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Cleanest Cities in the World 2023



Cleanest Cities in the World _ NomadIndex

Seeking pristine urban environments? 

In bustling city life, cleanliness may sometimes be overlooked, yet it’s essential for the health and happiness of millions. Living in a clean city isn’t about spotless streets; it’s about clean water, high air quality, and the lack of trash. 

From environmental sustainability to personal well-being, the cleanliness of urban spaces affects everyone, especially with 55% of the world’s population residing in cities.

Join us on this refreshing journey!

Top 10 Cleanest Cities

What makes a city clean? Is it simply clear skies or something more? By exploring factors like air quality, waste management, and innovative policies, we’ve uncovered the top 10 cleanest cities in the world.

#10. Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo’s clean city score of 68.89 lands it in the top 10. The city’s efforts in environmental sustainability and waste management have placed it among the global leaders in cleanliness.

#9. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, known for its rich history and beautiful architecture, boasts a clean city score of 70.17. Its commitment to cleanliness reaches beyond aesthetics, focusing on public health and environmental sustainability.

#8. Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s vibrant culture is matched by its cleanliness score of 70.28. The city’s rigorous waste management and pollution control practices contribute to its spot on this esteemed list.

#7. Barcelona, Spain

A coastal gem, Barcelona’s clean city score of 70.46 shines as bright as its sunny beaches. The city’s integrated approach to cleanliness, focusing on both land and sea, has made it a standout example.

#6. Hamburg, Germany

Known for its green initiatives, Hamburg’s cleanliness score of 71.32 is well-deserved. The city’s emphasis on renewable energy and waste recycling has set a precedent for urban environmental stewardship.

#5. Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland’s charm is enhanced by its cleanliness score of 71.97. The city’s commitment to clean water and air quality make it a beautiful destination to live, work, and play.

#4. Madrid, Spain

With a clean city score of 72.66, Madrid’s efforts in sustainable transportation and waste management have resulted in a cleaner, more attractive urban environment, setting a standard for others to follow.

#3. New York City, New York, United States

A surprising entry to some, New York City’s score of 74.89 reflects its strides in reducing pollution. Despite being one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S., the Big Apple showcases how urban areas can still achieve environmental excellence.

#2. Paris, France

The romantic streets of Paris shine even brighter with a cleanliness score of 74.90. The city’s dedication to reducing pollution plays a key part in its ranking.

#1. London, England, United Kingdom

With an impressive clean city score of 74.94, London takes the top spot. The British capital’s Environmental Performance Index score of 79.89 sets an example for other cities to follow.

Insights and Analysis on City Cleanliness

Clean Air Initiatives and Their Impact

Clean air is more than just a breath of fresh air; it’s a necessity. The Clean Air Acts in the United States exemplify efforts that have significantly reduced harmful emissions, showcasing how policies can make a tangible difference in urban living.

The Relationship Between Cleanliness and Quality of Life

Living in a clean city does more than just please the eye. It boosts community connections and increases overall happiness. By ensuring a cleaner environment, we pave the way for a better quality of life.

Variations in Environmental Performance Index

Not all clean cities are created equal. The Environmental Performance Index gives us a gauge on how well a city is doing environmentally, offering insights into different strategies employed around the world.

Exploring Cleanliness Beyond the Top 10

While the top 10 cleanest cities have received much recognition, there are several other urban areas around the world that have been making significant strides in cleanliness. Cities like Copenhagen, Vancouver, and Singapore, for example, have been investing in green technology, promoting public transportation, and implementing strict littering laws. These initiatives have not only improved their urban landscapes but also enhanced the quality of life for their residents. They serve as inspiring examples for other cities to follow, showing that cleanliness is not solely restricted to the top-ranked locales.

Surprising Omissions and Why

Some cities that are often praised for their beauty or standard of living have not made it to the list of cleanest cities. Cities like Sydney, Dubai, or Tokyo, while renowned in many aspects, have faced challenges in specific areas like air pollution or waste management. These challenges might be the result of rapid industrialization, population density, or less stringent environmental regulations. The absence of these cities from the top clean city rankings highlights the multifaceted nature of cleanliness and shows that even well-regarded cities have areas where they can improve.

Tips for Travelers and Expats

Who doesn’t want the cities they visit to be clean? We all do. Here are some tips to maximizing the cleanliness when visiting one of the above cities.

When in a clean city, take advantage of the pure air and clean surroundings by spending time outdoors. Walk or cycle instead of using motorized transport, and make use of parks and green spaces for exercise. Embrace the local culture of cleanliness by following local guidelines on recycling and waste disposal.

A cleaner environment often translates to a more beautiful cityscape. Explore pedestrian-friendly streets, enjoy outdoor dining, and take part in outdoor events and festivals. Don’t forget to visit natural attractions like gardens, lakes, or coastal areas that are often well-maintained in clean cities.

Methodology Behind the Rankings

Using data from 200 of the world’s largest cities, Best Life conducted a detailed study to determine the cleanest ones. This thorough analysis included assessing factors like air pollution levels and country’s Environmental Performance Index.

The ranking considered various factors such as PM10 and PM2.5 air pollution levels, Mercer’s quality of life ranking, country’s Environmental Performance Index, and inclusion in Monocle’s Quality of Life survey.


The exploration of the cleanest cities in the world offers more than just a glimpse into spotless streets and pure air; it reveals a concerted global effort towards sustainability, health, and community wellbeing. 

From London’s exemplary Environmental Performance Index to Sapporo’s dedication to waste management, these cities showcase the profound impact that focused environmental initiatives can have. The lessons learned from these cities, along with insights from those that surprisingly didn’t make the list, provide a roadmap for other urban areas striving to enhance their cleanliness. 

For travelers and expats, these clean cities offer not just beautiful destinations but opportunities to engage in and appreciate a cleaner, more responsible way of living. The pursuit of cleanliness, as shown by these cities, is not just an aesthetic goal but a holistic approach to improving quality of life, safeguarding public health, and preserving our planet for future generations.

Looking to find the perfect city to move to? Don’t miss our efficient tool: The Nomad Index, designed for ranking cities.


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