Escape Travel

5 of the Most Elegant Cities in the World

History, charm and sophistication – find out why we think these cities are 5 of the most elegant in the world.

What makes a city elegant? For us, an elegant city is one that has a sense of refinement, beauty, history and sophistication. Impressive architecture, world-class art and cultural institutions, refined dining and shopping options, and a rich history and cultural heritage, elegant cities often have a strong sense of urban planning and design, with well-maintained public spaces, parks, and gardens that serve as focal points for both residents and visitors.

Elegant cities also tend to have a vibrant cultural scene, with a variety of festivals, events, and cultural activities that draw visitors from around the world. Plus the food – sophisticated, refined and a strong coffee culture – no elegant city is complete without food worth travelling across the globe to discover.

See our pick of 5 of the most elegant cities in the world.

1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria

Austria’s capital Vienna is renowned for its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and refined elegance. The city is home to an array of grand palaces and opulent buildings, such as the Hofburg Palace, Schönbrunn Palace, and the State Opera House, that showcase the grandeur of the Habsburg Empire and the architectural skills of the era.

Vienna is also famous for its music. It was the home of some of the greatest composers of all time such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, and is also known for its sophisticated café culture, where visitors can sit for hours in an elegant setting, enjoying a coffee and a slice of Sachertorte (a traditional chocolate cake which is a must-try when you visit Vienna!). The city’s green spaces such as the Stadtpark and the Burggarten are also refined and elegant places to visit. All these elements combined make Vienna one of the most elegant cities in the world.

Elegant Hotspots: Don’t miss the Hofburg Palace, the State Opera House, the Musikverein, Café Central, The Burggarten, and the Kärntner Strasse. These landmarks and locations showcase the city’s grand architecture, rich cultural heritage and refined atmosphere.

2. Melbourne, Australia

Australia’s famous southern city is a little slice of European elegance wrapped up in it’s own unique Aussie style.

Architecture, a thriving cafe scene and a plethora of hidden bars and restaurants in the cities’ laneways and well-heeled locals make this Australia’s most elegant city. Livability is also high with the city being named the most livable city in the world numerous times over the last few decades.

Expect to have your coffee order on point, pack a suitcase of sharp, black clothing and remember the changeable weather in the city means you can get four seasons in one day. The Southern Hemisphere autumn or early winter is a beautiful time of year to visit when the weather is usually stable. With a hint of cold weather the city really thrives – find glamorous hidden bars, visit the numerous art exhibitions and seek out cultural experiences in unlikely places.

Of course, with Australia being one of the safest cities in the world you can generally expect a trouble-free visit to this beautiful city. It isn’t cheap though, like most of Australia’s east coast you can expect high quality and price tags to match.

Elegant Hotspots: The ‘Paris’ end of Collins Street is home to wide boulevards, luxury high end retailers and restaurants. Also don’t miss the historic Royal Arcade and Block Arcade right in the heart of the city.

3. Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy

It is no surprise that Milan sits on a list of the world’s most elegant cities. With its history, global fashion this Italian city is packed full of elegance.

The city is home to some of the most iconic fashion houses and designer boutiques in the world, such as Prada, Gucci, and Armani. Visitors can stroll along the famous shopping street, Via Montenapoleone, and take in the elegance of the city’s high-end fashion scene. Milan is also home to some of the most impressive architecture in the world, such as the gothic Cathedral of Milan, and the iconic glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, with it’s elegant and refined atmosphere. The city also has a rich cultural heritage, with several museums and art galleries, such as the Pinacoteca di Brera, showcasing a diverse array of masterpieces from the likes of Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Elegant Hotspots: The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a historic shopping arcade is a must-visit. For a more relaxed atmosphere, head to Brera, an upscale neighborhood known for its charming streets and fashionable cafes. For a drink or a meal, the Navigli district is the perfect place to experience Milan’s famous nightlife.

Paris, France

No list of elegant cities would ever be complete without ‘The City of Light’, Paris.

This French gem is renowned for its stunning architecture, world-class art, fashio. food and rich cultural heritage. The city’s wide boulevards, charming streets and grand monuments are lined with elegant Haussmannian buildings and museums, many of which have been beautifully preserved.

Its many landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe showcase the architectural skills and styles that have influenced the world. Paris is also considered as the fashion capital of the world, with its famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the high-end boutiques of the Marais and the luxury fashion houses on Avenue Montaigne. The city’s charming sidewalk cafes, elegant patisseries, and fine dining restaurants make Paris one of the most elegant cities in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year to take in its beauty, culture and the unique “art de vivre” of the city.

Elegant Hotspots: Everywhere you look in Paris is elegant but try hotspots like Champs-Élysées, Place Vendôme, Avenue Montaigne and the area around Opéra Garnier, where visitors can find designer shops, luxury hotels, fine restaurants and famous theaters.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

If it is old world elegance you are seeking then Florence is your city. Known as the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance,’ it is revered for its stunning architecture, world-class art, and rich cultural heritage. The city’s winding streets and grand piazzas are lined with graceful, medieval buildings, many of which have been beautifully preserved. Its many palaces and churches, such as the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery, are masterpieces of Renaissance architecture and art, showcasing the talents of artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Raphael. The city also has a rich history of fashion and is home to many high-end boutiques and designer shops.

Elegant Hotspots: Florence features elegant hotspots such as Piazza del Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Oltrarno neighborhood, where visitors can admire famous sculptures, take in picturesque views and explore charming streets, artisan workshops and fashionable cafes.

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