What are the most futuristic cities in the world?
The leading metropolises have captured the imagination of citizens worldwide with their dazzling skylines, cutting-edge infrastructure, and commitment to sustainability.
This article explores ten cities leading the way in innovation and development, from India’s first smart city to the construction miracle of Dubai.
The Most Futuristic Cities In The World
We’ve researched the economic, technological, and cultural highlights of the world’s most innovative cities to bring you this essential guide.
Here’s our list of the 10 most futuristic cities in the world:
10. Bangalore, India
When thinking of Indian cities, images of a highly dense population, an absence of green space, and copious amounts of pollution typically spring to mind.
Bangalore is different from many Indian cities, with plenty of tech companies, research institutes, and the country’s super-rich all residing in this capital of Karnataka.
The presence of a thriving IT sector has led Bangalore to be nicknamed the “Silicon Valley” of India, fitting for an emerging metropolis where leading companies embrace smart thinking.
There’s also a booming biotech industry in Bangalore, making it a leading city for innovation in a range of cutting-edge fields.
A number of the world’s leading multinational companies also have a strong presence in Bangalore, including car manufacturers Tesla and Toyota and tech companies such as Dell, Nokia, and Philips.
It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, and its urban planners consistently extend the futuristic skyline with exciting new architecture projects.
Bangalore is diverse in terms of its culture, from the Indian heritage festivals held throughout the year to contemporary appeal from its status as the “Pub Capital of India.”
9. Brasília, Brazil
South America is a subcontinent of contrasts, where you can move to some of the cheapest countries in the world, such as Peru and Argentina, or visit a futuristic city such as Brasília in Brazil.
The capital of the country, Brasília, features an excellent selection of striking buildings which demonstrate the city’s forward-thinking approach to architectural design, not least the Cathedral of Brasília.
These buildings have earned Brasília the status as UNESCO World Heritage Site, with an abundance of open green living spaces breaking up the urban landscapes.
The city was the brainchild of urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer, who applied their distinct modernist approach to opera houses and government buildings.
Brasília is the country’s political center, and the National Congress and Supreme Court are both situated here, along with the Palacio da Alvorada, the official residence of the Brazilian president.
As ecotourism gains increased popularity, Brasília has attracted bigger crowds of people looking for somewhere to escape, with the artificial lake Paranoa proving to be a consistently popular destination.
A marvel of high-end urban planning and Mecca for environmental tourism, Brasília has a promising urban future that bodes well for other Latin American cities.
8. Helsinki, Finland
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, positioned itself as a leader in innovation in the early 2000s and has maintained that position ever since, with its commitment to technology that includes free Wi-Fi access throughout the city.
Home to the Linux operating system creator, Linus Torvalds, the city is currently working on new and exciting tech developments, such as the point-to-point transportation system you can use via a smartphone app.
With the use of drones skyrocketing in recent years, Helsinki is leading the way with healthcare drones, with the potential to revolutionize the way emergency medical services operate.
Where Helsinki really stands out is with its commitment to social progress, including an advanced education system, long-paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as being the first city to legalize same-sex marriage.
While Helsinki lacks the proliferation of high-rise buildings found in many other cities, there are areas where you can find futuristic architecture, particularly in the city’s design district.
The third least corrupt and third-wealthiest city globally, Helsinki’s reputation for high urban living standards is exemplary and has been ranked as one of the greatest places in the world by Monocle and Time magazines.
It’s also steeped in culture, with an abundance of museums, theaters, and music venues that draw in large numbers of tourists to experience world-class performances.
7. San Francisco, United States
A few thousand miles away from India’s “Silicon Valley” in Bangalore is the real Silicon Valley of California, with the city of San Francisco serving as hub for many of its employees.
Facebook, Google, Twitter, and many other tech giants call this their home, with these companies often starting as garage start-ups before becoming multi-billion dollar enterprises.
As well as the tech industry, San Francisco is also home to the Ames Research Institute, where NASA carries out some of the world’s most innovative space exploration research.
The city has a deep-rooted history in counter-cultural movements, such as the Haight-Ashbury district, where the Hippie movement was born, and many of the country’s most famous rock bands.
As a result, it’s one of America’s most progressive cities, with a vibrant performing arts scene and a range of museums that reflect its creative outlook.
San Francisco has long held a reputation as the go-to city for food lovers, with several world-famous restaurants where you might find patrons indulging in some of the most expensive pizzas.
While the city has struggled with a growing substance abuse and homelessness problem in recent years, it nevertheless remains a home for some of the pioneers of the modern metropolis.
6. Masdar, United Arab Emirates
Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates is a futuristic city in the making, combining clean energy, mass transit, and stunning architecture in a relatively small area in the vicinity of Abu Dhabi.
A short drive from Abu Dhabi airport, Masdar promises to be a zero-waste city, as well as a fully functioning smart city, by the time it’s entirely constructed.
There’s already considerable investment being pumped into this ambitious project, with the city teaming up with the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund to inject funds into small and medium businesses.
One goal of Masdar City is to replace traditional cars with a massive rapid transit system, eschewing fossil fuels in favor of wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
This energy will, in part, be drawn from giant sunflower-shaped “umbrellas,” which will also act as shades while fanned out charging energy from the country’s intense, year-round sunlight.
Developers hope to provide homes for 7,000 residents initially, although eventually, many more are expected to flock to Masdar and work in the emerging cleantech industry.
Masdar is undoubtedly a smart city to keep an eye on, and if successful, its approach to sustainable urban centers with a zero-carbon mindset could help pave the way for similar futuristic cities elsewhere.
5. Shanghai, China
Shanghai has been one of China’s key economic hubs for decades. Its status as the first free-trade zone and the establishment of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in the 1990s transformed it into the “showpiece” of the country’s booming economy.
Its significance as a center of finance led to a rapid burst in population growth, with over 24 million people currently residing in Shanghai.
The creation of the Pudong Economic Zone, catering to overseas investments and absorbing capital, brought new opportunities for economic development, leading to additional growth and affluence.
This wealth is reflected in the city’s iconic cityscapes, which includes the world’s tallest supercluster of skyscrapers, situated on the eastern banks of the Huangpu River,
The tallest building in this cluster of three towers is Shanghai Tower, which stands at 632 meters high, and is the second-tallest tower in the world.
The city has a vibrant culture, drawing on a range of influences over the years, including art stretching back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties and parks and resorts to rival the best found anywhere else.
You don’t have to have Chinese billionaire Ma Huateng’s net worth to live in Shanghai, as this high-tech Chinese metropolis is home to thousands of students who attend its excellent universities, with an affordable cost of living.
4. Tokyo, Japan
With its neon-drenched aesthetic and cutting-edge technology, Tokyo’s reputation as one of the world’s most amazing cities has been well established.
Japan emerged from the Second World War to become the leading nation for technological innovation; its economy is driven by advanced telecommunications, car manufacturing, and high-end robotics.
Some of the biggest technology companies originate in Tokyo, many of which are involved in the ongoing development of the futuristic smart city being developed at an old factory site.
Artificial intelligence will play a significant role in the functioning of this city-within-a-city, aiming to reduce the carbon footprint and monitor the health of its residents with artificial intelligence-powered sensors.
Autonomous cars are also being tested, powered with solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells.
As you’d expect from a city that has helped to shape so much popular culture, Tokyo itself has a rich and varied arts and entertainment scene, merging Japanese tradition with influences from Western countries.
Among the high-rise buildings which characterize Tokyo’s futuristic architecture, you can find some of the most expensive restaurants in the world, renowned for their world-class sushi and other rare delicacies.
Fans of Japanese popular culture will find themselves in their element in Tokyo, with the Akihabara district forming the central shopping district for everything from manga and anime to the latest video games and computer technology.
Singapore began to forge a path as a world leader in business and finance in 1965, gaining its independence from Japanese, Malaysian and British occupations under the leadership of its long-serving prime minister.
This city-state is home to plenty of billionaires, who come for its first-class education system, green buildings, and access to the most influential businesses in the world.
Singapore’s many skyscrapers make up its glittering skylines, its office towers broken up with green space, and nature parks, such as the Gardens by the Way and Supertree Grove.
Despite a rapidly growing population, Singapore is one of the cleanest of all the major cities, ranked high on the Environmental Performance Index, and a global leader in sustainability.
Strict laws help maintain this level of upkeep, with the improper disposal of chewing gum leading to a $1000 fine for first-time offenders, while vandalism comes with a punishment of eight strokes of caning.
The city’s commitment to social order is matched by a lack of corruption within its government, and despite some of its authoritarian policies, a strong emphasis is placed on good governance and meritocracy.
Singapore’s industry is forging new paths in the march towards sustainable energy, with the city becoming the first to receive sustainable aviation fuel to power its planes.
2. Hong Kong, China
Another of China’s key financial hubs is Hong Kong, which has more super tall skyscrapers than any other city and the most inhabitants living higher than 15 floors.
Hong Kong’s technology and financial sectors drive much of its economy, and as a result, its citizens benefit from an exceptional transportation system, free Wi-Fi, and numerous parks dotted throughout the city.
Emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and biotech are present in the city, and the 22-hectare Science Park features state-of-the-art IT facilities to assist with a range of business start-ups.
Hong Kong businesses have been embracing technology for decades, even including fingerprint scanners as part of the verification process for school attendance and using robots to collect orders in restaurants.
The Wise City district of Hong Kong is a new venture looking to transform the metropolis into a “smart city,” with smart cards used to make electronic payments everywhere from grocery stores and parking meters, to public transport and taxis.
Hong Kong’s dazzling city skyline features hundreds of modern buildings which tower over its urban centers and includes some of the most expensive penthouses you can buy.
As the city continues to expand and embrace the emerging green economy, Hong Kong will undoubtedly build more of the tallest buildings in the world and rival its closest competitors.
1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The construction of the city of Dubai is a miracle of modern technology; just a few decades ago, the land on which it was built was primarily barren desert.
Today, Dubai is one of the most futuristic cities in the world, its coastline dotted with hundreds of high-rise buildings, including the tallest building of them all, the Burj Khalifa.
Noted for the futuristic appearances, the skyscrapers in Dubai are some of the most unique you’ll see in any modern city, utilizing multi-level sky bridges and structures that twist as they rise into the clouds.
As well as the tallest building in the world, Dubai is home to the Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest artificial island, and even an underwater restaurant.
As with other futuristic cities, Dubai is taking the initiative to adopt a green economy, having moved almost entirely away from oil production, which represented just 1% of the Emirate’s GDP in 2018.
Its business and financial leaders are also embracing blockchain technology and plan on using this to facilitate the payment of bills and visa applications in the future.
Tourism continues to bring in a consistent revenue stream for Dubai, with visitors attracted to the city’s skyscrapers, as well as its world-leading cuisine and nightlife.
Dubai’s harbor moors some of the world’s most expensive yachts, a frequent stopover for billionaires looking for somewhere to eat out and party in the many bars and restaurants on offer.
The most futuristic cities in the world offer a combination of stunning skylines, a vibrant culture, and a commitment to the latest sustainable technology.
This article covers the ten leading cities for innovation and economic development and their efforts to reach zero carbon through solar power and other green energy initiatives.
With new smart cities already under construction over the next few years, this article will be updated to reflect these changes, so be sure to check back for the most up-to-date information.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 most futuristic cities in the world:
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Hong Kong, China
- Tokyo, Japan
- Shanghai, China
- Masdar, United Arab Emirates
- San Francisco, United States
- Helsinki, Finland
- Brasilia, Brazil
- Bangalore, India