The 25 Best Cities in the World

The best cities in the world, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers, are beloved for their mix of culture, food, and friendliness.

The houses are painted in different vibrant colours in this pedestrian street. There are people walking and cycling through it. There are also sellers of souvenirs.
Photo: Gerard Puigmal/Getty Images

When Travel + Leisure readers throw their collective weight behind an opinion, it tends to create a ripple effect — especially when it comes to the results of the World's Best Awards. In declaring the best cities in the world, they consider hotels, Michelin-rated restaurants, rich cultural heritage, top attractions and, in recent years, COVID-19 protocols. The votes are then counted, numbers crunched, and we arrive at a score for each city — and, ultimately, the ranking of the best 25 across the globe. Once the WBA lists are revealed, hundreds of thousands of people sift through the findings. Travelers plan trips based on these destinations, interest in the lesser-known winners increases, and cities around the world feel the impact.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Comparing the best cities of 2022 to last year's rankings yields some intriguing observations. Florence returned to the top five cities this year, rising from No. 6 to No. 4, while Udaipur, India dropped to No. 10 from No. 2. Last year's winning city, San Miguel de Allende, took this year's No. 2 spot and garnered many superlatives, with one respondent saying, "The weather is perfect, the music scene is excellent, and the food is outstanding." Kyoto, Japan, also slid down the list, slipping from No. 5 to No. 14, but Istanbul (No. 5) and Ubud, Indonesia (No. 3), remained in the top five.

T+L readers also showed renewed appreciation for a few 2020 winners that had been absent last year, including Mérida, Mexico (tied for No. 12), a hub in the Yucatán that a T+L reader praised as "one of the best cities to visit for music, dance, and cuisine." Among the Spanish cities to make a return this year is Seville (No. 11). One WBA voter called the Andalusian capital "a great city to get lost in," while another described it as simply "enchanting."

But the true comeback kid of this list was Oaxaca, which shot up from No. 8 spot last year to attain this year's top ranking. Read on to learn why Oaxaca was crowned the best city in the world — and what other world hubs made the list.

1. Oaxaca, Mexico

An Urban Landscape of Oaxaca, Mexico
Gabriel Perez/Getty Images

After losing the top spot to San Miguel de Allende last year, this southwestern Mexican city has once again landed at the top of readers' list of favorite cities around the world. It's a dream gastronomic destination, especially for mole and mezcal enthusiasts. The dominant Indigenous Zapotec culture influences the local cuisine, which is on full display in Oaxaca City. (In fact, one survey respondent specifically touted the "amazing local Indigenous food.") Numerous readers also raved about Oaxaca's 17th-century architecture, enticing cocktail scene, and lively craft markets, along with the kindness of its residents. "People go out of their way to make you feel special," one voter gushed. The city's "beautiful museums, streets, cafés, and restaurants," according to another respondent, were also factors in the win.

Score: 92.96

2. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Panoramic view of San Miguel de Allende with the cathedral in the background at sunrise, Mexico
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Score: 91.77

3. Ubud, Indonesia

Pool holy water in Pura Tirta Empul Temple on Bali, Indonesia
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Score: 91.73

4. Florence

Uffizi Gallery, Florence - Tuscany
Flavio Vallenari/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 91.06

5. Istanbul

Female friends wearing headscarfs walking on the street near Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Feneri) in Istanbul at sunset
Ozgur Donmaz/Getty Images

Score: 90.97

6. Mexico City, Mexico

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a Sunny Day in Mexico City, Mexico
R.M. Nunes/Getty Images

Score: 90.90

7. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Chedi Luang temple complex, Chiang Mai
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Score: 90.70

8. Jaipur, India

India, Rajasthan, Jaipur, partial view of interior the Amber Fort.
Grant Faint/Getty Images

Score: 90.67

9. Osaka, Japan

Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku in Osaka Japan
Yun Han Xu/Getty Images

Score: 90.35

10. Udaipur, India

Udaipur city at lake Pichola in the evening, Rajasthan, India.
Getty Images

Score: 90.22

11. Seville, Spain

People relaxing in the Plaza de España, Sevilla.
Liz Leyden/Getty Images

Score: 90.12

12. (tie) Mérida, Mexico

Entrance passage of the revolution in Merida, Mexico
Rainer Lesniewski/Getty Images

Score: 90.00

12. (tie) Tokyo

Japan Tokyo Rainbow Bridge Panorama at Twilight
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Score: 90.00

14. Kyoto, Japan

Pontocho street and Kamo river at spring in Kyoto, Japan
Sanga Park/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.77

15. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Quiet little street covered with plants in Siem Reap. It looks like it fell out of France as it retains its old French heritage.
Dennis Coetzee/Getty Images

Score: 89.66

16. Seoul

Beautiful cityscape of Seoul downtown and Namsan Seoul Tower on sunset Seoul, South Korea.
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Score: 89.31

17. Bodrum, Turkey

Aerial View of Bodrum City Center
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Score: 89.31

18. Rome

Scenic view on the ancient Roman city from Capitolium hill.
Ross Helen

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.29

19. Muscat, Oman

Famous Mutrah Corniche, Muscat, Oman
Emad aljumah/Getty Images

Score: 89.21

20. Hoi An, Vietnam

People walking on the streets of old town Hoi An, Vietnam
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Score: 88.9221.

21. Cuzco, Peru

Aerial view of Cusco in Peru
Leonid Andronov/Getty Images

Score: 88.79

22. Cape Town

harbor of Cape Town, South Africa
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Score: 88.76

23. Charleston, South Carolina

Drone Shot of Lakeside Houses in Harleston Village in Charleston, SC
Hal Bergman/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.70

24. Bangkok

Wide view of Benchakitti Park in evening time
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Score: 88.6225.

25. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Score: 88.49

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