10 Largest Cities in Nebraska

By PropertyClub Team
Jan 17th 2024
Nebraska is the 16th largest state by area but only the 37th most populous, with just over 1.9 million residents. That makes it the 7th least densely populated state in the nation. Although it’s home to a few mid-sized cities, it’s also full of smaller communities and towns that offer friendly residents and mid-western charm. Here is a look at the ten biggest cities in Nebraska by population.

hash-mark10 Largest Cities in Nebraska

  1. Omaha
  2. Lincoln
  3. Bellevue
  4. Grand Island
  5. Kearney
  6. Fremont
  7. Hastings
  8. Norfolk
  9. Papillion
  10. Columbus

hash-markOmaha (Population: 486,051)

Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska by a considerable margin and the 40th largest city in the US, with a population of 486,051 residents. It anchors the eight-county, bi-state Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area, which is the 58th largest MSA in the country with just under 1 million residents. Approximately 1.5 million people also live within a 50-mile radius of downtown Omaha. With a low cost of living, strong economy, and ample opportunity for outdoor adventure, Omaha often ranks among the best places in the US to raise a family and experienced an 18.9% increase in population between 2010 and 2020. 

hash-markLincoln (Population: 291,082)

Lincoln is the second largest city in Nebraska, with a population of 291,082. It’s also the 73rd largest in the US by population and the anchor city of the Lincoln-Beatrice MSA, which is home to 363,733 residents. Lincoln offers great schools, friendly residents, and plenty of parks, attracting families and young professionals alike. About 20% of Lincoln residents are in their 20s, while the median age is 33.9, 10% lower than the statewide median. It also attracts residents from all over, and the population increased by 12.7% between 2010 and 2020. 

hash-markBellevue (Population: 64,176)

Bellevue is also one of the biggest cities in Nebraska by population. Bellevue is a suburban city in Sarpy County and has 64,176 residents. Although considerably smaller than Omaha and Lincoln, Bellevue offers a healthy blend of urban amenities and suburban splendor. Located just 8 miles south of downtown Omaha, Bellevue makes up a large portion of the Omaha-Council Bluffs MSA. It’s also adjacent to the Offutt Air Force base and attracts a lot of military families. It’s a fast-growing suburb of Omaha, and the population increased by 28% between 2010 and 2020. 

hash-markGrand Island (Population: 53,131)

The fourth biggest city in Nebraska is Grand Island, which has a population of 53,131. It’s the main city in the Grand Island MSA, which covers Hall, Merrick, Howard, and Hamilton counties and features a population of 83,472 residents. Home to notable institutions like the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center and the Southern Power District, Grand Island offers a stable economy, minimal crime, and a low cost of living, making it good for residents in search of job opportunities and small-town living.

hash-markKearney (Population: 33,790)

Kearney is also one of the biggest cities in Nebraska, with a population of 33,790. Located in Buffalo County on I-80, Kearney has direct access to Omaha, Denver, Kansas City, De Moines, Wichita, and Cheyenne, putting it in the heart of a seven-state, Midwestern region that is home to over 20 million people. Home to the University of Nebraska-Kearney, the population is relatively young, and 47% of residents are under 30. The population has been growing consistently since the 1940s, when it was home to under 10,000 residents, and it increased by 9.8% between 2010 and 2020.  

hash-markFremont (Population: 27,141)

Another one of the largest cities in Nebraska is Fremont, the seat of Dodge County, which is home to 27,141 residents. Fremont is located on the Platte River, about 35 miles outside of Omaha and 50 miles from Lincoln. Considered a bedroom community for commuters who work in Omaha, Fremont is a steadily growing suburb, and the population increased by 2.8% between 2010 and 2020. It’s also a very family-friendly community; 27% of residents are under 20, and married couples make up 61% of households. 

hash-markHastings (Population: 25,152)

Hastings is the 7th largest city in Nebraska and features a population of 25,152. It’s the principal city in the Hastings micropolitan statistical area, which covers Adams and Clay County. Known as the birthplace of Kool-Aid, Hastings is a safe community with a low cost of living. It features a spacious, suburban atmosphere with a population density of 1,687 residents per square mile. Hastings experienced rapid population growth in the early 20th century, which resulted in the building of gorgeous Craftsman Prairie, Colonial Revival, and American Foursquare-style homes. However, between 2010 and 2020, the population only increased by 1%.  

hash-markNorfolk (Population: 24,955)

Norfolk is also one of the biggest cities in Nebraska by population, as it is home to 24,955 residents. It’s located at the intersection of US Routes 81 and 275 and is the principal city in the Norfolk micropolitan statistical area, which is home to about 50,000 residents. Norfolk is a quiet, family-friendly community with a spacious feel and a population density of 1,429 residents per square mile. The population increased by 3.1% between 2010 and 2020. 

hash-markPapillion (Population: 24,159)

Papillion is a suburban city in Sarpy County and the Omaha metro area with a population of 24,159, making it the ninth largest place in Nebraska. Considered a fast-growing suburb, the population increased by 27.9% between 2010 and 2020. It’s a relatively affluent community with a median household income of $104,608, which is 50% higher than the statewide median. Ranked the 2nd best place to live in the US by Money Magazine, Papillion offers good schools, a low crime rate, and a small-town feel. 

hash-markColumbus (Population: 24,028)

Columbus is the 10th largest city in Nebraska, with a population of 24,028 residents. It’s the county seat of Platte County and located about 85 miles from Omaha and 76 miles from Lincoln. Columbus is a quiet city with friendly residents and a stable economy based on farming and manufacturing. It features a population density of 2,324.4 residents, and the number of residents increased by 8.7% between 2010 and 2020.