Most beautiful cities announced by Flight Network

Boats in Cape Town

When you think of the world’s most beautiful cities, which spring to mind? It was a question I was asked recently, along with other bloggers, by online travel agency Flight Network. As a reasonably well-travelled person, I was only too happy to nominate a few.

It’s a tough question, more than anything because even the most aesthetically pleasing cities have their gritty side once you’ve stripped away the Instagram-friendly UNESCO heritage.

The resulting World’s 50 Most Beautiful Cities judged by the online travel community contains few surprises, with many of the world’s most visited included in the top 10:

  1. Paris
  2. New York
  3. London
  4. Venice
  5. Vancouver
  6. Barcelona
  7. Cape Town
  8. San Francisco
  9. Sydney
  10. Rome

What is a little surprising is that the list is so Western-centric. Paris is up there in the top 10, but Kyoto is not. New York is second, but Shanghai is nowhere to be seen.

Other inclusions also look suspect: Bangkok is more beautiful than Chiang Mai, which might raise eyebrows in Thailand. Why is Singapore seen as the most beautiful city in Asia? Seriously?

Maybe my fellow bloggers haven’t been out much, but let’s not take this too seriously. You can see one of my nominated cities (admittedly in Europe) – Barcelona – ranked 6th, which I can’t really argue with.

Raging at the world? Move to Stuttgart, the world’s least stressful city

Stuttgart

It’s tempting on occasion to think the world is falling apart, with everyone turning on each other and attacks coming out of nowhere.

But then I put down the PS4 controller and feel immediately at ease.

Thankfully it’s just a game, and I can escape at will. In the real world many aren’t so lucky, with it taking a little more than an adult colouring book to restore sanity.

A survey by Zipjet – a dry cleaning service in London (yes, I’m surprised too) – has helpfully revealed the most stressful and the least stressful cities on Earth. The dry cleaners reveal that the purpose of the study was to find out how the most stressful cities can benefit from the example of cities least affected (those it’s not clear how, and why it’s of interest to a dry cleaning service).

In the unlikely event you’re based in Baghdad, you might want to look away now, as your city came first.  The Iraqi capital scored worst across areas such as pollution, economic factors and health (physical and mental).

Kabul was ranked second, and while tempting to think that Mogadishu was next, another African city – Lagos – emerged third most stressful worldwide.

The full list of 150 cities included a surprise or two, as might be expected with any survey. It’s difficult to object to former conflict-torn cities placed lower down the list…but Kuala Lumpur in 110th?

How is Malaysia’s famously laid-back capital more stressful than Tokyo (72nd), Hong Kong (74th) and New York (84th) – cities equally famed for their long hours and high pressure?

Reaching for a mindfulness app to bring down my blood pressure as I contemplated such madness, I turned to look at the five most tranquil cities in the world.

And they all look rather ho-hum, with the exception of one city known for its annual beer festival.

Stuttgart tops the list, with Luxembourg ranked second ahead of Hanover, Bern and Munich. These places also do rather well in quality of life surveys.

So it’s crystal clear: if you’re looking to relocate to somewhere chilled, learn German first. And if you want to avoid stress in your life, give war-battered cities a miss.

Vancouver is the best city worldwide for startups, reveals PeoplePerHour

Vancouver skyline

With seemingly everyone wanting to disrupt or launch something these days (how different things were in the nineties, when we all had hobbies and adult learning to entertain us), where is best to start The Next Big Thing?

Vancouver, apparently.

The Canadian city ranked first in an index compiled by PeoplePerHour, who assessed locations worldwide on quality of life, cost of living, rent, office space, monthly salary, starting a business and best country for business.

The list shows that smaller cities have triumphed against “goliaths” like Singapore, London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, who all sit in the bottom half of the table (and will probably face relegation unless they become more affordable).

It confirms what many of us suspect: it’s easier to start a business when you’re not saddled with high living costs and rent.

Unsurprisingly, Berlin is best in Europe, Bangkok is top in Asia (though digital nomad hotspot Chiang Mai can’t be far behind), and Melbourne – which generally does well in quality of life surveys – is Australia’s highest showing.

And how about Manchester? A capital of creativity in England, the city came third – much like its football teams – well ahead of the swaggering UK capital:

1. Vancouver
2. Berlin
3. Manchester
4. Lisbon
5. Stockholm
6. San Diego
7. Bangkok
8. Melbourne
9. LA
10. Bangalore
11. Kuala Lumpur
12. Singapore
13. Istanbul
14. London
15. Sydney
16. Tel Aviv
17. Amsterdam
18. Miami
19. Athens
20. Moscow
21. San Francisco
22. NYC
23. Tokyo
24. Paris
25. Rome