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Self-care capitals of the world revealed for 2021

If 2020 taught us anything it is the importance of taking time for ourselves. Wellness and self-care are at the top of everyone's list right now after the challenges that this year has thrown at us.
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The consumer spending experts at money.co.uk have created the Self-care capitals report which analyses the most populated capital cities around the world and scores each of them on 14 self-care and well-being factors.

Research by ONS shows that during 2020, many of us had been worrying about the future. Almost two thirds (63%) reported feeling stressed and more than half (56%) said they had suffered with anxiety*, highlighting the importance of prioritising and taking care of yourself. 

That’s why we predict that 2021 will be the year of self-care, with more of us making time for ourselves and our personal wellbeing. 

From pampering spa treatments to relaxing yoga classes, it has been proven that these can help you feel less stressed and more fulfilled. In fact research has suggested that practicing yoga for at least three months will lower stress levels allowing you to feel more energised for the new year ahead. 

A credit card allows you to spread the cost of your spending. Compare before you book you next self-care getaway.

But which capital cities around the world are leading the way for their self-care credentials in 2021? 

Taking a seed list of the most populated capital cities around the world, we've used a weighted ranking system to assign a score to each city in the report, revealing the best cities around the world for self-care.

self-care factors

The city of self-care: Paris takes top spot for wellbeing

The world's top 25 cities for self care

Paris, the city of romance is now also the city of self-love, securing first place by scoring 104.5 out of 130 in our study. Thanks to relatively high scores across the board, it’s the city which is offering people the most self-care and wellness activities. 

With over 267 parks offering plenty of open space for jogging and scenic walks, 332 museums, and 936 spas to choose from, Paris has lots to offer those needing to take some time for themselves.

Where in the world is best for wellness?

Top 10 cities for wellness

The UK capital takes second place, scoring 100 out of 130 in our study. London is crowned the fitness capital of the world with 103 gyms in the city centre. With so many gym options available, the city's residents can focus on working out, practicing yoga and moving their bodies to reduce stress and clear their minds. 

Interestingly, Moscow is all about getting creative to balance the mind. The Russian capital has 87 pottery and art classes on offer and 715 museums to explore under your own steam. 

Where is the wellness retreat capital of the world?

When it comes to focusing on yourself, taking time out for treatments can boost your energy levels and improve your mindset. Wellness resorts and retreats combine all your self-care needs under one roof, with many offering fine dining, luxury spas and wellness activities. 

Our study reveals that the city with the most choice is Beijing with over 9,631 resorts to choose from. 

The capital of Italy, Rome, takes second place with over 7,665 retreats to choose from for a relaxing day away from it all. Bustling Bangkok achieves third place with over 4,561 luxurious retreats to try. 

Which is the best capital city for yoga?

With the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying lockdown measures turning work-life balance upside down, many countries around the world have spent months not only working from home, but living at work too. 

This has undoubtedly put enormous pressure on the physical and mental wellbeing of many people. A recent study revealed that 32% of people had felt lockdown had pushed them closer to burnout. 

Yoga has helped to calm people's minds and lift their spirits during the pandemic and many yoga instructors took their classes online as gyms and yoga studies were forced to shut. 

Our research reveals that Stockholm is the top city for yoga and pilates with 101 studios available across the Swedish capital. 

Where is the best city for reconnecting with nature?

During the pandemic parks and open spaces have been a refuge to many people living in cities, providing a place to stretch your legs, clear your mind and reconnect with nature. 

For those working from home, parks have been a place to escape and maintain their work life balance. The city topping our list for the number of parks is Paris with 267 places to choose from to take a break and get some fresh air. 

London and Moscow come next, with 164 and 140 parks respectively for a nature-packed walk to gather your thoughts. 

Top three cities for dining out

Restrictions permitting, dining out is a relaxing and fun way to socialise with friends and family and allows you to experience cuisines and dishes you wouldn’t normally cook at home. 

New research from the University of Oxford has revealed that the more often people eat with their friends and family, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives with shared eating experiences increasing social bonding and feelings of wellbeing. 

The capital of South Korea, Seoul was the top city for relaxation through restaurants. The city has a whopping 35,086 restaurant options for an evening of indulgence and down time. 

London and Paris took second and third place within our study with 19,859 and 17,068 restaurant options respectively. 

How much does self-care cost in the top 10 cities

Cost of self care

We all know the importance of self-care and looking after our own wellbeing, but how much does looking after ourselves really cost? 

Research by the Body Shop has shown that the UK alone spends £3 billion a month on self-care. That is equivalent to £49.20 on average per person spent over a pampering period of 7 hours and 25 minutes a month.

Our personal finance experts have crunched the numbers to reveal the cost of self-care in the index’s top 10 cities, to determine where in the world is the most and least cost-effective. 

Our calculations reveal that London is the most expensive capital city for self-care in 2021 with an estimated cost of £4,725.84 per person for the year. This figure takes into account the average cost of one yoga and pilates drop-in class every month, one spa visit per month, gym membership cost per month, the monthly cost of a museum pass, dining out for a three-course meal every month, and the price of getting one haircut every month.  

Our top scoring capital city Paris takes second place for self-care spending, with an estimated 2021 cost of £4,032.00 per person. Paris is followed closely by Madrid and Hong Kong with the cost of self-care averaging £3,647.40 and £3,218.28 respectively for a full year of wellness.  

Bangkok was found to be the most cost-effective city, with a year’s worth of pampering costing just £2,102.60 on average for the year. 

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said: 

“Wellness is important, but it doesn’t always have to be about spending money. Self-care means different things to different people, from a visit to a spa to a walk in the park, there are wellness activities to suit every budget. 

“But if you did want to treat yourself to a treatment or a trip, then there are a few ways to ensure you’re looking after both your wellbeing and your wallet. 

“If you’re booking abroad, make sure you always use a credit card so that you are protected if your home country goes into lockdown again or if travel restrictions change while you are away.

“Book your trip or treatment using a cashback or rewards credit card, which will give you back a percentage of whatever you spend. However, only spend what you can realistically afford on acts of self-care so it’s worth spending some time shopping around and comparing deals to you can make your money go further."

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards



Taking a seed list of the most populated capital cities around the world, the report discovers which capital cities are the best for self-care and well-being, by scoring each city on the following 14 factors: 

  • Number of yoga & Pilate studios (via TripAdvisor) 

  • Meditation search volume (via Ahrefs)

  • Number of wellness resorts (via TripAdvisor)

  • Number of spas (via TripAdvisor) 

  • Number of parks (via TripAdvisor)

  • Number of gyms (via TripAdvisor)

  • Number of pottery & paint classes (via TripAdvisor) 

  • Number of health food shops (via Yelp)

  • Number of museums (via TripAdvisor)

  • Number of restaurants (via TripAdvisor) 

  • Quality of life (via numbeo)

  • Number of shopping centres (via TripAdvisor) 

  • Beauty Salon search volume (via Ahrefs) 

  • The cost of self-care (via TripAdvisor, numbeo, iyogalondon, Business Insider, maps of the world) 

Using a weighted ranking system, the study then assigned a score to each capital city in the index, revealing which cities are the best for self-care pampering. 


Data correct as of 29/12/2020

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press such as The Express, Travel Daily, and The Daily Star.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.

Graphic of the creative commons logo

About Salman Haqqi

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.