Brussels ranks in top 50 cities in the world

Brussels ranks in top 50 cities in the world
Mont des Arts. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

For the second year in a row, Brussels has ranked among the world’s top 50 cities in a ranking created by tourism and real estate communications company Resonance Consulting.

Brussels was ultimately ranked the 37th best city in the world, behind Doha and Sydney, but ahead of increasingly popular locations such as Bangkok (39th), Warsaw (40th), Copenhagen (41st), and Hong Kong (46th). 2024’s top three cities were London, Paris, and New York City.

“Belgium’s capital and the de facto home of the European Union is a city with plenty of surprises up its tailored sleeve,” the report said. Described as “the most authoritative ranking on the planet” for cities, the study calculates the rankings of cities based on “liveability”, “lovability”, and “prosperity”.

Liveability considers factors such as the walkability of the city, its level of green urban transport, sights, landmarks, parks, recreation areas, airport connectivity, museums, and education. Lovability considers culture, nightlife, restaurants, and tourist feedback. Prosperity assesses each city on its economic success, education attainment, and poverty rates.

Brilliant Brussels

In the ranking, Brussels takes joint first place for being the most walkable city in the world alongside Chicago, Milan, and Valencia. Resonance Consulting also rates the city highly for its connectivity to the airport (Brussels International).

Credit: Tour & Taxis

“The city has invested in public space, like the Tour & Taxis Food Market under the glass roofs of the former Gare Maritime, and the Grand Hospice: a repurposed neo-classical complex with beautiful colonnades and an interior park,” the ranking notes.

Also helping Brussels rank so highly are its landmarks, tourists attractions, and vibrant culture. The ranking evokes the Manneken Pis, which it says is testament to the “locals’ contempt for authority.” It also praises the Matonge quarter’s flea markets and street art. The Grand Place, it notes, is “surely among the most beautiful squares in the world.”

The city is billed as an ideal location for professionals and expat workers. The rank praises its co-working spaces, such as Working From_ at the Hoxton hotel, and says that it is an ideal location for conferences and summits for all kinds. Brussels ranks in the top 10 locations by Facebook “Check-ins”.

Ceremony for the presentation of a Rolling Stones costume for the iconic Manneken Pis statue in the city centre of Brussels. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

The ranking also notes that Brussels is particularly connected by public transport to other cities and nearby countries. “Its Midi station is the hub for a country with some of the world’s densest rail networks that is poised to expand inter-city and overnight connections in 2024.”

Despite the praise, Brussels has its faults. The guide complains of “state-commissioned buildings so ugly that entire social feeds hate on them.” Brussels certainly has its fair share of ugly buildings, which elicit their fair share of controversy online.

Rapid development

Chris Fair, President & CEO of Resonance Consultancy, says that the Covid-19 pandemic had taught local authorities to place a new focus on urban development and green spaces. This is reflected in the number of ambitious redevelopment projects across the world.

“As our cities leave the pandemic behind, they walk forward with lessons forged in lockdowns and outdoor safe spaces fresh on their minds. Our urban centres and their citizens, current and future, are completely rethinking what they consider a desirable place to live, work, or play,” the expert noted.

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Brussels, as well as other Belgian cities, have performed well in the consultancy company’s rankings. In a 2023 ranking of European cities, four Belgian cities (Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and Liège) were ranked in the top 100, with Brussels earning 12th in all of Europe.

Life in the bustling Belgian capital has its costs. While the city has been consistently ranked as a vibrant city, it is also one of the most expensive. Brussels ranks as the 41st most expensive cities in the world for expats, rising 26 places in the ranking over the last five years.

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