Woman looking over Santorini.

Travel + Leisure Names the 25 Best Cities in the World. How Many Have You Visited?

Travel + Leisure’s long-awaited 2023 best cities in the world list is out. How many of these cities have you visited?

Determining the Rankings

Traveler with three suitcases.
Photo Credit: VadimVasenin via Depositphotos.

Each year, Travel + Leisure (T + L) asks their readers to rank their travel experiences in cities based on the following criteria:

  • Sights/landmarks
  • Culture
  • Food
  • Friendliness
  • Shopping
  • Value

A Numbers Game

Lots of numbers.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Almost 165,000 T + L readers participated in the survey. T + L took the average of their scores, which ranged from ratings of poor to excellent, to determine the 2023 best cities in the world.

#1: Oaxaca, Mexico

Church in Oaxaca.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Home to the double-digit ingredient mole sauce and Day of the Dead festivities, 2023 is Oaxaca’s second year in a row of ranking as T + L’s number one best city in the world. The southern Mexican city teems with colonial architecture, bustling markets, and restaurants boasting traditional food.

#2: Udaipur, India

Udaipur riverfront.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

2023 is Udaipur’s third appearance in a row in T + L’s best cities ranking. The City of Lakes sits in the Aravalli hills, offering breathtaking natural scenery among equally stunning lakefront palaces and lively bazaars.

#3: Kyoto, Japan

Udaipur riverfront.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Kyoto, located in central Japan, enjoys the top three spot in T + L’s best cities in the world ranking. The city offers a captivating blend of Japanese history, beautiful gardens, and must-see temples and traditional architecture.

#4: Ubud, Indonesia

Bali rice terrace.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Digital nomad hotspot Ubud is the cultural capital of tropical Bali island. Taking a swing ride over steep rice terraces, passing wild monkeys on the street, and embarking on a day trip into the mountains where mango trees give way to strawberry farms are some of the many highlights tourists can enjoy in and around Ubud.

#5: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

San Miguel de Allende is no stranger to T + L’s best cities list, though locals may be disappointed it didn’t take spot number one as it did in 2021. The colonial city, located in Mexico’s central highlands, is a popular home for expats. And it’s no wonder, given the city’s colorful buildings, active central square, and vibrant arts scene.

#6: Mexico City, Mexico

Church in Mexico City.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

You read that right: Three out of the top six best cities in the world are in Mexico. Mexico City is the fifth largest city in the world by population and offers tourists activities to match its size. From getting steps in exploring the Zócalo city square, saying a prayer at the massive Metropolitan Cathedral, exploring upscale Condesa, and taking a boat ride in Xochimilco, you could easily spend a week or more exploring Mexico City.

#7: Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo skyline.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Tokyo’s combination of timeless traditions and modern technology make it one of the best cities in the world. Towering skyscrapers give the city urban energy, while the Imperial Palace and Japanese gardens scattered about offer tranquil retreats.

#8: Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

The City on Seven Hills not only made T + L’s best city in Europe in 2023, but it enjoys a high ranking as one of the best cities in the world, thanks to stunning architecture like the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the ability to travel between Europe and Asia without leaving city limits, and tantalizing street food.

#9: Bangkok, Thailand

Grand Palace Bangkok.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Bangkok lovers, rejoice; the City of Angels rose a massive 14 spots in T + L’s best cities ranking between 2022 and 2023. It’s easy to see why, with Bangkok’s dozens of ornate temples mixed with modern skyscrapers and a night street food scene that’ll impress even the biggest foodies.

#10: Mumbai, India

Indian spices.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

India’s financial capital has captured the hearts of travelers. Mumbai is famous for being the home of the Bollywood film industry. Between catching up on the latest Bollywood films, travelers can enjoy views of the Arabian Sea, stroll through bustling markets, and soak up the diversity and history of the city.

#11: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Temple in Chiang Mai with lotus flowers.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Chiang Mai has a respectable ranking on T + L’s best cities in the world ranking, although it slipped from ranking in the top ten as it had the past two years. The northern Thai city is home to historic temples, one of the most famous being Wat Phra Doi Suthep, sitting on a mountaintop. Chiang Mai is an excellent destination for nature lovers, given the many hiking trails the area offers.

#12: Florence, Italy

Florence city skyline.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

It’s likely little surprise to many that the birthplace of the Renaissance is one of the most beloved cities in the world by travelers. Florence’s Duomo is a photographer’s delight, while the Arno River mesmerizes visitors as they dine on iconic Italian cuisine.

#13: Luang Prabang, Laos

Buddhist temple.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Historical Luang Prabang turns tourists into fans with its array of Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture. The icing on the sticky rice dessert? Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Nam Khan River and Mekong River, offering gorgeous natural scenery.

#14: Marrakesh, Morocco

Moroccan lanterns.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Marrakesh locals have two things to celebrate: Making T + L’s best cities list and being the only African city to rank on it in 2023. The Red City has souks so large you could spend days exploring them, and views of the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque await shoppers once they make it out of the labyrinth.

#15: Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Rome, a city that’s older than the country it resides in, has made negative headlines recently about too many crowds due to overtourism. But there’s a reason tourists continue flocking to the Eternal City, making it a no-brainer to many that Rome made T + L’s best cities list.

#16: Merida, Mexico

Mexican hats.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Not only is Merida one of the safest cities in Mexico, but it’s one of the safest cities in the world. This inland Yucatan city charms visitors with colorful buildings, many central plazas, and a small-town vibe despite its size.

#17: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor temple.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Siem Reap is home to the world-renowned Angkor temple complex. When travelers aren’t spending hours upon hours exploring the massive religious grounds, downtown Siem Reap offers everything from upscale coffee shops to a vibrant night street food scene.

#18: Singapore

Looking up at buildings in Singapore.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Singapore is a tiny city-state that’s smaller than Rhode Island. The Lion City is a modern metropolis, with the Marina Bay Sands being an iconic architectural masterpiece. Just be sure to bring some extra cash; Singapore is significantly more expensive than most other Southeast Asian countries.

#19: Charleston, United States

Downtown Charleston.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Charleston is the first American city to make T + L’s list. It’s a cause for celebration, although practically a given to Charlestonians, for 2023 marks the 11th consecutive year that The Holy City has been named one of the best cities in the world. Charleston exudes Southern charm, and historic cobblestone streets make travelers fall in love with it.

#20: Lisbon, Portugal

A trolly in Lisbon.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Lisbon’s narrow streets and blue and white tiled buildings have enchanted T + L’s readers. Travelers can munch on freshly baked Portuguese custard tarts while exploring buildings steeped in history, including the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery.

#21: Santa Fe, United States

Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Santa Fe is the second and last American city to make T + L’s best cities in the world list. The City Different continues to be proud of its nickname since naming itself as such in the early 1900s; Santa Fe is proud of its multicultural background, particularly its Hispanic and Native American influence.

#22: Hobart, Australia

Hobart port.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Hobart is the first and only Australian city to make the top cities in the world list. The capital of Tasmania has a stunning waterfront and is home to the historic Salamanca Place. Outdoor enthusiasts can also take advantage of the nature surrounding Hobart.

#23: Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara main plaza.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Guadalajara is the fourth and final Mexican city to grace T + L’s best cities list. Mariachi, ornate Spanish-style churches, a vibrant main plaza, and cuisine only found in the region make Guadalajara a favorite among visitors. Expat-friendly Ajijic is also a short drive from the city.

#24: Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Porto is relatively off the popular tourist itinerary route, but it charms those who venture there. Portugal’s second-largest city sits on a steep hill landscape, with the grand finale being a historic river boardwalk at the bottom bursting with riverfront restaurants.

#25: Osaka, Japan

Osaka, Japan.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Osaka is known for its friendly locals and modern entertainment districts. The Osaka Castle is a must-see, and Kyoto is less than a one-hour drive, allowing tourists to visit two of T + L’s best cities in one trip.

2023 Travel Trends

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Slow travel, sustainable travel, and spiritual treats are trending in 2023. Consider one of these travel styles when visiting any of the cities on this list.

More Money to Travel

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By now, you likely have a bucket list of new cities you want to visit. But don’t be among the Americans that pay ATM fees when abroad. This easy trick will give you access to free ATM withdrawals in over 200 countries and across the U.S.

How to Never Pay an ATM Fee Abroad Again

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Are you looking to visit a unique city that isn’t on many people’s itineraries? These are some of the most underrated American cities.

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Can’t get a passport in time for your trip? Check out these countries Americans can travel to without a passport.

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Photo Credit: DisobeyArt via Adobe Stock.

Are you craving more travel inspiration? Stay young at heart by exploring the world with these 21 must-see destinations during retirement. Options for active and low-impact travelers.

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Man in African desert.
Photo Credit: Davide Angelini via Adobe Stock.

Do you dream about quitting your job to travel the world? Read the raw and heartwarming stories of travel bloggers who were in your shoes.

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