The world's most liveable cities are not the most loved: Here are 10 cities that are easy to love

You realise the difference straight away. When you peruse the list of the "World's Most Liveable Cities" that's released each year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, you spot, immediately, that being liveable doesn't necessarily equate to being lovable.

Just because you could comfortably live in a certain city, taking public transport and enjoying good health care and low crime rates and having nice places to spend your downtime, doesn't mean you would necessarily fall in love with the place. Travellers, too, would probably wrinkle their brows at some of the entries in the top 10.

Yes, Toronto (number 4 on the list released last week) is liveable, but would you say you love it? It doesn't tug at the heartstrings in the same way Montreal does. Same with Auckland (No.8) – it's not even the most lovable place in New Zealand. Similar story with Hamburg (No.10), and even Adelaide (No.6). In fact Melbourne (No.1), is probably one of the few cities that combines the two, though you could argue the weather is a source of anything but affection.

A far more interesting list, for travellers at least, would be the world's 10 most lovable cities. You don't have to want to live in these places – you just have to love paying them a visit.

See also: 20 reasons to visit the world's most liveable city

Berlin, Germany

The Neukolln area of Berlin.

The Neukolln area of Berlin Photo: Alamy

Travellers tend to immediately fall in love with Berlin – it's the city you want to move to, the city you never want to leave. There's an energy to Berlin borne of hardship, a creative, liberal, cosmopolitan atmosphere that's inclusive and exciting. There's history in Berlin, a history fraught with guilt and shame, but it's what this city has become that's most interesting. If you love music, or art, or design, or alternative culture, then you will immediately swoon.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro.

Few people dream of upping stumps and moving to Rio, given its reputation for crimes both petty and violent. However, while you might not want to live here, you definitely want to visit, because this is a city that oozes sultry charm. Cariocas know how to party, they know how to enjoy themselves despite the occasional challenges of their home. The beaches are great, and the bars are even better. What's not to love?


Jerusalem, Israel

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Photo: Ben Groundwater

So many travellers will tell you: I loved Jerusalem. There's just so much history here, so much of interest. It's a sacred place for three of the world's great religions. It's a city of so many cultures, Middle Eastern, African and European. It's a place where you can walk the paved streets of the Old City and imagine that nothing has changed here in thousands of years. And in some ways, it hasn't.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia.

Cartagena, Colombia Photo: Alamy

On one side of Cartagena's 400-year-old city walls you have the Caribbean Sea, the place where pirates used to arrive in the 1600s, where raiders would plan their attacks on the city. On the other side you have the Old Town, with its cobbled streets and busy squares, its colonial-era buildings covered in cascades of vines and flowers. And on top of the walls: a cocktail bar from which to watch the sun set over the sea. No wonder travellers feel so strongly about this city.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Photo: Bloomberg

Yes, Rome is flat broke and things like public transport and sanitation don't often work the way they should. But that's all part of this ancient city's charm. And who could fail to fall in love with the Italian capital despite its flaws? Who could refuse to love the trattorias with their carbonaras, or the bars with their negronis, or the world-famous historical sites that you just stumble upon without even trying? To mangle the Samuel Johnson quote: when a traveller is tired of Rome, he is tired of life.

Tokyo, Japan

View of Tokyo skyline with Senso-ji Temple and Tokyo skytree at twilight.

Photo: Shutterstock

To me, Tokyo appears to tick boxes of both livability and lovability. Its charms for travellers are obvious: this is a huge city that can be tackled on a small scale, from the pedestrianised streets of Shimokitazawa to the small bars of Shinjuku; from the yakitori joints of Ginza to the boutiques of Shibuya. There's never a dull moment. Tokyo is also a breeze to get around, thanks to a world-leading public transport system, plus it's clean and incredibly safe. The best of both worlds.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal.

Photo: Alamy

It might only just be recovering from the financial woes of the 2000s, but Lisbon is a city that's very easy to love thanks to its easygoing, friendly locals, its excellent but affordable drinking and dining scenes, its old neighbourhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto, and its rickety trams that provide the backbone to its public transport system. It may not rate highly on the EIU's livability scale, but I would move there tomorrow.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa Photo: Alamy

There aren't many cities in Africa that would qualify as lovable, but Cape Town is surely one. The natural elements are all there, from the likes of Table Mountain to Lion's Head, of Clifton Beach to Camp's Bay. But there's also history and culture here, from colourful Bo-Kaap to hipster-friendly Woodstock, bustling Long Street to the modern V&A Waterfront. And just a half-hour drive away: the Stellenbosch wine country.

Fes, Morocco

Fes, Morocco.

Photo: Alamy

Fes is one of those places you'd never want to live, but would always want to visit. It would be too chaotic a place to call home: you'd get sick of being lost in the 1000-year-old medina; you'd tire of constantly rubbing shoulders with tourists and shoppers and vendors; you'd have to deal with the ancient buildings and sanitation systems. As a visitor, however, all of those things are charming and great.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires.

Personally I would love to live in Buenos Aires, though everyone I know who's actually had the experience says it's not as wonderful as you might expect. There are issues to deal with, issues of crime and poor organisation and occasional civil unrest. But I still love BA, I love its colour and its chaos, I love its madness for football, its passion for red wine and steak, its shabby chic perfection that you find on every street. Maybe I won't live there, but I'll always want to visit.

What do you think are the world's most lovable cities? Are there any that are both lovable and livable?



​See also: the 13 things you will never hear an Australian traveller say

See also: 11 destinations Australian travellers should love (but don't)

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