The Top 25 Cities to Visit in the World


09 May, 2015

Millions of people on the travel site TripAdvisor voted Marrakech, Siem Reap and Istanbul as the top three destinations in the world.

Here's a look at TripAdvisor's Top 25 most popular cities to visit!

1. Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is known as the "red city" for its rose-colored buildings. The city's walled medina, or old city, is a UNESCO world heritage site. One-thousand-year-old monuments remain within the medina, including the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, and several gardens. Today, the medina is a crowded marketplace with traditional Moroccan goods for sale. Make sure to visit the Jamaa El Fna Square, an outdoor theater where storytellers and musicians perform.

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia

The small city of Siem Reap is home to Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument. Visitors can also see hundreds of ancient Buddhist temples in and around town. After a long day at the temples, tourists can enjoy one of Siem Reap's many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. VOA Learning English Facebook fan Thea, of Cambodia, suggests a visit to the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap Province. The park's two waterfalls offer excellent swimming areas.

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey's largest city has one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. As the former capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, Istanbul is a haven for history lovers. Visitors must see Istanbul's most famous religious buildings: the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. At night, sail on the Bosporus Strait, which separates the European and Asian areas of this extraordinary city. Our Facebook friend Oguzhan says all who visit Istanbul should try the sweets called Turkish delights and some extra-strong Turkish coffee.

The Top 25 Cities to Visit in the World
Vietnamese women wearing "ao dai" line up during Lang Pagoda Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam. Lang Pagoda was built in the 12th century during the Ly Dynasty. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

4. Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese women perform fan dancing along the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Vietnamese women perform fan dancing along the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Vietnam's capital has tree-lined streets, lakes, and some 600 temples and pagodas. A lot of VOA Learning English Facebook fans live in Hanoi. They have many suggestions for exploring their city. Nguyen Bui says visitors should not miss the Temple of Literature. It was built in the year 1070. It is one of several temples in Vietnam dedicated to Confucius.

Another local, Anh Ngoc Vu, advises a slow walk down the Old Quarter's coffee street. Enjoy a cup of local coffee while there. She also suggests visiting the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the prettiest places in central Hanoi.

5. Prague, Czech Republic

This Eastern European city is the modern capital of the Czech Republic and the historical capital of the kingdom of Bohemia. Walk across the Charles Bridge and visit the John Lennon Wall to get a sense of the city's quiet revolutionary soul. From the unique art of David Cerny — often hidden in plain sight — to the growing counterculture scene, Prague is full of surprises.

6. London, England

The largest city in Western Europe is a world capital of culture and fashion. Visitors can tour rooms in Buckingham Palace, the official home of the Queen of England. They can investigate the Sherlock Holmes Museum or walk across Abbey Road, just like the band The Beatles did in 1969. And make sure to check the time at the famous clock tower, Big Ben.

7. Rome, Italy

The 2,500 year-old-city is a perfect destination for history lovers. For centuries, visitors have flocked to its famous sites: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and more. Within Rome is Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world. Only about 800 people live there, and only about half of them are citizens.

It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and ruled by Pope Francis. The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica are favorite sites.

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Romance is in the air in South America's most European-style city. The city is known for wide streets, beautiful cafes and exciting social life. Take a walk through the historic San Telmo on a Sunday and you will see couples dancing the tango, Argentina's famed dance. If you like soccer, don't miss the famous La Bombonera stadium, home of the Boca Juniors soccer club.

9. Paris, France

The French capital is often called the most beautiful city in the world. Known as the City of Light, Paris is home to some of world's most-visited tourist sites, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum, Moulin Rouge, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Escape the crowds and feel like a Parisian at one of the city's many sidewalk cafes. Sip on an espresso and people-watch for a more relaxed way to get to know the city.

10. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town shines at the southern point of the African continent. Explore Table Mountain National Park, which stretches along the Atlantic coast from Signal Hill to Cape Point. At Boulders Beach near Cape Point, share the sands with nearly 3,000 African penguins. Within the national park is Lion's Head peak. Walk up Lion's Head for excellent views of the coast and Robben Island, which held Nelson Mandela as a political prisoner for 27 years.

11. New York City, United States

More than 50 million people visit New York City every year. The five areas of New York have many of the most recognized attractions in the world. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline. Or observe the city, like King Kong, from the top of the Empire State Building. Eat famous New York pizza or bagels. Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry or a run in the 340-hectare Central Park. And make sure to visit the internationally- known Metropolitan Museum of Art.

12. Zermatt, Switzerland

This Alpine Swiss city is most famous for the Matterhorn, a huge, jagged mountain with one of the highest summits in Europe. In its shadow is tiny Zermatt, a car-free town of just over 5,000 people. While winter is the most popular time for world-class skiing, summer is a great time to hike the surrounding Alps.

13. Barcelona, Spain

This magical city in the Catalonia region of Spain has everything from expansive beaches to never-ending tapas to Antoni Gaudi's imaginative architecture. Take an hour long train ride to the mountain of Montserrat and see the amazing rock formations that influenced Gaudi's work.

14. Goreme, Turkey

This city is home to Goreme National Park, an open-air museum and UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the 10th and 11th-century cave churches that display rare examples of Byzantine art. Goreme is a popular destination for backpackers – travelers often on months-long trips. The area is also an excellent place to enjoy Turkish food and wine.

15. Ubud, Indonesia

Tourists flood this village on the Indonesian island of Bali. Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love featured the quiet place. Meet monkeys up close at Ubud's famous Sacred Monkey Forest. Then take a walk through small villages and rice paddies. Finish your day with a traditional Balinese music and dance performance.

16. Cusco, Peru

The former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco welcomes many tourists on their walk up to Machu Picchu. The remains of that ancient Incan city are high in the Peruvian Andes mountains. Cusco is also close to many other historic sites and ruins, including Sacsayhuaman. The walled complex was the location of a bloody fight between Inca leaders and Spanish conquerors in 1536.

17. St. Petersburg, Russia

Founded in 1703, St. Petersburg was the imperial capital for two centuries. The city offers a calm beauty and a wide collection of priceless art. The Hermitage Museum's permanent collection alone includes more than three million works of art. Night owls should make sure to stay up late for the raising of the bridges.

18. Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand's capital is one of the most tourist-friendly places in Southeast Asia. This city has possibilities for every interest and budget. Bangkok's numerous Buddhist temples and royal palaces will keep tourists busy for days. Whether in a fine restaurant or from a street cook, Thai food is some of the best in the world. For a different view of the city, take a canal tour.

19. Kathmandu, Nepal

On April 25th, a strong earthquake killed thousands and destroyed many ancient sites in Nepal's capital. Efforts are underway to save and repair many of the Hindu and Buddhist temple complexes throughout the city. Kathmandu has recovered from devastating earthquakes in the past. In 1934, an earthquake destroyed much of the city. Over the next few years, Kathmandu will rise again.

20. Athens, Greece

It is the birthplace of Western civilization now almost 4,000 years old. Explore the Acropolis in Athens, then visit the new Acropolis Museum to truly appreciate the ancient settlement. Walk in Socrates' footsteps around the Agora, the center of social activity in ancient Greece. VOA Learning English Facebook fan Tonia is an Athenian. Beyond the Acropolis, she suggests visitors explore the flea markets of Monastiraki and Plaka.

21. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is known as the city of naturally warm pools of water called spas. The Hungarian capital features 16th-century Turkish pools as well as neo-baroque medicinal spas. Check out Rudas Baths, a thermal bath built in 1550 during Ottoman rule. Beautiful Budapest is also a long-time "foodie city." Try local specialties like Hungarian goulash, rich with beef, onions, potatoes, and spices.

22. Queenstown, New Zealand

On New Zealand's beautiful South Island, Queenstown is one of the top places in the world for hiking, boating, and skiing. Nearby Milford Sound offers the peaceful beauty for which New Zealand is famous. Perhaps, the most famous New Zealand product is the Lord of the Rings movies. Take a road trip and explore places where the movie was filmed.

23. Hong Kong, China

Excellent food, high fashion, and extraordinary skylines are just some of what Hong Kong provides. Eat lunch at a traditional dim sum teahouse. Go shopping at Mong Kok, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, or just enjoy the city's super modern architecture.

24. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is a city famous for luxury goods. One of its shopping centers even has an indoor ski slope! Dubai is also home of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. And the Burj Al-Arab hotel is on an artificial island in the Arabian Sea.

25. Sydney, Australia

The capital of New South Wales offers historical and modern attractions that keep travelers busy for days. Sydney's Opera House, with its sail-like appearance, is a must for visitors. Also, try the top of the Sydney Tower Eye to get a bird's eye look at the city. Then explore Sydney's many appealing neighborhoods.

What do you think of the 25 cities that made the list? Did your hometown make the list of Top 25 Destinations in the World? If not, do you think it should have? Tell us all about what makes your hometown special. Write to us in the comments section.

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Words in This Story

heritage - n. the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation

monument - n. a building or place that is important because of when it was built or because of something in history that happened there

decicated - v. to officially make (something) a place for honoring or remembering a person, event, etc.

hidden in plain sight - idiom. used to describe something that appears to be hard to find, but is actually not hidden and is easily found

counterculture - n. a culture with values and customs that are very different from and usually opposed to those accepted by most of society

fashion - n. a popular way of dressing during a particular time or among a particular group of people

flock - v. to gather or move in a crowd

cafe - n. a small restaurant where you can get simple meals and drinks (such as coffee)

summit - n. the highest point of a mountain : the top of a mountain

imperial - adj. of or relating to an empire or an emperor

night owl - idiom. a person who enjoys staying up late at night

flea market - n. a usually outdoor market in which old and used goods are sold

luxury - n. a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth

artificial - adj. not natural or real : made, produced, or done to seem like something natural