Best LEGO City Sets for LEGO Lovers [2022]

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Urban topics have been the source of inspiration for countless sets LEGO produced in its long history. The best LEGO City sets you can find on the market today continue the brand’s decades-long tradition of publishing sets based on different aspects of city life.

This theme currently features more than seventy sets, divided into subthemes such as Vehicles, Space, or Fire & Police. Moreover, LEGO adds new sets to the City theme, and the company plans to release more than twenty new sets within this theme in 2022.

In this guide to the best LEGO City sets, I’m going to help you navigate through such a broad spectrum of available options, and I’m going to suggest several sets that might be the right choice for you.

Please browse through our guide to the best LEGO sets under $100 to get information about the most entertaining sets in this price range.

At a Glance – The 5 Best LEGO City Sets

Model  Subtheme  Piece count  Price range
Police Chase at the Bank 60317 Fire & Police 915 $$$
Wildlife Rescue Operation 60302 Great Vehicles 525 $$
Hospital 60330 Life & Work 816 $$$
Mars Research Shuttle 60226 Space 273 $
Ocean Exploration Ship 60266 Deep-Sea Explorers 745 $$$$

Bottom Line Up Front:

In my opinion, the combination of a moderately tricky assembly process and a high number of mini-figures and accessories makes the Hospital 60330 the best active LEGO City set. Besides encouraging children to develop their set-building skills, this set teaches children about the everyday life of medical workers.

Selection criteria

LEGO published 1,353 sets within the LEGO City theme in the last four decades, but most of these sets are now retired. Nonetheless, LEGO City remains one of the brand’s most prominent themes, with more than seventy currently active sets.

Choosing the best sets from this theme isn’t a simple task, and I had to use strict selection criteria that enabled me to shortlist the sets you’ll find in this article. Here are some of the key parameters I utilized during the selection process.

LEGO City subthemes

My goal was to equally represent all LEGO City subthemes. This criterion has helped me find the best set within each major LEGO City subtheme.

Release and expiry dates

This parameter has allowed me to eliminate all retired sets from the selection process. It also helped me choose recently released sets that will remain in production shortly.

Our guide to the best LEGO sets under $10 can help you discover the brand’s most affordable products from the City theme.

A brief history of the LEGO City theme

The origins of the LEGO city theme date back to the mid-1950s. In 1955, LEGO released the Town Plan board to supplement its LEGO System in Play products. The company continued to release products during the 1960s and 1970s inspired by the original Town Plan board.

In 1978, sets that explored different aspects of city life were united under the LEGO Town theme, one of the first three themes the company introduced under its new business model. The evolution of this theme went through several stages until 1999 when it was officially renamed LEGO City.

The theme kept its name for the last twenty years, except for the brief period in 2003 and 2004 when it was changed to LEGO World City. Despite these changes, LEGO City is one of the brand’s longest-running and most popular themes.

Check out our guide to the best LEGO merch to find more about products inspired by LEGO.

LEGO City subthemes

The company introduced Fire, Police, and Construction subthemes within the LEGO City theme in 2005. The Construction subtheme has since been retired, but LEGO frequently publishes sets similar to the Mobile Crane 60324 or Cement Mixer Truck 60325 under the LEGO City theme.

Here are some of the most popular subthemes within the LEGO City theme:

Police & Fire

This is one of the most dominant LEGO City subthemes, and currently, more than ten LEGO sets are based on the police of firefighter motifs, including the following sets:

Great Vehicles

LEGO has released new sets within this subtheme every year since 2012, and you can choose from a variety of models inspired by different types of vehicles. Some of the most popular options are

Trains

As one of the oldest LEGO City subthemes, the Trains subtheme dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sets that cover topics related to trains remain vastly popular, and some of the best active models include

Our guide to the best 1,000 piece LEGO sets can help you find a large set from the City theme.

LEGO City sets for toddlers

Unlike the Education, Jurassic Park, Disney, or Marvel themes, the LEGO City theme doesn’t contain LEGO Duplo sets. Regular sets from this theme include tiny pieces that can be dangerous for children aged four or younger.

That’s why you’ll have to opt for one of the models inspired by urban life labeled LEGO Duplo if you’re searching for a set that is suitable for preschoolers and toddlers. Let’s take a look at some of the best models from this theme that cover similar topics like the sets from the LEGO City theme:

Some sets from the LEGO Duplo theme are published within the Town subtheme, and you can choose from the following options:

Please take a moment to read our guide to the best LEGO fire trucks to learn more about fire truck sets suitable for toddlers.

LEGO City theme in popular culture

The 2019 animated series LEGO City Adventures is probably the most notable pop culture reference to the LEGO City theme. Many of the active LEGO sets from the City theme feature mini-figures of Freya McCloud, Tippy Dorman, or Duke DeTain, some of the key characters of this TV show.

The LEGO City Undercover video game released in 2013 is also based on motifs from this theme. The game’s main character Chase McCain is frequently featured in sets from the LEGO City theme.

The LEGO City 4D – Officer in Pursuit short movie is yet another popular culture reference worth mentioning. Also, in November 2021, LEGO announced a plan to include the LEGO City section in the LEGOLAND Shanghai Resort that is scheduled to open in 2024.

Please browse through our guide to the best Yoda sets to learn more about sets from the Star Wars theme.

The most important factors to consider while choosing a LEGO City set

Reading the description of each set in the LEGO City theme can take a long time, but you won’t have to do that if you have at least a vague idea of what the set you want to get should offer. Which set you’re going to choose depends on numerous factors, including the affinities of the person the set is for.

I’ve selected some of the crucial factors that can help you narrow down your options and make choosing the best LEGO City set easier, so let’s take a quick look at them.

Set’s topic

Choosing a subtheme like Trains or Space will reduce the number of sets you can choose from, but some subthemes of the LEGO City theme can have more than ten sets. That’s why picking a specific topic like a police chase or picnic in a park can be very useful if you’re trying to narrow down your options.

Some LEGO City sets combine several themes, and you can choose from models that explore topics related to firefighters and police or opt for a set with elements of great vehicles and wildlife rescue subthemes.

Suggested age group

Most sets from this theme are suitable for children aged seven or older, while a handful of models are aimed at children below this age limit. None of the LEGO City themes are difficult to build, and they often serve as an introduction to the world of LEGO.

Moreover, these sets are often educational as they enable children to learn more about the duties of public workers or understand the basic concepts of engineering.

Piece count and number of mini-figures

Only three sets from the LEGO City theme have more than a thousand pieces, while most sets in this category have fewer than 500 pieces. So, finding a simple set that doesn’t require advanced set-building skills shouldn’t take too much time.

LEGO City sets usually include several mini-figures and various accessories that extend their range of playing options. Going through the set’s part list will provide you with an overview of all mini-figures and accessories it contains and help you determine how entertaining it is.

Set’s availability

LEGO City sets are in high demand, and some models sell out quickly shortly after they’re released. Moreover, LEGO frequently retires sets from this theme, so finding a model released two or three years ago isn’t always easy.

Opting for one of the newly added sets is usually the most straightforward option because you won’t have to spend time waiting for a set to get back in stock or search for it at e-stores.

Price range

More than half of the currently active LEGO City sets cost more than $50, and only seven sets from this theme are priced at more than $100. In addition, sets in the 0 to $25 price range don’t have more than 250 pieces, while the piece count of sets in the $25 to $50 price range is limited to 500.

Hence, you’ll have to spend between $75 and $100 if you want to get a set that has up to 1,000 pieces, or over $100 if you’d like to get a set with more than 1,000 parts.

The advantages of LEGO City sets

Assembling LEGO City sets is easy.

Children above the age of four can build these sets with almost no assistance from their parents. Sets from this theme are often used to introduce children to LEGO and help them acquire basic set-building skills.

Check out our guide on the best LEGO storage ideas here for easier organization of your LEGOs.

A wide range of subthemes

LEGO introduced more than twenty subthemes of the City theme since 2005. Even though some of these subthemes are retired, this theme still offers a broad spectrum of sets that explore seemingly unrelated topics.

LEGO City sets are budget-friendly

You won’t have to spend a lot of money on a LEGO City set because more than half of the models in this theme cost less than $50.

The Disadvantages of LEGO City sets

Not a great option for DIY LEGO projects

Even though you can recombine the pieces included in the LEGO City sets in any way you want, these sets aren’t an ideal choice if you want to develop DIY projects because they only contain the parts you need to build a specific model.

Top 5 LEGO City sets

Police Chase at the Bank 60317 – The best set from the Fire & Police subtheme

The range of play scenarios children can develop with the Police Chase at the Bank 60317 set is as wide as their imagination. This set is inspired by the LEGO City Adventures series, and it contains five mini-figures of characters from the show.

Children can build the model of a bank, a police helicopter, a police truck, and the getaway truck from the pieces included in the set. However, all vehicles you find in this set are relatively small, and their length doesn’t exceed 6 inches.

Pros

  • The helicopter toy has a net shooter.
  • The set is compatible with the LEGO Road Plate system
  • Encourages creative thinking and action play
  • The sides of the heist truck open to reveal a jackhammer and a cherry picker arm.

Cons

  • Tiny pieces are damaged easily
  • Building instruction can be confusing

Wildlife Rescue Operation 60302 – The best set from the Vehicles subtheme

Besides being incredibly fun to play with, the Wildlife Rescue Operation 60302 set can also teach children the importance of helping animals.

A vet station, rescue helicopter, and tracked vehicle are the key elements of this set, but children can also build a miniature model of savanna and calf, crocodile, and elephant figures from the pieces in this set.

The savanna model has a landslide function that can help children create different rescue scenarios. The set also has four mini-figures and two monkey figures.

Pros

  • Children aged six or older can assemble this set effortlessly
  • The helicopter toy is equipped with a winch
  • Excellent gift for kids who love animals
  • Compatible with other LEGO City sets

Cons

  • Children above the age of 12 might find this set uninteresting

Hospital 60330 – The best set from the Life & Work subtheme

Four out of twelve mini-figures in the Hospital 60330 set are based on characters from the LEGO City Adventure series. A highly detailed hospital model has a waiting room, MRI Scanner room, and a patient room.

The helicopter landing pad is located at the roof, and you can transport patients to the hospital with a helicopter toy or an ambulance. Accessories like wheelchairs, stretchers, and bikes are also included in the set, and you can use them in a wide range of scenarios.

Pros

  • Combining this set with other LEGO City sets is easy
  • High level of detail
  • Mini-figures can fit in the ambulance toy
  • It doesn’t occupy a lot of space

Cons

  • Building this set takes time
  • More expensive than most LEGO City sets

Mars Research Shuttle 60226 – The best set from the Space subtheme

A simple set like the Mars Research Shuttle 60226 can spark your child’s interest in space exploration. Besides the space shuttle, children can build the Mars rover, helidron, and storage drone elements from pieces in this set.

Both astronaut mini-figures can fit in the shuttle’s cockpit, while the research lab and landing space elements enable children to launch drones and analyze the data they collect. Also, the rover toy has a rotating solar panel and grappling arm that can pick up rocks and store them in the shuttle.

Pros

  • Simple and affordable LEGO City set
  • Great for children who don’t have advanced set-building skills
  • It teaches children about space exploration
  • The shuttle has a research lab

Cons

  • Low piece count
  • The set has just two mini-figures

Ocean Exploration Ship 60266 – The best set from the Deep Sea Explorers subtheme

A set like the Ocean Exploration Ship 60266 lets children dive deep into the mysteries of sea life. The ship toy is 24 inches long, 7 inches tall, and 6 inches wide, and it is equipped with a crane that allows children to submerge the shark cage.

The set also includes a rescue helicopter that can land on the ship and a small research submarine that lets children explore under the surface of the sea, while the lifeboat toy allows them to transport diver mini-figures back to the ship after an exciting underwater adventure.

Pros

  • This set has eight mini-figures
  • It features underwater flashlights and various other accessories
  • The bridge has sleeping and research rooms
  • The ship can float on water

Cons

  • The assembly process can be difficult
  • Not a budget-friendly option

Frequently asked questions about the LEGO City sets

Question: What is the largest LEGO City set?

Answer: The LEGO City Main Square 60271 is currently the largest set in this theme. This set has 1,517 pieces, nearly 300 more than the second-largest LEGO City set.

Question: Did LEGO discontinue the Police subtheme of the LEGO City theme?

Answer: Despite numerous rumors, LEGO didn’t retire the Police subtheme that was criticized by human rights activists in recent years.

Question: How many new LEGO City sets are going to be released in 2022?

Answer: LEGO will introduce 21 new sets to the City theme by the end of 2022.

Question: Are retired LEGO City sets hard to find?

Answer: Yes, discontinued sets from this theme are not easy to find, especially if you’re searching for a model that was retired a few years ago.

Question: What is the largest LEGO City set?

Answer: The LEGO City Main Square 60271 is currently the largest set in this theme. This set has 1,517 pieces, nearly 300 more than the second-largest LEGO City set.

Question: Did LEGO discontinue the Police subtheme of the LEGO City theme?

Answer: Despite numerous rumors, LEGO didn’t retire the Police subtheme that was criticized by human rights activists in recent years.

Question: How many new LEGO City sets are going to be released in 2022?

Answer: LEGO will introduce 21 new sets to the City theme by the end of 2022.

Question: Are retired LEGO City sets hard to find?

Answer: Yes, discontinued sets from this theme are not easy to find, especially if you’re searching for a model that was retired a few years ago.

My Verdict: What’s the best LEGO City set?

LEGO adds new sets to the City theme every year, and each set brings something different and unique. Instead of determining which set from this legendary theme is the best, you should focus on finding the set you and your children will love building together.

I recommend the Hospital 60330 set because children love playing with it, and you can enjoy spending time with your kids while assembling the set.

You should consider models like the Ocean Exploration Ship 60266 or the Police Chase at the Bank 60317 if you’re searching for a relatively large and feature-rich set. Which LEGO City set are you going to choose?

Let me know in the comments or continue reading our LEGO Harry Potter Burrow review to learn more about this beautiful set.

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