It’s the question on everybody’s lips (isn’t it?) – Which is the best city in the world?
Almost every trip will take us through a major city at some point, many of them leaving a mark on our psyche as emblematic of that nation’s culture. But when it comes to the must visit city, which one comes top?
Well, it is obviously entirely subjective. But we asked our recent contributors to name their favourite city (or cities) and a few lines to say why.
So in no particular order, here is are the world’s best cities according to our friends and contributors…
Amanda Moller of SmallWorldMatters.com
As the meeting point of so many religions and cultures, it felt alive with the stories of so many peoples and historical narratives from all over the world. To see such vastly different people coincide in a place central to so many religions was surreal, and gave it a vibe I’ve not experienced anywhere else.
If I’m being honest I can’t remember half my nights in Krakow, and that’s a solid nod to the potency of their vodka. Krakow feels a bit like Poland-meets-Russia with their history and architecture (and the vodka). The nightlife is something else. Hidden away in an underground nightclub, tucked beneath an old city square, shrouded in cigarette smoke and heaving with music you don’t understand, that sticks in the memory, even if other things don’t!
It’s a classic, I know, but it’s a classic for a reason. New York has both the charm of a bygone era and the excitement of a modern city. I spent six days in New York and could have easily spent two weeks, which is unusual for me, as I’m ready to leave most cities after a few days. It’s not just that there’s a lot to do there, it’s more the ‘personality’ of the city that enchants you.
Gianluca Fiore of Papersounds.eu.
For the easiness of mixing beach, nightlife, architecture (which I love) and modernity. It is a city I lived for a few months and its multiculturalism and proudness always caught me as an example to follow.
Again, architecture is interesting albeit not the prettiest one, the proudness that permeates the city due to its sad past, and the fact that there are lots of young people for all around Poland make it the most modern city on the rise east of Berlin.
It is way too big for my liking but it keeps a feeling of a bunch of villages linked together. Architecture and art is everywhere, there are tons of pubs and museums to spend hours drinking and getting immersed in the local culture, and it is also extremely modern and multicultural. I could probably spend 2 months there and never get bored.
Jacob Shirar of TheAgapeCompany.com.
It’s a very active city and it’s close to both the ocean and mountains. The summer months are beautiful and winters are fairly mild. The climate and location allow for tons of outdoor adventures regardless of the season.
It’s close proximity to the mountains is unbeatable. Within an hour you can be in any number of National Forests. It also is fairly mild year round so you never have to worry about crazy high or low temperatures.
Surrounded by all the natural wonders you could possibly imagine. Again, it’s a very active, outdoor driven city. The city is small enough you can easily navigate it by foot. Oh and it has some incredible hamburgers!
Seb Szymeczko – Professional Traveller and Tour Guide
Often gets a bad wrap for being dirty, but considering it’s the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and humans tend to leave filth everywhere, it’s to be expected (a little rubble never heart anyone).
Whereas Scandinavian or Baltic cities look like an Ikea catalogue, Athens is like your bedroom, it’s where people live. And that’s the entire point of the city, to live. Tiny lanes strewn with cafes, squares full of people blending from the East and the West, music, gyros, touters, gyros, dogs, gyros, all backed by historic landmarks, adorned with none other than the Acropolis. Spend a few days getting philosophical, and just be. And eat gyros.
Pure, flowing chaos. Sometimes you walk around a city and wonder where everybody is (Perth), in Hanoi, I’m fairly sure the entire population passes by you on a scooter. Most travellers stick to the Old Quarter where you can find virtually everything. Bamboo supplies? There’s a corner. Flowers? There’s a street. Money safes? There’s a lane. Want a $1 haircut? There’s a guy with a mirror hanging off a tree.
There’s markets everywhere. Plus the entire place is a smorgasbord with some of the most rewarding street food experiences I’ve ever had. Who doesn’t like a steamy broth next to a guy angle-grinding something in his underpants on Metal-Work-Road. It’s just fun man!
Sadly the cat is well and truly out of the bag with this place, yet, it still rocks. You’ll be oozing travelly-juices all over the riverside at sunset with a boat cruise along the Danube, or a viewpoint from Fisherman’s Bastion, as this is possibly Europe’s finest cityscape.
Then get into the grunge with myriad of eclectic bars/clubs amongst a blossoming alternative hospitality scene. The food is hearty, the palinka heart-wrenching and the prices, very favourable. Winter or Summer (Sziget festival), the pulse is always well and truly pounding.
Michelle Hubbard – Freelance Writer
There’s a saying: ‘A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else’ and I have to agree.
I’ve lived in London and I’ve been a tourist in London so I know the reality from both sides. I love the history, the culture, the little nooks and crannies, the street markets, the cool bars, hey even the dingy bars and the dives. The FREE museums that take days to walk around and leave you wanting more, walks along the river, strolls through squares and blue plaques to read en route.
Fast-paced? Yes. Romantic? Yes. Family friendly? Often. Thought-provoking and ever-changing? Always.
Abbi Browning of IllustrativeJourneys
I love Tokyo as I think the area is so picturesque and quirky, with something different around each corner. It also is remarkably affordable for such a populated area, with (what I believe to be) the best train rides on the planet- not to mention the amazing food it has to offer. (As a side note, I actually love the city so much that I’ve been considering moving under a student visa, for a Japanese language school!)
I’d have to say that London is another city dear to me, stemming from my love of art. The UK is great for graffiti artists like Banksy, but pairing this with London’s events, sights and shows definitely makes it worth a visit.
Sophia Amos of BlackDiamond
Throughout San Diego you will find striking influences of Mexican heritage across architecture, art, culture and in particular – food. Renowned for their Cali-Baja cuisine which is a colourful fusion of traditional Mexican spices with the freshest, Californian seafood, the myth of heavy, stodgy American food is no more.
Also known as the city amongst the trees, Portland is surrounded by natural beauty. With parks, gardens and waterfalls no more than 30minutes outside of the city, Portland is a must visit any season. It’s also worthwhile taking a wander through the eclectic neighbourhoods with colourful street art lining the independent stores in Alberta Arts District and vintage shops in Hawthorne.
Sarah Tucker of The Travelling Neurotic
As someone who loves to walk, I love roaming the ancient streets. To me, the entire city feels like a museum. Add the amazing food and drink, and I’m hooked!
Erika van ‘t Veld of ErikasTravelventures.com
It has the typical Southeast Asian hustle and culture, but it’s also so modern and metropolitan. When I’m backpacking in SEA and I’ve held off on buying any souvenirs or treats for myself, I go all out in Bangkok (clothing shopping or watching a movie at Siam Paragon Mall, buying cool knickknacks at Chatuchak weekend market). It’s comfortable yet exotic, and has something for everyone, in any mood!
The trekker’s paradise is also so packed with Nepali and Tibetan cultural locations. Something about the little outdoor goods shops and the fluttering prayer flags over the streets in the tourist Thamel district feels comforting to me. Thamel has lots of great restaurants, budget hostels, shops to prepare yourself for trekking, and even bars and clubs too! But just outside of here is where it feels like real Nepal starts – dirt roads, local momo (Nepali dumplings) shops, and temples everywhere!
Georgetown is such a unique city: a mixture of Muslim Malays, Hindu Indians, and Buddhist Chinese all live together in harmony in the northwestern corner of Penang island. My favorite thing to do is just walk around. There’s little India with its street-side samosa stands and video stores blasting Bollywood music, Chinatown with its hawker stands and herbal remedy stores, and mosques, temples, churches from every religion on every block! Georgetown is also famous for its street art by Ernest Zacharevic, depicting typical Malaysian life in murals that are interactive.
Ant Galasso of Take Off Set Sail
I’ve always been drawn to Boston. The history woven into the city’s streets is ever-apparent, yet…the city is brimming with great food, a burgeoning arts and music scene, and, of course, a proud sports community. The people are a bold, proud breed, which I’ve always found to be contagious.
Asheville, North Carolina
Up and coming in the U.S. Southeast, Asheville is a little mountain city making a big splash as the go-to destination for outdoorsy travelers seeking artistic expression. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this community is known as a top food and beer destination with a plethora of restaurants and breweries to satiate their tastebuds.
Oliver Lynch – Editor/Writer for Gone Travelling
Long before I lived here, London was the yardstick all other cities were mesaured against. Nightlife, food, culture, music, history – it has literally got it all. In fact London probably has more of each of those than some entire countries. Its crowded, expensive, polluted and regularly infuriating. But it’s still number one.
I love beaches and I love cities, so when you combine the two you’ve got something special. Donosti, as the locals call it, is compact and picturesque and features hill walks, surfing beaches and some of the best food in Spain. And that’s saying something!
It’s a little while since I was in HK, but this ultra cool city left a mark in my memory. The skyline is incredible and it’s one of those cities where you’ll find obscure alleyways with a traditional cafe that could be straight out of rural China.
The World’s Best City 2019
So it seems that London wins our world’s best city (for now). Do you agree? Feel free to comment and let us know what your favourite city is in the box below.
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