Where’s the world capital of tattoos? The honest answer is that depends entirely on what makes a city qualify as the world capital of tattoos. Is it the number of people in that city with tattoos? Is it the number of artists? Is it the history’s global legacy as a tattoo capital? Is it the conventions, the events, the growth, and the tattoo culture of the place?

Depending on which question you pick, you might end up with a wildly different answer. And in many cases, the data doesn’t exist to really confirm which city or country counts as the world’s ‘capital’ for all things tattoo.

However, while we’ve previously covered which countries are most hostile to people with tattoos due to strict laws or cultural taboos, we figured it’d only be fair to turn things around and try to note which countries and cities are best for tattoo lovers, based on all the data we could find.

It helps to start this little compilation with a note that much has changed over the last few decades when it comes to tattoos. What was once reviled or considered a taboo is now generally pretty mainstream, and even normal in many professional settings.

What country has most tattoos?

That’s a relatively tough question – do you mean per capita, or in general? Generally-speaking, it’s safe to assume that the country with the most tattoos in the world is the United States. You’ll see plenty of news articles saying otherwise – almost all of which source their claim from a single survey done by Dalia Research, a Berlin-based startup that surveyed about 10,000 people to get their estimates. According to their findings, Italy has the highest per-capita number of tattooed people at 48 percent. Followed by Sweden at 47 percent, and the US at 46 percent. Basic math tells us that the US here has by far the most tattoos, as it boasts the biggest population in the top 10 results of the survey.

But the survey is massively at odds with extensive research posted by the 2016 report for Safety of tattoos and permanent make-up, written for the European Commission, and launched by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). They found that on average, about 12 percent of Europeans have tattoos, with Italy and Sweden sitting at 12.8 percent and 11 percent respectively. The only outliers in the study were Cyprus, Hungary, and Luxembourg, sitting at 30, 50, and 60 percent respectively, likely due to a low sample size as well.

I sincerely doubt that nearly half of all Italians have a tattoo, and Europeans in general statistically have fewer tattoos than Americans (21-24 percent), Canadians (24 percent), and inhabitants of New Zealand (20 percent), based on data compiled by the JRC.

As such, it’s likely that the US currently has the most tattooed citizens in the world. This makes sense given that the modern-day tattoo renaissance can be at least heavily traced back to the good ol’ US of A.

What city has the most tattoo artists?

The United States also has a crazy density of tattoo artists, particularly the famous Miami Beach, where the locals have access to a whopping 28 tattoo parlors per 100,000 individuals. Miami Beach has more tattoo parlors than nearly any other place in the world based on population density, and the US shows up several times in lists compiling cities with the most tattoo artists, with notable examples including Austin, Las Vegas, New York, San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Other cities with high parlor-to-inhabitant ratios, in no particular order, include:

  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Bodrum, Turkey
  • Aberdeen, UK
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Glasgow, UK
  • Liverpool, UK
  • Bristol, UK
  • Grado, Italy
  • Birmingham, UK
  • Sheffield, UK
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Marmaris, Turkey
  • Norwich, UK
  • Panaji, India
  • Cape Town, South Africa

When it comes to tattoo tourism, common choices to visit specifically to get tatted include:

  • Denpasar, Indonesia
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Miami Beach, US
  • Apia, Samoa
  • Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Las Vegas, USA
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Manila, Philippines

What’s your world capital of tattoos?

I personally feel that the world capital of tattoos is an entirely subjective title that depends on your priorities when ranking cities and places for tattoo tourism. Whether you’re there to get a tattoo, soak in rich tattoo history, or because you appreciate the art, or because you know of certain celebrity tattoo artists in the area that you simply need to meet; all of these factors will change which countries and places you’re more likely to rank towards the top of your own list.

It also helps to mention that you’re most likely going to choose cities and countries based on the designs and art styles that you’re most interested in, whether that’s black work, black and grey, Japanese art, and more. Other factors to consider include affordability and accessibility, legality, and time. It’s not easy to get a visa just anywhere, especially if you hail from a country that gives its citizens a harder time getting certain visas.

Let us know what your personal world capital of tattoos is, and why! We’d love to know where people most want to get their dream tattoos, or which places they’ve always wanted to visit because of its history or tattoo culture, or its artists and bustling tattoo scene.