One is known for its endless souks, one for its wild beaches. Another has a reputation for spawning start-ups—as well as for a nightlife scene that is practically unrivaled.
They’re all among the most loved urban centers in the dynamic, dramatic region of Africa and the Middle East.
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 lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Beirut, which came in second, makes its first appearance since 2007. Though it often makes the news for political upheaval, T+L readers praised its fun, food, and history. “A strikingly beautiful city, and full of surprises,” raved one survey respondent.
Israel had two cities on the list: startup-friendly Tel Aviv as well as religious capital Jerusalem. “Jerusalem was a highlight of my traveling life,” said one eloquent reader. “There is nothing like it to move your soul.”
Marrakesh, with its remarkable medina, riads, and hammams, was ranked in fifth place.
But the all-around winner was much farther south. Cape Town took the crown, in part thanks to the sheer variety of experiences on offer in and around the city, from cultural attractions to wineland tours, and from world-class wildlife excursions to fine-dining venues. And while it didn’t hurt that all this has lately come at bargain prices due to the strength of the rand against the dollar, it is surely worth the trip at any price.
From Table Mountain to Robben Island, the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch to the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town delivers such a satisfying roster of places and experiences, it’s little wonder it was voted best in the region. “This city has everything,” said one survey respondent. “It's incredibly romantic, extremely affordable, and amazingly beautiful.” Cape Town also has multiple wine-growing regions and safari parks within a few hours’ drive. “From the safari up at Inverdoorn, to the incredible wineries in Stellenbosch,” said another reader, “it was as close to perfect as you could get.”