Lonely Planet Writer

Looking for a city break? These are the most inspiring cities around the world

While travel is always a source of inspiration, some places create more of a spark than others, and a new survey breaks down just which cities around the world are the most inspiring.

Miami, Florida.
Miami, Florida. Image by ©Fotosearch/Getty Images/Fotosearch RF

TravelBird, a European travel booking site, looked at destinations around the world. Based on eight different criteria “which are associated with the spirit of creativity, romance, culture, and innovation”, Miami, USA came out on top.

Canal in Bruges, Belgium.
Canal in Bruges, Belgium. Image by ©Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

The survey assessed the number of performing arts companies and art schools, as well as the number of art galleries and museums in a city. It also looked at the presence of creative industries in those communities, measuring the number of music production and film industry facilities. For those who are inspired by new business ventures, TravelBird also included a “start-up ranking”, which was based on the number of new businesses in the city. The survey took into consideration the romance factor, measuring how often locals and visitors were “romantically inspired” by the city, and ranking locations by the number of Google searches for romance-focused keywords, like “romantic dinner”.

Houses known as Painted Ladies, San Francisco
Houses known as Painted Ladies, San Francisco Image by ©Michael De Battista/500px

The survey ranks 85 locations around the world, including well-known capitals and smaller centres – and to level the playing field between large and small cities, the data is broken down per 100,000 people.

Bristols Clifton Suspension Brdge bathed in early morning sunlight.
Bristols Clifton Suspension Brdge bathed in early morning sunlight. Image by ©Gary Rayner/500px

To further create balance, the survey takes into account that some cities are much more inspiring in one season than others. To determine that, TravelBird looked at artwork depicting each city in the ranking and using thousands of images decided whether summer or winter had inspired more painters in that city.

Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland.
Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Image by ©Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock

And while Miami may be known best for its beaches, it also scored highly for art galleries, film and music industry facilities, start-ups and romance. Following Miami, the top ten cities are: Bruges, Belgium; San Francisco, USA; Bristol, UK; Reykjavik, Iceland; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Salzburg, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; Heidelberg, Germany; and Florence, Italy. See the full list here.