These are the 23 best perfumes of all time — from classic scents to niche fragrances

From Chanel and Dior to Tom Ford and Jo Malone — these are the best perfumes of all time

The best perfumes of all time — including the best options from Chanel and Dior to Tom Ford
(Image credit: Future)

Love a sweet-smelling perfume? Or do you prefer woody scents with a heavier musk? Either way, you're bound to find a new favourite with this tried and tested guide to the best perfumes of all time.

A great perfume that ticks all the boxes is hard to come by. Not only does it need to smell nice, but good perfumes need to last all day. Of course, some perfumes, like the top long-lasting perfumes, are more popular than others. And the best perfume dupes sell out quicker than you can place an order. But we've said it before, and we'll say it again: when it comes to the best perfumes of all time, it's the classic designer fragrances that stand the test of time.

"We find that the classic fragrances continue to be bestsellers," says Megan Mosley, John Lewis fragrance and make-up buyer. "They are key staples to build a fragrance wardrobe that can be added to over time. Chanel, Dior and Creed are our most popular amongst new and more niche fragrance brands such as Floral Street and Le Labo," she notes.

But if you're in-between fragrances, or just feel like you need a perfume switch-up, we've got just the thing! To help you find your new signature scent, we've spritzed, sprayed and smelt our way through all the tried and tested classic eau de toilettes to create the ultimate guide to the best perfumes of all time. From woody smells to something sweet, there really is a scent for everyone. So keep scrolling to discover your new favourite perfume...

23 best perfumes of all time, ranked

Why you can trust GoodtoKnow. Our experienced Consumer Editor & parent reviewers spend hours testing products to help you make the best choice. Find out how we test and review products.

How we picked the best perfumes of all time

  • Sales figures: We've taken a look at which perfumes remain best sellers after years on the market.
  • Consumer reviews: The best perfumes of all time are also those that are top-rated, so we've only included fragrances that consumers love.
  • Celebrity favourites: Nothing solidifies a product as a cult favourite quite like a celebrity endorsement, and several of the perfumes on our list are loved by famous faces.
  • Beauty editor picks: Our beauty editor has more than 15 years of experience in the beauty industry and that includes trying and testing all kinds of fragrances, so we've included her favourites.

Depending on how you measure it (that could be sales figures, reviews, or how many people wear it) there are a few different answers to this question. However, Chanel No.5 is widely regarded to be the most popular perfume in the world.

First created in 1921, it's one of the oldest perfumes that you can still buy today. But the popularity of the iconic fragrance exploded after 1952, when Marilyn Monroe famously declared that she wore nothing but "five drops of Chanel No.5" to bed - the power of celebrity influencers!

It's widely reported that a bottle of Chanel No.5 is sold every 30 seconds, and in 2017 The Perfume Shop revealed that the scent has been its bestselling fragrance for 25 years - as per MailOnline.

Chanel No. 5 Eau De Parfum - £99 | John Lewis

Chanel No. 5 Eau De Parfum - £99 | John Lewis

Arguably the most iconic scent in the world, you can bag yourself a bottle of Chanel No. 5 for under £100 from John Lewis. A timeless, powdery floral, this perfume has notes of May rose and jasmine blended with citrus. 

What is the difference between eau de parfum and eau de toilette?

Perfume and eau de toilette contain different concentrations of perfume oil. There tends to be 5% - 15% perfume oil in eau de toilette, while eau de parfum (perfume) has a higher concentration at 15% - 18%.

The more oil a fragrance contains, the more potent its aroma will be and the longer it will last on your skin. So while scents with a higher concentration are often more expensive, you're often getting more for your money.

With that said, most eau de toilettes still linger for several hours after applying, and are a great option in you're just popping out for a short time, rather than looking for a fragrance that will last all day. 

But if it's longevity you're after, you'll want to opt for a parfum - the creme de la creme of fragrances with a perfume oil concentration of up to 30% and a staying power of up to eight hours.

Looking for more top beauty picks? We've reviewed the best eye creams, the best night creams and the best red lipsticks too. And if you're after a summer glow all year round, check out our beauty editor's picks of the best fake tans.

Stephanie Maylor
Beauty Editor

Stephanie is a Beauty Editor across five national women’s magazine titles, with more than fifteen years’ experience working within the beauty industry. She has been shortlisted for multiple awards at the J&J Beauty Journalism Awards, and was the runner-up at the Wella Hair Journalism Awards in 2009. She has written for many brands, including Grazia, Now, More!, Fabulous, Woman & Home, NW, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Essentials, Best, Chat, Pick Me Up and OK! Online. In 2010 she launched her own beauty blog, which was also shortlisted for Best Beauty Blog in the 2011 and 2012 J&J Beauty Journalism Awards. 

With contributions from