Typically, the best cities in the world are rated and ranked based on common factors such as population, entertainment, diversity, and things of that nature. The difference between 2020 and the rest of the previous years is the pandemic that swept the globe, which drastically altered how a city could be judged. According to AFAR, the best cities of 2021 were also rated based on their response to the pandemic, as well as their ability to come back to a semi-normal state.

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The list, curated by Resonance Consultancy, also included more modern criteria such as innovation and a city's air quality. Moving forward, global city rankings will likely continue to include progressive ideas such as this and won't be ranked solely on how up-and-coming or consistent they've been. With new guidelines moving forward that are far from superficial, the list of the world's best cities definitely looks a bit different than what it has been in previous years. With some cities consistently making the list, they might come as no surprise - but there are some others that have moved up, taking well to the new rating system.

Madrid, Spain

Ranked at number ten on the list, Madrid has moved up over the last year and part of the reason for that is its tremendous ability to get back on its feet. Following the devastation of the pandemic, much of the city has managed to open up to a manageable level, following a lengthy lockdown that shut down the city. Close-contact venues remain closed but much of the city's arts and leisure establishments have re-opened, making this once again a charming and interactive place to visit.

Los Angeles, California

California has faced its share of natural disasters this past year including the pandemic, and Los Angeles, in particular, was ranked based on its resilience in the months following. Particularly, in terms of the arts, which are still coming back slowly but surely. Aside from the pandemic, Los Angeles was ranked for its incredible culinary scene as well as its nightlife, which now includes more innovative entertainment such as rooftop bars.

Barcelona, Spain

All eyes seem to be on Spain lately, and Barcelona is one to watch, for sure. This beautiful city has undergone a renaissance that's rarely seen and if that wasn't enough, its location and historic buildings make for one of the most charming cities in the world. While the city does face the potential threat of overtourism, this doesn't take away from the fact that it's still one of the most stunning and bohemian cities in Europe.


Singapore's advancements in both architecture and agriculture endeavors earn it the seventh spot on the list. Recently incorporating live plants in its infrastructures, Singapore blurs the lines between the inside and outdoors, making it a unique and progressive city. It's also ranked highly due to its population and culinary scene, which has always had a reputation for being far from boring.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai's modern and chic architecture when it comes to its unbelievable skyscrapers puts it high on the list at number six. The addition of open-air gardens and its use of rooftop space for unconventional methods makes it just as technologically advanced, offering up new options for travelers. Its safety and weather ratings don't hurt, either.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is one city that has been through plenty of natural disasters and has handled them all with grace and the true spirit of community. This is how its safety ratings have climbed so high which helps to factor into its spot at number five. Its overall rankings in terms of technology, unbelievable entertainment, and the buzz of people who are always on their way to do or see something new, and its traditional yet nuanced culinary endeavors have given it a top-ranking spot.

Moscow, Russia

Part of the reason that Moscow made the list is due to something many people might not realize. In terms of transportation, this city is one of the best to fly in and out of, making it readily available to practically anyone in the world. Additionally, the city has also undergone a renaissance, coming incredibly far from its once dark history.

Paris, France

Paris is a city that's loved not only by its people but also by the rest of the world, thanks to both its history and its reputation for the arts. The city maintained this reputation through the pandemic, with many people continuing to put it high up on their bucket list of destinations. The city itself is enchanting and rich with both life, culinary experiences, and a history that's unique only to its story.

New York City, New York

New York is a resilient city and it's not all that surprising that it's so high ranking on the list. It's the people of this city that give it such a hearty and strong reputation, with many people well aware of it before they even step foot off the train or out of the airport. This city is full of opportunities and new things to discover, and truly remains a melting pot for everyone, from its culinary scene to its diverse population.

London, England

London is a city that's constantly evolving and this consistent growth is what has earned it the number one spot on the list. With many experiences to be had in this city along with a plethora of ways travelers - and locals - can socialize, there's nothing to not love about it. With so many hotels also evolving, this is sure to be a destination for many going forward into 2021.

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