The 20 best destinations for city trips worldwide

A new international ranking presents the 100 most attractive cities to visit. Europe clearly performs best here. We present the top 20 of the ranking. There are also two German metropolises among them.

Small but nice – and right on your doorstep: Europe offers the most highlights in the world when it comes to city trips. This is the conclusion reached by the global market research institute Euromonitor International. 63 cities in Europe made it into its current ranking “Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023”.

With seven destinations in the top ten and one at the top, the old continent clearly dominates the hit list that the institute determined together with the data company Lighthouse. 55 different criteria were examined in six categories: 1) economic and business performance, 2) tourism performance, 3) tourism infrastructure, 4) tourism policy and attractiveness, 5) health and safety, 6) sustainability.

And these are the front runners:

1st place: Paris, France

The city of love is and remains the front runner. In 2022 it led the “Top 100 City Destinations Index” and in 2023 it made it to first place again. Eiffel Tower, Elysée Palace, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Montmartre, Center Pompidou – the city on the Seine is always worth a visit. In its combination of chic and romanticism, it is as timeless as the legacy of its celebrities at the Père Lachaise cemetery – Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Albert Camus, Édith Piaf, Jim Morrison and many others.

For a room price starting at 2,000 euros, visitors can check into the legendary “Ritz Paris” hotel and join the exclusive circle of its guests – including Rudolph Valentino, Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel, who lived here for over three decades until her death in 1971. And As if Paris didn’t have enough to offer, this year it is hosting a double mega event: the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.

It’s a good thing that there has been a night train from the German to the French capital again since the end of 2023. The ÖBB Nightjet 40424 runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Berlin to Paris via Halle/Saale, Erfurt, Frankfurt/Main and Strasbourg . From autumn onwards it will run daily.

2nd place: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The capital of the emirate of Dubai is the only non-European city in the top three – like last year. The glittering metropolis attracts hordes of holidaymakers from all over the world with its gigantic skyscrapers, artificial islands, beach resorts and shopping temples. 16.8 million international arrivals were recorded there in 2023, according to Euromonitor International – 18 percent more compared to 2022.

This puts Dubai in third place in terms of arrival numbers after Istanbul (20.2 million, 26 percent increase) and London (18.8 million, 17 percent). In general, international tourism has continued to noticeably recover since the slump caused by the pandemic: there was an increase of 38 percent worldwide, reports the market research institute.

3rd place: Madrid, Spain

Rich in culture, a cheerful atmosphere, good restaurants and an exciting nightlife : Madrid is so popular that it reached third place in the “Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023”. Spain’s capital climbed one place higher compared to the previous year. One reason for this is likely to be the new Madrid City Card, which will be introduced in spring 2023. It also includes the tourist ticket for free use of public transport.

The official tourist card also offers discounts at museums and other cultural and leisure facilities. And the Fast Pass , the license to skip ahead: cardholders are allowed to skip the queue at some of the most important attractions. For example at the royal palace. Or the Prado Museum, one of the best art museums in the world. Visitors can see originals by numerous Spanish, German, Flemish and Italian masters, including El Greco, Dürer, Rubens, Tiziano, Velázquez and Goya.

4th place: Tokyo, Japan

Surprise in Japanese: Tokyo has made it into the top ten of the annual city ranking for the first time. Euromonitor justifies this with the improved tourist infrastructure. In addition, more tourists came after the Corona measures were relaxed and the yen lost its value. Holidays in Japan’s capital have become much cheaper, so hotel bookings have skyrocketed.

The cosmopolitan city has a lot to offer anyway – from historic temples to sparkling skyscrapers to bizarre oddities like the digital Akita dog at Shibuya train station. Since July he has been jumping around on eight electronic billboards. It is reminiscent of the most famous dog in Japan: Hachiko, who waited at this very train station every evening for his owner to come home from work – even for nine years after the man had already died. There has been a statue of the faithful beast at Shibuya Station since 1934.

5th place: Amsterdam, Netherlands

This year , the capital of the Netherlands is once again in the top five in the ranking of the most attractive city destinations. Characterized by picturesque canals, pretty gabled facades and numerous cyclists, Amsterdam offers a relaxed atmosphere and lots of culture, for example in the museum district with the Van Gogh Museum or the Stedelijk Museum for modern art.

On the other hand, the city has been a stronghold for party tourists for years, who arrive on low-cost airlines specifically to smoke weed, drink and visit the famous red light district. However, the city had had enough of the harassment from riot tourists. At the beginning of 2023, she launched the online campaign “Stay Away” to deter young men looking for wild nights.

Public consumption of cannabis has been prohibited in the old center since May 2023. In the fall, the city announced that it would increase tourism taxes in 2024, causing hotel room prices to rise. The money should flow into social projects and infrastructure. The “Renew your view on Amsterdam” initiative shows that the city is aiming for a change in tourism – more class instead of quantity.

6th place: Berlin, Germany

Two places up for the German capital: Berlin was the only German city in the top ten of the Euromonitor ranking last year, albeit in eighth place. The fact that it has now been able to climb further is probably due to the metropolis’s many efforts to increase and improve tourism. For example, in the area of ​​sustainability: The new “Sustainable Tourism Berlin” initiative was launched in December 2022 – and Berlin also reached sixth place in the current “Global Destination Sustainability Index”.

World-famous for its party scene, Berlin offers numerous highlights: the Museum Island (one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites), the East Side Gallery (at 1,316 meters the longest surviving piece of the Berlin Wall), international events such as the Berlin Marathon, the Berlinale, and the Carnival of cultures or the world’s largest travel trade fair ITB Berlin.

For the first half of 2023, Berlin’s accommodation providers had 5.7 million guests with 13.8 million overnight stays – 30.2 percent more guests and 23.9 percent more overnight stays than in the previous year. Munich made it into the top 20 of the current ranking with 12th place.

7th place: Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Roman Forum, magnificent churches, romantic squares: the Eternal City is popular worldwide as a city of art and culture. Ancient relics are a natural part of the cityscape, but at the same time the metropolis always offers new highlights. Also with the accommodations; The luxurious “Bulgari Hotel Roma” opened in a pretty building from the 1930s in the Campo Marzio district in 2023.

With Plan Futuroma, the city developed a tourism strategy in 2019 that is intended to make Rome even more attractive by 2025. The ambitious goals include making Rome one of the most attractive cities in the world, while avoiding overtourism, protecting cultural heritage, and being sustainably profitable – a vibrant smart city with historical backdrops.

8. New York , USA

New York City consistently earns its spot among the top 20 destinations for city trips globally due to a myriad of attractions and features. The city’s skyline, adorned with iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, creates a visually captivating environment. Cultural diversity thrives in NYC, offering a dynamic experience with a rich tapestry of cuisines, languages, and events. Its world-class entertainment, encompassing Broadway shows, renowned museums, and a bustling nightlife, provides an unparalleled cultural experience. Additionally, the city’s shopping districts, such as Fifth Avenue and SoHo, cater to diverse tastes, and its efficient public transportation system makes exploring neighborhoods and historical sites easily accessible. With its vibrant history, architectural marvels, and a constant stream of cultural events, New York City continues to be a top choice for those seeking an unforgettable city trip.

9. Barcelona, ​​Spain

Renowned for its unique blend of historic charm and modern vibrancy, Barcelona boasts architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudí, including the iconic Sagrada Família and Park Güell. The city’s distinctive Catalan culture is showcased in its lively neighborhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter and El Raval, where visitors can explore narrow streets, historic buildings, and vibrant street life.

In addition to its architectural and cultural allure, Barcelona’s Mediterranean location provides stunning beaches, adding a coastal element to the city experience. The city’s culinary scene is celebrated globally, offering a diverse array of tapas, seafood, and traditional Catalan dishes. With a thriving arts and music scene, world-class shopping along avenues like Passeig de Gràcia, and a commitment to sustainability and green spaces, Barcelona provides a well-rounded and enriching city trip experience for travelers from around the world.

10. London, UK

11. Singapore

12. Munich, Germany

13. Milan, Italy

14. Seoul, South Korea

15. Dublin, Ireland

16. Osaka, Japan

17. Hongkong, China

18. Vienna , Austria

19. Los Angeles, USA

20. Lisbon, Portugal

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