According to the World’s Best Destinations, the latest list of the world’s best cities for this year is a true global representation, featuring five out of seven continents. The rankings demonstrate a return to Asia and Africa, showing that resilient travelers have embraced long-haul flights and destinations like Singapore. Travelers in this year’s survey showed a strong interest in cities known for their welcoming locals, culinary delights, safety, affordability, and aesthetic appeal, whether it’s the beauty of natural landscapes or the charm of Renaissance architecture.
In the latest release of the 2024 World’s Best Cities list, several well-known destinations have secured top positions. All the cities featured in this year’s list boast metropolitan populations exceeding 1 million and have adapted to a post-pandemic reality in diverse ways. For instance, San Francisco has introduced an extensive network of 464 miles of bike lanes, while Dubai envisions a future where residents can conveniently access 80 percent of their daily necessities and destinations within a 30-minute walk or bike ride.
How the ranking works for the best cities in the world to live in
Every year, as part of our World’s Best City rankings, the dedicated readers of the World’s Best Destinations contribute their valuable insights into their global travel experiences. They generously share their opinions on a wide spectrum of travel categories, including top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Notably, the 2023 survey witnessed a remarkable increase, with nearly 165,000 World’s Best Destinations readers participating, marking a substantial 25 percent growth compared to pre-pandemic voting levels. This surge in engagement is a testament to the resilience and enthusiasm of travelers worldwide.
In total, a staggering 764,000 votes were cast, covering a vast array of over 7,900 unique properties, encompassing everything from hotels to cities and cruise lines. The diversity of options available for readers to evaluate ensures a comprehensive view of the global travel landscape.
Cities, in particular, underwent rigorous evaluation based on specific criteria that matter to travelers. These criteria include assessing the appeal of sights and landmarks, the richness of the local culture, the culinary experiences, the friendliness of the local population, the quality of shopping, and the overall value provided by these cities. Respondents were given the flexibility to rate each characteristic as excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor, allowing for nuanced assessments. The final scores are derived from averaging these responses, providing an objective and well-rounded evaluation of the cities on the list.
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10 Best Cities in the World
Listed below is a selection of the most notable cities throughout the globe that are highly recommended for visiting in the year 2024.
01. Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese government maintains a firm commitment to achieving its ambitious goal of welcoming 60 million visitors and generating $136 billion in tourism revenue by 2030. This objective is not as unrealistic as it may seem, given that Japan has experienced a remarkable seven consecutive years of record-breaking tourism. The country’s capacity to accommodate even more tourists is expanding, with significant developments such as the expansion of the international terminal at Haneda, Tokyo’s primary airport (ranked 38th globally). Additionally, a planned 18-minute rail link connecting arrivals to the city center by 2031 promises to enhance accessibility.
Japan’s recent reopening to international travelers has garnered significant attention. As the world’s premier city for shopping, travelers can anticipate indulging in retail therapy, with attractions like the newly renovated Miyashita Park beckoning them to open their wallets.
What makes Tokyo stand out? It clinches the top spot in the survey’s restaurant subcategory, underscoring its reputation as a culinary mecca. Tokyo is a destination where food enthusiasts can plan an entire trip around life-changing culinary experiences, particularly its renowned ramen. For those concerned about their travel budget, Tokyo offers a wide selection of affordable hotel options to ensure an enjoyable and budget-friendly stay.
02. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, renowned for its extravagant projects like the Palm Jumeirah, home to the iconic Atlantis, the Palm, and the world-famous Burj Khalifa—the tallest skyscraper globally—has established a tradition of consistently setting and breaking world records in areas such as height, length, speed, and size.
Looking ahead, Dubai’s 2040 Urban Masterplan introduces an innovative concept: the “20-minute city.” This transformative vision seeks to create a city where residents can conveniently access 80 percent of their daily necessities and desired destinations within a 20-minute walk or bike ride. This approach is poised to make Dubai feel more compact and accessible.
What’s not to love about Dubai? It boasts attractions like the Museum of the Future, offering a glimpse into cutting-edge technology and innovation. The city also ensures greater accessibility with a wide selection of over 700 hotel choices. Culinary enthusiasts will appreciate the new Michelin guide, which features 89 restaurants, including three with the prestigious Green Star sustainability honor, further enhancing Dubai’s appeal.
03. Barcelona, Spain
What’s so special about Barcelona? Barcelona embodies the essence of an almost perfect European city. It enjoys delightful year-round weather and boasts neighborhoods that span different eras, making them enticing destinations no matter the time of day. Visitors applaud its enduring charm. Adding to its allure is its commitment to bike-friendliness. According to the World’s Best Cities report, travelers in Barcelona can relish over 150 miles of newly established bike lanes. Notably, the city introduces innovative initiatives like Eixos Verds, known as the Green Axis, which comprises quieter roads designed for shared use by cars, bikes, and pedestrians. These paths are thoughtfully adorned with benches and community squares, enhancing the overall urban experience.
Barcelona’s appeal extends beyond its dedication to cycling. It’s a city that boasts miles of pristine beaches, iconic parks, and Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces. The city’s vibrancy doesn’t confine itself to daylight hours; Barcelona impressively ranks third in the nightlife subcategory, ensuring that the fun continues long into the night.
04. Seoul, South Korea
In a remarkably brief period, the capital of South Korea has undergone a dramatic transformation, evolving from a city scarred by war into a thriving high-tech center. Seoul’s remarkable rise is underscored by its eighth-lowest Poverty Rate ranking, the presence of the sixth-most Global 500 companies, and a burgeoning startup ecosystem poised to disrupt established industries. This spirit of innovation is well complemented by an impressive array of 176 Michelin-rated dining establishments, which secures Seoul’s third-place ranking in our Restaurants subcategory.
What makes Seoul so captivating? The global phenomenon known as the Korean wave has catapulted Seoul into the mainstream, garnering recognition for traditions like Korean Banchan. The city’s food scene is a vibrant reflection of this cultural influence, epitomized by places like Gwangjang Market, where visitors can savor an array of delectable dishes ranging from rice cake soup to kimchi-tofu dumplings and even the adventurous option of live octopus. Seoul’s culinary diversity is a testament to its dynamic and evolving gastronomic landscape.
05. Oaxaca, Mexico
For the second consecutive year, Oaxaca has secured the coveted No. 1 position on our list of the best cities worldwide. This beloved destination, renowned as the epicenter of mole and mezcal, has consistently charmed visitors. However, it’s the emergence of must-visit restaurants and cocktail bars like Selva and Sabina Sabe, along with the introduction of new and improved hotel options like the enchanting six-room Casa Silencio, that has propelled the city to the forefront once again. As one enthusiastic traveler aptly put it, Oaxaca is unequivocally one of the most captivating cities on the global stage. In fact, you could even go as far as calling it the absolute coolest.
06. London, England
London rarely experienced tranquility in recent times. The majority of the Tube’s lines are operating at their pre-COVID frequencies, with the addition of new metro stops like the Elizabeth station at Bond Street, which opened in October 2022. London’s remarkable resilience can be attributed to policies that have bestowed the United Kingdom with the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 countries. This advantageous fiscal environment has been a magnet for investment and has, notably, lured back tourists who were previously deterred by high costs. It has also drawn new residents who can now fulfill a major item on the multi-millionaire bucket list: owning property in the world’s most coveted city.
What makes London so enchanting? While the city’s iconic landmarks have a history dating back millennia, its shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants are in a constant state of evolution, with changes and innovations occurring almost weekly. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a food lover, or traveling with family, London offers a diverse range of neighborhoods to explore, each with its unique character, likely to have changed since your last visit. For those seeking new hotel options, London has you covered, from the highly anticipated Raffles London at the Old War Office to the eco-luxury blend of 1 Hotel Mayfair.
07. New York City, United States
The pandemic-induced exodus prompted speculation about New York City’s decline, but its steadfast position at number three in the rankings, the same as the previous year, solidifies its enduring prominence. Tourism figures for the city are on a remarkable upswing, surging from 33 million visitors in 2021 (which was less than half of the 2019 numbers) to a projected 61 million in 2023. New York City is pulling out all the stops to welcome back visitors, with significant enhancements to its international gateways. LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport all feature new terminals, with the recently inaugurated Terminal B at LaGuardia alone boasting an impressive 35 gates.
The city has left no stone unturned when it comes to offering exceptional accommodations. Hotels like the Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, and the Thompson in Midtown are just a glimpse of the luxurious options ready to host incoming visitors. For those looking for something truly special, there’s the $3,200-a-night Aman, as featured in AFAR’s review.
What’s so lovable about “The City,” as the locals fondly call it? New York City consistently earns accolades for its rich cultural scene. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of hip-hop music and the centennial celebration of the Museum of the City of New York. To add to its allure, new attractions and landmarks are continually joining the ranks of classics like the Empire State Building, including breathtaking viewpoints accessible via Summit One Vanderbilt’s all-glass exterior elevators.
Ascending from its ninth-place ranking on the 2023 World’s Best Cities list, Singapore has swiftly emerged as one of the most enthralling cities in Asia. It’s not just the iconic vistas from the rooftop infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands that have captured people’s imagination. Singapore is venturing into new territory with the exploration of a waterfront district just south of the airport, known as the Great Southern Waterfront.
This ambitious project is set to introduce 9,000 housing units along Singapore’s picturesque southern coast. The city’s residents are also buzzing with excitement over the upcoming NS Square, a versatile outdoor venue in the Downtown Core area of Marina Bay that is poised to replace the popular Marina Bay floating platform.
What makes Singapore a favorite? Affectionately known as “The Little Red Dot,” this city-state stands out for its exceptional biking opportunities and shopping experiences. It secures top positions in our hearts and palates for its renowned hawker stall street food, the garden-like ambiance of its airport terminal, and the recently reopened Raffles Singapore hotel, which has been extending its warm hospitality to travelers since 1887.
09. Paris, France
The city retains its position as the most visited destination globally, hosting 44 million visitors last year. Fortunately, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport utilized the past three years of reduced traffic to invest €250 million in the refurbishment of Terminal 1. Having reopened this year, it now boasts a sprawling junction building and a cutting-edge central lobby designed to enhance the traveler experience. The city has also achieved unprecedented rail access and infrastructure improvements.
Notably, a direct Berlin-to-Paris TGV line with a seven-hour travel time is set to launch next year, and more ambitious direct routes, such as the Venice-to-Paris Midnight Trains, are scheduled for 2025. Regardless of how visitors arrive, both newcomers and returning tourists to Paris will discover a city that has embraced pedestrianism and outdoor living, creating an inviting atmosphere.
Why do we hold Paris in high regard? As the city prepares for the 2024 Olympics, it’s only becoming more enticing. Paris has dedicated itself to enhancing its infrastructure, prioritizing pedestrian-friendly initiatives, and offering an array of luxurious hotels. These enhancements complement a city celebrated for its world-class art, diverse shopping experiences, and culinary scene that represents the finest in global cuisine.
10. Udaipur, India
Udaipur is in fierce competition for the top spot, having occupied the second position in the previous year’s rankings. An unexpected dip saw it placed at the 20th spot, but now, it’s impressively close to perfection, missing the top rank by a mere two-tenths of a vote. With the return of international travelers to India and the much-anticipated opening of Raffles Udaipur, which debuted during the pandemic, it’s no surprise that Udaipur is rapidly ascending the ranks. A reader’s enthusiastic comment, rendered in all caps, succinctly captures Udaipur’s allure: “VERY VERY BEAUTIFUL CITY.” Udaipur’s charm and scenic beauty are once again gaining well-deserved recognition on the global stage.
Bottom Line (World’s Best Cities)
In the ever-evolving landscape of global travel, the 2024 World’s Best Cities list by world best destinations provides invaluable insights into the top destinations to explore. These cities, each with a metropolitan population exceeding 1 million, offer a diverse range of experiences and amenities, from vibrant cultural attractions to innovative urban planning. By blending quantitative data with qualitative evaluations from both locals and visitors, our editors paint a comprehensive picture of what makes a city truly great. As you plan your travels for 2024 and beyond, consider these rankings of the best cities in the world as prime options for unforgettable adventures.
Some use a unique methodology that combines core statistics such as GDP and the number of Fortune Global 500 corporate headquarters with qualitative evaluations sourced from online platforms like Instagram and TripAdvisor. This holistic approach provides a well-rounded view of a city’s appeal.
Cities featured on the list must have a metropolitan population of over 1 million. Resonance evaluates these cities based on a wide range of factors, including cultural attractions, economic indicators, and urban planning initiatives.
Yes, the list includes cities with diverse offerings, making them suitable for a wide range of travelers. Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, a business traveler, or an adventurer, you’ll find something to suit your interests in these destinations.
The 2024 World’s Best Cities list is an excellent starting point for travel planning. It highlights cities that have excelled in various aspects, allowing you to tailor your trip based on your preferences, whether you’re seeking a cultural experience, business opportunities, or leisurely exploration.