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55 Most Beautiful Cities in the World 2021 – Classics and Hidden Gems

This was not an easy post to write. Did I go with the usual top names? Did I base this only on places that I had personally visited? Did I try to just cover Hidden Gems?

In the end I decided to do a mix of all three – although I am proud to say that I have visited every city on this list and even lived in a couple of them. It didn’t seem possible to write a list of the most beautiful cities in the world and not include Rome and Paris so I decided to include several classics.

As a travel blogger I am lucky enough to visit some extraordinary cities that aren’t necessarily top of mind for all travellers so I have also added in several of my favourite hidden gems to add to your bucket list.

So here are my 55 most beautiful cities in the world

view of capetown and ocean from table mountain

55 Most Beautiful Cities in the World

1. London, United Kingdom

London must come first in this list as it is my hometown. London isn’t known for having the best weather in the world but when the sun shines and you’re on the Thames any city in the world would be hard pressed to beat beautiful London.

Westminster Abbey in london, england, uk
Westminster Abbey

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” is the famous quote from Samuel Johnson and I couldn’t agree more. London is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben to Westminster Abbey and well I could go on and on.

London Bobbies
Love a London Bobbie!

There are 35 different bridges in London along the Thames – from the beautiful pastel coloured Albert Bridge to world famous Tower Bridge. Experience some of the best art in the world at the Royal Academy, the Tate, Tate Modern, National Gallery and many more such institutions.

westminster bridge
westminster bridge

A key part of London’s beauty is its lovely parks – beloved by its residents. London has 3,000 parks and believe it or not 40% of the city is green. Hyde Park is the best known but don’t miss stunning Richmond Park and its deers and views over London and gorgeous Holland Park.

street art portrait in brick lane london
Brick Lane street art

Head off the beaten path and explore London’s street art scene in the East, take a rubbish tour and see lesser known green spots such as the Isle of Dogs, visit the coloured houses of Notting Hill or enjoy a gourmet meal on a London bus whilst experiencing fantastic views of the city.

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Scotch Eggs made with Chorizo at Borough Market London

Whilst they don’t add to the city’s beauty there is also an amazing London food scene to enjoy inbetween iconic landmarks as well as some unbeatable shopping on Regent Street, at Selfridges, on the Kings Road and so many more.

⇒ Heading to London? Check out my posts on 13 Unusual Experiences in London, the best London Food Tours, my virtual London Travel Blog, some great Earlsfield restaurants, 14 Things to do in Notting Hill, restaurants near Clapham Junction and Victoria Station restaurants, 16 Famous Landmarks in Europe, a mad hatter afternoon tea party and a day trip to Brighton, 67 Fascinating Facts about London, 18 Landmarks of London from a local, 15 Places to see Sunsets in London, 9 Places to watch the Sunrise in London, 10 Bridges in London Not to Miss and Cotswolds tour from London options.

2. Paris, France

I don’t think it is possible to put together a list of the world’s most beautiful cities and not included Paris. The city of lights, the city of love, whichever name you want to call it, love it or hate it there is no doubt that Paris is absolutely beautiful.

sunrise in paris from the trocadero fountains
Sunrise in Paris from the Trocadero Fountains

Paris, of course, is known for its famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre etc. However, for me what makes Paris beautiful is the charm and detail in its 20 arrondissements. Cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings, atmospheric cafes with wicker outdoor chairs arranged just so – it is the combination of these details that gives the average Paris street so much charm.

The Seine River and its beautiful bridges are critical elements of Paris’ beauty. Indeed there are 37 bridges in Paris – 2 more than the bridges in London – and one of the best ways to enjoy Paris is a cruise under those bridges on the Seine.

Although only 10% of Paris is green, when it is green it is stunning. From the Jardin du Luxembourg to Jardin des Tuileries to the Interior Garden at the Petit Palais Paris does a garden well.

pont neuf
pont neuf

Paris is at its most beautiful first thing in the morning and heading into the evening as the light softens and changes and bathes this beautiful city in a glow. Sunrise in Paris, as well as the sunset in Paris, are not to be missed.

⇒ If you like beautiful European towns check out my posts on Saint Antonin Noble Val and Tarn et Garonne in France, 30 Famous Landmarks in France, 25 Famous Paris Monuments, 37 Fascinating Facts About Paris, 32 Most Beautiful Cities in France, What is France Famous For? 33 French Icons, 10 Beautiful Bridges in France, 10 Beautiful Lakes in France and the 6 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Paris

3. Rome, Italy

With over 280 fountains and more than 900 churches alone Rome is fully equipped with enough architectural landmarks to earn a spot on this list. Then add the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Pantheon plus all the other significant buildings in this city and you have a shoe in for any list of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Rome Colosseum pink flowers

It often seems like Rome has enough spectacular buildings and tourist attractions in each block to support a separate city. However, like Paris much of the beauty of Rome is in the details

It is in the cobblestone streets, the beautiful Piazzas, a Vespa perfectly posed next to an ancient building and of course the beautiful inhabitants of Rome.

And don’t miss some of Rome’s beautiful neighborhoods like Trastavere and Parioli for a quieter but just as atmospheric Roman experiences.

⇒ Love Italy? Me too! You might enjoy reading about the Most Beautiful Cities in Italy, Most Famous Landmarks in Italy, Top Rome Monuments, Top Venice Landmarks, Bridges in Rome, Fountains in Rome, Venetian Palaces, How to Skip the Line at the Colosseum, Best Ski Resorts in Italy, Best Wineries in Montepulciano, Things to do in Rimini, Places to Visit in Puglia and Things to do in Sicily.

4. Sydney, Australia

As I was born and brought up in Melbourne, Australia it isn’t easy for me to add Sydney to a list of the world’s most beautiful cities. There is a clear rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, with each city’s inhabitants sure that their city is superior.

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Whilst Melbourne is of course the superior city, I cannot deny that when it comes to beauty Sydney does it as well as most other cities in the world.

The heart of Sydney is its harbour and its two iconic Australian landmarks, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney Harbour is extraordinarily pretty and often sparkles, particularly at sunset.

Sydney Icebergs
Bondi Icebergs

Sydney is a true waterside city that was built around the harbour and the desire for harbour views. Sydney ferries move inhabitants around town in what must be one of the loveliest commutes in the world.

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Views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Barangaroo Reserve

Sydney is, of course, famous for its beaches. Bondi Beach is its most iconic beach and it really does have lovely sand plus some great restaurants. Many of the other best places to visit in Sydney are based around the water and beaches from Manly to Watsons Bay and many more.

For me, the most beautiful place in Sydney is the Bondi to Coogee coastal path. This is one of the most famous walks in the world for good reason. Virtually every step provides jaw-dropping scenery.

From the ridiculously photogenic Bondi icebergs pool at the Bondi end to the Waverley cemetery with a view to end all views to lovely Coogee this is a walk you won’t forget.

⇒ Heading to Sydney? Check out my posts on the best Barangaroo Restaurants, the perfect Sydney Itinerary, a day trip to Watsons Bay Sydney and the best weekend getaways from Sydney.

5. Venice, Italy

Canals, waterways and bridges are a bit like good bone structure when it comes to making a city beautiful. And Venice has a lot of all three of those. Venice is actually 117 different islands that are linked by 150 canals and about 400 bridges or pieces of pavement.

Venice is literally built on water. The base of its buildings go deep into the ground. As the soil is so water logged there is no oxygen in it and thus no decay.

Venice and its delights are best explored on foot or by water. The Piazza San Marco is the centre of Venice and home to the magnificent Basilica San Marco – which also has some fantastic views of Venice (it is where I took the photo below).

View of Venice
View of Venice

Don’t miss the Rialto Bridge, the many Venetian Palaces, the Accademia Gallery and the Bridge of Sighs. Or a trip to the home of beautiful coloured glass Murano.

Doges Palazzo Venice the king of the Venetian Palaces
Doges Palazzo Venice

My personal favourite way to experience Venice is on Vaporetto Line 1. This water bus allows anyone to see Venice from the water (where it is often at its most beautiful), mingle with the locals, and really experience one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

6. New York City

Where to begin with New York City? My best friend has been living in NYC for 19 years and I think I have visited roughly once a year since so it is a city that I know well.

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My favourite area is where Anne lives which is Lower Manhattan – there are loads of great things to do there like exploring (and eating) in Little Italy and Chinatown, going thrift and book shopping and visiting the Oculus.

Head even farther south and you’ll hit Battery Park, the place to grab the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty.

When it comes to nature there are two particularly beautiful places to visit in NYC. First up is of course Central Park. One of my favourite things to do is to cycle through the park.

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Second up is the fantastic High Line. The High Line was an old railway line that was no longer used. It was regenerated and filled with plants, benches, little food stalls and much more. It is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

For something a little different get the ferry out to Governor’s Island. It’s open May through October and has many live events. It is another great place to cycle in New York City.

Washington Square isn’t the greenest park you’ll ever visit but it has so much character and life in it – there is always something interesting going on.

empire state building sunrise

NYC has so many extraordinary buildings. For me, the most beautiful is the Chrysler Building. I also love the art deco wonder that is Grand Central Station. And Rockefeller Centre is just stunning at Christmas time.

If you’re planning a trip to NYC read my post on the 8 Fantastic things to do in Lower Manhattan.

7. Vancouver, Canada

Lovely Vancouver is a physically beautiful city. It is surrounded by both snow topped mountains and blue sea. Stanley Park is perhaps its most famous landmark. This park is on the peninsula and covers over 400 hectares.

Granville Island was once highly industrial but is now home to stores, theatres, galleries, restaurants and the Granville Island Public Market.

waterfront vancouver canada

Kitsilano Beach is where locals go to swim in the outdoor heated seawater pool or to lie on the beach in the summer. Kitsilano has some great restaurants, fantastic views over Vancouver and Vanier Park is nearby.

buildings and water in vancouver canada

Gastown is the oldest part of the city and filled with historic buildings, cobblestone streets and iron lampposts.

The roof of Canada Place was designed to look like a sailing ship. Which is appropriate given that it is probably the first place you will visit in Vancouver if you arrive in the city by sea.

Even if you haven’t arrived by sea, head down to Canada Place for some fantastic views, a flight simulator experience and the beginning of a scenic walk to Stanley Park.

⇒ Don’t miss Canada’s capital Ottawa. Read my posts on the 17 most fun things to do in Ottawa, the Ottawa restaurants Byward Market, 21 Places to see the Sunset Ottawa style, best Ottawa Tours, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada and 11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks.

8. Cape Town, South Africa

Like Vancouver, Cape Town is an extraordinarily beautiful physically. It is a waterfront town, sitting on the Atlantic Ocean. And then behind the city is the majestic Table Mountain.

colourful houses in capetown south africa

Table Mountain is synonymous with Cape Town. Rising nearly 1000 metres south of the city centre it is visible from many points. Depending on when you visit or the time of day it may be wearing its famous “tablecloth” which is cloud sitting on its top.

A cable car will take you to the top of Table Mountains in seven minutes. If you’re looking for something more active a walk/climb to the top takes between two and four hours. It is tough going but well worth it for the views and the satisfaction.

view of cape town from table mountain

Signal Hill is just a five minute drive from the city centre and has fantastic views of Cape Town and Table Bay from a more manageable 350 metres. It is a very popular spot to watch the sunset in Cape Town. This is also where the noon gun is fired each day at 12.

If you’re looking for beautiful beaches head to Camps Bay or Clifton, about 6 kms from the centre of the city. For entertainment, great food, shopping and a generally buzzy atmosphere head to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Heading to South Africa? Check out my posts on Whale Watching in Hermanus, Wine Tours in Stellenbosch, South African Spas, how to pack for a safari, the best camera for safari, how to have an African honeymoon – and a self drive itinerary for nearby Namibia.

9. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul in Turkey is literally where east meets west. This beautiful city is the perfect place to get your feet wet so to speak if you’re keen to explore the Middle East or Africa. This atmospheric city has all the magic of the Middle East and North Africa with a slightly more European feel.

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The Blue Mosque in the late afternoon, a highlight of a week in Turkey

The Blue Mosque is possibly Istanbul’s most famous attraction. The mosque has six minarets or towers and several domes. It isn’t actually blue – it was named the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful interior tiles – but it is absolutely stunning.

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The Fes Cafe in the Grand Bazaar

Two of top places to visit in Istanbul – The Blue Mosque and Hagia or Aya Sofya – are located on the same main square in the Istanbul neighborhood of Sultanahmet. Very convenient.

Hagia Sofya has had several lives. It began as an Orthodox Cathedral and was turned into a mosque. In 1935, Ataturk proclaimed it a museum – although it is still considered by many to be the second biggest cathedral in the world.

30 million tiny gold mosaic tiles cover the interior of the church. Yes, 30 million – that isn’t a typo. Make sure you head up the stairs to the mezzanine as it provides one of the best views of this stunning museum/church.

Both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofya are particularly stunning at sunset. I suggest gaining access to one of Istanbul’s many bars and restaurants with a terrace and a view and settling in for sunset.

⇒ Hagia Sophia is the number one tourist attraction in Turkey so don’t waste time standing in queues – book your Skip the line ticket for Hagia Sophia

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Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is one of my favourite Istanbul tourist attractions. This palace was used between the 15th and 19th centuries and apparently was a hot place to go during the Ottoman Empire.

Topkapi Palace Istanbul is stunning and filled with lots of fantastic Instagram opportunities – particularly the colourful tiles.

The Grand Bazaar or Kapali Carsi is the largest covered market in Turkey with over 4,000 shops. This market contains everything you could ever imagine needing.

From, of course, carpets to jewelry to lanterns to pajamas. It can be quite overwhelming. The market is 30,700 square metres and has 60 streets and is a must in any Istanbul itinerary.

⇒ Planning a trip to Turkey? Read my Istanbul 3 Day Itinerary, Gallipoli tours from Istanbul, 7 Day Turkey Itinerary and 3 Day Cappadocia Itinerary.

10. Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City is the only walled city in North America and a UNESCO-listed site. I was quite blown away by the beauty of Quebec City when I visited. Unlike some of the other cities in this post, the base of Quebec City’s beauty isn’t natural. It is a mix of beautiful architecture, the height given by its cliff location above St Lawrence River and the French influence.

quebec city canada

Quebec City is divided into the upper town and the lower town. The two towns are connected by both a funicular and winding streets.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is a Canadian landmark. This beautiful building was constructed for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1894. Today it is part of the wonderful Fairmont Hotel Group. I stayed at Le Chateau Frontenac and it was a fantastic experience which I would highly recommend.

The lower town of Quebec City is filled with cute little cobblestone streets and squares. There are many cute stores and restaurants in this atmospheric area. Don’t miss Quartier Petit-Champlain.

church in quebec city

A great way to get some fantastic views of this beautiful city is to take the Quebec-Levis Ferry. This ferry regularly crosses the St Lawrence River between Quebec City and Levis. Dusk is a great time to take the ferry for beautiful views.

11. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh as a city used to be literally just the royal mile area or what is now the Old Town Edinburgh. The city is built on hills so when it began to fill up the only way to accommodate people was to go up and down.

Streets known as Closes began to be filled with houses literally on top of each other. And thus began the creation of a city under Edinburgh. This is just one of the many interesting things to do in Edinburgh.

There can be few castles in the world as magnificent as Edinburgh castle! It perches literally on the top of Edinburgh. Don’t leave Edinburgh without visiting Edinburgh castle. 

The Royal Mile is the central street in Edinburgh and is home to historic buildings, shops, several tourist attractions and lots of atmosphere – particularly during August.

It takes about 15 minutes to walk from Holyrood Castle at one end to Edinburgh Castle at the other end. 

view over edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle sits on the top of Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is home to one of the best views over Edinburgh. It takes about 30 minutes to walk up to the top. Do be careful with the weather as boy is it windy on a windy day.

edinburgh tours

⇒ Heading to Scotland? Check out my Scotland Itinerary 10 Days, Scotland Itinerary 7 Days, Glasgow Tours, Edinburgh vaults tour, things to do in Dumfries and Galloway, things to do in Ayrshire, my guide to Climbing Ben Nevis, 11 Places to Experience the Sunset Edinburgh style, 18 Beautiful Places in Scotland and 9 great Spa Breaks Scotland.

12. Medellin, Colombia

I absolutely fell in love with Medellin. This amazing city of 2 1/2 million has the big city energy and drive of a London or a New York. The Paisas are passionate full-on people and I adored them and their beautiful city of eternal spring.

When a Colombian city features in a beautiful cities list it is normally Cartagena. Cartagena is a super cute city – but it doesn’t have the amazing views or the passion of Medellin.

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View over Medellin

Medellin is not so much about major Eiffel Tower type sites – the best places in Medellin are much more about experiences, exploring neighborhoods, eating fruit and generally embracing the paisa life. Plus so many spots in the city have fantastic views due to its valley location.

medellin things to do
Heading up a Medellin Cable Car

Plaza Botero was one of my favourite things to see in Medellin. Fernando Botero donated all of these sculptures to his home city of Medellin – on the condition that no payment was required to see them. There are many in this charming plaza.

Arvi Park is on the outskirts of Medellin. It is a massive park where you can hike, trek etc. It takes a couple of metros and a cable car to get to Parque Arvi but it is the largest park in Medellin.

Pueblit0 Paisa is located at the top of Cerro Nutibara – a very tall hill. Walking up the hill is a great workout (ok I took a cab but it looked like a great workout 😊). It is quite kitsch but it has fantastic views over Medellin.

street art in medellin one of the most beautiful cities in the world
Street Art in Medellin

Street art has exploded in Medellin and has been a critical part of the city’s rejuvenation. Perhaps the area that has benefited the most from this is Communa 13 Medellin.

This Medellin neighborhood is now essentially an outdoor art gallery – plus it has more fantastic views over the city.

⇒ If you’re interested in travelling to Colombia check out my posts on a 2 Week Colombia Itinerary, 18 Fantastic Things to do in Medellin, 8 Boutique Hotels in Cartagena, Art Hotel Medellin review, things to do in Guatape, Pablo Escobar Tours, Best Restaurants in Medellin, Feria de las Flores and things to do in Bogota.

13. Riga, Latvia

Lovely Riga is the capital of Latvia and the biggest city in the Baltics. It is a wonderful mix of charming old Europe and modern innovations. The Riga Old Town is an extremely photogenic mix of art nouveau buildings and tiny cobblestone streets, all without traffic.

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View from Hotel Le Chevalier of Riga old town

Unlike some other European cities, once you had outside of the old town the beauty of Riga continues. Riga has an art nouveau district filled with beautiful buildings and a fantastic art nouveau museum.

The Pardaugava district is full of colourful wooden houses. Kipsala is a small and exclusive island close to the old town of Riga that has some fantastic views.

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art nouveau buildings
View of Riga from St Peter’s Church

And don’t miss a canal tour around Riga’s lovely city canal and Daugava River. It is a particularly nice way to see the Old Town and the beautiful wooden houses of Kipsala.

Find out more about Riga in my post on 23 Things to do in Riga.

14. Baden-Baden, Germany

This gorgeous 2000-year-old town lies at the foothills of the wonderfully named Black Forest. Baden Baden Germany has a fantastic location for exploring the region as well as everything from, of course, spas to shopping to a palatial casino within Baden-Baden itself.

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PC Baden-Baden Kur and Tourismus Gmbh

Before you head to Baden-Baden Germany do check what is on. The city is well known for the three international horse races it runs each year – as it is for its Christmas markets.

But this German town is most famous for its spas. Indeed, Baden Baden Germany has 12 hot springs and has been welcoming those seeking to relax and reconnect for centuries.

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Delicious cakes at Cafe Koenig

Today Baden Baden has managed to keep all of those wonderful historical elements but added in more modern spa facilities, fantastic food, modern art and much more.

Find out more about this beautiful German town in my Baden Baden Spa Guide and the best Baden Baden Tours.

15. Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

The Karlovy Vary region is the second smallest in the Czech Republic. It is filled with natural beauty, castles, chateaus and best of all its famous hot and cold mineral springs.

Czech Spa
Beautiful Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is the most famous spa town in the Czech Republic. The town has been treating visitors for more than 650 years.

However, it was in the 18th century that the town began to develop and become known across Europe. In addition to its famous Springs, Karlovy Vary Czech itself is very picturesque and also the home of one of the world’s leading film festivals in July each year.

There are 79 different Karlovy Vary Hot Springs. Fourteen of these are currently used for drinking Czech republic mineral water. The hottest spring is 72 degrees.

karlovy vary spa

Depending on your ailment/s your doctor will prescribe you to “take” the waters from different springs at different times. Each hot spring has its own unique properties.

The Karlovy Vary thermal water is unique in its physical and chemical properties. Essentially the waters here contain larger amounts of major and minor mineral elements than the water you drink at home.

Find out more about Karlovy Vary and the other towns in the Karlovy Vary region in my post on Czech Spa Towns.

16. Graz, Austria

Who needs Vienna? Lovely Graz is the second biggest city in Austria and for me much cuter than its older sibling. It is easy to see why Graz Austria was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

austria-itinerary

Add to that its 2011 nomination as a City of Design and you can see why it wasn’t difficult to build a lengthy list of things to do in Graz.

However, the highlights don’t stop in the lovely Graz old town. Within a 10-15 minute drive of Graz are several photo-friendly and fantastic places to visit.

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View from the Frieblick Tagescafe

From the world’s longest indoor slide to classic castles to rotating glass lifts to sculpture parks Graz and its surrounds will give you a holiday to remember.

Check out my 23 fantastic things to do in Graz and nearby as well as my Austria Itinerary.

17. Bergen, Norway

Lovely Bergen is the gateway city to Norway’s famous fjords. But it also has more than enough going on to warrant spending a couple of nights in this beautiful city.

Part of Bergen’s beauty comes from its location. This Norwegian city is surrounded by mountains and fjords. Bergen is also known as the city of seven mountains based on the seven peaks around it.

Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city with a population of 280,000 (Oslo is about twice that size). One of its most popular tourist destinations is the cute and colourful harbour known as Bryggen.

colourful houses in bergen norway
Bryggen

The colourful houses are now filled with arts and crafts stores, cafes and restaurants. And don’t miss the cute backstreets of Bryggen.

cobblestone street in bergen norway

To gain one of the best view in Bergen hop on the funicular up to Floyen. The funicular takes all of six minutes to get to the top and the views are stunning. Once you’re finished go for a stoll through the super cute neighborhood of Sandviken.

18. St Petersburg, Russia

Like Venice, St Petersburg is spread across a mix of big and small islands, setting it up for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city itself also has several fairytale like ornate buildings and it is also considered the cultural capital of Russia.

st petersburg russia

Perhaps the attraction for which St Petersburg is best known is the Hermitage Museum. Not only does the Hermitage contain 3 million works of art, it is also in a beautiful confection of a building and filled with stunning rooms, arches, staircases and more architectural features.

church in st petersburg russia

The beautiful cathedral at the Peter and Paul fortress would also look happily at home on the top of an elaborate cake. However, this cathedral almost looks plain next to the amazing onion-domed Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (also a great name – Alexander 11 was assassinated on this spot).

The lovely River Neva and a series of canals are at the heart of St Petersburg and some of its most beautiful features. Stroll along the waterfronts as the sun sets and see this beautiful city from the water on a cruise.

19. Charleston, The United States

Lovely Charleston is the largest city in the state of South Carolina. The city is home to some beautiful architecture, a lovely waterfront park for strolling and it is close to beaches.

Waterfront Park runs along the Cooper River and is filled with beautiful gardens, stunning scenery and lovely fountains.

Charleston South Carolina

The city’s architecture dates back to the early 1800s, pre Civil War. Mansions in the Battery are historic and beautiful buildings are scattered through the scenic downtown area.

But Charleston isn’t just about its good looks. It has an outstanding restaurant scene and is famed for its seafood. Plus there are some fantastic outdoor bars for pre and post dinner drinks.

charleston south carolina waterfront

In 2016 Travel and Leisure ranked Charleston as the best place to live in the world. In 2019 the magazine also ranked Charleston as the best place to live in the USA for the 4th year in a row.

⇒ If you like the look of Charleston don’t miss my post on the 20 most beautiful cities in the USA.

20. Seville, Spain

Barcelona and Madrid tend to be top of mind when it comes to Spain. However, my personal opinion is that little Seville in the south of Spain is far more attractive than the two.

plaza de espana seville spain

This atmospheric city is wonderfully relaxed yet buzzes with an undercurrent of energy. This could well be influenced by the flamenco dancing and music for which it is so well known.

pretty arch in seville

The Plaza de Espana has some of the most beautiful tiling work you will ever see and don’t miss the stunning and very photogenic Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, home to one of the most famous bullfighting festivals in the world.

21. Cologne, Germany

Aside from being one of the most visually interesting, Cologne may well be the hippest and coolest of the cities on this list. It’s also very relaxed. Everyone here seems content to enjoy life and have a good time – there’s a vibrant nightlife, after all.

Cologne Germany
Cologne Germany

Perhaps it’s the remnants of Roman architecture or the calmness of the river that runs through it. Whatever the case, be sure to read up on Cologne’s ‘Kölsche Grundgesetz‘ or 11 ground rules before visiting. And be sure to see these while you’re there:

  1. Cologne Cathedral
  2. Roman remains
  3. The Rhine river
Cologne Germany
Cologne Germany

22. Munich, Germany

One of Germany’s most famous cities hosts historic sites and buildings, outstanding tourist activities, green parks, castles, and more. The Bavarian city is known for castles and amazing forested surroundings (the views in winter are spectacular).

Munich Germany
Munich Germany

There seems to be a museum on every street, where you can marvel at fine art, technology, and natural history! Spires from churches and older buildings dot the skyline, rising above new homes or classic German apartment roofs. In fact, most of the inner city is car-free, making this the ultimate walking city in Germany.

Be sure to check into:

  1. The Residence Palace (especially the Antiquarium dining hall)
  2. Marienplatz
  3. Nymphenburg Palace
  4. Frauenkirche
  5. Hofbräuhaus München
Munich Germany
Munich Germany

23. San Francisco, The United States

An ocean, rolling hills and the stunning landmark that is the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is definitely one of the most beautiful cites in the United States and a personal favourite – I think I have visited at least 5 times.

Last time I visited I stayed at the gorgeous Inn at the Presidio. This is a fantastic boutique hotel but it is also a great place for exploring the greenery that is the Presidio.

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There are multiple ways to experience the Golden Gate Bridge. My personal favourite is to hire a bike and cycle over it to Sausalito for lunch but you can also walk or of course drive over it.

For a prison, Alcatraz Island is actually very scenic as is the ferry trip to reach the island. Fisherman’s Wharf is a major tourist attraction but it can be quite scenic particularly when the seals are acting up.

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San Francisco’s cable cars are extremely cute and well worth a journey. Take one to the Ferry Building for one of the most unique dining experiences in San Francisco.

The Twin Peaks are one of the best places to watch the sunset over San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. These two hill are over 900 feet high but that doesn’t make them the highest of San Francisco’s 43 hills.

twin peaks boulevard sunset san francisco california
twin peaks boulevard sunset san francisco california

San Francisco is also the gateway to the fantastic Napa Valley with gorgeous towns like Calistoga as well as the less well known but brilliant Livermore Wine Region.

Whatever you do make sure you book Alcatraz before you leave home. If possible book it quite sometime before you leave home – particularly if you are heading over in the North American summer.

If it is booked out there are some extra tickets on the day but they go fast.

Travel Expert Tip - Book Alcatraz Early
Alcatraz tickets sell out fast. As soon as you have booked your flights book your Alcatraz Tickets. If Alcatraz tickets are sold out check out tours that have something else combined with Alcatraz. Often tour companies buy up the tickets and then put them with something else eg a food tour and then sell them together at a higher price. This is what I did – and I got a fantastic food tour as well as a visit to Alcatraz!
There are so many options for tours in San Francisco! From boat cruises to food tours to helicopter trips as well as day trips to the Napa Valley, yosemite and so much more. ]

Check out San Francisco Tours

san_francisco_tram
Love a San Francisco Tram!

24. Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg is the capital of a region called Franconia. It has a history dating all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire. Much of the old city is encircled by a wall built in those times.

Nuremberg Germany
Nuremberg Germany

Though the name is often historically associated with a darker time in German history – the Nuremberg Trials – it is known today as a city of immense historic architectural beauty. Here are a few of the main sites to visit:

  1. Albrecht Dürer’s House
  2. City Walls
  3. Germanisches Nationalmuseum
  4. Kaiserburg
  5. Schöner Brunnen
  6. St. Lorenz Church
  7. St. Sebaldus Church
Nuremberg germany
Nuremberg germany

25. Lucca, Italy

Lovely Lucca is the quintessentially beautiful Tuscan town. This walled city is filled with atmospheric back streets and cobblestones. It is known as the city of 100 churches so there are loads to visit if that’s your thing.

Piazza San Martino is home to Lucca’s very impressive Duomo. Piazza dell Anfiteatro was once a Roman ampitheatre. The Basilica San San Michele in Foro is another stunning church in Lucca.

⇒ Here are some of the best places in the world to watch the sunrise and fall: 10 Places to watch the Sunset in California, 7 Best Places To Watch Sedona Sunsets, 18 Spectacular Spots for the Best Sunsets in Seattle, 5 Stunning Santorini Sunsets, 8 Sunsets in Ibiza, 19 Spots to watch San Diego Sunsets, 11 Places to see the Venice Sunset, 17 Key West Sunsets Spots for Great Views, 15 Best Places to see San Francisco Sunsets, 6 Spots to Watch Sunrise in Paris, 21 Spots to see the Sunset Ottawa Style, 9 Best Places to see Maui Sunsets, 11 Places to see Sunset Edinburgh style, 15 Places to see Sunsets in London and 9 Spots to watch the Sunrise in London.

For me the highlight of Lucca was walking its medieval walls. The walls have been very well preserved and it is possible to walk the entire circumference of the city.

Torre delle Ore provides a fantastic view and photo opportunity of the rooftops of Lucca.

26. Las Vegas, The United States

I was unsure as to whether or not I would enjoy Las Vegas before my first visit. I’m not much of a gambler so I wasn’t sure that it would be for me. I was wrong – I loved it and have been back a second time. There are so many things to do in Las Vegas that don’t involve gambling – and that are very scenic.

what to do in vegas besides gamble

One of the most scenic things to do in Las Vegas is to take a helicopter ride to and over the Grand Canyon. Not only are there amazing views of the Grand Canyon but you’ll fly over lovely Lake Mead and most rides will do a run down the Strip.

The Las Vegas Strip may be flashy but that doesn’t mean it isn’t visually pleasing. Neon can be quite attractive – I particularly enjoy the re-creations of Paris, New York and Italy.

non touristy things to do in vegas
A fabulous old Vegas sign

And if you like Neon don’t miss the fantastic Neon Museum in downtown Las Vegas. This is where the Neon signs come once they’re no longer wanted.

las_vegas_valley-of-fire-arch
A beautiful arch – looks like Utah!

The Hoover Dam is only 30 minutes from the Strip and an excellent half day trip. 7 Magic Mountains is a beautiful art installation about 15 minutes from the strip. The Valley of Fire is just a 15-minute drive from the strip as well and is a jaw-dropping sandstone national park.

las_vegas_bellagio-indian-garden
The beautiful Indian summer garden at the Bellagio

Finally, don’t leave Las Vegas without visiting the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden. You don’t need to be staying at the Bellagio to visit nor is there a cost. The designers at the Bellagio put on a floral extravaganza which is changed 4 times a year. And don’t miss the Fountain Show either.

27. Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy is popular as a holiday destination for a variety of reasons. The city has historical appeal, housing the oldest university in the western world.

It also features charming architecture, with over 20 towers dotted throughout the area. As well as numerous grand churches and cathedrals. And some of these historic buildings are home to the loveliest boutique hotels in Bologna.

Although Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre, it still exudes a trendy cosmopolitan character owing to its large student population. Its trendy atmosphere is perfectly complemented by its culinary reputation.

Aerial-view-Bologna-buildings.jpg

As the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, it forms part of a region with a food history just as old as its celebrated university.

Find out where to stay in my post on Bologna Boutique Hotels.

28. Savannah, The United States

Like Charleston, Savannah is an historic city. Lovely Forsyth Park is in the historic district and dates back to the 1840s. Don’t miss its famous fountain and a walk through the fragrant garden.

Cobblestones meet water on River Street, which runs alongside the Savannah River. And for more water head to Tybee Island, Savannah’s beach. There are three miles of sandy beaches plus some great places to enjoy local seafood.

savannah georgia waterfront

A great way to explore Savannah’s historic past is a trolley tour. And don’t miss the iconic Cathedral Basilica of St John the Baptist, one of Savannah’s most photographed landmarks.

If you’re visiting Savannah in spring head to Bonaventure Cemetery to see the azaleas and explore the 100 acres of this Victoria cemetery.

savannah georgia park

29. San Diego, The United States

San Diego boasts near perfect weather all year round plus an amazing 70 miles of beautiful coastline. The city offers urban, coastal and inland neighborhoods.

The perfect place to begin admiring this beautiful US city is a drive along Highway 101 also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. This road takes drivers from San Diego all the way to Oceanside.

san diego skyline

Highlights along the way include stopping for a hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve, Cardiff by the Sea and its market, the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas and the pier at North Oceanside.

When you’re back in San Diego head over to the lovely Balboa Park and explore its 1200 acres. Explore the historic old town and do some market shopping.

san diego downtown skyline

Just 30 minutes from San Diego is the Flower Fields, a great stop all year round but a must see in the Spring. As is the old wooden Scripps Pier at La Jolla beach.

Of course, no trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to its world famous Zoo.

30. Lyon, France

Nestled between the Rhone and Saone River, Lyon boasts plenty of attractions and is considered France’s food capital. Foodies flock to this historic city for a taste of authentic French cuisines.

Lyon France
Lyon France

As the third-largest city in France, Lyon has a bustling metropolitan ambience. However, the UNESCO-listed Vieux-Lyon (Old Town) has preserved its historical heritage.

You’ll also find medieval, Renaissance-era architecture and Roman ruins dotted throughout the city. The stunning alleyways and unique cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques and cafes to pop into.

31. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the capital and the largest city of Catalonia, is one of the most beautiful centres in Spain. The city is located directly on the northeastern Mediterranean coast, rich in history and home to the famed football club FC Barcelona.

It’s the epitome of a beautiful European city, where you’ll find plenty of outdoor markets, shops, museums, churches, and restaurants. While you’re in the city, a must-see is the intricate architecture of the La Sagrada Familia. Other marvel creations from Antoni Gaudi’s works to see are Park Guell, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo.   

park guell barcelona
park guell barcelona

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Gothic Quarter. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, and sample some delicious street food at the La Boqueria. I suggest taking a bike tour to explore Barcelona’s vibrant neighbourhoods.

32. Nashville, The United States

Tennessee’s capital is in the centre of the state on the Cumberland River. Founded in 1779, Nashville is best known as the home of country music. However, it is also home to a number of universities and colleges as well as a reproduction of Athen’s Parthenon.

nashville tennessee

Nashville is a great city for walking. Explore the Germantown area for its great restaurants and boutiques. Don’t miss the Music City Walk of Fame on the “Music Mile” where plaques track the history of country music in the city. Then head down to the Jong Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge for some stunning views over the Cumberland River.  

33. Nice, France

Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur region), sports a mix of Italian and French culture. The picturesque city is located at the foothills of the Maritime Alps on the Baie des Anges and boasts some of the best pebble beaches in France.

Nice is endowed with modern art museums, a vibrant street food scene, Franco-Italian architecture, and scenic walkways such as the famous Promenade des Anglais. The city is packed with historic monuments, including the 17th-century Baroque cathedral.

Nice France
Nice France

Walk through the narrow, cobblestone streets and get lost in Vieille Ville (Old Town). This neighbourhood is lined with colourful houses, charming cafes, and cute boutiques and restaurants.

Other incredible attractions in this beautiful French city include an array of blooming lavender fields and manicured gardens. For a panoramic view of this stunning metropolis, climb to the top of Castle Hill for breathtaking scenery. Alternatively, embark on a fun Segway tour of Nice to see the city’s most popular attractions.

34. Toledo, Spain

One of Spain’s World Heritage Cities, Toldeo is surrounded on three sides by the Tago River. It is a unique mix of Jewish, Christian and Muslim influences. Its UNESCO listed old town is full of beautiful cobbled streets, atmospheric plazas as well as synagogues, mosques and churches sitting side by side.

toledo spain

For amazing views over this beautiful city in Spain, head to the hilltop at Parador del Conde Orgaz to see all of Toledo. This is the best place to catch the sunset over Toledo. Then head into town and enjoy some of Toledo’s famous suckling pig.

35. Marseille, France

Located on the balmy Mediterranean coast, Marseille is the second-largest city in France. The city Vieux-Port (Old Port) is still considered the main attraction. Here you’ll discover vibey street music, delicious cuisines, cafes, and art exhibitions around the area.

marseille france
marseille france

While you’re here, you won’t want to miss the city’s renowned museums such as the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille and the Mucem. Other top attractions include Le Panier (Old Town) and the city’s most iconic landmark, Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.

Another exciting place to visit is the National Park of the Calanques. You’ll get spoiled with breathtaking views and surrounded by white cliffs and turquoise waters.

36. Banff, Canada

This little resort town is the base for Rocky Mountain adventures. It is also situated in Canada’s most popular national park, Banff National Park.

Banff town canada
Banff town

If you’re looking to explore natural Canada at its best then don’t miss lovely Banff.

banff town canada
banff town

37. Avignon, France

The famous Palace of the Popes is the largest gothic palace in Europe and was the official residence of the pontiff in the 14th century. It is located near the famous bridge Pont d’Avignon. Avignon is a walled city and within those walls are charming winding streets that are begging to be explored.

Pont-d’Avignon
Pont-d’Avignon

Avignon also has a wide range of museums, a famous theatre festival, is the capital of Cotes-du-Rhone wines and an important centre for Provencal cuisine.

38. Colmar, France

Instagram has definitely grown awareness of this gorgeous canal-based city in France. Before that Colmar was the inspiration for the village in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast. This small town in northeast France is a unique mix of German and French historical architecture with winding cobbled street. It is insanely photogenic with its colourful houses, wooden shutters, and of course window boxes with the latest blooms.

Colmar France
Colmar France

Of course there are musuems and churches but the biggest delight of Colmar is just wandering its very cute streets. Don’t miss Pfister House with its wraparound wooden balcony or the area around the Quai de Poissoniers which has been nicknamed Petit Venice.

39. Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber is another beautiful town in Bavaria located on the Romantic Road. The town dates back to the 10th century and is filled with wonderful and photogenic Fachwerk houses. It is a walled city that has virtually no car traffic which adds considerably to its charming atmosphere.

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

Head to the top of the tower above the town hall for fantastic views of the beautiful countryside as well as the town’s beautiful main square. And don’t miss the German Christmas Museum!

40. Lindau, Germany

Lovely Lindau is on Lake Constance and feels like it sits on the Meditteranean. Its old town is actually on an island and contains lovely squares and winding cobbled streets. Enter Lindau through its rather magnificent harbour entrance which has a lion statue on one side and Bavaria’s only lighthouse on the other. And Lindau is also where scientists meet to decide on Noble prizes.

lindau germany
lindau germany

41. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Often called the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is full of a stunning mix of architectural styles, music and malbec. The city is a mix of its unique neighborhoods – don’t miss La Boca for fantastic Argentinian food.

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires

42. Cartagena, Colombia

Nestled on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and teeming with restaurants, shops, and nightlife, Cartagena is a true gem for all who visit. This gorgeous, historic city is centuries old and superbly preserved. The famous walled Old Town of this city is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is an experience on its own. Spend your days strolling through the cobblestone streets, admiring the old colonial buildings.

colombia-destination-guides

If you’re planning your Colombia Trip don’t miss my Colombia Itinerary 2 Weeks post.

43. Cusco, Peru

Don’t just head straight to Macchu Picchu, start by exploring the world’s highest capital city. Cusco is a delightful mix of the Inca and Hispanic cultures with cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Don’t miss the Golden Temple of the Sun (Koricancha).

Cusco Peru
Cusco Peru

44. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto is home to countless shrines and golden temples, as well as walls of bamboo forest and hidden gems amidst the canals. This beautiful metropolis is the quintessential Japanese city, filled with history and priceless structures. 

geishas in kyoto japan

⇒ Beautiful Japan is one of my favourite countries to visit. Check out my posts on One Day in Tokyo, 2 Day Itinerary Kyoto, 10 Day Japan Itinerary, What is Japan Famous For? 31 Japanese Claims to Fame, 9 Beautiful Japan Famous Landmarks, the best things to do in Kanazawa and what to expect on the Nakasendo Trail.

45. Hong Kong

From the high rises and bright lights of Kowloon to the beauty of Hong Kong harbour and its star ferry to the wonderfully green Hong Kong Island and the Peak, Hong Kong is a unique blurring of high tech and nature that makes it unforgettable. Enjoy the best views of this beatiful city from the Peak or on the Star Ferry at sunset.

hong kong skyline
the stunning hong kong skyline

46. Busan, South Korea

Busan is a thriving, lively city on the coast of South Korea. South Korea might not be known for its laid-back lifestyle and easy-going culture. But in Busan, there is definitely a happy ease to daily life. Perhaps it’s the beach, or the wonderful museums, or the popular beer houses and karaoke rooms.

cherry blossoms, busan city in south korea

⇒ Korea is absolutely fascinating. Check out my posts on what to do for some inspiration: 8 Things to do in Gangnam, 13 things to do in Myeongdong, 8 things to do in Incheon, 7 Fantastic Seoul Boutique hotels, the best Seoul Day Trips, Where to Stay in Busan, the best things to do in Jeju Island, 26 Beautiful Places in South Korea and the best things to do in Daegu. Then plan your trip with my Korea Itinerary, Seoul Itinerary, Jeju Itinerary, and Busan Itinerary.

47. Singapore

Singapore is a fantastic mix of cutting edge modernity and all things green. Gardens by the Bay provides a fantastic example of green cities of the future, Marina Bay Sands will have you craving a dip in its infinity pool after you enjoy the fountains show and enjoy the amazing orchids at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Singapore Travel Guide Attractions Activities
Love these super trees!

48. Havana, Cuba

Old Havana is a world heritage site with good reason. Classic architecture in bright colours are complemented by classic American cars which are just as colourful. Music seeps through every pore of Havana as do mojitos and Hemingway. Plus it is located on Havana Bay for some water views.

Havana Cuba
Havana Cuba

49. Jaipur, India

The Maharaja of Jaipur ordered all of the city’s buildings to be painted an orangey-pink color in 1876 for a royal visit from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. He was certainly ahead of his time in turning cities into instagram friendly destinations! The capital of Rajasthan has a magical atmosphere.

Jaipur
Jaipur

50. Queenstown, New Zealand

Not only is Queenstown the adrenaline capital of the world, the location for death defying acts is also absolutely stunning. Beautiful Lake Wakatipu is backed by three mountains: the Remarkables (such a good name), Cecil Peak and Walter Peak.

queenstown
queenstown

51. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A historic downtown, quiet courtyards and cobblestone streets make San Miguel de Allende one of Mexico’s most charming cities. Don’t miss the city’s World Heritage Listed Sanctuary of Jesus of Atotonilco.

San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende

52. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The combination of the world famous Copacabana Beach, the giant Christ the Redeemer the Statue and Sugarloaf Mountain give Rio De Janeiro an extraordinarily attractive landscape. And Rio’s second biggest city is filled with open spaces, urban parks and much to see and do.

rio de janeiro
rio de janeiro

53. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Beautiful Chefchaouen sits high in Morocco’s Rif Mountains. The city is most famous for the fact that all of its buildings in its medina are painted in a stunning shade of blue. The best thing to do in Chefchaouen is to just take your time and wander the streets of the medina.

Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen

54. Luang Prabang, Laos

Closed to tourists until the 1980s, Luang Prabang is a super relaxed city on the Mekong River in Laos. It is filled with French architecture, heavy trees and monks. Indeed, Luang Prabang is very well known for Sai Bat of morning alms. The monks from the many monasteries of Luang Prabang walk the streets of the town at sunrise and receive food and items from the residents of this delightful town.

luang prabang
luang prabang

55. Bejing, China

Home to some of the most famous landmarks in the world including the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Great Wall of China, China’s capital is an exciting mix of the old and new.

great wall of china 1
Venice Landmarks
Venice Landmarks

I covered all of the costs involved in writing this post. However, this most beautiful cities in the world post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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