Top 10 happiest cities in the world

(Photo: Visions Photographiques / Flickr)

(Photo: Visions Photographiques / Flickr)

How often do you get to take a happy  trip to one of the top 10 happiest cities in the world?  The infographic below is based on a perception survey by GFK Custom Research, as well as factors like number of outdoor attractions, shopping centers, and cultural locations. 

Lucky for BATs…we live in the ONLY city in the US to make this list. Why leave? 😉

Which city do you feel should have made this list, but didn’t? Leave your comments below.


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  • balexandre

    STOP, Catalan is a regionalism, Spanish is the national language! That’s the same, I don’t speak English, only British!

  • Malasombra

    Great error! The language in Barcelona is not spanish (no only). Most Barcelona’s cityzens are bilingual: catalan and spanish. Catalan is the official language of Catalonia and Barcelona and Catalonia’s goverment, the education (from kindergarten to University).

  • Iker

    Barcelona’s language is not spanish, it is catalan

  • Shone

    Amsterdam?? not at all…maybe 20 days during the year when its sunny. Besides-no. On a contrary – very depressive

  • Miri

    Cologne is a MUST! This really is the best town in Germany!

  • Diego Arg

    That´s right, Buenos Aires urban area population in almost 13 million people

  • DWallace

    To all who are having a problem w/ SFs population. Do you think there are truly 10 million people in say, LA? Of course not. 115 plus suburbs are added up to get that figure but no one questions that. And yes I know they are all IN the county of LA. So what. That’s the COUNTY of LA not the city of LA. So in truth LA is not the 2nd largest ‘city’ in America.
    It’s all how things are counted people!

  • DWallace

    To Snake Plissken: So w/ your logic I guess the population of say LA shouldn’t include the 115 plus suburbs surrounding it when calculating it’s population. But guess what… it does!!


    What does the happiest city mean?, a happy city for its inhabitants or for those that are just visitors?. Even for the second case the word happiest continues being ambiguous.

    In the list there is incorrect information and it does not help to compare the 10 cities. In Barcelona, the city where I live, the native language is Catalan and Spanish is the second language. The population of the metropolitan area of Barcelona is more than 4 million, nevertheless it’s a friendly city.

    I’ve been in 7 of the 10 cities on the list and where I felt happiest, besides Barcelona my city, it was in Amsterdam and Paris and where I passed the best funny time was Buenos Aires. I would add other cities to the list and also would delete some ones.

    I find extremely strange that Rio is number 1. It’s really a beautiful city for pictures but the personal security level is very low and it’s really difficult that you visit Rio without being stolen or injured with a knife.

  • Len Otley

    I’ve visited and/or worked in all but one of those cities (Amsterdam being the exception), and I’ve now decided to settle in San Francisco. Just saying.

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  • Antonio

    I have spent time in every one of those cities and I like them all very much for different reasons. Rio has to be the most beautiful location for any city and I rate it number 1 for beauty. Surprised not to see a Canadian city there as Canada is surely one of the top 5 countries in the world for standard of living. Auckland is also amazing and people are discovering NZ is a paradise. It is ashame smaller cities did not make the list and my city has much to offer and is similar to Rio. The City of the GOLD COAST has amazing beaches, excellent weather all year round, mountains with waterfalls and walking tracks and is a very safe and relaxed place to live. I would not want to live anywhere else. But do not take these polls to serious and they are a little bit of fun and only a few peoples choices. But in saying that these cities are among the best in the world to holiday visit and all rate up there as my favourites.

  • frogbox

    Oh come on. These people cherry-picked cities they liked, and left out a lot of places.

    What cities didn’t they pick? Vancouver? Osaka? Cape Town? Toronto? Rome? Seattle? Istanbul? San Diego? Honolulu? Miami? Santiago? Montreal? Auckland? Hong Kong? Denver? Brisbane? Berlin? Los Angeles?

    It’s pretty easy to be a winner if you don’t have competition.

  • elbonian

    Hmmmm, the native language from Barcelona is Catalan, not Spanish.

  • jared

    I have been in all 10 and rate the two from Australia the happiest!
    Am in Buenos Aires now and find the majority of people stressed
    about their country’s economic condition, their personal safety
    and what tomorrow might bring.

  • Snake Plissken

    “There are over 7 million people in SF???” Yeah, off by just under an order of magnitude.

    “I think they mean the entire SF-Bay area region…– chris” If that is so, remove Oakland and the burbs of the Peninsula and SF would be #1.

  • http://none ben

    nice!!! i’m 4 for 10 as of last week!!!

  • Yvonne Ahearn

    You made a glaring omission and that is Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii has long been known for being the “happiest’ state in the US and rankings in other surveys and the relevant data show that. Life expectancy is longest here and of course, the weather is perfect. Unemployment is low… etc. etc. The cost of living is high, but it has that in common with most of the other cities listed on your list. Hawaii is the place of true Aloha spirit and great happiness, and must definitely be included among the happiest places in the world.
    See, e.g.,

  • WBBsAs

    I spend several months every year in Buenos Aires, where I own an apartment. I expect that most Porteños (residents of the port city) would be surprised, even shocked, to hear it was among the world’s ten happiest cities. It’s always interesting, but the operative word is bronca – see

  • Keith

    Two Australian cities in the Top 10 – what’s not to be happy about? Come on down and enjoy the great life :) P.S. I don’t take it too seriously either, but what harm does it do? Some of the posters on the comments need to move to one of the happier places. Love to all from down under!

  • Jenny D

    Interesting graphic, but who cares about shopping centres?

    I haven’t been to one since online shopping was invented…

  • Donna Lea

    JohnG, you don’t find SF a happy place? Try living in Seattle awhile. I miss the Bay Area. Google “Seattle freeze.” It’s about people’s attitudes, not the weather.

  • Donna

    JohnG, you don’t find SF a happy place? Try living in Seattle awhile. I miss the Bay Area. Google “Seattle freeze.” It’s about people’s attitudes, not the weather.

  • Ezekiel

    (In retrospect I wish there was a way I could delete my remark. What I said was valid; but there’s really no reason to criticize the piece for something it’s not meant to be. This is a fun little diversion, and it’s got a beautiful graphic to go with it. Never mind how objective or “useful” it may or may/not be. Sorry for wasting your time and space here.)

  • Ezekiel

    Nice travel-site puff piece. Something as subjective as ‘happiness’ varies so much, that the simple act of choosing metrics for making numerical comparisons between places can only resonate with a particular view of what makes life good. The applicability of this to anyone is proportional to how much their own view of happiness is in sync with the analysts who compiled the list. Plus, even Wiki has trouble deciding how many people are in a metro area. Their “CSA” (combined statistical area) lists 7.5 million, like this chart. But their “MSA” (metropolitan statistical area) lists it about 3 million lower. Any poll statistics or metrics will likely vary meaningfully depending on which nearby cities are included or excluded from “SF”. — In short, a fun post to take in, but still fairly subjective, and not particularly useful.

  • M

    Jeez you people are so ridiculously negative. Most of you are unhappy I presume? This was just a fun article that displays culture and entertainment in cities around the world. There’s unemployment and sadness everywhere. People need to look on the bright side of things for a change.

  • yo baby yo baby yo

    But great article, and lists some of my favorite cities! Not trying to be grumpy gramps (and now that I’ve had my cup of coffee I’m a happy camper and ready to hit Rio, BA and the rest of So America!)

  • chris

    Thank you GNB! You made my morning with your comment! — chris

  • -G

    I think people are splitting hairs over something that was just meant to be fun! I grew up in SF and live in the East Bay and i’m extremely happy! Lol

  • chris

    Hi LOL. Thanks for your comments. Have you ever been to a favela? They are surprisingly happy places. Next time you go to Rio, take a favela tour and you will see! — chris

  • Mr J

    …but design wise, it is a nice graphic.

  • Kathleen Hershner

    I just moved back to the Bay Area after living in Madrid since 2003. This study is based on ‘perception’, and not reality. How in the world Madrid could even get on the list? I’m guessing that tourists who go there and ‘hit and run’ and then come back to the USA gushing and sighing over cheap tapas and wine are adding to the myth of easy living there. Nothing could be farther from the truth, in my opinion. It’s a pleasant enough city, but a second tier one for sure. I can think of about 10 others that should knock it out of place. And, perhaps ‘happiness’ isn’t the right noun to use because it’s rather vague.

  • gael

    I can only talk for the cities I visited: Paris’ Area has over 10 millions ppl. Making it one of the biggest cities of this ranking. More culture location in Roma than Paris? They must be kidding ! I love Roma, but for other reasons :-)

    And by the way: Venezuela is one of the happiest country in the world (ranked 1 to 4 depending on the survey). But I can’t see any city of this country.

  • LOL

    Yeah. All those folks in the Rio favelas are SMILING AND HAVING A GREAT TIME. What a braindead whorish infographic but some dumb app startup.

  • Les

    The SF population figure is a typo. Just take away the 0 at the end of the figure and move the decimal point and you get the true figure.

  • chris

    Hey there Tat: Thanks for taking the time to research and comment on this! I think that the discussion around whether or not the population posted is for metro area or city is moot. Population is not one of the factors that Convos used to determine “happiness” — which I think is an inexact science at best. But it’s fun to read and definitely gets people talking and dreaming and reminiscing about travel… which is the reason I posted it. — chris

  • Tat Hui

    I have done some research by just curiosity on the population of all the cities and all the other cities except SF have been used for their city itself population and NOT the metropolitan area population. So, I don’t know how valid this study is.

  • JohnG

    Another dumb top 10 list.
    I don t find the people around here particularly “happy.”

  • Jay Davidson

    Since the comments indicate that it was for the San Francisco BAY AREA, and not the city itself, perhaps the headline should read “The Top 10 Happiest Metropolitan Areas.” Then the question is whether the references to Paris, Buenos Aires, and other locales mentioned are for their metropolitan areas or the cities themselves.

  • Steve E Vee

    Thought Vancouver would be on the list. Populations are metro areas, I assume?

  • Miriam Hamsa

    Apparently they didn’t talk to the street kids in Rio de Janeiro. They are real happy.
    Shopping centers as a source of happiness? Who thinks up this stupidity?

  • chris

    Thanks, Martin. I believe the infographic is referring to the San Francisco Bay Area population, so it’s not all that wrong according to this census: – — chris

  • chris

    THanks, Nick– the study is based on those things as well as a GFK survey… so it’s likely that more BayAreans reported happiness when contacts! — chris

  • chris

    Hi there… thanks for your comments… I believe the infographic is referring to the San Francisco Bay Area population, which is over 7 million – — chris

  • http://Facebook Aguinaldo Mendes da Silva

    I can’t resist the pun…San francisco is a very gay city

  • Wolfgang

    What about Cologne/Germany? City of The Carnival?

  • Michael Charalambous

    I’m just curious as to how that’s been judged exactly? Paris was one of the worst cities i’ve ever been to – people wise.

  • MoFoPlz

    SF population is a bit under/over 800K not 2 million+. When you get something as simple as that wrong my trust of your polling system is shot.

    Nice to see SF as the only US city repped tho. They prolly got that right as long as you’re not working three jobs to keep the rent paid. I find exhaustion diminishes happiness.

  • Nick

    If this study is based on outdoor locations, shopping centers, cultural sites, amusement, and performances then New York should be at the top…….

  • Martin

    Spectacularly wrong population figures. 7 million in SF? Only 1.6 in Melbourne? Only 2 point something in BA. What nonsense.

  • Juan

    The language of Barcelona should be Catalan, not Spanish.

  • chris

    I believe the infographic refers to the population of the San Francisco Bay Area — chris

  • Becca

    Population of 7,563,460? When did our population increase 10 fold?

  • Shin Hwa

    The unemployment rate in Spain is now 26.1%…not sure how “happy” people are in Madrid & Barcelona.

  • chris

    I think they mean the entire SF-Bay area region…– chris

  • Ann

    There are over 7 million people in SF???

  • John

    An old friend that traveled to, and lived in Rio and Sao Paulo said that the people of Brazil are so nice. So, it comes as no surprise that Rio was named the happiest city. The city is so nice, this past friend traveled there at least 10 times in the last decade. He found a Interior Planning and Design position with a firm in Sao Paulo, and stayed a year. I was surprised by San Francisco being on the list as I feel The City needs a little humility. Too much bragging by the bay in some of the media, including sports media.