The World's Top 15 Cities in 2017

Cape Town, South Africa
Photo: Tom Parker

Every year, we ask our readers to rate the best cities in the world, and the results continue to surprise us. Not only do newcomers sometimes float to the top, but longtime favorites also continue to reappear — a testament to a destination’s enduring popularity. This year’s group of winners span the globe, from market-filled Hoi An in Vietnam to Florence, a European culture capital. Of note, however, is what ties these contenders together: Almost all are pedestrian-friendly, possess ample green space, and have a rich history that’s being thoughtfully preserved as the city grows. 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. This year’s No. 1 winner — for the first time ever in the World’s Best Awards’ 22-year history — is Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende. “San Miguel is one of the most authentic, creative and cost-effective destinations we’ve visited,” says a T+L reader of the colonial city, a part of which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. “Over the years we’ve discovered more great restaurants and activities, but the town still maintains its Mexican heritage, culture and charm.” The World’s Best Cities list also speaks to our readers’ growing interest in Asia, as seven of the top 15 urban destinations are in the region. Kyoto, home to some of Japan’s most well-preserved traditional architecture, Chiang Mai, Thailand, best known for its walled Old City, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, the jumping-off point for Angkor Wat, all made repeat appearances. Charleston — our top city in the U.S. for the fifth year running — was the sole American city among the top 10 overall; Florence, another World’s Best veteran, was joined by European hubs like Rome and Barcelona; while Oaxaca, another Mexican city with a thriving culinary scene and cultural depth, came into the mix again for the first time since 2010. For more on your favorite cities around the globe, scroll down.

01 of 15

15. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain
Simon Watson

Score: 89.52

02 of 15

14. Udaipur, India

Udiapur, Rajasthan, India
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 89.54

03 of 15

13. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 89.57

04 of 15

12. Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy
Getty Images

Score: 89.73

05 of 15

11. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 89.94

06 of 15

10. Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos
LightRocket via Getty Images

Score: 90.10

07 of 15

9. Ubud, Indonesia

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 90.13

08 of 15

8. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Tom Parker

Score: 90.24

09 of 15

7. Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 90.31

10 of 15

6. Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico
Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock

Score: 90.41

11 of 15

5. Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 90.75

12 of 15

4. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan
Getty Images

Score: 91.13

13 of 15

3. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 91.40

14 of 15

2. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

Score: 91.54

15 of 15

1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende
Thomas J. Story

Score: 92.12

Tour San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

There’s a lot to love about San Miguel, a colonial treasure anchored by El Jardín, a leafy plaza marked by open-air cafés and the pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church. Art and textiles are big here: Mexicans and expats alike pop into independent boutiques selling artisan-made goods, and no trip is complete without a visit to the Fábrica La Aurora, a former textile factory that’s been converted into a series of contemporary art galleries. Restaurants serving delicious Mexican dishes (rich moles, hot gorditas, stuffed chiles) are tucked along cobblestoned streets lined with historic houses. For one of the best views of the city, make a reservation at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar (this hotel also ranked as the No. 2 City Hotel in the country); margaritas pair well with the chiming church bells at sunset.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles