Capital Cities Index
Which are the best capital cities to visit on holiday?
Often one of the most popular areas of a country to visit is the capital city, due to it being a hub for tourist activities, sightseeing, and amenities within a nation. To determine which of the world’s capital cities is the best to visit for a holiday, numerous different factors have been taken into consideration to create a ranking for 69 of the most developed capitals in the world.
As borders open up and travel becomes ever more accessible, capital cities are ready to welcome back tourists from all over the world. The better equipped the capital is the more popular it could be as a result. On top of man-made features and amenities, the weather and climate of these cities have been taken into consideration when identifying the best capital cities.
Top five rated capital cities
1 - Valletta (Malta), capital city score of 6.74/10:
The best capital city to visit for a holiday is Valletta. The capital city of the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta achieved a total score of 6.74/10. The major reason for this is the number of attractions and restaurants per square km. In fact, there are over 311 attractions per square km which is 237.5 more than the second-highest scoring capital. As Valetta is a tiny city (just 0.61 km2), there is a higher attraction density than the actual number of attractions, in total, there are 190 per square kilometer.
2 - Abu Dhabi (UAE), capital city score of 6.24/10:
One of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi, and although it is not the largest city (Dubai) in the country, it is the capital. Abu Dhabi achieved a total score of 6.24/10, missing out on the top spot by just 0.5. The city has one of the lowest annual rainfall totals with only 42mm dropping in the desert locale. Moreover, the year-round average temperature in the city is 27.92 degrees celsius which is the fourth highest of all cities studied.
3 - New Delhi (India), capital city score of 6.06/10:
India's capital is the only other city to achieve a total score of more than 6/10, and consequently the third highest-ranking capital. The average nightly cost of a hotel in the city is $101.87 (£73.50), which is around $35 less than the average of all the cities studied. In New Delhi, there are 290.61 restaurants per square kilometre and this is the second-highest of any capital.
4 - Manama (Bahrain), capital city score of 5.77/10:
Manama is the fourth-best capital city for a holiday in the world with a score of 5.77/10, just over 1 higher than the average score of 4.76/10. Manama has a very low crime rate score of just 17.28/100, on top of this, it scored well for average temperatures and annual rainfall due to its geographical location.
5 - Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), capital city score of 5.74/10:
Riyadh has slightly less rainfall than Manama but also slightly lower temperatures, therefore the Saudi capital ranks just below their neighbors. There are over 17.1 million hashtag mentions for Riyadh on Instagram and a low level of crime at 21.38/100.
Best capital city for every category
The Best City for Hotel Costs
The cheapest capital city in terms of average prices for a night’s stay in a hotel is Ankara (Turkey) where holidaymakers spend on average $45.74 (£33) a night for a hotel room. Bogota (Colombia) has the second cheapest average hotel room at $51.97 (£37.50) per night, making it the only other city with average prices under $55. Overall, the average price per night in all the cities is $135.67 (£98.07). Nassau (The Bahamas) has the highest average hotel prices at €367.32 (£265) per night, this is $321.58 (£232) more than Ankara.
The Cheapest Public Transport
In 2020 Luxembourg officially made all public transport in the country free of charge, and this includes the capital city of the country. Therefore, Luxembourg City has the cheapest average cost of a one-way ticket. Buenos Aires (Argentina) has the second-lowest rates for a single public transport ticket at 25 cent (18 pence). Another small European state capital Vaduz (Liechtenstein) has the highest average public transport cost of $5.94 (£4.18).
The Best Temperature
Average temperatures across all the major capital cities is 15.23°C, with a range of 25.1 degrees between the coldest and hottest cities. Bangkok (Thailand) has the highest average temperature of 28.6°C, followed by Manila (Philippines) at 28.4°C and 28°C in Muscat (Oman). On the other hand, the recently renamed Kazakhstan capital, Nur-Sultan has very low average temperatures at 3°C.
The Cities With the Least Rain
To guarantee a dry holiday in a capital city the best bet is Cairo (Egypt) where there is only 18mm of rainfall a year. Second-ranked city Abu Dhabi (UAE) sees 42mm of rain per year, and 66mm per year in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) is at the other end as the capital city sees 2,981mm of rainfall per year.
The Cities with the Most Attractions and Restaurants
Valletta (Malta) has by far the most attractions per km2 with 311.48, this is much more than the 73.98 attractions per km2 in the next best capital city for the number of attractions, Paris (France). On average there are only 0.02 attractions per km2 in Ankara (Turkey), while the average number of attractions per km2 across all the cities is 11.02, over 300 fewer than Valletta. Tokyo (Japan) is the largest city in the world and also has the highest number of attractions at 11,857.
The average number of restaurants per km2 in every capital studied is 25.22 km2. Valletta (Malta) once again has by far the most with 442.62 restaurants per km2, while at the other end of the scale, we find Ankara (Turkey) where there are only 0.16 restaurants per km2. Tokyo (Japan) has the highest total number of restaurants at 101,580, and the average across all cities is 5,972.
The Most Instagrammable Cities
Despite only being the 39th best capital city for holidays, London (England) has the highest number of hashtag mentions at 151 million, which is over 130 million more than the average. Paris (France) is the only other capital city to have over 100 million hashtag mentions on Instagram, with 120 million.
The Safest Capital Cities
A crime score out of 100 was awarded for each country, and amazingly Vaduz (Liechtenstein) achieved a score of 0 making it the safest capital city in terms of crime in the world. Abu Dhabi (UAE) followed in second place with a score of 6.88. At the other end of the spectrum, Pretoria (South Africa) has the highest crime score of 88.36/100.
Of the 197 countries in the world, we decided to focus on just ‘developed’ nations. To determine if a nation is developed it had to fit into one of the following categories: OECD member states, any nation with a Human Development Index score of 0.8 or more, and any country in the top 50 largest economies.
This left us with 81 countries, however as we could not find complete data for some this was whittled down to 69.
We then looked at data for the capital cities of each of these countries.
Average cost of a hotel per night was found from Kayak.
Average one-way ticket price for local public transport and crime rate was found from Numbeo.
Temperature data was found from Wikipedia.
Rainfall average data was found at Climate-Data.org
Number of attractions and restaurants was found from TripAdvisor
We then divided the number of attractions and restaurants by the area of the city to discover how many of each there were per square kilometre.
Need luggage storage?
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If you're planning to visit one of the cities in this study, you can find nearby luggage storage on the pages below: