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Smells like a holiday: Cities with the best aroma revealed

Smells like a holiday

Have you ever caught a whiff of a particular aroma and suddenly found yourself transported back to a bustling market in Marrakech or a serene morning on the Amalfi Coast? 

Though often overlooked, our sense of smell carries a profound ability to take us back to some of our fondest travel memories. 

The experts at HAYPP have analysed data on 30 major cities in Europe and beyond, comparing their cleanliness EPI (environmental performance index) score to the number of bakeries, perfume shops, and flower shops in each city, to take you on a sweet-scented journey though the world’s nicest smelling cities.

RankCityCity Area (km²)Cleanliness EPI Score 2022Number of bakeries per 10km²Number of perfume shops per 10km²Number of flower shops per 10km²Smell score/10
1Athens395631.322.131.38.3
2Paris10562.511.411.611.58.2
3Zurich886612.4912.48.1
4Dublin1185710.42.510.47.9
5Luxembourg51.5728897.8
6Nicosia1115810.45.85.87.7
7Copenhagen180786.71.75.67.4
8Bucharest239564.155.17.2
9Valletta0.675196.732.807.2
10Amsterdam219635.53.15.57.1

*A copy of the full data set can be found here

  1. Athens, Greece 

Taking the coveted top spot as the nicest smelling city in the world, with a smell score of 8.3 out of 10, is Athens, Greece. 

Known for its lively street markets and food culture, the aroma of fresh produce, herbs, and traditional Greek cuisine permeates the Athenian air, creating an unforgettable scent experience. 

Despite being the smallest city in the top five, Athens boasts an impressive 31 bakeries per 10 kilometres squared, selling everything from crispy Tiropita (cheese pies), to mouth-watering Baklava. 

Athens’s 31 flower shops and 22 perfumeries per 10 kilometres squared, combined with an EPI cleanliness score of 56.2 help it cinch the number one spot, cementing its position as a sensory delight for the keen-nosed traveller. 

  1. Paris, France 

French culture places a significant emphasis on aesthetics and the appreciation of the senses, including smell, so it’s no surprise that Paris, France, takes second place with a smell score of 8.15 out of 10. 

Paris has a rich history in the luxury fragrance industry. The city is home to renowned perfume houses and boutiques, boasting 11.62 perfume shops per 10 kilometres squared. 

Parisians also have a strong coffee and pastry culture. The inviting scents of freshly brewed coffee and the sweet aroma of pastries can be smelled wafting from the city’s impressive 11.4 bakeries per 10 kilometres squared. Paired with an EPI score of 62.5 for overall cleanliness, locals and visitors alike can look forward to an olfactory adventure.

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland claims third place with a smell score of 8.1 out of 10. The city’s proximity to the Alps means that it benefits from fresh, clean mountain air. Zurich is also well known for its high standards of overall cleanliness; streets, public spaces, and transportation systems are all carefully maintained.

With 12.4 bakeries and 9 perfume shops per 10 kilometres squared, plus a cleanliness EPI score of 66, Zurich truly embodies the term ‘alpine fresh’.

  1. Dublin, Ireland

In fourth place is the city of Dublin, Ireland, thanks to an overall smell score of 7.9 out of ten. 

The city is adorned with colourful flower displays, especially during the spring and summer months, and with 10.4 florists and bakeries per kilometre squared, it’s a veritable bouquet for the senses.

Dublin is also famous for its rich pub culture; the malty scent from breweries, combined with the smell of traditional Irish pub fare contributes to the city’s overall charm. 

A respectable cleanliness EPI score of 57 helps cement Dublin as one of the world’s nicest smelling cities. 

  1.  Luxembourg, Luxembourg. 

Luxembourg, also known as Luxembourg city, secured the fifth spot within the rankings, thanks to a smell score of 7.8 out of 10. 

The city of Luxembourg is much loved for its well-maintained parks and green spaces, such as Parc Central and Pétrusse Valley. These areas are rich in flora, trees, and well-kept landscapes, all of which enhance the air quality. 

Boosting the city’s pleasant aroma are 9 perfume shops and 8 bakeries per 10 kilometres squared. Luxembourg also holds the highest cleanliness EPI score of all cities in the top five, with a sweet-scented score of 72. 

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