Dwelling on negativity is generally unproductive but there are times when it becomes necessary. For instance, while many travelers compile lists of the world’s most beautiful cities, we decided to take a different approach. We are flipping the script and revealing the ugliest cities in the world, offering eye-opening revelations for those who wish to visit these destinations.
1. Mumbai, India
Mumbai is what happens when unfathomable wealth is used to prop up the elite while the working class suffers in squalor. “The city holds the world’s most expensive private residence ever built for one man and is surrounded by slums that hold almost three million people,” laments one experienced traveler. A quick Google search verifies this ugly city claim – it’s astounding to see!
2. Los Angeles, California, United States
Most visitors are shocked when they see Los Angeles for the first time. Instead of the vibrant and luxurious city that Hollywood films had promised them, they’re greeted by a town suffering from urban blight to the highest degree – with a severe homeless problem. So while some parts of the city – like Beverly Hills – are beautiful, most of Los Angeles is quite unpleasant to look at.
I’ve never seen a city with so much trash everywhere, all over the roads and highways. Los Angeles is anything but what you see in the movies, and “Skid Row” is the worst. Everything east of Fairfax to the river is now an an extension of Compton, complete with gangs.
3. Norilsk, Russia
During the U.S.S.R.’s heyday in the Cold War era, cities were hastily constructed to fit a quickly-expanding population. Unfortunately, in 2023, Norilsk is the perfect example of a town that needs to meet the expectations of a thriving metropolis. Not only does it look ugly and depressing with old Soviet-style buildings and nearly-nonexistent vegetation, but it’s also highly polluted and cold.
4. Bucharest, Romania
Coined by many as the ugliest capital city in Europe, Bucharest has a laundry list of problems it needs to rectify. From a lack of running water in many areas to unpaved streets to a borderline-ancient sewage system, Bucharest is a city I think I’ll never visit! Which is most unfortunate as Romania is one of the trending destinations to visit in 2024.
5. São Paulo, Brazil
It’s no secret that Brazil’s society has seen better days. But, unfortunately, things will likely worsen for cities like São Paulo before they get better. “I’m sorry, but São Paulo takes the cake – it’s worse than all other cities combined,” explains a female traveler. “Twenty million people there, in a depressing gray jungle of concrete and asphalt.”
6. San Francisco, California, United States
Based on the city’s rolling hills and breathtaking bodies of water, conventional wisdom states San Francisco would be regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world – however, that isn’t the case anymore.
In 2023, everyone has heard of the homeless population problem running rampant in the streets of San Francisco, turning the once-thriving city into a worst-case scenario for many residents. The situation has gotten out of control with no real solution.
One traveler shared that her dad warned her not to get her hopes up before visiting San Francisco. “The city was so ugly. It’s not colorful. It’s almost grey. It reeked of urine and feces. Everyone was so rude. The only thing I enjoyed looking at was the Golden State Bridge. It made me sad to see how many homeless people there were and how poorly others treated them. It made me never want to visit another big city.”
7. Riverton, Wyoming, United States
There’s a big difference between a dull and old-fashioned city and a town that has been seriously neglected over the years! Unfortunately, Riverton falls into the latter category. It’s dusty, bland, and just kinda sad. Everything there looks worn out, and there’s a huge and ugly casino just outside of town that nobody ever goes to. Wyoming is home to many very pretty locations, but Riverton is not one of them.
8. Manila, Philippines
According to many travelers who’ve been there, there is nothing good to say about Manila. Manila starkly contrasts many of the Philippines’ pristine and dream-like beach towns – its overpopulation, terrible public transportation, and overall lack of city development and beautification do its citizens a disservice.
9. New York City, New York, United States
To this day, New York City is a beacon of light for many immigrants looking to achieve the American dream. However, it’s shocking for many people to discover that the city is ugly. While many people point to the city’s thriving culture, innovative economic and social institutions, and history, nothing can cover the fact that the city desperately needs a facelift.
One traveler noted, “Specifically Lower Manhattan, near Governor’s Island. I’ve gone to New York several times, but this area felt depressing, much more than the rest if you can even believe that.” There was trash and giant rats everywhere.
10. Temirtau, Kazakhstan
Thanks to a seemingly neverending drug problem among its population and urban decay as far as the eye can see, Temirtau is easily one of the ugliest cities in the world. Many travelers admit they’re stunned by the sheer amount of abandoned buildings and empty storefronts, in addition to the complete lack of city beautification programs.
11. Gary, Indiana
Another ugliest city in the world is Gary, Indiana. One traveler shared, “I was hitchhiking from Tennessee to Wisconsin when I was 19, and I got dropped off in Gary, Indiana. I could not catch a ride after two days of trying, so I spent what money I had on a Greyhound to Chicago.
I had to walk through a large portion of the city from where I was to the station, and it was the tensest and most depressing walk I’d ever taken. So yeah, Gary, by a long mile.”
12. Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls, New York, the area over by the Falls. It wasn’t too bad back in the day, but walk twenty minutes, and you were in the middle of terrible-looking housing with trash piled seven feet high. Many experienced travelers agree that the only decent part of Niagara Falls is on the Canadian side.
13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I hate to put it down because I had a good time there, but my answer is Philadelphia. I just found it run down, with bad streets, lots of closed up, empty spaces. Of course, like any urban area, Philadelphia faces challenges. Parts of the city bear the scars of economic hardship and urban decay.
Certain neighborhoods like Kensington, have been known for higher crime rates and drug-related issues leading to abandoned buildings, unkempt public spaces, and a lack of investment in infrastructure.
14. Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Another ugliest place in the world is Scottsbluff, Nebraska. It is riddled with gang life which is ironic considering most travelers, myself included, would confess to never putting gangs and Nebraska in the same thought.
15. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennesee, was listed by many as one of the ugliest cities in the beautiful United States of America. In Memphis, even the nice parts aren’t very nice. The rough parts are, well, rough.
16. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana, was listed as being an ugly city. Besides maybe the French Quarter and the Garden District, New Orleans is not an attractive city. The homeless situation under the highway is out of control, with makeshift tents as far as the eye can see.
17. Seattle, Washington
Okay, I’m not even mad that my hometown made this list because what was said about it is accurate, and why I left! The only color in Seattle is when someone wears a bright rain jacket. It’s always gray, rainy, and colorless. Seasonal depression rates must be through the roof for those living in this city.
18. Paducah, Kentucky
15 years ago when I visited I had never seen so many kids smoking. In present times, if you visit downtown you will be frustrated only to find the stores boarded up or having flea market type stores.
19. Detroit, Michigan
Several travelers nominated Detroit, Michigan, as one of the ugliest cities they’ve ever seen, noting the abandoned cars and buildings everywhere.
I’ve also been to Detroit, and it’s the most shocking experience in any U.S. city, including Baltimore. The number of rundown areas covered in mattresses and garbage when I drove through was overwhelming. Also, the first time I ever witnessed tennis shoes hanging all over the telephone wires.
20. El Reno, Oklahoma
Another city that made our ugliest city in the world list is El Reno, Oklahoma. It resides outside of Oklahoma City. One traveler confessed, “I stayed there while traveling through the region. It was hit by a tornado a few years later, and the place probably looked better afterward.” Ouch.
21. Clovis, New Mexico
Many Americans agreed that Clovis, New Mexico, is a cesspool of unattractiveness. There are flies for days due to dairy farms and a constant odor of cow manure. Not exactly a place many will want to spend money trying to visit.
22. Douglas, Arizona
If you have been to Douglas, Arizona, it won’t come as a shock to it on the world’s ugliest place list. Some travelers will argue that Vail, Arizona, was ruined by people moving into cramped homes that destroyed the desert. However, the consensus was that Douglas, Arizona is much uglier. One traveler added, “And I’ve been to third-world countries.”