New York City may be known as “the Big Apple,” but with approximately 8.5 million residents, it barely holds a candle to some of the most populous cities on earth. Whether it’s the history, architecture, or sense of discovery, for those who love the rhythm and energy of city life, nothing can compare to the sensation of an urban atmosphere. Beyond food, fashion, and other aspects of the culture, what truly makes a place unique is its people—and each of the cities on this list has a lot of them. Bookmark our list of the biggest cities in the world, and start planning your next trip.
1. Tokyo (38.3 million)
From a phenomenal cultural scene to a history-rich blend of arts and architecture, Tokyo, Japan, is not only one of the biggest cities in the world but also one of the most exciting—and traveling there may be way less expensive than you think.
2. Delhi (27.9 million)
Few cities come close to mirroring the blend of old and new to be found in Delhi, India. This territory includes both modern landmarks and iconic locations like the Red Fort, which dates back to the 1600s.
3. Shanghai (25.9 million)
Known as the financial capital of China, Shanghai is as culturally rich as it is internationally significant. In addition to being one of the biggest cities in the world, Shanghai, which means “upon the sea,” is also one of the oldest cities, but it has come to sport a skyline defined by glamorous, futuristic architecture.
4. Beijing (22.8 million)
Another of China’s heavy-hitting population centers, Beijing is the country’s capital. Here you’ll find the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and a number of historical and cultural landmarks.
5. Mumbai, India (22 million)
From the thriving Bollywood film industry to ancient Hindu temples, Mumbai is nothing if not culturally rich. Previously known as Bombay, Mumbai is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves diving into a new city.
6. São Paulo (21.7 million)
No trip to South America would be complete without a stop in São Paulo. This bustling locale is known for its incredible arts scene, diverse landscape, and status as one of the biggest cities in the world.
7. Mexico City (21.5 million)
While portions of Mexico City are known for their modern edge, this heavily populated area is also home to sites like the Aztec Templo Mayor, which dates back to the 1200s, and the ancient Pyramid of the Sun, built in around 200 CE.
8. Osaka, Japan (20.5 million)
While Tokyo may take the crown when it comes to the biggest cities in the world, Osaka, Japan, has plenty to offer, from historic castles and modern architecture to some of the best street food on earth.
9. Cairo (19.8 million)
For those inspired by the history and lore of ancient Egypt, Cairo is a once-in-a-lifetime destination. This heavily populated capital city is situated on the Nile River, and it’s home to both modern tourism and some of the oldest sites on earth.
10. Dhaka, Bangladesh (19.6 million)
One of the less frequented spots on our list by travelers, Dhaka has numerous points of interest to offer as one of the biggest cities on earth. As the capital of Bangladesh, it houses a number of significant historical sites and is host to some of the most fantastic cultural festivals in the world.
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