  its everyday life, so warm summer days are much appreciated by residents – the city comes to life amid the stunning examples of  art nouveau architecture.


One of Finland’s most famous sons is celebrated in Sibelius Park; its central attraction is an impressive sculpture made of 30 tons of stainless steel. The memorial to musical composer Jean Sibelius is also a testament to abstract art. The structure faced fevered criticism throughout its construction but has since been included in the world’s canon of great public art.

If you want some suggestions about where to eat and hang out, visit Seth Kugel  at his Frugal Traveler blog. Or you could ask your hotel concierge. That usually works too.


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