Inspiration

World’s Best Awards 2022: 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.

Cityscape of Oaxaca City, Mexico

Cityscape of Oaxaca City, Mexico. Photo by Indigoai/Getty Images/Canva

By Travel+Leisure Editor

Jul 15, 2022

WHEN TRAVEL+LEISURE READERS throw their collective weight behind an opinion, it tends to create a ripple effect — especially when it comes to the results of the World’s Best Awards. In declaring the best cities in the world, they consider hotels, Michelin-rated restaurants, rich cultural heritage, top attractions and, in recent years, COVID-19 protocols. The votes are then counted, numbers crunched, and we arrive at a score for each city — and, ultimately, the ranking of the best 25 across the globe. Once the WBA lists are revealed, hundreds of thousands of people sift through the findings. Travelers plan trips based on these destinations, interest in the lesser-known winners increases, and cities around the world feel the impact.

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 ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Comparing the best cities of 2022 to last year’s rankings yields some intriguing observations. Florence returned to the top five cities this year, rising from No. 6 to No. 4, while Udaipur, India dropped to No. 10 from No. 2. Last year’s winning city, San Miguel de Allende, took this year’s No. 2 spot and garnered many superlatives, with one respondent saying, “The weather is perfect, the music scene is excellent, and the food is outstanding.” Kyoto, Japan, also slid down the list, slipping from No. 5 to No. 14, but Istanbul (No. 5) and Ubud, Indonesia (No. 3), remained in the top five.

T+L readers also showed renewed appreciation for a few 2020 winners that had been absent last year, including Mérida, Mexico (tied for No. 12), a hub in the Yucatán that a T+L reader praised as “one of the best cities to visit for music, dance, and cuisine.” Among the Spanish cities to make a return this year is Seville (No. 11). One WBA voter called the Andalusian capital “a great city to get lost in,” while another described it as simply “enchanting.”

But the true comeback kid of this list was Oaxaca, which shot up from No. 8 spot last year to attain this year’s top ranking. Read on to learn why Oaxaca was crowned the best city in the world — and what other world hubs made the list.

T — INDICATES A TRUE TIE
* — ON THE LIST FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS 

1. Oaxaca
Mexico

Landmark Santo Domingo Cathedral in historic Oaxaca City Center
Landmark Santo Domingo Cathedral in historic Oaxaca City Center. Photo by Elijah-Lovkoff/Getty Images/Canva

After losing the top spot to San Miguel de Allende last year, this southwestern Mexican city has once again landed at the top of readers’ list of favorite cities around the world. It’s a dream gastronomic destination, especially for mole and mezcal enthusiasts. The dominant Indigenous Zapotec culture influences the local cuisine, which is on full display in Oaxaca City. (In fact, one survey respondent specifically touted the “amazing local Indigenous food.”) Numerous readers also raved about Oaxaca’s 17th-century architecture, enticing cocktail scene, and lively craft markets, along with the kindness of its residents. “People go out of their way to make you feel special,” one voter gushed. The city’s “beautiful museums, streets, cafés, and restaurants,” according to another respondent, were also factors in the win.

Score: 92.96

2. San Miguel de Allende
Mexico

Where to go 2022 - San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende. Photo by Alfonso Chen/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 91.77

3. Ubud
Indonesia

Ubud Water Palace at Dusk, Bali
Ubud Water Palace at Dusk, Bali. Photo by Daniel Gauthier/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 91.73

4. Florence *
France

Florence, Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile
Florence, Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile. Photo by Sergey Novikov/Canva

WBA Hall of Fame honoree.
Score: 91.06

5. Istanbul
Turkey

Istanbul
Ortakoy Mosque with Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. Photo by RudyBalasko/Getty Images Pro/ Canva

Score: 90.97

6. Mexico City
Mexico

Mexico City’s Zocalo and the Metropolitan Cathedral
Mexico City’s Zocalo and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Photo by MattGush/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 90.90

7. Chiang Mai
Thailand

Green Terraced Rice Field in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai
Green Terraced Rice Field in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai. Photo by southtownboy/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 90.70

8. Jaipur
India

View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort, India
View of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort, India. Photo by Leonid Andronov/Getty Images Pro/Canva

Score: 90.67

9. Osaka
Japan

Dotonbori district, Osaka, Japan
Dotonbori district, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Nikada/Getty Images Signature/Canva

Score: 90.35

10. Udaipur
India

View of Udaipur, India
View of Udaipur, India. Photo by Xantana/Getty Images Pro/Canva

Score: 90.22

11. Seville
Spain

Spanish Square in Seville, Spain
Spanish Square in Seville, Spain. Photo by sorincolac/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 90.12

12. Mérida T
Mexico

A colorful neighborhood in downtown Mérida, Mexico
A colorful neighborhood in downtown Mérida, Mexico. Photo by JannHuizenga/Getty Images Signature/Canva

Score: 90.00

12. Tokyo T
Japan

Tokyo, Japan in Spring Season
Tokyo, Japan in Spring Season. Photo by Sean Pavone/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 90.00

14. Kyoto *
Japan

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Blue Planet Studio/Getty Images/Canva

WBA Hall of Fame honoree.
Score: 89.77

15. Siem Reap
Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. Photo by MasterLu/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 89.66

16. Seoul
South Korea

Downtown cityscape of Seoul, South Korea
Downtown cityscape of Seoul, South Korea. Photo by SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images Pro/Canva

Score: 89.31

17. Bodrum
Turkey

View of Bodrum Castle and Marina, Turkey
View of Bodrum Castle and Marina, Turkey. Photo by MasterLu/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 89.31

18. Rome *
Italy

unesco instagram
A picturesque street in the historic Trastevere district, Rome. Photo by Olga_Gavrilova/Getty Images Pro/Canva

WBA Hall of Fame honoree.
Score: 89.29

19. Muscat
Oman

Waterfront of Muscat, Oman
Waterfront of Muscat, Oman. Photo by NAPA74/Getty Images Pro/Canva

Score: 89.21

20. Hoi An
Vietnam

Traditional building in the UNESCO Heritage Town of Hoi An
Traditional building in the UNESCO Heritage Town of Hoi An. Photo by FiledIMAGE/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 88.92

21. Cuzco
Peru

Central Square of Cuzco, Peru
Central Square of Cuzco, Peru. Photo of misio69/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 88.79

22. Cape Town
South Africa

Aerial View of Cape Town, South Africa
Aerial View of Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Jacob Lund/Canva

Score: 88.76

23. Charleston *
South Carolina, USA

The Waterfront in Charleston, South Carolina
The Waterfront in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by traveler1116/Getty Images Signature/Canva

WBA Hall of Fame honoree.
Score: 88.70

24. Bangkok
Thailand

Thailand : Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok. Photo by Burachet/Getty Images Pro/Canva

Score: 88.62

25. Ljubljana
Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo by Mirkob87/Getty Images/Canva

Score: 88.49

For more World’s Best Awards 2022 lists of your favorite hotels, resorts, cities, islands and more, visit: travelandleisureasia.com/trending/worlds-best-awards.

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