Travelzoo Picks: Our Favourite Global Cities
Not all cities are created equal, and that's a good thing. Innovative architecture, a vibrant cultural life, smart accommodations, a buzzing food scene and top-notch attractions are all underpinnings that make a city great, but for a place to truly be world-class, it has to offer something extra.
The magic of the world's best cities comes from the profound sense of place they instill — the sights and sounds, the streets and neighbourhoods, the distinct experiences unlike anywhere else. Those influential characteristics shape perceptions that are different for every visitor.
Read on to discover the favourite global cities of our Deal Experts, the places we love and the ones we're dreaming about visiting soon. For those looking forward to travel's return, we've negotiated exclusive savings at extraordinary hotels in cosmopolitan centres around the world.
"Barcelona is all curves. From the looping panot sidewalk tiles to the wavy benches in Gaudi’s Park Guell, the whole city feels like it’s swaying. Heck — you can’t even cross the street without swerving, because city blocks are rounded, not square.
When I go back, I want to get into the rhythm of it again: dining at tapas bars where the menus change daily, swirling a dark glass of red wine late at night. I can’t wait to stare up at La Sagrada Familia, and step inside, and be humbled by the forest of stone columns breathing within." — Brittney Wong
New York City
"New York is the cultural capital of the world and with that comes energy on the streets of the city that is unlike anywhere else. It's the epicentre of expertise, and everyone in the city knows it. It was in New York where a stranger sitting on the sidewalk lectured me as I walked by, 'you gotta have talent to make it here, talent.'
The city is an urbanist's dream, incredibly walkable and easy to get around on public transport. It's home to some of the most expensive real estate on the globe, yet dedicates 843 acres of its land to what's possibly the world’s greatest city park. New York City offers a plethora of free activities, yet if you wish to splurge it's also home to the best dining, shopping and entertainment in the world. It’s one of the most hyped cities in the world and completely lives up to that hype." — Darren Moore
"Many years ago, I stumbled off the overnight train from Berlin into Prague’s railway station so early that the metro wasn’t even running yet, which gave me time to decipher the Czech station names. I finally emerged into Old Town Square around 6 a.m. (per the famed medieval Astronomical Clock), and the historic city centre was nearly empty. This dawn viewing of the Golden City’s honeyed square, with its churches, town halls and Neo-Gothic townhouses all in clear view, ranks as one of my favourite travel memories ever.
If I went back to Prague now, I’d walk all over the city, enjoy the view from the bridges, and pay homage to the Mozart statue outside the Estates Theater, where the legendary composer premiered 'Don Giovanni' in 1787. I’d also come prepared with reusable bags; on my first trip, I bought a half-dozen tall cans of Czech pilsner to take back to my new friends at the youth hostel, only to find that the vendor didn’t have bags. He refused to refund my money so I stubbornly juggled the cans in my arms throughout the longish bus ride to the hostel. It’s not my fondest travel memory, but it still makes me smile." — Susan Catto
"Golden beaches, weather of the gods and an idyllic intermingling of land and sea — Sydney effortlessly mixes cosmopolitan glamour with an easy-breezy and sun-kissed lifestyle. I've had the chance to visit Australia’s largest city on several occasions and it's a summer wonderland that has it all — from hip 'hoods and a colourful arts-and-culture calendar to a dizzying array of landmarks and a stunning harbour setting.
Where else can you wake up to a coastal walk and the best cup of coffee you've ever had (seriously, you've never had gourmet roast until you've perked up in Sydney), go for a surf or swim in rock pools and then dine al fresco on inventive and global dishes by the water? And if you want to stay up late, the city’s nightlife scene has everything from intimate cocktail bars (gin is a big thing in Sydney) to all-night ragers on the beach." — Dean Seguin
"Tokyo has been the go-to city for me over the years and after one visit, you'll certainly see why. Aside from the opportunity to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, you can do so in one of the most vibrant cities on Earth. Every time I go, I discover something new I suddenly become passionate about — whether it be picture-perfect shrines and temples, an unbelievable food scene or neon-lined streets with all the shops you could ever want. The moment the plane takes off to head home, I want to turn around and go back for more." — William Brown
"Dublin was the very first overseas city I ever stepped foot in, and you never forget your first. I've been lucky enough to revisit on a few occasions — once even on St. Patrick's Day — and that feeling, that butterfly-in-your-stomach, giddy-heart feeling is always there when I arrive. Maybe it's the nostalgia of my first trip abroad, or maybe it's all the hidden gems — the parks, pubs and shops — that make it so special to me. Or, maybe it's just because Dublin is truly a magical place. Whatever it is, I can't wait to get back and place my hand on a cold stone of the Mellows Bridge and revel in the way the Liffey turns glittery gold at night." — Mandy Michals
"We visited Copenhagen a few years ago and were blown away by the vibrant café culture and incredible urban design. We had originally planned to visit museums and landmarks as we had in other European cities but soon realized that the real attraction was the city itself. We explored the nascent Nordic dining scene, mingled with friendly locals and explored the artful city parks. One of our most memorable afternoons was spent cycling through the Nyhavn, a historic residential district with colourful, nautically inspired architecture that was once home to Hans Christian Andersen." — Dana Skogstad
"My list of favourite cities around the world is long but Bangkok holds a special place in my heart. It was the first international trip that I ever took, with a couple of girlfriends, and it's an experience we still reminisce about 12 years later. Spending the day bargain hunting in the bustling malls, exploring history and architecture at the Grand Palace and ending the day sipping martinis at a rooftop bar 61 floors above the bustling streets of Bangkok made for some fantastic memories, and I can't wait to return." — Varuni Sakhalkar
"I binged the show 'Emily in Paris' all in one night and it brought back so many memories of when I lived in France a few years ago. I would love to go back to Paris and reconnect with old friends, indulge in all the freshly baked croissants and local wines. There is something magical about the City of Lights that never gets old and I frequently find myself daydreaming about my next trip back. Maybe I will take a workcation and work remotely from a sidewalk cafe? The ultimate dream!" — Lilia Akhavan
"We expected Barcelona or maybe Valencia to be the highlight of a trip to Spain but Madrid stole our hearts. The endless winding streets and wide majestic avenues intertwined with coffee shops, tapas restaurants and bars makes Madrid an unforgettable experience.
No agenda was the best agenda as we discovered the city anew each day with so many amazing options for food and drink everywhere. The modern yet bohemian vibe let us escape to a slower pace of life and really enjoy our vacation. If you love large attractions like galleries, museums or palaces, Madrid offers that as well, but it's the small city charm of Spain’s capital that makes it so magical." — Matt Gilbert
"I’ve always been attracted to the chaos of big cities so it’s shocking to me that Los Angeles remains on my bucket list. This city comes with everything I love; coastal views, warm sun and a diverse population with influences from all over the world. The free-spirited Venice Beach fits my style, but I’m also very interested in seeing a path-less-travelled California where I can spend a long period of time exploring the cultures and sights, like Big Sur and Joshua Tree National Park." — Amanda Ieraci
"It was the year 2011, and my best friend and I pushed on to spend New Year's Eve away from home despite a lot of talk that 2012 was the year the world would end (we didn't take much stock in the talk, of course). We stayed up till midnight to countdown to the new year and were rewarded with views of the majestic Acropolis with dazzling fireworks lighting up the night sky all from the comfort of our home away from home. We also visited Cape Sounion outside of the city, known for its Temple of Poseidon and a must-see for its beautiful vistas and Insta-friendly spots. But more than just the city's iconic monuments, what made the trip memorable was the locals who went from strangers to friends, inviting us to a family Christmas Eve dinner, playing chess after lunch, and showing us the best places to dine.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Greek food, I became hooked on olives, grilled meat, feta cheese and vinsanto!" — Monica Goh
“'Singapore' often conjures up the glittering Marina Bay Sands resort or electrified Supertrees. But when I think of the metropolis, I picture pastel-painted Peranakan homes lined up in a row. I smell tiny orchids at the city gardens, or spicy laksa noodles served on a hawker centre tray, or curries ladled onto a banana-leaf plate in Little India. I imagine sipping a long-poured tea on an Arab Street patio, people-watching in the sun." — Brittney Wong
"Travelling to Kiev, Ukraine, was a random, spur-of-the-moment adventure filled with incredible food, speakeasies and architecture. The people were kind and there was an endless amount of gorgeous cathedrals and monasteries. It's also a super affordable city to visit." — Sammy Bulgatz
“One of my favourite city breaks of the last few years was in the Colombian port city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. The vibrant and colourful culture is what drew me in and it is what will keep me coming back. By the sea is the walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, with cobblestone streets, historic squares and colourful colonial buildings. I recommend getting lost in the winding laneways, where you will find street food vendors serving up hot arepas and sidewalk cafes where you can get a cup of authentic Colombian coffee.” — Lilia Akhavan