PopulationMetro: 1,025,000
Smart, practical and increasingly keen to share its idiosyncrasies with the world, Oslo is an economic powerhouse with swagger (if Norwegians swaggered).

No longer playing second fiddle to other Scandinavian cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen, Oslo is proving itself a worthy destination all its own, with stunning natural beauty as well as a thriving nightlife scene, Michelin-worthy restaurants, and a storied past.

It’s also one of the highest-rising cities in our Top 100 list, up 11 spots over last year.

The holder of our #29 spot in the People category, Oslo has some of the most educated residents in the world (#24 in the Education Attainment subcategory) as well as a high percentage of international residents (#38 globally for foreign-born residents). The economy is performing well, offering its residents admirable levels of social well-being and employment, which is a good thing since Oslo is not a cheap place to live in or visit. In return, Oslo residents have fueled the city to the fourth-best GDP per capita in the world, only trailing San Jose, Dublin and Zurich in that vital city performance subcategory.

Place 28.08
Product 23.60
Programming 5.84
People 70.54
Prosperity 66.77
Promotion 5.59

If you’re visiting on a budget, the Oslo Pass, costing less than $50, gives you free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, plus free travel on all public transport. Wander beyond the city’s center and across the river to the neighborhood of Grunerlokka, and you’ll find cool little bars like Tilt, which features not just a great selection of local brews but also a new basement hangout with shuffleboard, pool tables, pinball and arcade games. For dinner, Kolonihagen is a stylish little spot where the chef fuses century-old Norwegian traditions with new cooking techniques to create new Nordic cuisine based on organic principles and sustainable farming methods. The place is co-owned by a founder of the Michelin-starred restaurant Maaemo, which is also worth a visit if you can score a reservation. Oslo has a lively coffee culture and your best bet is Fuglen, which serves a mean cup of kaffe during the day and potent cocktails at night in a chic setting with a 1960s vibe. Like the mid-century chair you’re sitting in or the Norwegian-designed table your coffee is resting on? It’s all for sale next door at the cafe’s tiny storage-cum-showroom. That’s Norwegian common sense and practicality for you.