Alpha, Beta and Gamma Cities (Updated 2020)

Alpha++ city New York

Every few years, important global economic cities are ranked by the Globalization and World Rankings Research Institute. It is considered the leading institute ranking the world’s cities.

Cities are categorized as Alpha, Beta or Gamma cities based on their connectivity to the rest of the world. Many factors are taken into account in this analysis, including cultural and political influence, although economic factors are the most important consideration. Alpha cities are the primary nodes in the global economic network. Beta and Gamma cities are smaller global cities that link economic regions into the global network.

Why are we writing about this? In case this is your first time visiting our blogs: Spotted by Locals is a travel company that creates blogs and apps, written by locals, for 80+ cities across Europe, North America and the Middle East. A team of dedicated locals in each city keeps an eye out for the best spots in their cities so that visitors, as well as fellow locals, can experience the best of that city.

The cultural and economic factors of “our” cities are important to us, of course. While we do have guides dedicated to larger cities like London and New York, we take pride in the fact that we write about lots of less-visited cities as well, like those you’ll see lower down this list. We believe that many popular cities are suffering from overtourism, so we encourage people to get off the beaten path and discover some less-known hidden gems.

Anyway, back to the point of this article: here’s a list with the latest data from 2018 (GAWC hasn’t done a study in 2020 yet). Spotted by Locals cities (many of which are in one of the categories) are linked, if you want to check our latest tips for those cities.

Alpha ++

London, New York

Alpha +

Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo


Bangkok, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Taipei, Toronto, Warsaw, Zurich

Alpha –

Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bogota, Budapest, Dublin, Houston, Johannesburg, Lisbon, Luxembourg City, Manila, Montreal, Munich, New Delhi, Prague, Riyadh, Rome, San Francisco, Santiago, Shenzhen, Stockholm, Vienna, Washington D.C.

Beta +

Athens, Atlanta, Auckland, Bangalore, Boston, Bucharest, Cairo, Chengdu, Copenhagen, Dallas, Doha, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Lima, Perth, Tel Aviv, Vancouver


Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Berlin, Brisbane, Calgary, Cape Town, Caracas, Casablanca, Chennai, Denver, Karachi, Kiev, Kuwait City, Lagos, Manama, Minneapolis, Montevideo, Nairobi, Nanjing, Oslo, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Sofia, Tianjin, Wuhan, Zagreb

Beta –

Almaty, Antwerp, Belgrade, Birmingham, Bratislava, Changsha, Chongqing, Dalian, Dhaka, Edinburgh, Geneva, George Town, Helsinki, Jeddah, Jinan, Kampala, Lyon, Manchester, Monterrey, Nicosia, Panama City, Port Louis, Qingdao, Quito, San José, San Juan, San Salvador, Seattle, Shenyang, Stuttgart, Suzhou, Tunis, Valencia, Xiamen

Gamma +

Accra, Adelaide, Cleveland, Colombo, Dar es Salaam, Detroit, Glasgow, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Harare, Hyderabad, Lahore, Muscat, Osaka, Pune, Riga, Rotterdam, Xi’an, Zhengzhou


Ahmedabad, Algiers, Amman, Ankara, Asunción, Austin, Baku, Baltimore, Belfast, Bilbao, Bristol, Charlotte, Guadalajara, Hefei, Islamabad, Kolkata, Kunming, La Paz, Ljubljana, Luanda, Lusaka, Phoenix, Porto, Saint Petersburg, San Diego, San Jose, Santo Domingo, St. Louis, Taiyuan, Tallinn, Tampa, Tbilisi, Tegucigalpa, Turin, Vilnius, Wellington

Gamma –

Belo Horizonte, Cologne, Curitiba, Durban, Fuzhou, Johor Bahru, Maputo, Medellín, Milwaukee, Minsk, Nantes, Nashville, Orlando, Ottawa, Penang, Phnom Penh, Poznan, Sacramento, San Antonio, Tirana, Wroclaw, Yangon

The GAWC institute also created a very cool graphic of interconnectivity between these world cities from 2010 (PDF, large!).

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)