I received an email from a reader who was in the initial phases of planning an international trip (on frequent flyer miles of course) but hadn’t yet picked out a destination. The reader asked if I could recommend my personal favorite cities in the world to visit. I definitely love making lists so I was happy to take on the challenge of selecting my top 5.
It is very rare for me to want to go back to an international city that I have already visited. While I love most every international city I visit, it takes a little something extra to interest me in returning at the expense of visiting a new city. These 5 cities have achieved that level. In no particular order, here are my top 5 international cities that I recommend interested travelers visit.
1. Berlin, Germany
My favorite European city is the German capital of Berlin. The city offers a wide range of experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. The history alone is enough to make this a world class city worth visiting. It is amazing to walk the grounds where so many important world events have taken place. Furthermore the architecture, the green city parks, and modern art are qualities to be greatly admired. For better or for worse, Berlin is a city full of unique thinkers and I believe this shows through in their city.
Personal highlights: The Reichstag, Brandenburg gate, Museum Island, the Tiergarten, the beer!
2. Kyoto, Japan
I can confidently say Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For over 1000 years, Kyoto stood as the capital of Japan. As an American, that concept is extremely tough to grasp. Walking through today’s Kyoto you can’t help but appreciate the incredible commitment to and feat of preservation this city represents. There is a certain peacefulness and tranquility about Kyoto which exists throughout every square inch of the city.
Personal highlights: Endless temples and historical treasures, Philosopher’s Path, Bamboo Forest, Geisha spotting, Gion, Overwhelming natural beauty.
Read more about my most recent trip report here.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is a tough city to describe. I don’t find the terrain to be especially unique. The skyline is not as picturesque as its Asian counterparts. It is not a the cleanest or most efficient city in the world. The real beauty that I find in Bangkok is the atmosphere. The city is buzzing with activity all day everyday. During the day you have an infinitely long list of historical attractions to keep you entertained while at night the party atmosphere takes over. The nightlife is incredible. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what time of day it is, you will certainly find new friends to celebrate with and have fun.
Personal highlights: Drinks on top of the Lebua at State Tower, Cheap and delicious Thai cuisine, Backpacker’s party atmosphere, Nightlife, Street markets
4. Cape Town, South Africa
My favorite city in Africa is most certainly Cape Town. Cape Town offers something for everyone. Ocean seeker? Got it. Mountain seeker? Got it. Wine seeker? Got it. History seeker? Got it. Adventure seeker? Got it. The list goes on and on. In my mind, Cape Town shares the title for the most naturally beautifully city on earth, along with #5 on this list.
Personal highlights: Day trips to the Stellenbosch wine region, Cage diving with Great White Sharks off Gansbaai, Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain, Robben Island
5. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
My favorite city in South America is Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. As mentioned in #4, I believe Rio De Janeiro shares the title for most naturally beautiful city on earth. The juxtaposition of the mountains and the ocean is truly stunning. I was fortunate enough to experience a concert on the beach with 200,000+ of my newest Brazilian friends. Rio has a certain buzzing vibe that is hard to describe but will surely leave you happy you came!
Personal highlights: Driving up to see Christ the Redeemer, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Live concert on the beach
View from the top via photos4travel.com
Which cities are in your top 5?