These Are the World's 20 Most Tranquil Cities, According to a New Study

Bergen, Norway topped the list.

There are several factors that go into choosing a new place to live. If affordability and an abundance of outdoor activities are top of mind, these small towns across the U.S. might do the trick, while others are willing to pay more for the perks of big city living.

For those simply looking for peace of mind, Icelandair conducted a study analyzing factors such as light pollution, congestion, happiness levels, and traffic congestion to determine which cities around the world offer their residents the most relaxing environments.

Hoping to bring awareness to World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, Iceland's flagship airline dove into this research after a survey by the American Psychological Association revealed the deep impacts of the pandemic. According to the survey results, 46% of Gen Z adults feel their mental health has worsened since the onset of the pandemic, while 33% of Xers, 31% of Millennials, 28% of Boomers, and 9% of older adults also report the same issue.

Since the environments we live in play a large role in mental health, Icelandair conducted this study to point people to cities that may offer them more tranquility. Using a variety of resources to rate locations around the world, the airline came up with a list of the top 20 most relaxing cities.

Coming in first place is Bergen, Norway, ranked highly for its very low levels of traffic congestion (13%), low levels of light and noise pollution (25), and a high average life expectancy of 83 years.

View from the pier to the city of Bergen with colorful wooden houses
Getty Images

Home to the largest inner-city park in the world, Perth, Australia came in second place, followed by Reykjavik, Iceland, which scored highly thanks in part to its location surrounded by natural beauty.

Looking at the list as a whole, Australia had a strong showing with Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney also making an appearance for a total of four cities in the top 20, while New Zealand also had three cities on the list. Three U.S. cities made the list with Dallas, Houston, and Washington D.C. ranking at 18, 19, and 20, respectively.

Here's the full list of top 20 most tranquil cities:

  1. Bergen, Norway
  2. Perth, Australia
  3. Reykjavik, Iceland
  4. Helsinki, Finland
  5. Wellington, New Zealand
  6. Zurich, Switzerland
  7. Brisbane, Australia
  8. Melbourne, Australia
  9. Stockholm, Sweden
  10. Auckland, New Zealand
  11. Oslo, Norway
  12. Sydney, Australia
  13. Copenhagen, Denmark
  14. Tel Aviv, Israel
  15. Christchurch, New Zealand
  16. Toronto, Canada
  17. San Jose, Costa Rica
  18. Dallas, USA
  19. Houston, USA
  20. Washington, D.C., USA

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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