London, Istanbul, Marrakech, Paris, Prague, Rome, New York, Barcelona, Lisbon, St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Budapest all feature in the top 25.
Ubiquitous amongst travel professionals and holiday makers alike, Trip Advisor has just published the long-awaited resulted of the Travellers’ Choice survey for 2016. Topping the poll of the top 25 destinations across the globe is our very own capital, London, with a fair few of our favourite short break destinations also staking their claim amongst the world’s crème de la crème of cities. Here’s what Trip Advisor has to say about our city break choices…
There’s so much to see and do in London, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Major sights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace are on most visitors’ itineraries, but no matter what your interests, you’ll probably find something here. Art lovers should make a beeline for the National Gallery and the Tate Modern. If military history’s your thing, don’t miss the Cabinet War Rooms. Finally, forget everything you’ve heard about bland, mushy British food—the restaurant scene here is fabulous.
Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, and throughout this vibrant city, you’ll find centuries-old mosques, churches and markets happily co-existing with modern restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. And plan on visiting a hamman (traditional Turkish bath)—for about $20 your skin will be scrubbed clean. And we mean scrubbed. Your wimpy loofah has nothing on this.
Your local farmers’ or flea market may be a fun place to spend a Saturday morning, but it’s got nothing on Marrakech’s markets. Spend a day here to immerse yourself in the spectacle. (Yes, that is, in fact, a snake charmer.)
Everyone who visits Paris for the first time probably has the same punchlist of major attractions to hit: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, etc. Just make sure you leave some time to wander the city’s grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes, bistros and brasseries as possible. And don’t forget the shopping—whether your tastes run to Louis Vuitton or Les Puces (the flea market), you can find it here.
We hear the question, “What’s the next Prague?” a lot. But while we’re all for discovering great new destinations, we hardly think Prague is over. Sure, everyone’s heard of it, but it’s still a grand city with extraordinary historic and cultural sights, and it’s definitely worth a visit. The often-rebuilt Prague Castle has overlooked the city since the 9th century, and the synagogues and cemetery of the Jewish Quarter are must-sees. Nightlife here is diverse and plentiful, from trendy clubs to sophisticated wine bars to late-night cellar bars.
It’s nicknamed the Eternal City for a reason. In Rome, you can drink from a street fountain fed by an ancient aqueduct. Or see the same profile on a statue in the Capitoline Museum and the guy making your cappuccino. (Which, of course, you know never to order after 11 am.) Rome is also a city of contrasts—what other place on earth could be home to both the Vatican and La Dolce Vita?
9. New York City
The first time you go to New York, go ahead and be a sight-seer—everyone should visit the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Times Square, etc. But on a return trip, pick a neighbourhood and go deep. You’ll find hole-in-the-wall bars, great delis, quirky shops… exploring the non-touristy side of New York is an incredibly rewarding experience for a traveller.
Stroll Las Ramblas and enjoy Barcelona’s unique blend of Catalan culture, distinctive architecture, lively nightlife and trendy, stylish hotels. You’ll find Europe’s best-preserved Gothic Quarter here, as well as amazing architectural works by Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi’s masterpiece, is still under construction (your entrance fee helps to fund the project). Feel like a picnic? Look no further than the rambunctious La Boqueria market, where you can stock up on local delicacies.
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, has become an increasingly popular place to visit in recent years, with a warm Mediterranean climate in spite of its place facing the Atlantic Ocean. Full of bleached white limestone buildings and intimate alleyways, Lisbon’s mix of traditional architecture and contemporary culture makes it the perfect place for a family holiday.
As Portugal’s capital, there is a lot to see and do in Lisbon. Even exploring the city centre will take a few days out of a family holiday as there is no real central district, although Praça do Comércio is a good central place to start, in Baxia, or Rossio, the city’s main square which has a sort of Trafalgar Square feel to it. Or you might try climbing up the Cristo Rei, a huge statue of Christ with spectacular views across the whole city. The Castelo de São Jorge also offers great views and isn’t quite such a steep climb.
A short tram ride to the west of Lisbon will also bring you to Belem, where you can explore attractions like the Belem Tower and the Belem Cultural Centre, which features a fantastic art collection including works by Dali, Picasso, Warhol and Magritte. In downtown Lisbon, you’ll also want to visit the Gulbenkian, which has to be Portugal’s answer to the British Museum full of fascinating cultural artifacts and with some superb gardens in the grounds. It’s possible to have a fascinating educational family holiday in Lisbon, and there are also plenty of great beaches to work on your tan.
14. St Petersburg
The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage. Sprawling across the Neva River delta, St. Petersburg offers enough art, nightlife, fine dining and cultural destinations for many repeat visits.
Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine streets can get a little chaotic. Stick to walking and you won’t be disappointed. The gentle canals make a perfect backdrop for exploring the Jordaan and Rembrandtplein square. Pop into the Red Light District if you must—if only so you can say you’ve been there. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have, and the Van Gogh Museum boasts a sensational collection of works.
Over 15 million gallons of water bubble daily into Budapest’s 118 springs and boreholes. The city of spas offers an astounding array of baths, from the sparkling Gellert Baths to the vast 1913 neo-baroque Szechenyi Spa to Rudas Spa, a dramatic 16th-century Turkish pool with original Ottoman architecture. This Travellers’ Choice Destination, called the “Queen of the Danube,” is also steeped in history, culture and natural beauty. Get your camera ready for the Roman ruins of the Aquincum Museum, Heroes’ Square and Statue Park, and the 300-foot dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
London, Istanbul, Marrakech, Paris, Prague, Rome, New York City, Barcelona, Lisbon, St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Budapest copy copyrighted to and adapted from Trip Advisor’s “2016 Travellers’ Choice – Top 25 Destinations – World”.