Inspiration

World’s Best Awards 2021: Top 25 Cities in the World

What are you looking for in the top cities in the world? A distinctive sense of place, history, culture and crave-worthy food.

San Miguel de Allende

Aerial view of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Photo by ferrantraite/Getty Images Signature/Canva

Sep 10, 2021

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, the more they stay the same. The top city in the world this year reclaimed the throne it held in 2018 and 2017. Readers got behind familiar favorites such as Charleston, South Carolina; Quebec City; and Cape Town, which all took top honors in their respective countries. Europe, too, proved as popular as ever, earning nine spots in the overall Top 25, but Asia claimed 10—all of which delight us with their historic byways, even if in some cases they’re towered over by glittering futuristic skyscrapers. 

* — ON THE LIST FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS 

1. San Miguel de Allende
Mexico

After two years at No. 2, this center of art and culture reclaims its place as readers’ global favorite thanks to its divine shopping, heritage architecture, and bohemian atmosphere. 

World’s Best Awards 2017 + 2018: No. 1, Top Cities in the World

Score: 93.54 

2. Udaipur 
India

Score: 91.63 

3. Istanbul
Turkey

Score: 91.32 

4. Ubud 
Indonesia

Score: 91.25 

5. Kyoto *
Japan

World’s Best Awards 2015: No. 1, Top Cities in the World

Score: 90.94

6. Florence *
Italy

Score: 90.48

7. Mexico City
Mexico

Score: 90.23 

8. Oaxaca 
Mexico

World’s Best Awards 2020: No. 1, Top Cities in the World

Score: 90.22 

9. Chiang Mai
Thailand

Score: 90.06 

10. Bangkok 
Thailand

Score: 89.81 

11. Taipei
Taiwan

Score: 89.62 

12. Kraków 
Poland

Score: 89.39 

13. Luang Prabang 
Laos

Score: 89.29 

14. Rome *
Italy

Score: 88.88

15. San Sebastián 
Spain

Score: 88.87 

16. Bodrum 
Turkey

Score: 88.82 

17. Jaipur 
India

Score: 88.68 

18. Charleston 
South Carolina

Score: 88.61 

19. Tokyo 
Japan

Score: 88.59 

20. Cape Town 
South Africa

Score: 88.55 

21. Trieste 
Italy

Score: 88.54 

22. Ljubljana 
Slovenia

Score: 88.47 

23. Seoul 
South Korea

Score: 88.00 

24. Antigua
Guatemala 

Score: 87.97 

25. Porto 
Portugal

Score: 87.79 

For more World’s Best Awards 2021 lists of your favorite hotels, resorts, cities, islands and more, visit: travelandleisureasia.com/trending/worlds-best-awards-2021

Inspiration

6 Amazing Beach Bars for a Sundowner in Asia

These stylish watering holes at InterContinental resorts serve up drinks with a view.

Hotels & Resorts

Amandari, Bali

Perched on the edge of the breathtaking Ayung River Gorge in Kedewatan Village, Amandari has done its best to grow organically within its surrounding community, honoring at every turn the Balinese culture embedded in its DNA.

Hotels & Resorts

Potato Head Studios

Ending 2019 on a high note, the final piece of the Desa Potato Head puzzle opens this month. Nestled among the village, the floating ring is lifted by reinforcements and houses 168 guest rooms and a sunset bar.

Food & Drink

8 Most Scenic Restaurants in Asia

From the depths of the sea to the top of the world: come for the food, stay for the unbeatable views.