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Travellers Voted For The 10 Best Cities In The World

Travellers Voted For The 10 Best Cities In The World

The influential Travel + Leisure website has announced their list of the 10 best cities to visit in 2015, and there are a few surprises. London is lovely, Paris is peachy, New York is neat, but it’s a big world out there. The site compiled the list as a result of their reader’s votes, and so while it was a fairly democratic process, there’s also a fair amount of subjectivity. All ten cities are remarkable destinations in ways that are obvious, and can also feel intangible – the place just gives you a magical feeling.

10. Jerusalem, Israel

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    While both Israelis and Palestinians lay claim to the holy city of Jerusalem, it’s the official capital city of Israel. This is a relatively recent development in an ancient city that dates back almost 6,000 years. Contemporary Jerusalem is a bustling modern city that has a skyline of tall gleaming office buildings right next to sites of profound holy significance. Religion is intertwined with day to day life in the city, and this is evident when you visit the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, which showcases species featured in the Hebrew Bible. The Israel Museum is also worth a visit to take in their most popular attraction, the Dead Sea Scrolls. If your time in the city is short, spend as much time as possible walking the streets of the Old City. It’s here that you’ll find the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you’ll find the experience to be profoundly moving.

    9. Cape Town, South Africa

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      Cape Town, and indeed all of South Africa, received a significant smartening up for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Naturally, stadiums across the country were upgraded, but the lingering effect that is of most benefit to visitors is the improvement in public transportation. Cape Town is the most popular destination for visitors in South Africa, and it’s easy to see why. Start your Cape Town day with a visit to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which is the city’s primary harbourfront attraction. It’s a shopping complex that has both established retail outlets and temporary market stalls. The food is astounding, and much of it comes from the fishing boats that dock here. You also need to take a leisurely stroll along Long Street, where the cool kids come to spend their days in the bars and book stores.

      8. Barcelona, Spain

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        It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, you’re going to have to share Barcelona with a lot of other travellers. Start with a walk along the Ramblas – a long and rambling pedestrian mall that stretches from the central city to the harbour, which is always teeming with people. Much of the Ramblas is geared towards tourists, with street performers and caricature artists earning a living. Climb up Montjuïc, which is a small hill that overlooks the city and is the home of the 1992 Olympic stadium. The views are worth the minor effort, and you can also catch a cable car that will take you out over the harbour itself. You also have to see Sagrada Família, the (as-of-yet unfinished) cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudí. You have to pay to go inside, but it’s enough to admire its exterior. It looks like a mammoth sandcastle.

        7. Krakow, Poland

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          Poland’s second largest city is often visited by backpackers on their way to or from Italy or the Czech Republic. It deserves to be the focal point of any European trip, although even when it comes to Poland, Krakow is often overlooked in favour of Warsaw. It’s a major city, and yet almost feels like a hidden treasure. It has the biggest medieval square in all of Europe (known as Rynek Glowny) and it’s remarkable to think that traders have been hawking their wares there for centuries. The square is the gateway to Krakow’s Old Town, which is remarkably well preserved. Look for the entrance to the Rynek Underground Museum, which is located beneath Rynek Glowny. It shows you more than a thousand years of the city’s history, much of which was only discovered when excavating the ancient parts of Krakow.

          6. Bangkok, Thailand

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            Every now and then, Thailand will receive some negative publicity when its government is overthrown by the military. This has happened 12 times since 1932, with another 7 unsuccessful coups. The country is used to it, and quickly stabilises. Bangkok can blow your mind unlike any other city and you will find yourself staring out the window as you drive from the airport to the city. Traditional buddhist temples stand next to ramshackle apartment buildings that look barely inhabitable and yet are all lit up. Further into the central city, there’s some obvious wealth and opulence, particularly when you visit the Siam Paragon shopping mall which has a Ferrari dealership on its upper levels. Traditional life meets capitalism at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you can buy a live chicken to take home for slaughter, or a pair of fake Levi’s. It’s probably not a good idea to buy a snake to take home, though.

            5. Rome, Italy

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              While Rome attracts fewer visitors than other European cities, it really is the Eternal City. There’s a magic to the city, particularly during the warmer months when an extended dusk bathes the city in an achingly beautiful soft light. Of course you need to see such landmarks as the Colosseum, and you should arrive early if you don’t want to be waiting for hours to get inside. Ignore the men dressed as Roman Centurions who look like they’ve just come from an Asterix costume party. They will annoy you into having your photo taken with them… for a fee, naturally. Rome attracts so many people that many restaurants and stores can feel a little “touristy” with prices to match. Head for Via del Governo Vecchio – a shopping street that is less upmarket but infinitely more lively and authentic.

              4. Florence, Italy

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                You can look out across Florence and see a city that doesn’t seem to have changed much in centuries. Modern intrusions are rare, and it’s possible to imagine the city as it used to be. It’s easy to do this by climbing to the top of the Duomo for a 360 degree view of Florence. Linger in Piazza della Signoria – a square with so many statues that you’ll feel like you wandered into an open air gallery (not that there’s a shortage of galleries and museums here). One of the most curious things about Florence is how the city survived, despite the fact that much of it was built in medieval times. It’s not as though the loveliness was destroyed in the vague name of progress, so that a wide highway or something similar could be built to accommodate modern life. The ancient city simply exists, and modern conveniences were added if it was possible. This is obvious when you take a stroll along Costa San Giorgio, a street where many houses date back to the 1600’s.

                3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

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                  You’ll probably arrive in Cambodia via a flight to Phnom Penh, and this city is a true gem. Siem Reap is where you will want to spend most of your time in the country, and you can even catch a boat here from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is where ancient history meets modern comfort, and is the gateway to the ancient cities and temples of Angkor. Due to the number of visitors who come here, there are a huge number of accommodation options from backpacker hostels to 5 star luxury. Siem Reap combines traditional Cambodian architecture with French colonialism, which is a throwback to when the region was part of French Indochina. Spend an afternoon browsing in the Psah Chas market where the price of produce will be a pleasant surprise (and will make you wish you had a kitchen to use). You should also visit one of the floating villages on the Siem Reap River, where entire communities live and work on a succession of boats and barges, all roped together.

                  2. Charleston, USA

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                    Charleston in South Carolina is not often spoken about in the same terms of other global cities, and yet it made the number two spot on Travel + Leisure’s best cities of 2015, with good reason. There is something alluring about the southern states of the US, and it’s easy to imagine sitting on a porch, sipping a mint julep while watching the wind rustle through the magnolia trees. I imagine you could do this in Charleston, but there are better ways to spend your time. To sip that mint julep, you should get up high to enjoy the views. There’s a rooftop bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel, and you can look left towards Mount Pleasant, right towards James Island or Morris Island, or out across the harbour to the Atlantic. You should also line your stomach, so go to Shem Creek. This is where the shrimping boats dock, and many of the local restaurants serve seafood that was nonchalantly swimming through the water just a few hours before.

                    1. Kyoto, Japan

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                      To see the birthplace of Kyoto, and perhaps even the birthplace of Japanese society, you will need to visit the Shimogamo Shrine. It’s the first Shinto shrine in Japan and dates back to the 6th century. It’s possible to have feelings of romanticism in Kyoto, and think of a clichéd Japan where Samurai warriors roamed the hills. These thoughts are reinforced if you walk the streets of Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka, where you might wonder if you’ve been transported back in time. Kyoto was Japan’s capital city from 794 until 1868, because this is where the Emperor lived. There are still some royal palaces that can be visited, namely the Kyoto Imperial Palace. When the sun goes down, it’s time to see Pontocho. This alleyway used to be where gentlemen would find a geisha companion for the evening, but is now where ladies and gentlemen find a cool bar for the evening.

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via download.unsplash.com

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                      Last Updated on May 15, 2019

                      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                      As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

                      “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

                      When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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                      Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

                      We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

                      But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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                      So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

                      It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

                      1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

                      Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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                      2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

                      This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

                      You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

                      3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

                      This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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                      4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

                      How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

                      So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

                      If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

                      And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

                      Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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