Seven on Sunday – Big Cities

Who doesn’t like a big city? Oh… you don’t? Fair enough. End of post May the Journey Never End!

7 on sunday banner big cities

But seriously. Today I list seven of the biggest cities I’ve been to that have blown me away. I’ve had to resort to Wikipedia for the populations, and it’s hard to know what sort of boundaries they take into account for cities, because for example, if you include Giza and the greater area of Cairo it is over 20 million people. In fact when I visited there in 1999 it was over 18 million. Anyway, without further ado…

  1. Cairo – Pop. 9.3 million (Greater Cairo 20 million)
The Nile River.

The Nile River.

Egypt 12 Egypt 17

So I can’t say that Cairo is awesome fun. It was extremely dusty and polluted when I visited in 1999, but it’s certainly an incredible city full of history and character, and with the Nile running through it it was certainly memorable. And clearly huge.  Crossing the street is a nightmare, but I do remember navigating some of the local buses successfully and there are many pleasant, leafy suburbs and parts of the city that go with the sandy outer suburbs.  And the pyramids are next door in Giza – which many consider part of Cairo any way.


  1. Shanghai – Pop 24.1 million
Shanghai old and new.

Shanghai old and new.

shanghai oriental pearl tower

Shanghai is a very big city, you really feel it when you are there, over a big area but going straight up too. Full of strange buildings and experiences, the French Quarter is probably my favourite part of the city. Of course China is full of mega-cities. This is probably the most ‘mega’.


  1. Delhi – Pop. 16.8 million
Delhi train station. Madness at its best.

Delhi train station. Madness at its best.

Delhi street

Delhi street

I never realised just how many people are crammed into Delhi. This is a list of cities, not my favourite cities, which Delhi would not rate very highly. It’s mad, but it just didn’t have any charm for me. Having said that it’s full of things to see, temples, forts, mosques, and a great little train museum.


  1. Tehran – Pop. 8.2 million
Mountains watching over Tehran.

Mountains watching over Tehran.

Busy Tehran street.

Busy Tehran street.

Plenty of big cities in Iran, but the capital is the biggest. It’s set against an attractive backdrop of high, snow-capped mountains. I didn’t really take to Tehran, although I can’t say it was full of negative experiences like a Delhi for example. You do really feel it’s full of people more than any other place in Iran.


  1. Tokyo – Pop. 13.3 million
Tokyo street.

Tokyo street.

Emperor's Palace in the centre of Tokyo.

Emperor’s Palace in the centre of Tokyo.

The Japanese capital is simply mad. And huge. It has an excellent metro system to get you to all parts and mixes the occasional park with various suburbs – Akihabara, Shibuya, Shinjuku and more. There’s the fish market too, it’s a port city, and it goes up and up with its towers and skyscrapers. Tokyo – pretty gosh darned amazing!


  1. Moscow – Pop. 12.1 million
St Basil's Cathedral, Red Square.

St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square.

Lenin's Tomb.

Lenin’s Tomb.

One of Stalin's 'Seven Sisters'.

One of Stalin’s ‘Seven Sisters’.

Moscow. When I went there, I came from St Petersburg. I thought St Petersburg was big in a mind blowing way, but it was nothing compared to Moscow. I remember using the metro (another excellent one) and just staring at the map at an interchange station trying to work out where the hell I should go.

The Kremlin is amazing, but just being in Red Square with St Basil’s to one side and Lenin’s tomb in front of you is really a remarkable spot on this Earth to stand. For those interested in Soviet architecture, see if you can find Stalin’s ‘Seven Sisters’, large ominous buildings scattered around the suburbs of Moscow.


  1. New York City – Pop. 8.5 million

nyc L 4

NYC across Central Park.

NYC across Central Park.

Look, New York City is simply the bees knees of mega cities. It’s the sort of place where one loses all perspective on the size of where you are. Up, down (great subway to ride), across bridges and islands from Manhattan to Queens, Brooklyn to the Brox. I struggle to understand people who love to travel who say they don’t have any interest in New York, it’s brilliant.


Thanks for reading, see you on Tuesday! May the Journey Never End!

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