28 Top Cities in the World to Visit

Written by Meagan Drillinger and Anietra Hamper Updated May 3, 2023

The excitement of travel is all about discovering new destinations, and with so many incredible places to visit, it is hard to narrow down your options. You can spend a lifetime visiting the greatest cities in the world and still not see them all, but as a starting point, you can get familiar with the upper echelon of city environments that set the bar for the rest of the world.

Rome skyline

The best cities to visit are often home to some of the world's most iconic sites and are found around the globe, from Asia and Europe to the Middle East and the Americas. For travelers hoping to find inspiration for their next trip, here is a list of some of the top cities in the world to visit.

1. Paris, France

2. new york city, usa, 3. london, england, 4. bangkok, thailand, 5. hong kong, china, 6. dubai, united arab emirates, 7. singapore, 8. rome, italy, 9. macau, china, 10. istanbul, turkey, 11. kuala lumpur, malaysia, 12. delhi, india, 13. tokyo, japan, 14. antalya, turkey, 15. mexico city, mexico, 16. porto, portugal, 17. san francisco, usa, 18. beijing, china, 19. los angeles, usa, 20. chicago, usa, 21. barcelona, spain, 22. abu dhabi, united arab emirates, 23. amsterdam, netherlands, 24. madrid, spain, 25. sydney, australia, 26. san miguel de allende, mexico, 27. lisbon, portugal, 28. vienna, austria, map of cities in the world to visit.

View over Paris

Paris, France remains one of the most loved cities to visit in the world because it is an iconic destination for grand life events, like milestone vacations, engagements, celebrations, and honeymoons. It is also an easy place to visit for quick getaways, with regular flight schedules and tours available.

Many travelers enjoy Paris for the art and go to see the galleries and museums , like the Louvre Museum and the Musee d'Orsay. Some travelers go to Paris because it is a bucket list destination for many people. They want to see the Eiffel Tower , the Notre Dame Cathedral , and the Arc de Triomphe in person.

Paris is notoriously a city of romance, so many marriage proposals happen frequently in Paris, and honeymooners enjoy vacationing with a romantic cruise down the Seine River.

The time of year you visit may determine some of your activities, but even in winter, there are plenty of things to do in Paris .

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

Central Park in New York City

There are so many elements that make New York City one of the best cities in the world. The city and the Statue of Liberty that travelers see as they arrive is symbolic of the culture and freedom that America stands for. The Big Apple is the financial hub of the United States, with Wall Street and international businesses.

Most people visit New York City just to be a part of the city scene. It is where people go to make dreams come true, with experiences like seeing a Broadway show, watching the famous ball drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square, and taking part as a spectator watching the elaborate floats go by in the Thanksgiving Day parade.

The parks in New York City have their own draw. From the many attractions in Central Park to winter ice skating in Bryant Park, you can spend several days in the quiet natural retreats located throughout the concrete jungle.

New York City is where things happen, and travelers enjoy having a taste of that excitement. It's another one of those great bucket list destinations that you can visit at any time of year , even winter in NYC is fun.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City
  • Top-Rated Museums in New York City

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge in London

There is never a lack of intrigue or interest in London as a destination which is makes it one of the most touristic cities in the world. The Royal intrigue is one of its main draws, as thousands of tourists descend on Buckingham Palace to get a brush with the British monarchy.

Millions of tourists visit London each year and tour the top attractions , like the Tower of London , Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral. Part of what makes London such a treat to visit is its public transport system, which makes it easy to get from one place to another without a car. With so much to see, it is easy to stay mobile in London to visit popular landmarks in a single day, like the Tower Bridge and the Skydeck at The Shard 800 feet above the city.

It is also possible to see many of London's top attractions on foot, with several great walking routes that take you through popular parks, landmarks, and neighborhoods.

Speaking of neighborhoods, London is revered for its diverse districts and famous markets , like the Borough Market , operating since the 13 th century, and the Camden Market , with small stalls selling food and local goods.

Wat Arun temple at dusk in Bangkok

The bustling city of Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the top tourist cities in the world, with nearly 26 million visitors a year. The city is usually the first stopping point for anyone touring through Thailand.

Bangkok has an exciting mix of packed subways; huge skyscrapers; temples ; historic architecture; lavish gardens; palaces like the Grand Palace ; and almost nightly sporting events, like kickboxing, that draw thousands of fans.

Spend time on the beaches near Bangkok for a mix of the city scene and a tropical ocean escape.

Bangkok has a lively atmosphere, even during the daylight hours. Travelers on a budget can find cheap entertainment, shopping bargains, and low-cost accommodations, especially in the area of Khao San Road.

Travelers with unlimited budgets can find everything on the opposite end of the spectrum, from luxury hotels to extravagant shopping at high-end stores at the Siam Paragon Mall.

The city is also popular for more traditional experiences, like the floating markets and Thai massage parlors where you can get an hour of relaxation for less than $10 dollars.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the most famous cities in the world. It is a convenient holiday destination, and its shopping, especially for bargains, is unmatched.

Hong Kong is one of the most popular cities in the world, but it is also one of the most expensive places to travel if you plan to stay in the heart of the city. If you stay just beyond the main tourist areas in places like Jordan or Kowloon, you can find slightly less expensive accommodations.

Some of the other reasons travelers flock to Hong Kong include an easy public transportation system, so there is no need to drive; massive theme parks; 24-hour dining; the world's largest skyscrapers; bargain shopping for high-end goods; and beaches and mountains that are quickly accessed just outside the city. You can even find beautiful hiking trails in Hong Kong .

Hong Kong also offers unusual finds that are just plain interesting, like a 24-karat solid gold toilet inside a Hong Kong jewelry company and a beautiful tunnel of pink flowers located inside the Un Chau Estate public housing complex.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hong Kong

Camels on Jumeirah beach in Dubai

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is synonymous with luxury lifestyles. While Dubai is a large global business center, people enjoy vacationing among the rich and the attractions that cater to them. Dubai is home to the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and it's where tourists find some other attractions that are among the largest in the world, like the shopping malls and aquarium.

Dubai's grandiose fantasy atmosphere is what travelers want to experience. From over-the-top luxury hotels and resorts to the urban green space like the Dubai Miracle Garden, the sights, sounds, colors, and other sensory experiences in Dubai are unlike any other destination.

Dubai's nightlife and world-famous beaches also draw visitors, who come to enjoy kicking back among the natural and man-made beauty of this extravagant city.

Singapore skyline and marina at sunset

The small Asian country of Singapore attracts travelers year-round, and its popularity is growing. The island of Singapore has a stunning blend of historic culture with old buildings nestled in among large skyscrapers. There is a charm between the old and the new in the way that small neighborhood shopping districts exist between the mega luxury shopping malls that Singapore is known for.

The beauty of Singapore is another reason people visit. The Supertrees in the vertical gardens and the artistic green displays in Gardens by the Bay have a wow factor as they light up the city. Singapore is known for its vast amount of green space, with urban gardens like the Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Orchid Garden, and the Cloud Forest.

Besides a visually beautiful location and so many things to do, Singapore is a clean and safe city, which gives it high appeal for travelers. It has the best of both worlds, from city life to beaches and posh resorts, which is why it ranks consistently as a top destination for travelers.

The Colosseum at sunset in Rome

Rome is one of those destinations that sits on many travelers' must-see someday lists. The culture of Rome and its historic architecture are its main draws. The Colosseum , Pantheon , Trevi fountain, and the Vatican usually top the list of things vacationers want to check off their list.

Besides the famous cultural sites , visitors head to Rome for its famous homemade Italian food, from fried artichokes to homemade pasta. Tourists like to try authentic Italian cuisine and feel like a local. The monuments and artwork throughout Rome are also a draw for visitors who want to step inside some of the oldest museums in the world.

Make your base here and enjoy day trips from Rome to surrounding towns or out the nearby beaches .

  • Read More: Top-Rated Museums and Palaces in Rome

Macau skyline at night

Macau in southern China has become one of the most visited cities in the world, especially among the rich. There are several reasons for this: First, because Macau has become a thriving investment metropolis, the people traveling for business are also spending time in the city, connecting with the locals and enjoying the more pleasure-filled side of things like shopping, sightseeing, and sports car racing.

The other reason Macau is popular is because of its culture. Its small footprint of nearly 12 square miles is a multicultural mecca, with a blend of Asian natives and European influences in the people, shops, and local food. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town is a prime example and is just one of the many beautiful places to photograph in the region.

Macau is also famous for its beautiful beaches and urban gardens like Casa Garden and Sun Yat Sen Park.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Macau

Istanbul, Turkey

One of the most famous cities in the world is Istanbul, Turkey, so it makes sense that people want to visit. The city is filled with historic mosques and palaces surrounded by cafés, shops, and chic hotels. The relaxed vibe in Istanbul attracts a crowd that enjoys afternoons hanging out and sipping tea or uncovering a vintage find at a local thrift store.

Visitors enjoy uncovering the historic and modern mix in local neighborhoods. The historic Sultanahmet District and the touristic Istiklal Caddesi area are two examples. Istanbul is also popular because of its elegant scenery. The artistic architecture of the homes along the Bosphorus Strait is one of the most picturesque sites in Turkey.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Istanbul
  • Best Places for Shopping in Istanbul
  • Best Beaches near Istanbul
  • Best Parks in Istanbul
  • Top Day Trips from Istanbul

Kuala Lumpur

The capital city of Malaysia , Kuala Lumpur welcomes millions of visitors a year. It is a city with museums and ties to its culture in places like the Old Market Square, yet it is balanced by the edgy architecture of the Petronas Twin Towers and mega shopping malls. The city is always "on," so you can find a nightlife scene any time of the day as you take in meeting the locals, dining, and watching sporting events.

The appeal of Kuala Lumpur is in part because of its ultra-modern city but also for the natural beauty that surrounds it. There are popular attractions that highlight the wildlife of the region, from the Aquaria aquarium and the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park to the KL Butterfly Park. There are also many elaborate urban parks throughout the city and around the River of Life waterfront.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Tomb of Safdarjung in New Delhi, India

India is such a big country and is so popular with tourists that several of its main cities are among the most visited cities in the world, including Delhi. One of the reasons Delhi is popular is because it is close to a number of other top experiences in India , so it is a convenient base.

Delhi has many religious landmarks that attract tourists, like the Swaminarayan Akshardham and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Delhi is known for its markets, selling inexpensive wares and street food, where tourists enjoy finding nice bargains.

Delhi is only a few hours from Agra , where vacationers can take a day trip to see the Taj Mahal.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Delhi & New Delhi

Temple Gate in Tokyo

The metropolis of Tokyo in Japan is one of the most exciting cities in the world, which is why millions of tourists go there every year. What makes Japan so popular is the whirlwind of eye-popping attractions , from ancient temples and Anime to the Tokyo Skytree broadcast tower.

Tokyo has the world's most famous and biggest fish markets, and exquisite and artful sushi. Japanese culture is colorful and playful, and that is reflected in Tokyo's parks, museums, and malls. Tourists are attracted to the opportunity to learn more about traditional Japanese culture with experiences like trying on kimonos.

Japan's fantastic interconnected train system makes it easy to base yourself in Tokyo and make day trips to other places like Mount Fuji and Tokyo Disneyland.

Duden Waterfall in Antalya

The Mediterranean Sea sitting against the backdrop of beautiful Antalya, Turkey makes it a desired vacation spot for travelers. From the beautiful sandy beaches and warm weather to the waterfalls, cliffs, and sunsets, it is a perfect vacation.

Lara and Konyaalti beaches are the most popular and are easily identified by the many luxury resorts that line the coast. History buffs visit Antalya to explore the ruins of the Aspendos , an ancient city dating back to AD 16. The town is a mix of mosques, ruins, cafés, and an old town square where locals congregate.

  • Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Antalya
  • From Istanbul to Antalya: Best Ways to Get There

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Mexico City has risen in the ranks over the years to be recognized as one of the greatest cosmopolitan capitals in the world. If you want culture, cuisine, the arts, architecture, history, and glamorous hotels, Mexico City checks every single box.

Mexico's capital has been the political and cultural center of its universe since the pre-Columbian days, back when it was called Tenochtitlan and was the main city of the Aztec Empire. Today Mexico City is built upon the strata of time, showcasing everything from archaeological ruins to ornate Spanish architecture and the glamorous design of the 21st century.

From the incredible time capsule that is the Centro Historico to the cultural institutions, like Palacio de Bellas Artes, to the hip, bohemian streets of the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods, Mexico City has something to offer everyone.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Mexico City

Porto, Portugal

Sliced by the winding Douro River, Porto, Portugal is one of the most beautiful European cities. Colorful buildings and red-tiled roofs rise up over the hills from the river's edge. Porto is as charming as it is historic, seeming to spring from the pages of a fairy tale.

The gorgeous jewel of a city is just as cosmopolitan as it is historic. It is known for its decadent food; cobblestone back alleys; and the gritty river shipping culture, which has been part of Porto's history for centuries.

Street art is one of the biggest draws to Porto, from the hand-painted tiles to the murals splashed across the ancient walls. You can see how art has made its way into Porto's 21st century, as well, with a visit to the Museu de Arte Contemporanea.

Porto is also characterized by its lavish churches, clanging bell towers, and beautiful vantage points all over the city.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Porto

View of Coit Tower and San Francisco at night

Always eclectic, offbeat, and drenched in culture, San Francisco, California never disappoints. Steeped in history, from Wild West gold rushes to counter-culture revolutions and the tech industry, San Francisco has always been a hotbed of activity since its inception.

It's also a haven for foodies. Some of the best restaurants in California can be found right here in the capital of the Bay Area, including a good selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants . It's also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, surrounded by the bay, the Pacific Ocean, and redwood forests. Enjoy San Francisco's beaches and nearby hiking trails . The city itself is an adventure, with its 48 hills that are accessible via historic cable cars.

Peppered with parks and green space and always blanketed in fog, and lined with pastel-colored Victorian buildings, San Francisco is one of the most unique cities in the United States, if not the world.

  • Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Francisco
  • San Francisco Walk Tour: Top Sights
  • 1-Day, 2-Day & 3-Day San Francisco Itineraries

The Forbidden City, Beijing

For nearly 1,000 years, Beijing has been the capital city of China and has seen the rise and fall of three of China's dynasties. It is a city that is packed with centuries of history, yet is still one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in the entire world.

Step back in time inside The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, learn the sad truths in Tiananmen Square, and wander the zigzagging alleys of the historic Hutong neighborhoods. As you walk around, you will realize why these areas of Beijing are some of the best places to visit in China because of their cultural significance. These historic sites sit alongside luxury shopping malls, thriving night markets, world-class museums, theater, and music venues.

You'll also find some of Asia's finest hotels within Beijing, from five-star international brands to boutique, design-forward hotels. If you are looking to get to Shanghai, just hop on the bullet train and take off at warp speed for another one of China's cultural capitals.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Beijing

Downtown Los Angeles

What makes Los Angeles one of the best cities in the world to visit is that you are getting so many different experiences in one. Los Angeles is big. It's very, very big, actually, and its many neighborhoods are as diverse as the people who live in and visit Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is about natural beauty, with massive mountains that roll down to the Pacific Ocean. It is also about creative beauty, with world-class performing arts, the film industry, museums, street art, culinary arts, design, and culture. A stroll down any street in Los Angeles reveals a veritable Tower of Babel for language, from Spanish and Korean to Armenian and Arabic.

This is a city where you can eat $2 tacos on one corner and a Michelin-starred meal on the next. It has some of the sleekest modern homes in America, a movie theater shaped like a Chinese palace, and a concert hall designed by Frank Gehry.

Go rollerblading in Venice Beach, hike in Runyon Canyon, or practice Pilates at one of the dozens of high-end studios all around town. Los Angeles is a playground for the rich, the famous, and literally everyone else, but despite all of this, there are still plenty of free things to do and an endless supply of people-watching opportunities.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles
  • Best Beaches in Los Angeles

Chicago skyline at night

One of the largest cities in America, Chicago can often be overlooked for the flashier, glitzier cities like New York or Los Angeles . But this midwestern capital packs a punch all on its own, from trendy restaurants and live music to museums, glamorous hotels, and lakefront living.

The Windy City will, quite literally, blow you away. High-rise skyscrapers on the shores of Lake Michigan make for some robust gusts of wind throughout the year. But figuratively speaking, your mind will be blown in Chicago, from the world-renowned Art Institute to the sky-high Willis Tower.

Dining is dizzying in Chicago, whether it is down-home hot dogs or five-star cuts of steak. Festivals are rocking year-round in Chicago, from blues music to the world-famous Market Days. And, of course, let's not forget about the stunning hotels and landmarks that line the Magnificent Mile.

Read More: Best Tourist Attractions to Visit in Chicago

Barcelona, Spain

Beaches, buildings, and boats. That's what Barcelona is all about. From the stunning Mediterranean beaches to the architectural marvels of Antoni Gaudi to the yacht culture, Barcelona lives and breathes by the sea. Add to that fantastic gastronomy, art, history, and hotels and it's easy to see why Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world to visit.

Did you know that Barcelona's history dates back more than 2,000 years? That means you'll find Roman-style architecture alongside Gothic structures and Renaissance cathedrals, all the way up to the world-famous architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi. In fact, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Barcelona .

Barcelona is one of the main cities of Spain's Catalonia region and, as such, is the capital of Catalan cuisine. But you can find all of Spain's regional delicacies here, from Basque and Galician to Andalusian and beyond.

Aerial view of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the counterpart to the towering skyscrapers and glitzy lifestyle of Dubai. Sure, it has its own Louvre, but the focus in Abu Dhabi is to embrace the local lifestyle and culture and put a spotlight on the unique heritage of the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi is where Islamic architecture reigns supreme, from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the museum Qasr Al Hosn. Of course, the 21st century comes through loud and clear in Abu Dhabi architecture, as well, in the forms of Etihad Towers and the Yai Viceroy, among others.

Much like Dubai, no expense is spared in Abu Dhabi. Just look at the luxury hotels on Saadiyat Island or the Formula One track at the Yai Marina Circuit. There is even a Ferrari World and a Warner Bros World for the kids. But nature is also a big part of life in Abu Dhabi, from the Mangrove National Park to the gorgeous beaches on Hudayriat Island.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is one of the most easily accessible cities in the world, with flights from most of the major gateways in North America and Europe. But far beyond easy access, it is what Amsterdam has to offer travelers that makes it one of the best cities in the world to visit.

Amsterdam is simply stunning, with a maze of canals, bike-friendly streets, and cobblestone alleys, world-renowned museums, historic architecture, shops, cafés, and great restaurants.

Amsterdam is color. Come spring, the city explodes with every shade of the rainbow from the many flower stalls selling the iconic bouquets of Dutch tulips. Even the once-dreary industrial shipping and dock areas have transformed into boutique shops, hotels, and galleries.

While spring is one of the best times to visit Amsterdam, the festive nature of the city makes visiting in the winter months a unique and fun experience, too, not to mention the cheaper airfare and lodging rates.

And then there is Amsterdam's cultural scene. The museums in this city are next level, from The Van Gogh Museum to the iconic Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, and more. Locals and visitors alike get by in Amsterdam on two wheels, or on the water, whether it's a bike path or a canal cruise.

Read More: Top-Rated Places to Visit in Amsterdam

Madrid, Spain

Spain has so many fantastic cities to explore, but none is quite as compelling as the capital, Madrid. A combination of history and culture, art and design, cuisine and entertainment, Madrid is the embodiment of everything people love about a fantastic European city.

Centuries of history came together to make the Madrid we know today. From its royal roots to the Moorish influence, the years of the revolution, and the cosmopolitan and technological advances of the 21st century, the layers of Madrid are varied and deep.

It's no wonder this is a city that inspired the great works of Goya and Picasso, Balenciaga, Almodovar, and beyond. Visit the world-renowned Museo del Prado or marvel at the fantastic Baroque and Belle Epoque architecture all over the city.

When it comes to hotels, dining, and entertainment, Madrid is beyond elegant, refined, and impeccably designed. Wander through the centuries down its historic streets and step right into the modern-day restaurants and cafés for an experience that withstands the test of time.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Madrid

Panorama of Sydney harbour and bridge, New South Wales, Australia

With its spectacular harborside perch, stunning beaches , and cosmopolitan (yet decidedly laid-back) flair, Sydney is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. Residents and visitors alike take pleasure as much in a fine meal as they do in a beachfront hike.

Locals here live and die by the water, whether it's a sunset cruise or a casual waterfront lunch. Culture and design are excellent here. Just look at the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney is about electricity and excitement, but also about being best equipped to ride the perfect wave.

From the shores of Bondi Beach to the glamor of George Street, you can fit in just about anywhere in Sydney. It's also one of the jumping-off points from which to explore the tropical, beachy Gold Coast all the way up to Brisbane .

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Sydney: Best Areas & Hotels

Read More: Best Tourist Attractions in Sydney

Colorful buildings in San Miguel de Allende

There's a reason that San Miguel de Allende is voted the best city in the world by top international travel magazines. It is a veritable outdoor museum, splashed with bright colors and veined with cobblestone streets.

Add to that some of the best boutique hotels in Mexico, fabulous restaurants, museums, outdoor entertainment, and so many things to see and do in the surrounding region , that it will be difficult to deny San Miguel de Allende's inherent beauty and charm.

At the center of the city is the glimmering pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel — the Neo-Gothic church that serves as a beacon at the center of the city. This is the heart of the action, where you'll find a wide plaza with small shops, and streets that branch off in every direction flanked with cafés, boutique stores, and small galleries.

San Miguel de Allende is an artist's paradise, saturated with gorgeous vistas, and spectacular architecture.

Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is truly a masterpiece — and a hidden one, at that. One of the most under-the-radar Western European capitals, Lisbon is laid out like a painting, complete with red-tiled roofs, brightly colored waterfront buildings, cable cars, and medieval architecture.

But Lisbon is very much a 21st-century city, as well, with trendy cafés and restaurants, boutique hotels, entertainment, and impressive museums like the National Tile Museum. Built on seven hillsides, Lisbon overlooks the cityscape, as well as the Rio Tejo where it feeds out to the Atlantic Ocean. Picture cobblestone streets, ancient structures, and the peaks of cathedrals snooping out over the clouds.

One of the most popular neighborhoods, the Bairro Alto, is where the heart of Lisbon pulses. We're talking about cozy restaurants, boutiques, hot spots, and waterfront promenades.

Lisbon calls as much to the appreciators of European antiquities as it does to the fierce-hearted night owls and the effervescent youth. It is a city for all ages and one that has managed to bubble beneath the surface for so long.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lisbon
  • 1-Day, 2-Day & 3-Day Lisbon Itineraries

The Hofburg Palace in Vienna at night

If you like Paris, you'll love Vienna. Though the cities are decidedly different, their elegance, history, glamor, and charm are remarkably simpatico. They both live with remnants of an opulent past, decadent architecture, bejeweled fabrics, and imperial lavishness. Today Vienna is known for its art, coffeehouses, dining, and design.

For centuries, Vienna was the seat of the Habsburg monarchy. Six hundred years of imperial richness was set at the heart of Hofburg Palace . Today the architecture of Vienna still tells the story of its opulent past. Remnants of the past centuries are still present today, from the Spanish Riding School to the Vienna Boys' Choir.

Still, Vienna is a city that has embraced the 21st century. Boutique hotels, fine dining, live music, outdoor festivals, and more all tell the story of a creative and energetic youthful generation that is setting the nation firmly in the present.

Vienna is the city to appreciate the Old Masters of art and walk in the footsteps of Beethoven and Mahler, all the while sampling cutting-edge gastronomy and dancing the night away until the sun comes up.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Vienna

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More Places to Visit around the World: If you are interested in some of the other top experiences in destinations around the world review our articles on the top World Heritage Sites and the best tropical vacations around the globe. If you are planning a special getaway, you will want to read about the most romantic places in the world or the best places to get married and have an unforgettable honeymoon.

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London still reigns over all global cities. Despite crippling COVID lockdowns and economic devastation. Despite Brexit. Despite a war in Europe. The city is more indomitable and part of the global discourse than ever. From the Queen’s death, to last autumn’s chaotic drama at 10 Downing Street that finally calmed down with Rishi Sunak becoming prime minister, only to take heavy local election losses this spring, London is rarely quiet these days.

No wonder that, through all this tumult, the eyes of the world were fixed here more than on any other city—save for maybe Kyiv—reminding everyone that London is spectacular and it’s been a really long while since they visited. Not that the city’s promotion engine was waning. London tops both our overall Livability and Lovability indices, leading all global cities in the Instagram Hashtags, Facebook Check-ins and Tripadvisor Reviews subcategories that in part comprise the latter.

Indeed the city is almost back to pre-pandemic capacity, if the Tube is any indication. The London Underground Night Tube reopened more than a year ago, with the city’s other lines mostly up and running as they were before COVID. There are even new metro stops as part of the transformational Elizabeth line buildout, with trains now running directly from Reading and Heathrow to Abbey Wood and from Shenfield to Paddington. The brand-new Bond Street Elizabeth line station, at the heart of London’s West End, also opened late last year. Returning transit aficionados won’t believe the direct journeys now possible across the city. 

Just as well, given the need to accommodate all the tourists: London ranked third on the planet (and first in Europe) for cities with the biggest international traveler spend in 2022, with $16.07 billion, almost tied for second with Doha. (Dubai was the runaway winner.) Pedestrians are also excited by the 2025 opening of the Camden Highline, the nearly mile-long greenway just north of Central London that will transform an unused train track into an elevated path similar to the famous urban landmark in New York. 

And speaking of attracting people, the hand-wringing about the flight of talent and capital due to the pall of Brexit (and the follow-up specter of an airborne pandemic), while warranted, now seems excessive. 

London’s resilience has been buoyed by a sinking currency that has attracted investment and, of course, previously priced-out tourists. And new residents. New wealthy residents who can now afford to check off a big item on the multi-millionaire bucket list: property in the planet’s most coveted city. (London also topped Resonance Consultancy’s Europe’s Best Cities earlier this year.)

According to the Financial Times and estate agency Savills, 2022 sales of luxury homes in the city were torrid, with 605 properties selling for £5 million ($6.3 million) or more in 2022, the most since at least 2006. The party did slow in 2023, with inflation, persistent high interest rates and flat equity market performance all cited as causes (to say nothing of the potential of the Labour Party forming the next government). “The number of properties sold in prime central London in the first quarter of 2023 was 29% lower than the same period last year, according to LonRes, which tracks the city’s high-end market,” reported the FT. “At the same time, buyer demand has fallen in nearly every part of prime London since last summer, says the data company PropCast.”

The highest-profile new residents span the globally super-rich, from Middle Eastern buying activity hitting a four-year high in the second half of 2022 to the arrival of tech royalty, although aggressive tech-sector cost-cutting has brought the deep tech investment seen earlier this decade to a halt. 

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, who arrived seeking the most educated citizenry on the planet—available at a relative discount to Silicon Valley or New York—returned to the U.S. earlier this year. While the city remains Meta’s largest global engineering base outside of the U.S., its two offices in London’s King’s Cross neighborhood, opened in early 2022 after a three-year build (and designed by Bennetts Associates with interiors by TP Bennett based on a concept design by Gehry Partners), are pretty sparse these days. While Google is still planning to open its 11-story, 969,000-square-foot London HQ in 2024 between King’s Cross station and the King’s Boulevard, the 4,000 anticipated employees won’t be brought on for a while.

The office slowdown across the city has spotlighted the office vacancy crisis at Canary Wharf, London’s 128-acre banking district, with its 17% (and rising) vacancy rate, which is the highest in the city. As a result, owners Canary Wharf Group are planning to invest their way out by building a “Canary Wharf 3.0” in the area, focused on residential, entertainment and a 750,000-square-foot life-sciences center, which it says will be the largest commercial lab in Europe.

Despite these recent economic clouds, London is still hot globally. According to fDi Markets, the Financial Times’ foreign investment tracker, London has pulled in the most foreign direct investments into tech from international companies since 2018, ahead of New York, Singapore and Dubai.

Of course none of this happens without the sustained facilitation of London & Partners, London’s official publicity arm and the economic development organization that works to offer financial perks for all that relocation. Recent tax incentives have included the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 countries and a cornucopia of research and development tax credits. “Grow London, delivered by London & Partners, continues to support high growth companies from around the world to choose London for their international expansion, connect into our communities and meet their peers,” says Janet Coyle, managing director of business growth at London & Partners. “From Andreessen Horowitz picking London for its first office outside the U.S. to the Atlanta-based carbon credit fintech platform Cloverly expanding to London to support Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ambitious climate goals to become a zero-carbon, zero-pollution city by 2030 and a zero-waste city by 2050, London is one of the best places to scale a business.”

All those newcomers will need to fuel up, and this is the right place, especially these days, when the culinary industry is being reborn after dozens of the city’s most iconic restaurants shuttered over the pandemic. The city with a Top 5 restaurant scene globally is buzzing again with big-name openings like Dubai-based izakaya-style restaurant Kinoya in Harrods. Hundreds of other rooms are soon to join this increasingly daring culinary destination serving—and welcoming—the world once more.

Fortunately for them, dozens of newly opened and equally daring hotels await, none more exciting than the urban reimagining of the Art’otel, with its 164 art-inspired rooms on the top levels of the recently reopened Battersea Power Station, a mid-1900s husk that today is stuffed with shops, restaurants, cinemas and a theater. Or the OWO Raffles in the Old War Office Building in Whitehall—it’s the first time the neo-Baroque building, used by the Ministry of Defence until the 1960s, will open to the public.

A lot of city leaders talk about learning from the pandemic, but La Ville-Lumière is actually walking the walk, going all-in on those hard lessons and their applications to molecular urban change. While the face of Paris’s pandemic evolution is Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her aggressive empowerment of self-propelled mobility—from a city-wide speed limit of 18 miles per hour introduced in 2021 to the promise of 435 miles of bike paths across most arrondissements by 2026—it’s the citizenry’s embrace of this boldness that is changing the city’s fabric for good.

While the city is future-proofing itself with visionary sustainability and investment attraction (much more on that in a bit), it’s battling monumental social and economic challenges, perhaps unlike any other capital city. Paris has been wracked by unemployment and economic calamity since 2020 and ranks #158 in our Poverty Rate subcategory, which tracks residents living under the national poverty line. Despite its #2 overall global ranking for 2024, the city ranks #14 in our top-line Prosperity index and the systemic inequality is a powder keg in and around the city. This summer, the city (and country) exploded after the fatal, point-blank shooting of French teenager Nahel Merzouk by Florian Menesplier, a police officer, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Given the 17-year-old’s Algerian and Moroccan descent, racism was alleged in the killing.

After a week of protests across the country, which caused an estimated billion dollars in damage, city life has gotten back to normal as investigations into systemic racism in the regional police force and the murder trial proceed. 

Even with the unrest, this summer looks to be one of the most lucrative ever by tourism spend. Of course, being able to enjoy a city ranked best in the world in our Sights & Landmarks subcategory, as well as #3 in Museums (the city has well over 100), has a tendency to distract one from the perils of the modern world. 

Almost three years without Paris is certainly driving the voraciousness, but so is the euro being near par with the U.S. dollar of late. The city remains the most visited on the planet, with 44 million visitors last year, yet still 13% below 2019 levels.

Paris was also recently crowned the world’s most powerful urban tourist destination for 2022 by the World Travel & Tourism Council, with the city’s hospitality industry worth $35.6 billion last year. And it’s projected to grow to $49 billion by 2032.

Good thing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport used the past three years of lower volume to invest €250 million into a renovation of Terminal 1. Reopened this year, it now has a colossal junction building and a central lobby full of the latest tech to improve the traveler experience.

Rail access and infrastructure are also unprecedented. A seven-hour direct Berlin-to-Paris TGV line launches next year, with more ambitious directs like the Venice-to-Paris Midnight Trains coming in 2025.

No matter how they arrive, what Paris visitors new and returning will find is a city that has codified pedestrianism and alfresco living.

To ensure that cars didn’t take back control of Paris streets as pandemic urban pilot projects waned—as was the case in many other cities—Mayor Hidalgo legislated that the 60,000 parking spots loaned to restaurants for outdoor seating simply remained as outdoor seating. The same went for closing off lesser-driven streets entirely for public walking and seating for local businesses in need of additional outdoor space.

And nowhere is the transformation more dramatic than along the Seine, in the heart of Paris’s tourist district, near Notre-Dame Cathedral and city hall itself. With the reduced car traffic, this is now Paris’s town square (in a city with dozens of historic spots worthy of the honor). The riverside promenade hosts thousands night after night, even after Paris’s Right Bank summer event wrapped up. The Paris Plages urban beach initiative welcomes picnicking and other low-cost access to a city long criticized as pricey and exclusive.

Speaking of Notre-Dame, its reopening in 2024 after its devastating fire aligns with what will be a vital year for Paris, and for France, when the city also hosts the Olympic Summer Games, with many events integrated right into the revered urban fabric. 

And nothing would go further to demonstrate the city’s efficacy in achieving a cleaner, healthier Paris than being able to host swimming events for athletes and the general public post-Games. After wild Atlantic salmon first returned to the Seine 14 years ago, the river is today home to more than 30 species of fish, like trout, perch and eel. Considering Paris’s plan to hold the 2024 opening ceremonies not in a stadium but on floating outdoor stages, nursing this sacred river back to health would be incredibly poetic, even in a town that invented poetic gestures. Those Paris heatwaves certainly became more tolerable this past summer, when public swimming was allowed on select days for the first time in a century. The plan is for regular swimming spots by 2025 at the Bras Marie, Bras Grenelle and Simone de Beauvoir footbridge in Bercy.

The Champs-Élysées is next on the city leadership’s list, set to be transformed for the Games into a massive garden, with vehicle access cut in half and millions of euros invested in pedestrian-focused amenities.

The flood of new and renovated hotels in the city is also doubling down on coveted, elevated perches from which to meditate on the iconic views. The new Kimpton St Honoré and Hôtel Rochechouart are both topped by outdoor terraces, while the just-opened and Philippe Starck-designed Too Hôtel that soars above the city higher than any other is crowned with a giant, 3,750-square-foot glass cube with a bar and restaurant that serves up a view worthy of this enchanting cité .

Local economic development teams are also back at full speed, especially with the obvious inequality that sends citizens out into the streets every few months. Initiatives range from subsidized rents for shops in underserved ’hoods (the city has purchased 650 abandoned spaces for this very purpose) to national talent attraction with direct local benefit.

In 2021, President Macron committed €30 billion to the France 2030 plan: an effort to create “high-tech champions of the future” that is expected to yield 100 French tech unicorns by the end of the decade. There are 26 today, with 20 of these in Paris and quickly establishing the city as a start-up hotbed, with the State of European Tech noting that France has seen the strongest growth in tech-focused job searches of any European country. And where do you think all that talent will pick as their new home base?

3. New York

NYC between 2020 and 2022 was a ghastly reminder of the vulnerability of even the colossal and seemingly all-powerful; we saw here what awaited other cities across the U.S. and globally, first in its hospitals, then in its all-hands-on-deck recovery efforts. 

Today, NYC is also the urban recovery writ large. Sniping haters who declared that the big, vibrant, cheek-by-jowl city experiment was finally over as the urban exodus intensified in 2020 and vacancy in the city’s coveted real estate hit double digits were quickly silenced by the rebound. The mid-pandemic 50% drop in real estate sales shot up to the highest-ever median rents in Manhattan two years later (currently registering at a new all-time high of the mid-$5,000s per month).

Tourism, the accelerant for so many of the city’s amenities, was a priority for a sustainable recovery, and city leaders are doing everything in their power to bring back not only those apprehensive New Yorkers whose hunger for regular bites of the Big Apple is finally being sated, but also the nearly 70 million people who visited in 2019 and spent $46 billion across its expansive quilt of Sights & Landmarks (ranked #13 globally). 

The city has no other choice: office occupancy remains about 50% of pre-pandemic levels, according to local numbers. For example, Bloomberg examined data from eight major Manhattan office buildings and discovered that “foot traffic is down about 52% on Fridays and 45% on Mondays compared with pre-COVID.” The domino effect is perilous: an estimated 40% drop in office market value as office towers sit partially empty could cost $5 billion in lost tax revenue (an astonishing 5% of the city’s annual budget). Subway ridership is equally concerning, resulting in service cuts.

Fortunately, tourism numbers have had a breathtaking return, from 33 million visitors in 2021 (less than half of 2019’s total) to 56 million last year—and onward to a projected 61 million in 2023. First order of business: getting those not already here to town. The suspension of travel for more than a year expedited the long-planned transformations of New York’s international gateways. LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport all have new terminals, with the new Terminal B at LaGuardia alone boasting 35 gates (to say nothing of the FAO Schwarz on site). The new Terminal C also came online last year. Newark Liberty International’s updated Terminal A has opened with 33 new gates and construction has started on a new, congestion-easing 2.5-mile elevated guideway train system. JFK just unveiled 130,000 square feet of new and renovated space, and the New Terminal One opens later this decade. Back on the ground, Moynihan Train Hall is a new 17-track expansion of Penn Station that, if you squint, could pass for a Northern European transit hub from the future.

With so many expected arrivals, NYC is certainly making sure everyone has a place to stay. Almost 10,000 new or renovated hotel rooms opened in 2022 alone, including the headline-grabbing Aman New York, an “urban sanctuary” on Fifth Avenue. Also open is the year-old Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad—named for its ’hood—which features Jose Andres’ Nubeluz lounge on the 50th floor and plenty of massive windows from which to watch the street action. Better yet, soak in the 360-degree city panorama on the rooftop patio. The buildout stretches across the city, with a newly opened Thompson in Midtown, and new Renaissance Hotels properties in Harlem and Flushing. Moxy Hotels is also opening multiple locations in the Lower East Side and Williamsburg.

At street level, the city’s firehose turns cultural, with massive museums (ranking #6 globally) going all-in on expansions and new openings. The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, is undergoing a physical and programmatic expansion for a new cultural center that includes an interactive exhibit, archival collections, a 68-seat jazz club and a store. It should be open by the time you read this. The Bronx Children’s Museum also just reopened after moving to a new home in Mill Pond Park. Dia Chelsea is a new contemporary installation space, and the Frick Madison (the temporary home of the Frick Collection) has opened in the Breuer on Madison Avenue—a building formerly used by the Met. Speaking of the Met, New York’s 153-year-old cultural institution (housing 1.5 million objects and hosting seven million visitors in a non-pandemic year) announced a $500-million reno of its modern and contemporary wing. Not as storied but equally New York is the new Museum of Broadway, the first permanent museum dedicated to the famed heartland of the stage, which opened in Times Square with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of major theater productions. Also: Broadway shows are back!

Two more very NYC reasons to experience the city now: 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop music, founded in the Bronx on August 11, 1973, when Clive Campbell—better known as DJ Kool Herc—spun records at his sister’s birthday party. Dozens of local celebrations, exhibits and workshops will extend into 2024. It’s also the 100-year anniversary of the underrated Museum of the City of New York, which celebrates and documents 750,000 objects, including photographs, prints, costumes, paintings and more, to allow NYC-philes to obsess over this place like nowhere else.

For those who prefer their immersion outdoors, classics like the High Line and Central Park are joined by the city’s newest green space, Little Island—2.4 acres floating on the Hudson near the Meatpacking District on the site of an old pier. Like most things here, you have to see it to believe it.

When it’s your turn to return to America’s best city, do yourself a favor and make time to see the phoenix rise from above: there are the classics, like the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, but there are also spectacular new perches, like SUMMIT One Vanderbilt and its all-glass exterior elevators, called Ascent. Go up, look down and breathe out. This city is back.

Despite earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons, Tokyo has long held on to its top spot as one of the most livable metropolises on the planet (quantified by its Top 3 global ranking this year). Young kids playing and walking to school unattended—a pre-pandemic mind-bender for visitors to the world’s largest city—is a common sight once more after three-plus years of lockdowns and intermittent school closures.

The disastrous 2021 Summer Olympics may be mercifully in the rear view, although the tens of billions spent on infrastructure to welcome the world that stayed away will saddle the region for years. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the city’s 2,000 hotels, inns and guest houses that opened during the pandemic (to say nothing of the dozens of shopping complexes and other tourist developments) are as ready for returning visitors as any destination on earth. 

The Japanese government remains steadfast, keeping its target of 60 million visitors and $136 billion in tourism revenue by 2030. It’s not as delusional as it sounds: the country enjoyed record tourism for seven straight years and can now accommodate even more, with the expansion of the international terminal at Haneda, the city’s main airport (ranked #38 globally), and a planned 18-minute rail link from arrivals to downtown by 2031. Tokyo holds on to its #1 spot for Shopping, helped by retail icons like Ginza’s luxury department stores, newly enhanced with the art-bedecked and sharply designed Ginza Six shopping center. The newly renovated Miyashita Park boasts 90 boutique shops and restaurants, plus a new hotel with a view of the famed Shibuya district, complete with volleyball courts and a skatepark sprawling over 2.5 acres. Just opened is the retail-centric office development of Toranomon Hills and the larger Azabudai Hills, which will accommodate more than 20,000 workers in what is envisioned as a vertical city within a city.

5. Singapore

Emerging from its origins as a free-spirited trading port, Singapore has undergone a remarkable transformation to emerge as one of Asia’s most modern, well-organized and captivating urban centers. 

Tourists in Singapore can immerse themselves in two favored local pastimes: shopping, which ranks #11 globally, and, of course, eating. The retail choices are staggering, from haute couture to electronics, from the countless shops adorning Orchard Road to the 24-hour, six-story Mustafa Centre. The culinary landscape lives up to its #14 Restaurants ranking, buoyed by the popularity of the beloved spicy white pepper crab and the sweet, refreshing Singapore Sling. 

Capturing a photograph from the colossal rooftop infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands (poised to expand further with an additional 1,000-room hotel tower and a live entertainment arena) has become a symbolic ritual. On the opposite shoreline, Merlion Park, with its metallic, surfboard-like head, offers an even more iconic perspective. 

In the coming years, Singapore will focus on boosting prosperity (currently sitting pretty at #2), creating more green areas and building vibrant developments for work, education and play. The existing Changi Aviation Park will be expanded with the development of Changi East Industrial Zone, and a mega port in Tuas is set to be the world’s largest fully automated terminal when completed. Closer to the city, a new waterfront district is being explored just south of the airport, called the Great Southern Waterfront, which is slated to build 9,000 housing units along Singapore’s southern coast. Locals are also buzzing about the forthcoming NS Square, a future outdoor multipurpose venue in the Downtown Core area of Marina Bay that will replace the popular Marina Bay floating platform.


To a large part of the world’s population, Dubai is “The Vegas of Arabia,” a place that takes pride in turning every notion previously held about the Middle East on its head. Famed for outlandish developments like Palm Jumeirah, home to Atlantis, the Palm and the made-famous-by-Tom-Cruise Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world—the city has, over the years, made breaking world records a national pastime: tallest, longest, fastest, largest. Think of it, and the city’s probably done it. 

No wonder it ranks #8 in our Attractions subcategory, crammed with never-ending malls, aquariums, indoor ski parks, dancing fountains, fantasy theme parks and Disneyfied water playgrounds that pay homage to Hollywood, Bollywood, Marvel and Lego—as well as innumerable family-friendly resorts.

Catering to all these visitors is no small feat, which is why Dubai will soon have more hotel rooms than larger cities like London or New York, according to Zoom Property Insights. Leading the charge is Burj Al Arab, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, renowned for its (self-presented) “seven-star status.” And now, with the number of rooms in the city soaring beyond 150,000 and many more new hotels and resorts in the pipeline, Dubai’s hotel and hospitality sector is poised for greatness. This will, in turn, create more and more jobs, and boost the city’s already high overall Prosperity ranking of #4. 

The focus now is on the city’s 2040 Urban Masterplan—as set out by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai—which calls for developing a “20-minute city”—allowing residents access to 80% of their daily needs and destinations within 20 minutes by foot or bike, making the global city feel more like a home town.

7. San Francisco

Despite San Francisco’s meticulously documented challenges, job opportunities and infrastructure buildout pave the way as the world continues to rush in like it always has. Its #5 ranking in our overall Prosperity index is driven by high salaries that draw global workers who rank the sixth most educated on the planet. No wonder San Francisco ranks #33 for Global 500 Companies. In fact, the Bay Area remains the number one place for start-up innovation, powered by venture capital kept interested in the city’s famed “ecosystem”—for talent, for research and for universities.

In Henley & Partners and New World Wealth’s “World’s Wealthiest Cities Report 2023,” San Francisco ranked third, tied with London and after New York and Tokyo, with 285,000 residing here in 2022.

Still, the city is in a crisis not seen in decades. Population decline was the worst among large U.S. counties between July 2020 and July 2022 (although it’s slowed recently). Equally terrifying, the city’s office vacancy fluctuates at around 30%. Even the proudest locals wring their hands as companies leave for Austin and Florida. And then tweet about how you should, too.

Undeterred, local leaders are rolling out the most daring bike and pedestrian infrastructure in America and the protected bike network now boasts 464 miles of bikeways, including 50 miles of new car-free/car-light streets in the past year alone. The aggressive pursuit of outdoor public spaces—from downtown’s new Salesforce Park, 70 feet above street level atop the roof of the Salesforce Transit Center, to the half-dozen parks, tunnels and spaces opened last year in the Presidio alone (including Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre park built over the Presidio Parkway highway tunnels)—was a clinic in city-building opportunism that will pay dividends for decades.

8. Barcelona

Barcelona threads the needle as one of the world’s rare cities that ranks Top 10 in both our overall Livability (#10) and Lovability (#7) indices. It has near-perfect weather year-round, more than three miles of golden sandy beaches within city limits, iconic parks, striking architecture and diverse, era-spanning neighborhoods that are destinations at all hours, many fueled by the city’s Top 3 nightlife ranking.

Can you blame the 12 million annual tourists who flocked here pre-pandemic, more than doubling the city’s population? Barcelona responded with some of the strictest vacation rental rules anywhere, aimed at controlling the effects of runaway tourism—like real estate investors who snatch up apartments only to rent them on Airbnb, depleting an already limited supply. The city also elected Mayor Ada Colau, the first woman to hold the role, on a Barcelona-for-citizens platform. Ultimately the pandemic took care of “the tourist problem,” with devastating results. But even as the tide of tourists once again washes over the city, what they find is a more citizen-focused place, increasingly self-propelled and non-vehicular, with more than 150 miles of new bike lanes and daring initiatives like Eixos Verds (Green Axis), a network of quieter roads that share space equally between cars, bikes and pedestrians, and are dotted with benches and community squares. The inspiration germinated from a local pilot project that, unsurprisingly, improved citizen mental health.

The city is also no longer content with digital nomads, and is aggressively securing massive foreign investment, ranging from Lufthansa Group, the largest airline group in Europe, which is opening its first southern European digital hub here any day now, to U.S. real estate developer Panattoni, which will invest $300 million to build the largest data center in the region.

9. Amsterdam

Mayor Halsema’s administration is showing a practical stewardship of a place (and citizens) once abandoned to the tourist euro that’s co-authoring a future of accountability by everyone who calls the magnetic Dutch capital home. Take last year’s approach to a refugee accommodation crisis that led to hundreds of unhoused migrants, many fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sleeping outside the city’s overflowing resource centers: accommodate more than 1,000 on a moored cruise ship for six months, buying vital time to find other arrangements. 

Not surprisingly, this care for others and willingness for locals to do the work is represented by the city’s Top 5 ranking in our overall Livability index. The sometimes out-of-control nightlife (ranked #10 globally) that the city was known and often marketed for—despite the attendant human trafficking—was another opportunity to right long-time local complaints, with local leaders going so far as to move the red-light district out of the famed De Wallen neighborhood to a suburban Erotic Center while banning non-residents from cannabis cafés and ditching tours that glorify the city’s baser side. Things escalated this spring, when smoking pot in public was banned outright and the city launched a “stay away” campaign targeting party tourism. Restaurants and bars will be asked to close by 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and the city will not allow new visitors into the old city district after 1 a.m.

Stepping in for vice are tours and programs focusing on the city’s enviable livability and Dutch history. And getting tourists (who numbered 22 million in 2019) away from the city center and out to the #8-ranked shopping and #11-ranked museums that pepper the city. 

Oh, and this past summer, city council also banned cruise ships from the city center as part of its clean-air efforts.

In the land of kimchi, K-pop, K-dramas and K-beauty, Seoul is at the forefront of modern culture with many distinctions—home to BTS, the biggest-selling band in the world; the place that spawned Parasite, the genre-bending best-picture Oscar-winner; the city anchored by Gwangjang Market, featured on Netflix, frequented by Gordon Ramsay and a favorite of U.S. politicos.

In an astonishingly short span, South Korea’s capital has 180ed from war-ravaged city to high-tech hub. Its e-governance system and Fourth Industrial Revolution are thriving, creating a digitally interconnected city on 5G and 6G networks. The city’s ascent is boosted by our eighth-lowest Poverty Rate ranking, sixth-most Global 500 firms located in town, and a growing start-up ecosystem waiting its turn to disrupt the incumbents. All that innovation is sated by the 176 Michelin-rated venues that have earned Seoul a #3 ranking in our Restaurants subcategory. Start at Mukja Golmok, literally “Let’s Eat Alley”; move on to the vegetable-centric temple cuisine at Dooreyoo, Michelin-starred chef Tony Yoo’s oasis; then head to Gwangjang Market, where you can eat everything from a soup of rice cakes and kimchi-tofu dumplings to squirmy live octopus (really).

Seoul’s popularity as a travel destination is ascendant post-pandemic, too. In 2022, it ranked as the fourth-most searched destination on Airbnb globally, and in 2023, the government is investing millions in international conferences by expediting three MICE clusters within the city. As the Korean wave continues to crest and break in distant lands, this charismatic city is creating a new paradigm for culture and commerce, which in turn has thousands flocking to its shores.


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Few cities serve up the ability to walk Western history like Roma. Heck, Palatine Hill alone invites you into two millennia’s worth if you’ve got an hour. And that’s just the stuff you can see. In recent months, construction projects have unearthed everything from a rare fourth-century golden glass depiction of Roma—the goddess personifying the city—to a life-sized marble statue of a Roman emperor dressed as Hercules. “The millennial history of our city never ceases to amaze and enchant the world,” tweeted Roberto Gualtieri, mayor of Rome, after a recent find. Mix in underrated parks and greenways (Rome ranks #28 in our Outdoors subcategory) and its thousands of portals back in time (Sights & Landmarks rank #4 globally) and it’s easy to see how Rome remains an urban treasure, drawing record post-pandemic tourists despite historic heat waves that exceeded 107 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Declarations of love for the city have multiplied with social media channels, of course, and Rome trails only London in our global Tripadvisor Reviews subcategory. The city is reopening fast, with new restaurants like Pulejo, Don Pasquale and Romanè, and properties like the country’s first Six Senses resort.

Pandemic lockdowns derailed tourism in Prague, and over the past year the city made long-lasting decisions to ensure that its #4-ranked Museums (ahead of places like Rome and Berlin) and #3-ranked Attractions (trailing only London and Tokyo) remain accessible to the citizens who supported local when tourism didn’t. Places like the Čapadlo embankment on the Vltava River have become open-air stages and galleries reminiscent of Paris. Náplavka, with its former ice-storage spaces ensconced in the river’s retaining walls, was reborn as a vibrant urban market and series of pop-up bars. Prague’s compact, fairy-tale walkability enchants in centuries-old cobbled streets and the (publicly accessible) hilltop Prague Castle, which has emerged from lockdown alongside Salm Palace—home to National Gallery exhibition spaces—fully renovated. The Baroque Clam-Gallas Palace in Old Town is also newly reopened and eager to be admired. The city’s four universities, relative affordability and #4 Nightlife ranking have inspired young talent and billions in foreign investment to pour in—from real estate developers to long-established firms like Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle doubling down on a good thing.

Madrid’s sustainability-driven investment in its bounteous (but long-dormant) infrastructure and public assets is a wonder to watch unfold in real time. It starts, not surprisingly, with reuse and the conviction that everything old can be new again. Take the new Santander Park, an instant citizen and visitor destination that used to be a golf course. A 47-mile urban forest network with nearly half a million new trees will connect the city’s existing forest masses and reuse derelict sites between roads and buildings. Upon completion, this “green wall” is projected to help absorb 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually and mitigate the city’s worsening urban heat. The investment in the city’s outdoor realm will improve Madrid’s #65 ranking in our Outdoors subcategory, especially combined with how safe the city has become, along with its tied top spot for Walk Score globally. Madrid’s electric bus network trails only Berlin in Europe and new charging stations and bike lanes are everywhere. But the biggest news is this year’s full approval of Madrid Nuevo Norte, the largest current urban regeneration project in Europe, in the city’s underused northern rail district: more than 550 acres dedicated to the Madrid of the future.

Berlin is a city where remnants of a fragile history mingle with a present in which being whatever you want simply comes with residency. Today, waves of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion are joining North Africans, Afghanis and dozens of other groups seeking a new life. It’s a big reason why the city ranks #23 in our Start-ups subcategory, and #29 in Labor Force Participation. Its #50 ranking for Educational Attainment among residents will only climb with ambitious new citizens. The city is as culturally devoted as it is welcoming. This is the home of Museum Island, after all, and the city’s Top 5 ranking globally in our Museums subcategory will also ascend with recent and upcoming openings. Two major museums have moved into the new Humboldt Forum in the heart of the city: the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art. A dozen more will open, dedicated to everything from samurai to video games. Another exciting 2023 development is the ongoing cultural and creative evolution of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport, Europe’s largest historic monument, with the curve of the building stretching 3/4 of a mile. In 2026, the anticipated Museum of the 20th Century will launch as one of Europe’s finest.

15. Los Angeles

Centennial milestones were all the rage in 2023 Los Angeles, and the chance to experience the celebrations will stretch into 2024 and improve the city’s impressive #11 Attractions ranking globally. The biggie: the Hollywood Sign. In a recent study commissioned by Los Angeles Tourism, nearly 80% of respondents affirmed it as L.A.’s most iconic landmark. Also celebrating a century are Warner Bros. Studios and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, as hallowed an American ground as you’ll find and home to both the first Super Bowl in 1967 and multiple Olympic Games (including the upcoming 2028 Summer Games, when L.A. will become the first place in the U.S. to host the event three times). The world is curious (indicated by the #4 ranking for global Google searches, which powers a #13 finish in our overall Lovability index). The next two years are equally frenzied for the city’s arts and culture scene. Both the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum’s NHM Commons open in 2024, followed by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by philanthropist and filmmaker George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments.

16. Chicago

Three years of pandemic decimation and spiking inflation only meant the Windy City was spring-loaded for a breakout 2023, powered by a fully operational O’Hare International, ranked #7 globally. Meetings and conventions are also back, pouring into McCormick Place and its stunning Lake Michigan perch, ranked #38 in our Convention Center subcategory. The city’s quiet productivity is humming again, leaner and more efficient than ever, with the 19th-most Global 500 headquarters on the planet. Even amid the post-pandemic headlines of emptying city cores, Chicago was named the top U.S. metro area for corporate investment for an astonishing 10th consecutive year by Site Selection, a magazine that tracks urban real estate and corporate development. The reason? “The metro area continues to attract companies and the talent those companies covet.” The local food scene (#31) is also ascendant, powered by daring new openings and recently immortalized by FX series The Bear. In 2024, all eyes will be on South Chicago’s Jackson Park. Its $500-million Obama Presidential Center opens the following year as a museum and public gathering space looking to welcome 700,000 annual visitors and generate a long-term economic impact of $3 billion.

17. Washington

The ubiquity of D.C. in dramas on screens small and large, combined with the shocking events of recent years, means we’re all thinking about Washington. Want proof? It once again topped not only all U.S. cities for searches on Google in the past year, but globally as well. Given its omnipresence, there are few cities so poised to build on their exposure. “There is currently $9.6 billion in development underway and the city has added new hotels, museums, rooftops, Michelin-rated dining and more for travelers to explore,” says Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. Those 2023 openings include the launch of the 274-room Royal Sonesta Capitol Hill, joining new properties like the AC Hotel Washington DC Capitol Hill Navy Yard and the Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf. And speaking of The Wharf, phase two of the massive Southwest Waterfront development just opened, creating yet another destination neighborhood in a city packed with them. New and reopening museums include the 32,000-square-foot Rubell Museum DC in a historically Black public school, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s only major art museum solely dedicated to championing female artists.

18. Beijing

Enigmatic hutongs whisper tales of emperors and concubines; next to them, towering skyscrapers reflect Beijing’s rapid global ascent. The city’s 3,000-year-old history comes alive across seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, punctuated by the modern Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium and the Guardian Art Center—the world’s first custom-built auction house. No longer does “Peking” observe world affairs from the sidelines; today’s Beijing is keen to solidify China’s position as the world’s second-largest economy. President Xi Jinping speaks of Beijing’s commitment to peace and democracy—a stark contrast to allegations of using the Beijing 2022 Olympics to “sportwash” perceptions of human rights. This may be the reason the city scores high on our Livability and Prosperity indices (#11 and #16, respectively) but has a long way to go on Lovability (#78)—something the government is aware of, and is seemingly taking steps to address. With the Global Security and Global Development initiatives externalizing internal policies—as seen at Beijing Daxing Airport’s new innovation center, which facilitates entry of foreign enterprises into the Chinese market—Beijing aims to create an environment that supports sovereignty, security and development, meaning the “Forbidden City” would be forbidden no more.

19. Istanbul

The ancient collision between Europe and Asia radiates in Türkiye’s kinetic capital. It’s why the city is among the most beguiling for its sense of place, inside and out. Its Top 10 Sights & Landmarks ranking, as well as its #18 spot in our Outdoors subcategory, will both improve after extensive renovations for the Turkish Republic’s centennial in October 2023. The devastating February 2023 earthquakes that killed tens of thousands in the country’s southeast and in Syria (and that flooded the capital with survivors) have sounded the alarms about Istanbul’s own preparation for an inevitable destructive quake. The tragedy has cast a pall around new openings like Galataport, Istanbul’s reinvigorated historic harbor. Extending a mile along the Bosporus Strait near the city’s long-coveted Karaköy district, the $1.7-billion project boasts the world’s first-ever underground cruise terminal. More recently, the luxury Peninsula Istanbul opened in February, capping a blazing year for hotel openings that includes the seafront luxury resort JW Marriott Marmara Sea and a dozen others. The city’s #10-ranked museums also get a boost from the Galataport investment, with the Istanbul Modern, the city’s first contemporary art museum (designed by Renzo Piano), returning to its Karaköy roots.

Safe, gregarious and increasingly wealthy, the Celtic Tiger has never been fiercer, ranking #6 globally in our GDP per Capita subcategory and Top 25 for Global 500 firms that call the city home. The magnetism is obvious in places like the Docklands area, known as Silicon Docks, home to big tech and digital players including Google, Meta, Amazon, eBay, Apple and Airbnb. They come for some of the world’s lowest corporate taxes and stay for homegrown economic development initiatives like Ireland’s Local Enterprise Office, which supports international companies with mentoring, training and financial grants. Several internationally renowned universities (Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Dublin City University) help the city attract start-ups looking for a smaller, more affordable capital center. U.S. software firm Workday opened its new European headquarters last year, as did Kara Connect, an employee well-being platform from Iceland. It helps to be able to offer eager young employees something to do outside of work, which Dublin’s famous—though increasingly costly—pub-centric nightlife (ranked #16) does, along with an abundance of concerts, shows and events (Culture ranks #21). Of course, being among the safest capitals on the planet helps, too.

Is there another city today that resonates as the global benchmark for urban livability, sustainability and equity more than the Austrian capital? Yes, it ranks Top 3 in our Walk Score and Biking subcategories, but it also excels in housing: in an era of prohibitive global urban rents, 60% of the city’s population resides in subsidized apartments and 25% of homes are owned by the city. And it’s tackling the climate emergency: last year, city leaders announced carbon neutrality by 2040, besting the Paris Agreement by a decade. Food security commitments yield over 5,000 acres of fields, vineyards and gardens within city limits. That gives Vienna’s current #56 spot in our Restaurants subcategory room to ascend with authentic localism, especially thriving vegetarian spots like Tian, winner of a Michelin Green Star for sustainable gastronomy in 2022. Also helping this green journey are the new, fully automated X-Wagen trains connecting the city’s U-Bahn stations, with buildout happening throughout the decade. The best part? The trains are built almost exclusively at the Siemens factory in town. Equally exciting is the massive new Aspern Seestadt urban development that insists residents walk, bike and use public transit on local streets (that are—finally!—named after women).

The birthplace of Armani, Versace and dozens of other megawatt icons is no longer content with its crown as Europe’s fashion and design center. Or even as Italy’s financial heart. Milan is driven, as always, by its entrepreneurial hunger and is increasingly fueled by wealthy newcomers lured to the famed good life by government tax breaks (like capping income tax on money made abroad at €100,000 annually). The result is an influx of Brexit (and Russian) capital seeking a home, and the flurry of luxury real estate, hotels and social clubs that such capital inspires. The Ferragamo-owned Lungarno Collection unveiled the Portrait Milano in one of Europe’s oldest seminaries, complete with a massive piazza. U.S. networking broker Core Club is opening in a nearby palazzo, its first outside of San Francisco and New York City. This strategic proximity to other European capitals and alpine resorts pulling in the global elite also won the city the 2026 Olympic Winter Games and a rush of development. Residents and visitors keep fit via the city’s shared #1 spot globally for Walk Score ranking, and #4 spot in our Biking subcategory.

23. Toronto

All the buzz you’re hearing about North America’s second-largest financial center doesn’t even come close to doing justice to what’s going on in Toronto right now. The city is the welcoming front door to a country on the hunt for new skilled immigrants. Already, half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada, and the city will blow past 7 million by the time you read this, on its way to trailing only Mexico City and New York in North American populations by the 2070s. Today, its 238 cranes more than quadruple second-place Seattle’s count of 51. All that construction is optimizing and streamlining an emergent global destination city, from the reopening of its century-old Massey Hall to the massive new Renzo Piano-designed Ontario Court of Justice that combined six older buildings under one roof. Much-needed downtown green space has been added with Love Park, featuring a heart-shaped pond and built on the site of a former Gardiner Expressway off-ramp with access to the city’s lakefront. Coming up, the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is getting a $400-million facelift and will be Canada’s first carbon-neutral theater upon reopening in 2028.

A hub of higher education and home to the 14th-most educated workforce on the planet, Beantown produces a steady stream of new talent to help attract start-ups and established companies alike. Future talent gravitates to Harvard, of course—the top-ranked university in the world—as well as to Boston’s density of other world-class universities and colleges. The region bursts with lecture halls, labs and classrooms for the more than 75 institutions of higher learning, energized by the estimated 200,000 postsecondary students creating stories, ideas, solutions and technologies with global influence. No wonder the city ranks #8 globally for GDP per Capita. The buildout of America’s newest (oldest) urban destination, buoyed by billions in federal stimulus funds, is also afoot. Hotel inventory is projected to grow by 5,000 new rooms by 2030, fueled by the 1,055-room Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport on the South Boston Waterfront near the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and the first Raffles property in North America. The city’s cultural clout is also ascendant courtesy of the Fenway Sports Group and Live Nation’s new MGM Music Hall at Fenway, a 5,000-seat concert hall that extends the iconic ballpark.

25. Abu Dhabi

Sandstone walls tell tales of Arabian nights, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque sings a symphony of white marble and Islamic motifs, the enigmatic Louvre Abu Dhabi rises proudly on Saadiyat Island—all against the backdrop of opulent hotels, megamalls and ATMs that quite literally dispense bars of gold. From a pearl diving port that housed mangroves and gazelles to an oil-and-gas superpower to a global arts and culture destination, Abu Dhabi has, time and again, reinvented itself in ways big—and bigger. The emirate tops our overall Prosperity index, but its Livability ranking is on the other end of the spectrum (#236)—which means there’s a lot of work to do. As part of its growth roadmap for 2023, the emirate aims to invest upwards of $12 billion into culture and tourism, helping diversify the economy away from oil and drawing in more visitors. This puts Saadiyat Island in the limelight—as host to performances and exhibitions at Manarat Al Saadiyat and Berklee Abu Dhabi, and future home of the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, the new local Guggenheim, Zayed National Museum and teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi.

26. Budapest

Budapest has emerged as a European capital post-pandemic, coveted by digital nomads looking for urban vibrancy on a budget and without the rigid establishment of the old, old Europe. The city, which is split by the expansive bend of the Danube River, delivers in spades. On the west bank is medieval Buda, hilly and full of history, and on the east is Pest, modern and bohemian, with its recently revamped City Park. The two were first linked in 1849 by the iconic Széchenyi Chain Bridge and together they now offer an alluring whole that ranks #8 globally for Attractions and in the top 25 for Museums, which include the must-see Museum of Fine Arts along with a dozen other niche ones, from the Szamos Chocolate Museum, to an epic Pinball Museum. At night, Budapest’s Communist-era factories and parkades come alive as “ruin bars,” a distinctly Eastern European approach that keeps the city’s nightlife (ranked #16) reinventing itself. Budapest is also suddenly a luxury property hot spot, with the new Matild Palace—the city’s first Luxury Collection hotel—opening inside a UNESCO landmark last year, joining newcomer Párisi Udvar Hotel.

27. Sao Paulo

Lina Bo Bardi’s epoch-defining São Paulo Museum of Art and architect Rino Levi’s pyramidal FIESP Cultural Center are just two eye-catching icons of São Paulo—but Brazil’s largest city, home to more than 23 million “Paulistanos,” draws its cultural identity from global influences as diverse as Japan, Italy, Lebanon and France. This amalgamation creates a day-to-day that is among the most vibrant and multifaceted on earth. Over the years, São Paulo has extended its borders beyond its historical core and into middle-class neighborhoods, growth that’s been labeled as gentrification and is drawing attention to fault lines within Brazilian society, rooted in race, class, gender and sexuality. This is a city of the people, as evidenced by its #9 ranking in our overall Lovability index. While Livability is lower, at #27, Prosperity is a distant #161 globally. However, despite facing challenges, the Brazilian economy maintains its resilience. Notably, the first quarter witnessed robust real GDP growth, largely attributed to impressive crop yields. Inflation is on a rapid descent, which is poised to prompt interest rate reductions by Brazil’s central bank—meaning brighter days ahead for Sampa.

Seeing the continued success of tourism in neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman, and keen on moving the economy away from fossil fuels, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia started issuing tourist visas in April 2018 for the first time in eight years. The gateway is Saudi’s conservative capital, where anything qualifying as entertainment is discouraged and where a rigid focus is kept on business—mostly around extractive industries—resulting in the third-highest GDP per Capita ranking globally. Not surprisingly, Riyadh also has the lowest poverty rate on the planet. Still, events like Noor Riyadh, a new outdoor lights and art festival (along with Saudi’s recent purchase of cultural and sports icons and franchises), offer hope of some freedom of expression. The #76-ranked airport will rise with the 2025 launch of Riyadh Air and plans for $150 billion in transportation infrastructure by 2030, as well as (potentially) a new airport in the city. This summer, King Khalid International Airport became the MENA region’s first to obtain the Welcome Chinese Certification from the Xi regime. Still, Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative leanings present a threat to the country’s plans for international tourism, as does its reputation for murdering journalists and outspoken critics.

29. Stockholm

No other Scandinavian city serves up a sensory feast like Stockholm, blending rustic, traditional and New Nordic cuisine, geography (the city center was built on 14 islands), and salt and fresh-water outdoor swimming areas within a bounty of public green space, the cobblestones of Gamla Stan and its 1700s architecture and daring modern design. Throw in a multicultural population (powered by the ninth-most educated citizens of any city) and an epic summer season with near-constant daylight and you’ve got a coveted hometown. Stockholm built the world’s largest open-fiber network in the 1990s, followed a decade or so later by the launch of global hits like Skype, Spotify and Minecraft—earning the city the moniker of “The Unicorn Factory.” More billion-dollar start-ups have launched here than in any place outside of Silicon Valley. A wander through the recently gentrified Södermalm neighborhood, the birthplace of many tech giants, reveals why the city ranks second globally in our Labor Force Participation subcategory this year, with educated, calm citizens creatively solving the world’s problems and chasing the payoffs that come with doing so. It ranks Top 20 in our overall Prosperity index as a result.

Yes, there’s Oktoberfest every autumn, but Germany’s third-largest city works as hard as it plays, becoming one of Europe’s hottest destinations for new residents seeking this elusive balance. The pandemic only highlighted the productivity of understated Bavarian innovation, especially given all the “temporary” initiatives—from outdoor seating to a reimagined concrete factory—that have become permanent and made this merry city even more fun. But this is Germany after all and there’s productivity to think about. Munich boasts the eighth-best convention center on the planet—and its airport is ranked #18 (soon to improve after a $550-million reno wraps up by early 2024), ensuring regional and global access to all that Bavarian ingenuity. The Technical University of Munich, which brands itself “the Entrepreneurial University,” impressively ranks in the Top 25 globally. With all that citizen-focused infrastructure and entrepreneurship, Munich ranks #22 in our overall Livability index, and #40 for Prosperity, including #19 for Global 500 headquarters (made up primarily of automakers, media and manufacturing, but being quickly joined by biotech and IT giants). Next year, Apple plans to invest an additional billion dollars into its local operations in the city.

31. Melbourne

The weather may not always seem promising and there may not be an iconic bridge in sight, but what Melbourne lacks in weather and landmarks it more than makes up for with its food—and coffee—culture, art scene (look out for graffitied laneways like Hosier Lane) and quirky offerings like the Brighton Bathing Boxes and the tiny, adorable St. Kilda penguins. Melbourne is also quintessentially “wine country”—it’s home to 21 remarkable wine regions, including the prestigious Yarra Valley, the charming Mornington Peninsula and the rugged Grampians. The city is home to the Australian Open, which draws in hundreds of thousands of tennis enthusiasts to Melbourne Park and its arenas—in 2023, attendance reached a record-breaking 839,192 fans over a two-week stretch. Melbourne is held in high regard by visitors and proud locals (ranking #37 in our overall Lovability index) and is livable, too (#34)—and it is also taking steps to ascend the ranks on the prosperity of its citizens (although #53 globally is already quite commendable). That’s where Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 comes in—a response to the challenges of population growth, it drives economic prosperity and livability while protecting Melbourne’s environment and heritage.

You’re not imagining it: all of your friends are moving to Lisbon. But it’s only partially for the 2,799 annual hours of sunshine—the most of any European capital. There’s also the famed public transit, walkability and the 125+ miles of bike paths that opened last year (with more on the way) that will improve its #13 global ranking for Biking. To immerse yourself in Lisbon’s #16 ranking in our overall Livability index, scale any of the seven hills that provide perches to watch Atlantic sunsets, especially Castelo de São Jorge, up winding ancient alleys in one of Europe’s oldest neighborhoods—like, 1,500 years old. Such spots rank Lisbon #19 in our Outdoors subcategory. Newcomers continue to pour in, buoying the ascendant house prices with new remote work visas (the latest requires a monthly salary of $2,750) while ending overly generous foreign residencies. Temporary bans on Airbnb licenses are attempting to keep the city accessible for residents whose minimum wage is well under $1,000 per month. Still, new allures like the city’s most recent Michelin-starred, Japanese-influenced Kabuki and Kanazawa keep the newcomers flowing in.

Switzerland’s financial center (even after the failure of Credit Suisse) and largest metropolis is a magnet for foreigners who, along with multilingual Swiss nationals, enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living. The city ranks 21st globally in our overall Prosperity index, powered by industrious citizenry that ranks #8 for Labor Force Participation and #11 for Global 500 headquarters, with major European players like Migros and UBS AG based here. The city’s population is also the largest it’s been since the halcyon days of the early 1960s. Zürich is statistically lauded like few others these days, ranking third globally—and first in Europe—in Insead Business School’s latest Global City Talent Competitiveness Index. ETH Zürich (or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) ranks #17 in our University subcategory and acts as a vital and reliable pipeline for the city’s and nation’s envied economic development advantage. All that talent is getting on corporate site selector radars, as evidenced by Microsoft’s opening of a new technology center at the Zürich Airport to “deliver immersive industry experiences and deep technical engagement focused on business outcomes to customers,” according to the company.

34. Seattle

You won’t find Seattle among the panicky headlines chronicling the decline of U.S. west coast metropolises. Sure, the Emerald City is battling a burst housing bubble, a homelessness crisis and 20% commercial vacancy rates. But it’s also growing by 1% annually, fueled by talent seeking (literally) greener pastures and pulled by the influential titans of industry in town, from Amazon to Starbucks to Zillow. Heat waves in the American South will only accelerate immigration. Q1 2023 employment grew by 4%, powered by a Top 10 global GDP per Capita ranking and a talent pipeline stocked by the omnipresent UDub—the University of Washington—one of the world’s top public research universities (ranking #4 in our University subcategory). And that talent benefits from all manner of livability here, from start-up incubation to festivals to urban waterfront restoration. With its #26 ranking for Educational Attainment, is it any wonder Seattle is Top 25 globally for both Global 500 firms that call it home and for the number or start-ups? Its 51 construction cranes top the U.S., indicative of the big plans here and the expansion of everything from homegrown icons like Amazon and Microsoft to global brands like Korean luxury hospitality group Lotte Hotels.

Sydney unveils a dazzling narrative punctuated by the luminous Opera House, the iconic Harbour Bridge—colloquially known as the “coat hanger”—and sun-drenched beaches, from Bondi to Balmoral and beyond. Here, long, laidback summers melt into mild, mellow winters—the perfect backdrop to explore Sydney’s remarkable blend of vintage and modern, from the colonial-era sandstone buildings of The Rocks to new icons like the Sydney Tower. Today’s Sydney finds itself at a pivotal juncture that looks to infuse renewed vitality into the central business district. The City of Sydney has earmarked millions to breathe life into creative precincts and public events. Simultaneously, the New South Wales government introduced its “24-Hour Economy Strategy,” igniting the resurgence of inner-city vibrancy—nightlife, dining and culture. The city is beloved by Sydneysiders actual and wannabe—evident from its Lovability rank of #29—and it’s focusing on giving more people even more reasons to fall in love with it. The cityscape has blossomed with hundreds of permanent al fresco licenses, events like the acclaimed Laneway Festival are luring people back to the city’s core and grand-scale urban renewal ventures, such as the birth of Tech Central, all promise a radiant future for Sydney’s bustling heart.

Qatar’s epic makeover from obscurity to global hot spot is a story for the ages—what began as a fishing and pearl-diving settlement has transformed into a gleaming (and sometimes improbable) vision of the future. High-rises, hotels and malls have replaced desert terrain. Markets like Souq Waqif are now rewriting history, and museums of every genre (including the 18-year labor of love that is the National Museum of Qatar) call out to culture vultures. All of these reflect the bold “Qatar National Vision 2030,” which aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy. But this sheen is dulled by reminders of a harrowing human rights record, and investigations into labor conditions and restrictions on civil liberties. As a result, while Doha’s Prosperity ranking is in the Top 10 globally (#9), its Livability and Lovability rankings are nowhere close. Now, in a post-FIFA era, Doha is gearing up to host a six-month expo that will welcome almost three million visitors. No other city in the Middle East is hurtling toward its audacious goals at such breakneck speed… and Doha is only just getting started.

37. Brussels

Understated Brussels boasts breathtaking architecture (especially for Art Nouveau aficionados). Take the Grand Place—surely among the most beautiful squares in the world. The city has invested in public spaces, like the Tour & Taxis Food Market under the glass roofs of the former Gare Maritime, and the Grand Hospice: a repurposed neoclassical complex with beautiful colonnades and an interior park. (But also in the mix are state-commissioned buildings so ugly that entire social feeds hate on them.) Despite being the EU’s administrative center, one of the city’s most famous landmarks is Manneken Pis, a statue of a naked boy peeing into a fountain—a symbol of locals’ contempt for authority. The wit emanates from vibrant, educated, multiethnic citizenry (Brussels ranks #27 for Educational Attainment). Get local in the Congolese Matonge quarter’s flea markets and street art. Or at the new Working From_ co-working space at the Hoxton Hotel. The city is a gathering spot for conferences and summits of all kinds, which explains its Top 10 spot for Facebook Check-ins, and its Midi station is also the hub for a country with some of the world’s densest rail networks that is poised to expand inter-city and overnight connections in 2024.

38. San Jose

As the global heart of innovation and the urban center of Silicon Valley, San Jose trails only San Francisco in our overall Prosperity index in North America, and ranks #6 globally. Leading economically vital subcategories like Number of Start-ups (tied for #1) and Educational Attainment (#4) will have that effect. It’s all astonishing, and possible because of San Jose’s moat: 2,500 high-tech companies in and around city limits. It’s why San Jose doesn’t intend to lose its people—or jobs—for any sustained period of time. There’s just too much global support to keep a good thing going. The institutional prosperity in the city is perhaps most obvious in the bounty of universities that are performance drivers all their own (including Stanford, trailing only Boston’s Harvard in our University category), creating symbiotic integrations with local tech companies and offering access to funding and innovation like few others. Given the optimal conditions of a lauded, coveted school and the on-ramp it provides to jobs in the city, San Jose will continue to stock its talent pipeline for decades. The prospect of high-speed rail links to San Francisco and throughout California will mean improved access to talent.

39. Bangkok

Everything most of us know about Bangkok has to do with exotic food, illicit massage parlors, beautiful beaches or thrift shopping. Parodied in films like The Hangover 2 and unjustly reduced to stereotypes, this “City of Angels” is a unique metropolis where spirituality and hedonism coexist. Today, every corner of this city is abuzz with activity—thanks to a surge in visitors from Russia, en route to Phuket. Thousands have come to the city (Thailand has notably not barred inbound flights from Russia), hoping to avoid conscription to fight in Ukraine or just fleeing Russia’s self-inflicted misery. All this, against Thailand’s own volatile political scenario, like the recent barring of Pita Limjaroenrat from running for prime minister, which led to crippling street demonstrations. That hasn’t stopped the city from rising up the ranks, with a global #12 position in our overall Lovability index thanks to its #5 ranking for Shopping and #13 spot for Attractions. The city is also catering to a growing tourist base—a multi-floor cannabis complex will soon open in Chinatown, and 40-plus hotels will open across the capital by 2027. One thing’s for sure—the sensory overload that Bangkok has been known for will never cease.

It’s been a decade of steady growth for Poland, today a European economic powerhouse. But Russia’s and Nazi Germany’s Second World War invasions remain indelible, which is why Warsaw has welcomed more than 250,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s latest invasion, swelling its population by almost 20%. Ukrainians who remain post-war will join a population ranked #12 globally for Educational Attainment and #20 for GDP per Capita. With that kind of talent, the city is busy with its long-planned ambitious projects—from the rebuild of the 17th-century Saski Palace destroyed by the Nazis to new museums and Michelin-starred restaurants to the recently opened 1,017-foot Foster + Partners-designed Varso Tower, the EU’s tallest building. Warsaw also leads the largest infrastructure project in the Baltics in a century. The Rail Baltica high-speed railway should open in 2026, connecting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to Poland and the rest of Europe: a 540-mile link from Tallinn to Warsaw with a top speed of 145 miles per hour. Tourism is booming, too, with the city’s Attractions ranking #23 and a 4.4% rise in tourism contributing to its GDP in 2022 versus 2019, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

41. Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s compact, park-filled urban grid, connected by serpentine bike lanes that end at clean, city-sanctioned (finally!) urban swimming spots, earned the world’s locked-down attention during the pandemic. Its Top 25-ranked Labor Force Participation on top of all that urban bounty is also impressive. Global attention returned this year, by way of a UNESCO Capital of Architecture designation. Events are going on until 2026, at formal venues like the Danish Architecture Center, but also at places like the waterfront Opera Park, an urban green space designed for climate resilience. Copenhagen’s commitment to sustainability is nothing new, of course. It has long invested in its cycling infrastructure, attempting to make 50% of all work and school commutes on bicycles by 2025, as well as helping Denmark reach overall carbon neutrality by 2050. Transit buildout is everywhere, connecting more affordable districts on the city’s outskirts, most notably the much-needed Sydhavn connector next year. An international transit link to Malmö, Sweden, is also planned. But nothing will be as daring as the building of Lynetteholm, a 675-acre artificial island off the city’s coast, housing 35,000 people while protecting the harbor from rising water. Or so we hope.

Nestled on the distant western fringe of the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan perceives itself as an independent nation, yet its status as such is not acknowledged by Beijing. The birthplace of beloved boba, Mongolian BBQ and Din Tai Fung’s Michelin-starred soup dumplings, Taipei reveals a dynamic culinary scene across markets like Shida, traditional rechaos like Baxian Grill and gourmet restaurants like RAW and Mume—all of which help Taipei’s restaurants rank #9 globally. It’s also where Acer and Asus have their HQs, making it synonymous with affordable electronic goods (validating the city’s #12 Shopping rank). Any visit to the city is incomplete without a wander through the Taipei Technology District. Scoring well for both Lovability and Livability in equal measure (#52), Taipei has the distinction of being the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and continues to be an inclusive haven for people from more conservative cities. It’s also committed to bringing about urban transformations in every aspect of its citizens’ lives through the New Taipei City’s Climate Action Plan, which focuses on greener buildings, smarter transportations, cleaner energy and more efficient natural resource allocation in its globally coveted semiconductor industries.

The rebellious Texas city—forged by can-do persistence cut with a university town’s progressive livability—is now a well-oiled talent-attraction machine. Talk to any entrepreneur leaving Silicon Valley, NYC or Seattle and chances are they’ve considered Austin. They come for the 24th-most educated citizenry on the planet that’s already here, and, given that Austin ranks #6 globally in our Google Search subcategory, they are soon on their way. Since the pandemic, Austin has secured headquarters for giants like Oracle, Tesla, BAE Systems and dozens more, joining incumbents like Samsung USA, which itself is mulling a $40-billion local investment into 11 manufacturing plants here. Dozens of ambitious tech firms (especially EV and superconductor manufacturers) are moving in monthly. New high-rises like the Waterline (the tallest building in Texas when it opens in 2026), along with Wilson Tower (the largest planned U.S. residential high-rise outside of NYC) will be just two of the biggest trophies on the city’s expanding skyline. The #23-ranked University of Texas at Austin is also a talent magnet, focusing on research and a growing skills pipeline to the symbiotic private sector. The local music scene is pretty good, too.

No longer overshadowed by Stockholm and Copenhagen, Oslo is proving itself a worthy destination all its own. Its #52 Museums ranking will improve with the recent opening of Munch, a waterfront museum dedicated to the Expressionist painter of The Scream. It, along with new districts like Sørenga, comprise the recently unveiled eastern waterfront that makes the entire harbor walkable via a six-mile trail network. Newer still is the downtown National Museum, which replaced several cultural buildings, including the National Gallery. It houses classical and contemporary art and architecture studies and it just became the largest art exhibition space in Scandinavia. Above the city, Rose Castle unveiled a permanent installation of paintings and sculptures that tell the story of Oslo’s resilience during the Second World War. No wonder its citizens rank #6 globally for Labor Force Participation, supported by 50-plus start-up hubs helping make Oslo one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities. The dozen floating saunas downtown do their part, too. Much-needed housing is aggressively being built in places like Fjord City on industrial port lands. As more prospective residents discover the drivers of Oslo’s #33 spot in our overall Livability index, its lore will only grow.

Japan’s third-largest city and an economic engine, Osaka has a long history of feeding its millions of inhabitants well, earning the city its motto: kuidaore , or “eat till you drop.” Affectionately known as tenka no daidokoro —the country’s kitchen—Osaka is Japan’s street food capital, home of takoyaki and okonomiyaki (as well as the birthplace of the infamous sushi conveyor belt). But the city also tickles many a funny bone with an abundance of comedy clubs specializing in manzai , a sillier take on the “straight man and wacky guy” comedy routine. A direct result of that beloved foodie culture and those must-see experiences is a decent showing in our Lovability and Prosperity indices, at #40 and #45 respectively—numbers that are poised to rise in the coming years.

And, recently, the government cemented Osaka’s place as a hub of entertainment by approving a controversial plan for the country’s first casino. To be built on the city’s artificial island of Yumeshima, it will be part of a $12.8-billion resort due to be completed in 2029. And with October’s Tourism EXPO Japan Osaka Kansai set to welcome 150,000 visitors, the city aims to captivate the imagination of travelers through a kaleidoscope of sensory and savory experiences.

46. Hong Kong

On any given day in Hong Kong, you could head to a fishing village less than an hour from downtown, lie on a beach, go shopping at a kinetic mall or timeless back-alley market, wind down at a memorable restaurant and then head out to spend the evening among the endless cafés and bars. What’s not to like?

Well, plenty, if you ask the locals. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China that was, until recently, free to manage its own affairs. But over the past couple of decades, Beijing has chipped away at Hong Kong’s freedoms—sparking mass protests in the process. It’s what makes the city rank only #49 for its once-enviable Livability, but the pride and passion of the locals for their home makes it all the more lovable (at #19), despite the fraught politics. Still, Hong Kong moves onwards and upwards: Swire Properties, New World Development, Kerry Properties and Hongkong Land all increased their investments, delivering as many as 119 new private housing projects as early as 2024, with a total of 40,000 units. Hong Kong International Airport has also embarked on a series of projects aimed at turning it into an Airport City, including the Sky Bridge, which affords Instagram-ready views out over the airport to the countryside—setting the scene for a memorable stay.

47. Tel Aviv

With its perfect weather, laid-back lifestyle and burgeoning tech industry, it’s no surprise that Tel Aviv has become a coveted home base for increasingly mobile talent seeking exoticism and high salaries. They come knowing of the instability in this ancient land, like in May 2021, when 160 rockets rained down on the city as beachgoers scrambled for safety, and the near monthly reports of security forces intercepting terrorist attacks. But Tel Aviv doesn’t huddle for long, boasting a smart, cosmopolitan, curious populace that scores #33 globally for Educational Attainment. The city also appreciates its culture as much as its Campari, ranking #33 for Museums like the eponymous Museum of Art, whose new building of twisting geometric surfaces, designed by Preston Scott Cohen, is one of the city’s landmarks. Opened in 2018 and sited across the Yarkon River from the art museum is the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, a grand monument to the natural world that also makes allowances for the country’s Abrahamic faith. Numerous hotels opened in 2022 (with more coming in 2023), and 170,000 people celebrated this year’s Tel Aviv Pride parade, including 10,000+ tourists.

The ancient capital has had a brutal decade: punishing financial crises, wildfires and the pandemic. Which makes this latest rebound particularly impressive, especially when you note that the city’s heritage was rarely compromised despite the austerity. The sustained investment is now blooming as jobs trickle back (fueled by global workers and micro start-ups coaxed by relative affordability and all manner of digital nomad visas) and tourist levels return to 2019 levels. They stroll the refreshed Grand Promenade, a 2.5-mile tree-lined and car-free walkway at the foot of the Acropolis that connects the city’s major archaeological sites (earning a #27 ranking for Sights & Landmarks). The Athens Olympic Museum in the northern Athenian suburb of Marousi is the nation’s newest, highlighting the history of the Olympic Games. Athens’ #31 ranking for Museums will improve soon enough. Another new (well, technically renovated) cultural destination is the National Gallery, reopened in 2021 after an eight-year reno that doubled its size and let in ample natural light to spotlight the European art. Oh, and there are also almost 300 new restaurants and 35 new hotels in town, with the anticipated One&Only Aesthesis opening any month now on a private oceanfront estate.

49. Frankfurt

Frankfurt has perfected the art of air access. Germany is in the middle of Europe, Frankfurt is in the middle of Germany. Its airport is one of the world’s aviation hubs (#4 globally in our Airport Connectivity subcategory). The city’s #10-ranked convention center draws more than 4.5 million visitors annually (pandemic years excepted). In 15 minutes, conventioneers arriving at FRA can be at the massive Messe Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade fair and event organizer, featuring its own exhibition grounds. A short stroll in any direction takes visitors to shopping, restaurants, museums and other pleasures to mix with the business of the day. A 10-minute Uber serves up historic, pub-sprinkled neighborhoods like Sachsenhausen. The convention center has invested heavily in its “hygiene concept,” a typically German system for safely organizing an event in the age of new pathogens. The city has also benefited from London’s Brexit uncertainty. J.P. Morgan is moving hundreds of employees from London to Frankfurt (and Paris), along with approximately €200 billion in assets. Financial clout as Germany’s business nerve center aside, the city is also becoming a vital global internet exchange point, and a strategic investment for firms requiring secure data communications infrastructure.

50. Vancouver

With its addictive views, mild climate and multiculturalism (it boasts the largest pan-Asian population outside of Asia), Vancouver is widely recognized as one of the most livable cities in the world (our ranking places it at #43 globally). An elemental collision of urban velocity and timeless, serene nature means that epic skiing, mountain biking and hiking is just a half-hour’s transit or bike ride north, while the city itself is studded with sandy shorelines, verdant gardens and Canada’s urban green-space jewel: Stanley Park. In the next three years, Vancouver will host the Invictus Games, the Grey Cup, the Laver Cup international tennis tournament, the 90th anniversary of the first international Alcoholics Anonymous convention and part of the FIFA World Cup. This all means a lot more travelers coming into the city. But Vancouver isn’t equipped for them. In the midst of rising real estate prices, the city is facing another challenge: fewer hotel rooms—a direct result of the government converting hundreds of rooms into social housing during the pandemic. That means the existing hotel rooms and vacation rentals are often too prohibitively priced to allow a new generation to fall in love with this special place.

51. San Diego

You could say that San Diego is where California began. It was here that Spanish colonists established the region’s very first mission in 1769. Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., pulling in residents seeking 263 full and partly sunny days annually, the natural endowment of the #16-ranked Outdoors on the planet and the 23 beaches—70 miles of them—within city limits that make the city synonymous with the lore of SoCal surf culture. Speaking of storytelling, the sun-kissed backdrops coax locals to share the aesthetic bounty online, powering the city to a #35 spot for Tripadvisor Reviews and #38 for Instagram Hashtags. Increasingly, the buzz is on local attractions, with the 3.2-acre, $87-million Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp finally open and immersing visitors in the sights and sounds of ecosystems around the world, from balmy rainforests to dusty dunes. The city’s #60 Museums ranking will improve when the San Diego Museum of Art in iconic Balboa Park unveils its 2026 west wing, courtesy of Foster + Partners, a firm that has built iconic structures at museums around the world.

52. Orlando

Being the largest city in a region that generates more than $60 billion in tourism-related revenue every (non-pandemic) year gets you plenty of lift from a rising tide. That’s a lot of visitors with a story to tell if you give them the means to tell it. Orlando knows how to get people talking. Its #9 ranking in our Tripadvisor Reviews subcategory and a #6 spot for Attractions lift Orlando’s overall ranking. The city is gaining post-pandemic ground with the newly opened, $4.2-billion South Terminal Complex at Orlando International Airport, featuring the state’s first high-speed rail, called the Brightline, which connects Orlando with West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Downtown culture is also ascendant with this fall’s opening of live music venue Judson’s, the fourth indoor performance space at downtown Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, joining Steinmetz Hall (opened last year), the Walt Disney Theater and the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. The local economic story would’ve been even better if not for the Florida governor’s ongoing culture war with Disney. It cost Orlando a billion-dollar office complex and its estimated 2,000 high-paying jobs earlier this year.

53. Helsinki

Few nations managed the pandemic better than the country named the world’s happiest for the sixth year in a row. And if a country is the happiest in the world, its capital city likely is, too. The rapid and effective response of the Finnish government—supporting local businesses, holding virtual info sessions and generally having everyone’s back so long as they had each others’—showed citizens what is possible when a society obsesses over considered, accessible urban experiences. As such, Helsinki’s massive, purpose-built outdoor seating areas and other similar communal infrastructure projects have largely remained and city leaders continue to generously fund citizen placemaking. It’s the kind of sensible urban cohesion you’d expect from a city that boasts some of the lowest rates of poverty in Europe, as well as the 14th-highest rate of Labor Force Participation on the planet. The city’s natural bounty continues to expand with new trails, parks and an urban ferry system. Curious visitors are filling new hotels in repurposed spaces like GLO Hotel’s restored 1920s bank location near the port, and the Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka’s space in a converted former prison.

Miami’s natural attributes have always captured the world’s imagination and crystalized its hedonistic brand. The city ranks #23 globally in our Outdoors subcategory, and, subsequently, #7 for Instagram Hashtags showing off all those natural attributes. But it’s Miami’s openness to immigrants (and, more recently, the LGBTQIA+ community and Silicon Valley migrants) that has people buzzing. The city has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in America (which is saying something) and, increasingly, a new distributed workforce continues to arrive to work (and play) from home here. Even with recent tech and crypto meltdowns, Miami ranks an impressive #36 on the planet for start-ups in town, and is hanging in with $400 million raised by local businesses in Q2 2023, according to Pitchbook. All that talent and down payment money is looking to buy in and housing costs are defying gravity (and interest rates). Residential buildout is everywhere and two luxury projects in particular will change the skyline. The 1,049-foot Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Residences is predicted to be the tallest residential tower south of New York when completed in 2027. The Residences, a 70-story luxury condominium tower, is scheduled to begin construction this year.

55. Buenos Aires

If you crave a taste of European flair in South America, you can’t go wrong with Buenos Aires. Its boho attitude—which birthed the tango’s intoxicating seduction—can still be felt in La Boca and San Telmo, as well as the Art Deco buildings that line the cobblestone streets. Living up to the city’s shared #1 Walk Score ranking, every place is just a stroll away, from the street art along Palermo and Colegiales to the 233-foot Obelisco de Buenos Aires and the internationally acclaimed Teatro Colón. The external wealth and influence here overshadows life in the rest of the country, which is suffering severe economic and social problems that are, in turn, impacting Baires. Even as inflation in Argentina is at 100%—the fourth highest in the world—Buenos Aires’ culinary scene is flourishing, with residents rushing to eat their feelings and spend their devaluing pesos. (No wonder the restaurant ranking has risen to #45.) Global visitors are pouring in, too, to feast on the #8-ranked Culture and #12-ranked Museums on the planet. INPROTUR, Argentina’s tourism office, reported that more tourists visited from the U.S. and Canada between January and May 2023 than during the same period in any year since 2010.

56. Hamburg

Hamburg is both Europe’s second-largest shipping port and a serious contender for “Venice of the North,” with a stunning lake and a latticework of canals. Emblematic of this is the $933-million Elbphilharmonie, a spectacular concert hall that combines 19th-century marine trade warehouses with the crystalline architecture and acoustics of the future. Hamburg’s commitment to the arts powers it to #31 in our Culture subcategory. Its nightlife (made famous by the nascent Beatles in the early 1960s) hasn’t lost a beat, ranking in the Top 25 globally. Hamburg comes by its opulence and sophistication honestly, with a workforce that ranks #21 for Labor Force Participation. And this being Germany, lower-income residents are not being left behind, evident in the city’s signature redevelopment project, HafenCity, set to open in 2026. In Europe’s biggest inner-city urban development initiative—which, over more than a decade, is transforming 618 acres of tumble-down docks along the port area into a buzzing shopping and residential area—a third of housing must be subsidized while another third is rental. Ambitious city-building continues in the burbs, too, with an innovative car-free neighborhood being built a 15-minute train ride from the center.

57. Brisbane

Australia’s third-largest city and the capital of Queensland boasts lush landscapes, a subtropical climate and abundant beaches—all complemented by gleaming skyscrapers and Queensland’s first casino in a central business district. Locals couldn’t resist: “Brisvegas” is now a nickname. Don’t let the glitz fool you, though. Although the Gold Coast, situated 40 miles to the south, is renowned for its surfing, vibrant nightlife and thrilling roller coasters, Brisbane has enough brains to balance its beauty. The Queensland Cultural Centre is a focal point for the arts, with the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art curating buzzy shows. What’s more, investment is pouring in, ranging from the colossal $3.6-billion riverfront casino initiative at Queen’s Wharf to the creation of a 1,500-seat glass theater within the dynamic South Bank. With the city anticipated to house an additional 1.5 million residents by 2045, growth is being accelerated by a designation as the host for the 2032 Olympics—the lead-up to which should generate tens of thousands of jobs throughout the construction sector. Consequently, the city’s #109 Prosperity rank holds the potential for a dramatic upswing to bring it closer in line with its already healthy #24 Livability ranking.

Nestled in the historic and often disputed region between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Kuwait possesses a distinct allure. Once a thriving trade and fishing hub dubbed the “Marseilles of the Gulf,” modern Kuwait City is defined by the discovery of oil in the 1930s. Despite sharing the affluence of Gulf compatriots and oil reserves (earning an impressive #10 ranking in our overall Prosperity index) and showcasing an architectural panorama that’s both daring and inventive, it diverges in its stance on excess. This divergence might find its roots in the tumultuous years marked by the Iraqi invasion, or more recently by political instability: Kuwait introduced its seventh government in 36 months earlier this year. Local temperatures are forecast to rise by 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, as compared to the 2000s. Kuwait ranks third in the world for carbon footprint—at 25 tons per CO 2 per person annually—trailing only Bahrain and Qatar. However, while counterparts like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have committed to net-zero targets within a few decades, Kuwait’s pledge for COP26 is a feeble single-digit reduction by 2035. Given this, is it really surprising that the city languishes at a dismal #253 in our Livability index?

59. Las Vegas

Few cities have been as supercharged by the return of the visitor economy as Las Vegas, which lives and dies by its #1 industry. A visit in 2023, therefore, is a pilgrimage into American urban resilience. After all, this is Vegas, baby, home to the planet’s fourth-best Culture and Attractions and the sixth-most Tripadvisor Reviews to document all that fun in the sun. (The city also ranks in the Top 25 globally in our Outdoors subcategory.) More than 23 million tourists arrived here in the first five months of 2023, a 19% increase year over year. Welcoming them are properties like the two-year-old, $4.3-billion Resorts World Las Vegas, comprising three hotels, the 27,000-square-foot Awana Spa and a 5,000-seat theater. The gilded Vegas construction pipeline still has at least $15 billion of new investment, even after the completion of the 25-acre Fontainebleau complex, and the $2-billion, 18,000-seat, 516-foot-in-diameter MSG Sphere, the largest spherical structure in the world. (You’ve likely seen it on your Insta, especially after U2 christened it this fall.) The city also topped Redfin’s web property searches for the first time ever last summer, indicating that smitten tourists want in on the fun full-time.

60. Montreal

When Harley Finkelstein, president of tech dynamo Shopify, talks about choosing Montreal as his family’s new home, he doesn’t mince words. “I don’t think there’s any city in the world that is more entrepreneurial than Montreal,” he told local outlet Cult MTL, adding that, “if you see a city with a disproportionate number of artists, musicians and chefs, that’s probably a city with great culture.” Planned local investment agrees. By late 2024, an innovation hub called Ax-C should open downtown, uniting entrepreneurs, incubators, university researchers, management experts and investors under one roof, like Toronto’s MaRS and Paris’s Station F. The hope is for it to reignite the downtown in a WFH reality. The city’s Top 20 global culture is also doing its part, with the 2025 opening of the massive Espace St-Denis in the Latin Quarter that will encapsulate the historic Théâtre St-Denis and create new performance spaces for the city’s smoldering arts scene and #48-ranked restaurants. There’s also a genuine effort to make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, with this summer’s $22-million funding of 53 bike infrastructure projects and the move to close many streets to cars from spring to fall.

61. Glasgow

Glasgow powers to its global ranking on the strength of its education, including the planet’s eighth-most educated citizenry and its #36-ranked university. People not already here are certainly noticing. Tech start-ups hungry for cheap space and talent are drawn to the city’s working-class authenticity over pricier European capitals. What they find is a long legacy of homegrown talent, stoked by the eponymous university founded in 1451, the fourth oldest in the English-speaking world. It counts economist Adam Smith and U.S. founding father James Wilson as alumni. Being a university town, Glasgow performs well in our Nightlife subcategory (#42) and the city roars to prominence at gritty venues like the Sub Club, where live shows dominate. Glasgow was designated the U.K.’s first UNESCO City of Music in 2008, and the need to get back out there makes nights here even more epic of late. Its impressive #72 spot in our Culture subcategory speaks to this year’s packed events calendar—ranging from the annual Celtic Connections festival to August’s UCI Cycling World Championships, hyped as the largest cycling event in history. Next year’s dance card is fuller still.

62. Shanghai

Within the dynamic metropolis of Shanghai, contrasts unfold. On one side of the Huangpu River lies the refined Puxi district, housing the city’s Art Deco architectural marvels, the waterfront Bund promenade and traditional Chinese gardens. On the opposing side, the Pudong area showcases its mind-boggling, otherworldly skyscrapers. Shanghai today is a major global hub for everything from finance, business, research, technology and manufacturing to arts and culture. It’s also home to the world’s busiest container port. Challenges abound, from air pollution to impoverished slums, and a growing vulnerability to rising sea levels. Nevertheless, the city scores high for Livability (#21), while struggling in Prosperity (#139: yes, billionaire residents notwithstanding). Shanghai’s vision for tomorrow therefore extends to transforming itself into an innovative hub for future industries, with aspirations to achieve an output value of 500 billion yuan ($69.7 billion) by 2030. The “Shanghai 2035” plan, approved by state council, envisions a metropolis characterized by innovation, humanity, sustainability and global influence—effectively putting the city on a rising path by focusing on onboarding more citizens into the ever-sprouting skyscrapers they look up at daily (at least when the smog clears).

63. Rio de Janeiro

Most notably recognized for its extravagant festivities leading up to Carnival, Rio boasts an unmistakable exotic flair: a lifestyle of beach leisure, vibrant nightlife, alluring samba rhythms and a more unhurried way of life. The ever-popular Copacabana and Ipanema beaches cater to sun worshippers, while the city houses numerous free museums and cultural centers for art aficionados (together ranking in the Top 10 in our Culture subcategory). Outside the city, the mountains and Tijuca National Forest beckon adventurous souls, ranking the city #7 for Outdoors. Despite its rougher edges, Rio has left behind its era of widespread crime—even the favelas, the city’s brightly painted shanty-town communities, now offer an engrossing setting for cultural immersion. The city will continue to be one of the most lovable places in the world—this year it ranks #21—and its local government is making every effort to make it more livable and prosperous, too. The urban renewal is just beginning: Rio envisions itself as a leader in mitigating and adapting to climate change by achieving climate neutrality by 2050. It’s also on the road to establishing itself as a circular economy, integrating economic, social and urban-environmental policies for waste management.

64. Auckland

With the reopening of New Zealand to travelers, there’s no better time to discover Auckland. In many ways it is New Zealand’s most modern city, with its skyscrapers, modern business centers and a downtown packed with reinvigorated clubs and art galleries. But it’s also built on top of dormant volcanoes, with most of its charm showcased in pristine beaches and twin harbors facing the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. It naturally ranks #9 for Outdoors. Commercial Bay stands out as a recent addition that has brought about a revolutionary shift in the retail and hospitality landscape of Auckland’s Central Business District. Another highlight is the revitalized Viaduct Harbour, boasting a selection of new high-end hotels. Additionally, the Britomart precinct has undergone a meticulous industrial-to-modern metamorphosis spanning two decades. As a result, Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland’s Māori name (meaning “the place desired by many”), is bulging at the seams, and is projected to host nearly half of New Zealand’s current population by 2048. Despite the challenges of overcrowding and homelessness, Auckland is moving quickly, taking lessons from other global cities and ranking #45 in our overall Livability category as a result.

65. Atlanta

Long a progressive beacon of diversity in Georgia, Atlanta and its rich legacy of American civil rights—the city is the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.—is increasingly in the national conversation as a new hometown. And people are walking the talk, with almost a quarter of a million relocating to the city over the past two years. Even more are mulling their options, indicated by ATL’s #27 Google Search and Top 25 ranking for Instagram Hashtags. Good thing the city—already home to the 24th-most Global 500 headquarters on the planet—is planning for the influx, with bold new projects downtown, like the 50-acre Gulch redevelopment called Centennial Yards, featuring 12 million square feet of residential, retail and office space and 1,500 hotel rooms. Just east, along Peachtree, Mitchell and Broad streets, as well as on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, dozens of historic buildings are being revived with a focus on public spaces and walkability. Even Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (from which 80% of the U.S. population resides within a two-hour flight) is renovating, despite already ranking #15 for Airport Connectivity. Its ATL Next project is pumping $6 billion into modernization.

66. Houston

Austin may get the attention, but the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston. In the past year, immigration both domestic and international has swelled the metro population to above seven million and the city today is one of America’s most ethnically diverse metropolises, with more than 145 languages spoken at home, according to the latest census—about even with New York. No wonder it ranks #27 for Culture and its prism of festivals, from international film to massive Juneteenth celebrations. Next year, the city welcomes America’s first Ismaili Center, commissioned by His Highness the Aga Khan. In addition to all its Lovability bonafides (H-Town ranks #38), the fourth-largest city in the U.S. is aiming higher, way higher, with its ongoing evolution as Space City. Its Houston Spaceport is an FAA-licensed urban commercial spaceport offering unprecedented access to a thriving aerospace community. The head start the city has in building a cluster of aerospace companies manufacturing locally is staggering, especially considering that the spaceport can eventually serve as the country’s takeoff point for passenger jets capable of flying at supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

The “Miami of South Korea” is a sought-after vacation spot for local and global travelers alike, boasting stunning beaches that are absent in the landlocked capital. Among its must-visit landmarks are the remarkable Shinsegae Centum City Busan, the world’s largest department store, and the thrill-inducing Lotte World Adventure Busan, the largest amusement park in Korea. Playing a pivotal role in its economy, the Port of Busan serves as a crucial conduit, linking the nation to the Pacific Ocean and the wider Asia region. As South Korea’s primary port (and the fourth-largest container port in the world), it manages approximately 40% of the country’s overseas freight, 80% of its container shipments and 40% of its total fishery output. The city’s eighth-lowest poverty rate on earth powers its overall #17 Prosperity ranking. Busan isn’t stopping there: it’s in the running to host World Expo 2030 and is actively cultivating its identity as a cryptocurrency hub. Simultaneously, the city is emerging as a thriving convention center and an emerging “bleisure” (business + leisure) destination. Adding to the intrigue, the upcoming Oceanix floating city prototype, scheduled for completion by 2025, is solidifying Busan’s reputation as a noteworthy player in the region.

68. Philadelphia

Given its deep roots in the creation of the Union almost 250 years ago, Philadelphia is a dense, cataloged embodiment of Americana, easily accessible and eagerly shared. Philly has always let its experiences do the talking, whether it’s walking through history along the cobblestones of Old City or breathing in the urban green of Fairmount Park. The city’s understated urban tapestry houses the planet’s #56-ranked Sights & Landmarks, perfect for exploring by foot—a ranking that will only improve with the extensive development of the multiuse Delaware River Trail that links the city’s waterfront destinations. Those in need of more regimented history will love some of the top museums in the U.S. (ranked #41), especially with recent investments like the 90,000 square feet of new public and exhibition space at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Frank Gehry-led expansion. Important exhibits opened this summer and fall, none bigger than Disney100 and SPACE at the Franklin Institute, and Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia at the Museum of the American Revolution. The city’s coveted University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League icon, ranked #9 globally and keeping the local talent pipeline stocked.

Even by European second-city status, Naples is overlooked and underestimated—both by international visitors and by Italy’s power centers. The city’s three millennia of existence make it one of Europe’s oldest—with the accompanying layers of beauty, conflict and lore ( grazie , Elena Ferrante). Naples ranks in the Top 5 globally in our Outdoors subcategory, buoyed by the city’s historic waterfront, nearby beaches and green spaces ranging from swaths of urban parkland to secret public gardens. Napoli also ranks #5 for Sights & Landmarks—its centuries-old Naples Cathedral rivals any other in the sensual feast that is Italy. Like in Rome and Istanbul, strolling here reveals forgotten history on every block. Despite the city’s long association with mafia, tourism has doubled over the past decade, and crime has dropped dramatically (being now more confined to the “victim knew the suspect” variety), according to local sources. New international investments (like the W Naples opening next year inside a historic bank building on the kinetic Piazza del Municipio) are finally reaching one of the continent’s most beguiling cities. With Tripadvisor Reviews ranking #27 globally, a new high-speed rail link to Rome’s Fiumicino airport is increasingly delivering curious first-timers to la città .

With its second-city affordability and coveted lifestyle brand at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is an increasingly wealthy, healthy talent magnet. It ranks in the Top 25 globally for educated citizenry, who ply their trades at large Global 500 firms (ranked #62) ranging from Western Union to Molson Coors Beverage, and at the hundreds of start-ups in the emergent cannabis and burgeoning wellness industries. All that commerce propels the city to #23 for GDP per Capita. But Denver plays as hard as it works. Amid 300 days of annual sunshine, the obsession with the outdoors today is matched by a commitment to the arts. The Denver Art Museum is slowly emerging from an extensive, multi-year renovation that includes a new restaurant from award-winning Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski, and the return of the museum’s Arts of Africa, Modern and Contemporary Art and Arts of Oceania collections to the public for the first time since construction started in 2016. Investments like the Crush Walls international street art festival and the arrival of the artist collective Meow Wolf are rapidly improving the city’s #62 Culture ranking globally.

71. Nashville

The home base for artists like Jack White, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys reclaimed its live-music glory with a full slate of before-times festivals like the CMA Fest and Bonnaroo, as well as new shows and attractions. The buzziest is the duet between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the historic Ryman Auditorium that created the Rock Hall at the Ryman exhibit celebrating one of America’s most revered stages, including stories about Elvis Presley, James Brown, Dolly Parton, the Foo Fighters and dozens more. The 2021 opening of the National Museum of African American Music—a vital center to educate the world, preserve a legacy and celebrate African Americans in creating the American soundtrack—is just one reason why Nashville ranks an impressive #34 in our Culture category. Massive developments like the new home of the Nashville SC Major League Soccer team in Wedgewood-Houston—a 30,500-seat soccer-only facility with double-tiered stands—join the city-building ambition behind the opening of more than a dozen hotels over the next two years and a massive expansion of the city’s airport as business returns to the world’s #16-ranked convention center.

72. Manchester

Manchester’s reputation as the engine of English industry drives a global curiosity in the storied city (and its worker-bee icon is a must-buy souvenir). Castlefield, an “Urban Heritage Park,” is one portal into history: the city’s canal, favored by tourists today, once transported coal into the city’s industrial hub. More urban reuse is planned. The University of Manchester is among the highest ranked in Europe (and #33 globally in our rankings), which more than justifies its UNESCO City of Literature designation. The university is home to a dazzling legacy of 25 Nobel laureates, with several still on staff. Manchester’s conversion from producing goods to ideas is well underway, and the history of the workers who made that possible is on grand display at the People’s History Museum. The city’s middling Museums ranking is supercharged with this year’s £15-million transformation that adds a two-story extension, a new exhibition hall, the Belonging Gallery, the South Asia Gallery and the Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery to the Manchester Museum. Also new is Factory International, a flagship cultural center with exhibits by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. No wonder Manchester is in the Top 50 globally for Tripadvisor Reviews.

It’s not only city sloganeering that’s big in Dallas. It’s economic reality. Home to more than 10,000 corporate headquarters—the largest concentration in the U.S.—and ranking in the Top 20 (#19) on the planet for Global 500 Companies, the city is easy to get to. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport ranks #9, with a planned $3-billion Terminal F project possibly back on the table, given DFW’s rebound of 73.4 million passengers in 2022—an increase of 17% over a busy 2021. The #46 ranking in our Convention Center subcategory will ascend when a new $2-billion, 2.5-million-square-foot facility is built next to the current one in 2028. The same year should see the trenching of the city’s car-worshipping Interstate 345 that cut off Black neighborhoods when it was built in the early 1970s. But Dallas is big on fun and culture, too. This is the home of America’s sixth-largest LGBTQIA+ community. On 20 square blocks of mixed-use space, institutions like the Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, theaters, and symphony and opera venues all power an improving #61 Culture ranking.

74. Liverpool

Liverpool’s place as an integral urban center in world history is difficult to comprehend without visiting it yourself. Fortunately, Liverpool documents it all masterfully—and honestly. The city’s role as a strategic British Empire trade port, responsible for half of Britain’s Trans-Atlantic slave trade, is laid bare at its International Slavery Museum. Its contribution to helping win both world wars with tens of thousands of Liverpudlians enlisting (plus its own strategic location) is outlined in the Western Approaches Museum, housed in a hidden bunker under the city. But it was in its post-war decline that Liverpool made history again when four local teenagers jammed together. Today, The Beatles Story is the world’s largest permanent exhibit devoted to the band. Almost as revered is Liverpool FC, the U.K.’s most storied club, and Anfield stadium, their home since 1892. Given these layers of history, the city’s #8 ranking for Sights & Landmarks isn’t surprising. Expect the city to rise up our future rankings as the new Waterfront Transformation Project reimagines the historic area as part of a 10-year masterplan featuring a pyramidal pavilion for contemplation by architect Asif Khan and artist Theaster Gates.

75. Minneapolis

Minneapolis is now synonymous with George Floyd’s murder at the hands of local police, an event that sparked a global movement against systemic racism and police violence. Residents have long advocated for their city, the results of which can be seen in a decade of visionary city-building called the Minneapolis Big Build. The city is in the thick of an unprecedented renaissance, with more than $1-billion worth of annual construction permits issued in each of the past four years. The investment has yielded (so far) the redesign of Nicollet Avenue, the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium and the Commons Park, a major reno of Target Center (home of the NBA’s Timberwolves) and improvements to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Walker Art Center. There are a dozen more projects that have opened or will soon, including the new Water Works Park on the Mississippi riverfront. This, on top of a somewhat surprising #24 ranking for Global 500 Companies—the most per capita of any U.S. metro area—and an ambitious citizenry that ranks #23 globally for Educational Attainment powering a global #26 GDP per Capita ranking, it’s no surprise this Midwest magnet lands #32 globally in our overall Prosperity index.

76. Mexico City

The Ciudad de México , CDMX, is having a major moment—one that’s raising its profile on the world stage. Alongside classic street food, culinary virtuosos like Enrique Olvera of Pujol and Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil thrive. The cultural legacy of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera remains indelible, but has been enhanced by the Soumaya and the Museo Jumex, raising the city’s global Museums ranking to #13. Not even tequila is immune to progress, having to compete with artisanal mezcal distilleries that spring up on an almost monthly basis. Mexico City is changing—fast—and resident chilangos are rushing to keep up with it. They’re the ones literally paying the price for the accelerated gentrification of neighborhoods like La Condesa and La Roma Norte—which have sent real estate prices soaring, forcing many to relocate to the outskirts. It’s still a highly lovable city though, ranking at #45. In contrast, Prosperity is a lowly #137, with forecasts that the economy will likely slow in step with an expected moderation of growth in the United States. The local hope is that any decline could be tempered by increased investment from U.S. reshoring initiatives and companies relocating to the Latin American country.

Minsk—and Belarus—are fighting for their lives. While the rest of the world was preoccupied with the pandemic in the summer of 2020, Russian-backed dictator Alexander Lukashenko “won” another election with apparent overwhelming support. Allegations of rigging (again) sent hundreds of thousands into protests all over the country—but mostly in Minsk. The suppression of dissent by secret masked police, combined with the jailing of opposition leader Maria Kalesnikava (in a Russian penal colony) all point to ongoing volatility in this fascinating city. Of course, Russia’s meddling went next-level with its invasion of Ukraine and the automatic inclusion of the Belarusian regime as its puppet ally and most recently a safe harbor for Wagner mercenaries. With the second-most educated citizens globally, the hunger for change is ravenous in a place where you shouldn’t drink the tap water or speak your mind freely. The city itself is frozen in time: it was almost entirely rebuilt after its destruction by the Nazis in WWII via post-war Soviet urban planning, and little has changed since. When Russian authoritarianism eventually crumbles in the region, citizens of Minsk, already tops for Labor Force Participation, are poised to reimagine their city as the next great European capital.

A Roman city founded more than two millennia ago, Lyon is to be savored nose to tail, past to future, literally and figuratively. If the city’s middling Attractions (#73) and Museums (#137) rankings rise with the plentiful planned investment, that’s just icing on the gâteau. Locals are buzzing about the new OL Vallée leisure center (although it’s a lot more than that). Yes, there’s the massive gym and semi-Olympic pool, but also five indoor soccer pitches, a 32-lane bowling alley, escape rooms and the City Surf Park. More new investment is pouring into La Confluence, a 370-acre urban redevelopment that not only brings together Lyon’s two fabled rivers—the Rhône and the Saône—but also gives new life to an industrial urban wasteland. Most notable in the new development’s crown is the Musée des Confluences, an architectural enigma glittering at the very point where the rivers meet, with an outstretched park disappearing into the flows. Lyon also takes care of business with its #4-ranked convention center in the heart of the Renzo Piano-designed Cité Internationale, and is poised to develop its future talent in-house, with the Université de Lyon among the finest in France.

79. Portland

Portland’s blissful isolation, ambivalence toward norms and self-sustainability have long made it one of the most earnest cities in the U.S. Portlanders are among the most engaged urbanites on the planet, and have always built it themselves if they couldn’t find anything to their liking—from performance outdoor apparel like Columbia and Nike to hospitality brands like Ace and McMenamins. Their #12 global ranking for GDP per Capita, therefore, is no surprise. But the urban utopia of recent decades was ravaged by the pandemic, with homelessness spiking by almost 70%, vehicle theft almost doubling and shootings tripling, all since 2019. The population shrank for the first time in decades in 2021. Portlanders are fighting for the city’s inclusive livability and identity, one that still boasts almost 100 breweries (among the most per capita in the U.S.) and boundary-pushing nightlife and shopping that ranks in the Top 50 globally. New public projects prioritizing bikes and pedestrians are everywhere, none more Portland than the new Ned Flanders Crossing pedestrian bridge, in honor of native son and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. A 35-story Ritz-Carlton, the city’s first five-star hotel, is scheduled to open by late 2023.

80. Rotterdam

The urban post-war rebuild wasn’t exactly equal in the Netherlands. Take Rotterdam: re-engineered to provide Europe with its largest port. Today, it still does. Fittingly, the city was also saddled with the continent’s largest red-light district. These days, you can start there, in the once-dingy Katendrecht neighborhood, to witness Rotterdam’s current ascent. It’s now the city’s culinary heart, with its Deliplein Square, an outdoor dining room ringed by restaurants, and the Fenix Food Factory, packed with stalls, a local brewery and workshops in a waterfront warehouse. Watch the city’s high-100s Restaurants ranking pop in the coming years. Rotterdam is also Europe’s design and architecture hot spot. Places like the Wilhelminakade district, the steamship embarkation point for U.S.-bound Dutch émigrés, is today home to towers designed by Álvaro Siza, Norman Foster and local starchitect Rem Koolhaas. There’s even an all-timber floating office building moored nearby. What rising sea levels? Sustainable architecture elsewhere includes the air-filtering Smog Free Tower and the Windwheel (you’ll have to see it to believe it, in 2025). With that kind of office space, no wonder the city’s workers boast the world’s third-highest ranking for Labor Force Participation.

Skyscrapers soar next to sprawling barrios, hipster shops and restaurants make their presence felt in the gritty neighborhoods and a once-overwhelming crime rate is dwindling. This is the new Bogotá: part cosmopolitan city, part couture hub and all charm. The sophisticated center, La Candelaria, welcomes tourists with its cobblestone alleyways (small wonder the city’s Walk Score ties for tops among all global cities), colonial buildings, 300-year-old houses and a collection of Baroque and neoclassical churches and cathedrals. But, in recent years, Bogotá has staked its claim in the design world, too, consciously leading a slow fashion movement. It’s a natural extension of Bogotanos’ artistic identity and complements the country’s existing commitment to preserving folkloric handicrafts. It’s not just sustainable fashion that the city is aiming for, it’s sustainable everything . Colombia’s capital is aiming for net zero by 2050, and the Séptima Green Corridor initiative aims to better integrate the city’s transport network, part of a broader effort to cut climate-changing emissions and pollution. Change is slow, and not without its challenges, but Bogotanos and smitten visitors love the city (it ranks #48 in our overall Lovability index) and are doing the work to raise its ascendant profile on the world stage.

Few cities in Eastern Europe boast more historical significance than Kraków. Largely spared from Second World War bombing, the city features ancient urban gems ranging from the Wawel Royal Castle perched on a hill in all its Gothic-meets-Renaissance glory to the Cloth Hall, which, built in the 1200s, could vie for Europe’s oldest shopping center. It’s why the city is increasingly a destination for Europeans looking for new urban holidays, with its #22-ranked Attractions and #32-ranked Museums, soon bolstered by this spring’s opening of a new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art overlooking the Vistula River. Like in Warsaw, foreign investment is everywhere. Ryanair recently announced a €750-million expansion of its Kraków operations while Google continues to invest. Volvo Cars should open an entirely new tech hub to drive electrification by the end of 2023, noting the need to beat competitors to Kraków’s untapped talent pool. The investment will create an estimated 500 to 600 local jobs. Office and residential investment is also pouring in, with global real estate developer Panattoni, Finland’s YIT and Hungarian developer Echo Investment all building this decade. A new priority building bike infrastructure powers Kraków to #6 globally.

83. Valencia

Spain’s third-largest city has always flown under the radar for non-Europeans. Emerging from a harrowing pandemic, the city was named the 2022 World Design Capital by the World Design Organization. Its reasoning? “With impressive urban infrastructures that coexist harmoniously with the natural and built environment, the city has become a leading example of effective and strategic use of design in public policy.” We can’t argue. Ranking #19 in our Sights & Landmarks subcategory, Valencia is going all in on sustainability, building on 1,200 acres of carbon-absorbing urban gardens like Jardines del Real/Viveros and the city’s 10 miles of European Blue Flag–status beaches. Its new Parque Central unveiled 25 acres of green space and tree canopy on top of a reused rail yard last year. Amazingly, Valencia also just became the first city in the world to verify its carbon emissions from tourist activity. Look it up—it’s a big deal. This is also the home of the City of Arts and Sciences and the site of Europe’s largest aquarium, and its new CaixaForum history museum will improve the city’s underrated museum reputation.

84. Santiago

Located in the middle of a valley, surrounded by mountains and crossed by a river, Santiago—Chile’s capital—is probably the only place in the world where you can ski down the Andes at sunrise, then surf in the Pacific by sunset. This eclectic mix of old and new is home to emerging artists, intrepid travelers and hotshot chefs, all looking for inspiration from this elemental landscape. But it’s not all sunny. In the previous year, confronted by an unrelenting and historic 13-year drought, Chile took the unprecedented step of introducing a water rationing plan in Santiago, while crime rates, pollution and an evident neglect in public space investments persist. As economic projections for the nation appear somewhat diminished—though there is a glimmer of optimism for a resurgence in 2024—its poverty rate (#171) is abhorrent. Nonetheless, the reopening of China’s markets is expected to offer a brief respite, lending a helping hand to the national economy despite mining strikes and the specter of inflation and higher interest rates. Despite these hurdles, there’s a positive outlook for the country’s hospitality sector, with a moderate influx of new establishments in the pipeline for its capital.

85. Birmingham

Birmingham (or “Brum”), the largest city in the West Midlands and second-largest in England, has inspired both industry and imagination throughout the centuries. The area’s rich coal and iron deposits fueled its ascent as a vital engine for the British Empire, resulting in some of the fastest urban growth on the planet in the 19th century. At the same time, its economic success provided a ringside opportunity to assess the true cost of all that progress long before such things were questioned. J.R.R. Tolkien grew up here, and the author often cited his childhood adventures in the West Midlands countryside as the inspiration for Middle Earth. No wonder the city ranks #48 in our Sights & Landmarks subcategory. Or that the Birmingham Library is the largest public library in Europe. Fellow Birmingham cultural analysts Black Sabbath shared their own local inspiration with the world a half-century later. Beyond the cultural clout of the region (Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, is a 40-minute train ride south), the city today is as entrepreneurial as you’d find in the U.K., with business finally back at the #36-ranked convention center and a talent pipeline stocked by it eponymous #42-ranked uni.

86. New Orleans

In the face of poverty and injustice—and “natural” disasters compounded by both—NOLA has, over its three centuries, created a culture of presence, music and festivals. They may pale in size but not in intensity compared to others in the world. It’s why the city ranks in the Top 50 globally in our overall Lovability index, which includes Nightlife (#18), Shopping (#23) and Tripadvisor Reviews (#25). But the city works as hard as it plays, ranking #22 in GDP per Capita (even more impressive when you consider the post-Katrina exodus over the past two decades). And things are busy in the Crescent City. The French Quarter may be touristy, but the investment continues with the One11, the area’s first new hotel in 50 years. A new Four Seasons Hotel and Residences opened in the former World Trade Center, followed by local icon and men’s clothing store Rubenstein’s turning their second floor into an eponymous 40-room boutique property. The city’s Top 25 Museums ranking will improve with the Warehouse District’s new Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, along with this summer’s massive new Audubon Aquarium of Americas and Insectarium opening right on the Mississippi adjacent to the French Quarter.

87. Bucharest

Bucharest is your suggestion to well-traveled acquaintances who’ve been “everywhere” in Europe. More than three decades after it left the Iron Curtain, Romania’s capital is finally getting the attention it’s sought since the ’90s. Culturally endowed, historically vital and gastronomically mind-blowing, no wonder the city was just named tops in Europe for digital nomads based on a study by Panache Cruises, driven by its tech infrastructure and affordability. (Apparently, one can live like a count for $1,500 per month, all in.) The #36 Attractions ranking is demonstrative that the Old World beckons here, despite Soviet-backed dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu’s zealous bulldozing of centuries-old architecture. Must-sees include the Arcul de Triumf, and of course the ornate beer halls that rival those of Vienna. Foreign investment is picking up, inspired by locally born software and robotics company UiPath, which went public with a $1.3-billion software IPO on the NYSE in 2021, one of the largest in U.S. history. Local culinary talent is also returning, following chefs like Alex Petricean (formerly of Copenhagen’s Noma) and London talent Radu Ionescu. No wonder that work ethic among the citizenry ranks Bucharest at #36 for GDP per Capita and #46 for Labor Force Participation.

The U.K.’s fourth-largest city finally gets to reap the fruits of its labor after it lost its European Capital of Culture bid on a post-Brexit technicality in 2017. City leaders applied some Yorkshire pragmatism, got their £10 million bid money matched and launched their own year of culture, called Leeds 2023. January kicked off with concerts, a literary festival and a senior storytelling initiative. The celebration builds on a legacy of cultural programming (ranked #98 globally and sure to improve), powered by a storied nightlife (an impressive #41) supported by six (six!) local universities and a proud ’90s past of bringing acid house dance music to the world. The ongoing Back to Basics weekly club night, launched in 1991, claims to be Europe’s longest-running, while downtown’s Mojo bar has been making foggy memories since 1996. New spots helping shape the city include the Viaduct Showbar, an LGBTQIA+ hot spot. The deep culture also resonates outdoors, and Roundhay Park, with its 285 hectares of lakes, forests, playgrounds and cafés (and the occasional Rolling Stones, Madonna or U2 show), is one of Europe’s largest urban green spaces.

Nestled snugly between the imposing Hajar Mountains and the graceful expanse of the Gulf of Oman, Muscat emerges as an unequivocal haven for aficionados of history. The Omani capital paints an exquisite tableau of architectural splendor, with iconic landmarks such as the Al Alam Palace and the mosaic-adorned Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque dotting its landscape. Zealously dedicated to the art of preservation, Muscat shows a commitment that extends even to its contemporary skyline, where modern structures showcase traditional domes, arabesque windows and other hallmarks of heritage. While Muscat’s reputation as a weekend escape from Dubai might be firmly established, the city’s aspirations reach far beyond as it embarks on a transformative journey to becoming a leisure destination. Tourism developments bloom in alignment with Oman Vision 2040, particularly with the opening of the illustrious Jumeirah Muscat Bay, the imminent arrival of the Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences, and the highly anticipated Hotel Indigo in Jebel Akhdar. Of course this latent luxury isn’t surprising in a place with one of the lowest poverty rates on the planet and that ranks in the Top 5 for GDP per Capita.

Canada’s capital has long lived in the shadow of its bigger-city siblings, Toronto and Montreal. But a national 150th birthday in 2017 brought attention to the citizens (ranking an astonishing #6 globally for Educational Attainment) of a city where one in four is an immigrant. All that brainpower has poured into almost 2,000 knowledge-based businesses—everything from cleantech and life sciences to aerospace. Tens of thousands of new jobs are the result—along with a #38 ranking in global Poverty Rate (the lower the number, the better). In a city with a relatively low cost of living (although house prices are ascending, as with most Canadian cities), that means money to spend on the #59-ranked Attractions, which increasingly (and finally) prioritize Indigenous reconciliation. Mādahòkì Farm (meaning “share the land” in Algonquin Anishinaabe) is a new agritourism venture out of the Canadian Museum of History where Indigenous communities can reconnect with the land through healing and wellness programs and social enterprise. The city’s understated outdoor bounty is also a growing priority, with the newly renovated NCC River House in the Rockcliffe area doing its best Helsinki impression, and Westboro Beach being restored for swimming.

91. Cologne

Despite aesthetic riches like the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral, which rises above the historic buildings of the city’s Old Town, and the cultural bounty of places like the Museum Ludwig with its 20th-century art, the perception of the city lags behind its virtues. Cologne ranks cruelly low in our Sights & Landmarks (#55), Culture (#92) and Museums (#128) subcategories. That last one hurts, given the range of museums in town, from Middle Age riches at the Schnütgen, classics at the Wallraf-Richartz and the Picassos and more modern marvels at the Museum Ludwig. The city even has its own beer, Kölsch. Its global ascent is inevitable, especially with both Germans and international visitors rediscovering the city—like the more than one million who attended the restarted Pride parade in 2022. In addition to its overlooked cultural bounty, Cologne is also a regional business powerhouse and destination, powered by its Top 25-ranked convention center and fueled by citizens ranked #55 for Labor Force Participation. It’s also home to Lufthansa, traditionally the second-largest airline in Europe, which should help draw new head offices post-pandemic.

92. Charlotte

America’s Old South is up to new tricks in Charlotte, a global banking powerhouse (the second-most important in the U.S. after New York) and ranked #24 in our Global 500 Companies subcategory. All that productivity comes with relative housing affordability, and combined with its #56-ranked GDP per Capita, it’s no wonder the city ranks #73 globally in our overall Prosperity index. Charlotte is building on the good thing it has going: the already walkable downtown recently extended its east-to-west hybrid streetcar system that runs an impressive four miles over 17 stops. The city is further investing in its economic innovation with massive projects like the medical school campus and an innovation district called The Pearl, funded by Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist—26 acres in Midtown that will help position Charlotte as a destination for research and innovation and create thousands of jobs this decade alone. But with 1,000 apartments, a hotel, restaurants and bars, the project will be a destination, too. As will a former Sears department store that reopened last year as the Visual and Performing Arts Center, a new home to dozens of galleries, studios, theaters and classrooms.

93. Calgary

Although Toronto is Canada’s business heart, it’s Calgary—with one of the country’s youngest populations and home to its oil-industry-forged entrepreneurialism—that’s always been the challenger. The city has long been home to the most Americans per capita in Canada and is increasingly the destination of choice for immigrants. Ranking #31 globally in our GDP per Capita subcategory, by far the highest in Canada, the city is now slowly emerging from a near decade of economic hardship (its fortunes rise and fall with the price of crude). The pandemic added to the misery, which manifested into high unemployment and sky-high downtown office vacancies. In typical Calgarian pragmatism, rapid residential conversions of office towers are today inspiring places like Manhattan, and the resulting housing affordability is driving a massive population boom as Canada jacks up immigration with chronically low supply in its urban centers. New projects, like the recently opened Central Library in the burgeoning cultural hub of East Village, reinforce the city’s long-lauded quality of life that awaits arrivals (and engages a curious citizenry ranked #21 globally for Educational Attainment). A half-dozen new hotels are keeping returning business travelers happy.

Completely rebuilt after the bombings of the Second World War, today’s Nagoya boasts modern architectural marvels and opulent department stores, leaving no doubt that it ranks among Japan’s wealthiest cities. With its rich historical significance as the birthplace of the first Shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, and the origins of the Three Unifiers—Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu—Nagoya beckons with some of Japan’s most underrated must-see attractions. The city ranks #135 for global Attractions, which speaks to the city’s obscure tourist bounty: three Toyota museums (the automotive giant launched here), the SCMaglev and Railway Park museum, which celebrated 150 years of rail travel in the country last year, and a science museum featuring one of the world’s largest planetariums. Last year the world’s inaugural Studio Ghibli theme park opened as a 200-acre, five-theme ode to several of the studio’s most beloved movies. Then, of course, there’s the food culture that’s helped the city rank #4 globally for Restaurants, characterized as comfort food that balances sweetness with spices—with miso playing a starring role in any and every dish, and unagi a popular protein. With its #13-ranked Labor Force Participation, Nagoya enjoys a high overall Prosperity ranking (#46).

95. Dusseldorf

Düsseldorf has the special blend that makes an efficient, prosperous city perform for its residents and visitors. Take the Messe Düsseldorf, the city’s convention center (ranked #29 globally). Several Global 500 firms are here (#33), attracting residents and placing Düsseldorf at an impressive #44 in Labor Force Participation by its citizenry. New talent is welcomed by an understated multiculturalism (including Germany’s largest Japanese community, in the Immermannstrasse area), and the capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia state’s plentiful job opportunities. The small but mighty cultural scene (ranked #138 but poised for big things) supports more than 100 galleries, and Joseph Beuys, the sculptor and performance artist, is a local icon almost 40 years after his death. The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen museum is home to important classical and contemporary European art collections, performances and screenings. The architecture at MedienHafen—a waterfront development juxtaposing old with new—boasts buildings and hotels by Frank Gehry, David Chipperfield, Jo Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi alongside restored historic warehouses that maintain the industrial port character of the Rhine River shoreline.

Although not as expansive or bustling as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi offers a plethora of activities and attractions, from urban landmarks (you haven’t seen Hanoi unless it’s through the glass-bottom terrace of the Lotte Center observation deck), chaotic markets for bargain hunters, awe-inspiring heritage structures like the Imperial Citadel—a UNESCO World Heritage site—and a vibrant nightlife that holds its own charm. However, many of Vietnam’s endemic problems persist in the city—government bans on independent labor unions, human rights groups and political parties; police intimidation; restricted movement; arbitrary arrests; unfair trials; and imprisonment are some of the challenges. Small wonder, then, that the city is near the bottom of our list, with Livability at #61 and Prosperity at #184. Still, Vietnam’s economy has proven its resilience amid challenges in the global economy—growth is projected at 4.7% in the second half of 2023. What’s more, according to the Vietnam News Agency, the Hanoi hospitality market is expected to boom; there are plans for an additional 66 new projects with more than 11,000 hotel rooms. Out of these, 61% are five-star hotels—making the city ready to host the world (and coveted business travel).

97. Gothenburg

Sweden’s second city is wrapping up a three-year celebration of its 400th birthday (2021–2023). When you’re the second-smallest city by population in our Top 100 (trailing only Dublin), you’re allowed. This under-the-radar European city has always done things its own way. There’s birthday storytelling, like Gothenburg Stories, the main installation of the city museum, showcasing interviews with 100 locals. There’s massive sustainable infrastructure, like the expansion of Jubileumsparken (Centenary Park). There’s the Hisingsbron vertical-lift bridge, which rises to accommodate river traffic, allowing residents to bike and walk safely over the Göta River. There are ambitious new attractions, from the completely renovated Gothenburg Maritime Museum and Aquarium to rollercoasters in the new Luna Park at Liseberg amusement park. A half-dozen high-profile hotels have opened over the past 18 months, from the Jacy’z skyscraper resort to the 451-room Scandic Göteborg Central and Clarion Hotel the Pier, built by Chinese automotive company Geely (owners of Gothenburg-based Volvo) next to their innovation center, called Uni3. Its citizens boast the #28-ranked Labor Force Participation on the planet, as part of its #60 rank in our overall Prosperity index.

98. Sapporo

A first-timer on our list, Sapporo is one of Japan’s newest and most orderly cities. With little in the way of traditional architecture, it lacks in that unique “Japanese-ness” of places like Tokyo and Kyoto, but makes up for it with opportunities for summer road trips and snowy winter adventures (don’t miss the ice sculptures on Susukino and the castles and manga characters made of snow—with stops at the Sapporo Clock Tower and the open-air Historical Village of Hokkaido along the way). Of course, no visit to the city would be complete without stops at the Sapporo Beer Museum and the Asahi brewery, followed by a leisurely karaoke crawl around the bars of Susukino. Sapporo also has plenty of open-air hot-spring baths, or rotenburo—Tsukisamu Onsen, next to the Sapporo Dome stadium, is just one of many—and major department stores, like Daimaru, Mitsukoshi and the Tanukikoji Arcade lining the 1,700-foot underground pedestrian passage. The city’s position as an IT and logistics hub is powered by a citizenry ranked #27 for their Labor Force Participation and #41 for Educational Attainment.

Bilbao, in the heart of Basque Country in northern Spain, last year celebrated 25 years since the 1997 opening of the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Frank Gehry-designed titanium-clad museum that made the city, and its architect, global icons. Proudly one of Europe’s smaller urban centers, Bilbao revels under the cover of its own relative obscurity and isolation, creating its own magnetism. Sure, the Guggenheim’s destination architecture still draws hundreds of thousands annually, but as one of Europe’s most welcoming cities (tied for #1 globally for its Walk Score and ranking #19 for its biking infrastructure), Bilbao is building an accessible hometown full of new green spaces and sustainability-minded housing—with other daring new waves of architecture, like Santiago Calatrava’s Zubizuri Bridge and Bilbao Airport, and Zaha Hadid’s redevelopment of the old port area. Design-forward Bilbao is also emerging as a stealthy, affordable business headquarters, ranking #43 for Global 500 companies in town, including multinational electric utility company Iberdrola and financial giant BBVA. The world is watching this urban dynamo, especially as it hosted the launch of the Tour de France cycling race this past summer in balmy splendor while the rest of Southern Europe sweltered.

100. Baltimore

Less than an hour’s commute from Washington, D.C., Baltimore offers a slower pace of life and significantly cheaper housing than the hyper-charged capital. But the window to buy into one of Baltimore’s diverse, historic communities is closing fast—home prices in the city reached a 10-year record high a year into the pandemic and have only fallen slightly since. No wonder the city’s beguiling urban pockets and dipping crime rates are attracting visitors and curious potential residents seeking unvarnished American urbanism and some of the country’s best museums (ranked #71 globally). According to Q4 2022 numbers, the city’s downtown is back to 95% of pre-pandemic activity. Good thing, too, because the signature placemaking investment is finally opening in phases in South Baltimore’s industrial Warner Street district (since rebranded to The Walk @ Warner Street), with plans for a new entertainment district between M&T Bank Stadium and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore being implemented. The city also boasts the Top 25 most educated residents on the planet, partially the result of Johns Hopkins University, which ranks #7 globally in our University subcategory and is also Baltimore’s largest employer.

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The best cities in the world: 2023 Readers' Choice Awards

By Condé Nast Traveller

Scenic view of Nyhavn pier with color buildings ships yachts and other boats in the Old Town of Copenhagen Denmark.

The survey for the 2024 Readers' Choice Awards is open, vote now for your favourite places, hotels, airports, cruise lines, travel fixers and more.

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, reckoned Italo Calvino; but the best have pretty decent architecture , a buzzing food scene and smart places to stay too. For our most recent annual Reader's Choice Awards survey, with results announced in October 2023, the desire of discerning travellers to explore bucket list destinations off-limits for sometime was evident. Singapore is booming once again, Australia is raring to go, and Japan is ready to share its cultural wonders once again.

These are the best cities in the world, according to the 2023 Readers' Choice Awards . The scores below are percentages representing overall average levels of satisfaction.

High angle view of park in Oslo

10. Oslo, Norway. Score 88.67

Oslo has, surprisingly, remained relatively under the radar, often overlooked by its other Scandi neighbours. But this year, the Norwegian capital has started turning heads. In 2023, Oslo was named one of  Europe's most artistic cities , thanks in no small part to the new National Museum of Art and the annual Oslo Art Weekend, and new hotel openings like the Sommerro – a glamorous foodie hotspot where you'll find much of the city's creative crowd.

Copenhagen Denmark

9. Copenhagen, Denmark. Score 88.78

Another Scandinavian city has graced the list of the world's best cities this year, but Copenhagen is no stranger to the limelight. While Noma may have recently announced its closure, the city's culinary scene is as strong as ever – Geranium (located in the country's National Football Stadium) was named the  world's best restaurant  in 2022. The  Tivoli  neighbourhood is rapidly becoming one of the hottest neighbourhoods to know about, with a slew of Michelin-worthy chefs, new restaurants and markets. Stay in one of  Copenhagen's top hotels  to get to grips with the city.

Australia New South Wales Sydney Harbour aerial view

8. Sydney, Australia. Score 88.98

Sydney has never been a place to sit still for long. Come for the sunshine, stay for the  ocean pools , cute cafés, rooftop bars and culture – the city has recently opened the Sydney Modern Project, which shines a light on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Plus,  Qantas is about to launch the world's longest flight from London to Sydney  – complete with the first dedicated wellness zone on an aircraft, meaning there's more reason than ever to start planning your trip to this Australian city.

Cape Town South Africa

7. Cape Town, South Africa. Score 89.21

On pristine  beaches , penguins waddle about their business while leaping dolphins frame spectacular sunsets – and thrill-seekers head out on boats to come face-to-face with fearsome sharks. Away from the ocean, guests check into world-renowned hotels such as  The Silo , the recognisable property where rooms feature contemporary African art and 360-degree city views. Table Mountain views are enjoyed over supper, especially during trips to  Delaire Graff Estate  for wine-swirling and impeccable tasting menus.

Despite dropping to sixth place this year the 2022 winner wasnbspSan Miguel de Allende. UNESCO declared this town a...

6. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Score 89.41

Despite dropping to sixth place this year, the 2022 winner was  San Miguel de Allende . UNESCO declared this town a World Heritage Site in 2008. However, it’s not just this rich history that has travellers falling for the city. A low crime rate, thriving cultural scene, and endless culinary possibilities are all contributing factors, plus some fabulous places to bed down – including  Rosewood San Miguel de Allende  and  Hotel Mansion San Miguel by Concordia.

Myeongdong in Seoul

5. Seoul, South Korea. Score 89.47

Seoul has gone from strength to strength recently. A behemoth of a city, both in size and heart, the South Korean capital is the place to add to your 2024 travel bucket list. Home to cloud-piercing skyscrapers in the shadow of towering mountains, spend days shopping in the city centre and hop between bibimbap restaurants, Seoul street food or Korean cafés – or treat yourself to the culinary delights of chef Kang Mingoo for Michelin-starred dining.

Tokyo Japan

4. Tokyo, Japan. Score 89.99

Often viewed as the gate to the rest of  Japan’s  wonders, the bustling metropolis of Tokyo (population 13.96 million at the last count) has much to offer as a destination. That  Tokyo hotels  have been joined by smart chains speaks volumes, with newcomers like the  Bulgari Tokyo  attracting increased interest. Japan was closed to visitors for almost two years due to the pandemic, but recent figures show the country has no issues pulling in the international crowds again.

This years third place is no stranger to inquisitive travellers with more than 19 million visiting in 2019. Whether the...

3. Singapore. Score 90.46

This year’s third place is no stranger to inquisitive travellers, with more than 19 million visiting in 2019. Whether the names are familiar or not, you will have seen the rooftop pool of  Marina Bay Sands Hotel  and the biometric trees that illuminate the city. Increasingly seen as one of the cities of the future, the metropolis released plans to greenify by 2030, with parks on every corner, eco-friendly energy sources and a circular economy. See more of the best  things to do in Singapore .

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2. San Sebastián, Spain. Score 90.54

If there’s one thing that’s helped bolster  San Sebastián’s  popularity in recent years, it’s food. While the city's beauty has been acknowledged for years, this Spanish city-break favourite has welcomed  exciting restaurants  and hotels in recent years. Michelin-starred options include Akelaŕe, a three-star restaurant offering spectacular views and playful takes on contemporary dishes, while pintxos bars such as Ganbara and Antonio Bar are must-visits on any gluttonous group escape.

Victoria Canada

1. Victoria, Canada. Score 91.67

In first place for 2023 is Victoria. While the restaurant and nightlife scene is something to be celebrated, with views over the Pacific Ocean along the coastal boulevards, this is a city that embraces adventure – the capital city of British Columbia draws outdoorsy types. Appreciate the surrounding landscape by seaplane, spot whales on the horizon on kayaks or zipline through the treetops.

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The World’s 10 Best Cities of 2024

Resonance’s annual ranking takes into account factors that include a city’s gdp per capita, cultural programming, airport connectivity, even instagram hashtags..

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Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

What makes a city the greatest in the world? For more than 15 years, Resonance—a consultancy group in real estate, tourism, and economic development—has taken a holistic approach to a popular “best-of” list.

Rather than just rely on data around, say, a place’s landmarks or how easy it is to bike there , Resonance uses a combination of core statistics (like GDP and number of Fortune Global 500 corporate headquarters) and qualitative evaluations by both locals and visitors (from online channels like Instagram and TripAdvisor) to paint a more comprehensive picture of a world’s best city.

The organization’s new 2024 World’s Best Cities list has just been released with many familiar destinations at the top. The cities on this year’s list—all with metropolitan populations of more than 1 million—have moved toward a postpandemic reality in their own ways: One rolled out 464 miles of bikeways (San Francisco), while another is imagining a place in which residents can access 80 percent of their daily needs and destinations in less than 30 minutes’ time by foot or bike ride (Dubai).

How the best city rankings work

“This year, we’ve regrouped our previous six categories [Place, People, Programming, Product, Prosperity, and Promotion] into three larger pillars that we utilize in our work with clients—Livability, Lovability, and Prosperity—to define each city’s relative Place Power Score,” Resonance Consultancy president Chris Fair said in the 2024 report. ”Our rankings are still built from 24 subcategories that we analyze to measure the performance of each city. . . . The criteria we select to rank these cities are limited to those that have historically shown positive correlations with attracting employment, investment and/or visitors.”

Livability: This category measures the quality of a place’s environment, both natural and built. Subcategories include walkability (the city’s walkability score on Walk Score), airport connectivity (the number of direct destinations served by the city’s airports), and higher education (the QS Rankings score of the top local university).

Lovability: The lovability pillar considers the vibrancy and quality of a city, as well as how much it inspires residents, businesses, and visitors to promote it. This includes culture (number of quality performing arts and cultural experiences recommended by locals and visitors according to, shopping (number of quality shopping experiences recommended by locals and visitors according to, and number of Instagram hashtags.

Prosperity: The prosperity pillar measures the strength of a city’s human capital. Subcategories include educational attainment (percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher), Fortune Global 500 companies (number of Fortune Global 500 corporate headquarters), convention center size (size of the largest convention center in a city), and poverty rate (percentage of the population living below the national poverty line).

Here’s how the world’s best cities ranked in the 2024 report, released October 3, 2023:

1. London, England

Rankings: Livability (1), Lovability (1), Prosperity (3)

“London is rarely quiet these days,” says Resonance. Most of the Tube’s lines are running at its pre-COVID cadence, with added metro stops like the October 2022-opened Bond Street’s Elizabeth station. Thanks to policies that give the U.K. the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 countries, Resonance says London’s resilience has been “buoyed by a sinking currency that has attracted investment and, of course, previously priced-out tourists. And new residents . . . who can now afford to check off a big item on the multi-millionaire bucket list: property in the planet’s most coveted city.”

Why we love it: London’s main sights might date back millennia, but the capital’s shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants continue to evolve on an almost weekly basis. Whether you’re outdoorsy, hungry, or bringing a family in tow, there’s a distinct London neighborhood to investigate —and it will likely look different from your last visit. For new hotel options , there’s everything from the much-anticipated Raffles London at the OWO to the sustainability-meets-luxury inspired 1 Hotel Mayfair .

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to London.

Sidewalk café in Paris

Photo by Catarina Belova/Shutterstock

2. Paris, France

Rankings: Lovability (2), Livability (6), Prosperity (12)

“The city remains the most visited on the planet, with 44 million visitors last year,” Resonance says. “Good thing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport used the past three years of lower volume to invest €250 million into a renovation of Terminal 1. Reopened this year, it now has a colossal junction building and a central lobby full of the latest tech to improve the traveler experience. Rail access and infrastructure are also unprecedented. A seven-hour direct Berlin-to- Paris TGV line launches next year, with more ambitious directs like the Venice-to-Paris Midnight Trains coming in 2025. No matter how they arrive, what Paris visitors new and returning will find is a city that has codified pedestrianism and alfresco living.”

Why we love it: As Paris gears up for the 2024 Olympics, it’s only getting better. Improved infrastructure, a commitment to pedestrians, and luxurious hotels add to a city we love for its world-class art, shopping, and global cuisine.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Paris.

New York City cityscape viewed from Brooklyn Bridge

Photo by Colton Duke/Unsplash

3. New York City, United States

The pandemic exodus led some to believe New York City’s reign was over, but this U.S. city’s number three ranking—the same as last year—proves that it’s not going anywhere. Resonance says tourism numbers for the city are skyrocketing from 33 million visitors in 2021 (which was less than half of 2019’s numbers) to a projected 61 million in 2023. NYC is welcoming back visitors in style with major upgrades to its international gateways: LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport all have new terminals, “with the new Terminal B at LaGuardia alone boasting 35 gates” and looking fine . Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, and Thompson in Midtown are only a few of the impressive hotels ready to host incoming visitors—check out AFAR’s review of the $3,200-a-night Aman .

Why we love it: “The City” (as locals call it) consistently ranks for its culture; this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip hop music’s founding and the 100-year anniversary of the Museum of the City of New York. New sights and landmarks are constantly being added to classics like the Empire State Building, such as the viewpoints from Summit One Vanderbilt’s all-glass exterior elevators.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to New York City.

Cherry blossoms and temple in Tokyo, Japan

Photo by Shutterstock

4. Tokyo, Japan

Rankings: Livability (3), Lovability (4), Prosperity (11)

“The Japanese government remains steadfast, keeping its target of 60 million visitors and $136 billion in tourism revenue by 2030. It’s not as delusional as it sounds: the country enjoyed record tourism for seven straight years and can now accommodate even more, with the expansion of the international terminal at Haneda, the city’s main airport (ranked #38 globally), and a planned 18-minute rail link from arrivals to downtown by 2031,” says Resonance. There’s much ado around Japan’s recent reopening to international travelers —and as the world’s best city for shopping, wallets will likely open on their visit to spots like the newly renovated Miyashita Park.

Why we love it: Ranked number in the survey’s restaurants subcategory, Tokyo is home to some life-changing ramen , making it a destination worth planning an entire trip around food. And if most of your travel budget goes to eating, don’t worry. There are plenty of affordable hotels in Tokyo to book.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Tokyo.

Tree structures at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

5. Singapore

Rankings: Prosperity (2), Lovability (14), Livability (17)

Shooting up from its number nine ranking on the 2023 World’s Best Cities list, Singapore has become one of the continent’s most captivating cities, according to Resonance. And it’s not just iconic views from the rooftop infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands that are grabbing people’s attention. “A new waterfront district is being explored just south of the airport, called the Great Southern Waterfront, which is slated to build 9,000 housing units along Singapore’s southern coast,” the report says. “Locals are also buzzing about the forthcoming NS Square, a future outdoor multipurpose venue in the Downtown Core area of Marina Bay that will replace the popular Marina Bay floating platform.”

Why we love it: The Little Red Dot, as the city-state is affectionately called, is highlighted for biking and shopping; it earns top spots in our eyes (and stomachs) for its famous hawker stall street food, its garden-like airport terminal , and the reopened Raffles Singapore hotel, which has been welcoming travelers since 1887.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Singapore

Man riding a camel and leading a camel in Dubai

6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Rankings: Prosperity (4), Lovability (5), Livability (35)

“Famed for outlandish developments like Palm Jumeirah, home to Atlantis, the Palm and the made-famous-by-Tom-Cruise Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world—the city has, over the years, made breaking world records a national pastime: tallest, longest, fastest, largest,” Resonance says. Moving forward, Dubai’s 2040 Urban Masterplan aims to make it feel smaller by developing a “20-minute city,” in which city residents can access 80 percent of their daily needs and destinations by either a 20-minute walk or bike ride.

Why we love it: Its Museum of the Future ; greater accessibility with more than 700 hotel options ; a new Michelin guide featuring 89 restaurants , including three with a Green star sustainability honor.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Dubai.

Red bridge during daybreak with fog surrounding the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s iconic landmarks.

Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock

7. San Francisco, United States

Rankings: Prosperity (5), Livability (20), Lovability (28)

Despite San Francisco’s steep population decline and an office vacancy of about 30 percent, city leaders remain “undeterred,” says Resonance: The city is “rolling out the most daring bike and pedestrian infrastructure in America and the protected bike network now boasts 464 miles of bikeways, including 50 miles of new car-free/car-light streets in the past year alone.” Global talent continues to come, thanks to high salaries and the Bay Area, which Resonance says “remains the number one place for start-up innovation, powered by venture capital kept interested in the city’s famed ‘ecosystem’—for talent, for research and for universities.”

Why we love it: Besides being AFAR’s birthplace, there are endless things to do ( even for a local ). With plenty of vibrant neighborhoods to explore, it’s a no-brainer stop for those on the Pacific Coast Highway .

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to San Francisco.

Gaudi rooftop architecture in Barcelona

Photo by Luis Pina/Shutterstock

8. Barcelona, Spain

Rankings: Lovability (7), Livability (10), Prosperity (48)

Why we love it: Barcelona is an almost ideal European city, one with great weather year round and “era-spanning neighborhoods that are destinations at all hours,” says Resonance. Add bike-friendliness to the list; according the World’s Best Cities report, travelers coming to the city will find more than 150 miles of new bike lanes, as well as “daring initiatives like Eixos Verds (Green Axis), a network of quieter roads that share space equally between cars, bikes and pedestrians, and are dotted with benches and community squares.”

Why we love it: This Spanish city is home to miles and miles of beaches , iconic parks, and Gaudí’s iconic architectural landmarks . Its activities aren’t just limited to the daytime—Barcelona ranks number three in the nightlife subcategory.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Barcelona.

People in a bike lane on bikes in Amsterdam

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rankings: Livability (5), Lovability (22), Prosperity (24)

According to Resonance, an attitude of care for others and willingness for locals to do the work is reflected in the city’s Top 5 ranking in its Livability score. Just look at the approach Mayor Halsema’s administration took in accommodating unhoused migrants during the refugee crisis. Making its livability sustainable has led to several efforts on the tourism end: Over the summer, city council moved to ban cruise ships from the city center as part of its clean-air efforts . Resonance says “tours and programs focusing on the city’s enviable livability and Dutch history” are also encouraging tourists “from the city center and out to the #8-ranked shopping and #11-ranked museums that pepper the city.”

Why we love it: With nonstop flights available from most U.S. cities, Amsterdam’s easy accessibility—and beautiful canals and world-class museums—make it a popular stop for any trip to Europe. In addition to its top-notch cultural offerings, Amsterdam is also on the forefront of sustainable tourism. In 2018, one hospitality company started to repurpose Amsterdam’s out-of-use bridge houses into charming stand-alone hotel rooms , and by 2030, all gas and diesel cars will be banned from the city.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Amsterdam.

Red pagoda and bridge with intricate yellow designs amidst orange trees.

Seoul’s history can be found in places like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Photo by Travel Take Photos/Shutterstock

10. Seoul, South Korea

Highlighted rankings: Prosperity (8), Livability (26), Lovability (31)

“In an astonishingly short span, South Korea’s capital has 180ed from war-ravaged city to high-tech hub,” says Resonance. “The city’s ascent is boosted by our eighth-lowest Poverty Rate ranking, sixth-most Global 500 firms located in town, and a growing start-up ecosystem waiting its turn to disrupt the incumbents. All that innovation is sated by the 176 Michelin-rated venues that have earned Seoul a #3 ranking in our Restaurants subcategory.”

Why we love it: The Korean wave has brought Seoul into the mainstream as traditions like Korean Banchan have gotten recognition. The food scene can be found in places like Gwangjang Market, “where you can eat everything from a soup of rice cakes and kimchi-tofu dumplings to squirmy live octopus (really),” says Resonance.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to South Korea.

To see the full list of the world’s 100 best cities, visit .

This article was originally published in 2020. It is updated annually.


World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

The 9 Most Visited Cities in the United States

By Rachel Chang

9 Most Visited Cities in the US

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

We all have our go-to vacation destinations—the places that dot your daydreams and find their way onto your physical itineraries time and time again. For those who live here, getting to many of the most visited cities in the US is relatively simple thanks to daily flights and the multitude of iconic American road trips . From the bustling energy of New York City to the showmanship of Las Vegas , the beauty of the United States is that every urban center has its own personality, luring travelers in for a taste of its distinct culture. Visitors come in droves to immerse themselves in city life, whether that's with a side of sunshine or skyscrapers.

To help dig into the destinations travelers are honing in on, we looked at the International Trade Administration's data as it clocked in overseas travelers’ visitation last year (2023 data is forthcoming) to see which big cities are getting the most traffic. Without further ado, here are the top nine most visited cities in America—and the reasons people can't get enough of them.

9 Most Visited Cities in the US

1. New York City

Annual overseas visitation: 6.99 million

The beauty of New York City never sleeping is that it’s constantly evolving. In recent years, the city’s iconic staples—the Empire State Building , Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty —have been joined by fresh landmarks like The Edge (the western hemisphere’s highest outdoor sky platform), Summit One Vanderbilt (a high-tech observation deck in Manhattan’s tallest skyscraper), the Museum of Broadway (an immersive exhibit through the history of the Great White Way), and Gansevoort Peninsula (Manhattan’s first sandy beach).

Even longtime staples have found ways to reinvent themselves. The American Museum of Natural History debuted a new $465 million Richard Gilder Center for Science wing this past spring, Top of the Rock just launched The Beam experience for visitors to recreate the iconic 1932 ironworkers lunch photo, and The Tour at NBC Studios reopened last month with four new video exhibits . Buzzy new hotels are also on the city scene, like the recently opened The Fifth Avenue Hotel in Nomad, The Warren Street Hotel (opening this February in Tribeca), and The Surrey, A Corinthia Hotel, New York (opening next spring on the Upper East Side). The top of the year is one of the best times to visit, with NYC Hotel Week offering up to 24 percent off rooms, Broadway Week with two-for-one tickets, and Restaurant Week serving up prix fixe menus at a discount.

Annual overseas visitation : 4.09 million

Come for the beach, stay for the culture—there’s no doubt that there’s always a good time to be had in Miami . But while it used to revolve mainly around South Beach and Ocean Drive , where it was all about seeing and being seen, the range of experiences is so much richer these days.

Take, for example, the neighborhood of Wynwood . The former garment district had fallen into disarray until a renaissance started in the early 2000s—in the form of graffiti art. Now 35,000 square feet of walls are covered by colorful murals at Wynwood Walls , transforming the entire area into arguably the hippest district right now. Visit the Museum of Graffiti , Nader Art Museum Latin America , and Bakehouse Arts Complex , before grabbing a bite at Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar + Kitchen , Zak the Baker , or the Japanese speakeasy Hiden .

Elsewhere in Magic City, the 10-mile-long urban park The Underline is opening in phases; a new branch of Soho House, Miami Pool House , is set to open in 2024; and the city’s highest tower, the whimsical 1,049-foot-tall Waldorf Astoria Residences is taking over the skyline.

Annual overseas visitation : 2.92 million

Endless family fun draws visitors from all over the world to Orlando year-round, thanks to the allure of Walt Disney World , Universal Orlando Resort , SeaWorld Orlando , and Legoland Florida Resort . To add to the list, the first new theme park in decades is on its way: Universal Epic Universe , which will include a Super Nintendo World and is set to welcome guests in 2025.

Contrasting the fantastical experiences, Orlando is also filled with natural experiences. Take your pick from birding at Gatorland Bird Rookery , kayaking with Epic Paddle Adventures , or zip lining at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden . Also notable: an eco-friendly, faster rail service Brightline , traveling between Miami, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach debuted in September. For large groups seeking some sunshine, the long-anticipated Evermore Resort —opening January 1, 2024—is specifically built for crowds, offering two- to 11-bedroom vacation rentals.

9 Most Visited Cities in the US

4. Los Angeles

Annual overseas visitation : 2.75 million

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The spotlight always shines so naturally on Los Angeles that it’s easy to overlook the fact that the southern California hub has grown up right in front of our eyes—and continues to do so. Always-trendy neighborhoods like Silver Lake and West Hollywood mix with those finding new life in recent years like Downtown’s Arts District and Culver City . LA's 75 miles of coastline is boosted by the glamor of the film and television industry, marked by the iconic Hollywood Sign celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. And getting an inside look at all the movie magic is easier than ever these days, with four studios bringing visitors onto their working studio lots: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood , Sony Pictures Studio Tour , Paramount Studio Tour, and the original, Universal Studios Hollywood , with its trademark backlot tram tour celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024.

This year marks the opening of Destination Crenshaw , four acres of cultural space with pocket parks and the country’s largest Black-led public art project. Also next year, the Natural History Museum will debut a $75 million project, NHM Commons, adding 75,000 square feet of space, while LACMA is set to open a new David Geffen Galleries building for its permanent collection. To top it off, the Intuit Dome will become the new home court of the Los Angeles Clippers.

All over the city, distinct boutique hotels are capturing L.A.’s personality in their own ways. Old-school Hollywood class and sass shines at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel , while a chill, laid-back downtown vibe radiates at The Hoxton , where the rooftop bar has a direct view of the Arena, which will unveil a bronze Kobe Bryant statue in February. Other recent openings include The Shay in Culver City, The Winfield in DTLA’s Jewelry District, and Alsace LA Hotel in West Adams.

5. San Francisco

Annual overseas visitation: 1.74 million

There's too much to do in San Francisco in a single visit, which may be precisely why it's among the five most visited cities in the US: Hop on a cable car , drive down curvy Lombard Street , climb to the top of Coit Tower , eat your way through the country’s oldest Chinatown , and even go bison-gazing in Golden Gate Park . The Presidio Tunnel Tops , which opened in 2022, has quickly become one of the new favorite public spaces, while the Landing at Leidesdorff pedestrian space offers pop-up cultural programming. Beloved museum The Exploratorium has opened a public art project in Civic Center Plaza, Middle Ground: Reconsidering Ourselves and Others . Experiences are also going more high-tech, as origami store Paper Tree launched an augmented reality origami tour in partnership with Adobe.

This fall, the Asian Art Museum opened its East West Bank Art Terrace , a 7,500-square-foot with city views. The 654-acre Filoli recently made headlines when President Joe Biden visited in November—the Georgian revival mansion and 16 acres of English gardens are located about 30 minutes south of the city in Woodside. New hotels are opening in full force, including The Jay in Jackson Square, Hotel Julian in Nob Hill, and SoMa House in the south of Market District.

6. Las Vegas

Annual overseas visitation: 1.66 million

As Google’s top searched flight destination of 2023, no doubt your social media feeds have been trending with footage from the many concerts—namely U2 —at The Sphere , proof that Las Vegas always knows how to put on a show. The Irish band continues its debut series on select dates through March and will hand off the baton to Phish in April, but visitors can always immerse themselves in the stadium at The Sphere Experience . The city also set the scene for the first Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix last month and will continue to steal the show by hosting Super Bowl LVII in February.

Events aside, Vegas is also experiencing a new wave of celebrity-helmed eateries. Last year, the Jonas Brothers’ family ’s Nellie’s Southern Kitchen opened in MGM Grand, bringing the distinct flavors of its original Belmont, North Carolina, location’s home cooking to The Strip. The Bedford by Martha Stewart also opened in 2022, modeled after her 1925 farmhouse in upstate New York, and Blake Shelton will be opening a branch of his Ole Red next month. The hotel scene also got a major boost this month with the opening of Fontainebleau Las Vegas , a 3,600-key mega hotel with a 150,000-square-foot casino. Fun fact: Justin Timberlake, Tom Brady, Cher, and Paul Anka all attended its opening celebration.

9 Most Visited Cities in the US

7. Washington, D.C.

Annual overseas visitation: 1.17 million

The best thing about visiting the nation’s capital is that the itinerary writes itself. Just head to the Washington Monument , and you’ll be right in the center of The Mall , with the Lincoln Memorial to the west, the White House to the north, the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin to the south, the Capitol on the east, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to your southwest. And all around the circumference are Smithsonian museums—all free of charge—for every interest. (Note that free timed-entry passes are required for the popular National Air and Space Museum .)

But venture further and newcomers are complementing the historic center. Planet Word , an immersive museum about the origins of language, opened in 2020 in a historic schoolhouse. Across the way, the Asian American-owned Eaton DC merges a hip hotel with community living. After a two-year renovation, the National Museum of Women in the Arts has reopened, and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden is being spruced up ahead of its 50th anniversary next year. And just making its debut in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is a portrait of Oprah Winfrey , which will be on display through October 20, 2024.

The Wharf district also expanded last year, bringing along with it Pendry Washington DC - The Wharf . Also new in town: the 807-room Westin Washington, DC Downtown , putting fitness at the forefront with the city’s biggest exercise studio, a 10,000-square-foot space, and a spotlight on its RunWestin program with routes throughout the capital—one of the best ways to truly get to know the city.

Annual overseas visitation: 1.06 million

There's a good reason Condé Nast Traveler readers have voted for Chicago as the best big city in the country for the seventh year running. After all, the Midwestern hub blends together the most vibrant elements: striking architecture (best experienced on a river cruise tour ), expansive museums (the lakeside Field Museum has more than 40 million artifacts and specimens), and eateries helmed by top chefs (Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat remains a game-changing favorite, while Virtue ’s Damarr Brown won a James Beard Award for emerging chef).

Wander through Millennium Park , with its trademark Cloud Gate structure (better known as The Bean), pop into The Art Institute of Chicago , catch a game at Wrigley Field , stroll The 606 elevated trail—and of course, make time for a Chicago hot dog and deep-dish pizza ( Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company flips the pie over on your plate). New accommodations this fall include the Neighborhood Hotel in Little Italy and The St. Regis Chicago in the world’s tallest building designed by a female architect.

Annual overseas visitation: 738,000

Boston is a city that's always on the move—and it encourages visitors to do the same. One of the best ways to dive deep into its history is by following the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail , connecting 16 of the most significant sites ranging from Boston Common to Bunker Hill Monument. Last year, the Innovation Trail made its debut going from downtown to Cambridge, tracing more than 400 years of scientific breakthroughs rooted in the city. This past summer also marked the opening of the Walking City Trail , connecting 17 neighborhoods on a 27-mile path. Don't forget about the city's most famous route: the Boston Marathon , the most elite of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors runs, which is set to take the streets again for the 128th time on April 15, 2024.

But of course, there’s plenty of downtime to be had as well. Grab a drink with Sam and the gang at the Cheers Boston bar (head upstairs for a replica of the set), dine at The Newbury Boston ’s rooftop restaurant Contessa (don’t miss the squash carpaccio), and stroll the Boston Seaport for waterfront views. As for setting up a home base, consider checking in at the new Raffles Boston (Raffles' first hotel in all of North America) or The Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection .

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20 Best Cities To Visit In The USA (2024 Review)

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Nicole

The United States is filled to the brink with incredible and diverse cities. They range in size from millions of people to a few thousand and from an intense fast paced inner-city experience to a more gentle and slower pace with easy access to nature. Some offer year round warm sunny weather while others offer you the wonderment of all four seasons. Whether you are looking for access to amazing restaurants, world class museums, great beaches, or a launching spot for awe-inspiring day trips, you will find your heart’s desire in one of these 20 best cities to visit in the USA recommended by travel bloggers and industry experts.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Best US Destinations By Month

Many of us want to take a vacation, but then, have no idea where to go. As we all know, the United States is enormous. With its wide ranging geography, some places are better to visit during certain months while others are best avoided at all costs. In addition, most destinations offer amazing annual festivals and events that would be fantastic to see, but how do you plan to go when you have no idea what’s coming up?

For a list of the best places to visit in the US by month, including special events that you wouldn’t want to miss, please take a look at the following articles. The destinations include cities, towns, national and state parks.

  • 24 Best Places To Visit In The USA in January ;
  • 26 Best Places To Visit In USA In February ;
  • 26 Best Places To Visit In The USA In March ;
  • 20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In April ;
  • 25 Best Places To Visit In The USA In May ;
  • 21 Best Places To Visit In The USA In June ;
  • 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA in September ;
  • 22 Best Places To Visit In The USA In October
  • 20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In November ; and
  • 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA For Christmas .

If national parks and nature are your sole interest, consider reviewing:

  • Best Times To Visit The 25 Best National Parks In The USA ; and
  • 23 Best National Parks To Visit In The USA In June ;
  • 21 Best US National Parks To Visit In October ;
  • 15 Best Waterfalls To Visit In The USA ;
  • 10 Best Natural Hot Springs In Northern And Southern California .

If you are looking for a warm winter getaway in the United States, take a look at the 50 best US beaches in winter . If snow and winter sports are more your thing, please see  24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA .

For those who are trying to find a summer vacation with beautiful mild summer days, please take a look at 20 Best US Destinations To Escape The Sizzling Summer Heat .

For anyone who loves a beautiful sunset, check out 24 Best Places In USA For Most Beautiful Sunsets .

Best Cities To Visit In The USA

Here are 20 of the best cities to visit in the USA according to industry insiders and travel experts. They all offer fun or interesting attractions and are easily reached from all parts of the United States (and the world). Most provide an amazing foodie scene and straightforward access to beaches or nature. Included are the best times to go, when you might want to avoid, and a pro tip or two from those in the know.

best places to visit in the USA in April

Boston, Massachusetts

According to Samantha from Seeing Sam , Boston might seem like just another bustling city, famous for beans, baseball, and the legendary bar Cheers but the healthiest city in America (according to the Deutsche Bank) has so much more to offer.

Boston ‘s charm, history, and innovation make it one of the best cities to visit in the USA from its stunning architecture, historic parks and buildings, food markets, sports teams, and cultural museums.

A duck boat tour through downtown and Massachusetts bay is a great way to see the city. Catch a fly ball at iconic Fenway Park or enjoy $1 oysters at many delicious raw bars around town. For those history buffs, soak up some American history on the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail walk.

Boston is home to countless museums, and art galleries, one famous for the largest art heist in the world, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Boston also makes an excellent base for lots of day trips, including Cambridge, home to Harvard University, the famous Witch town of Salem, or the popular summer spot, Cape Cod.

There is so much to see and do in Boston; this beautiful historic city easily brings life to the term “something for everyone,” solidifying its place as one of the best cities to visit in the USA.

Approximately 700,000 people.

Best Time To Go

The fall is the greatest time to visit Boston, for its mild autumn weather perfect for walking around the varying neighborhoods. Boston offers beautiful views of fall foliage and plenty of fall activities for travelers, including the famous Boston Marathon, and the New England Christmas Festival beginning in early November.

Best Time To Avoid

Winters are harsh so summer and fall are best.

The city is very walkable, so stay near the center to avoid renting a car and overpaying for parking.

Boston’s international airport, Boston Logan International (BOS), makes Boston convenient to reach from all over the US.

Hotel Recommendation

The Newbury Boston is a new luxury hotel located in Boston’s Back Bay, the city’s premier shopping and dining neighborhood. Tourists and locals alike can be found perusing boutiques, fashion houses, art galleries, and cafes – all housed in elegant brick townhouses.

Copley Square, the 1800s landmark Trinity Church, the Boston Public Garden, and the Boston Public Library, are just a few of the famed destinations that can be found in the area.

best cities to visit in the USA

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky is one of the best cities to visit in the United States because of its unique culture and attractions, accessibility and unmatched spirits and culinary scene. A visit to Louisville offers a chance to experience things you can’t do anywhere else in the world, like a walkable Bourbon distillery trail, underground ziplining, and a visit to the home of the longest annually held sporting event in the country.

Kentucky is home to 95% of the world’s Bourbon supply. One third of it is made right in Louisville. Along Louisville’s Main Street, there are five Bourbon distilleries within walking distance, with a handful of others just a short drive away. All of these distilleries offer tours for you to get a taste of America’s only native spirit.

While Louisville does have an amusement park, science museum and history museum, it also offers one of one-of-a-kind attractions that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the Muhammad Ali Center , Kentucky Derby Museum , Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory , and Louisville Mega Cavern – which offers the world’s only fully underground zip-lining adventure.

Approximately 620,000.

Spring & Fall – specifically April -May, September – October. These are the best times of year to visit from a temperature standpoint. In addition, Churchill Downs offers live horse racing during this time.

The summers are often extremely hot and humid (mostly humid).

Though it’s a bucket list item for many, the Kentucky Derby weekend is expensive and has extra crowds. Accordingly, avoid the first full weekend in May.

Get out into the neighborhoods. While downtown offers a majority of the cities’ museums and distilleries, many of the city’s best bar and restaurants can be found in neighborhoods adjacent to downtown.

Louisville’s East Market District or NuLu has an eclectic mix of boutique shops and restaurants. Old Louisville boasts the countries largest collection of Victorian-era mansions, which you can view on a historic walking or haunted ghost tour. 

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is just a short drive to downtown. In addition, Louisville is located within a day’s drive of over half the U.S. population, which makes it an ideal destination for weekend road trips as well.

best places to visit in the USA

Chicago, Illnois

Chicago  is the largest city in the Midwest (and the third largest city in the U.S.). It is home to 77 distinct cultural neighborhoods each with its own vibe and personality ensuring that no matter where your interests lie, there is something special for everyone.

Check out this  neighborhood map  to find the scene that best suits your mood, whether it’s the artsy vibe of Wicker Park/Bucktown, the historic appeal of the 19th century Pullman Historic District, or one of the many others. 

There is an overwhelming amount to do in Chicago . The Chicago Riverwalk stretches 1.25 miles from Lake Michigan to Lake Street. You will discover cafes, wineries and bars, public art installations, monuments, museums, and a boatload of excursions on the water.

Chicago, the birthplace of improv comedy via groups like The Second City, is also home to a thriving theater scene. This includes the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, whose all-star ensemble casts over the years have included the likes of John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

The  Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s  year-round season features as many as 20 productions and 650 shows annually, including plays, musicals, premieres, and family programming, all inspired by (arguably) the world’s greatest playwright.

As for food, it is one of the reasons Chicago is one of the best cities to visit in the USA. Deep dish pizza, invented in the 1940s, is a legendary Chicago style, instantly recognizable for its bowl-like crust filled with cheese, sauce and toppings. However, Chicago is so much more than just the deep dish pizza. You could spend months eating your way through Chicago!

Approximately 2.7 million.

The best time of year to visit the city is considered by many to be the “shoulder seasons” of Spring (April-June) and Fall (September-October) when temperatures are mild and there are plenty of festivals and events.

Summer tends to be busy and the weather can get very hot.

Winters in Chicago are notoriously cold. On the upside, you are more likely to find cheaper accommodations and can use the winter season as an opportunity to explore Chicago’s indoor attractions, such as its world-famous museums and thriving theater scene! 

Avoid renting a car in Chicago. It has a fantastic mass transportation system and ride sharing. Parking is extremely expensive downtown.

Fly into Chicago via Chicago O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport. Downtown is easily accessible from both.

There are fantastic options within blocks of the Michigan Mile with amazing shopping and restaurants. For an upscale experience, consider Omni Chicago Hotel which offers suite style accommodation. For something more value driven, explore the Fairfield Inn And Suites .

If you would like to receive more travel tips to help you Travel Cheaper, Smarter and Easier, click HERE !

best cities to visit in the United States

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida  is the oldest city in the U.S., founded by Spaniards in 1565. Set on the Atlantic Coast of Northeast Florida, the appeal of this small city is its incredible food scene, the inspiring artistic culture, its rich history, beautiful beaches, and more.

There are more than 60 historic sites and attractions for visitors to explore. Some of the most popular are the Castillo de San Marcos  National Monument, the oldest fortress in North America. Built between 1672 and 1695, the fort protected the city from British raids and pirate sackings.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum celebrates the city’s rich maritime heritage through exhibits and displays, and guests can climb the 219 steps to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the city.

Finally, tour the city’s historic area (144 sq. blocks on the National Register of Historic Places) aboard the Red Express Tour or one of the other many tours to learn about the history and people from the city’s storied past.

Take a food tour with one of the local walking tours to eat and drink your way through history, or take a boat tour to see the city from the water.

Approximately 14,500.

The year round temperate climate makes this a comfortable place to visit throughout the year and one of the reasons it is one of the best cities to visit in America.

From Mid-November through January, during  Nights of Lights , the City is lit up with millions of tiny white Lights to celebrate the Holiday season.

With the romance of Mediterranean-style architecture, old-world charm and dozens of elegant inns, February is the perfect time to come to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  

Spring time is filled with food, music and art festivals.

Summer and fall months are perfect for beach getaways (this is a coastal city), family fun and even more music and food.  

Late July and August it does get a bit warmer, but there are usually afternoon showers that cool things down. For those who want to avoid outside, there are plenty of museums and galleries from which to choose.

Weekday visits present better hotel deals and smaller crowds in the Historic district.

There are many major airlines offering non-stop air service to Jacksonville International Airport from larger hub cities like Atlanta, NY, Miami and Charlotte. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just a 1.5 hour drive away.

Best cities to visit in the USA

San Fransisco, California

San Francisco is one of the best cities to visit in the USA. It is full of great neighborhoods, parks, history, beaches, museums, and fun things to do.

Some amazing things to see and do in San Francisco includes exploring Fisherman’s Wharf. In addition to accessing the former terrifying maximum penitentiary Alcatraz , Fisherman’s Wharf features Ghirardelli Square (for some mouthwatering chocolate and ice cream desserts), the stores and restaurants at Pier 39 (along with a view of hundreds of sea lions lounging in the sun), and The Cartoon Art Museum.

You should definitely cross the Golden Gate Bridge, either on foot or by bike (rentals are easy to find). This incredible bridge is a work of engineering and a popular San Francisco landmark. You should visit the Visitor’s Center to learn about its history.

Approximately 875,000.

The best time to visit San Francisco is in the fall (September through November) when you’ll get the warmest weather and smaller crowds.

Summer is the time to avoid San Francisco because tourist season is at its peak. In addition, temperature hovers around the 60°F and fog consumes the city most afternoons and nights. 

Book your tickets to Alcatraz far in advance. You can only access it by boat and there are limited availability and times.

If you’re traveling internationally, San Francisco International Airport is the best option. If you’re traveling from another US state, Oakland International Airport (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC) are great choices.

Another option is to fly to Los Angeles International Airport and take the Pacific Coast Highway route. Despite its length (442 miles), it is one of America’s most beautiful drives. You should give yourself a day to drive this route so you can enjoy the views along the way.

best cities in the USA to visit

Anchorage, Alaska

As part of the Last Frontier, Anchorage is in the heart of south central Alaska. It is the largest state in the United States, full of natural beauty, and one of the best cities to visit in America.

According to Tabitha from Travel Compositions , Anchorage is a special city surrounded by pristine mountains and large bodies of water. Moose roam the streets like it’s their own. At the height of summer, it gets 19 hours of daylight; in the winter, only 5 hours. 

Anchorage sits against the Chugach Range and has numerous hiking trails like Flattop Mountain, Rabbit Lake Trail, or Blueberry Loop. In the winter you can go skiing at Hilltop Ski Area.

The best pizza in the country is at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. There is always a wait for a table to get their perfectly baked pizzas, like Amazing Apricot (yes! Apricot pizza). They even have their own brews and serve rotating flavors and classic standards such as their signature, crisp Hard Apple Ale.

Day trips from Anchorage are also amazing. A drive down the Seward Hwy along Turnagain Arm will take your breath away. The road hugs the curves of the mountain range with the inlet following you all the way until you turn into the Kenai Peninsula. Keep your eyes open for mountain sheep up among the rocky cliffs or beluga whales swimming in the inlet. If you plan right, you can experience the bore tide and possibly watch surfers ride the wave.

Approximately 293,000.

Late May – early September is the best time to visit this great city. Daylight is at its max, the weather is temperate, you “shouldn’t” have any snow, and the foliage is full and colorful.

Try to avoid visiting during break-up (April-early May) when everything is muddy and slushy and the trees are brown, not yet bloomed.

The earlier you leave for the Seward Hwy along Turnagain Arm drive the better. It allows you to enjoy the view and not worry as much about the car in front of you. As the day progresses, you get more tourists and RVers on the road.

It is only a 3.5hr flight to Anchorage International Airport from Seattle, so it is a lot closer to the lower 48 than most people realize.

best cities to visit in the USA

Rochester, New York

Rochester, NY is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and one of the most underrated American cities.

Rochester offers world-class attractions like The Strong National Museum of Play , which houses the largest collection of toys, dolls and games in the world, and the George Eastman Museum , the world’s oldest photography museum.

In addition, you can find the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the national historic landmark home of the woman who devoted her entire life to voting rights for women.

Rochester supplies a wide-ranging culinary scene (where else can you dine on something called a “Garbage Plate” for lunch only to have dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef), and booming craft breweries and distilleries

More into wine? Rochester is home to two wineries, including Living Roots, the first urban winery in the Finger Lakes region. Beyond Rochester, there are more than 100 wineries spread throughout the region.

With more than 12,000 acres of parkland, and a number of different waterways (a Great Lake, the Erie Canal, a river, bay and the Finger Lakes), there is no limit to what you can do in the outdoors in Rochester. 

Rochester is underrated, friendly, easily accessible, affordable, and one of the best destinations to visit in the USA.

Approximately 206,000.

Weather is optimal from May – October with lots of festivals and events.

It is suitable all year round, but if you are not familiar with traveling and getting around in snow, winter is best avoided.

Be sure to check out High Falls, a 96-foot waterfall located in the heart of downtown Rochester. The Falls are best viewed from the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge or the rooftop deck of the Genesee Brew House, the oldest brewery in New York State.

Best airport to fly into is Greater Rochester International Airport.

best American cities in the USA

Charleston, South Carolina

According to Rachel from Means To Explore , Charleston, South Carolina is the perfect city: not too big and noisy, a thriving and diverse foodie scene, and gorgeous historic district with its own brand of Southern charm. Include the fact that you can easily access sandy beaches that can be used all year round thanks to the warm Southern climate, you can understand why it made the list for one of the best cities to visit in the USA.

Go kayaking at Shem’s Creek and meet the local dolphins that inhabit the harbor.

Explore the Charleston Historic District via a walking, carriage, or food tour.

Take a leisurely walk down the Battery, Charleston’s riverside promenade that was once a defensive bulwark. Across is Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.

Take some pictures at the Rainbow Row and make sure you pick a sweetgrass basket at the Charleston City Market. Or just get away for a beach day on Isle of Palms.

Approximately 135,000.

Plan your Charleston trip for spring, end of March to mid-April, when the azaleas burst into bloom and cover every inch of the city with vibrant pinks, purples, and whites. There isn’t a home in Charleston that doesn’t have azaleas!

For an unforgettable spring experience, visit Middleton Place Plantation or Magnolia Gardens & Plantation on the Ashley River. The gardens will blow you away with their spectacular colors.

The summer is hot and has lots of humidity.

Visit The Battery in late afternoon to see dolphins playing in the harbor during sunset.

Charleston International Airport is only 20 minutes north of downtown, but also only 20 minutes south of the Ashley River plantations if you want to check out a gorgeous plantation before you even check in to your hotel. 

best US cities to visit

Seattle, Washington

According to Megan from My Moments And Memories , there are many reasons to visit Seattle, one of the most beautiful and best cities to visit in the USA.

The city centre overlooks the stunning waters of Puget Sound and the mountains of Olympic National Park. You can easily explore island life, lush rain forests or wild beaches with one of the regular ferries from downtown Seattle.

If you don’t have time for that, head up to Smith Tower for an insight into Seattle’s past, and stunning 360 degree views of the city, and beyond.  This includes Mt Rainier, another Seattle icon. You can even enjoy a cocktail as you take it all in. 

There are an incredible range of hiking trails within an hour or two from Seattle. Mt Rainier National Park is one of them. For an easy hike only 30 minutes from Seattle, consider the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls.  

For city experiences, explore Pike Place Market. It opened in 1907 and it is one of the oldest continuously operated public Farmer’s Market in the USA. You can find fruits, vegetables, seafood and other fresh ingredients, as well as artisan crafts and delicious restaurants.

For something wild, fun and completely different, visit the interactive Museum of Pop Culture .

Approximately 725,000.

Summer when it rains the least.

Winter tends to be damp and gloomy with lots of rain. It rarely snows but when it does, the city shuts down.

If you are short on time, do a Float plane tour of the city (from Lake Union). It is the best way to see as much as you can.

Seatac-Tacoma International Airport is only a 20 minute drive to downtown Seattle.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is a legacy destination, known for wide open spaces, pristine beaches and family-friendly attractions.

For a seaside resort town, there is a surprising amount of hiking and biking opportunities. The destination is home to 293​ parks and park facilities and 29 miles of scenic waterways. Lake Lawson is surrounded with stunning trees which in the fall are engulfed in vibrant colors. The nature area also features several overlook platforms for fantastic photos. 

False Cape State Park is an oceanside preserve with 15 miles of trails. It is located at the edge of the Virginia-North Carolina border and offers a serene environment to experience nature. For a shot of adrenaline, take a zip-lining ride at the Adventure Park.

With more than  200 miles of trails , a perfect way to spend a day in Virginia Beach is from a bike seat. Rent a bike and take a self-guided  Bike, Brew and History Trail  tour, which traverses 30 miles of terrain in three hours and includes a salt marshland preserve and coastal dunes. 

Approximately 450,000.

Fall is an excellent time to visit Virginia Beach. The destination is blessed with an extended summer as it lingers into fall. You can see the leaves changing and you’ve got the beaches practically to yourself. 

In Virginia Beach, the summers are warm and muggy and the winters are very cold and windy.

Pack comfortable shoes and an appetite as there is a lot to explore outdoors. Because of the destination’s unique positioning, where the waters of the Chesapeake flow into the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is home to numerous fish species. As a result, it is one of the best cities to visit in the USA for seafood. But if that isn’t your thing, the destination has diverse culinary offerings as well.

Virginia Beach is conveniently located in the mid-Atlantic. Visitors can fly into Norfolk International Airport and then drive 30 minutes to Virginia Beach.

one of the best us cities to visit

Los Angeles, California

Why is Los Angeles one of the best cities in the USA to visit? Well, there’s a ton of reasons – but to start, the city exudes “main character energy” and quite honestly — it’s hard to deny the allure of Los Angeles. It’s flashy, in-your-face and a city for anyone who wants to live the golden fantasy. Frankly, it’s about time some of us got a glimpse of everything La La land has to offer.

Everyone’s visited Disneyland , The Grove, and Beverly Hills, but if you’re looking for hidden gems, here’s where you’ll need to go!

The Last Bookstore displays the art of preserving stories through fully-stocked bookshelves and custom-built book sculptures. So, If you love the smell of books and the vintage feel of printed material, that’s where you should be!

If you ever wanted to cross off trespassing across a “no Trespassing” sign from your bucket list, head over to Sunken City. After a landslide occurred in a San Pedro neighborhood, “Sunken City” formed. Today, it has become a very popular hiking trail that locals & tourists love.

Lastly but definitely not least, how can we forget Griffith Park? It’s where Mia & Sebastian fell in love in the Oscar-winning film, “La La Land”. Notable mentions include the Venice canal, The Museum of Death and the Hollywood sign.

Approximately 4 million.

March to May offers fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures and hotel prices that don’t kill your appetite for exploring the City of Angels.

Key events during these months include the Los Angeles Marathon, Fiesta Broadway, Jazz Reggae Festival & more!

Avoid June – August as it is peak tourist season, meaning higher prices & less peace.

While Los Angeles International Airport is the biggest, busiest airport in L.A., it is by no means the only option in the area. San Diego International Airport is only 2 hours away and can be a much better option depending on how much time you have and where you plan to spend most of your time in the LA area.

best US cities to visit

Columbus, Georgia

Columbus, Georgia , is one of the best places to visit in the USA as it oozes southern hospitality, culinary opportunities and adventure. You can enjoy an outdoor urban escape with geocaching, birding and biking and then, explore city pleasures like fine dining and cultural events.

For thrill seekers, take on the challenge of the rapids of the Chattahoochee River’s urban whitewater course which is the largest in the world of its kind. Alternatively, reach new heights on one of the country’s only interstate zip line system.

The urban core of Columbus offers big city amenities while its waterfront location keeps the outdoors at your fingertips. Souvenir shopping in the heart of the city provides something for everyone including boutiques, large national retailers, antiques and outdoor outfitters.

Culture is tangible through exhibits at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, the River Center for Performing Arts and the Springer Opera House. The Opera House is also a historic landmark built in 1871 in Columbus, GA, and stands as the state’s official theatre. 

Approximately 200,000.

The best time of year to go is September through June when the weather is relatively temperate.

July and August are very hot and humid, and best avoided.

The Lunchbox Museum is very unique and nostalgic. It pulls at your heartstrings when you find the lunchbox you used as a school-age child.

The National Infantry Museum adjacent to Fort Benning is Smithsonian quality. The public art in “Uptown Columbus” is worth a stroll.

The Scrambled Dog is definitely something to try at Dinglewood’s Pharmacy.

And, if you don’t go rafting, you have to at a minimum go walk along the RiverWalk with a stop at Waveshaper Island to watch the white water rafting…see who gets through the “cutbait” rapid without getting dumped out of the boat!

Columbus, Georgia is only an hour and a half south of Atlanta via I-85 and I-185 from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

best cities to visit in the United states

New York City, New York

New York City is known worldwide for a reason. It is unlikely that any list of the best cities to visit in the United States or the world wouldn’t include it.

There is something for everyone to do , and it is impossible to see it all whether you are there for a weekend or a month.

However, if you are only there for a few days, every traveller should visit Times square at least once. Whether you like it or not, it is probably one of the most iconic symbols of New York City with its towering billboards, chintzy souvenir stores, and thronging masses of people.

Another iconic symbol is the Empire State Building. Arguably one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, you should head to the top for panoramic views of the city and to plan your next adventure.

New York Travel Tip -A standard ticket gets you to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. Alternatively, you can pay almost 70% more and go 16 floors higher to the 102nd floor. However, it isn’t necessary. The views from the 86th floor are stunning and don’t really change going up 16 floors.

Lastly, try and go see the Statue of Liberty, designated a National Monument in 1924. It is situated in a park like setting and climbing the stairs to one of its platforms for breathtaking views is an incredible experience. In addition, you must take a ferry to reach the Statue of Liberty and it is a fantastic way to see NYC from a different perspective.

New York Travel Tip – You need to pre-purchase tickets to climb up the Statue of Liberty and these tickets sell out fast so buy as early as you can. In addition, you can get a view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline by ferry for free if you take the Staten Island Ferry.

For other incredible tips to make your trip to New York City the best, please see 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors .

Approximately 8.5 million.

You should visit between April and June or in September and October when the weather is warm and the crowds are more manageable.

July and August are best avoided. The days are hot and humid. The nights are barely any cooler. In addition, it gets cold in winter. While the snow is pretty when it falls, it turns into muddy slush quickly.

Take public transit. It is extensive and affordable. Do not rent a car as parking is a fortune and often difficult to find. There are lots of taxis and ride sharing opportunities, but be prepared for traffic.

Leave midtown and explore . Besides seeing Times Square and a Broadway show, there’s nothing to do there. Prices are higher than elsewhere in the city. If you need a meal in midtown, walk a few blocks east or west for a better and more affordable meal.

There are three international airports that service New York City: John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport. They each offer shuttle services, bus and ride shares to NYC. Newark offers a train to Penn station in downtown NY.

Nothing is quite as staggering as choosing a hotel in New York City. However, two great choices are  Hotel Kimpton Eventi  and  Knickerbocker Hotel . They are upscale, well located and good value for what they offer. They have easy access to popular subway lines.

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one of the best cities to visit in the usa

Cleveland, Mississippi

Cleveland, Mississippi is found right in the heart of the Delta, midway between Memphis and Vicksburg on historic Highway 61. They say this small place has big vibes. That’s a lot of praise in the Mississippi Delta, an area known for its legendary musical vibe. However, in Cleveland, the vibe isn’t just big, it’s one of a kind.

Cleveland is home to the  GRAMMY Museum®  Mississippi. This interactive experience celebrates music of all genres. It is 28,000-square-foot and includes multiple exhibits with films, memorabilia and more. Permanent and rotating exhibits cross all musical spectrums.

Cleveland’s music scene is notable. From the Deep Roots music spectacles to the Bologna Performing Arts Center, music and the arts are a central part of this small city making it one of the best American cities to travel to in the USA. 

Dockery Farms known as the “Birthplace of the Blues”, is a short drive away and a must-see for Blues enthusiasts. Art lovers will want to visit famed McCarty Ceramics in Merigold and Peter’s Pottery in Mound Bayou.

The heart of the city centers around the railroad. The popular Crosstie District in downtown is vibrant and welcoming. It is anchored by the Railroad Heritage Museum, home to an amazing “O” Gauge model train exhibit, which is one of the largest in the country.

Approximately 10,600.

Christmas here is especially charming. A Christmas tree with more than 100,000 lights presides over the town’s legendary  50 Nights of Lights  from mid-November until the beginning of January. More than 350 holiday displays, some as large as 65 feet, fill downtown. You can walk but it also drivable by car. 

Summer is best avoided as it is hot, often with 90% humidity.

Have a drink overlooking the colorful sparkle at  Bar Fontaine , its rooftop bar and restaurant at The Cotton House Hotel, and enjoy award-winning cuisine from James Beard Award nominated  Chef Cole Ellis .  

International travelers should fly into Cleveland via Memphis International Airport. It is about a 2 hour drive.

The  Lyric Hotel  brings Delta traditions and luxury together in Cleveland’s West End. The  Cotton House Cleveland  offers an impressive hotel experience like none other in the region. 

one of the best American cities to visit

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is one of the best US cities to visit for its rich colonial history and architecture.

One of the many highlights is The San Antonio River Walk which is made up of a network of paved paths and lush landscapes that gently wind through the city, offering views of the beautiful natural scenery and the city.

The path runs along the San Antonio River, which represents the heart and soul of the city, and gives access to several of San Antonio’s top attractions, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment.

Another is the  San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions which were designated a World Heritage site in 2015. (Only a handful of cultural properties in the United States are on UNESCO’s list.) You can visit one or all five of San Antonio’s well-preserved 18th century Franciscan missions. Four of them are still active and you can attend a service.

To get a feel for the multiple cultures that impact the culture of the city, take a food tour. The Moveable Feast Tour is a walking tour that takes you to the King William district to show you all of the early architectural influences. In addition, you tour the private portion of the riverwalk, rarely seen by tourists. 

Approximately 1.5 million

The best time to go is September – December, and March – June. This way you avoid the extreme temperatures and can enjoy the outdoors.

The best month to avoid is January as it can get very cold. 

Make sure you visit the San Fernando Cathedral laid in 1731. It is vastly different from the European Cathedrals and almost seems to spring up from the ground around it.

The best airports in which to fly would be Austin and drive 1 1/2 hours to San Antonio.

New Orleans, Louisiana

There is no other city like New Orleans in the United States. In certain parts, you feel like you have been dropped into a small European city . Its French-Creole culture is unique and the city is full of great cuisine, music, and architecture. It has something for everyone whether you are travelling with friends or family or hoping for a romantic getaway.

A visit to Nola wouldn’t be complete without spending at least one day and one night in the French Quarter. There are amazing restaurants, great shopping, and a lot of history in this beautiful part of New Orleans.

Make sure you go to Jackson Square, St. Louise Cathedral and of course, Bourbons Street to experience it all. At night, the streets come alive with party goers and music fills the street. At all times of the day, there are tons of exceptionally talented street performers around every corner.

You should also visit the  National WWII Museum . Even if you have no interest in World War II, this is an incredible museum. It is completely interactive as you explore America’s role in Asia and Europe during the war. Videos, lights, sounds, and visual imagery completely capture your attention.

For some fantastic day trips, take a swamp tour or explore Oak Alley Plantation . The swamp tour is a blast. You head out by boat onto the bayou and look for crocodiles, feral hogs and other wildlife.

Oak Alley Plantation is a more serious look at plantation life and includes many original buildings and furniture.

Fun Fact – In New Orleans, you can have your own parade, complete with police escort! You can hire the musicians directly, or a full-service company to handle of all the details. The police will even close the streets to traffic along your route.

For more unique New Orleans travel tips, please see 40 Best Travel Tips For First Time Visitors .

Fall is the best time to go when the temperatures are cooler or springtime for Jazz Fest .

It is best to avoid traveling to New Orleans in the summertime. It is quite hot and humid.

You may also want to avoid Mardi Gras which happens in February or March every year. Although it is a bucket list item for many people, the city becomes very busy and expensive.

Be aware that B&B’s require a minimum two-night stay. Consider the suburbs for more savings.

Skip the long line ups at Cafe Du Monde and instead head to  Cafe Beignet  to try one of these New Orleans treats. Beignets are a cross between a french pastry and a doughnut. They are served warm, a little soft and gooey and are absolutely delicious.

Fly into New Orleans International Airport (MSY) . It is only a 25 minute drive from the airport to the French Quarter.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indy has undergone momentous growth in the past decade with more cool hotels, an incredible dining scene, and bike trail expansion.

As the home of the Cultural Trail , deemed by Project for Public Spaces as “the biggest and boldest step by any American city,” Indy is truly one of the best cities to visit in the United States from a bicycle seat.

Public art has been a huge focus for the city, including the new, massive Major Taylor mural downtown honoring the life of the country’s first Black sports super star and fastest bicycle rider.

As one of the most family-friendly destinations in the country, families can enjoy the world’s largest children’s museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated interactive history park , and 250-acres of urban green space with the Indian Central Canal flowing through it.

For those with a passion for cars and speed, go 185-mph+ in a real Indy Car on the most iconic racetrack in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway .

Approximately 870,000.

Indy is best when it turns from summer to fall. You beat the humidity of the summer, but it’s not yet cold. Temperature is mild and you can start to see the foliage turning bright fall colors.

Unless you’re specifically coming to see the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the Indianapolis 500 – avoid dates in May as it is super busy with the 500 Festival . Room rates are on the higher side.

If you’re flying, no need to rent a car. The downtown is extremely walkable and transportation like the Red Line, ride shares, and bike rentals are readily available.

Fly into Indianapolis International Airport (ranked one of the world’s best). Downtown is only 18 miles away. However, Indianapolis is within a day’s drive to more than half of the United State’s population.

best us cities to visit

Tallahassee, Florida

Named as one of  Southern Living ’s top 10 cities in the South, Tallahassee’s charm and style is derived from the pretty and often unexpected features found in Florida’s Capital. 

Tallahassee is situated in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the U.S. It is home to more than 700 miles of biking, hiking, paddling, equestrian and running trails — aptly earning the nickname “ Trailahassee ”. For outdoor enthusiasts, it is an ideal escape.

There is zip-lining through canopied trees and over a cypress swamp at the Tallahassee Museum. In addition, there are wildlife encounters while cruising along Wakulla Springs – the world’s deepest freshwater springs.

Lastly, Tallahassee has a vibrant arts, culture and deep-rooted history. They are on display in its murals, museums and performing arts.

Approximately 191,000.

The best time to visit is in the fall or spring. That is when you can enjoy its trails full of Florida fauna.

Summer weather is usually long and hot, and best avoided.

Download the destination mobile  app  for iPhone and Android users, which will allow anyone to view and save listings of places to stay, events to attend, sites to visit and where to eat and drink. Users can make custom itineraries based on their own unique interests, which can be shared with others.

Tallahassee is a great drivable escape for a handful of major cities such as Orlando, Atlanta, Tampa, Jacksonville, Birmingham. However, for those travelers who prefer to fly, the Tallahassee International Airport is only 15 minutes away from downtown.

best US cities to visit

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States and its southwest inspired dining options, innovative cocktail experiences and awe-inspiring museums make it one of the best US cities to visit in the USA. 

It is home to one of a kind experiences like  Century Grand , a turn-of-the-century inspired, cocktail-centric, immersive hospitality venue. Guests journey into an extraordinary world when ‘The West’ was won. Enjoy a cocktail experience filled with intriguing characters and tales of adventure.

Travelers can also experience the vibrant history and culture of the Native American community in Phoenix at the internationally-acclaimed  Heard Museum . 

The Phoenix Art Museum is always a favorite amongst locals and visitors. The  Phoenix Art Museum  opened in 1959 and is now the largest art museum in the southwestern United States providing access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona. The museum is located in the Roosevelt Arts District, which is known as a hub for arts and culture.

There is also great hiking in Phoenix .

Approximately 1.65 million.

The best time to visit Phoenix is in the fall when it is still warm enough to relax by the pool during the day, but the nights are cool enough to enjoy the gorgeous Phoenix sunsets from a patio or rooftop bar. 

Phoenix has sun and clear skies year round, but for those looking to spend time outside in the desert, it is best to avoid the hot summer months.

For the full art and culture experience of Phoenix, come on the first Friday of any month. 

Phoenix First Fridays  start at the Phoenix Art Museum and through a self-guided tour, visitors get to experience Roosevelt Row when it is most alive.

This monthly event also offers live street performers, access to local galleries and Phoenix’s unofficial “ Mural Alley ”, and a fantastic bar and restaurant scene.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is centrally located and welcomes travelers to Phoenix.

The  Arizona Biltmore Resort, A Waldorf Astoria  is an iconic Phoenix destination filled with glamour and magic. This resort is an oasis with 39 acres of luscious gardens, glistening swimming pools and awe-inspiring architecture influenced by the famed Frank Lloyd Wright. 

best US cities to visit

Concord, New Hampshire

Concord, New Hampshire is one of the smaller cities that made the list for one of the best American cities to visit. Whether you come to be a part of its fantastic arts community, the local food movement, or the array of outdoor recreation sites, you’ll be sure to find plenty to do. With a wide range of events hosted all year round, Concord is a lively New England city full of fun-filled opportunities.

With tax-free shopping and plenty of parking, the downtown offers wonderful opportunities for shoppers. In between exploring consignment galleries, cafés and boutiques, you will often find street music – whether it is on the public piano tucked away off Main Street, or the saxophone player often found outside Candle Tree Soy Candles shop.

Beyond local cuisine, local artisans thrive in Concord. The League of NH Craftsman is found in town, and hosts Concord’s annual Capital Arts Fest. The Capitol Center For The Arts hosts performance arts, including music and comedy. With more causal music venues like Dos Hermanos Lounge & Tequila Bar, you will be going day and night.

There are many choices for outdoor recreation right in town. Whether you are looking for hiking trails, family friendly parks, or cross-country skiing, Concord has plenty to offer.

For groomed cross-country ski trails, visit Carter Hill Orchard. In the summertime, you can also pick your own apples.

Approximately 43,000.

In summer, you’ll find a fantastic Farmer’s Market throughout Saturday mornings, hosting vendors from all over the state. In addition, there are many welcoming patio spaces sprinkled about town.

Concord, New Hampshire is an ideal year round destination.

Concord is only 60 miles from The White Mountains , an outdoor enthusiasts dream. You can use it as a home base for day trips or a stopover on your way there.

Concord, New Hampshire is 80 miles or 1 1/2 drives from Boston Logan International Airport.

The 20 best cities to visit in America offer excitement, fun, good food, and plenty of culture. There is something for everyone. The only problem now is deciding where to go first!

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Aerial view of Osprey Bay, Ningaloo with kayakers

Australia is officially the world’s fifth best tourism destination in 2024 – here’s what sets it apart

The World Economic Forum ranked Australia as one of the top five countries for tourism and travel in 2024

Melissa Woodley

If Australia’s postcard-worthy beaches or poster-child kangaroos weren’t enough to tempt potential travellers, this news might just do the trick. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released its highly-anticipated biennial ranking of the best countries for tourism and travel in 2024 – and Australia has claimed one of the top five spots. 

It appears that Australia is on an uphill streak, climbing from the seventh-best tourism destination in 2017 to sixth in 2021, and now claiming fifth place in 2024. The United States took the top spot in the WEF’s  Travel and Tourism Development Index 2024 (TTDI) for the third year running, with six European countries and three Asia-Pacific regions rounding out the top ten. That includes Spain in second, Japan in third and France in fourth.

Curious about how WEF’s economists came to these conclusions? They ranked 119 economies around the world based on a set of 17 factors related to the development of tourism and travel in each country. These factors included the availability of tourist services and infrastructure, sustainability, natural resources, labour capacity and price competitiveness. Most of the data was sourced from reputable international organisations, like the World Health Organisation, UNESCO and UN Tourism, with the rest coming from the WEF’s annual Executive Opinion Survey . 

Mossman River, Mossman with kayakers

Here are five reasons why Australia ranked so high in the latest TTDI: 

Natural resources 

We’re pretty stoked to see that Australia ranked as the second-best country in the world for its natural resources. From ancient rainforests and majestic deserts to blindingly beautiful coastal areas, our Great Southern Land has it all. A road trip along the East Coast or the West is the best way to experience it, for both locals and tourists alike. 

Cultural resources 

A culture-packed holiday is also on the cards for anyone looking to visit Australia, with our nation ranking 17th out of 119 countries for its cultural resources. Our country is home to the world’s oldest continuous culture, with the stories of Australia’s First Nation’s people beautifully woven into our vibrant arts and culture landscape. Whether you’re staying in the city or venturing into the outback, you’ll find countless opportunities to walk in their footsteps and learn about the rich history of our land.

Digital savviness 

Australia shines in the digital realm, ranking 14th globally for its top-notch digital infrastructure and services. Kudos were given for our seamless adoption of digital payments, widespread 3G mobile network coverage, and easy digital booking systems for hotels , restaurants and leisure activities .

Ease of travelling to and from Australia

We love welcoming travellers from every corner of the globe, earning us a commendable 16th place ranking on the openness to tourism and travel scale. Our relatively relaxed visa requirements make it easy for visitors to come, stay and play, while the strength of the Australian passport, which ranks among the world’s most powerful , lets Aussies travel almost anywhere their heart desires. 

Infrastructure for tourists

There are sparkly, new hotels popping up all around Australia , so it makes sense that our nation ranked at number 17 for our availability of tourist services and infrastructure. Our labour productivity in hotels and restaurants was also taken into consideration here, reflecting our 'work hard, play hard' reputation.

You can read more about why Australia is one of the best tourism destinations in the full report here or check out this snapshot of the top ten countries:

  • The United States
  • The United Kingdom
  • Switzerland

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free  Time Out Australia newsletter  for more news, travel inspo and activity ideas, straight to your inbox. 


Kudos to canberra australia's capital has been named the third smartest city in the world in 2024, just in: here’s how australia ranked on oxford economics’ inaugural global cities index, the gold coast overtakes sydney and melbourne as the top winter holiday spot for families.

  • Melissa Woodley Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia

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Watch CBS News

Best cities to live in the U.S., according U.S. News & World Report

By Megan Cerullo

Edited By Alain Sherter

May 21, 2024 / 12:01 AM EDT / CBS News

Why was Naples, Florida, just ranked the best place to live in the U.S.? It has much to do with the beachfront city's job prospects and overall quality of life for residents, according to U.S. News & World Report .

Naples, a resort city, scored especially high for the value residents get for their money and for the ample job opportunities, which were both weighted more heavily in the publication's ranking this year compared with previous editions. 

"This year's survey found people are concerned about the economy and want more financial stability, so the value and job market categories were the factors that were most important to people. That's something that really helped Naples," Erika Giovanetti, U.S. News and World Report's loans expert, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Naples — with an ultra-low unemployment rate of just 2.9% as of April, well under the overall U.S. rate of 3.9%  — also offers relatively high salaries and boasts one of the strongest job markets in the country. Top local industries in terms of job prospects include tourism and health care. 

"There is a big retiree population, so there is a lot of well-paid work for health care employees willing to take care of an aging population in that part of the country," Giovanetti said. 


U.S. News' analysis ranks 150 larger U.S. cities based on criteria including the health of the local job market, affordability of housing, value, quality of life and overall desirability. The rankings are designed to help Americans make informed decisions about where to reside based on their priorities, according to the media outlet. 

To assess those priorities, U.S. News asked thousands of Americans what matters most to them when choosing place to live. It created four indexes based on respondents' answers, weighted as follows: Quality of Life (32%), Value (27%), Job Market (22%), Desirability (19%). The latter category takes into account factors such as weather, number of bars and restaurants per capita, and net migration.  

This year's findings reflected rising consumer concerns about career opportunities and a city's general affordability. Quality of life remains Americans' top priority, and was therefore most heavily weighted to determine the rankings. 

"While inflation has come down in recent months, Americans are still feeling the impact on their wallets, so finding a place that is affordable and where they feel like they have job stability is increasingly important," Giovanetti said. "We have also seen cooling off in the labor market over the past several years, and more people feel like they have less power with employers, so they want to live in places where they won't be unemployed." 

Boise, Idaho landed at No. 2 on this year's ranking, earning high marks for its value while scoring less well in the desirability category, while Colorado Springs, Colorado, ranked third.

Greenville, South Carolina, ranked No. 4, while Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, with the three cities scoring well for their buoyant job market and quality of life.

All cities in U.S. News' top five "had a good balance of everything" and were especially strong in terms of value, housing affordability and job market, Giovanetti said. "We are really looking for cities that shine in those categories."

Woman running on trail in Boise, Idaho

Not surprisingly, major cities like New York City and Los Angeles, California, faltered in the value category given their high costs of living. New York ranked No. 124 on U.S. News' list, while Los Angeles came in at No. 130.

"It can be very difficult for big cities to rank well, and a lot of that has to do with the value index, especially with the outsized impact value has on this year's rankings," Giovanetti told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"Especially for people looking to buy, it's not reasonable for them to think of finding a place to buy in New York or L.A., even though the higher salaries help to cut into that. It's not enough to offset the value," she added

U.S. News' top 10 best cities to live in the U.S. are below. Click here for the full list. 

  • Naples, Florida 
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina 
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boulder, Colorado

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News 24/7 to discuss her reporting.

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best tourist cities

The 10 Best Places to Visit in 2024

T O BORROW from the poet Mary Oliver, what will you do with your few wild and precious vacation days? Now’s the time for figuring that out—and after looking at the latest travel trends, notable openings and immersive itineraries, we’ve got ideas. On this list of the 10 places we’re most excited about visiting this year, you’ll find spots still refreshingly free of tourist crowds but also new reasons to love the blockbuster destinations you thought you already knew. Whatever your preferred style of travel—from island-hopping by canoe in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to following your stomach around one of South America’s most exciting culinary hubs—we’re confident something here will unlock an urge to pack up and go.

The pandemic might have brought Belmond’s swanky Eastern & Oriental Express train to a temporary halt, but the luxury travel company used the downtime to refresh the train’s wood-paneled cabins with wickerwork and Malaysian embroidery, and brought Taiwanese chef André Chiang on board to steer restaurants that will feature a fusion of Southeast Asian cuisines. The train’s new routes, which launch in February, spotlight Malaysia’s wildly diverse landscapes. Excursions include Vespa tours around historic George Town, beach breaks on jungle-cloaked Langkawi island and treks in the rainforests of Taman Negara to spot hornbills, tapirs, and—for the very lucky—Malayan tigers. Fresh hotel openings in Kuala Lumpur, a food-mad city that just launched its first Michelin guide, make for an excellent excuse to linger before heading to the train station. Homegrown brand Else Retreats opened its first boutique hotel in the 1930s Lee Rubber Building in Chinatown, and the Park Hyatt will soon take over the top floors of Merdeka 118, the second-tallest tower in the world.

Lamu, Kenya

Kenya’s wildlife-rich safari parks remain its main draw, but new developments in Lamu, a palm-tufted island just off the country’s northeastern coast, offer sunseekers a pleasingly culture-packed and hushed alternative to the big-ticket resorts of Mombasa and Zanzibar. Global highfliers weathered the pandemic in the whitewashed luxury villas of Lamu’s ritzy Shela village, but the new Jannah Lamu, a scattered collection of suites by Kenya-raised designer Anna Trzebinski, makes the cobblestoned Old Town, East Africa’s oldest Swahili settlement, newly enticing. The recently launched NaiSabah, a traditional Omani dhow boat with three staterooms and a breezy deck decorated with intricate woodwork, offers multi-night itineraries around the Lamu archipelago, promising days packed with beach picnics, diving expeditions and nature walks. Finally, the Lamu Museum, which reopened last October after a year-long refurbishment, delivers a dose of cultural and historical context to this fascinating one-time trading hub—and a welcome respite from all that sunshine.

Kangaroo Island, Australia

The “Black Summer” bush fires of 2019-2020 destroyed half of its wildlife habitat, but in the years since, Kangaroo Island—9 miles off Australia’s southern coast—has bounced back. Nicknamed Australia’s Galápagos, this 1,700-square-mile speck of land is once again one of the best places to encounter wild koalas and kangaroos, along with penguins, whales, platypuses and wallabies. Two new lodges come staffed with seasoned guides who take the guesswork out of finding these creatures. Sea Dragon, a boutique hotel planted atop 250 acres of sea-facing land, reopened in 2023 with stargazing and bird-watching walks as well as new safari-style expeditions. Southern Ocean Lodge, which burned down entirely, reopened in December in a lair-like seacliff aerie, offering sunrise run-ins with wild sea lions and sunset sessions fueled by local wines and forest truffles. New trails on the island include a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk to the aptly named seaside granite formations of Remarkable Rocks and the first sections of the planned 23-mile-long Dudley Peninsula Trail, beginning at the historic Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.

Kyushu, Japan

Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, has long drawn in-the-know visitors from mainland Asia. But lately a supersize dose of new tourism projects has made its night markets, temples and onsen (hot springs) more widely accessible. Last year saw the opening of Hoshino Resorts’ budget-friendly OMO5 in the buzzy city of Kumamoto, as well as the glass-wrapped Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka. This year, Hotel Indigo Nagasaki opens in a former orphanage for atomic bomb survivors, and indie upstart Takasaki Stay allows for more-comfortable visits to the nearby, laid-back Goto Islands. Kyushu’s Tourism Organization also launches four new itineraries focusing on local cuisine, ceramics and nature. Densha otaku (train geeks) will celebrate a new 5-hour sightseeing route launching in spring and serving seasonal bento boxes alongside views of the hissing volcanoes and rocky coastlines between Fukuoka’s Hakata Station and Beppu, Japan’s seaside onsen hub.

Kansas City, Mo.

Given the zeitgeist, it would be understandable to think Kansas City made this list because of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. But the city was set to deliver the goods long before it became a fixture of gossip columns. CPKC Stadium, one of the few soccer stadiums in the world built for a top-division women’s team, the Kansas City Current, will open in March, doubling as a venue for concerts, festivals and farmers markets. In other athletic firsts, KC will host pickleball’s inaugural PickleCon in August, with 100 courts devoted to the unstoppable sporting fad. Rock Island Bridge, a waterfront highline, will soon connect Kansas and Missouri with a string of bars and cafes. The outdoors-oriented will also be able to canoe or kayak in the Kansas River below. Pennway Point, a downtown entertainment district opening this spring, will feature a beer garden, a BBQ joint, live music and a Ferris wheel. Those looking for the city’s famous smoked meat and jazz can rest easy that even under the celebrity spotlight, the soul of the city remains intact.

Prague, Czech Republic

“Prague never lets you go. This dear little mother has sharp claws,” wrote Franz Kafka. And, judging by the tourist numbers, those claws have reach. This year ushers in a new reason, however, to visit the much-loved city. Kafka’s hometown is marking the 100th anniversary of the Czech-born, German-speaking Jewish writer’s death with events across the city. Beginning in March, Prague City Tourism will offer literary walking tours, and a vintage tram will carry bibliophiles to sites where the author lived and worked. In May, the Museum of Czech Literature unveils a new exhibition featuring multimedia installations, letters written by the author and early editions of his books. All summer, the Jewish Museum will host Kafka-focused film screenings in Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish quarter, while a mobile app called “Searching for Odradek,” a reference to a Kafka protagonist, will help re-create the Prague Kafka knew. Finally, the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural center, will be putting on a string of readings and theatrical productions. And when the Kafkaesque existential dread gets to be too much, the city’s legendary pubs await.

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula may be dismissed by some as a haven for spring breakers, but this year brings proof that there’s much more to the state of Quintana Roo than all-inclusive resorts. SHA Wellness Clinic, known for specialized longevity treatments, opens a branch this month in the town of Costa Mujeres. Architect Fabiano Continanza designed the slopes and spirals of the retreat’s building as a nod to the shape of the DNA molecule. An hour south, the Riviera Maya Edition hotel at Kanai just opened in a 620-acre nature reserve, its neutral-hued décor suggesting a sense of urban cool teleported deep into the jungle. Last month’s ribbon-cutting of a new airport in Tulum adds more fuel to that town’s decadeslong boom, but its quiet side still thrives at new boutique sites like XELA Tulum, a once-private villa renovated into a minimalist hotel. Near the border with Belize sits Bacalar, a diminutive town hugging a 26-mile-long translucent lagoon. Big chains like Banyan Tree have announced plans to move in soon, so get there before they do and check in to the new Boca de Agua hotel, crafted by Frida Escobedo, who was recently tapped to design a forthcoming contemporary art wing at New York’s MoMA.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

In Buenos Aires, an often-lauded culinary scene is shining brighter than ever. The neighborhood of Belgrano presents a handy introduction to two core elements of daily life in Argentina: fútbol and meat. After a match at El Monumental, South America’s largest stadium, dine at Corte Comedor’s modern parrilla (or grill) with hard-to-find cuts of beef, succulent veggies and charcuterie from sister spot Corte Charcuteria. In the art-gallery-packed neighborhood of Villa Crespo, head to Chuí, which offers a surprisingly varied plant-based menu, or Julia, a 22-seater specializing in colorful French-leaning fare. In Chacarita, try the newcomer Ácido, which takes inspiration for its menu—plus its delightfully kitschy china—from grandmothers everywhere. At MN Santa Inés, in the low-key barrio of La Paternal, chef Jazmín Marturet plays with recipes developed during trips to Asia and Latin America. And for travelers who follow the stars, the grand finale awaits at the art-on-a-plate adventure on offer at Aramburu, granted two Michelin stars in November. Buen provecho.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minn.

You can still drink straight from many of the 1,200 lakes in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the million-acre liquid maze just shy of the Canadian border. Often navigated via multiday canoe camping trips, this boreal wilderness grants its 250,000 annual visitors time on solid ground, too, in rustic lodges and on extensive island hiking trails. With mining interests eyeing the region, every tourist visit this year plays a pivotal role in the area’s conservation. Start yours with a drive along the Gunflint Trail, a 57-mile national scenic byway leading to the Boundary Waters. At midpoint, grab a cardamom roll from Loon’s Nest Coffee, opened in the fall of 2023, before joining a guided paddle with one of the many locally run outfitters. Come nightfall, check in to the freshly updated Gunflint Lodge, or upgrade your campsite with a mobile sauna delivered to your patch of woods by spa operators Sisu + Löyly. In the morning, wake up with the loons—and dunk your cup straight into the deep-blue water to hydrate.

Balearic Islands, Spain

Spain’s Balearic Islands are ditching their dance-all-night rep for something more Zen. Think fewer foam parties, more meditation circles. Ibiza, once synonymous with shot-slinging nights, now appeals to mindfulness mavens, a metamorphosis on full display at the Mirador de Dalt Vila, a Relais & Châteaux hotel aimed squarely at relaxers, not ravers. In Mallorca, Richard Branson’s new Son Bunyola hotel ditches the island’s DJ parties in favor of scenic cycling and languorous afternoons in the 92-foot-long pool. Rafael Nadal’s ZEL hotel beckons with a restaurant serving Mediterranean and Basque fare and a pro-approved gym. On the island of Minorca, protected status keeps a short leash on development, so newcomers focus on renewing existing properties rather than bulldozing and building. Take the island’s latest outpost, Son Vell, an 18th-century Venetian-style manor turned into a 34-room hotel featuring yoga classes, al fresco movie screenings and, best of all, not a thumping bass line within earshot.

Contributors: Kiera Carter (Kansas City), David Farley (Prague), Adam H. Graham (Kangaroo Island and Kyushu), Jacqueline Kehoe (Boundary Waters), Jordi-Lippe-McGraw (Balearic Islands), Suchi Rudra (Buenos Aires), Chris Schalkx (Malaysia and Lamu) and Michaela Trimble (Quintana Roo)

The 10 Best Places to Visit in 2024

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10 cities with amazing Fourth of July fireworks shows you can visit

Have one of the best july vacations with these travel essentials.

Christopher Murray

See the fireworks show of a lifetime in one of these cities.  (iStock)

Many Americans take the week of July 4th off to extend their Independence Day celebrations. If you’re one of them this year, consider ending your trip with one of the best shows of Fourth of July fireworks you’ve ever seen.

We’ve compiled a list of cities around the U.S. that boast about their fireworks shows. They’re all popular tourists spots with plenty to do in the weeks leading up to July Fourth.

To potentially get 50% off your booking, book your hotel stay at Shareittravel , a global hotel booking platform. Simply sign up for a free membership and get discounts on over a million hotels worldwide.

Cities with the largest fireworks shows

New york city, new york.

best tourist cities

New York City offers plenty to do while you wait for the fireworks.  (iStock)

The Macy’s July Fourth fireworks show is arguably the most impressive work of pyrotechnics NYC puts on. They're launched from the East River near Midtown Manhattan.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

best tourist cities

Visit historical sites in Philly and top the night off with spectacular fireworks.  (iStock)

Philly’s Wawa Welcome America is one of the largest Fourth of July parties in the country. There are weeks of free activities, including free museum days and festivals. View the fireworks from Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Lemon Hill.

Washington, D.C.

best tourist cities

See all the nation's capital has to offer during the Fourth of July.  (iStock)

It only makes sense that D.C. would host a spectacular fireworks show. The National Mall is the most popular place to see the show and offers a historical experience the whole family will love. 

San Diego, California

best tourist cities

Take a California vacation and watch fireworks by the water.  (iStock)

Catch beautiful fireworks right in the bay of San Diego . With tons of viewing locations, beaches and shops all mixed in, the Fourth of July fireworks can be an entire vacation all in itself.

Boston, Massachusetts

best tourist cities

Watch fireworks while looking over the Boston skyline.  (iStock)

Boston hosts a giant free concert paired with its firework display on the Fourth of July . The event is hosted on the banks of the Charles River and attracts millions of spectators every year.

Detroit, Michigan

best tourist cities

See a worldclass Fourth of July show in Detroit.  (iStock)

You can view the fireworks among a backdrop of city lights in Detroit. There are a couple of locations across the city that those in town frequently head to on the Fourth of July. The Detroit Riverwalk, Hart Plaza, Belle Isle Park and Campus Martius Park are all popular spots.

New Orleans, Louisiana

best tourist cities

Eat some amazing Cajun food while you watch the fireworks.  (iStock)

Situated in the historic downtown, the New Orleans Fourth of July fireworks are quite the show. Every year it also features the General Roy S. Kelley fireboat that does its famed water show with plumes of red, white, and blue fountains.

Cody, Wyoming

best tourist cities

Enjoy a unique Fourth of July parade in Cody.  (iStock)

Cody is a small town, but its firework show is anything but. The Cody Stampede is a huge parade of horses and spectators down Sheridan Ave. in downtown Cody. There’s also a world-famous rodeo and tons of free events for the whole family.

Nashville, Tennessee

best tourist cities

For a country music festival paired with fireworks, visit Nashville.  (iStock)

Downtown Nashville throws a huge party for July Fourth and is one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. The city throws a free concert, often with huge names in country music.

Atlanta, Georgia

best tourist cities

Take in the fireworks all over Atlanta.  (iStock)

Atlanta provides the Southeast’s largest fireworks show in Centennial Olympic Park. The days-long event starts with a concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and ends on the 4th with a light show, live entertainment and, of course, fireworks.

Get up to 50% off your next booking at over a million hotels when you sign up for a membership with Shareittravel .

Travel essentials to bring with you

best tourist cities

Get classic-looking sunglasses at half the price of name-brand options.  (Amazon )

During the hot summer months, sunglasses are a necessity. Amazon has cheap sunglass options that look identical to name-brand options. Sunglass Hut has Ray Bans, Prada, and Oakley sunglasses, among other well-known brands.

best tourist cities

These shorts provide the ultimate comfort on your summer vacation.  (Amazon )

A comfortable pair of shorts helps you deal with hot and humid days, no matter where you’re traveling. You can find women’s shorts for under $20 at Old Navy . They come in a variety of colors and patterns to choose from. Amazon also has affordable, stretchy shorts for women.

Men can find quick-dry hiking shorts in 30 different colors on Amazon. You can also find athletic men’s shorts through Nike for about $50.

Travel backpack

best tourist cities

A travel backpack is designed for easy travel.  (TravelPro)

Carry all your belongings in an easy-to-carry backpack that can double as your carry-on. JanSport offers mini backpacks in a variety of colors for those who only need to carry a few items. Find travel backpacks designed to hold all your essential belongings at TravelPro .

best tourist cities

Snag a pair of New Balance shoes on Amazon.  (Amazon )

Chances are, you’ll park pretty far from where you’re actually seeing the fireworks, so make sure you have the right shoes. A good pair of Nikes can take you a long way, as can New Balances, which you can buy on Amazon for under $100.

best tourist cities

Charge all your devices at the same time.  (Amazon )

Instead of taking a fleet of chargers for all your devices, consider grabbing one of these multi-chargers from Amazon that allows you to charge three devices at once. Also, consider getting a cord organizer if you have a whole host of device types.

Toiletries kit

best tourist cities

Get all the toiletries you need in one kit.  (Amazon)

Traveling requires you to bring your own toiletries, no matter where you’re going. Amazon has an affordable toiletries kit complete with deodorant, shampoo, conditioners and a toothbrush and toothpaste set. Keeping your toiletries organized is equally as important. State Bags has toiletry bags that are compact and colorful.

best tourist cities

Find fun bathing suit options on Billabong.  (Billabong)

Taking an extended vacation for the Fourth of July? Pack your swimsuit just in case your hotel has a pool or there’s a beach nearby. Billabong has beautiful options for women’s bathing suits, like this swimsuit for under $100 . Men can find affordable swimsuits at Dick’s Sporting Goods for under $70.

Comfy shirts

best tourist cities

Amazon has a bunch of Hawaiin shirt options at an affordable price.  (Amazon )

You want to ensure you have comfortable clothes when you travel. Amazon has lightweight Hawaiian shirts in a ton of colors, all for under $30. Also, find fun, affordable tank tops from the Life is Good store .

Blanket towel

best tourist cities

Pack a giant beach towel for the whole family.  (Amazon )

A blanket towel provides you with a great beach towel to take on vacation or a nice-sized blanket to watch the fireworks on. Amazon has Turkish beach towels in a few dozen colors for about $25. The Big Blanket Co. also has luxurious blankets the entire family can fit on.

Cooler backpack

best tourist cities

Keep all your drinks cold with a cooler backpack.  (Amazon )

Instead of buying costly drinks at the restaurants and food trucks near the Fourth of July events, bring a cooler full of your family’s favorite drinks. A backpack cooler helps you easily carry everything you need. You can find Carhartt brand cooler backpacks for under $100 at Dick’s Sporting Goods . Get even more affordable options on Amazon .

For more Deals, visit and find travel discounts on millions of hotels through Shareittravel . 

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Manhattanhenge Is Happening Tonight — Where and When to See It

There will also be three more chances to see it this summer.

Stephanie Vermillion is a travel journalist and photographer covering culture and adventure for Travel + Leisure Outside, and more.

best tourist cities

Fatih Aktas/Getty Images

Manhattan will turn even more magical this evening as a twice-per-summer solar spectacular brings a dazzling glow to the concrete jungle. It’s Manhattanhenge — the Big Apple’s take on Stonehenge — a string of evenings when the sun sets in perfect alignment with the island’s street grid. The striking display draws thousands of spectators each summer.

With clear, sunny skies, tonight’s Manhattanhenge forecast couldn’t be better. Here’s where to look and when to watch the first Manhattanhenge showing of the season.

 Where to see Manhattanhenge

You can’t catch Manhattanhenge just anywhere, hence the name. Since the sun sets in the west, behind North Jersey, it’s best to watch from the eastern side of the island (but not too far east; make sure New Jersey is still visible.)

According to the American Museum of Natural History , the best thoroughfares to enjoy Manhattanhenge include 14th Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, and 57th Street. The Tudor City Overpass near the United Nations headquarters is a popular spot. For beyond-Manhattan viewing, try Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City, according to NYC Parks .   

When to see Manhattanhenge in 2024

The moment of Manhattanhenge — where the bright sun perfectly aligns between the city’s concrete bookends — only lasts a few minutes. Fortunately, it’s not a one-night-only event. The phenomenon occurs over a string of two evenings, twice each summer.

Tonight’s event is the kick-off, with Manhattanhenge striking at 8:13 p.m. ET. This is “half sun” Manhattanhenge; at the moment of city-grid alignment, half of the sun’s orb is above the horizon and half is below. Wednesday, May 29, will be “full sun” Manhattanhenge at 8:12 p.m. ET. During this time, the entirety of the sun’s sphere will shimmer above the horizon.

Manhattanhenge will occur again July 13 at 8:21 p.m., and again July 12 at 8:20 p.m. ET, according to ABC 7 — but we recommend taking advantage of this week’s spectacle given the perfect, clear-sky forecast.

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