The 50 Cleanest Cities in the World

These major cities have really got their act together.

The 50 Cleanest Cities in the World

These major cities have really got their act together.

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If you enjoy clean air and clean streets (who doesn’t?), sometimes big cities can be stress-inducing—all that smog, noise, and people packed into tight spaces is enough to make any neat freak flip out.

But it turns out that not all big cities are dirty.

We analyzed data for the 200 largest cities in the world to pinpoint the ones that are the absolute squeaky cleanest. Our data drew on air pollution levels (including particles of 10 micrometers in diameter or less and 2.5 micrometers or less), according to the World Health Organization, the quality-of-living rank according to global consultancy Mercer (Ed Note: Not every city has a Mercer rank), and the home country’s Environmental Performance Score, according to Yale, Columbia, and the World Economic Forum.

In addition to those figures, we factored in on-the-ground, anecdotal evidence on the part of our well-traveled editorial staff and threw in bonus points if any of these locations earned a spot on Monocle’s Quality of Living index. With that in mind, here are the 50 cleanest major cities on the planet. And if you’re in the mood for traveling somewhere much quieter, check out The Fairytale Town in Holland Where the Streets Are Entirely Made of Water. 

rio de janeiro city names Cleanest Cities

50
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Population: 6,429,923
Air pollution (PM10): 49
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 118
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 47.70

And for more on cities around the world, don’t miss The 100 Happiest Cities in America.

Seoul Cleanest Cities

49
Seoul, South Korea

Population: 10,197,604
Air pollution (PM10): 46
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 76
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 48.25

Daegu, South Korea cleanest cities

48
Daegu, South Korea

Population: 2,492,994
Air pollution (PM10): 45
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 48.56

For more on travel, read up on 30 Airport Secrets Only Insiders Know.

Caracas, Venezuela cleanest cities

47
Caracas, Venezuela

Population: 1,943,901
Air pollution (PM10): 47
Air pollution (PM2.5): 25
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 189
Environmental Performance Score: 63.89
Clean City Score: 49.40

Kwangju, South Korea Cleanest Cities

46
Kwangju, South Korea

Population: 1,477,780
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 22
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 49.70

Planning a trip? Before you leave, check out these 20 Country Names You’re Mispronouncing.

Daejeon, South Korea Cleanest Cities

45
Daejeon, South Korea

Population: 1,535,028
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 22
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 49.78

São Paulo, Brazil Cleanest Cities

44
São Paulo, Brazil


Population: 12,038,175
Air pollution (PM10): 35
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 121
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 49.90

For more great travel advice, here are the 5 Best Trips to Take with Kids. 

Bogotá, Colombia Cleanest Cities

43
Bogotá, Colombia

Population: 7,878,783
Air pollution (PM10): 52
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 129
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 50.04

Medellin, Colombia Cleanest Cities

42
Medellin, Colombia

Population: 2,441,123
Air pollution (PM10): 45
Air pollution (PM2.5): 26
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 50.91

To learn more about where to explore, check out The 5 Best Exotic Getaways for 2018.

Davao City, Philippines Cleanest Cities

41
Davao City, Philippines

Population: 1,632,991
Air pollution (PM10): 21
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Environmental Performance Score: 57.65
Clean City Score: 51.24

Traveling anytime soon? If so, don’t forget The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do with Your Boarding Pass. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina Cleanest Cities

40
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population: 3,054,300
Air pollution (PM10): 26
Air pollution (PM2.5): 14
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 93
Environmental Performance Score: 59.3
Clean City Score: 51.24

For more cool spots in Argentina to visit, read up on The Ultimate Vacation Getaways for Foodies.

Porto Alegre, Brazil Cleanest Cities

39
Porto Alegre, Brazil

Population: 1,476,867
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 13
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 52.30

Warsaw Poland Cleanest Cities

38
Warsaw, Poland

Population: 1,753,977
Air pollution (PM10): 33
Air pollution (PM2.5): 26
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 81
Environmental Performance Score: 64.11
Clean City Score: 52.31

And for more great travel tips, don’t miss these 10 Stunning American Resorts Under $150-per-night.

 Alexandria, Egypt Cleanest Cities

37
 Alexandria, Egypt

Population: 4,616,625
Air pollution (PM10): 23
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Environmental Performance Score: 61.21
Clean City Score: 53.26

Moscow, Russia Cleanest Cities

36
Moscow, Russia

Population: 12,197,596
Air pollution (PM10): 33
Air pollution (PM2.5): 20
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 168
Environmental Performance Score: 63.79
Clean City Score: 53.33

Cali, Colombia Cleanest Cities

35
Cali, Colombia

Population: 2,400,653
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 53.53

Getting ready to hop on your next flight? Before you leave, check out the 10 Best New Vacation Style Essentials.

Curitiba, Brazil Cleanest Cities

34
Curitiba, Brazil

Population: 1,879,355
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 53.62

Bucharest, Romania Cleanest Cities

33
Bucharest, Romania

Population: 1,883,425
Air pollution (PM10): 31
Air pollution (PM2.5): 23
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 107
Environmental Performance Score: 64.78
Clean City Score: 54.04

Budapest, Hungary Cleanest Cities

32
Budapest, Hungary

Population: 1,759,407
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 25
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 78
Environmental Performance Score: 65.01
Clean City Score: 54.21

And for more epic adventures, here are the 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive by Age 40.

Singapore Cleanest Cities

31
Singapore

Population: 5,535,000
Air pollution (PM10): 30
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 25
Environmental Performance Score: 64.23
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 21
Clean City Score: 54.63

Kaohsiung, Taiwan Cleanest Cities

30
Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Population: 2,778,918
Air pollution (PM10): 46
Air pollution (PM2.5): 30
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 57.70

Tainan, Taiwan Cleanest Cities

29
Tainan, Taiwan

Population: 1,885,252
Air pollution (PM10): 44
Air pollution (PM2.5): 29
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 58.16

Taichung, Taiwan Cleanest Cities

28
Taichung, Taiwan

Population: 2,752,413
Air pollution (PM10): 44
Air pollution (PM2.5): 29
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 101
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 58.29

New Taipei City, Taiwan Cleanest Cities

27
New Taipei City, Taiwan

Population: 3,954,929
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 63.44

Taipei, Taiwan Cleanest Cities

26
Taipei, Taiwan

Population: 2,704,974
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 85
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 63.45

Fukuoka, Japan Cleanest Cities

25
Fukuoka, Japan

Population: 1,483,052
Air pollution (PM10): 35
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 14
Clean City Score: 63.89

Chicago cleanest cities

24
Chicago, United States

Population: 2,695,598
Air pollution (PM10): 22
Air pollution (PM2.5): 12
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 47
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 64.39

Other than ranking high in cleanliness, Chicago also ranks as one of The 50 Most Sleepless Cities in America.

Osaka, Japan Cleanest Cities

23
Osaka, Japan

Population: 2,691,742
Air pollution (PM10): 32
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Mercer Quality of Living Ran: 60
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 64.89

Los Angeles, cleanest cities

22
Los Angeles, United States

Population: 3,884,307
Air pollution (PM10): 20
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 58
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 64.99

Houston, cleanest cities

21
Houston, United States

Population: 2,489,558
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 67
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 65.39

Nagoya, Japan Cleanest Cities

20
Nagoya, Japan

Population: 2,296,014
Air pollution (PM10): 30
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 63
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 65.49

Philadelphia Cleanest Cities

19
Philadelphia, United States

Population: 1,567,872
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 56
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 65.59

Yokohama, Japan Cleanest Cities

18
 Yokohama, Japan

Population: 3,726,167
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 51
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 65.89

Kyoto, Japan Cleanest Cities

17
Kyoto, Japan

Population: 1,474,570
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 12
Clean City Score: 66.05

Tokyo, Japan cleanest cities

16
Tokyo, Japan

Population: 13,513,734
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 47
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 1
Clean City Score: 70.09

Phoenix,Cleanest Cities

15
Phoenix, United States

Population: 1,563,025
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 66.19

Not only is Phoenix clean, it’s also super safe and ranks on the Best Cities For When You’re In an Emergency.

montreal city names Montreal cleanest cities

14
Montreal, Canada

Population: 1,649,519
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 23
Environmental Performance Score: 72.18
Clean City Score: 67.02

Toronto

13
Toronto, Canada

Population: 2,731,571
Air pollution (PM10): 14
Air pollution (PM2.5): 8
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 16
Environmental Performance Score: 72.18
Clean City Score: 67.63

Rome, Italy Cleanest Cities

12
Rome, Italy

Population: 2,877,215
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 57
Environmental Performance Score: 76.96
Clean City Score: 67.96

Melbourne, Australia Cleanest Cities

11
Melbourne, Australia

Population: 135,959
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 8
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 16
Environmental Performance Score: 74.12
Clean City Score: 68.83

Sapporo, Japan Cleanest Cities

10
Sapporo, Japan

Population: 1,918,096
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 68.89

Vienna, Austria Cleanest Cities

9
Vienna, Austria

Population: 1,863,881
Air pollution (PM10): 26
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 1
Environmental Performance Score: 78.97
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 2
Clean City Score: 70.17

Berlin, Germany Cleanest Cities

8
Berlin, Germany

Population: 3,517,424
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 13
Environmental Performance Score: 78.37
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 3
Clean City Score: 70.28

Barcelona, Spain Cleanest Cities

7
Barcelona, Spain

Population: 1,604,555
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 42
Environmental Performance Score: 78.39
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 17
Clean City Score: 70.46

Hamburg, Germany Cleanest Cities

6
Hamburg, Germany

Population: 1,787,408
Air pollution (PM10): 21
Air pollution (PM2.5): 14
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 19
Environmental Performance Score: 78.37
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 9
Clean City Score: 71.32

Auckland, New Zealand Cleanest Cities

5
Auckland, New Zealand

Population: 1,495,000
Air pollution (PM10): 14
Air pollution (PM2.5): 6
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 3
Environmental Performance Score: 75.96
Clean City Score: 71.97

Madrid, Spain Cleanest Cities

4
Madrid, Spain

Population: 3,207,247
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 51
Environmental Performance Score: 78.39
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 10
Clean City Score: 72.66

New York City, United States Cleanest Cities

3
New York City, United States

Population: 8,537,673
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 44
Environmental Performance Score: 79.89
Clean City Score: 74.89

Paris, France Cleanest Cities

2
Paris, France

Population: 2,229,621
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 38
Environmental Performance Score: 83.95
Clean City Score: 74.90

London, United Kingdom Cleanest Cities

1
London, United Kingdom

Population: 8,787,892
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 40
Environmental Performance Score: 79.89
Clean City Score: 74.94

Want another reason to love London? See Queen Elizabeth Rule the Runway in London.

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