The World's Best Awards 2021

The greatest islands, cities, hotels, cruise lines, airports, and more — as voted by you.
September 08, 2021

You, our discerning readers, will often plan your next adventure before the one you're on has even ended. Your love of exploring the world has helped sustain the travel industry during these tumultuous times, and as the world began to reopen, you were among the first to get back out there. Your insights on those trips — and on your pre-pandemic journeys, too — informed these rankings of the World's Best hotels, islands, tour operators, U.S. national parks (a first!), and more. Cheers to you, to the winners — and to brighter days ahead.

This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.

Two guest villas tucked into trees at Mahali Mzuri, voted one of the best hotels in the world
The World's Best Hotels 2021

Forced to think on their feet, the properties that made the cut in 2021 all found innovative ways to deliver exceptional hospitality to their guests. Our readers delighted in taking trips closer to home, a fact we've recognized in these pages with several new domestic resort lists.

See all of the hotel winners below.

Credit: Courtesy of Mahali Mzuri
Aerial view of gardens and church in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, voted the best city in the world
The World's Best Cities 2021

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This year, readers got behind familiar favorites such as Charleston, South Carolina; Quebec City; and Cape Town, which all took top honors. Europe, too, proved as popular as ever, earning nine spots in the overall Top 25, but Asia came in right behind with eight. And a new No. 1 emerged in Central and South America — delighting readers with its historic byways.

See all of the cities winners below.

Credit: Getty Images
Milos island, Cyclades, Greece
The World's Best Islands 2021

This year's standouts are as far-flung as ever, and suggest a renewed appreciation for places that offer unparalleled natural beauty and, in many places, fewer crowds.

See all of the island winners below.

Sarakiniko beach, Milos island, Cyclades, Greece | Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

More than ever, the incredible wide-open spaces in our own backyard have served as a source of inspiration. Our editors decided to add this brand-new category to honor the magnificent expanses that are resonating with readers — the places that have helped us all recharge.

Credit: Getty Images/imageBROKER RF
Aerial view of a SeaDream Yacht Club ship
The World's Best Cruise Lines 2021

Though many operators were forced to put trips on hold over the past year, readers had plenty of fond memories to consider when rating their favorite ships. Now the anticipation of new routes and vessels is giving them fresh reason to sail.

See all the cruise winners below.

Credit: Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club
A Singapore Airlines plane in the clouds
The World's Best Airlines and Car Rental Companies 2021

During the past 18 months of uncertainty, readers appreciated companies that excelled in customer service and adapted to the times, giving them much-needed flexibility and reassurance.

See all the transportation winners below.

Credit: Courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Rancho La Puerta pool in the evening and view of the mountain
The World's Best Destination Spas 2021

This year's honorees prove that the right setting can inspire a profound shift in perspective and encourage us to prioritize our health.

See all of the spa winners below.

Credit: Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta
A couple in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, with a jeep from Quasar Expeditions, voted one of the world's best Tour Operators
The World's Best Tour Operators and Safari Outfitters 2021

Travelers are seeking out trips that highlight a specific passion, whether that's wildlife viewing or heart-pumping adventure. These well-connected specialists can organize it all.

See all of the tour winners below.

Credit: Courtesy of Quasar Expeditions