Discover what makes these waterside cities better than most. While their pristine waterfront location sets them apart from other urban areas, their cultural, economic, and recreational characteristics also contribute to their popularity.
These rankings are from Chicago Line Cruises' world rankings which are based on a city's Mercer Quality of Life Ranking (rankings based on political, economic, environmental, health, education, and transportation factors), Euromonitor Ranking (rankings based on tourist traffic), Numbeo Basket of Goods (the total amount for a pair of jeans, bottle of water, movie ticket, and a kilometer taxi ride), as well as cultural elements like arts and architecture, music, nature, sports, and dining.
#10: New York City
From the most visited urban park in the U.S. to its location along the Hudson River, NYC deserves a spot in the top 10. While its cost of living is high, the waterfront views from places like the Highline, Brooklyn Bridge, and Chelsea Pier, will always be free.
This Japanese megacity is set to host the Olympics in 2020. The city spreads out along the Pacific Ocean and 36 percent of its prefecture is designated as a national park, including Ogasawara National Park, an island chain south of the city.
#8: San Francisco
The City by the Bay is truly an urban oasis. From the stunning views seen on the Golden Gate Bridge to the 200-plus miles of bike paths, sometimes you don't always feel like you're in a city. The coastal waters off San Francisco Bay are home to migrating whales, and Golden Gate park has over 1,000 acres of vistas and hiking trails with extraordinary views.
The New South Wales capital has over 70 beaches, many of which are famous surf spots. There are also dozens of miles of coastal trails as well as the famous Royal Botanical Gardens that abut the iconic Opera House. The city also offers tons of harbor front dining options and even a zoo, where the giraffes have perhaps the best view of the city.
Found at the lower end of Lake Michigan, the Windy City has 28 miles of coastline and beaches to enjoy. It's the third-largest city in the U.S. and significantly cheaper than NYC. You'll also find incredible history here; the city is considered the modern birthplace of jazz and it's home to two historic sports venues, Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.
This city-state is made up of 63 islands, and the main island, Pulau Ujong, has an incredible waterfront skyline. From popular Formula One races with tracks that wrap around the island to renowned restaurants like Waku Ghin in the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel, there's no question about its coastal city dominance.
The capital of Denmark features countless bridges, parks, harbors, and waterside walkways that incorporate its coastline into everyday living. Nordic dining, with seafood at its forefront, is dominating culinary trends worldwide, and Copenhagen's noma restaurant continues to be ranked the best in the world by Restaurant magazine.
The British Columbia seaport is one of the most diverse Canadian cities and wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Stanley Park has over 1,000 acres of forests and waterfront areas, and the city is famous for its mountain biking trails.
As the largest city located along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is renowned for its coastline and waterfront hotels, clubs, and beaches. You'll also find incredible architecture, from Park Guell to the Sagrada Familia, as well as the city's world famous soccer team, FC Barcelona, and its stadium, Camp Nou.
Nicknamed the City of Sails, Auckland is home to thousands of beaches, including black sand beaches with heavy surf. The city is located on the North Island, between two large harbors and on top of a volcanic field, making its views incredible from any spot.
While not in the top 10, these coastal cities still prove their worth in the top 25 rankings.
- #11: Dublin
- #12: Hong Kong
- #13: Helsinki
- #14: Los Angeles
- #15: Lisbon
- #16: Dubai
- #17: Oslo
- #18: Perth
- #19: Istanbul
- #20: Miami
- #21: Honolulu
- #22: Bangkok
- #23: Venice
- #24: New Orleans
- #25: Edinburgh
More from SmarterTravel:
- World's Best Urban Beaches
- 10 Best Cities to Live in, Ranked
- 10 Best Beach Cities in America, Ranked