Traveler: Top 25 Cities in the World

Readers’ Choice Rating: 80.5

Barcelona is “a beautiful and accessible modern city with great food, museums and Gaudi architecture.” It’s also the “perfect beach city” where “the party never ends.” “It is both a 24-hour metropolis and a family-oriented city. It is both easy to travel by public transportation,and glorious to walkabout.” “Explore the Old City by yourself,” one reader recommends. “By the time you untangle yourself from the winding ramblas, you’ll have a slew of friends.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 80.5

“A beautiful and intriguing place” where “every view is like a painting,” Venice won over our readers with its “unbelievable atmosphere.” There’s “not a bad meal to be had in this city,” and it’s a “paradise for shopping and fashion.” “Somehow for me this city is apart from this world. You can write pages describing it but it would never be enough. It’s the perfect experience to wake up in the morning and have a espresso on a narrow street and to end it in a gondola in the evening.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 80.8

Top museums, public art and green spaces are what set Melbourne apart from its bigger counterpart, Sydney. There are “large outdoor spaces designed for music, art, live and film performances,” as well as an “old world and new mix of architecture in wide public spaces” that our readers found refreshing.

Readers’ Choice Rating: 80.8

Throughout our survey, readers often referred to other cities as “the Paris of the east” or “the Paris of the south.” And while the compliment is a nice one, to be sure, there’s only one true Paris, and our readers cannot get enough of it. “Paris itself is just enchanting. I love its streets with the small shops; the trees and parks and flowers; the churches and the river and Notre Dame.” They love the food, the history, the sights, the culture, the shopping, and the spectacular scenery. As one reader succinctly put it, “Paris is without competition.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.0

The capital of Lebanon has “much to offer the adventurous traveler.” Find “exotic cuisine and cocktails” at the “most exclusive clubs in the world” in what one reader calls “the Paris of the Middle East.” This city offers a “tapestry of sects, religions, and lifestyles that provide a feast for the mind of the intellectual.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.0

This “charming town” is “a must-see for Spain visitors,” featuring “fascinating buildings and history,” “amazing restaurants and tapas places.” “Small trips outside the city are easy and wonderful,” and if you stay in the city itself, you’ll find “excellent nightlife” and “many neighborhoods to explore.” The “one of a kind” town has “charm, charm, charm,” and a beautiful look: “Love everything about Seville. The light was amazing; there’s something about the Andalucian sun.”

17.Santa Fe
Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.2

Our readers found Santa Fe to be “pure magic;” a “heaven where souls vacation.” “Go for the atmosphere, architecture, food, and open spaces,” said one reader, or “take a whole day to explore the galleries.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.2

According to our readers, Sydney has it all, calling it a “cosmopolitan and sun-tanned” city with “diverse attractions” that is just so “easy about itself.” The Harbour Bridge Climb offers “tremendous sightseeing,” the Sydney Opera House hosts top-notch music, theater and dance performances, and there are great shopping and cultural attractions too. “The food is world-class, with spot prawns and fish to die for.”

17.Victoria, Canada
Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.2

This “beautiful harbor town with great food” is “a pocket of charm and beauty” on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Our readers raved about the setting and architecture, and enjoyed the variety of activities: walking, biking, antiquing, dining at “great seafood restaurants,” and visiting museums and the Butchart Gardens. It’s a “hidden treasure.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.3

Kraków boasts “beautiful architecture and old charm,” leaving visitors with something to “always cherish and remember.” In addition to having many cultural and historical sights of its own, this Polish city is also “centrally located for different side trips.” The restaurants are “very quaint with excellent food and reasonable prices.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.3

One reader raved: “If you can only visit one city in Europe, Prague should be it.” There is “music that permeates the atmosphere and wonderful cuisines, served by gracious people.” In this “adult Disneyland,” expect to see “fairytale architecture, horse-drawn carriages, winding brick street, majestic castles and swans providing an enchanting setting for tourists in the capital.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 81.6

A “beautiful old city full of history,” Kyoto is packed with famous temples, shrines and markets that create a “mixture of modernity and old world Japan.” Kyoto is the “best city” because “it has everything,” one reader raved. “You will be transported to a different era.”

13.Vancouver, Canada
Readers’ Choice Rating: 82.2

“Beautiful” might be the most frequently used word in our readers’ descriptions of this city, “a jewel with its ocean and mountain views.” It’s not only an “awesome outdoor city for walks and scenery,” it has “great restaurants and shopping,” “good bike paths,” and “friendly people.” As one reader put it: “A truly amazing city that blends both nature and modernity. One minute you can be in the heart of a metropolis eating a five-star meal and the next you are driving along a mountain path.”

11.Bruges, Belgium
Readers’ Choice Rating: 82.3

“Beautifully preserved,” picturesque Bruges is an “unexpected gem.” Most of its attractions are close together, so it is “easily seen by walking.”

11.Cape Town
Readers’ Choice Rating: 82.3

This “marvelous destination with much to see and do” scored high for its culture and atmosphere. Readers like Cape Town because you’ll find “an ideal mix of nature, coastal, mountains and beaches with excellent restaurants at reasonable prices.”

10.Québec City, Québec, Canada
Readers’ Choice Rating: 82.7

Thanks to its “old-world charm,” “awesome historic assets” and “great shopping,” our readers think of Québec City as “a little jewel with good food and wonderful artisan work.” “A beautiful, historic European city right here in North America!” Whether they strolled on the boardwalk, biked around town, or visited the Christmas markets, our readers found this Canadian destination “romantic” and “picturesque,” it’s a “must-do if in Québec.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 82.9

Called a “timeless place where one needs only to soak in the ambience,” Siena has so much to offer that even one reader, who has been to the city 18 times, is still finding new food and cultural experiences. Others praise it as “quieter than Rome and Florence, but jam-packed with history and culture amid rolling Tuscan hillsides.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.0

Rome has “endless exploration opportunities.” “It is not a one-time destination so you can return again and again and always see something new.” “Food, restaurants, service people, and easiness of getting around are better than any American city.”

Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.1

“Drenched in music, history and the arts,” Vienna earned high marks from readers. Not that anyone would find that suprising. “Classical music opportunities are out of this world and you can hear great music in beautiful venues.”

5.San Sebastian, Spain
Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.2

Which city can rightly be called the food capital of Europe? No, not Paris. Copenhagen? Try San Sebastián, a Basque beauty with stunning coastline and serious culinary cred: It just happens to have a slew Michelin stars—16 and counting. And the food is the main reason our readers rave about it. All you need to do here is “eat, eat, and eat.”

5.Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.2

With “sand, sun, history, good food, and friendly people,” Charleston is a consistent hit with the travelers who venture to this “gracious and beautiful” city (in fact, it’s taken first place our list of Top 10 Cities in the United States for three years now and been rated as the friendliest). Nearby beaches and impressive architecture draw visitors, but it’s the “insanely nice” locals who enhance “magnificent” bed and breakfasts and “amazing shopping.” “The charm of this city brings me back every year,” praised one devoted fan. “The food, history, architecture and people are wonderful,” said one reader. “A bucket list city!”

4.Salzburg, Austria
Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.3

Salzburg is a “pleasant little town” that is “one of the truly European cities still left.” Most famous as the hometown of Mozart (and those other musical geniuses, the Von Trapps), Salzburg will “transport you back in time.” It’s the perfect place for “folks who still care about culture and history.”

2.Budapest, Hungary
Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.8

The “classic masterpiece” of a city gives off a “different feeling than other European cities.” There is “so much to see, great food and easy navigation,” one reader said. The “gorgeous residences and buildings” are “gracious and grand.” “Everything about Budapest was entrancing.”

2.Florence, Italy
Readers’ Choice Rating: 83.8

The art-centric Florence boasts “food out of this world.” This Italian city was not only a hit with the thousands of readers who participated in our survey this year, but it was also the location chosen by our 2012 Dream Trip Photo Contest winner—after winning a $25,000 trip of a lifetime, Florence is where he wanted to take his family.

1.San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Readers’ Choice Rating: 84.6

San Miguel de Allende nabbed the No. 1 spot thanks to its “great atmosphere, excellent restaurants, culture and ambiance galore.” The “lack of street lights and billboards” makes the region “romantically and historically beautiful, and the city itself offers a “traditional feeling of a small town in the heart of Mexico.” “An amazing place to be.”

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