Top 25 Cities in the World Worth a Journey to

7245 People Viewed - about 42 months ago Culture

There are at least two times impulsive in your life, one for desperate love, one for amazing trip.

World is always larger than you know. But it's never too late to look at it.

Here are the top 25 cities in the world that worth a journey to.

25. Kyoto, Japan

There are two ways to think about Japan: as the very futuristic, or as the very ancient.

In Kyoto, which served as Japan’s capital for a millennia and is still its capital of art and design, you find both.

The city is home to the country’s greatest national treasures, from pieces of individual artwork to 10th-century temples, and also to some of its most exquisite food, tea, and crafts.

But even better than the seafood laid out like jewels at its Nishiki Market, or the smell of incense at Sanjusangendo temple, or the thrill of watching young geishas clop by on their geta sandals.

It’s a dream of Japan that still exists, waiting for you to discover it.

24. Bruges, Belgium

This perfectly preserved city traces its architectural splendor to the 12th to 15th centuries, when much of the old city was built.

A city of canals, Bruges is often referred to as "the Venice of the North."

Although a wonderful and well-known collection of art-filled churches and museums exists, a less obvious but equally compelling destination is the Frietmuseum on Vlamingstraat, which describes itself as the only museum dedicated to the potato in all its golden-fried splendor.

23. Chicago, Illinois

You could spend your entire trip to the Windy City eating Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza while admiring the local architecture from different angles, but that's for novices.

Take a break with a cocktail and a bowl of Bookbinder fish soup at the Cape Cod in the Drake Hotel for old-school Chicago.

You should also dare to swim in the lake if the weather is temperate.

Finally, get a messy-but-delicious Italian beef sandwich at Mr. Beef on Orleans Street.

22. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, or "Salt Castle," is beloved by readers for its mountain views and Baroque splendor.

It’s also home to one of the best breweries in the world, the Augustiner Bräu.

It’s the kind of place where you walk in and there’s some dude in a leather apron who’s just opened this massive wooden barrel of freshly brewed beer.

And it's not just about the beer here: Hranek also praises the surrounding food stalls.

"where you can get leberkäse, schnitzel, wurst, and potato salad, so you’re always sated with the most rustic and delicious food Austrian cuisine has to offer."

21. Chiang Mai, Thailand

The culinary capital of Thailand, Chiang Mai’s laid-back vibe is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and the crowded beach resorts of the south.

There are several excellent cooking schools and a popular market scene whose standout is the night bazaar on Chang Klan road—the place to try khao soi, a steaming bowl of yellow curry noodles.

20. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a curious mix of cultures: Tech money seems to be overtaking the city completely, but you can still find some of what's known as "hippie stuff" around Haight-Ashbury.

To see where the city is going, visit the Outer Sunset—it's foggy all the time and far removed from the city center, but it's close to Golden Gate Park and near Ocean Beach, a huge, dramatic stretch of sand within city limits and packed with surfers.

Before leaving town, try a savory muffin called The Rebel Within from Craftsman and Wolves in the Mission.

19. Sydney, Australia

Despite being sun-soaked, lined with beaches, and full of beautiful people, Sydney remains a "real" city like New York or London.

Its laid-back, outdoorsy vibe is exemplified nowhere better than the iconic Bondi Beach.

Visit the Icebergs swimming club next to the beach and its eponymous dining room for a bite and a spectacular view.

For a real Oz original, grab a flat white coffee at Single Origin Roasters in Surry Hills.

18. Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City is sometimes called North America's Paris, but that does a disservice to the city's particular mix of French-Anglo culture, which is in a class of its own.

The best time to visit Quebec City is in the winter, you can take a skating or snowshoeing lesson and visit the Hotel de Glace, or Ice Hotel, which is only open from January to April.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town is the kind of place you should explore on foot with no specific path in mind, although it couldn't hurt to finish your walk at the Chateau Frontenac, enjoying a martini in the iconic, oft-photographed hotel.

17. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a city of contradictions.

There's Spanish architecture in the French Quarter, and the most popular drinks on Bourbon Street don't have a whiff of bourbon—they're fluorescent hangover makers called Hurricanes and Hand Grenades.

You’re not heading down to New Orleans for the stereotypical experience; you’re there to eat beignets and the best cheap oysters.

How to spot a decent oyster place? If there’s a crowd, they're fresh.

Expect a queue at Drago’s or Felix’s. We also always grab a Po’ boy from Johnny’s and head to Frenchman Street for the best music in town.

16. Siena, Italy

Siena is a city where the truth is better than art or fiction—it's prettier than the postcards and more elegant than the Lorenzetti paintings.

Plus, the food is sublime. The Palio di Siena horse race and all its attendant pomp and glory is alive and well, some eight centuries after starting here.

The Cathedral's black-and-white striped marble columns, towering up to a lapis-painted barrel-vaulted ceiling, can make you feel the smallness of being human. In a nutshell, it's history, in bricks and mortar.

15. Vienna, Austria

Music as we know it would be unrecognizable without the existence of Austria’s capital, which nurtured the talents of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler, plus local boys Schubert and Strauss.

While there, stay at the Sacher Hotel (ask for a room overlooking the Opera House) and be sure to order their famous Sacher Torte—don’t forget to request mit shlaag (with cream).

Also, make sure to see Gustav Klimt's The Kiss at the Belvedere.

14. Beirut, Lebanon

Though the Middle East's current political climate is volatile, Beirut remains a popular port of call for seasoned and in-the-know travelers.

It’s simply a city that won’t die. This immortality is buttressed by a thriving dining and shopping scene—try Tawlet, the ‘farmers’ kitchen’ of Souk el Tayeb and Artisan du Liban et d’Orient for traditional local garments and crafts.

Adding to Beirut’s appeal as a top world city is the presence of numerous fabulous hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Le Gray, and Hotel Albergo come to mind.

13. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok resembles the type of futuristic city so often depicted in sci-fi films like Blade Runner or Minority Report.

Soaring, glass-paneled buildings house the world’s economic elite while at street level rickshaws and mopeds weave through snarls of traffic.

This dichotomy is illustrated at the famous farang(foreigner) backpacker street Khao San Road—long the enclave of tourists toting massive packs.

It has now evolved into a bustling mixture of commerce, tourism, and nightlife and has some of the best people-watching anywhere in the world.

12. Luang Prabang, Laos

Known for its wonderful mixture of traditional Lao and French colonial architecture, Luang Prabang lies on a spit of land at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers.

This gorgeous geography can best be viewed from the Phou Si—a Buddhist temple perched at the highest point of the city that offers sweeping 360-degree views.

11. Kraków, Poland

UNESCO named Kraków the City of Literature in 2013, a well-earned designation.

Poland’s second-largest metropolis was home to three Nobel-winning writers—Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska, and Ivo Andric—and the city still hosts around 30 book festivals every year.

Here you’ll also find Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest colleges in the world, and a wealth of museums—including the Czartoryski, where you can see Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Lady with an Ermine.

10. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe has the charming downtown lined with adobe buildings and art galleries, but we enjoy the city because it shows off a different side of American history.

To experience that Hispanic and Native American heritage, visit the Museum of International Folk Art on Museum Hill, and the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis, which inspired Willa Cather's iconic novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Chow down on enchiladas from The Shed and biscochito cookies from The Chocolate Maven paired with coffee from the quirky closet-sized Holy Spirit Espresso, then make sure your day ends at Santa Fe Spirits' new tasting room.

9. Barcelona, Spain

By day, we may visit the Museu Picasso, or throw down a towel on Barceloneta beach. W

hen the sun goes down, the center of Catalonia is known for some of the best nightlife in the world.

Marsella, a bar once frequented by Hemingway, Gaudi, and Dali, is still popular; while Barcelona Pipa Club is a secret speakeasy-style late-night haunt.

8. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Seriously, the attraction that is synonymous with the city is not the only thing Siem Reap has to offer.

There are now more reasons to linger than ever as there is a groundswell of local chefs reviving the rich tradition of Khmer royal cuisine.

7. Rome, Italy

Like many of the great world capitals, Rome is one of those cities where you can't see everything in one trip.

Renowned tourist attractions like the Pantheon are plentiful, but remember to get an espresso at the Sant’Eustachio before you accept your free entrance.

Get lost in the Eternal City, down alleys and cobblestone streets; you may uncover some of the most spectacular Caravaggios ever made in quiet churches like San Luigi dei Francesi.

Don’t forget to bring a few euros with you, says executive editor Steve Orr, because the coin-operated lights only illuminate the paintings for a few moments before fading.

And, if you do just one thing in Rome, you must take a bike ride through the Borghese Gardens.

6. Prague, Czech Republic

The Mucha Museum, dedicated to the work of the singular art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, is an absolute must-see.

In the realm personal house tours, a visit to Bertramka—where Mozart stayed during his many visits to Prague—stands out as interesting, laissez-faire, and free of the throngs of tourists that often beset these sort of things.

Keep an eye out for all of the great buskers, puppeteers, and excellent pop-up food markets.

And if you do one thing in this capital of Bohemia, it’s eat; order lots of goulash and eat all of the knedlíky you can get your hands on!

5. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Steeped in history and boasting a stunning collection of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, this World Heritage Site has become a haven for artists from all over the world.

As such, there is a fabulous collection of galleries, museums, and art institutes such as the Fabrica La Aurora (home to dozens of galleries and studios), El Nigromante, and the Instituto Allende.

Luxury hotels such as the Hotel Matilda, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and the Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada make this one of Mexico’s premier destinations.

4. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the best city in the world for blending urban culture with the great outdoors: They're literally a five-minute drive from each other.

There's an exploding food scene, with vegetables, wine, and cheese coming from the gorgeous Cape Winelands; and then there's the top of Table Mountain which, on the right day, can feel as pristine and empty as when the Dutch first pitched up in the early 17th century.

Eat at Luke Dale-Roberts' The Test Kitchen; go to sunbathe and people-gawk at Clifton 2nd Beach; surf, if you dare, at Muizenberg (sharks!), and climb Lion's Head for crazy 360-degree views of the city.

3. Budapest, Hungary

When in Hungary’s capital, we love to sneak away from the tourist attractions for some cafe and spa culture.

Legendary cafes like the New York Kávéház and the Gerbeaud are must-visits, as are the spas built in the 16th and 17th century by Ottoman occupiers Rudas and Király.

These places are full of wonderful touches like roaring granite lion heads spewing out warm mineral water.

If you can muscle out the Hungarian grandma from her prized spot, then you’ve found nirvana.

2. Charleston, South Carolina

The ultimate Charleston itinerary starts with a walk along the waterfront: strolling under palm trees with the Atlantic glistening just beyond.

Take time to wander the side streets, which boast beautiful homes, the best of which are found at Rainbow Row just by The Battery.

The colors of the houses are just unreal. It’s just a dazzling array of pastels.

Charleston's known as a foodie city, but Talbot's favorite restaurant is Husk, with The Ordinary coming in a close second.

1. Florence, Italy

A beauty in its art, architecture, history, and cuisine. 

You will never go hungry in this city—bistecca alla fiorentina at Trattoria Le Mossacce and a panino al lampredotto at the San Lorenzo Market are always on the menu.

For some of the best paper products in the world, head to Pineider.

Be sure to check out the Gucci Museum—home to the complete archive of iconic Gucci products, from loafers to luggage.


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