The Best Cities In The World For Different Generations
The Generational Travel Index
As the world is almost back to normal and restrictions all but gone, travel really is back in the cards and people of all ages are starting to plan their next trips abroad. Together, in fact.
Family holidays are really having a revival post-pandemic, with research highlighting that two-thirds of Brits will take a holiday this year with their loved ones.
But from nature-loving Baby Boomers to cultural Gen Xers, foodie Millenials to bucket-list-seeking Gen Zers, finding a trip that all generations will enjoy is difficult. To say the least.
But we’re here to help. At Holidu, we have analysed cities around the world based on a range of factors that are important to each age group, finding out which destinations are the best for a multi-generational trip.
And, if you’re not travelling as a family and just want to know where best to travel for your generation? Well, we’ve still got you covered.
We know that Generation Z might not be interested in visiting the cultural European city that their parents recommended, so that’s why we’ve broken down the data so that each generation can find out which destinations they are likely to enjoy the most based on their values.
So, whichever type of holiday you’re planning, read on below to find out where you should go…
The Best Cities For All Generations
1. Madrid, Spain
Taking the top spot for the city that is the best for multi-generational trips is Madrid. The Spanish capital scored well for a number of different factors across the board, ranking well for values across all generations.
For example, for those who appreciate food, Madrid is a great option with it being home to 125 Michelin Guide restaurants and offering the opportunity to sample two of the ‘100 best National dishes around the world’ – Gambas Al Ajillo and Paella de Mariscos.
What’s more, the city is very family-friendly – scoring 4 out of 5 for this factor, has over 800 five-star rated ‘things to do’ and over 150 museums, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site for culture vultures.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Taking the silver medal position is Japan’s capital, Tokyo – a cosmopolitan city that offers a travel experience valued by multiple generations.
For those who enjoy being outdoors, Tokyo offers a variety of different landscapes including urban cityscape, sandy beaches, covered forests and looming mountains. It offers something for everyone and is also not far at all from Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, for any adrenaline junkies.
Food is also high on the agenda with the Japanese capital being home to 429 Michelin Guide restaurants, taking the third spot in the entire study for this factor, and also offering a smooth driving experience with the quality of the country’s roads being scored an impressive 6.1 out of 7.
3. New York, United States
And rounding up the top three is one of the most famous cities in the world, New York. The American city is home to the most Michelin Guide restaurants in the world, with a staggering 512 to choose from. What better way to celebrate a belated family holiday than a slap-up meal?
But if fine dining isn’t your family’s thing, New York offers plenty of other things to see and do including two UNESCO World Heritage sites – The Statue of Liberty and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
And for those looking to capture their memories on camera, the city is incredibly Instagrammable and ranks in fifth place in the entire study for this with over 122 million people using #NewYork in their pictures.
The Best Cities For Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964)
According to research, Baby Boomers spend more money on food than any other generation and value exploring the ‘Great Outdoors’.
That’s why we decided to look at which cities are home to the most Michelin Guide restaurants, which have the largest variety of landscapes to explore and which have the highest ranked parks and green spaces.
And the best city for Baby Boomers? Singapore. Considering that the city is such a bustling metropolis, the capital city of the country of the same name scored 79.51 out of 100 for its parks and green spaces – ideal for a generation that appreciates the outdoors. In fact, in a 2020 study, almost half (46.5%) of the city’s land was covered in green space, making it one of the greenest cities in the world.
Another reason that Singapore is such a good option for Baby Boomers is the number of Michelin Guide restaurants that it is home to, 249 in fact. Impressively, 52 of these restaurants have at least one Michelin Star, with three actually boasting the Michelin 3-star status. For those interested, these prestigious restaurants are Les Amis, Odette and Zén.
2. Kyoto, Japan
Coming in second place for Baby Boomers is another Asian city, this time in Japan – Kyoto. Not the official capital but Kyoto is actually considered to be the cultural capital of Japan. So why is it a good choice for this generation you might ask?
Well, of all the Japanese cities in the study, Kyoto has the highest ranking of parks and green spaces – something which many Baby Boomers consider as important. One of the best for this nature-loving generation to visit is Kyoto Botanical Gardens, which is home to an impressive 12,000 species of trees, flowers and plants spread across 60 acres in the north of the city.
Another suggestion is Ryoan-ji temple, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site that offers a striking rock garden and spacious walking garden with a tranquil pond and resident ducks. Kyoto is also a foodie hotspot, being home to 207 Michelin Guide restaurants that are a very spectacular way to celebrate a day exploring the city.
3. Bern, Switzerland
Rounding up the top three is Switzerland’s capital city, Bern. And for a generation that likes being outdoors, visiting what is known as the ‘city of fountains’ is a great option.
Bern’s historic centre is home to over 100 water features for travellers to explore on foot. Each has its own distinct character – some ornate, some garish and some just plain bizarre (like the one with the child-eating ogre). In fact, of the top three, Bern secured the highest score for its green space and parks, with a score of 84.09 out of 100 ranking it 22nd overall for this metric.
And like both Singapore and Kyoto, the European city offers a range of landscapes to explore – from its vibrant cityscape, dense forests, looming mountains and a number of icy glaciers within its canton.
The Best Cities For Generation X (1965 – 1980)
When it comes to Generation X, research highlights that 70% enjoy museums and historical sites, and 43% travel by car on whilst holiday.
So we’ve analysed which cities around the world have the most museums, the most ‘things to do’ with a 5-star rating and which destinations have the highest quality roads.
1. Tokyo, Japan
As well as its second spot ranking for the best multi-generation cities, Tokyo also took first place for the best city for Generation X to visit. Why? Well, considering that 70% of this age bracket admitted to enjoying museums, a city that boasts over 900 of them sounds like a winner to us! From cutting-edge digital art to historical artefacts, there is something to suit all tastes.
And for a generation that enjoys hiring a car when travelling, Japan as a whole scored 6.1 out of 7 for the quality of its roads, based on extensiveness and condition, meaning that you’ll be able to cruise round without worrying about pot holes or going round the houses to get to where you want to go.
Chances are that you’d be heading to one of the city’s renowned sights, with Tokyo offering an impressive 963 ‘things to do’ that have been rated 5-star on Tripadvisor by fellow travellers.
2. Amsterdam , Netherlands
And it’s a European capital that takes the second position for Generation X, Amsterdam. Of the top three, Netherlands’ capital city scored the highest for the quality of its roads, scoring an impressive 6.4 out of 7. The country has the highest ranked road infrastructure in Europe, and second in the world behind only Singapore. With over 86,000 miles of public roads, the Netherlands actually has one of the most dense road networks in the world, meaning that it is easy, and a joy, to explore its cities by car.
Also, considering its size compared to the other two metropolises in this top three, Amsterdam offers an impressive number of museums to visitors, 229 to be exact. At a size of only 84.9 miles squared, the capital is home to more museums per square mile than any other city in the world. So there is definitely a lot to see including Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum.
3. New York, United States
Rounding up the top three once again is New York, but this time as a destination for Generation X specifically. One of the main reasons that it is such a great city is because of the number of ‘things to do’ that have been rated as 5-stars. Scoring 9th overall for this factor, but first in the Americas, New York is home to almost 1300 5-star ‘things to do’ including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ground Zero Museum, the World Trade Center Memorial and ogling at the Manhattan skyline.
Of these attractions, the city has also got plenty of museums waiting to be explored, 359 of them in fact. New York does slightly fall down on its drivability though, with the country receiving a score of 5.5 out of 7 for its road infrastructure. But, for those not bothered about renting a car, New York has a well-recognised subway system with 27 different lines and over 450 stations, so you certainly won’t struggle to get around!
The Best Cities For Millennials (1981 – 1995)
Looking at how Millennials like to travel, research reveals that 71% use Instagram (at least once a week), base their travels around food and drink, and more than half have children who are likely to still live at home.
That’s why we’ve found out which cities are the most ‘Instagrammable’, offer the most national dishes ranked in the ‘top 100’ to sample and are the most family-friendly.
1. Paris, France
So, when it comes to Millennials, it is Paris that takes the top spot. For a generation that regularly uses photo-sharing social media networks, a city that is incredibly Instagrammable is an ideal holiday destination, being home to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks and having been hashtagged over 137 million times on the ‘gram. For this metric, Paris ranked second overall, behind only London.
What’s more, Paris is also a great foodie destination, which is good considering that Generation X like to base their travels around food and drink. The French capital serves up 2 of the ‘100 best traditional dishes’; Steak au Poivre and Beurre Blanc (a creamy sauce made from butter, white wine, shallots and white wine vinegar). Delicious!
And when it comes to family friendliness, what could be more family-friendly than Disneyland Paris?!
2. Barcelona, Spain
In second place is another popular European tourist destination, Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia also serves up delicious food to travellers, ranking joint-27th with Paris with a score of 2 of the ‘100 best traditional dishes’. As Madrid does, Millennials will be able to enjoy sampling the Spanish delights that are Gambas Al Ajillo and Paella de Mariscos before washing it down with a glass of Sangria – Salud!
What sets Barcelona apart from its Spanish counterparts is its Instagrammability, with its hashtag being used in over 68 million Instagram posts to date. This is not particularly surprising though, considering that the city is home to some of Spain’s most recognisable sights including the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell – both of which certainly deserve to be featured on the ‘gram.
3. Madrid, Spain
And taking bronze medal position is another Spanish city, but this time it’s the capital. Whilst taking the top spot for the best city for multi-generational trips, Madrid also took third place for Millenials to visit. And why this demographic specifically, you might ask?
Well, Madrid is considered to be very family-friendly, scoring 4 out of 5 for this factor and ranking in first place in the entire study for this, joint with numerous other cities. Most bars and restaurants in the city are child-friendly and you are likely to see families out and about almost everywhere. Young children will enjoy learning at its numerous museums, having a picnic at El Retiro Park and eating churros whilst wandering the city streets.
The Best Cities For Generation Z (1996 – 2010)
And as for Generation Z, 60% use TikTok regularly and whilst this age bracket values once-in-a-lifetime and cultural experiences, more than two-thirds believe that price is paramount.
So, for this generation, we’ve looked at which cities have the most views on Tiktok, are home to the most UNESCO World Heritage sites and offer the best value for money when it comes to a meal and beer.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
And taking the gold medal for Generation Z is Turkey’s Istanbul. And why did it score so highlight for this demographic? Well, considering that three in five Gen Zers use TikTok regularly, this capital city has had over 37.5 billion views on the video-sharing app – behind only Dubai, Barcelona, London and Paris.
Whilst the city is more expensive than the other cities in the top three when it comes to having a meal and a beer, Istanbul is still great value for money at £6.11 – for both. Cheap eats here include seafood, vegetables, meat and bread, and the city boasts an enticing street food scene. Gen Zers can sample Turkish meatballs, stuffed mussels, kebabs and Balık Ekmek (a grilled fish sandwich), all without breaking the bank.
2. Mumbai, India
In the second position is India’s cosmopolitan metropolis, Mumbai. Its chaotic streets, which offer bargains galore and people-watching, are a great option for a generation that wants to have bucket-list-worthy adventures – but on a budget.
Speaking of bucket lists, Mumbai offers travellers the opportunity to explore three UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Elephanta Caves and the Victorian gothic and art deco ensembles of Mumbai. One place to definitely tick off though is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – the most ornate train station you’ll probably ever see in your lifetime. It’s used by over 3 million people a day by people travelling all around India but its gothic architecture, decorative turrets, ornate animal figurines and opulent marble interiors make the train station a sight to behold.
3. Lima, Peru
To round up the best places to visit for Generation Z, and the only South American city to win a top three spot in this study, is Lima. Peru’s capital scored the highest out of the top three cities for its value for money when drinking and dining.
Gen Zers will appreciate being able to enjoy a delicious meal and local beer (either Pilsen Callao or Cusqueña) for just over £5. Distinctly Peruvian food includes dishes like ceviche, anticuchos, juanes, and, for the bravest amongst the age bracket, the delicacy that is Cuy – fried or roasted guinea pig.
What’s more, the Historic Centre of the city is in itself a UNESCO World Heritage site. When here, be sure to spot a few of more than 1,500 balconies around Lima, which were built in the 16th to the 19th century and nod to Spain’s conquering of Latin America. And, for those who don’t mind a bit of travel, Lima is not too far from Peru’s most famous UNESCO Heritage Site, Machu Picchu – one to tick off the bucket list, for sure!
To compile the ‘The Generational Travel’ Index, we first collated a list of all of the main cities in each country in the world and then analysed each on the below factors:
- Number of different landscapes (city, beach, forest, jungle, mountain and glacier)
- Ranking of parks and green spaces (out of a score of 100)
- Number of Michelin Guide restaurants
- Things to do on Tripadvisor rated 5-stars
- Number of museums
- Quality of road infrastructure (out of a score of 7)
- Number of Instagram hashtags
- National dishes in the ‘100 best rated dishes’
- Family friendliness (out of a score of 5)
- Number of Tiktok hashtag views
- Price of an average meal and pint of beer
- Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Within each of the generations, we have double-weighted the metric that we deem the most important with these being Michelin Guide restaurants, number of museums, family friendliness and TikTok views respectively.
We used a variety of credible sources to find data for each of the above categories and then ranked the cities from first to last based on this data. Cities, where a full dataset was not available, were omitted from the index.
We then added the scores together to get a total score for each generation before ranking the destinations from lowest to highest based on this final score.
To find the overall score across all generations, we added together the total scores from each of the age brackets before ranking the destinations from lowest to highest based on this final combined score.
The starting list included all of the cities on Resonance’s ‘World’s Best Cities’ and Euro Monitor’s ‘Top 100 City Destinations’ lists, as well as some additional cities that were drawn from credible sources including Culture Trip and Business Insider about popular city destinations.
Data was gathered in August 2022. The full dataset and source list are available upon request.