Two Swiss cities named among the 10 happiest in the world

Two Swiss cities named among the 10 happiest in the world

Two Swiss cities have been named among the happiest in the world by the latest Happy City Index. Both Zurich and Geneva were rated highly across the categories analysed, with the former only losing the top spot to Aarhus in Denmark.

Happy City Index 2024

While happiness is by nature hard to define - and some may say impossible to quantify - the latest Happy City Index intends to reveal the 250 happiest cities on the planet. Based on “thousands of indicators carefully developed by our researchers and directly linked to the quality of life and the feeling of happiness of its residents”, the report rated each city through the following main categories:

  • Citizens: Quality of the education system, digital competency, friendliness and social inclusion.
  • Governance: Participation of residents in political processes, transparency of government, quality of digital services and policies dedicated to improving quality of life.
  • Environment: Management of natural resources, waste, sewage, green space and air pollution.
  • Economy: Gross domestic product, productivity, innovation and cities' attractiveness to international companies and creative industries.
  • Mobility: Quality of public transport and international links, e-payment systems and safety.

24 different secondary criteria were used to score each city across the main categories, with a combined score used to place each city on the ranking. For 2024, 36 cities were given a gold standard for happiness, with Aarhus in Denmark placing first thanks to its exceptional scores in all but the mobility category.

Zurich the second happiest city on Earth

For 2024, Zurich was rated as the second happiest city in the world. The Swiss metropolis was given world-beating scores for education, digital services, and mobility. With the city offering the highest salaries in Switzerland, it also received the best score in the top 10 for economy - maybe money can buy happiness after all.

However, Zurich lost out when it came to governance, scoring the lowest out of the top 10 in the category. While the report did not go into why the city faltered, it is likely due to the fact that most expats and internationals - who make up 32 percent of the population, according to the city statistics office - do not get a say in local or cantonal elections and referendums.

In addition, the city’s environment score, while roughly in line with most of the top 20, fell far behind the scores earned by Scandinavian cities.

Swiss cities perform well in happiness report

The German capital Berlin rounded out the podium places, followed by Gothenburg in Sweden and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Geneva also found itself in the top 10, placing ninth on the list. Like Zurich, Geneva was rated highly in the economy and citizens categories but lost out in the government and environment sections. Basel was also given a gold medal rating, having placed 19th.

In terms of other Swiss cities, four earned “silver” medals for happiness. These included Bern (44th), Lucerne (69th) and Lausanne (94th). A further three cities, Lugano (118th), Montreux (144th) and Winterthur (164th), won themselves a bronze.

10 happiest cities on Earth

In all, here are the 10 happiest cities, according to the Happy City Index:

  1. Aarhus, Denmark
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. Berlin, Germany
  4. Gothenburg, Sweden
  5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  6. Helsinki, Finland
  7. Bristol, United Kingdom
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. Geneva, Switzerland
  10. Munich, Germany

For more information about how the study was conducted, and to see how other global cities fared, check out the official website.

Thumb image credit: Marina Datsenko /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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