How to Describe a City in Writing (100+ Best Examples)

Crafting compelling descriptions of cities is a skill that can vividly immerse your readers in your narrative.

Here’s how to describe a city in writing:

Describe a city by considering its size, culture, age, geography, architecture, infrastructure, economy, climate, landscape, and nightlife. Each characteristic offers a unique perspective, allowing you to craft a vivid, engaging description. Tie your description to your theme.

This article will guide you through the process of describing a city, focusing on ten crucial elements that add life and color to your descriptions.

10 Elements for Describing a City in Writing

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Digital image of a city with blue and yellow shading - How to describe a city in writing
I made this image – How to describe a city in writing

When describing a city in writing, you need to know these 10 elements:

  1. Size
  2. Culture
  3. Age
  4. Geography
  5. Architecture
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Economy
  8. Climate
  9. Landscape
  10. Nightlife

Next, let’s explore each of these elements in more detail and provide examples of how to apply them to your own stories.


Size refers to the scale of a city in terms of its physical extent and population.

By mentioning the size, you set a foundation for the readers, giving them a sense of the city’s vastness or compactness.

Words to Describe the Size of a City in Writing

  1. Sprawling
  2. Densely populated
  3. Compact
  4. Small
  5. Vast
  6. Large
  7. Medium-sized
  8. Expansive
  9. Cramped
  10. Wide

Examples of Describing a City by Size

  1. Sprawling across the landscape like a behemoth, the metropolis swallowed the horizon whole.
  2. With a population exceeding millions, the city buzzed with ceaseless activity.
  3. The dense network of streets formed a compact, labyrinthine cityscape.
  4. It was a small city, where everybody knew everybody.
  5. The city was vast, its boundaries stretching as far as the eye could see.
  6. Its towering skyscrapers were a testament to its grandeur and size.
  7. Nestled in the valley, the city covered a small area, yet housed a myriad of cultures.
  8. The size of the city was deceptive; it was more densely populated than it appeared.
  9. The city was a sprawling canvas of urbanity, cutting across county lines.
  10. The petite city was neatly crammed into a pocket of the mountainside.


Culture comprises the beliefs, traditions, arts, and history that influence a city’s way of life.

Highlighting the culture paints a vivid picture of the people, customs, and ethos that define the city.

Words to Describe the Culture of a City in Writing

  1. Traditional
  2. Cosmopolitan
  3. Multicultural
  4. Historical
  5. Modern
  6. Artistic
  7. Conservative
  8. Progressive
  9. Bohemian
  10. Touristy

Examples of Describing a City by Culture

  1. The city was steeped in ancient traditions, echoing its ancestral roots.
  2. Its lively arts scene painted the city with an irreplaceable cultural vibrancy.
  3. The city was a melting pot of diverse cultures, blending seamlessly into one another.
  4. The annual festival was a cultural extravaganza that transformed the city into a carnival.
  5. The city was synonymous with classical music, its soul resonating in symphony.
  6. The local cuisine, a testament to the city’s rich culture, left a tantalizing aroma in the air.
  7. An artistic hub, the city was a cradle of avant-garde movements.
  8. The city’s cultural tapestry was woven with threads of countless ethnicities.
  9. The city wore its history like a proud badge, its culture speaking volumes of its glorious past.
  10. The city was a cultural cocktail, stirred with vibrant arts, and timeless traditions.


The age of a city refers to how long it has existed, which is often reflected in its architectural style, infrastructure, and historical landmarks.

Describing the age can transport your reader back in time or into the future.

Words to Describe the Age of a City in Writing

  1. Ancient
  2. New
  3. Historic
  4. Modern
  5. Medieval
  6. Colonial
  7. Prehistoric
  8. Contemporary
  9. Victorian
  10. Futuristic

Examples of Describing a City by Age

  1. The city’s ancient walls were steeped in history, whispering tales from centuries ago.
  2. The futuristic skyline was a testament to its recent establishment.
  3. Age-old monuments punctuated the city, standing tall as symbols of its venerable past.
  4. The city was a blend of old and new, where modernity met antiquity.
  5. Modern skyscrapers towered over the city, evidence of its recent urban development.
  6. The city was an enduring relic of the Medieval Age, its cobblestone streets weaving tales of yore.
  7. With buildings dating back to the Victorian era, the city was an open history book.
  8. Despite its youthful age, the city wore an old soul.
  9. The city was a testament to the future, a spectacle of cutting-edge technology and sleek architecture.
  10. Age-old traditions thrived amidst the modern cityscape, telling tales of a city that respected its past.


Geography describes the city’s location, its physical features, and how these factors influence the city’s character and lifestyle.

Words to Describe the Geography of a City in Writing

  1. Coastal
  2. Mountainous
  3. Desert
  4. Plains
  5. Forested
  6. Urban
  7. Rural
  8. Island
  9. Lakeside
  10. Riverside

Examples of Describing a City by Geography

  1. The city was built on hills, its houses twinkling like stars on an undulating landscape.
  2. Its coastal location made the city a paradise for beach lovers.
  3. Tucked between mountains, the city was a serene oasis in a rugged setting.
  4. The desert city was a mirage of golden sands and sparkling oases.
  5. The city was a confluence of rivers, forming a scenic waterfront that buzzed with life.
  6. Surrounded by dense forests, the city was an island of urbanity in a sea of wilderness.
  7. The coastal city was a playground of surf and sand, where the sea kissed the cityscape.
  8. The city was a picturesque valley carved into the heart of the mountains.
  9. A city of islands, it was a constellation of vibrant urban life amidst the tranquil sea.
  10. The city was an urban jewel nestled in the heart of the vast plains.


Architecture refers to the style and character of the city’s buildings and structures.

It speaks to the city’s history, culture, and technological progress.

Words to Describe the Architecture of a City in Writing

  1. Gothic
  2. Victorian
  3. Modernist
  4. Romanesque
  5. Art Deco
  6. Futuristic
  7. Brutalist
  8. Classical
  9. Colonial
  10. Bauhaus

Examples of Describing a City by Architecture

  1. Gothic spires and Romanesque arches painted a canvas of architectural marvels.
  2. The cityscape was a fusion of Brutalist concrete and sleek glass towers.
  3. Traditional thatched cottages adorned the city, a spectacle of rustic charm.
  4. The city was a palette of Art Deco buildings, their geometric patterns a testament to its rich architectural legacy.
  5. Modern skyscrapers dotted the city skyline, interspersed with green terraces and solar panels.
  6. The city was a sprawling labyrinth of narrow alleys, flanked by ancient terracotta houses.
  7. The city was a spectrum of architectural styles, from Victorian houses to modern lofts.
  8. The city’s architecture was a reflection of its sustainable ethos, with green roofs and walls covered in foliage.
  9. The city’s colonial architecture narrated tales of a bygone era.
  10. Futuristic architecture characterized the city, with self-sustaining buildings and smart infrastructures.


Infrastructure speaks to the functionality of a city – its roads, bridges, public facilities, and utilities.

It provides insights into the city’s level of development and organization.

Words to Describe the Infrastructure of a City in Writing

  1. Well-developed
  2. Poor
  3. Advanced
  4. Sustainable
  5. Modern
  6. Outdated
  7. Integrated
  8. Disorganized
  9. Efficient
  10. High-tech

Examples of Describing a City by Infrastructure

  1. The city boasted an intricate network of subways, making commuting a breeze.
  2. Its wide boulevards were lined with trees, merging functionality with aesthetics.
  3. The city had a robust public transportation system that kept its lifeblood flowing.
  4. Advanced telecommunication infrastructures turned the city into a global hub of digital innovation.
  5. Its well-planned bike lanes made the city a paradise for cyclists.
  6. The city was illuminated by solar-powered streetlights, a testament to its green infrastructure.
  7. The city’s skywalks connected buildings, forming a labyrinth above the hustle and bustle.
  8. The city’s efficient waste management system kept its streets clean and green.
  9. The city’s infrastructure was a seamless blend of urbanity and nature.
  10. The city was a beacon of technological prowess, its infrastructure speaking volumes of its progress.


The economy of a city speaks about its wealth, main industries, and job opportunities.

It gives the reader a sense of the city’s prosperity or lack thereof.

Words to Describe the Economy of a City in Writing

  1. Wealthy
  2. Impoverished
  3. Industrial
  4. Touristic
  5. Agricultural
  6. Technological
  7. Developing
  8. Commercial
  9. Financial
  10. Maritime

Examples of Describing a City by Economy

  1. The city was a bustling hub of commerce, its markets buzzing with activity.
  2. It was an industrial city, its skyline punctuated with factories and smokestacks.
  3. The city’s booming tech sector attracted talent from around the globe.
  4. Its struggling economy painted a city in decay, with boarded-up storefronts and desolate streets.
  5. The city was a hub of finance, home to towering banks and bustling stock exchanges.
  6. A rich agricultural economy defined the city, its verdant farms a testament to its wealth.
  7. The city thrived on tourism, its bustling streets a carnival of foreign faces.
  8. The city was an emblem of prosperity, its thriving economy lifting people out of poverty.
  9. Despite the economic downturn, the city held onto its vibrant spirit, a testament to its resilience.
  10. The city’s economy was a vibrant tapestry of trade, services, and manufacturing.


Climate characterizes the city’s weather patterns throughout the year.

It can deeply influence a city’s culture, lifestyle, and even architecture.

Words to Describe the Climate of a City in Writing

  1. Tropical
  2. Desert
  3. Mediterranean
  4. Subarctic
  5. Oceanic
  6. Continental
  7. Temperate
  8. Polar
  9. Subtropical
  10. Mountainous

Examples of Describing a City by Climate

  1. The city was blessed with a temperate climate, keeping it lush and vibrant all year round.
  2. Its harsh winters painted the city in shades of white, with frost-etched buildings and snow-blanketed streets.
  3. The tropical climate kept the city in a perpetual state of summer, with azure skies and sun-kissed streets.
  4. The city was a desert, its climate oscillating between scorching days and frigid nights.
  5. The city’s Mediterranean climate filled it with fragrant breezes and clear, sunny days.
  6. The city was caught in an eternal spring, awash with blooming flowers and chirping birds.
  7. The city experienced four distinct seasons, painting a vivid palette of changing landscapes.
  8. The city was infamous for its torrential rains, transforming its streets into rivulets.
  9. The city’s harsh climate made it a fortress of solitude, its cold winters keeping outsiders at bay.
  10. The city’s mild climate was a relief to its residents, offering respite from extreme weather.


Landscape refers to the natural and artificial features that shape the city’s terrain and overall visual appearance.

Words to Describe the Landscape of a City in Writing

  1. Hilly
  2. Flat
  3. Forested
  4. Coastal
  5. Mountainous
  6. Urbanized
  7. Rural
  8. Riverine
  9. Lakeside
  10. Desert

Examples of Describing a City by Landscape

  1. The city was a symphony of undulating hills and glass-and-steel towers.
  2. Its landscape was punctuated with verdant parks, like emeralds set in concrete.
  3. The city was a mosaic of picturesque canals and charming footbridges.
  4. The city’s landscape was a spectacular blend of towering cliffs and sweeping beaches.
  5. The city’s landscape was dominated by a majestic mountain that stood as a silent sentinel.
  6. The city was a concrete jungle, a dense matrix of buildings interspersed with occasional pockets of green.
  7. The city’s vast plains stretched to the horizon, a vast checkerboard of farmland and urban clusters.
  8. The city was characterized by its dramatic coastline, where jagged cliffs met the roaring sea.
  9. The city was nestled in a lush forest, its buildings camouflaged amongst the towering trees.
  10. The city’s landscape was a harmonious blend of the old and new, where verdant vineyards met sprawling shopping malls.


Nightlife includes the after-dark activities that a city offers – from dining, music, and theater to clubs, bars, and other entertainment venues.

It reflects the city’s vibrancy and energy when the sun sets.

Words to Describe the Nightlife of a City in Writing

  1. Vibrant
  2. Quiet
  3. Bustling
  4. Nonexistent
  5. Diverse
  6. Exciting
  7. Luxurious
  8. Casual
  9. Underground
  10. Sophisticated

Examples of Describing a City by Nightlife

  1. The city came alive at night, its streets pulsating with lights and music.
  2. The city’s nightlife was a whirlwind of neon signs, lively bars, and pulsating dance floors.
  3. The city was famous for its jazz clubs, their sultry tunes wafting into the night.
  4. The city’s vibrant night markets were a treasure trove of culinary delights.
  5. The city’s nightlife was a spectrum of opera houses, theaters, and art galleries, enriching the cultural fabric.
  6. The city’s skyline glittered with rooftop bars, offering panoramic views of the starlit cityscape.
  7. The city’s after-hours was a playground for night owls, teeming with nightclubs and music venues.
  8. The city’s tranquil nights were a respite from the bustling days, its streets bathed in the soft glow of streetlights.
  9. The city was a nocturnal paradise, its nightlife teeming with gourmet restaurants and wine bars.
  10. The city’s night scene was a melting pot of cultures, its streets resonating with music from around the world.

Here is a good video about how to describe a city in writing:

YouTube video by Crown Academy of English – How to describe a city in writing

3 Full Examples of City Descriptions in Writing

Here are three full examples of how to describe a city in writing.

Nonfiction Essay

Los Angeles is a sprawling city, spreading across a vast, flat coastal plain nestled between mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Its multicultural nature is palpable, a melting pot where hundreds of cultures converge to create a rich tapestry of humanity. From Little Tokyo to Olvera Street, the city offers cultural enclaves that transport visitors to different corners of the world.

The architecture of Los Angeles tells a tale of its age and history.

From the contemporary designs of downtown skyscrapers to the Spanish Colonial Revival structures that pay homage to the city’s early days, LA offers a visual feast of architectural styles. Infrastructure-wise, Los Angeles is a car-centric city, known for its iconic freeways, yet, it is also actively expanding its public transportation system.

The climate in LA is Mediterranean, providing its residents with sunshine nearly all year round.

This, combined with the city’s picturesque landscape of rolling hills and sandy beaches, contributes to the quintessential Southern Californian lifestyle. The nightlife in Los Angeles, known for its glitz and glamor, mirrors the city’s reputation as the entertainment capital of the world.

Mystery Novel

The city of Edinburgh, ancient and mysterious, was shrouded in a veil of fog.

Narrow, winding streets wound their way up and down the city’s undulating terrain, past centuries-old Gothic buildings that seemed to hold whispered secrets in their cold stone. The towering Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an extinct volcano, cast long, eerie shadows across the Old Town, lending an air of mystique.

Despite the Scottish capital’s gloomy weather, the city was alive with culture. The annual Fringe Festival transformed the streets into a vibrant tapestry of theatre, music, and dance. Meanwhile, tucked away in the corners of the city were hole-in-the-wall pubs, where folk music hung heavy in the air.

Even in the dead of night, the city refused to sleep.

The pubs and clubs of the Royal Mile, teeming with locals and tourists alike, created an eclectic nightlife. The cobblestone streets echoed with faint laughter, ghostly footfalls, and the faint skirl of bagpipes, imbuing the city with an aura of enchanting mystery.

Romance Novel

Venice, with its endless maze of canals and charming footbridges, seemed to have been woven from dreams.

It was an intimate city, its compact geography fostering a unique, close-knit culture. The melodies of the gondoliers’ serenades drifted through the air, their words telling tales of age-old love stories.

The city’s Gothic architecture, ornate and elegant, reflected in the shimmering waters of the Grand Canal. The iconic Rialto Bridge, a testament to Venice’s architectural prowess, served as a lover’s meeting spot, its stone balustrades bearing witness to countless stolen kisses.

The Venetian economy thrived on tourism and the arts, its numerous mask shops, and glass-blowing factories testifying to the city’s artisanal heritage.

Venice was a city that never hurried. Its pace was defined by the gentle ebb and flow of its canals.

As twilight descended, the city transitioned from a bustling tourist hub to a serene sanctuary. The street lamps flickered to life, casting a romantic glow on the cobblestones. The serenade of the gondoliers intertwined with the soft whispers of the wind, composing a nocturnal symphony that was the heartbeat of this city of love.

Final Thoughts: How to Describe a City in Writing

Before you type “THE END” to your story, essay, or piece of writing, consider how your city weaves into the tapestry of your narrative.

Particularly, how your city embodies and exposes the theme.

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