Cities Skylines Layout Tips

Cities Skylines City Layout Tips

In this Сities Skylines layout guide we’ll cover the question many experienced players ask – how to make Cities Skylines look realistic and nice. Sometimes it happens that you have a big city and its parts look like crap. You may call this realistic because some real cities look like crap but many people want a nice and realistic city. So I decided to collect all Cities: Skylines layout tips in one guide.

Don’t Overuse Skyscrapers for City Skylines Layout

There aren’t too many skyscrapers in the vanilla game. I’d say they are present in the high-tech office and touristic zoning plus some unique buildings. A less experienced player may overuse these kinds of zones and place them everywhere. As a result, the city doesn’t look realistic because there aren’t many real cities where all the area is covered with skyscrapers. Usually, it’s some business part of the city while other areas aren’t that tall. It’s especially strange to see a tall wall of buildings on the outskirts of your city where usually you’d see small houses.

So one of Cities Skylines layout tips is to find a good area or several for your business district. It may be a waterfront or a center with good communications – remember, it will produce a lot of traffic.

Cities Skylines Zoning Layout Near your Business District

To make the surroundings of your business district look more realistic you may do one of the following Cities Skylines zoning tips

  • Place a big park. It will add some foliage to your concrete jungle. Also, it will be used by citizens to get to the business area on foot.
  • Use some high-density residential or commercial zoning. Avoid surrounding your skyscrapers with small housing
  • Place some unique buildings which have a similar style. This will also bring more tourists. It would be strange to see an old palace next to the business center. This deserves a special paragraph.

Cities Skylines Residential Layout

Here are some ideas on organizing your residential districts:

  • The whole realistic city can’t consist of self-sustaining residences from Green Cities DLC unless it’s futuristic. Most likely, it may be a special new area with a nice view outside downtown.
  • You can play with creating villages. I prefer surrounding my farming industries with low-density houses which creates some real countryside vibes.
  • Try to avoid placing your residential districts on crossings of your main traffic flows. They should be rather quite and with a single entry point for transport.

Use Building Themes for the Best Cities Skyline Layout

It’s great to use European building themes next to unique buildings of the same style. And it looks strange when someone places a high-tech building surrounded by cozy European houses. I create special old town areas with walking streets and some tourist attractions to make the city look realistic. Plazas and parks also look great in such surroundings.

The high-tech buildings are good when surrounded by offices and green houses.

Cities Skylines Ideas for Avoiding Grid

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During your urban planning, it’s always lucrative to place roads at the right angle and fill the cells with zoning. Although there are some real cities with such planning as Barcelona, you need to combine different approaches. Use some curved roads or build a central roundabout and make your roads running from it at different angles. This will bring some freshness to your Cities Skylines layout.

One of the good Cities Skyline layout ideas is to use curved roads and avenues more often than the straight ones. Many cities that aren’t located on a completely flat terrain have curved roads that bypass hills, rivers, and so on.

Some examples for inspiration I found on the Internet:


Cities Skylines Design Tips for Waterfront

Waterfront is a significant focal point in city planning. First of all, it’s needed for some transportation systems such as port. Some part of it will be used for sewage. But also it provides you with a higher land value so don’t miss this opportunity. I even create lakes and channels to make more of such areas.

Place some tourist areas, crosswalks, and water buildings and you will make great use of this option.

Your Cities Skyline City Layout Should Not Be Dense Only

Most likely you will have a quiet old town area that was created when high-density zoning was locked. Also, it would be realistic and good for your road traffic if you place some of such areas in your suburban parts. It may be an elite housing area on hills or next to the waterfront. Add some low-density commercial zone to make it a center of a small suburban community. It is a good step towards a realistic city

City Skylines Layout Tips for Realistic City

What is a realistic city? For me, it’s an imperfect one. Real cities grew for a long time facing numerous challenges. This means you don’t always have to rebuild the imperfect areas but accept them and expand further. 

Thanks to Natural disasters DLC, you may face some additional challenges which will affect your city design such as floods, earthquakes, and asteroid strike. This will also influence your City Skylines city layout and that’s great.

Micromanaging Cities Skylines City Design

When everything is more or less configured, I prefer starting micromanagement of my city design. Thanks to Parklife DLC, we have a lot of props to place on small empty areas in zones that are already built. Don’t miss this option to create some cozy corners in your city!

Using First Person View to Examine Your City Skylines Layout

There is no better way to assess your Cities Skylines layout than viewing it as a citizen. Have a walk on avenues and parks and experience how your citizens feel.

Some Additional Cities Skylines Layout Ideas from 2021

I’ve decided to expand this guide with some Cities Skylines layout ideas that came to my mind as I play a full game with all the DLCs. As the game developed, there are more and more items that should be planned in advance. For instance, I know that I would need a lot of space for the University next to the city center and transport hubs. Or I can see deposits of ore and realize that this area will be dedicated to industries.

Having this kind of understanding may limit you or may create a way out. If I’m placing industries in the area then definitely there won’t be residential buildings or landmarks here. It’s already easier and I can focus on transport and intersections in the area. The thing is currently the game has a lot of such things to consider which may be both limiting and inspiring. I hope this set of Cities Skylines tips and tricks was useful!

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