Nearly 77,000 of our readers rated their favorite cities in the world. Is your favorite on the list? Read about all the best hotels, resorts, islands, spas, and cruise lines in the world in our Readers' Choice Awards 2014.
1. Florence, Italy
Florence is a perennial Readers' Choice winner—a beauty in its art, architecture, history, and cuisine. Contributing editor Matt Hranek says he never goes hungry in this city—bistecca alla fiorentina at Trattoria Le Mossacce and a panino al lampredotto (stewed tripe sandwich) at the San Lorenzo Market are always on the menu. He usually avoids the Pitti Palace (along with much of the mediocre leather goods that proliferate throughout the city), but never misses the David reproduction in the Palazzo Vecchio. For some of the best paper products in the world, head to Pineider. Be sure to check out the Gucci Museum—home to the complete archive of iconic Gucci products, from loafers to luggage.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
For senior editor Lindsay Talbot, the ultimate Charleston itinerary starts with a walk along the waterfront: strolling under palm trees with the Atlantic glistening just beyond. Take time to wander the side streets, which boast beautiful homes, the best of which are found at Rainbow Row just by The Battery. “I love Charleston because the colors of the houses are just unreal,” says Talbot. “It’s just a dazzling array of pastels.” And lest you think we're blinded by pretty colors, we never leave town without feasting. Charleston's known as a foodie city, but Talbot's favorite restaurant is Husk, with The Ordinary coming in a close second.
3. Budapest, Hungary
When in Hungary’s capital, we love to sneak away from the tourist attractions for some cafe and spa culture. Legendary cafes like the New York Kávéház and the Gerbeaud are must-visits, as are the spas built in the 16th and 17th century by Ottoman occupiers Rudas and Király. These places (where you can still bathe) are full of wonderful touches like roaring granite lion heads spewing out warm mineral water. “If you can muscle out the Hungarian grandma from her prized spot (because you know it’s the prized spot), then you’ve found nirvana, ” says contributing editor Matt Hranek.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the best city in the world for blending urban culture with the great outdoors: They're literally a five-minute drive from each other. There's an exploding food scene, with vegetables, wine, and cheese coming from the gorgeous Cape Winelands; and then there's the top of Table Mountain which, on the right day, can feel as pristine and empty as when the Dutch first pitched up in the early 17th century. Eat at Luke Dale-Roberts' The Test Kitchen; go to sunbathe and people-gawk at Clifton 2nd Beach; surf, if you dare, at Muizenberg (sharks!), and climb Lion's Head for crazy 360-degree views of the city. —Maria Shollenbarger, editor at large
5. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Steeped in history and boasting a stunning collection of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, this World Heritage Site has become a haven for artists from all over the world. As such, there is a fabulous collection of galleries, museums, and art institutes such as the Fabrica La Aurora (home to dozens of galleries and studios), El Nigromante, and the Instituto Allende. Luxury hotels such as the Hotel Matilda, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and the Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada make this one of Mexico’s premier destinations.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
The Mucha Museum, dedicated to the work of the singular art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, is an absolute must-see. In the realm personal house tours, a visit to Bertramka—where Mozart stayed during his many visits to Prague—stands out as interesting, laissez-faire, and free of the throngs of tourists that often beset these sort of things. Keep an eye out for all of the great buskers, puppeteers, and excellent pop-up food markets. And if you do one thing in this capital of Bohemia, it’s eat; order lots of goulash and eat all of the knedlíky (dumplings) you can get your hands on! - Maeve Nicholson, assistant digital editor
7. Rome, Italy
Like many of the great world capitals, Rome is one of those cities where you can't see everything in one trip. Renowned tourist attractions like the Pantheon (which is gratis!) are plentiful, but remember to get an espresso at the Sant’Eustachio before you accept your free entrance. Get lost in the Eternal City, down alleys and cobblestone streets; you may uncover some of the most spectacular Caravaggios ever made in quiet churches like San Luigi dei Francesi. Don’t forget to bring a few euros with you, says executive editor Steve Orr, because the coin-operated lights only illuminate the paintings for a few moments before fading. And, if you do just one thing in Rome, you must take a bike ride through the Borghese Gardens.
8. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat! But seriously, the attraction that is synonymous with the city is not the only thing Siem Reap has to offer. Editor at large Hanya Yanagihara extols the city’s bustling food scene: “There are now more reasons to linger than ever as there is a groundswell of local chefs reviving the rich tradition of Khmer royal cuisine.” Yanagihara cites Cuisine Wat Damnak and AHA as two restaurants to visit in this burgeoning culinary destination (and we hear there’s a pretty cool temple down the road as well…).
9. Barcelona, Spain
By day, we may visit the Museu Picasso, or throw down a towel on Barceloneta beach (get there early in the day—it fills up quickly). When the sun goes down, the center of Catalonia is known for some of the best nightlife in the world. Marsella, a bar once frequented by Hemingway, Gaudi, and Dali, is still popular; while Barcelona Pipa Club is a secret speakeasy-style late-night haunt. —Maeve Nicholson, associate web editor
10. Sante Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe has the charming downtown lined with adobe buildings and art galleries, but we enjoy the city because "it shows off a different side of American history," says contributing digital editor Lilit Marcus. To experience that Hispanic and Native American heritage, visit the Museum of International Folk Art on Museum Hill, and the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis, which inspired Willa Cather's iconic novel Death Comes for the Archbishop. Chow down on enchiladas from The Shed and biscochito cookies from The Chocolate Maven paired with coffee from the quirky closet-sized Holy Spirit Espresso, then make sure your day ends at Santa Fe Spirits' new tasting room.
See which other cities made the top 25 favorites in the world.
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