The World’s Top 15 Cities in 2018

View of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Photo: Sergio Mendoza Hochmann/Getty Images

What makes a city truly great? Jaw-dropping architecture, distinctive restaurants, a rich array of cultural offerings, and intriguing shops are a must. A teeming street life, a friendly population, and a harmonious relationship with nature are equally essential. The cities that make up our list of the best in the world, as voted by T+L readers, have these qualities to spare. 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. Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards In 2018, Mexico reigns supreme. For the second year in a row, San Miguel de Allende, a colonial oasis in the country’s central highlands, comes in first place. (Its appearance atop our 2017 list was a first in the awards’ 23-year history.) Meanwhile, Oaxaca has climbed to second place, and Mexico City is making a welcome return to the top 15. “Mexico City is beautiful,” one T+L reader wrote. “Even though it’s overpopulated and the traffic can sometimes be a challenge, the culture and history outweigh any inconveniences. The food is outstanding and can really be eye-opening.” India and Southeast Asia continue to cast a spell over travelers, who singled out the romantic lakeside Indian city of Udaipur; Ubud, Bali’s spiritual center; and Chiang Mai, a laid-back city of temples and tuk-tuks in the mountains of Thailand. “Chiang Mai is a great city to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxed feel, but it’s still big enough to have plenty of shopping and restaurants,” one T+L reader said. “We visited an elephant sanctuary outside the city, which was something I’ve always wanted to check off my bucket list.” Of course, some cities never go out of style. Florence; Rome; Kyoto, Japan; and Charleston, South Carolina — the only city in the United States to make the top 15 — are World’s Best perennials that reappear here. Read on to see the full list of reader-favorite cities around the globe, and find out how they scored.

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15. Beirut, Lebanon

Etiole Square and Mosque Al Amin, Beirut, Lebanon
Maremagnum/Getty Images

Score: 87.04

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14. Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey
Moment RF/Getty Images

Score: 87.09

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13. Rome

Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy
Francesco Iacobelli/Getty Images

Score: 87.16

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12. Cape Town

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

Score: 87.63

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11. Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico
Nikolas Antoniou/Getty Images

Score: 87.65

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10. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Jordan Banks/Getty Images

Score: 87.79

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9. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Evgeny Ermakov/Getty Images

Score: 87.93

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8. Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
John Harper/Getty Images

Score: 88.09

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7. Luang Prabang

Wat Pahouak Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos
Manfred Gottschalk/Getty Images

Score: Laos, 88.20

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6. Florence

Florence, Italy
Nagy Melinda/Getty Images

Score: 88.29

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5. Kyoto, Japan

Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street, Kyoto, Japan
Prasit photo/Getty Images

Score: 88.42

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4. Ubud, Indonesia

Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, Ubud, Indonesia
Job Jansweijer/Getty Images

Score: 88.74

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3. Udaipur, India

Palace and Lake Pichola, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
HADI ZAHER/Getty Images

Score: 89.31

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2. Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico
Melissa Kuhnell/Getty Images

Score: 90.52

15 of 15

1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

View of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Sergio Mendoza Hochmann/Getty Images

Score: 91.94

It’s no wonder that San Miguel de Allende has topped T+L’s list of the world’s best cities for two years in a row. With its colorful, flower-festooned architecture and cobblestoned streets, San Miguel has the feel of a village, but its large population of artists lends it a cosmopolitan air. “This is one of the best cities in the world,” one T+L reader wrote. “There are lots of stores selling local artisan crafts, jewelry, and art. Bring an extra suitcase!”

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.

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