Top 10 Largest Cities in the World

There’s nothing quite like the buzz of a big city. The hustle and bustle can be a huge thrill. Here are the best places to get that unique ‘big city’ vibe.

Some people thrive in the buzzing atmosphere of a large city, never feeling at home unless they are right in the middle of the action. Some people may prefer to live in a smaller and more peaceful place, but still like to take trips to big cities.

For some travellers, seeking out the biggest cities that the world has to offer might be an exciting challenge in itself. Big cities offer lots of opportunity to work and socialise, and most of them have a strong culture and arts scene.

Large metropolitan areas may have some negative aspects, such as pollution, overcrowding, high crime rates, high cost of living, but for a lot of people the pros outweigh the cons.

Most major cities are safe for tourists, as long as they take necessary precautions and stay alert to what is happening around them.

Read on to find out facts, figures and tourism advice for ten of the largest cities in the world.

1. Tokyo

Tokyo started as a fishing village and then grew to become the largest city in the world, home to more than 13 million people. For this reason it is an ideal destination for a person who craves the atmosphere of a big city, especially if they are interested in experiencing the newest technology.

Tokyo has an average population of more than 13 million people. As is expected of a place with so many people, there is an incredibly efficient public transport system. Therefore, while the city may be crowded and unfamiliar to many tourists, it is relatively simple to get around and see everything on your list.

Tokyo has a vast array of Michelin starred restaurants, making it a heaven for food-lovers who want to treat themselves or their holiday companions. If you are willing to part with some money you can enjoy some world-class food, both Japanese and French.

2. Seoul

seoul skyline

The capital and largest city of South Korea, Seoul has over 10 million inhabitants.

Even though the geographical area of Seoul has been inhabited for almost 2000 years, in its current incarnation it is a relatively young city, as South Korea only gained independence from Japan in 1945. The fact that it has been continuously settled for so long means there are a great number of important historic attractions.

In 2011, tourists from Japan, China and Thailand voted Seoul as the city they would most like to visit. Though it holds on to many traditions, Seoul is a modern city offering a lot of culture that is accessible to international visitors.

Juxtaposed with the modern culture are the palaces and museums where you can learn all about South Korea’s history. One way to enrich your experience in Seoul would be enlist the services of a Goodwill guide – a foreign-language-speaking volunteer city guide who will accompany you to places you want to go in the city, and assist with interpretation and advice as much as they are able to.

3. Shanghai

Shanghai is the most populated city in China, and the most populated city in the world if you only consider the population of the city itself and not the surrounding areas.

The name Shanghai can roughly be translated into English to mean ‘Upon The Sea’. Shanghai was originally a village, which became a market town in 1074 and then became a city in 1927.

Buildings in Shanghai represent a wide variety of architectural styles. The city is known for having some experimental and contemporary buildings, as well as various European architectural styles, and even some buildings in the Soviet style.

Like some of the other entries on this list, Shanghai has a number of parks where a weary traveller can spend some time relaxing.

4. São Paolo


Brazil’s largest city is not Rio de Janeiro, or its capital Brasilia. São Paolo is. Named for Paul the Apostle, the city began as a village with a Jesuit college in 1554, and expanded from there to become one of the most populated cities in the Americas.

It is also the most ethnically diverse city in Brazil, which may have contributed to its large population by attracting people to move there from other countries.

It may not be as naturally beautiful as some other Brazilian cities, but it does have a lot to offer in terms of culture and nightlife, especially a thriving live music scene.

5. New York City

For many people, especially those who live in the USA, New York is the quintessential big city that they have dreamed of all their lives. Dubbed by some as ‘the city that never sleeps’ and ‘the capital of the world’, New York City has something to offer every tourist, and even more to offer anyone who lives there.

Some images of New York are so iconic that they could be easily recognised all around the world. These images include the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the Empire State Building.

Those who love big cities but find them overwhelming can escape to Central Park, which is a peaceful haven spanning over 800 acres within the city.

6. Moscow


The Russian capital has the distinction of being the furthest north of all 28 megacities. It is also considered as the most populated city in Europe, as it lies in the European part of the Russian Federation.

Although Moscow is crowded and polluted, there are a number of World Heritage Sites in the city, and examples of beautiful architecture. It is very important in Russia as a major city for culture, education, and finance. The city has many parks and gardens, including the famous Gorky Park, which contains a variety of recreational facilities for public use.

Moscow has one of the deepest underground transport systems in the world, which dates to 1935. At the time, the Moscow Metro was the first and only underground transport system in what was then the Soviet Union. Under Stalin’s rule, the metro was intended to embody radiance and brilliance.

7. Mexico City

Mexico’s largest city and cultural centre, Mexico City has the distinction of being the largest city in the Spanish-speaking world. It was originally built by the Aztecs, but after being destroyed during a siege it was regenerated to Spanish specifications, and served as the political centre of the Spanish empire.

Although crime rates are high, Mexico City offers an abundance of culture and cuisine to any traveller who spends some time there.

8. Cairo

cairo egypt skyline

The Egyptian capital is Africa’s largest city, and has one of only two underground transport systems in Africa. Many visitors to Cairo come seeking Ancient Egypt, as there are many examples of ancient architecture, and it is close to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids. Cairo is sometimes regarded as a microcosm of Egypt, representing something from every aspect of Egyptian culture.

Cairo has an annual international film festival, which was conceived in 1976 and was, at that time, the only festival of its kind to ever take place in an Arab country. The festival was inspired by the Berlin Film Festival, and brings a touch of European culture to North Africa.

Although a revolution took place in Egypt in 2011, with many demonstrations occurring in Tahrir Square, Cairo is now mostly considered safe for tourists and travellers. Cautious travellers may wish to check their country’s foreign travel advice before booking a trip, but it is likely that their trip will be free of trouble.

9. Istanbul

Istanbul is Turkey’s most well known and largest city, but not its capital. Famed for its Grand Bazaar and unique mix of European and Asian culture, it is a popular holiday destination but also home to approximately 13 million people. In 2012, it was host to more than 11 million visitors from other countries.

Istanbul’s prominence on the historical Silk Road led to it growing into an ethnically diverse and financially important city. Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, at which time it was called Constantinople, but when Turkey became a republic in 1923, Ankara became the capital. Check out our tips on relaxing things to do in Istanbul.

10. London


London is the capital of England, and the city itself has a population of around 8 million. It has an intense big city atmosphere, with a wide range of cultures being represented in everyday life, and many iconic images such as red buses or Big Ben easily visible.

London is a wonderful mix of old and new, with something to suit every traveller, whether they are interested in seeing ancient relics and artefacts, or discovering the newest fashion, food or technology.

Similar to New York, there are many places within the city of London where a dazed tourist can escape to reconnect with nature and temporarily forget about the pace of modern city life.

These are just a few of many exciting large cities around the world for you to explore. Happy travelling!

Cover photo:

About the author


Reader, writer, blogger, part-timer, volunteer, all things to all men. I can usually be found wearing yellow clothes and drinking green tea. Some of my favourite things include waterfalls, polar bears, rum, and charity shops.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment