A Completely Arbitrary List of My 20 Favorite Cities in the World

List of 20 Best Cities To Travel in the World

Every travel magazine, site, and company worth their salt has a “x best cities list.” While yes, some cities do generally feel a little better than others, the truth  is… it’s all subjective. The city that steals one person’s heart may leave another with a stolen wallet, and the pair will return home with two very different tales to tell their friends of foreign hospitality.

So, with that in mind, here’s my ranked list of my 20 favorite cities in the world.

And as they say: I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. Feel free to give me suggestions for cities you think I’d like in the comments!

  1. New York, New York, USA

    IMG_3694.JPGMy climbing partners and friends from home are always baffled when I say New York is my favorite city in the world. After all — there are no mountains. As anyone who knows me can tell, I like playing in the mountains. A lot. But New York City is the center of the world. Everyone here has a dream, has a hustle, and is working towards it. I like that. I like that a lot.

  2. Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina

    IMG_4431I was in Sarajevo for only three days, but the city stole my heart. I cannot wait to go back. I wish I could have seen it before the war, when it was a cosmopolitan world capitol. Now, it is a different place — but it still has an ineffable magic.

  3. Paris, France

    IMG_3903.JPGAmericans will tell you Paris is gross, dirty, and doesn’t live up to the hype. I showed up with these expectations in mind, and was absolutely blown away. One of the world’s great cities, Paris is almost painfully romantic. It deserves every ounce of its reputation.

  4. Boulder, Colorado, USA

    IMG_3634.JPGHome is home, as they say. In all my travels, I have never found a place quite like Boulder. The closest I have ever come is Bozeman, Montana, which you will also find on this list. Boulder offers an amazing mix of old hippies, ambitious young people, college students, and outdoors-loving dirtbags. All nestled at the base of some world-class rock climbing, and only a few hours away from great skiing. For the outdoors-lover, there’s no better place to be. If you can afford it.

  5. Taipei, Taiwan

    Taiwanese Bakery

    One of Taipei’s many amazing bakeries.

    It’s all about the food. Taipei is the most gastronomically-appealing city I’ve ever been to. The street food scene is astonishing, and the people here are friendlier to Westerners than in mainland China (and certainly more likely to speak English!)

  6. Chiang Mai, Thailand

    Doi Suthep bellsDigital-nomad nirvana, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second-largest city, and a magnet for backpackers and digital nomads alike. The people are friendly, the city has a hip attitude which permeates everything, and prices for food and accommodation are cheap. What’s not to like?

  7. Barcelona, Spain (Catalonia)

    IMG_4881.JPGI found myself in Barca for three days at the tail end of my 2-month trip around the Balkans. The Balkans are grey, drab, and generally less-than-cheery. So Barcelona, with its palm trees and sunny, Mediterranean climate, felt like my personal Garden of Eden.

  8. Bozeman, Montana, USA

    IMG_3255.JPGBozeman’s similar to Boulder: a Western university town, with a good, quiet community and great access to the outdoors. I could see myself moving here some day.

  9. Pokhara, Nepal

    Pokhara View From the StupaPokhara itself isn’t that great, but I couldn’t leave Nepal unrepresented on this list. And I certainly wasn’t going to be putting Kathmandu on here. Pokhara’s a nice chilled-out town near the Annapurna Range. There’s a good two-mile long tourist stretch along the lakeside, but if that’s not for you, the rest of the city is pretty local. And the treks in the Annapurna area make for great stories 😉

  10. Taganga, Colombia

    IMG_5962Tagaga initially struck me as a gross, dangerous place. It certainly isn’t pretty, as a German woman warned me in Medellin. The Lonely Planet description of Taganga is more likely to scare you off than draw you in. But I had a great time here, in this tiny fisherman’s village just outside of Santa Marta. I spent three weeks here. When I think of Colombia, I will think of Taganga.

  11. Reykjavik, Iceland

    img_5368A very cool city, besides the eye-wateringly high prices for everything. The aesthetic, vibe, and attitude of the people here was great. I wish I had both a little more money and a little more time to explore this intriguing place. I think it would be an awesome place to study abroad, for example. A week’s vacation just doesn’t cut it.

  12. Kotor, Montenegro

    IMG_4729A cool little town by the bay. A relaxing spot, there’s not a lot to do here, especially if you visit in the off-season like we did. Nonetheless, something about this place was still special. I messaged my travel partner months after we parted ways, telling him I missed him. “You’re telling me,” he said, writing from back home. “I think about Kotor a lot.” That should tell you something.

  13. Tirana, Albania

    IMG_4800I’ll be honest: I was a little nervous going into Albania. I had absolutely no idea what to expect in this country. Mostly, we had to pass through here on our way to Greece. We were initially planning on just spending one night in Tirana, more of a stop-over than a visit. But after seeing the city, we decided to stay two extra nights. And if I had the chance to go back, I’d spend a lot more time in Albania. It’s a fascinating place, just beginning to emerge from a long period of darkness.

  14. Medellin, Colombia

    IMG_5627.JPGAnother digital nomad hotspot, emerging from a long period of darkness, Medellin is beautiful and cosmopolitan — but it didn’t really steal my heart the way I thought it might. It didn’t  help that I was there during the rainy season (April-May).  I did find an awesome hostel while I was there though.

  15. Nashville, Tennessee, USA

    1024px-b-b-_kinge28099s_blues_club_28nashville292c_b-b-_kinge28099s_blues_club_all-star_band_2Another city I wished I had more time in. I only got a one night in Nashville — but the vibe was awesome, both in the hipster neighborhood where we stayed with some friends, and in the famous, honky-tonkin’ downtown. Would definitely love to go back.

  16. Tijuana, Mexico

    070312-A-6950H-002:I had one of the greatest party nights of my life here. That alone earns it a spot on this list. No photos, since we were advised to leave anything we couldn’t part with in San Diego. Which was probably good advice. I’ve got some great memories — the ones the alcohol and shame haven’t obliterated, anyways.

  17. Singapore

    Marina Bay Sands at NightSingapore earns a spot just for their airport. Singapore Changi Airport is the nicest airport in the world — everyone agrees. If you need to layover in this region of the world, try and do so at Changi. The Hawker Centers are also an amazing spot for diverse, cheap food in the city. If you’re a luxury traveler, staying at the Marina Bay Sands is a pretty swell experience, too.

  18. Hong Kong

    Hong Kong SkylineI don’t have great memories of Hong Kong, for obvious reasons, but it’s the only city I’ve ever been to that felt like it rivaled New York in scale. I’m sure there’s so much to this metropolis. I just didn’t have the opportunity to really explore it. Earns a spot for potential.

  19. Budapest, Hungary

    IMG_3753.JPGMy climbing partner Shawn lives in Budapest (read his thoughts on being an expat in Hungary). I went out to visit him for a month, with grand ambitions of climbing our way across Europe. We never left the country — and rarely left the city. Budapest is a cosmopolitan enclave in an insular, dark country. There’s lots to see, the architecture is beautiful, and the low, low Eastern European prices are always nice — especially when drinking at one of Budapest’s famous ruin pubs. $1 for a draft beer is always welcome — as is 200 Forint for a great slice of pizza.

  20. Guatape, Colombia

    IMG_5724.JPGGuatape is very much a tourist town, famous for “El Penon” (the rock) which rises high above the town and provides a killer view from the summit (pictured above). El Penon is worth a visit, as is the extremely colorful city center, but the reason I like this town so much is entirely due to the hostel I stayed at. A thirty-minute walk from town, Casa Kayam Artist Residency is the coolest place I stayed in Colombia. Full of Argentineans and other hippie types, located on a huge plot of land, this place is awesome. I would have stayed here for weeks and done nothing but write, if I wasn’t chasing a girl back in Medellin 😋

To Wrap Up

That’s my totally arbitrary list of my 20 favorite cities in the world! That said, I haven’t visited near enough! What are your favorite cities? Tell me in the comments, and I’ll make sure to try and get there at some point on my travels!

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20 Best World Cities To Visit


32 thoughts on “A Completely Arbitrary List of My 20 Favorite Cities in the World

  1. I agree with you on Changi Airport. Love Barcelona and Budapest also. Iceland nature is beyond words. I would add some places to the list.
    Tijuana??!! No, no, no!! I understood your point, but having such beautiful cities!… why oh why?!
    I dream about going to NZ and some cities of Croatia. But I have a long list also.

  2. Man that’s a great list! I’m going to have to hit up boulder (maybe pick your brain for dirtbag secrets there) and Bozeman. My recent favorite is Lander, Wyoming. Awesome list! I hope to expand mine to something as widespread!

  3. I’m putting in another vote for Lisbon, and if you ever feel like some northwest Africa adventures you should definitely explore Accra and Kumasi and Ghana!

  4. Loved your photos and they brought back found memories. Among my traveling friends they think of me as an oddball for loving Budapest, but I did. Other places you might like are Cinque Terre, Italy, it’s a favorite place as well as the old hill towns in Tuscany. Many Americans also say Venice is dirty, but I found the place magical (but I also love Paris). Third, I’d say Costa Rica, the Guanacaste region not the capital is a place to visit.

    • You can find any type of food you’d like in New York, from low-end street food to some of the fanciest restaurants in the country. Tons of authentic local cuisine from all over the world, as well, due to the huge immigrant populations. I think as far as “foodie” culture goes, LA is considered to outstrip NY, but you definitely have a lifetime of great food in New York 👌🏽

  5. Nafplion in Greece is a great tiny city. It was once the capital of Greece. It has beautiful architecture, waterfront cafes where you can drink ouzo while the sun sets, a main square that is full of lively families after midnight, and, at Café Kentrikon, the best pizza in the entire world!

  6. Great list. The city on your list I most want to go to (and haven’t been) is Sarajevo. Lisbon, Portugal is high on my list – not sure if you’ve been.

    • Sarajevo is amazing! I can’t wait to go back.

      I haven’t been to Lisbon, but I’m scheming on hopefully spending a few days there in late September! Fingers crossed! 🤞

  7. I love your selection of places Daniel. The descriptions and stories with each place are great. The photos are great and some are fabulous – I love the Iceland photo for the composition.

    Many years ago I met a man in Adelaide who had a love affair with Iceland. he had something like 17 holidays purely there. From Australia to Iceland is quite trip. He loved it and the people. Back then it wasn’t on people’s radar like it is today. I thought that I must go there someday. it’s still on my list.

    I am glad you included Nepal. I think if you went back to Kathmandu in twenty years time you will have no trouble. We were not hassled there like you were. Kathmandu is one of those real adrenaline rush cities for me.

    Did you choose the Tirana photo to match with your last sentence in the corresponding text? because it does. The little bit of light in one corner …. Louise

  8. My absolute favourite city is Sydney, Australia closely followed by Vancouver, Canada. Cape Town, South Africa & Bangkok, Thailand also stick in my mind. As you say though, it’s highly subjective as my least favourite cities are Delhi, India; London, England; New York, USA and Paris, France. All because of the type of experience I had there.

  9. Interesting list but only New York, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Paris make my top 20 which would also include Tokyo, Melbourne, London, Hamburg and Siena.

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