The inaugural Small Cities Index, compiled by lifestyle magazine Monocle, ranks the best 25 small cities in the world, defined as having a population under 200,000.
The ranking was compiled by the magazine’s correspondents, editors and researchers based on factors including the standard of public transport, rail and air connections, welcoming residents and progressive local government.
Objective metrics such as crime rates, life expectancy and quality of universities were also taken into account, as were more whimsical factors like “whether you can get a good coffee at 6am or be on a dance floor at 2am”.
“Big cities bring people closer together but often only in a practical sense: isolation and loneliness seem to be unavoidable by-products. The best small cities tend to provide the opposite: people are more relaxed and happy to have a chat. While your social calendar may start off looking sparse upon arrival in a good small city, it doesn’t take long to become integrated,” Monocle writes in its introduction to the ranking.
In placing Bergen third on its list, Monocle cited the Norwegian city’s friluftsliv (outdoor life).
“The city is surrounded by picturesque mountains and is a gateway to the fjords of Norway’s western coast,” the entry states.
Bergen’s notorious rain did not go unnoticed, however.
“The wet weather can be tiresome but it has proven useful in creating a buzzy hospitality and dining scene that’s enlivening the city’s once-tame nightlife,” Monocle writes.
Summer music festival Bergenfest is noted as a highlight, while Kode art museum and the recently renovated Natural History Museum are mentioned as top cultural offerings. Bergen is also praised for its accessibility for cycling.
Swiss city Lausanne was awarded the top place on the Monocle Small Cities Index, with Boulder, Colorado, USA at number 2.