The 10 best cities in the world
Quebec City, Quebec
10. QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC, CANADA Readers' Choice Rating: 82.7
Thanks to its "old-world charm," "awesome historic assets" and "great shopping," our readers think of Quebec City as "a little jewel with good food and wonderful artisan work." "A beautiful, historic European city right here in North America!" Whether they strolled on the boardwalk, biked around town, or visited the Christmas markets, our readers found this Canadian destination "romantic" and "picturesque," it's a "must-do if in Quebec."
9. SIENA, ITALY Readers' Choice Rating: 82.9
Called a "timeless place where one needs only to soak in the ambience," Siena has so much to offer that even one reader, who has been to the city 18 times, is still finding new food and cultural experiences. Others praise it as "quieter than Rome and Florence, but jam-packed with history and culture amid rolling Tuscan hillsides."
8. ROME, ITALY
Readers' Choice Rating: 83
Rome has "endless exploration opportunities." "It is not a one-time destination so you can return again and again and always see something new." "Food, restaurants, service people, and easiness of getting around are better than any American city."
7. VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Readers' Choice Rating: 83.1
"Drenched in music, history and the arts," Vienna earned high marks from readers. Not that anyone would find that suprising. "Classical music opportunities are out of this world and you can hear great music in beautiful venues."
San Sebastian, Spain
5. SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN Readers' Choice Rating: 83.2
Which city can rightly be called the food capital of Europe? No, not Paris. Copenhagen? Try San Sebastián, a Basque beauty with stunning coastline and serious culinary cred: It just happens to have a slew Michelin stars—16 and counting. And the food is the main reason our readers rave about it. All you need to do here is "eat, eat, and eat."
Charleston, South Carolina
5. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA, U.S. Readers' Choice Rating: 83.2
With "sand, sun, history, good food, and friendly people," Charleston is a consistent hit with the travelers who venture to this "gracious and beautiful" city (in fact, it's taken first place our list of Top 10 Cities in the United States for three years now and been rated as the friendliest). Nearby beaches and impressive architecture draw visitors, but it's the "insanely nice" locals who enhance "magnificent" bed and breakfasts and "amazing shopping." "The charm of this city brings me back every year," praised one devoted fan. "The food, history, architecture and people are wonderful," said one reader. "A bucket list city!"
4. SALZBURG, AUSTRIA Readers' Choice Rating: 83.3
Salzburg is a "pleasant little town" that is "one of the truly European cities still left." Most famous as the hometown of Mozart (and those other musical geniuses, the Von Trapps), Salzburg will "transport you back in time." It's the perfect place for "folks who still care about culture and history."
2. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY Readers' Choice Rating: 83.8
The "classic masterpiece" of a city gives off a "different feeling than other European cities." There is "so much to see, great food and easy navigation," one reader said. The "gorgeous residences and buildings" are "gracious and grand." "Everything about Budapest was entrancing."
2. FLORENCE, ITALY Readers' Choice Rating: 83.8
The art-centric Florence boasts "food out of this world." This Italian city was not only a hit with the thousands of readers who participated in our survey this year, but it was also the location chosen by our 2012 Dream Trip Photo Contest winner—after winning a $25,000 trip of a lifetime, Florence is where he wanted to take his family.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
1. SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO Reader's Choice Rating: 84.6
San Miguel de Allende nabbed the No. 1 spot thanks to its "great atmosphere, excellent restaurants, culture and ambiance galore." The "lack of street lights and billboards" makes the region "romantically and historically beautiful, and the city itself offers a "traditional feeling of a small town in the heart of Mexico." "An amazing place to be."