The Most Cultural Cities for International Meetings

At IBTM, we recognise the power of events for businesses. Events are a way of inspiring, a way of connecting and a way of fostering culture.

And at a time when the world has shifted to a more flexible remote-working approach, we rely on these face-to-face meetings to create real and genuine human connections.

As a result, we are proud to be focusing on ‘creating culture’ as our 2022 theme and are looking at how destinations around the world use their unique cultures to inspire and elevate events.

After all, company culture is not just created in a meeting room. Company culture is also created when having experiences with your colleagues, such as exploring the city you are visiting and deepening your appreciation and understanding of the world, together. 

With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to crunch the numbers and find out which cities around the world are considered the ‘most cultural’, helping to narrow down the options for anyone planning an International meeting where culture is at the forefront.

Read on below to find out the results!

Key Cultural Cities Findings

  • When it comes to UNESCO World Heritage, London took the top spot in the study by offering five sites to explore including the Tower of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

  • For anyone looking to incorporate an unforgettable foodie experience, New York City is a great option considering that the US city is home to over 500 Michelin Guide restaurants, more than any other city in the study. Five of these dining establishments also have the coveted Michelin 3-Star status, impressive.

  • Tokyo is the city to visit for any teams keen to develop their knowledge outside the four walls of a meeting room, boasting a staggering 923 museum listings on Tripadvisor with everything from digital art to national heritage.

  • And when it comes to the culture of art, it depends on what type of art you enjoy. Those who enjoy curated art galleries should visit Tokyo, which is home to 484, but those who enjoy the more ‘raw’ side of art should visit New York where there are over 1,000 recognised pieces of street art to discover.

  • As for getting an essence of a place just by walking its streets, Milan is a great option as the city boasts over 400 architectural buildings listed on Tripadvisor including the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Arco della Pace. 

  • Italy and the United States both managed to secure two cities in the top 10 list: with New York in 1st place; Milan in joint 6th; Rome in 8th; and San Francisco in 10th.

New York City, United States of America

Taking first place for the ‘most cultural city’ in this study is one of the world’s most famous cities, New York. As well as scoring in first place overall, the American city also took the top spot for two factors - the most Michelin Guide restaurants and recognised street art pieces.

New York also scored highly for the number of museums, art galleries and theatres that it offers to visitors, being home to world-famous Broadway, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Aside from this study, the city has long been considered one of the most dynamic and diverse in the world being the birthplace of many cultural movements including abstract expressionism, hip hop, disco music and the Harlem Renaissance in literature and visual art.

Paris, France

In second place overall, but the highest in Europe, is the capital of France. Paris scored particularly well for Michelin Guide restaurants, being second to only New York with 435 acclaimed fine-dining establishments, and for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Speaking of, Paris offers a number of these recognised sites for visitors to explore including the Château de Versailles and the Banks of the Seine. What’s more, it doesn’t get much more cultural than being home to museums and art galleries that are known around the world. 

Despite only ranking in 5th and 6th place respectively for these factors, Paris is home to the Louvre, Musée Picasso, and Musée National d'Art Moderne. As a whole, French culture is most commonly associated with Paris, which is a world-renowned centre of fashion, cuisine, art and architecture so it’s not surprising that the city secured second place.

London, United Kingdom

Rounding up the top three ‘most cultural cities’ is another iconic destination, London. When it comes to UNESCO World Heritage, London took the top spot in the entire study by offering five sites to explore including the Tower of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

The British capital city also secured the top spot overall for the number of theatres located there, with London being home to the world-renowned West End and boasting one of the world’s best theatre scenes - ideal for after-hours activities with colleagues!

Its architectural buildings are another cultural factor that helped London secure the bronze medal. From old to new, traditional to modern, gothic to art deco, and many styles in between, the city has many notable buildings to marvel at - 126 listed on Tripadvisor, in fact!

Where does your favourite rank? Do you agree with the top 5? If not, tell your destination's story with a Cultural Roadshow at IBTM World.

 

Methodology

To compile the ‘Cultural Cities For International Meetings’ Index, we first collated a list using the ICCA 2021 '50 best destinations' list and the 'most attended destinations' in the 2019 ICCA report.

We then analysed each of the cities included for the following factors: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums, Michelin Guide restaurants, art galleries, theatres, architectural buildings and street art.

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 each data point. 

Cities, where a full dataset was not available, were omitted from the index.

We then added the scores together to get an overall score across all the data points before ranking the destinations from lowest to highest based on this final score. 

Data was gathered in September 2022. The full dataset and source list are available upon request.

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