2016 Most Inspiring Cities Ranking

At TravelBird, our main objective is to inspire travellers. We often talk about our favorite destinations, keen to find out which cities are the most inspiring and stimulating. To better understand these locations we decided to break down the individual factors which make a city inspiring. Quantifying something like inspiration certainly isn’t easy, but eventually, we settled on eight separate criteria which are associated with the spirit of creativity, romance, culture, and innovation.

Beginning with a selection of notable destinations we added renowned inspiring cities until our ranking consisted of 85 locations across the globe. To give both small and large cities an equal chance to shine, we divided the data by population. Figures are therefore representative of each criterion per 100,000 citizens. Of course, each location in our study is enriching in its own right, having historically inspired countless travellers, artists, and residents alike.

The criteria includes measurements of creativity by looking at the number of performing arts companies and art schools1 in each location, as well as measuring culture by factoring in the number of art galleries and museums2 present. Creative industries were measured by the music production and film industry3 facilities available, whilst our startup4 ranking is based on the number of new businesses operating in the city. Inspired romance5 is an indicator of how frequently the population, including visitors, feel romantically inspired by what their city has to offer. We ranked each location by the number of Google searches for romance-focused keywords (e.g. searches for romantic locations or dinners). The overall Inspirational Ranking6 is scored out of 100.

As we developed the ranking we noticed that some cities had higher inspirational notoriety in specific seasons. To incorporate this into our index, and to inspire seasonal travel and adventure, we looked to artwork depicting each city in our ranking. From thousands of images we established whether winter or summer had inspired more painters, and therefore, which season suited each city best7.





Legend

Performing Arts Companies
Film Industry
Art Schools
Music Production
Art Galleries
Startups
Museums
Inspired Romance

(Click the icons to filter by each criteria)
All factors below are displayed per 100,000 citizens in each location.

# City
Performing Arts Companies
Art Schools
Art Galleries
Museums
Film Industry
Music Production
Startups
Inspired Romance
Inspirational Ranking Winter Score Summer Score
1 Miami
USA
18.14 1.59 22.22 5.67 50.57 29.25 321.54 72.56 100.00 37.61 100.00
2 Bruges
Belgium
15.25 5.08 13.55 16.94 2.54 2.54 0.85 8.47 71.95 73.65 55.24
3 San Francisco
USA
15.15 1.04 11.56 5.67 26.36 12.95 1707.30 83.25 71.53 25.64 91.02
4 Bristol
UK
17.81 2.23 7.79 5.34 48.74 6.01 28.93 31.16 70.34 73.08 54.81
5 Reykjavik
Iceland
10.74 2.30 13.81 23.02 17.65 2.30 49.10 7.67 68.83 100.00 32.86
6 Santiago de Compostela
Spain
8.33 6.25 16.65 11.45 4.16 5.20 10.41 10.41 68.08 43.55 75.74
7 Salzburg
Austria
12.06 0.67 16.75 14.74 18.09 5.36 10.72 73.72 63.37 94.51 34.99
8 Zurich
Switzerland
1.77 5.81 10.10 14.65 13.38 6.06 100.50 148.98 63.05 89.61 38.49
9 Heidelberg
Germany
18.10 1.94 13.57 10.99 5.82 1.29 18.10 58.17 59.85 88.46 37.63
10 Florence
Italy
12.07 3.94 10.76 10.50 6.30 3.15 9.97 102.35 58.90 21.11 87.63
11 Paris
France
2.41 0.89 9.59 3.35 53.67 12.94 109.00 160.62 56.98 63.50 61.98
12 Helsinki
Finland
13.21 0.96 2.71 14.01 37.73 2.87 63.83 27.06 56.17 96.71 29.46
13 New Orleans
USA
7.32 1.52 11.87 13.38 16.92 9.09 60.35 22.73 55.48 19.89 86.71
14 Chiang Mai
Thailand
15.43 1.00 7.46 18.91 1.00 3.48 9.95 54.74 54.14 19.41 86.35
15 Barcelona
Spain
8.00 3.17 3.75 4.50 46.92 2.17 68.08 73.33 53.85 19.30 86.27
  • 1Figures calculated from average of several directory listings within country/city. Performing Arts Companies consist of Professional Theatre and Amateur Dramatics groups as well as Dance and Tutorial listings. Art Schools includes established and less-established artistic educational centres.
  • 2Figures averaged from official sources (ie- tourist boards), tourist guides and directory listings. Galleries also include GoogleMaps searches to take into account smaller, independent establishments. Attempts made to differentiate Museums from Galleries so as not to count attractions more than once, but some crossovers may remain.
  • 3Figures calculated from average of several directory listings within country/city. Film Industry includes professional as well as amateur listed film and recording studios within the city. Music Production includes professional as well as amateur listed music studios within the city.
  • 4Calculated by taking the average number of start-ups seeking funding on a reputable start-up funding website directory over three dates in October. As area in which start-ups operate may be wider than the city area used for population figures, Startup figures weighted before adding to the overall score.
  • 5Figures taken from Google searches in the country, in the native language, in each location. As area in which searches are calculated may be wider than the city area used for population figures, Inspired Romance figures weighted before adding to the overall score.
  • 6Combined average of weighted scores and presented as a rank out of 100.
  • 7Combined average of Inspirational Ranking and research from previous art pieces reflecting past seasonal preferences. Factors weighted and ranked out of 100.