World's best cities for work-life balance: Copenhagen ranks top

Denmark's stylish capital leads the way in the index, which is dominated by cities across Europe

Copenhagen is the world's best city for work-life balance, according to a new travel index compiled by search engine Holidu.co.uk. Photo: Alamy
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Famed for its culinary genius, sophisticated design and Scandi-cool vibes, Copenhagen has been named the best city in the world for work-life balance.

The Danish capital tops an index compiled by holiday search engine Holidu.co.uk of cities around the world getting it right when it comes to the work-life sway.

Copenhagen ranks top for the average number of annual hours worked — most people in the harbour city work only 1,380 hours each year, compared with Singapore at the other end of the scale, where people toil for an annual average of 2,330 hours.

Copenhagen residents get plenty of rest and work less hours on average each year compared with most other cities around the world. Unsplash / Steven Lasry

Copenhagen also scores well for happiness and wellbeing, with an overall eight out of 10 in the index.

Residents in the Scandi capital are also well rested, clocking up an average of nearly nine hours sleep each night, a figure only bettered by people in cities across Portugal.

Top 20 cities for best work-life balance

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Reykjavik, Iceland
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Helsinki , Finland
  5. Stockholm, Sweden
  6. Frankfurt, Germany
  7. Linz, Austria
  8. Klagenfurt, Austria
  9. Den Haag, Netherlands
  10. Basel, Switzerland
  11. Graz, Austria
  12. Dresden, Germany
  13. Bern, Switzerland
  14. Hannover, Germany
  15. Vienna, Austria
  16. Lausanne, Switzerland
  17. Geneva, Switzerland
  18. Rotterdam, Netherlands
  19. Innsbruck, Austria
  20. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Overall, the work-life balance index is dominated by European cities, which fill the first 32 places. It ranks cities on work-related factors such as number of hours at work, commute times and mandatory paid holidays, plus life factors such as average hours slept each night, trips taken every year, happiness /wellbeing levels and disposable income.

Edinburgh best work-life balance in the UK, while Edmonton leads Canada

In the UK, Scotland comes out on top with Edinburgh ranked in 40th thanks to a high disposable income score. Photo: Jane Barlow

Australia’s Adelaide is the highest-ranked city outside of Europe, in at 33rd on the list

In the UK, Scotland comes out on top with Edinburgh ranked 40th and with a high disposable income score. The capital city was also recently identified as the UK's most "liveable" for expats.

Neighbouring Glasgow is the second-highest-ranked city in the UK in at 41st, while Manchester, Liverpool and London also make the top 50.

Canada’s Edmonton leads for the Great White North, ranking 51st, while in the US it is Las Vegas topping the rankings for the states in at 71st.

Hong Kong City Skyline

Peru's cities rank highest for the number of minimum mandatory paid days of annual leave, with 42 days per year, while Zurich residents have the highest disposable income in the world.

Klagenfurt in Austria has the shortest commute time of any city in the index at a snappy nine minutes. On the opposite end of the spectrum is San Jose — the Costa Rican city clocks up daily commute times of more than one hour.

Residents in cities across Peru have the highest number of mandatory paid holidays. Photo Unsplash / Megan Kotlus

And when it comes to getting out there and travelling, Hong Kong reigns supreme. Despite a lowly 110th ranking overall, the Asian city has residents take an average of 12 trips per year.

Middle Eastern countries are largely absent from the study. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Beirut and Kuwait were originally included in the research but later removed as a full data set could not be verified for each, a spokesperson for the company told The National.

Updated: May 06, 2022, 1:41 PM