10. Berlin, Germany

Germany’s thriving capital has been voted the tenth coolest city in the world thanks to its cutting-edge art scene, wild nightlife, multiculturalism, incredible museums and rebirth into the dynamic cosmopolitan powerhouse it is today. And as each day goes by, Berlin seems to only get cooler.

stand up paddler on river spree in Berlin - Oberbaum Bridge, Tv Tower and sunset sky backgroundStand up paddler on river Spree in Berlin with Oberbaum Bridge, Tv Tower and sunset sky background © hanohiki/Shutterstock

9. Barcelona, Spain

Some of the world’s best food, drink, architecture and beaches all combine in the idyllic Catalan capital. Whether you’re surfing, skateboarding, spray-painting or simply devouring tapas, Barcelona is an amazing place to lounge with friendly locals by day and stay out late after the Mediterranean sun has set.

Barcelona© Evgeniy Zhukov/Shutterstock

8. Hong Kong, China

It’s tough to beat the contrasting combination of tranquil green mountains and dazzling seaside skyscrapers. But add dim sum, the best shopping on Earth, a wealth of culture and a highly addictive dose of urban bustle into the mix – it’s no wonder Hong Kong came in at a strong eighth place with our readers.

Cliff above Hong kong cityscape© Ekaphon maneechot/Shutterstock

7. Reykjavík, Iceland

With laidback days and long, hedonistic summer nights the world’s most northerly capital is undeniably awesome. For such a tiny population Iceland’s creative output is off the charts, breeding artists such as Bjork and Sigur Ros to name a few. But how many other cool cities can also boast the aurora borealis or an easy escape from city life to primordial looking wilderness when you need it? Only Reykjavík.

Iceland© Supreecha Samansukumal/Shutterstock

6. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Always a strong contender, we weren’t surprised to see Amsterdam come in a strong fifth place on the cool list. The marriage of calming canals and crooked brick buildings with alternative lifestyles, bike culture and avant-garde art scenes make the Dutch capital an easy city to love, but a much tougher one to leave.

6. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

For its favela funk parties, un-paralleled beach life, ever-tempting churrasco, grit and glorious style, our readers were insistent about Rio’s inclusion in the coolest cities list. Rio’s landmarks and landscapes never grow dull, and its vibrant atmosphere energizes and inspires residents and visitors alike.

playing altinho futebol beach football kick-ups soccer ball Ipanema Beach Rio de Janeiro BrazilPlaying altinho futebol beach football at Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro © lazyllama/Shutterstock

4. Tokyo, Japan

Though life in its multiple city centres is a true sensory overload – satisfying barrages of crowds, flashing lights, anime, J-pop and futuristic tech – deep in the suburbs and backstreets our readers found a host of fashionable pop-ups, hip bars, slick art galleries and little ramen restaurants with flavours to blow your mind. From hangouts in Yoyogi Park to great hospitality and general politeness towards travellers, Tokyo definitely deserves its spot in the top four.

in the Tokyo metro stationIn the Tokyo metro train © oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Balancing on the brink of Europe and Asia, one could easily spend a week beaching and sightseeing in historic Istanbul and never get bored. But to get a taste of contemporary cool you’ll have to leave the oldest neighbourhoods behind. It won’t be long before you stumble upon one of the many edgier districts bursting with hip cafés, independent boutiques, experimental galleries, wild nightclubs and a creative buzz that has the whole world talking Turkey.

Grand Bazaar IstanbulAt the Grand Bazaar Istanbul © Breslavtsev Oleg/Shutterstock

2. New York City, USA

Our readers knew this top ten list wouldn’t be complete without NYC. But it’s no longer just Manhattan that keeps New York at the top. Brooklyn is ultimately responsible for clenching a strong second place. Its distinct cultural neighbourhoods have birthed much of the world’s most exciting music, art and design. Though gentrification threatens areas like Williamsburg, residents would argue that New York City is still the cultural capital of the world.

Orthodox Jews Wearing Special Clothes on Shabbat, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New YorkOrthodox Jews Wearing Special Clothes on Shabbat, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York © Alfredo Garcia Saz/Shutterstock

1. London, England

London is truly a world unto itself. From fantastic museums to back-alley speakeasies, hip gourmet restaurants to nameless holes-in-the-wall serving the best in far-off cuisines – London’s appeal is impossible to resist. For its dynamism, diversity, creative abundance and cultural wealth our readers were passionate about naming it the world’s coolest. While rampant rises in price endanger everything that has made this city the incredible place it is, Londoners remain hopeful. For now, London still has it all.

Mannequin at a fashion stall in Camden Market, LondonMannequin at a fashion stall in Camden Market, London © Patrick Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Top image: In the Tokyo metro train © oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

Share

Book your trip with Rough Guides

Tailor-made travel planned by local experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

chevron_leftPrevious feature
Quiz: can you name these islands?

Quiz: can you name these islands?

Next featurechevron_right
Austria's KäseStrasse: the hike that's a cheese-lover's dream

Austria's KäseStrasse: the hike that's a cheese-lover's dream

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs