Life in the city can be hectic at the best of times, with seemingly endless traffic, construction, and people going about their business, all generating a fair amount of noise. But which of Europe’s major cities are the loudest?
To find out, money.co.uk experts have compared 23 major cities around Europe on factors such as the density of people, the levels of road and air traffic, and the number of entertainment venues.
10 noisiest cities in Europe
- Paris, France
- London, Great Britain
- Rome, Italy
- Madrid, Spain
- Barcelona, Spain
- Manchester, UK
- Vienna, Austria
- Berlin, Germany
- Birmingham, UK
- Milan, Italy
Europe’s noisiest city for…
People – London
It goes without saying that the more people that populate a city, the louder it’s going to be, especially when those people are all crammed into a relatively small area. That’s the case in London, which is the most densely populated city on our list, with just over 16,500 people for every square mile.
Noise pollution – Barcelona
Looking more broadly at which cities have the highest levels of noise pollution overall, our experts used Mimi’s Worldwide Hearing Index. The Index gives cities a score based on their levels of noise and hearing loss, with Barcelona having the highest on the list. The old, medieval parts of Barcelona can be the loudest, with noise echoing and bouncing off the narrow streets.
Air traffic noise – London
If you’re unlucky enough to live under a flight path, then the noise from low flying aircraft can be a real concern. The location with the most flights coming in and out of the city is London, with over 180 million people flying in and out of the UK’s capital in 2019. London has the busiest city airspace globally, with eight airports using the word London in their name, including Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world.
Road traffic noise & congestion – Paris
The rumbling of engines is one of the most common contributors to noise in cities, especially when gridlock strikes and irate drivers beep their horns in frustration. The worst city for congestion was France’s capital, Paris, with a score of 39%, which means that a journey made during rush hour will take 39% longer than it would during normal conditions. Paris also had the highest number of people exposed to 55 dB or higher when it comes to road noise at 5.5 million a day.
Railway traffic noise – Paris
While traffic on the roads is obviously much more common, sounds from passing trains can be much louder and living next to a busy railway can be a nightmare that you weren’t expecting to have to face. Once again Paris scores the highest here with over 800,000 people regularly exposed to high levels of railway noise. The city is a major rail hub and is also home to the Paris Métro, the second busiest metro system in Europe.