The Getaway
What Makes These Cities The World’s Cleanest

As climate change alters global weather patterns, many countries around the world are working to create better environments for all residents. It's no longer just about ecology; it is now about economy. These initiatives present a cleaner city that makes visitors feel comfortable enough to spend more time and money. With more money in the economy, officials can invest in keeping areas clean and green, attracting more attention, tourism, and investment.

It’s a profitable cycle that many municipalities have been working on for decades. Creating sustainable metropolitan areas by harvesting existing natural resources is critical. Those dubbed the cleanest cities in the world may be more aggressive with sanitation practices and tightly control urban development in a way that ensures affordable housing and reliable transportation while protecting local wildlife and vegetation. They have become experts in striking that delicate balance and continue to reap the benefits.


01 Calgary

Calgary, Canada Photo by patrick mcvey on Unsplash

Because it’s a leader in the oil and gas sector, it may be a surprise that Calgary, Alberta, continuously makes it in the top 10 of global clean city lists. It takes education about greener lifestyles seriously by introducing an initiative to increase composting. This is part of the reason the capital’s “Too Good To Waste” campaign has been successful at halving landfill waste, making this Canadian metropolis one of the least polluted cities in the world.


02 Curitiba

Curitiba, Brazil Photo by Bruno Adamo on Unsplash

Curitiba, Brazil, is one of the best examples of sustainability. Almost two-thirds of the population depends on mass transit, and the city uses biofuel-only and hybrid buses to reduce gas emissions. Urban planning allows for a total of 30 parks and forests in the metro area for visitors to enjoy, and the city has a high recycling rate, which contributes to exceptionally clean roads.


03 El Hierro

canary islands wind water underworld111 / Getty Images

As one of the smallest Canary Islands located in the Atlantic and in addition to being a major tourist attraction, El Hierro has found creative ways to live and survive, making it one of the most environmentally sustainable cities in the world. It uses a combination of wind and water power to successfully provide a majority of the electricity to its residents.


04 Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral in Autumn Sunset Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash

The air quality in Finland usually sits within the top five cleanest in the world, and as the capital, Helsinki is considered one of the most livable cities. What makes it even more impressive is that Helsinki is an archipelago of 300 islands and has a dedicated ferry transport system in place. Many of the islands are covered in green trees and plants, and there are nature trails, camping sites, and botanical gardens for everyone to enjoy, making it one of the more appreciated regions in the country.


05 Honolulu

Hawaii Photo by Channey on Unsplash

Thanks to its natural beauty, Honolulu is considered a dream vacation to many and is already one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. According to the American Lung Association, Honolulu has the lowest levels of ozone and particle pollution in the U.S. and the world. Part of the reason for this is the city’s relatively low population combined with abundant rain and wind.


06 Ifrane

ifrane morocco cedar forest park James Andrews / Getty Images

Standing at the over 5,400 feet above sea level, Ifrane, Morocco, is home to one of the largest cedar forests in the world. Nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland,’ it has some of the cleanest streets in the country along with a natural park that makes a significant contribution to air quality. Visitors can travel the city aboard a train that gives a scenic view of the landscape and introduces them to some of the local wildlife.


07 Kobe

Cityscape of Kobe, Japan on sunny summer day Drazen_ / Getty Images

Located in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe is considered one of the cleanest places, according to many foreigners. The city provides plenty to experience on land or by sea. As a densely populated area open to tourists, keeping the city clean is a matter of health and economics. Kobe is home to a world-famous beef industry with an ambiance that’s embraced by many western cultures. Being considered one of the cleanest cities in the world can only benefit its brand.


08 Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland Photo by Marika Bellavance on Unsplash

With its snowcapped mountains and cottage-like residences that make it look like a Norman Rockwell painting, nearly all of Reykjavik’s electricity needs are met through the use of geothermal and hydroelectric energy sources. It is considered a pioneer in municipal renewable energy and is seen as a template for Iceland’s plan to be free of fossil fuels by 2050. The city has a plan that aims to ensure the preservation of its public green spaces, the purity of its waters, and a pollution-free home for visitors and residents.


09 Singapore

Haji Lane, Singapore Photo by Bna Ignacio on Unsplash

Back in the 60s, Singapore had a reputation for being one of the filthiest cities. With the help of strict laws and hefty fines, it cleaned up and became a virtually spotless island nation. There are rubbish bins everywhere, and garbage pick up is more frequent because the hot, humid climate doesn’t allow for waste to stand. There is an abundance of trees and connected parks that create a safe, comfortable experience, which attracts visitors for business and pleasure.


10 Wellington

Aerial view over the city of Wellington, New Zealand, with a cable car climbing up the hill in the middle. tobiasjo / Getty Images

Standing on Mount Victoria and looking out on the bay, it’s not hard to see why Wellington is considered one of the cleanest cities in the world. The Maori belief of environmental guardianship is at the heart of the country’s robust dedication to controlling land development and protecting native wildlife. The city has lowered carbon emissions due to people relying more on cycling and public transportation, making it one of the world’s fittest cities as well.


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