Room to breathe: This is the best small city in Germany

Room to breathe: This is the best small city in Germany

Room to breathe: This is the best small city in Germany

For the second time, Monocle has put together its Small Cities Index, ranking the world's more modest cities, and this year, the German city of Wiesbaden has made the cut! 

Monocle's index

Now in its second year, Monocle's Small Cities Index is a ranking of the best small cities in the world that are practical to live in, culturally rich, comfortable, and offer varied careers and plenty of "room to breathe”. The lifestyle magazine only includes cities with fewer than 250.000 inhabitants, which offer a great quality of life.

The index demonstrates the attributes of small cities, emphasising them as a viable alternative to life in megacities. The main indicators used by the magazine to create the ranking are: accessibility, mayor factor, warm and welcoming, green ambitions and business opportunities.

Wiesbaden awarded 15th place on the rankings

This year, just one German city made it onto the ranking. Wiesbaden, in the state of Hesse, was awarded 15th place. It is described as "rich in culture and laidback in lifestyle" and "ideal for young professionals and families."

Monocle point out that Wiesbaden's ideal location, within easy reach of Frankfurt, gives its residents the ideal balance between urban facilities and the peace and quiet of the countryside, while its large number of multinational corporations create plenty of employment opportunities for expats. 

However, as one of the wealthiest cities in Germany, living costs in Wiesbaden are  high. Monocle's experts highlighted this as an area in need of improvement, but maintained that housing in Wiesbaden is still much more affordable than in Frankfurt. 

The best small cities for 2021

Monocle's top 20 small cities for 2021 are as follows: 

  • 1. Porto, Portugal 
  • 2. Leuven, Belgium
  • 3. Itoshima, Japan
  • 4. Lucerne, Switzerland
  • 5. Victoria, Canada
  • 6. Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 7. Basel, Switzerland
  • 8. Bolzano, Italy
  • 9. Aalborg, Denmark
  • 10. Bergen, Norway
  • 11. Eindhoven, the Netherlands
  • 12. Ghent, Belgium 
  • 13. Burlington, USA
  • 14. Innsbruck, Austria
  • 15. Wiesbaden, Germany
  • 16. Aomori, Japan
  • 17. Bath, UK
  • 18. Taitung, Taiwan
  • 19. Groningen, the Netherlands
  • 20. Annecy, France

For the full ranking, including details on how the scores were worked out, visit the Monocle website.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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