Looking for travel inspiration? Here’s the 20 greatest cities in the world to visit in 2020 if you’re planning a stop-over or weekend break
If you’re making travel plans for 2020, you may wish to consider this list of the World’s Top Cities as voted for by readers in The Telegraph Travel Awards.
Many are popular destinations for UK migrants moving overseas, others make a good stopover on your journey to another part of the globe, but they all offer a rich and exciting opportunity to open your horizons to new cultures and experiences. So while we are taking care of your international removal from the UK, why not spend some time to explore one or more of these cities?
The survey, conducted each year, reflects the tastes of Telegraph readers and has some interesting and unexpected contenders, with Cape Town still occupying the top spot as it has done for the past 7 years!
There are some shifts in ranking and a few new entries into the list, including Kyoto and New Orleans. New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina has been well-documented and it’s wonderful to see that the hard work of the people who call it home is paying off as it comes in at a healthy 10 on the list.
Popular destinations for UK migrants moving overseas on the list, include Cape Town, Vancouver, Sydney and Singapore. Italy is the most popular country with three cities in the top 20.
So if you’re looking for inspiration of where to go on your travels this year, then this list is sure to provide you with plenty of ideas for your bucket list:
1. Cape Town, South Africa
It would be easy to say that Cape Town has it all…but it really has! A stunning coastal city, it’s as rich in culture as it is in natural beauty. Soft, white beaches, crystal blue waters, ruggedly splendid mountain ranges and acres of dappled forest, which comes replete with delicate flora and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife, this really is a city among cities.
The cuisine here is world-renowned and the arts play a leading role in city life, in fact it’s now considered to be a world class centre for art and boasts many stunning galleries. Wine is a big part of Cape Town life with more than its fair share of award-winning wineries, the city is a haven for anyone who loves the culture. So between stunning natural phenomena like Table Mountain and Robben Island, amazing wine and beautiful art, Cape Town seems secure in its top placement!
2. Vancouver, Canada
To call Vancouver a spectacular city is no overstatement. This gem among Canada’s many gems appears almost mythical at first glance.
A port town, it’s surrounded by ocean and stunning mountains which put even the tallest of the city’s skyscrapers in their place. Snow-capped Mount Baker and Mount Rainier and, to the north their sister mountain, Mount Garibaldi can all be seen on a clear day and many visitors to Vancouver take a Skyride up and down the more accessible Grouse Mountain.
The city is known for its arts scene, and theatre, cabaret and visual arts are all well supported. Seafood is celebrated here too and there are many award-winning restaurants to visit. Canada’s famous friendliness is very apparent here and it’s well-known that visitors are welcomed with open arms. For another year, Vancouver has made second place in the wold’s greatest cities list and things don’t look set to change any time soon.
3. Kyoto, Japan
A new entry in the top 20 greatest cities, Kyoto was once Japan’s capital. It is a magical place, home to many incredible examples of architecture and historical temples and shrines.
Notable places of interest include Nijo Castle, former home to the Shogun, Sento Palace with its stunning gardens which date back to the 1600s and the centuries old Nishiki Market where fresh food can be bought and eaten at many high-quality stalls.
Kyoto is also full of amazing museums and galleries; art and history are highly valued so there are more on offer than you might find in similarly sized cities. The best include Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Nishijin Textile Center with its daily kimono shows and the Museum of Modern Art Kyoto.
Accommodation here is broad and there’s everything from stylish boutique hotels to luxury apartments.
4. Sydney, Australia
Surely Australia’s most vibrant city, Sydney is home to Bondi Beach, The Sydney Opera House, world-class theatre and some of Australia’s best restaurants. Its position at number 4 is well-deserved and, as growing flocks of tourists each year are proving, this city has something to attract everyone.
It’s not just a place for beach-lovers either…yes the surf is excellent but there’s a lot more to it than that. With some of the most beautiful natural landscapes around, there’s a lot for nature lovers too. Coastal walks around Bondi and the surrounding areas are popular as is Sydney’s famous Royal National Park where you can go bushwalking or whale watching…whichever appeals, or both!
Top-notch restaurants and a thriving café culture ensure that foodies are happy here too! Shopping is excellent in Sydney and aside from the elegant Strand Arcade and the busy Westfield Mall, there are some amazing markets too; notable is The Rocks Market which takes place each Friday from 9.00am to 3.00pm and is full of handmade crafts, great food and drinks and a wonderful atmosphere.
Sydney is growing and changing all the time but one thing stays the same and that’s the vivacity of the city…it’s a real joy to visit.
5. Petersburg, Russia
This history-packed Russian port city has been called “The Venice of the North” due to the many elegant canals which form a major part of its streets.
Originally built to display the extent of Imperial Russia’s wealth, there’s evidence of the grandeur and status of the Russia of old everywhere you look. Though the capital city is now Moscow, it’s clear that St. Petersburg was once very much the jewel in Russia’s crown.
This is a city of beauty and culture and its art is almost unrivalled. The Hermitage is packed full of treasures with everything from Picassos to rare Egyptian mummies whilst the Russian Museum, spread over no fewer than four gorgeous palaces, would take weeks to fully explore.
Summer in St. Petersburg is famous thanks to the fact that the sun barely sets due to the city’s proximity to the Arctic Circle. May is the beginning of the festival known as White Nights of St Petersburg and the revelries are constant with days and nights packed with music, art, dance and gorgeous flora.
This is a truly unique city and one which won’t be easily forgotten once experienced.
This city is hot, it’s fast and it’s been on an upward trajectory for some time now with no signs of slowing down.
Its public transport system is one of the best in the world and as a result, it’s possible to see a lot in one day. Food, shopping and a burgeoning arts scene are all just part of what makes Singapore such a fabulous place. The city is renowned for its stunning parks and gardens and, if you’re lucky enough to visit, a trip to the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a must; a 74-hectare tropical wonderland, the gardens take a long time to fully explore so maybe set aside more than one day!
For those needing a little retail therapy, shopping is a serious business in Singapore and there are dedicated eco-friendly malls which have been purpose built with a view to reducing Singapore’s carbon footprint, the first of these was the City Square Mall with its integrated urban park and hundreds of the best retail outlets.
Accommodation in Singapore is renowned and the service is second to none. One of the friendliest countries in this part of the world, the welcome which visitors receive is outstanding.
7. Venice, Italy
Always on the list, Venice is in the hearts and hopes of many people…and for good reason. Iconic, dramatic and romantic, it’s one of those places which makes you feel as though you’re part of something special.
The Grand Canal snakes its way through Venice acting as the perfect showcase for multiple architectural spectacles. The Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Marco, the palazzi and stunning churches, the gondolas and the cafes…it’s all overwhelmingly beautiful and there’s more!
The tradition of art in Venice ensures that there are beautiful things to be found down every street, alleyway and store you come across. Whether its glass, shoes, jewellery or clothing you’ll find yourself moved by the sheer elegance and workmanship on display.
Taking coffee and checking everyone out is a tradition here, so make sure you visit St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) where it’s fine to look and be looked at! There are multiple little squares or “campo” in Venice and they really epitomize the heart of the city which is in essence concerned with beauty, elegance and a good time!
8. Luang Prabang, Laos
This city in North Central Laos has seen a remarkable transformation over the past two decades. Money has poured in and as a result once mouldering French villas have been revived and beautified, now reborn as gorgeous boutique hotels.
The cuisine here is outstanding too with some world-class chefs taking up happy residence in the area as interest has soared.
A spiritual place, Luang Prabang sits at a sacred confluence of rivers, and visitors can bask in the peaceful and quiet beauty of the place which is only heightened by the presence of saffron-clad monks and beautifully weathered Indochinese architecture.
9. Seville, Spain
Seville is a beautiful and historic city boasting some of Europe’s finest architecture. A heady mixture of palaces, baroque churches, mediaeval laneways and charming streets captivate newcomers.
Flamenco clubs proliferate and the tapas stuns! Vibrant, passionate and intoxicating, Seville is one of Spain’s true jewels.
10. New Orleans, USA
When you mix Caribbean, African and European cultures together, you get New Orleans. A magical and celebratory place tinged with more than a touch of mystery, this is a city of music and parties, food and good times!
It’s visually stunning but with a gritty side that adds more charm than some of the more genteel cities in the South. New Orleans at Mardi Gras is a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.
There’s more than night clubs to New Orleans though…the history is dark and fascinating too and can be experienced in any of the dedicated museums and tours on offer.
11. Havana, Cuba
A beautiful Bohemian city of surprises, Havana is the sort of place which has the ability to surprise even seasoned travellers.
Always a place of rebels, the art scene here is cutting edge and always has been. You can see this in the many amazing museums and galleries. The architecture is a law unto itself with grand facades painted in sherbet colours and mysterious alleyway bars and restaurants serving outstanding food.
It would take a long time to uncover all of Havana’s secrets but one visit will be enough to pique anyone’s interest.
12. New York, USA
Art, architecture, fashion and food…nowhere does any of it like New York. At the cutting edge of theatre and music for decades, this city really is a personality in its own right.
Wherever you go, the buildings have the ability to take your breath away and that’s not just the skyscrapers. Old-world cafes, sleek boutiques, hipster fashion houses and glittering department stores…they’re all here in abundance.
Add Central Park, The Guggenheim and The Met into the mix and you’ve got a winner of a city.
13. Bagan, Myanmar
A city of temples, Bagan is a mystical, magical world where local arts and cuisine have been tempting savvy travellers for a long time.
Situated in central Myanmar (formerly Burma), Bagan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and very unspoiled. Get there sooner rather than later – as more people discover it, its nature may alter.
Currently it retains a somewhat otherworldly feel and is definitely the kind of place where anyone seeking inner peace should visit.
14. Florence, Italy
The birthplace of the Italian fashion industry and home to so many works of art in architecture, sculpture and painting that it’s been a mecca for art students for well over a century; Florence city centre itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A truly awe-inspiring place, Florence is an art-lovers dream where the famous light is a constantly changing feast for the eyes as the day moves from dawn to sunset. Food, art, wine and fashion are what Florence is all about…it’s one of Europe’s greatest treasures.
15. Istanbul, Turkey
Byzantine churches, fabulous mosaics, galleries, museums and festivals are just some of what makes Istanbul so magical.
Marketplaces teeming with beautiful objects, food stalls brimming with the freshest, spiciest fayre…it’s all here for the taking. Boutique style accommodation or swish hotel, the choice is yours!
16. Rome, Italy
A 3000-year-old city is certain to have more than its fair share of beautiful architecture and Rome is no exception.
Once considered the Capital of the World, its awe-inspiring basilicas, The Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, along with mysterious ancient laneways, grand sweeping shopping malls and avenues bring the best of Italy to every visitor.
Fashion, food, art and music are all huge parts of what makes Rome great. Whether you’re dining at a small trattoria or an elegant five-star restaurant, Rome is a place of memories just waiting to be made.
17. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The city suffered enormously in 1991 when it was badly shelled but it has sprung back as only Dubrovnik could.
This ancient, stunningly beautiful walled city was built on passion and it would take a lot to destroy its magic. It’s an unforgettable place, perched as it is on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, with emerald mountains rising up behind it – there’s more than a hint of magic about this place.
18. Tokyo, Japan
A huge, sparkling, enigmatic place where art and fashion meet technological excellence and ancient cultures and history.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Tokyo and first-time visitors will be wowed by the brilliance of the city. From hard-edged and glittering skyscrapers to low roofed, ancient looking dwellings, the city has developed in a truly unique fashion.
Food is everything here, and there are many amazing places to eat, drink and party the night away.
Must-sees include Tsukiji Market, nightlife in Shinjuku and cherry blossoms in Yoyogi-Koen.
19. Krakow, Poland
Once the capital of Poland, Krakow has seen it all.
An ancient city is always going to have more than its fair share of passion and drama and Krakow is no exception.
It’s been reborn more than once, and currently it’s a beautiful, vibrant city that has the best of it all; ancient architecture, a vibrant student community, burgeoning arts scene and some fabulous restaurants and bars.
20. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Coming in at number 20, Buenos Aires is what many call the most sensual city in the world.
Music, both traditional and contemporary, plays a vital part in city life and there are amazing live performances to be found in every corner almost daily. Food and dance, fashion and art…they’re all to be found here in proliferation.
The people of Buenos Aires are warm and welcoming to visitors and any newcomer feels instantly at home. A special place where nobody is a stranger.
Which city will you be visiting in 2020?
These 20 cities represent the best of the best; they each offer something unique and they’re just waiting to be discovered.
One element shared by all of the top 20 greatest cities is that the people who call them home are very much aware of how special their city is. This pride is what keeps them in their positions as the greatest cities in the world.
Sharing in the magic of new places and embarking on fresh adventures is a wonderful part of living in the modern world. Getting to some of these far-flung destinations is easy…it’s going home that’s hard!
Don’t forget if you need help moving to or shipping your belongings to any of the cities or countries on this list, then our team at PSS International Removals will be happy to help!