Cape Town Named Third Greatest City On Earth

The Mother City does it again! Cape Town has been named the third greatest city on Earth by the flagship UK newspaper, The Telegraph, out ranking major global heavy hitters and top-of-their-game international travel destinations like Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, and Venice – to mention a few.

Every year The Telegraph runs an annual reader survey as well as employs the input from a pristine panel of renowned travel writers to evaluate the top travel destinations and best cities in the world – all in the pursuit of crowning one of these cities ‘The Greatest City on Earth.’

A total of 19 factors were considered in the ranking process. The number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, urban population density, annual hours of sunshine, total number of five-star hotels, museums, and galleries, and the overall level of safety for members of the LGBTQ+ community (based on the Asher and Lyric LGBTQ+ Danger Index), are merely a few factors taken into consideration.

Beyond its newly acquired title as the ‘Third Greatest City on Earth,’ Cape Town has built up quite the impressive repertoire. Some of its achievements and accolades include being voted the ‘Greatest City in the World’ by the Telegraph Travel Awards for more than 7 years (and counting), being named the ‘15th ‘Most Instagrammable Place in the World’ by Big 7 Travel on their coveted 2020 list, declared ‘Africa’s leading city destination’, and, of course, named one of the most beautiful cities the world – And that’s merely scratching the surface.

Needless to say, the beautiful, vibrant, and culturally diverse city of Cape Town is at the very top of its game and has no problem loudly and proudly staking its claim as one of the top travel destinations in the world.

According to The Telegraph, Cape Town’s podium position is largely owed to its remarkable topography and geography, beautiful beaches, copious sunshine, stunning natural wonders, and the world-renowned Table Mountain. The latter (AKA one of the New7Wonders of Nature – Table Mountain) boasting the highest viewpoint and biggest green space out of any city on the list.

Despite the incredibly fierce competition, there were ONLY two other cities that placed above Cape Town on the publication’s index. Barcelona took top spot, mostly thanks to its culinary and cultural supremacy, low-emission credentials, and inclusive LGBTQ+ scene. Sydney came second, with judges praising its low emissions and ‘stress-free vibes.’

The Telegraph’s Final Rankings:

  1. Barcelona
  2. Sydney
  3. Cape Town
  4. Lisbon
  5. Venice
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Dubai
  8. London
  9. Vancouver
  10. Florence
  11. Stockholm
  12. Paris
  13. Seville
  14. San Francisco
  15. Melbourne
  16. Vienna
  17. Madrid
  18. Singapore
  19. Dubrovnik
  20. Beijing
  21. Tokyo
  22. Rome
  23. Berlin
  24. Dublin
  25. Istanbul
  26. Auckland
  27. Edinburgh
  28. Tel Aviv
  29. Havana
  30. Copenhagen
  31. New York City
  32. Rio de Janeiro
  33. Mexico City
  34. New Orleans
  35. Amsterdam
  36. Prague
  37. Bruges
  38. Toronto
  39. Buenos Aires
  40. Krakow
  41. Las Vegas
  42. Shanghai
  43. Hong Kong
  44. Budapest
  45. Chicago
  46. New Delhi
  47. Athens
  48. Bangkok
  49. Mumbai
  50. Marrakesh

Criteria used to rank each city:

  • Its number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Number of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita. 
  • Distance from city centre of the closest airport.
  • Clean air ranking according to the CDP environmental performance index.
  • Size of the biggest park.
  • Age of oldest extant building.
  • Number of five-star hotels per capita (listed on
  • Highest accessible observation point (including natural vantage points).
  • Number of museums and galleries listed on TripAdvisor (per capita).
  • LGBTQ+ safety ranking based on the Asher and Lyric LGBTQ+ Danger Index.
  • Homicide rate according to the UNODC.
  • Disabled access (according to hotels data on
  • Annual hours of sunshine.
  • Urban population density.

Bonus points were awarded / issued to cities with:

  • A beach
  • A canal system, harbour, or river
  • A bike or scooter-sharing scheme
  • A symphony orchestra; and
  • A metro system that comprises more than just buses and suburban railway networks

About The Author: Bianca Bunge

I am a Cape Town based Travel Blogger & aspiring writer. Travelling is the ULTIMATE joy, it allows us to lose ourselves & find ourselves all at the same time, is there anything better than that? PURE BLISS!! And being a Travel Blogger allows me to share my love of travelling, especially my LOVE of Cape Town, with all of you. The Mother City truly did steal my heart, and perhaps she'll steal yours too! I also love the ocean, going on adventures & wine, I REALLY love wine! Join me on my mission to discover EVERY little bit of Cape Town, and what a glorious adventure it will be!
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