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The World's Most Cultural Cities

cultural cities

Museums, Music, and Michelin Stars – Amsterdam is the world’s most cultured city

For a seasoned traveller, every city has something on offer. But which ones have the most history, art, food and music to discover? The Netherlands capital proves a winner, while Riyadh and Chennai suffer. Find out the rest in the new culture guide from Everyone has their own tastes when it comes to travelling abroad. Sun, sea, and sand are popular – but if you’re looking for a richer cultural experience, you’ll need this guide to the world’s most cultured cities. Looking at the thirty most popular tourist destinations around the world, the interactive piece uses the number of theatres, museums, art galleries, Michelin-starred restaurants, concert halls and more to find the cities with the most to do, see, and experience. As well as the final scores, each city has a brief guide to the most famous and worthwhile sights – ranging from Gaudí’s influence across Barcelona to the rock-cut temples on Mumbai’s Elephanta Island.

The Finest Five

Packed with the most cultural experiences, these top five cities represent the best places around the world for an exciting and enjoyable trip: 1. Amsterdam - many of the art galleries and dining opportunities the city has to offer can be found in the Jordaan, the narrow alleyways which were once a working class area. 2. Dublin - the city draws its name from the “Dubh Linn”, meaning “dark pool”, which used to occupy the spot now filled by the attractive Dubh Linn Gardens. 3. Prague - from the statue of the Infant Jesus in its shrine, to the Old Town Square, and the fully-functional 15th Century Astronomical Clock, there’s plenty of sights to see from throughout Prague’s past. 4. Miami - art fans might seek out the Art Deco District or the Design District, with works by Warhol and Picasso, among others, while an international experience can be had in Little Havana, the Cuban cultural location that arose at the start of Fidel Castro’s rise to power. 5. Paris - visitors should be sure to visit the Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, and the Notre Dame Cathedral which inspired the Victor Hugo story and the Disney film.

High Spending and High Visits

While neither made it into the top five, Bangkok (ranked 23 overall) was the most popular destination for travel, with an average of 21 million international visitors who spent at least a night in the country (the next most popular was London, with 20 million), and Dubai (20th in the rankings) was where these visitors spent the most throughout their stay – at $31.30 billion in 2016. “Much of a city’s culture is in its atmosphere and its history. Different locations will appeal to different visitors,” said Joe Gardiner, TotallyMoney’s Head of Brand and Communications, “But we wanted to make sure that travellers know what cultural experiences the world’s biggest tourist destinations have to offer before they go.” Whether you’re looking for your next holiday, want to know more about the world’s most visited cities, or just want to see which cities really are the most cultured, make sure to check out the guide to the world’s most cultured cities here.


We selected the top 30 cities in the world with the highest number of overnight international visits (as described by the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index). For each of these, we found the population, then, using TripAdvisor, we found the number of theatres, museums, art galleries, and concert halls. Michelin star restaurants were found using the Michelin Guide, while the annual tourism spend was drawn from the Mastercard source on tourism. Once we had complete data, we assigned each a score between 1 and 10. These scores were then included in a calculation that assigned different values to different metrics, based on how valuable we considered them to our final result. We used this valuation and their score to form an overall score out of ten across all metrics. This was then used to rank the locations. All research is effective as at 6 December 2016.

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