The Express: Europe’s 10 best and 10 worst cities to live are named

Europe is a continent of amazing cities brimming with rich histories and diverse cultures. However, like anything else, some make better places to live than others. Using the European Commission’s 2023 Survey on the Quality of Life in European Cities, has set out the 10 ‘best’ and ‘worst’ places to settle on the continent.

The survey asked respondents whether they were “satisfied” with living in their city, says

Although you may think you’ve got a good idea of which cities came out on top, some of the lowest-scoring cities are among Europe’s most famous.

Let’s start with the top ten ‘best’ cities, starting with number 10…


Braga, Portugal

10. Braga, Portugal

Braga, which received a score of 94 percent, can be found in the far north of Portugal, near the Spanish border.

The city is known for its religious heritage. A great example of this is the Bom Jesus do Monte complex found to the east of Braga.

It has a neoclassical church at the top of an elaborate 17-flight stairway.

The medieval Cathedral in the centre of the city is home to a sacred art museum and the Kings’ Chapel, notable for its gothic styling.

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9. Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The second-most populous city in Romania, Cluj-Napoca, which scored high in the survey with 94 percent, is the unofficial capital of Transylvania.

The city found in the north-west of the country, is home to universities, exciting nightlife as well as landmarks which date back to Saxon and Hungarian rule.

Piața Unirii, the central square, is surrounded by the Gothic St. Michael’s Church and the striking Matthias Corvinus Statue.

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      Rostock, Germany

8. Rostock, Germany

Running through Rostock in the north of Germany is the beautiful Warnow River.

The city, which the survey found 94 percent of people are satisfied living there, is a great educational centre, best exemplified by Rostock University, founded in 1419.

The city boasts a fabulous botanical garden. Meanwhile, the germanic ­old town holds the Gothic St. Mary’s Church, which itself features a 15th-century astronomical clock.

Rostock has plenty of cobbled streets and various architectural styles,  including Gothic and Baroque.

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Geneva, Switzerland

7. Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, the picture perfect Swiss city found at the edge of Lac Léman, otherwise known as Lake Geneva.

This gorgeous city, with a score of 95 percent, is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, and presents astonishing views of Mont Blanc.

As well as offering amazing scenery, the city is known for as a hub of diplomacy and financial services. For example, the headquarters of Europe’s United Nations is found in Geneva, as is the Red Cross.

Although a Swiss city, Geneva’s French influences is impossible to miss.

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Stockholm, Sweden

6. Stockholm, Sweden

The capital of Sweden, Stockholm is gorgeously Scandinavian.

It’s the country and indeed the entire Nordic regions’ most populous city.

Although it’s one city, Stockholm, which the survey found 95 percent of people are satisfied living here, is actually made up of 14 islands and boasts more than 50 bridges.

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Leipzig, Germany

5. Leipzig, Germany

Found in the old East Germany, Leipzig is highly attractive to bohemian types that want a taste of Berlin that won’t sting the wallet as much as the German capital.

The city is found in Saxony and has a mix of traditional architecture and modern buildings.

Leipzig scored 95 percent in the survey. It is also a musical hub and even has one of the oldest botanical gardens of its kind in Germany

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Gdańsk, Poland

4. Gdańsk, Poland

This Polish port city, found on the country’s Baltic coast, scored 95 percent. It is best known for its glorious architecture, green spaces and surrounding nature – including quiet beaches – and is very popular with history buffs.

If you were looking to move to Gdańsk, you’d potentially be making a wise decision as its one of the top-rated destinations for immigrants to move to. The most recent EU study found that 87 percent of residents said the city was a good place for immigrants to live. That makes it the joint fifth highest in Europe.

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Groningen, Netherlands

3. Groningen, Netherlands

Groningen in the Netherlands is found in the north of the country.

It’s everything you would imagine a Dutch city to be, complete with canals and cycle paths and traditional architecture.

For local people, Groningen, which the survey showed 96 percent of people are satisfied living here, is known affectionately as the “Metropolis of the North” and is home to around 240,000 people.

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Copenhagen, Denmark

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Although known as an expensive city, Copenhagen’s residents were 96 percent satisfied living here, according to the survey.

The Danish capital is separated from the Swedish city of Malmo by the Øresund strait, but residents can travel over the border by road and rail.

Much like in Groningen, Copenhagen is exceptionally cyclist-friendly. The city has incredible cultural offerings, including the The Black Diamond library and gallery as well as the Copenhagen Opera House.

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Zurich, Switzerland

1. Zurich, Switzerland

The Swiss city of Zurich came in first place, according to the the survey, with residents 97 percent satisfied living there.

Much like Geneva, Zurich, is a global centre of banking and financial services.

It sits at the north edge of Lake Zurich in the north of the country.

Besides, its economic offerings, the city also has within it a picturesque Old Town found on either side of the Limmat River.

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Now for the cities in Europe least satisfactory according to residents surveyed.
      Podgorica, Montenegro


10. Podgorica, Montenegro

We start in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, with 77 percent of residents satisfied living there.

Journalist Michael Turtle wrote of the city: “Montenegro is a beautiful country but its capital, Podgorica, is the exception. It’s an ugly, lifeless, depressing city that has no place existing!”

A tourist advice platform,, advised against walking alone at night in the city.

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Miskolc, Hungary

9. Miskolc, Hungary

Miskolc in Hungary is not known for being one of the country’s prettier cities.

The industrial city, with a score of 74 percent, is found in the north-east of the country, near the Slovakian border.

One reviewer said of the manafucturing city, bluntly: “Miskolc is an industrial town many would say not worth visiting.”

Another said, brutally: “Miskolc is a bit of a dump, though there are nice spa-type places nearby.”

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Skopje, Macedonia

8. Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje is the capital city of Macedonia, and although only 72 percent of its residents responded favourably about the place they call home, some say the city has plenty to offer.

One new resident, who moved from the US to Macedonia, said of their new city: “We recently moved to Skopje and we absolutely love it. It is best described as mix between New York meets Europe.”

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Rome, Italy

7. Rome, Italy

The Italian capital may look like a rustic and historical paradise, but Rome did not get rave reviews from its residents.

Only 71 percent were positive about their city.

One resident that moved to the city from the US said that depite the inital honeymoon period “the traffic, red tape, transportation strikes, and overall lack of organization begins to get to you.”

They added that learn to avoid the city centre after a while.

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Belgrade, Serbia

6. Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, the Serbian capital, is home to five of the 15 most polluted districts in Europe, according to the Guardian.

“I have asthma and it’s killing me,” said one graffiti artist.

He told the outlet: “It’s not smog, man, it’s a black fog. You cannot see.”

The European Commission’s report found 69 percent of people are satisfied with life here.

Low-level crime like pick-pocketing is also common in Belgrade.

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Naples, Italy

5. Naples, Italy

Naples may be one of Italy’s pizza hubs, but it’s got plenty of issues too.

The city, with a score of 66 percent in the report, has an unfortunate reputation for crime – both petty and more serious – and visitors are advised not to walk alone at night in certain areas.

One visitor left a scathing review of the city, saying: “If you are thinking of visiting Naples, you might want to think again. Piles of garbage and discarded clothing are everywhere.

“All the businesses have large ugly looking metal shutters which gives the streets a cold and unwelcoming look.”


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Tirana, Albania

4. Tirana, Albania

Tirana is the capital of Albania, with the report showing 66 percent of people are satisfied with living in the city. Although the weather is often pleasant, visitors often bemoan the poor quality of facilities and the frequency of petty crime.

One reviewer said of the city: “I do not think Tirana is worth visiting. The streets are crowded and chaotic and peoppe [sic] drive extremely dangerously.

“I was almost hit several times even when crossing on a green light. Also, I had an accident falling down one of Tirana’s many pot holes and injured myself.

“The hotel was awful. There was not even a kettle. They also dishonestly overcharged me as well by 30 EUR.

“There is virtually nothing of historical interest to see in Tirana. Even the National museum and the BunkArt were rather basic and disappointing.”


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Istanbul, Turkey

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, the city where east meets west. A haven of history, culture and astonishing architecture – but locals are less than enamoured with the place they call home.

According to the survey, only 65 percent of residents are satisfied with the city.

Istanbul is suffering a dreadful housing crisis and if you are lucky enough to find a place to live, the city’s vulnerability to earthquakes means it could well fall down.

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Athens, Greece

2. Athens, Greece

The Greek capital is only satisfactory for 65 percent of residents, according to those surveyed.

That may come as a surprise to some, but the city is very densely populated with few green spaces.

In fact, the city is only second to Paris in terms of its density. All that bustle has seen the population of Athens fall, according to Greek outlet Kathimerini.

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Palermo, Italy

1. Palermo, Italy

The Italian city of Palermo finished bottom of the list with just 62 percent satisfaction. However, it’s known as Sicily’s cultural and economic capital.

The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral holds within its walls royal tombs, and the massive neoclassical Teatro Massimo hosts superb opera performances.

The city also boasts the central Ballarò street market and the Vucciria market, near the port.

(Image: Getty)