If you love to travel, you've probably read about many of the world's unbelievable cities. There are so many to choose from--each offering must-see attractions, unique culture, and wonderful people--that there's simply no time or money to see them all! And even worse, how could you decide where to start?
Relax and let us take care of the research. We've compiled a list of the world's top 15 cities to visit. Time to start making travel plans...
As if taken straight out of a fairytale, Prague is absolutely beautiful. The Czech capital, which sits along the Vltava river, is filled with winding cobblestone streets, charming bridges, and medieval castles worthy of a Disney princess. Simply walking around Prague is an experience in itself and a photographer’s dream come true, but the city has much more than good looks to offer its visitors.
Prague is best explored by foot, and there is no better starting point than a stroll around the Old Town Square. From the square, you’ll be able to visit Prague Castle, the famed 600-year old Astronomical Clock, the busy Wenceslas Square, and walk across the emblematic Charles Bridge. For those looking to get spooked, a quick day trip to the eery Kutna Hora--the “bone church” decorated with 40,000 human skeletons--is sure to do the trick. In the evening, unwind with a visit to one of Prague’s many beer gardens where beer is cheaper than water (fun even if you’re on a budget!) or attend a classical show at the National Theatre.
United Arab Emirates
Dubai, the place where extravagant luxury and ancient traditions collide, is all about putting on the world’s grandest show. We’re not kidding, either; the city boasts the record for having the world’s tallest building (you MUST go up to the see the ridiculous views from the top of the Burj Khalifa), the biggest mall (it has a theme park and an aquarium where you can swim with sharks), the biggest choreographed water fountain show, the world’s most luxurious hotel in the 7-star The Burj Al Arab, and the biggest ferris wheel--among many other of the ‘world’s biggest’. Prefer crazy & wild over big? Dubai has you covered too! You can drive Formula 1 cars and super cars, get a 24 carat gold facial, go indoor snow skiing at Ski Dubai, go on a desert safari (highly recommended), play polo on camels, and--if you misbehave--get pulled over by cops driving Lamborghinis.
The “City of Gold” as Dubai is often nicknamed is certainly a place of over-the-top lavishness; however, the Arab city is also rich in culture and tradition. A visit to Dubai isn’t complete without exploring Old Dubai where you can experience Dubai as it once was, walking through the Dubai Miracle Garden, and seeing the Jumeirah Mosque (and/or taking the 90 minute trip to see the unbelievable Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi). There’s no place quite like Dubai; no city on the planet that will give you such a delightful taste of life in a world filled with modern fantasy.
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Barcelona is the city that has everything. There might be no place in the world with a more perfect combination of cosmopolitan energy, magnificent architecture & art (the famed Antoni Gaudí left his mark all over the city), beautiful beaches, delicious food (is there anything better than tapas?), and a nightlife that doesn’t even kick off until 2 AM.
One of Europe’s great walkable cities, exploring Barcelona will be a delight for those of all ages and interests. You’ll be awe-struck by the astounding Sagrada Familia church (pictured above), enchanted as you people-watch on the bustling La Rambla avenue, and relaxed as you gaze at the Mediterranean Sea from one of the city’s spectacular beaches. And as a cherry on top, Barcelona's perfect location makes it easy to get to from many of the world’s major cities--so what are you waiting for?
12. Mexico City
Mexico City is chaos beautified. No other large city on the planet--it’s the 7th largest with over 21 million residents--has been able to better organize its chaotic size in a way that so magically enchants all who visit it. One of the most underrated--and affordable--urban tourist destinations in the world, Mexico City will delightfully overwhelm its visitors with opportunity, energy, and charm that will leave them craving for more.
The Mexican capital is a cultural, artistic, and historical mecca; it has more museums than any city in the world not named Paris. Its food scene is extraordinary, with over 40,000 restaurants and exquisite street food options. The trendy Zona Rosa offers raucous nightlife that goes deep into the night, and events like lucha libre (Mexican free wrestling) and the Dia De Los Muertos celebration in early November, are sure to keep you well entertained. And for those interested in stepping almost two millennia into the past, the absolutely insane ancient city of Teotihuacan is a mere one hour drive from the capital. Tourists are just now starting to find out about Mexico City, so plan your travels now and beat the growing crowds.
11. Hong Kong
Famed for being hyper-modern and futuristic, and adored for its elegant combination of lush green landscapes and stunning cityscapes, Hong Kong is an entrancingly addictive place. The city is a cultural melting pot--inspired in part by its century-long status as a British Colony--and one of the foremost financial hubs in the world. And perhaps the best part is how easy it is to explore; Hong Kong has a super-efficient and super-affordable metro system that will get you around the city quickly.
First and foremost, Hong Kong’s views are iconic. A city filled with skyscrapers, you’ll find no better place to take in the views and shining lights than from the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront. From there, you can cross Victoria Harbour on the famous Star Ferry for a night out at the wild bars and clubs of Lan Kwai Fong (or LKF), or venture up to Tung Shoi Street (also known as the Ladies Market) to shop and bargain. Don’t spend all your time in the city, however, for there is much to see right outside of it. Head to Lantau Island via the Ping 360 cable car (one of the best cable car experiences in the world) and visit the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha. You can hike up to Victoria Peak, or take the Peak Tram if you’re not up for a hike, for unbelievable views of the city from 1,800 feet above seal level. And for those with kids, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park are just a quick metro trip from downtown. Oh and the food! How could we forget the food!? You’ll eat so much dim sum and dumplings during your time in Hong Kong that your pants might not fit afterwards--but rest assured it will all be worth it.
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There are a handful of iconic landmarks that are synonymous with some of the world’s greatest cities, and Sydney’s eggshell-shaped opera house is certainly one of them. Although the Sydney Opera House is the heartbeat of the city, Sydney has a wealth of other attractions to offer its visitors. The city is notorious for its renowned beaches (you’ve probably heard of Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach), its famed vineyards, beautiful outdoors (The Blue Mountains will blow your mind), energetic nightlife, and of course--its unique wildlife which can be enjoyed in one of the city’s acclaimed zoos.
Sydney isn’t just an absolutely must-visit destination, it also offers easy access to the rest of Australia and nearby New Zealand. And in case you like it so much and think it could be a good place to relocate to, we have good news for you! Sydney is regularly ranked amongst the top cities in the world to live in.
A city with a dark and troubled history, Berlin has moved on from its turbulent past to become one of the most fun, diverse, artistic, culture-rich, and multi-dimensional cities in the world. A trip to Berlin can never be long enough, with so much to see and do that you’ll be planning your return before you even leave.
History buffs will be lured to Berlin’s endless array of spectacular sights, eager to see the unmistakable Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag building, the Cold War relic Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial & Jewish Museum (a sombering experience that should not be missed), or simply relax on the grass by the Berlin Cathedral. Others might be more interested in the city’s raucous nightlife and diverse music scene, ranging from seeing world-famous DJs at one of Berlin’s massive clubs, to dressing up for a show at the Berlin Philharmonic. And those with families will be delighted by the city's sprawling parks, stellar children’s museums, and the world-class Berlin Zoo. No matter what you’re into, the German capital will most certainly not disappoint.
The city of contradictions, Bangkok likes to astonish its visitors with its infinite energy and candid balancing of the spiritual and the wild. During the day, you’ll be awestruck by the city’s opulent temples and palaces--the Grand Palace, Wat Po temple, and Wat Arun temple are must-sees for all visitors. At night, however, you’ll be thrust into a nightlife that will blow your mind. From the famous Khao San Road and its rowdy bars and clubs, to the notorious red light districts packed with half-naked dancers and go-go bars, Bangkok simply does not hold back.
But Bangkok is so much more than temples and partying! The city is a food-lover’s paradise; you’ll be able to indulge in the world’s best-street food and enjoy a restaurant scene where you can dine like royalty for cents on the dollar. And when you’re not eating (although we won’t blame you if you’re always eating), Bangkok’s famous markets will be a sight to behold; visit the famed Damnoen Saduak floating market, the peculiar and awesome Maeklong Railway Market, or one of the city’s gigantic night markets where you can buy pretty much anything for cheap. For those looking to relax, take a stroll through Lumpini Park (Bangkok’s version of Central Park) or get pampered at one of the city’s luxurious spas. Bangkok might hit you hard at first, but you’ll quickly be captivated by all it has to offer.
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Fabled for its captivating and ancient history, Istanbul’s past reads like an enthralling fiction novel. Known as Constantinople until less than a century ago, the city’s strategic location long fascinated the world’s great powers. Over the centuries, Istanbul served as the capital of the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires who fought to dominate trade between the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The city was also a key stop along the Silk Road trading route and the main victim of the Fourth Crusade in the early 13th century, when European Crusaders invaded and looted the city. Istanbul has been the setting of many of the most important events in world history, making a visit to the Turkish capital a life changing experience.
Upon your arrival to the Istanbul--and after spoiling yourself to a mouth-watering Turkish Breakfast--you’ll instantly notice the imposing Blue Mosque (pictured above) as it stands out in the city’s skyline. Built with six minarets (or towers), and sharing a hill with the also spectacular Haga Sophia, the Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most remarkable attractions. Just a few hundred feet away from the mosques you’ll find another must-see attraction: the Basilica Cistern. The largest in Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is a perfectly symmetrical and beautifully decorated underground water reservoir. From there, walk down the street to the Topkapi Palace Museum and then get a bite to eat at Taksim Square. Round out the day shopping (and haggling!) at the Grand Bazaar--and if you’re up for it, head out at night to explore Istanbul’s wild nightlife.
Although Istanbul is an ancient city, it continues to reinvent itself; today it sits at the heart of one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has a young and diverse population, a world-class art and culinary scene, and as much appeal as ever before.
6. Rio de Janeiro
Samba, magnificent beaches, and beautiful people--Rio de Janeiro knows how to party better than any other city in the world. And they’ll prove it too, Rio’s Carnival is the biggest festival in the world (over one million visitors come to dance and party on the city’s streets), and one of the events that should be among the top of your bucket list. Can’t make it to Carnival? Don’t worry, Rio keeps the party going year-round; hit up the beach bars at the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and spend your nights at the wild clubs of the buzzing Lapa neighborhood.
A city protected by the watchful eye of the magnificent Christ The Redeemer Statue (which you can see up close after a walk up Mount Corcovado), Rio de Janeiro’s lure extends far beyond its party scene. The city’s natural diversity is unique, hosting the largest urban forest in the world in Tijuca National Park, the Rio Botanical Garden, and the immediately recognizable Sugarloaf Mountain. And don’t forget that you’re in the mecca of soccer (Brazil has more World Cup titles than any other country) and get tickets to a game at Rio’s legendary Maracana Stadium where you can join 80,000 passionate fans as they cheer for their team. Offering a perfect mix of fun, adventurous, and relaxing opportunities, it’s no secret why Rio is a favorite of all who visit it.
Once the beating heart of the powerful Roman empire--and widely considered the epicenter of the world for centuries--Rome’s star forever shines bright as one of the most important and unique cities on Earth. Rome was nicknamed the “Eternal City” over 2,000 years ago by the Roman poet Tibullus, and that name couldn’t be more perfect today.
A visit to the Italian capital might begin with a stroll through Central Rome, where you’ll admire the illustrious Trevi Fountain and the timeless Pantheon, or take a break on the Spanish Steps. From there you can explore the world-renowned Colosseum and the Roman Forum, or venture below ground to the ghostly catacombs, all before people watching while enjoying a heavenly Italian meal in the Trastevere neighborhood. Rome isn’t just the Roman Empire, however, it’s also home to the Catholic Church. You’ll be startled by the perfection of Vatican City; from the brilliance of the Sistine Chapel to the exceptional craftsmanship of St. Peter’s Basilica, and from the stunning detail in the Vatican Museum to the perfectly manicured Vatican Gardens. Visiting Rome is like stepping into the past, so pick up some gelato and prepare yourself for an adventure that dates back to before the days Christ.
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4. Cape Town
Perfectly nestled between the iconic Table Mountain plateau and the pristine aquamarine waters of Table Bay, surrounded by bountiful flora and fauna, and rich in history and culture, sits the majestic city of Cape Town--known by many as the Mother City.
Cape Town has it all. From the natural wonder of the surrounding mountains and penguin-filled beaches, to famous vineyards, delectable food, and vibrant nightlife, you’ll be swept off your feet by the South African metropolis. And for those eager to learn about South Africa’s troubled past, a visit to Robben Island--where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost 3 decades--is a must-see. It’s likely that you came to Cape Town on your way to a safari retreat, but you might soon realize that you’ll need to plan a return trip to take in all the city has to offer.
Ahh Paris… the City of Love. Paris is a timeless classic rich in culture, exquisite cuisine, invaluable art, and a magnetic sense of style. Paris will never disappoint you, it will lure you in like a siren’s song and immerse you in its 2,000 year old wonder. Visiting the French capital will be like stepping into a dream, a dream you’ll never want to wake up from.
Paris is regularly ranked as one of the most visited cities in the world, with millions of tourists traveling to the city every year to discover all it has to offer. Although you might come to Paris eager to climb the Eiffel Tower, take a selfie next to the Arc De Triomphe, tour the Louvre and Notre Dame, or explore the catacombs, it’s the little things that will make you fall in love with the city. A leisurely stroll down Paris’s beautiful cobblestone streets, or an afternoon spent people-watching at a café, might be all you’ll ever need to hold a special place in your heart for the French capital.
2. New York
Although New York is a city with a thousand nicknames, none is more fitting than the Capital of the World. A cultural melting pot, New York is filled with visitors from around the globe who converge to enjoy the city’s famous attractions, top-class restaurants, world famous museums, high-end shopping, and seemingly infinite entertainment options. There are so many things to do in New York—regardless of taste, age, or budget—that it’s easy to understand why people say the city never sleeps.
You’ll need more than one trip (or at least one looong trip) to get a true taste of New York City. Your first time will likely be spent visiting famous sites like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Bronx Zoo, Times Square, Broadway, and Central Park. But oh there is so much more! The unique and distinctive neighborhoods will charm you, the relentless energy of the city will engulf you, and the delicious food will have you craving for more. Once you visit New York City, you might never want to leave…
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Crazy in the best of ways, Tokyo is the world’s most unique and fascinating city. The Japanese capital will seduce you the second you step inside it, gracefully bringing together the ancient tradition of the past with the modern advancement of the present. Set the mood for an unforgettable trip with a peaceful walk through one of Tokyo’s perfectly manicured gardens, stopping to see the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park or Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Tokyo has it all, from food to culture, and from nightlife to mind-boggling technology, you’ll be enchanted at every turn. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or just hungry, Tokyo’s cuisine will exceed even your wildest expectations. Kick off your day with breakfast sushi at the Tsujiji Fish Market and then indulge in the city’s seemingly infinite supply of mouth-watering ramen, tempura, teriyaki... and more delicious sushi. Take in Japanese culture with a visit to the majestic Sensoji Temple and Imperial Palace, and experience one of the country’s greatest traditions by attending a Sumo wrestling match. Interested in shopping? Prepare yourself for a wild experience at Akihabara Electric Town where you’ll find products you never imagined existed, or head to Ginza where you can shop the world’s finest designer brands. And when you’re ready to party, the karaoke and techno scenes will keep you out until the late hours of the night. Tokyo is unlike any city in the world; no matter how well traveled you are, you’ll be instantly enamored with the Japanese capital.