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Visiting the World's Most Livable Cities

Every year Monocle, the magazine for globetrotting hipsters, compiles a list of the most livable cities in the world. What makes these cities so livable—bicycle lanes, independent retail shops, reliable mass transit, cafes serving artisanal greenmarket food—are also qualities that make them the most visitable.

Using our Top 20 deals and other great sales, travelers can easily and affordably plan a vacation -- or a relocation -- to the top 20 cities:

There’s something in the air in Northern Europe that makes it irresistible to Monocle, which has filled its top spots with Nordic cities. Or maybe it’s what’s not in the air, as Helsinki (city No. 1), Copenhagen (No. 3) and Stockholm (No. 11) are praised for their pollution-free skies and stunning urban cleanliness. It’s not unusual to see locals taking a dip in the crystal-clear downtown waterways. This fare sale from Scandinavian Airlines goes to all three places.

This ten-city tour includes a stop in Munich (No. 4), which is pulling itself together in an effort to win a 2018 winter Olympics bid. Check out its scenic old town or slosh together with travelers and locals at one of the many beer halls.

Vienna (No. 6) is adored for its rich architectural record of Austrian power. Tour the city’s opera house and Hofburg Palace, then opt for a Mozart concert as part of this three-city package.

Elsewhere in central Europe, this Lufthansa deal will bring travelers to Zurich (No. 2) and Berlin (No. 8). The former city is praised for its thoughtful (and obviously punctual) urban renewal projects which are bringing modern architecture to the Swiss capital. The latter city, already years into its cultural upswing, continues to regenerate forgotten neighborhoods into hip new districts.

Madrid (No. 10) has worked mightily to expel vehicle congestion and expand pedestrian zones, resulting in acres of new parks and shopping areas. Explore these spots along with some historic Spanish palaces with this three-city Spain vacation that starts in Barcelona (No. 14), a gritty, lively city pulsing with tantalizing nightlife and dreamlike architecture.

There are always a bajillion reasons to go to Paris (No. 12), including any one of these deals. Although most visitors and locals adore the meticulously preserved 19th century grandeur of the buildings and parks, the city is also getting noticed for its forward-thinking Greater Paris plan that will link the center to the ring suburbs as well as usher in bolder, taller buildings.

Europe is not the only livable continent in this survey. Plenty of praise goes Down Under, where Melbourne (No. 5) is lauded for a planned rejuvenation of its industrial docklands into a dining/leisure/entertainment/working district. Sydney (No. 7) also gets high marks for an expanding retail scene. Save money for shopping in either city with this package deal that visits both. Or book this package and stop in Auckland (No. 13), which is sprucing up its downtown with fancy restaurants and more in anticipation of this fall’s Rugby World Cup.

Head up the Pacific with cheap flights to Tokyo (No. 9), perennially praised for its exemplary hospitality, world-class cuisine and high-end shopping. Fukuoka (No. 16) is a short connection away and, as a hub of Asian Pacific trade, is an exhilarating fusion of cultures, tastes and nightlife.

Nearby Hong Kong (No. 17) is quickly becoming a regional art powerhouse, hosting art fairs and auctions, aided by the construction of a new arts neighborhood. Spend two nights in the city with this package before heading to Singapore (No. 15), a masterfully efficient, clean, educated metropolis slowly building a reputation for its cuisine, fashion and culture.

The livability list heads toward North America with a stop in Honolulu (No. 19), where a growing business scene means visitors don’t have to stray too far from the beach to get some work done. Conducting a conference call from one of these oceanview rooms is a none-too-shabby office alternative.

Gold List-worthy dining and the world-class Oregon symphony are two of the reasons to settle in Portland (No. 18) for a weekend or longer. Independent businesses run the show, with unique cooking, fashions, crafts and music soaking through every street of this riverside city.

The verdant, fertile parks and gleaming blue waters that surround Vancouver (No. 20) have helped fill the Canadian city’s dishes and tables with fresh local produce, creating a vibrant dining scene. Tuck into one of the city’s best dinners for half price, featuring Alberta beef or just-caught seafood.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, New York
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
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Ryan Haase