The 25 Best Cities in the World

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,”

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The 15 Best Cities in the United States

Many Americans have stayed close-to-home these past few years, taking advantage of the incredible urban experiences within a few hours’ drive. Travelers seemed to prefer the warmer climates of the Southern and Western states for these domestic trips — only three cities on the list are in the Northeast or the Midwest. But wherever Travel + Leisure readers went, they sought out cities with a fun-loving spirit, delicious regional cuisine, and historic sites.


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.


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After a few years of seeking space away from others, many travelers found the rush of larger cities appealing. “It was nice to be back in a big city after the pandemic, and I was glad to see people in the streets,” one reader said of New York City (No. 6). Others were looking for somewhere to go out and join the crowds at concerts. “Nashville has such a fun, creative energy,” said another voter of Music City (No. 15). “It’s all about music, and music brings us all together.”


Still, readers also appreciated destinations — like Honolulu (No. 5) or perennial favorite Asheville, North Carolina (No. 13) — with easy access to some of America’s spectacular outdoor offerings.


Topping our list yet again is Charleston, South Carolina, which has been voted the best American city for 10 years straight, making it a World’s Best Awards Hall of Fame honoree. Read on to find out why, and for the full list of the top U.S. cities.



1. Charleston, South Carolina

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There’s a reason people keep going back to Charleston: the city expresses the perfect balance of Southern charm, knockout food and drinks, and walkability. Many readers also found the city’s history to be a draw. Others appreciated the simple pleasures of strolling the side streets of downtown.


WBA Hall of Fame honoree.

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The Best Food Cities to Travel to in 2022

Destination meals are compelling.

They’re delicious, too, but there’s good food everywhere. Destination meals are different. They whisk travelers from their cooking routines and familiar takeout spots, drawing them out with flavors that can’t be replicated, service that can’t be matched, and most of all, a story that can’t be told elsewhere. The cities, islands, neighborhoods, and regions that top the list of places we want to eat in 2022 span the globe, from Guadalajara to Markham, Saint-Martin to Orange County — yes, that O.C. — and their cuisines range from nasi lemak to puffy tacos to conche Creole. But every single one offers a captivating narrative, a reason to visit right now. These stories are told by a diverse cast of chefs, home cooks, street hawkers, and restaurateurs, all people who make us excited to travel, cooking the foods that make us excited to eat.

There’s the Korean-born opera singer in Buenos Aires serving japchae con carne, the pizzaiolo baking wild-yeasted pies on a Berkshires farm, the self-proclaimed first Arab pitmaster smoking Texas-style brisket in Dubai, and the photographer plating omakase picnics on a golden Malaysian rice paddy. There’s the chatty couple splitting coconuts on a bustling Saint-Martin street corner, the refugees baking peanut butter curry cookies at a nonprofit outside Atlanta, the chef distributing katsu sandos around St. Louis from a tiny Japanese fire truck, and on and on.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, these stories also reveal cities that have emerged from the throes with their food traditions not just intact, but thriving — places where chefs gamely pivot to customers’ needs, restaurant workers lift each other up, and generous spirits endure. They’ve proven themselves resilient, if not immune, to the virus. We’re still anxious about the pandemic’s course and cautious about our impact on global health; we’re even more inspired by the myriad ways food communities everywhere have risen to meet the challenge head on — and come out serving food that’s unambiguously delicious. These are the 13 places we’re most excited to travel, and eat, as soon as we get the chance.

Note: There

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What Twin Cities chefs from around the world are cooking for Thanksgiving

In many Minnesota households this Thanksgiving, the main meal is all about turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes — or Venezuelan hallacas, Mexican mole, Indian bread pudding and Jamaican jerk-spiced turkey. Six Twin Cities chefs who hail from around the globe tell us, in their own words, what’s on their Thanksgiving tables.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Venezuelan

Soleil Ramirez

Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Chef Soleil Ramirez at her restaurant, Arepa Bar, with hallacas, a Venezuelan holiday dish
she’ll be serving for Thanksgiving.

My grandpa was born in New York, so in my family, we always have a little bit of Venezuela and a little bit of American culture. For Thanksgiving, we get together and cook the turkey, but we actually eat our Christmas food. So it’s a little bit of both countries mixed in.

There are three or four items we always make. One of them is hallacas. I think hallacas represent Venezuela 100%. Hallacas were made a very long time ago when the Spaniards came to what they called the Indian islands, and Venezuela was a part of that. The Spaniard people would throw away all their leftovers, and the slaves and native people weren’t able to eat any of that. They didn’t have enough food or water or anything. So they started to pick from the floor from the leftovers people threw away, and they started to wrap all these up in plantain leaves and hide it in the ground. And of course, corn, in South America, grows everywhere. So they started to make a dough with corn, and would mix the dough with all these leftovers. And that is what we call today hallacas. It was like surviving, you know?

Provided

Soleil Ramirez makes hallacas for Thanksgiving both at home and at her restaurant, Arepa Bar.

It’s pork, beef, chicken, raisins, olives, almonds, capers. All of this is cooked in red wine and it’s kind of a stew, but thicker. It’s called guiso. And the plantain is used to wrap all of this up. People think Venezuelan food is similar to Mexican food, and

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