Famous cities of the world. Paris, France This one's a given, right? Paris

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Famous cities of the world
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Famous cities of the world.

Paris, France

This one's a given, right? Paris is a place where romance and history play side by side. Cafés line cobblestone streets, beautiful people stroll along the Seine at all hours, and every neighborhood seems to have its own iconic landmark, be it the Notre Dame, Sacré-Coeur, or Eiffel Tower.

Doha, Qatar

If you think Dubai needs a low-dose chill pill prescription, then you might find Doha to be more your cup of tea. Founded on a turquoise bay in the 1820s, this former fishing village is lined with Emerald City-esque skyscrapers, the colorful Souq Waqif, and the I. M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art. (Get ready to see more of the city as Qatar gears up to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

You know Amsterdam's oh-so-famous central canal, rightly dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Add to that swathes of green spaces, storied red-brick facades, and museums filled with Van Gogh paintings, and you have yourself one of Europe's most gorgeous cultural epicenters.

Venice, Italy

There's nowhere on Earth quite like Venice: Its canals, labyrinth of car-free cobblestone streets, and hidden passageways are perfect for wandering. Hail a water taxi or gondola to wind through the city and, if you have time, get out of the historic center and head for the outer islands.

Kyoto, Japan

Visiting Japan's imperial capital is like taking a step back in time. Some 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines are ready to entrance visitors, and you might even spot a geisha while strolling the city's leafy, craft shop-lined streets. For those desperately seeking cherry blossoms, fear not: Kyoto Botanical Garden and Philosopher's Path are some of Japan's most popular spots for hanami.

Barcelona, Spain

You can't talk about Barcelona without mentioning Antoni Gaudí, the Catalan architect who left his mark all over the city. A walk around town leads you through his undulating stonework and ironwork, which include Park Güell and culminate in his unfinished masterpiece La Sagrada Família. It's not just about colorful mosaics, though: From the mountains to the beach, the historic to the contemporary, sunny Barcelona pretty much has it all.

Athens, Greece

One of the world’s oldest cities is brimming with new life these days, but the appeal of Athens' beauty is its healthy mix of ancient and modern. Get your dose of history at the Acropolis, which provides both close-up views of the Parthenon and panoramic views of the city from its hilltop. Get similarly sweeping views without the heavy footwork at Lykavittos Hill, reachable via cable car. After all that antiquity, devote an afternoon to a site that's only a couple years old: The Renzo Piano-designed, $623 million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which houses the National Opera and the National Library of Greece.

Sydney, Australia

It's almost not fair how pretty Sydney is. Australia’s biggest city benefits from a waterfront culture, with locals hopping on ferries to commute home—or play—on Bondi, Manly, and Coogee beaches, and the dramatic Sydney Opera House standing sentry in the harbor.

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut's seaside glamour rivals that of any European riviera, with posh beach clubs and rooftop bars, palm tree-lined promenades, and hidden courtyards filled with bougainvillea. But here, glossy high-rises are juxtaposed against centuries-old mosques and souks, giving the city a timeless appeal you won't find anywhere else.

Lisbon, Portugal

You can't walk down a street in Lisbon without spotting something beautiful. Just check out the terra-cotta roofs of Alfama, or the neo-classical architecture on the riverfront Praça do Comércio. But really, the visual appeal of Lisbon can be summed up in just three words: tiles, tiles, tiles.

Florence, Italy

Italy has no shortage of beautiful cities, but Florence remains unrivaled in history, art, and architecture. You'll find traces of Renaissance aesthetics all over town, like the striking Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) and Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Meanwhile, Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi remain essential photo backdrops.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul continues to draw us in, whether it's through the frenetic opulence of the Grand Bazaar or the old-meets-new aesthetic of Karaköy. But the architecture still shines brightest here, with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia featuring prominent displays of both Byzantine and Ottoman styles: Think massive domes, colored mosaics, minarets, and Islamic calligraphy.

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is impressive from many angles—beneath the towering skyscrapers, or from a ferry crossing Victoria Harbour—but you can see its finest side from the air. As your flight approaches the city, it feels like the mist parts and reveals a modern paradise, where hilly islands surround a concrete jungle. Best. Skyline. Ever.

Jerusalem, Israel

Long a place of religious pilgrimage, Jerusalem is now drawing a different sort of pilgrim: the global traveler. The city's monuments of faith—like the Western Wall or the Dome of the Rock—are still spectacular, of course; but the influx of design hotels and buzzy restaurants in open-air markets are reinventing Jerusalem from the ground up. It's amazing how a city that dates to the fourth millennium B.C. still manages to surprise us.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

There are few places that better capture the grand soul of maritime Old Europe than Dubrovnik. The city played King's Landing in Game of Thrones, and was formerly the capital of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa, rival to Italy's Venice and Amalfi. Dubrovnik's crown jewel is the lovely old town of Stari Grad, whose convents, palaces, and fountains were cut from the same lightly colored stone.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Beloved for its endless green hills and fascinating history, Edinburgh looks great in all seasons. Aside from its beautiful Gothic buildings, cobblestoned Royal Mile, and 12th-century castle keeping watch on a hilltop, it also happens to have an extinct volcano within its parameters. Take that, Paris.

Hamburg, Germany

Love the canals of Amsterdam and Venice? Germany’s second largest city reportedly has more than both cities—combined. Float through the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district and past the 19th-century Town Hall, or stay on dry land to tour the 170,000-square-foot, $1 billion Elbphilharmonie concert venue.

Jaipur, India

Rajasthan's capital, a.k.a. the Pink City, isn't the kind of place to hide its true colors. The city’s maharaja, Sawai Ram Singh II, ordered the buildings be painted an orangey-pink color in 1876 for a royal visit from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria; many buildings in the city’s old town remain painted this color today.

London, U.K.

London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, with history (Westminster Abbey) and models of modernity (London Eye, The Gherkin) mingling on the Thames. Art and literature seem to seep out of the city's walls—and in recent years, London has glammed up even more, with contemporary art galleries and boutique retailers adding some glimmer to formerly seedy areas.

New York, New York

New York's beauty is multi-sensory: It's the historic architecture, from the Flatiron Building to One World Trade Center. It's the feel of grass beneath your feet (and the smell of roasted nuts) in Central Park. It's the art of the Met, MoMa, and Frick. But most of all, it's the sight of beautiful, diverse people walking the city streets with heads held high.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio has some of the loveliest stretches of sand in the world, from Copacabana to Ipanema. Christ the Redeemer watches over the entire coastline, where a vibrant city seems to dance down to the sea and mellow as it floats off on a stand-up paddleboard.

Rome, Italy

Rome captivates travelers in ways few cities can—chalk it up to world-class architecture, impossibly narrow cobblestone vicoli, and museums filled with artistic masterpieces. Call us sentimental, but we still stop dead in our tracks at the first glimpse of the Pantheon as we turn into the Piazza della Rotonda.


Singapore is a superlative city, with elaborate temples, extraordinary gardens, and world-class architecture (check out the candy-colored houses on Koon Seng Road). The beauty here is both natural and man-made, with travelers seeking out the city's tropical jungle in the Botanic Garden and the wild, technicolor Gardens by the Bay. As an added bonus, you can reach everything via some of the cleanest streets and subways we've ever seen.

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