Our readers anointed some of the Continent’s greatest cultural capitals — places rich in art, history, architecture, and food — as their favorite places to visit.
It’s no secret that readers adore cities in Italy and Spain, which have historically been well represented on this list, and remain so this year. But there’s a new country contending for European metropolitan greatness: Portugal. With both Lisbon and Porto ranked, it is the only other European nation with multiple winners. That’s a reflection of a surge in traveler interest in Portugal, highlighted by T+L’s selection of the country as its 2016 Destination of the Year.
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.
Florence once again took top honors, as it has done in 10 out of the past 11 years. The city is by no means resting on its laurels, however, making the news multiple times throughout the year with moves to preserve identity while also embracing the future. These include new restrictions on fast-food restaurants and other retailers in the city’s historical center, efforts to fight congestion, and a plan to modernize the Uffizi.
The top-ranked city from a country other than Italy or Spain was Budapest. Many readers suggested taking twilight cruises along the Danube to fully absorb the enchanting after-dark lighting of Parliament, the bridges, and the Buda hills. “The night lights of the city and bridges were breathtaking!” one wrote. “If you weren’t in love, you could fall in love very easily!” With new luxury accommodations like the Aria Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton, the city offers more and more places to stay in style.
Hearteningly, despite all the adversity that Istanbul has faced, readers still see it as one of the best places in Europe to visit. The climate in Turkey might be uncertain, but a thriving young art scene, wonderful hotels, from the Four Seasons to Soho House, and a dramatic waterfront plan in the works, this jewel of the Bosporus should remain so for years to come.