Cities With the Best Weather

Weather makes a big difference in how enjoyable a city is to visit, work or retire in. Cities with the best weather have the right combination of temperature, sun, rain and wind. Studies have shown that most people agree on what makes great city weather.

Best City Temperatures

The most important aspect of a city's climate, for nearly everyone, is temperature.

Surveys of people in Canada and New Zealand and in northern and central Europe, find the majority prefer daily high temperatures in the range of 20 to 26 degrees Celsius (68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit).

Within that temperature span, the ideal is 22 to 23 °C (72 to 73 °F). Adults young and old find that this temperature is the most comfortable.

Of course, people tolerate much hotter or colder weather, but there is a limit. Nearly everyone finds city temperatures higher than 30 °C (86 °F) to be unacceptably hot. And people feel that days which don't get above 17 °C (63 °F) are unpleasantly cold, at least for a vacation that's not focussed on winter sports.

Few cities stay at the best temperature year round. But most large cities in North America and Europe have some months of the year with ideally warm temperatures. For example, New York City in May, June and September; Toronto, Canada in June, August and September; and London, England in June, July and August have average daily maximum temperatures in the optimum range.

Ideal Amount of Rain

When asked what the ideal amount of rain would be on their city vacation, most people say none. But in one study, some admitted that up to two hours of rain a day is still acceptable.

Rather than measuring how many hours it rains each day, weather records typically give figures for averages of total monthly rainfall and the number of rainy days a month. The fewer days a month it rains, the better the city's weather.

Some cities have months when it rains for just one or two days, Phoenix, Arizona and Los Angeles, California, for instance.

But unless you're fond of umbrellas, puddles and rubber boots, it's best to avoid certain cities at particular times of the year. Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada especially get more rain in November and December than many people want to put up with. That's when Seattle averages 18 wet days a month and Vancouver gets 20.

Perfectly Sunny City

Along with a preference for dry weather, goes a yearning for plenty of sun. Good holiday weather for cities includes scattered cloud, covering up to one-quarter of the sky. Although nearly everyone tolerates up to half the sky being covered in cloud. But they dislike the sun not shining at all, when clouds obscure the entire sky.

While every place has its cloudy days, some definitely have more than others. One particularly cloudy city is Seattle, Washington in winter, when, along with the wet climate, chances are it's completely cloudy on over two-thirds of the days. Meanwhile, the sun almost always shines in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A Good Wind

Most people favour a city with a light breeze, even more so than having no wind at all. In studies of people's weather preferences, a light breeze means wind speeds of 1 to 9 kilometres per hour (0.6 to 5.6 miles per hour).

When wind speeds get above 40 kilometres (25 miles) an hour, many people start feeling uncomfortable. Of all the weather factors, though, people find wind the one least critical to their enjoyment of a city.

The Best City Weather

In summary, here's what people say makes for good city weather:

  • Temperature of 20 to 26 °C (68 to 79 °F)
  • No rain
  • Partial cloud, covering one-quarter of the sky
  • Light breeze of 1 to 9 kph (0.6 to 5.6 mph)

K. J. Collins, A.N. Exton-Smith and C Doré. 1981. Urban hypothermia: preferred temperature and thermal perception in old age. British Medical Journal (Clin Res Ed). 282: 175-177.

Michelle Rutty. 2009. Will the Mediterranean Become 'Too Hot' for Tourists?: A Reassessment. MSc Thesis. Master of Environmental Studies in Geography. University of Waterloo. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

D. Scott, S. Gössling and C.R. de Freitas. 2007. Climate Preferences For Tourism: An Exploratory Tri-Nation Comparison. In A. Matzarakis, C. R. de Freitas, D. Scott, eds. Developments in Tourism Climatology. 18-23.

World Meteorological Organization. World Weather Information Service.

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