The best cities in the world for culture in 2023 named by Time Out

The best cities in the world for culture in 2023 named by Time Out – with Edinburgh beating New York and Melbourne trumping Paris. But none of them make the top five…

  • Mexico’s capital city was praised for the ‘diversity’ and ‘vitality’ of its art scene
  • Time Out says ‘affordability’ was one of the most essential factors in the ranking 
  • READ MORE: The best 100 cities on the planet ranked and it’s London that’s No.1

Mexico City has been named the best city in the world right now for culture by Time Out.

The ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘charismatic’ capital of Mexico offers a ‘diverse’ and ‘affordable’ art scene, according to the publication.

Time Out’s ranking was drawn up via a survey of 21,000 city-dwellers across the globe who were asked about the ‘quality’ and ‘affordability’ of their city’s cultural scene. Four ‘spotlight’ cities were added to the final list, nominated by Time Out’s ‘clued-up editors and local experts’.

Grace Beard, Travel Editor at Time Out, says: ‘One of the most essential factors that went into this ranking is how locals scored their city’s culture scene for affordability which is why, for example, London, although a hotbed for culture, isn’t on the list this time around.’

The UK’s top-ranking cultural city is Edinburgh, which took sixth place, beating the likes of Melbourne (10th) and New York (15th). Scroll down to see the top 10 best cities for culture – and for the list in full…

10. Melbourne, Australia 

In 10th spot is Melbourne, with Time Out describing it as a ‘pretty fun place to be’

‘From graffiti-covered laneways to the artistic hub of Fed Square, culture is alive and well in Melbourne,’ says Time Out.

Its ‘thriving community of creatives and artists’ makes the city ‘a pretty fun place to be’, the publication notes.

It continues: ‘Take it from the locals: Melburnians praised their city for its vibrancy, variety and sense of community, shouting out annual events like Moomba as well as cultural institutions like the NGV, Australia’s most-visited and longest-running art museum.’

 9. Florence, Italy 

Time Out places the ‘small but mighty’ city of Florence in ninth place as one of its ‘spotlight’ recommendations 

Declaring the city as ‘small but mighty’, Time Out says Florence ‘punches above its weight on the global cultural scene’, adding it to the ranking as one of its editor-recommended ‘spotlight’ cities.

Time Out says: ‘It’s not just about priceless Renaissance treasures – the Botticellis and Caravaggios crammed into the Uffizi Galleries, Burnelleschi’s vast and majestic Duomo, and the newly revealed “secret” chambers beneath the Medici Chapel housing previously unseen sketches from Michelangelo’s final years. Florence also holds its own on the contemporary art scene.’

The guide adds: ‘Day to day, Florentine culture is about strolling around vintage markets and enjoying aperitivo in the birthplace of the negroni.’

 8. Madrid, Spain

Taking eighth spot is Madrid, which Time Out describes as ‘one of Europe’s greatest art capitals’. Above is the Museo del Prado 

‘The capital of Spain is also one of Europe’s greatest art capitals,’ notes Time Out.

The guide reveals that the Museo del Prado – ‘which houses a vast and spectacular collection of Spanish and European art’ – was ‘overwhelmingly named the city’s best venue by locals in [the] survey’, adding: ‘Follow that up with the Thyssen and shrine to twentieth-century art the Reina Sofia and you’ll have experienced the city’s Golden Triangle of Art.’

And theatre fans won’t be disappointed, either. Time Out notes that the city is home to Teatro Real – ‘one of Europe’s most esteemed venues for opera and the performing arts’.

 7. Vienna, Austria 

In seventh place is Vienna, which Time Out says offers ‘exceptional culture’

‘When the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert have called a city home, you can bet that the culture scene there is pretty good,’ says Time Out.

‘Well, it’s not just good: culture in Vienna is exceptional, by anyone’s measure.’

It continues: ‘Locals named The Albertina and Albertina Modern as the city’s best venue, which is packed with masterpieces from art titans including Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Kirchner, and Klimt.’ 

Time Out adds: ‘If there’s one city with a license to name-drop, it’s Vienna.’

 6. Edinburgh, Scotland

The UK’s top-ranking city is Edinburgh, which Time Out notes hosts the ‘largest arts festival on the planet’ each August – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 

‘All the world’s a stage come August in Edinburgh,’ says Time Out. ‘When the largest arts festival on the planet takes over almost every street, pub and theatre across the Scottish capital.’

Aside from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the city earns its place on the list for its ‘world-class museums and galleries: namely the National Museum of Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland’. 

Time Out notes that Edinburgh was commended for its ‘variety’ which, it says, is ‘hardly surprising, given the city hosts not just one but a whole blockbuster of summer festivals, from books to jazz to performing arts’.  

 5. Athens, Greece

Locals named the Acropolis (above) as their favourite cultural venue in Athens

‘Athens has been a global centre for the arts since… well, forever,’ says Time Out.

But these days, the Greek capital ‘is known as much for its anarchic underground culture as it is for ancient ruins’, says the guide.

It notes that nonetheless, it was the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum that locals named their favourite cultural venue, ‘proving just how much the city remains gripped by its own history’. 

 4. Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Time Out says Buenos Aires is a ‘hub for every branch of the arts’. From libraries to late-night tango, there’s something for everyone. Above is the colourful Caminito street in La Boca

‘Culture pulses through Buenos Aires’ Veins,’ says Time Out, which it calls ‘the bookstore capital of the world, the birthplace of tango, and a hub for every branch of the arts’.

The city’s main opera house, Teatro Colon, topped ‘the list of locals’ favourite venues’, Time Out says, adding that ‘late-night tango, libraries and the street art-plastered neighbourhood of San Telmo each received several mentions too’. 

The guide adds: ‘Taking in all that culture won’t cost you much, either, as Buenos Aires boasts the second-most-affordable culture scene of all the cities surveyed.’

 3. Cape Town, South Africa

Third in the ranking is Cape Town in South Africa, which was praised for its ‘diverse’ cultural scene. Pictured is the city’s colourful neighbourhood Bo-Kaap

Cape Town’s multiculturalism has ‘lent the city an enviable offering when it comes to art and culture’, Time Out says.  

It adds: ‘From the lively annual Kaapse Klopse street parade, to cabaret and comedy at mega-institutions Baxter Theatre and Artscape, every corner of South Africa’s sprawling seaside has something to offer culture-seekers.’

Time Out notes that in the survey ‘the city ranked highest overall for the quality of its cultural offerings’, and locals praised its ‘diverse’ atmosphere. 

 2. Prague, Czech Republic 

In second place is Prague, which Time Out refers to as an ‘outdoor museum’. Above is Charles Bridge, which lies in the heart of the city 

Time Out says: ‘”Walking around” was one of the most common responses among locals when asked what they love about culture in their city.’

Its ‘striking’ Gothic towers, arch bridges, and castles ‘makes it a veritable outdoor museum’, the publication says, adding: ‘It’s also a hub for performing arts, with locals raving about the city’s opera heritage, classical concerts and venues like the National Theatre.’ 

1. Mexico City, Mexico 

Taking the top spot is Mexico’s capital city, which scored ‘exceptionally high for both the quality and affordability’ of its culture scene, according to Time Out

In top spot is Mexico’s ‘charismatic’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ capital, which Time Out says scored ‘exceptionally high for both the quality and affordability of its culture scene’. 

It says: ‘While architecture, theatres and street parades like Dia de Muertos all got the nod in our survey, it was the city’s mighty museum scene that got the biggest shout-out. CDMX’s museums showcase everything from Aztec artifacts and folk art to surrealist paintings, and many of them are housed in showstopping buildings.’ 

There are plenty to choose from, including the ‘grand, neo-baroque Palacio de Bellas Artes or the twisty, shiny and ultra-modern Museo Soumaya’, and, Time Out notes, ‘many are either permanently free or offer free entry on Sundays for those with Mexican residency’.

For more visit


1. Mexico City, Mexico

2. Prague, Czech Republic 

3. Cape Town, South Africa

4. Buenos Aires, Argentina 

5. Athens, Greece

6. Edinburgh, Scotland 

7. Vienna, Austria 

8. Madrid, Spain

9. Florence, Italy (spotlight city)

10. Melbourne, Australia 

11. Paris, France

12. Montreal, Canada

13. Marrakech, Morocco (spotlight city)

14. São Paulo, Brazil

15. New York, U.S

16. Tokyo, Japan

17. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (spotlight city)

18. Mumbai, India

19. Amsterdam, Netherlands

20. Seoul, South Korea (spotlight city)

Source: Time Out 


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