We asked our readers on Facebook and Twitter to vote for their favourite city in the world: these are the best cities in the world as voted by you.
The information in this article is inspired by the The Rough Guides guidebooks — your essential guides for visiting the world.
Boston made it into the top 20 best cities in the world thanks to its buzzing music scene and plethora of historical attractions. A modern American city that proudly trades on its colonial past, Boston is about as close to the Old World as the New World gets. This is not to say it lacks contemporary attractions: its restaurants, bars, museums and neatly landscaped public spaces are all as alluring as its historic sites.
On this tailor-made East Coast Adventure you will visit 4 of the most iconic East Coast cities: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Take the Amtrak trains between cities and have private local guides introduce you to each city. From foodie gems over Broadway shows - this itinerary allows you to explore greatly.
Barcelona was an obvious choice for some. @Giggy1 says "it’s the most vibrant, unforgettable city with beautiful monuments, Gaudi’s works, great nightlife, great metro system, great football team and by the sea, it’s got it all."
Barcelona vibrates with life and is a firm favourite. No other city in Spain can touch it for sheer style, looks or energy. Its art museums are world-class and its football team sublime, while its designer restaurants, bars, galleries and shops lead from the front.
Explore the capital of Spain Madrid with this unique tailor-made trip to Madrid and Barcelona before heading about an hour outside of the city, to visit Europe's longest zip-line in historic Toledo. Afterwards, board a train to explore the second-largest city in Spain, Barcelona.
Vega Snider was one of many who chose Prague as one of the best cities in the world because of its "stunning architecture, amazing history, beautiful people, delicious food, [and] great atmosphere..."
Some destinations still have the capacity to give even the most cynical tourist pause for thought, refusing to be reduced to a mere list of museums or galleries. Prague is one such. Never destroyed by war, the city’s 1,000-year history is etched into its very fabric. Its sublime beauty and unique character forged through its development as a major European Capital.
For more accommodation options, read our guide to the best places to stay in Prague.
With a vibrant music scene and some fantastic parks, Melbourne was one of the best cities in the world for many of our readers in Australia – and beyond.
In many ways, Melbourne is the most European of all Australian cities. Magnificent landscaped gardens and parks provide greenery near the centre. Meanwhile the skyscrapers of the Central Business District (CBD) and flash public spaces like Federation Square contrast with Victorian-era facades and tree-lined boulevards.
We saw a lot of love for Lisbon on Twitter. @GeekyExplorer was among those who love the Portuguese capital for its lively culture, beaches and relaxed lifestyle.
Strung out over a series of hills facing the glistening waters of the broad Tejo estuary, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most handsome cities. Although its modern suburbs are ungainly, the historic centre is relatively compact and easy to explore in just a day or two.
Take your rental car and discover Lisbon, Sintra & Cascais before heading to Alentejo. This fascinating region features many historic gems to discover, as well as a unique cuisine to taste. Finish this tailor-made trip to Lisbon and the South of Portugal with some beach days in Tavira on Portugal's Algarve coast.
Thanks to its position at the confluence of eastern and western influences, a number of you voted for Istanbul as one of the best cities in the world. Lauren Woods said "Istanbul! Ancient history, modernity, culture, amazing food and the Bosphorus!"
Maybe it’s the magic of its famous trio of names – Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul – but this is a city which has always brought out the fantasist in visitors. Even today when it is bulging at the seams, Istanbul can still seem ineffably romantic. Bounded by sea on three sides, even in the most built-up parts of the city you’re never more than a glimpse away from a coruscating stretch of water.
On this tailor-made trip to city & culture you will explore two absolute highlights in Turkey. Starting in Istanbul, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire with its many landmarks. After a few days in the city, fly to Cappadocia and explore the surreal surroundings, either on day tours or from above in a hot air balloon.
We couldn’t have put it better than Alexi: "in Hong Kong – you have everything: mountains, sea, food, shopping, buzz, nightlife… it’s the city that never sleeps!"
Hong Kong offers an exciting yet easy entry into the Chinese world. Among the hi-tech infrastructure and the population’s Westernized outlook, conservative traditions persist. From shrines to the god of wealth and age-old festivals, to the way contemporary architectural design takes principles such as feng shui into account.
Hong Kong is a vibrant and appealing city, with its waterside location and towering skyscrapers, it offers the visitor modernity and tradition, the exotic and efficient. Perfect for a family break, this tailor-made trip to Hong Kong Highlights has plenty to keep everyone entertained from Central to the New Territories and beyond.
Beautiful Florence made it into 13th place on our list of the best cities in the world thanks to its wonderful architecture. Hannahmass1 loves the city for the "fantastic laid back Italian vibe."
Since the early nineteenth century, Florence has been widely celebrated as the most beautiful city in Italy. Stendhal staggered around its streets in a perpetual stupor of delight and the Brownings sighed over its charms. E.M. Forster’s Room with a View portrayed it as the great southern antidote to the sterility of Anglo-Saxon life.
Florence. A mere mention of the name conjures up grand images of Renaissance romance, awe-inspiring art and astonishing architecture. Try this tailor-made Trip Back In Time and see for yourself.
With its notoriously hedonistic nightlife, tumultuous history and easy-going, cosmopolitan vibe, Berlin is indisputably one of Europe’s most compelling cities. Add a generous feeling of physical space, and a cutting-edge cultural scene and it’s easy to see why so many people are not just visiting the freewheeling German capital but moving here in droves.
The German capital Berlin has plenty to offer: from historical sites to world-class museums and a vibrant nightlife. Enjoy this private tailor-made tour to explore a wide range of activities in Berlin and Potsdam, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Lainey was among many who voted for Amsterdam: "everything is just a ride away. It’s open-minded and one of my favourite places to take photos."
With every justification, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top short-break destinations. It’s a compact, instantly likeable city that’s appealing to look at and pleasant to walk around. An intriguing mix of the parochial and the international, it has a welcoming attitude towards visitors and a uniquely youthful orientation. Also engaging are the buzz of its open-air summer events and the intimacy of its clubs and bars.
Rio de Janeiro just took the number ten spot. Some tips from @girlintheeast: "dance like crazy in Lapa, lap up a caipirinha at Copacabana and while away the hours in Santa Teresa."
The citizens of the thirteen-million-strong city of Rio de Janeiro call it the Cidade Marvilhosa – and there can’t be much argument about that. Although riven by inequality, Rio has style. Its international renown is bolstered by some of the greatest landmarks in the world. It’s a setting enhanced annually by the frenetic sensuality of Carnaval, an explosive celebration that sums up Rio and its citizens, the cariocas.
Explore the lively city of Rio de Janeiro, home to Ipanema and Copacabana beaches; experience the stunning Foz do Iguaçu National Park and see the world’s largest waterfalls system; immerse yourself in cultural Salvador, the magnificent former capital of Portugal’s New World colony - on this tailor-made trip to Breathtaking Brazil.
Coming in at number nine on our list of the best cities in the world, despite its reputation as an over-touristed city, Venice was voted for by many of our social followers. Netty said: "no city compares with Venice. It’s beautiful and you don’t have to watch out for traffic running you down".
The first-time visitor to Venice arrives full of expectations, most of which turn out to be well founded. All the photographs you’ve seen of the Palazzo Ducale, of the Basilica di San Marco, of the palaces along the Canal Grand – they’ve simply been recording the extraordinary truth.
Enjoy a weekend getaway in the most romantic of cities. This compact tailor-made trip to Romantic Venice features a pleasant walking tour, which provides a unique insight into the history, art and architecture of Venice, and a gondola ride. You will also have some free time to explore this labyrinthine city.
Lucy was one of those who voted for Vancouver, a "vibrant and relaxed city that made us feel really welcome and at home".
Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world, its water and mountain-ringed setting equalling those of Sydney and Rio de Janeiro. Long after the many fine galleries and museums, and the even better restaurants, have faded, the memory of the Coast Mountains rearing above Burrard Inlet, or the beaches and semi-wilderness of Stanley Park, will linger.
Canada’s top entry was Toronto at number seven – a favourite for its awesome CN Tower and July 1 Canada Day celebrations according to our Twitter followers.
Toronto’s sights illustrate different facets of the city, but in no way do they crystallize its identity. The city remains opaque, too big and diverse to allow for a defining personality, and this adds an enticing air of excitement and unpredictability to the place.
Along your trip you’ll visit some of the most iconic cities in the world, all rich in history, culture, cuisine and nightlife. Visit NBA and NFL sport games, explore the Niagara Falls, and learn about NYC's history - this tailor-made Canada & USA Adventure includes it all.
Pizza, pasta, wine, Vatican City, Roman history… The list goes on. On Facebook, Jennifer DeSutter Causey told us she loves Rome for its "amazing food, beautiful fountains and piazzas, and layers of history". We couldn’t agree more.
Rome is the most fascinating city in Italy, which makes it arguably the most fascinating city in the world. You could spend a month here and still only scratch the surface.
It’s an ancient place packed with relics of over two thousand years of inhabitation, yet it’s so much more than an open-air museum. As a historic centre, it is special enough; as a contemporary European capital, it is utterly unique.
Welcome to this whirlwind tailor-made tour of Rome, also known as the Eternal City. Rome is one of the most photogenic cities on earth, so make sure you pack your camera.
"Beautiful, inspiring, artisan, dynamic, cosmopolitan, varied, romantic"… Those are just a few of the words used to describe the world’s fifth best city, Paris.
A trip to Paris, famous as the most romantic of destinations, is one of those lifetime musts. Long the beating heart of European civilization, it remains one of the world’s most refined yet passionate cities. The very fabric of the place is exquisite, with its magnificent avenues and atmospheric little backstreets, its grand formal gardens and intimate neighbourhood squares.
This is the perfect tailor-made city break for lovers: stay in the luxurious Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and take things completely at your own pace. From tours to sightseeing, you can choose from a range of activities to suit your individual tastes and desires.
England’s capital makes an appearance at number four with numerous votes. Besty Li said: "It has to be London! A simply unique blend of the traditional, the historical, the modern, the elegant, the hip, the arty, the cutting edge, the charming, the skyscrapers, [and] the Thames."
London is full of surprises – a city of contrasts – constantly evolving while holding onto its old-world charm. Historic monuments can be found on just about every corner, sprawling parks offer respite from the thronging city streets. Secret passageways reveal pubs stuck in time warps. There really is nowhere quite like London.
For more accommodation options, explore our guide to the best places to stay in London.
From the Tribune Tower on the Magnificent Mile, to its great lakeside location, there was a lot of love for Chicago on Twitter. Clareef called it a "cosmopolitan city with loads to see, including some great architecture".
Studded with a bewitching ensemble of skyscrapers that rise up from Lake Michigan, Chicago is one of the great American cities. Its bike-friendly lakefront and jaw-dropping skyline best viewed from the boats on the Chicago River, are perhaps its most memorable features. Despite some world-class museums, it’s Chicago’s icons and their legacies that intrigue most visitors, from the Blues Brothers to its gut-busting deep-dish pizzas.
Another US entry and in second place, San Francisco has touched the hearts of many a traveller with its chilled out vibes and undulating hills. Ali described it as a "big, bustling city and cozy, friendly town all at once".
One of America’s most stunningly cities, San Francisco sits poised on the northern tip of a slender peninsula along the California coast. Home of the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, hippies, Levi’s, Facebook and Yelp. It’s arguably the most beautiful, and probably the most progressive major city in the USA.
Explore three major US cities on this tailor-made Cross country USA trip: from the hilly streets of San Francisco to the glitzy lights of Las Vegas (and an aerial view of the Grand Canyon!) to the French Quarter in New Orleans, this tour allows plenty of time to discover hidden local gems.
Our readers voted New York City into first place as the world’s best metropolis. A huge variety of restaurants, world-class shopping and landmarks we all know and love are just a few of the draws. Gavin Burnett says: "A perfect day would include walking the ‘high line’, lunch in Chelsea market, a sunset stroll over Brooklyn Bridge and rooftop cocktails with the Empire State as a backdrop."
For more accommodation options, explore our guide to the best places to stay in New York City.
For more inspirational travel tips for your future trips check our Rough Guide books.
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Top image: Late afternoon panorama in Lisbon, from the miradouro da graca, Portugal© Stefano_Valeri/Shutterstock