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TravelThe 50 best cities in the world in 2024

The 50 best cities in the world in 2024

What makes a city great? Some would say it’s all about buzzing neighbourhoods, affordable food and drink and a mighty selection of things to do, from art galleries and museums to live music and theatre. Others might highlight things like the happiness of its locals, access to green space and strong community vibes.

We factor in all that and more in our annual survey, which asks city-dwellers around the world to tell us what it’s like to live, work and play in their hometowns right now. Thanks to the opinions and insights of locals on the ground and our global network of city experts, we’re able to create a global ranking of the world’s best cities – and the 2024 results are in.

As in previous years, the basis of the ranking remains our global survey of the people who know their city best: the locals. Working with research company Potentia Insight, we surveyed thousands of city-dwellers about the quality and affordability of food, culture and nightlife in their city. We also asked locals how their city makes them feel: are they happy there? Is it a beautiful place? Is it easy to make social connections? Their thousands of responses gave us a unique insight into the reality of living in the world’s greatest cities right now.

Now that international travel is forecast to bounce back to the highest levels since 2019, many travellers will be planning a city break this year – so in 2024, we added a little extra weight to a city’s global appeal. Each survey respondent was asked which other city they would most like to live in, and we polled more than 100 well-travelled Time Out staff writers and editors, based all over the world, for their take on which cities are particularly exciting places to visit right now. 

So, ready to find out which cities came out on top this year? On your marks, get set…

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The 50 best cities in the world for 2024

New York

Photograph: Massimo Salesi / Shutterstock.com

1. New York

What makes us great: You know it as ‘the city that never sleeps’ because many of its restaurants, bars and shops are open 24 hours a day, but the adage extends to New York’s spirit, too. This vibrant metropolis is always adapting, always innovating and always pushing the boundaries. It’s never asleep. It’s fully awake. That means constant must-see exhibits across the city’s galleries and museums, including the MoMA, the Whitney and the American Museum of Natural History. Its neighbourhoods hold the foundation together with their respective community-led events like the Queens Night Market in Flushing, the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown and the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights. No matter the time of year, there’s always a good party to go to, from a ‘Sip and Stitch’ gathering inside a designer’s Chelsea studio to the all-out blowouts at Bushwick’s House of Yes. All of this set within the historic boundaries of the city makes NYC shine despite its grit.

Visit now because: NYC is having an incredibly busy Broadway season this spring. Not only are top-rated shows like Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ continuing, but the city will see a deluge of new productions, including the highly-anticipated ‘The Notebook’, ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘The Who’s Tommy’Make sure to bookmark our guide to upcoming Broadway shows now. 

The big numbers: There’s no denying the allure of the Big Apple. When it came to the city people wanted to move to most, New York was head and shoulders above the rest, with 15 percent of survey respondents saying they’d relocate there in a heartbeat.

📍 Discover the best things to do in New York Cityhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/RkN1n4iNIvU?si=Z5-ZE8My98pkze3BShaye WeaverEditor, Time Out New York

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Cape Town

Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Cape Town

What makes us great: With Table Mountain – laced with well-marked walking trails – at the heart of a peninsula fringed by glorious beaches, it’s not hard to be smitten by Cape Town’s natural beauty. But spend a few days here and the Mother City’s multicultural soul quickly shines through. In the District Six Museum and on Robben Island you’ll get to grips with the country’s turbulent history (remember that South Africa marks 30 years of democracy in 2024), while the colourful homes of Bo-Kaap are an invitation to discover the city’s vibrant Cape Malay community. More and more visitors are using tourist dollars to support independent businesses in townships, while Cape Town’s creative landscape is alive with new energy. Studios, galleries and public events abound – come for the Investec Cape Town Art Fair each February – while Cape Town is also famously the most LGBTQ+-friendly city on the continent.   

Visit now because: The new Time Out Market Cape Town is buzzing! You’ll find a dozen of the city’s most creative chefs under a single roof, all set within an historic building on the charming harbourside V&A Waterfront. 

The big numbers: Cape Town scored highly across the board. A whopping 100 percent of locals said the city is beautiful and that it made them happy, while Cape Town’s culture scene ranked highest in the world for its quality. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Cape TownRichard HolmesContributor, South Africa

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Berlin

Photograph: hanohiki / Shutterstock.com

3. Berlin

What makes us great: Berlin is so much more than its clubs, its galleries, and its reputation as the European capital of cool. The city might not be known for its friendliness, but Berliners are the heart and soul of the German capital. Whether you’re posted up at a smokey pub in Neukölln for people watching, finding your footing on the dancefloor in Friedrichshain, or making your voice heard at any number of community-led protests in Kreuzberg, you’re sure to find your place with likeminded people in Berlin. Getting between the 12 districts with public transportation is easy, but renting a bike is a great way to see the city. Bike lanes criss-cross the capital, and there are seemingly endless wide open green spaces (Tempelhof Field, a disused airport tarmac turned into a massive park, is a local favourite).

Visit now because: This year marks 20 years of Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke, Berlin’s best-known karaoke bar. Join in the celebration this November, or drop in seven nights a week to belt out your favourite showstopper from the comfort of a private booth. Feeling brave? Take it to the main stage.

The big numbers: We know well that Berliners like to party, and if our survey’s anything to go by, they’re in the right place for it – Berlin’s nightlife scene had an impressive 82 percent approval rating.

📍 Discover the best things to do in BerlinNathan MaContributor, Berlin

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London

Photograph: Shutterstock / Octus_Photography

4. London

What makes us great: Londoners make London great. Nowhere else in the world can you rub shoulders with such a diverse yet weirdly homogeneous group of people. Is our home as friendly as Dublin, as beautiful as Paris or as gastronomically hyped as Tokyo? No. But judging by the fact London is consistently named the best city in the world, Europe, and so on, it obviously doesn’t matter. Our galleries are free. Our parks are massive. Our pubs are legendary. Our kebab meat is plentiful. There’s no city like it, and if you don’t agree, we genuinely don’t care. But please visit!

Visit now because: There’s quite simply more to do here than anywhere else on earth, but in recent years our fair city’s been criticised for an ailing nightlife scene. Well, that’s all changed. London now is home to a whole bunch of massive, cutting-edge nightclubs. What they lack in underground grittiness they make up for in jumbo sound systems and killer lineups. Pay a visit to OuternetDrumsheds or KOKO Electronic to see what we’re on about.

The big numbers: Despite what you might’ve heard about misery and rain, 94 percent of Londoners said they’re happy and 95 percent said they find the city beautiful. London also had the third-highest ‘pull factor’ of all cities surveyed, with 9 percent of respondents saying they’d move there if they could.

📍 Discover the best things to do in LondonJoe MackertichEditor, Time Out London

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Madrid

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Madrid

What makes us great: Whether you’re from Madrid or not, when you’re here, we’re all Madrileños. It’s a welcoming and lively city that stands out for its exciting (daily) nightlife, its spectacular food, its internationally renowned chefs and its vibrant culture. Don’t just listen to us: in the last year alone, Salmon Guru was crowned one of the best cocktail bars in the world, David Muñoz has once again been voted the best chef on the planet and the Royal Collections Gallery was one of the most important museum projects in Europe. Big names aside, the essence of Madrid is found in its neighborhoods, where lifelong neighbours and century-old stores coexist with new art galleries and specialty cafe – as is the case in Carabanchel, chosen as the third best neighborhood in the world in 2023. Given all of that, it’s no wonder Madrid is so popular with tourists – as evidenced by the amount of new hotels (most of them luxury) opening their doors around the city, from The Madrid Edition to the UMusic Hotel and the Thompson Madrid.

Visit now because: Any time is a good time to come and enjoy Madrid, but in 2024 the city will experience an explosion of international concerts due to the renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. In the coming months, Taylor Swift, Luis Miguel and Karol G will be coming to the Spanish capital. In addition, The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) will perform on no less than three nights in another of the city’s stadiums, the Metropolitano, home of Atlético de Madrid.

The big numbers: Did we mention the food is fantastic? Well, it’s worth reiterating – Madrid’s food scene got a very impressive 94 percent approval rating from Madrileños.

📍 Discover the best things to do in MadridMarta BacDirectora editorial, Time Out Madrid

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Mexico City

Photograph: Shutterstock / Santiago Castillo Chomel

6. Mexico City

What makes us great: With a museum on every corner, it’s no surprise Mexico City was named the best city in the world for culture in 2023. There’s plenty more where that came from this year, with exciting emerging art spaces like Laguna, new galleries like Naranjo, and eagerly awaited international exhibitions like Damien Hirst at Museo Jumex. CDMX is also at the forefront of a vibrant gastronomic revolution, from mushroom cultivation at Tencui, Japanese coffee at Panya and the best brisket at Ahumados Pelican. The dark kitchens of Roma will surprise you, San Miguel Chapultepec’s artsy offerings will captivate you, breakfast in Condesa will be delicious and an afternoon in Coyoacán will be unforgettable. Get ready to fall even more in love with our neighbourhoods, our food and our warmth when you visit CDMX this year.

Visit now because: In the summer, the Cineteca Nacional will open a new home in the Bosque de Chapultepec, featuring eight theatres and an outdoor forum. 

The big numbers: Mexico City scored highly for its overall liveability, with 100 percent of locals naming the city beautiful, 96 percent saying they were happy there and 94 percent saying it’s easy to make friends.

📍 Discover the best things to do in Mexico CityMauricio NavaDirector Editorial, Time Out Mexico City

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Liverpool

Photograph: Shutterstock / Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB

7. Liverpool

What makes us great: There’s more to Liverpool than Beatles tours and football matches. In fact, it’s one of the best places in the world to go for a guaranteed-good-time. The true city that never sleeps, spots such as 24 Kitchen Street, home to some of the city’s best DJs, or dive bars like Salt Dog Slims provide ample opportunities for late nights. But the city looks just as good in daylight, with a smiling face on every corner, and plenty of up-and-coming talent to champion, whether you’re sampling small plates at Michelin-mentioned Belzan or checking out the work of local artists at FACT

Visit now because: Still on a high off the back of hosting Eurovision, there’s plenty of music events to look forward to in Liverpool this year. In The Park, hosted by much-loved local singer-songwriter Jamie Webster in collaboration with Cream Classical, will see dance anthems from over the years accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra.

The big numbers: Liverpool scored 89 percent for the affordability of its culture scene, making it the cheapest city on the list for art and culture.

📍 Discover the best things to do in LiverpoolAlice PorterContributing Writer, Liverpool

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Tokyo

Photograph: Shutterstock / Takashi Images

8. Tokyo

What makes us great: Much has been said about Tokyo’s efficiency. Its wide-reaching network of public transport is always punctual and the urban landscape is world-renowned for being unbelievably clean and well designed. But what makes Tokyo truly exciting is its dynamism. This is a city that never stays the same – there’s always something new and innovative to discover here. Some of the world’s greatest restaurants are now in Tokyo (Massimo Bottura’s Gucci Osteria, Antwerp’s Michelin-starred Le Pristine, and MAZ, sister to Peruvian 2023 World Best Restaurant Central – just to name a few) while cocktail bars are experimenting with local ingredients like miso. Plus, the city now has three gin distilleries focusing on Japanese spirits and botanicals, new shopping malls with rooftop gardens, architect-designed public toilets, a flurry of new openings from anime centres to art galleries… it’s difficult to keep up at times, but we don’t expect anything less from this vibrant city. 

Visit now because: The all-new teamLab Borderless digital art museum is opening in Azabudai Hills complex in central Tokyo on February 9. This is arguably the most anticipated new opening of 2024, as the museum promises a number of never-before-seen digital art installations making their world debut.

The big numbers: If our survey is anything to go by, Tokyoites are a merry bunch. 94 percent of locals said the city made them happy. With so much to do, see and (most importantly) eat, are we that surprised?

📍 Discover the best things to do in TokyoLim Chee WahEditor-in-Chief, Time Out Tokyo

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Rome

Photograph: Shutterstock / AlenKadr

9. Rome

What makes us great: Regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Rome lures travellers with its ancient history, fabled cuisine and laid-back lifestyle. From the majestic Colosseum and intricately carved Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps and Pantheon, the city’s architectural splendours provide a theatrical backdrop for daily life. Locals still shop for fresh produce in cobblestone piazzas while nuns gather over coffee and schoolchildren visit iconic artworks in the city’s many museums. Spanning over 2,000 years of history, Rome is a city with layers: head underground to sites like the ancient Roman houses of Palazzo Valentini and the Basilica of San Clemente, and see the city from a bird’s-eye view atop the Castel Sant’Angelo fortress and the terrace of Gianicolo.

Visit now because: A city historically beloved for its guanciale (pork) and offal, Rome is finally welcoming more plant-based restaurants to cater to changing palates. Try Buddy for a decadent vegan brunch, Grezzo for dairy-free gelato and don’t miss Romeow Cat Bistro’s new vegan pastry shop, Julietta

The big numbers: No surprises where the Italian capital scored highly. The city’s fabled food scene scored a 98 percent approval rating, with the same percentage of locals saying they found Rome beautiful.

📍 Discover the best things to do in RomeLivia HengelContributor, Italy

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Porto

Porto | Photograph: Shutterstock / joyfull

10. Porto

What makes us great: There’s good reason we chose Porto as this year’s best European city break. Portugal’s second city is a place where you eat well and drink better. In this wine capital, your glass will never be empty: check into a wine hotel like The YeatmanThe Lodge, or Wine & Books; sip and snack at stylish wine bars like GenuínoA Certain Café, or Tia Tia; learn about all things vinho at the impressive World of Wine (WoW), a kind of wine-themed Disneyland; and see where the magic happens on a tour of one of the cellars in Gaia (we recommend SandemanCockburn’s, and Cálem, to start).

Visit now because: Time Out Market Porto opens in 2024 with the best of the city under the same roof. And what a roof – the market will be installed in a wing of the historic and beautiful São Bento Station, a property of public interest, which was designed by renowed architect Souto de Moura.

The big numbers: With those azulejo-tiled buildings and Duoro views, it’s no wonder 98 percent of locals would call their city beautiful. It’s also one of the highest scoring cities for romance, with 82 percent of locals saying it’s easy to find love in Porto.

📍 Discover the best things to do in PortoVera MouraDirectora Editorial, Time Out Portugal

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Paris

Photograph: Shutterstock / Symeonidis Dimitrios

11. Paris

What makes us great: Without bragging (not really the French style), let’s just say Paris pulls off a daily miracle. It’s the most packed city in Europe, yet it somehow reconciles its unique historic vibe – you know, those stone buildings, iconic landmarks, and centuries-old boulevards – with a constant explosion of creativity in every direction. Fashion, music, food… you name it, this city of 110 nationalities keeps reinventing itself day in and day out, and all through the night. Where else but in Paris can you try a Japanese chef’s take on French cuisine? Where else but in Paris can you attend a ballroom event in a nineteenth-century theatre? Where else but in Paris can you visit a former grain exchange home to one of the largest private collections of contemporary art? Nowhere, that’s where.

Visit now because: Between the Lunar New Year parades in the 13th arrondissement, Fashion Week shows at the coolest spots in town and (of course) this summer’s Olympic Games, the French capital is – as usual – the place to be this year.

The big numbers: Paris was the second-most mentioned city when survey respondents were asked where they’d most like to move if they could.  

📍 Discover the best things to do in ParisAntoine BesseResponsable des rubriques restaurants et bars

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Mumbai

Photograph: Shutterstock / Snehal Jeevan Pailkar

12. Mumbai

What makes us great: Mumbai is India in a nutshell – from history to modernity, spirituality to sports, a colonial past to a dynamic present – all sprinkled with liberal doses of Bollywood magic and wrapped in the balmy breeze of the Arabian Sea. The city exhilirates with contrasts. Grab your hiking shoes to explore the 1500-year-old rock-cut Kanheri Caves and then don your evening best for a swish cocktail bar in Kamala Mills. Bargain at dawn at the Dadar Flower Market and then splurge at Kala Ghoda’s haute couture boutiques. Dare a rush-hour ride on the local trains and then find peace of mind in Gorai’s Vipassana Centre. Marvel at the enterprising spirit in Dharavi’s shanties and gawk at the towering Antilla, home to India’s wealthiest man.

Visit now because: Two new stars shine brightly on Mumbai’s cultural canvas: the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre is a world-class arts space hosting theatre, musicals, concerts and exhibits; and then there’s the Museum of Solutions, an innovative and experiential children’s museum that’s bound to pique young minds. 

The big numbers: Only two cities got a 100 percent approval rating for their food scene, and Mumbai was one of them.

📍 Discover the best things to do in Mumbai

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Kunal BhatiaContributor, Time Out Travel

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Lisbon

Photograph: Shutterstock

13. Lisbon

What makes us great: The light of Lisbon, the hilltop viewpoints overlooking the Tagus River, the terraces to enjoy the sunset, the beaches just half an hour away… there are endless reasons the Portuguese capital is so compelling. And in 2024, there’s another thing that makes us great: the city’s increasingly lively music festivals. Lisbon is in for a belter of a summer, with names like Doja Cat, Camila Cabello, Calum Scott, and Ed Sheeran at Rock in Rio Lisboa in June; Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Benjamin Clementine, and Smashing Pumpkins at NOS Alive in July; Måneskin at Super Bock Super Rock in July and LCD Soundsystem, Sam Smith, Massive Attack, and The Kills at MEO Kalorama in August. 

Visit now because: Two major museums are reopening in 2024: the Gulbenkian Modern Art Centre (aka the CAM), home to the most renowned collection of modern and contemporary art in Portugal, and the MUDE (Lisbon’s Design and Fashion Museum).

The big numbers: Ninety-six percent of locals think Lisbon is beautiful. Those Tagus river views? Those pastel-painted buildings? All that golden light? Yep, we’d have to agree. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in LisbonVera MouraDirectora Editorial, Time Out Portugal

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Chicago

Photograph: Shutterstock

14. Chicago

What makes us great: Whether you want to spend a night listening to blues until 4am or a day marvelling at awe-inspiring architecture, Chicago has you covered. The unofficial capital of the Midwest offers all the expected amenities of a world-class city – a vibrant nightlife and heaps of culture, to start – plus a whole lot more. No matter the season, Chicago is full of exciting things to do, from a festive holiday marketplace in the wintertime to lively street fests every weekend during the summer. And the food and drink scene is second to none, boasting Michelin-starred dining destinations alongside iconic institutions renowned for Chicago-style specialties, such as the legendary deep dish pizza and the irresistible Italian beef sandwich.

Visit now because: There’s never been a better time for fine dining. Smyth has just earned three Michelin stars – only the second Chicago restaurant to be honored with the distinction – while newcomers like Indienne and Maman Zari are serving up boundary-pushing Indian and Persian cuisines, respectively.

The big numbers: You can’t fault the Windy City for entertainment: locals rated the city’s nightlife and culture offering highly at 83 percent respectively.

📍 Discover the best things to do in ChicagoJeffy MaiEditor, Time Out Chicago

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Manchester

Photograph: Shutterstock / Marina J

15. Manchester

What makes us great: Few cities have achieved more than Manchester. Countless incredible bands, two globe-conquering football teams, and one world boxing champ, thanks to local lad Tyson. But Manchester doesn’t stand still. Since Ancoats’ Mana bagged a Michelin star in 2019, the food scene has soared, leading to astonishingly inventive meals at the likes of Erst10 Tib Lane and MUSU. The underground clubbing scene is unrivalled, thanks to the progressive (and semi-lawless) feel of HiddenThe Loft and The White Hotel. Meanwhile, The Peer HatEagle Inn and Aatma prove that alternative music isn’t dead, just more experimental than ever. Most excitingly, the live comedy circuit harks back to the golden age of Caroline Aherne and Steve Coogan, full of uncompromising northern voices, and refreshingly light on nepo babies. Our hot tips: scathing working-class wit Rachel Fairburn, twisted club comic Chris Cantrill and menacing-hearthrob-slash-viral-video-sensation Tom Lawrinson, to name but three. 

Visit now because: It’s no coincidence that Chanel held its 2023 fashion show here, mere weeks after the UK’s landmark arts hub Factory International opened its doors. The balance of cultural power has finally shifted up North, making Manchester one of the most vibrant and fast-growing cities in Europe right now. And the rain isn’t that bad. Honest.

The big numbers: Clubbing and comedy seem to be the key ingredients for a happy life – 96 percent of Mancunians said that their city makes them happy.

📍 Discover the best things to do in ManchesterIan JonesContributor, Manchester

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São Paulo

Photograph: Shutterstock / Vinicius Bacarin

16. São Paulo

What makes us great: Unjustly overlooked as a layover destination for too long, São Paulo is now firmly established as a must-visit spot in a country with no shortage of attractions. The largest city in the Southern Hemisphere is a global destination for foodies, rivaling Lima and Mexico City for the mantle of Latin America’s culinary capital. Generations of immigration from EuropeAsiaSouth America and, more recently, Africa have made São Paulo’s restaurant scene as diverse and vibrant as the species in the Amazon rainforest. Come for the food, stay for the nightlife, stunning cityscapes, jaw-dropping Carnival and the world’s largest Pride parade.

Visit now because: São Paulo’s thriving restaurant scene gets more exciting every day. Check out some of the city’s new openings, like the Thai fine dining at Ping Yang, Japanese-Korean fusion at KuroMoon, or Shoshana Delishop for refined Jewish diaspora fare. 

The big numbers: São Paulo was among the cities with the highest score for romance, with 88 percent of locals saying it’s easy to find love in the city. What’s more, 100 percent of Paulistanos surveyed said the city made them happy. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in São Paulo

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Euan MarshallContributor, Sao Paulo

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Los Angeles

Photograph: Shutterstock / Worachate Joe Khongthon

17. Los Angeles

What makes us great: No city is all sunshine and rainbows, but LA actually comes close – at least in a literal, meteorological sense. After years of drought, welcome wet weather has reinvigorated already-stunning natural retreats across the city with seasonal snowy mountaintops and colorful carpets of flowers. But LA’s appeal isn’t limited to the outdoors: cinephiles can again flock to the century-old Egyptian and Vista Theatres, revived by Netflix and Quentin Tarantino respectively, while the intimately-mid-sized concert venue the Bellwether and multi-themed club Level 8 have reawakened Downtown LA’s after-dark offerings. As for navigating between it all, a trio of new line-linking subway stops have made the city’s Metro remarkably more useful. And, of course, LA’s dining scene continues to impress with wow-worthy pasta at Funke, standout omakase at Sushi Sonagi and Japanese-Mexican mariscos at Loreto.  

Visit now because: Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy has resurrected a 1980s art carnival with works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Salvador Dalí inside a soundstage next to the LA River. Though you sadly can’t go on the rides, the atmosphere is still magical.

The big numbers: Angelenos are rightly proud of the city’s food scene, giving it a healthy 89 percent approval rating in our survey. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in LAMichael JulianoEditor, Time Out Los Angeles

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Amsterdam

Photograph: Shutterstock / Dmitry Rukhlenko

18. Amsterdam

What makes us great: Amsterdam is a city that constantly confounds. On one hand, it’s a classic, old European city, a beautiful and prestigious metropolis overflowing with fine dining, high art, and the type of architecture to melt the coldest heart. Yet on the other? Amsterdam is rugged and counter-cultural, a city of coffeeshops, alternative art, and bleeding-edge clubs. What separates Amsterdam from the rest is how these two sides aren’t contradictory. In fact, they complement each other, forming a collective whole unlike anywhere else in the world. That’s the true spirit of Amsterdam: it’s a city that enables you to be yourself, to do what you want and be who you want to be, all without an ounce of judgement.

Visit now because: You need to experience Koningsdag (King’s Day). While Pride and ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) have similar vibes, neither feel quite as Dutch as Koningsdag. Here, on April 27th, Amsterdam turns orange, as people flood onto the streets and throw what must be close to Europe’s biggest street party. It’s chaotic, busy, but totally unforgettable.

The big numbers: With all its quaint streets and pretty canals, it’s no surprise Amsterdam is one of the most romantic cities on the list – a whopping 88 percent of locals said finding love is easy in the city.

📍 Discover the best things to do in AmsterdamCallum BoothContributor, Amsterdam

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Lagos

Photograph: Shutterstock / Alucardion

19. Lagos

What makes us great: Whether you’re a staunch mainlander or from Lekki, there’s something for everyone in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city. Posh Victoria Island continues to deliver a trifecta of swanky resorts, food haunts, and nightlife. Lekki is for the brunchers – make Maple Lagos your first stop. On the mainland, Kuti’s Bistro in Ikeja, owned by the legendary afrobeat family, serves up reliably delicious food and hosts parties, karaoke and games nights. And then there are the beaches – hit up Oniru Beach for some fun in the sun, but be sure to bring naira for this private beach. For those who live for the night, Hard Rock Cafe Lagos provides a massive indoor-outdoor playground with top artists including DJ Obi (‘Obi’s House’ on Mondays), who set a Guinness World Record in 2016 for a 240-hour marathon set. 

Visit now because: Both the city and its suburbs are expanding – just check out live-work-play concept Eko Atlantic City. Just out of town, Epe, on the north side of Lekki Lagoon, is experiencing a boom. The town is home to the legendary Oluwo Fish Market, the biggest in Lagos state, where almost all traders are women. Fittingly, there’s a giant two-fish statue in the centre of town. 

The big numbers: When it comes to standard of living, Lagos has a lot going for it – 96 percent of locals are happy, 98 percent would call Lagos beautiful and the city got a 92 percent friendliness rating, too.

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Ade AdenijiContributor, Lagos, Nigeria

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Melbourne

Photograph: Shutterstock

20. Melbourne

What makes us great: Right, where do we begin? Not only is Melbourne home to the sixth coolest neighbourhood in the entire world (shout out to Northside ‘burb Brunswick East), but this bustling metropolis of ours was also named the world’s tenth best city for culture right now. And don’t even get us started on the recent avalanche of new restaurant openings: from a French fine diner housed in the city’s cavernous old Stock Exchange building to an authentic Mexican joint slinging the best tacos in town, there’s no doubting which Aussie state wears the culinary crown (we see you coming for it, Sydney!). Add all of this to an impressive programme of major events – Australian OpenF1 Australian Grand PrixMelbourne International Comedy Festival, to name just a few – and yeah, we’d say Melbourne’s is pretty darn great right now.

Visit now because: Melbourne is currently a haven for audiophiles thanks to a bevy of insanely cool, late-night listening lounges that have popped up across the city. Hit up hot spots like Wax Music LoungeHigh Note and Music Room for live bands, jazz nights and DJs spinning vinyl tunes. 

The big numbers: A very impressive 97 percent of Melburnians would describe Melbourne as beautiful, while the city’s eating and drinking scene got a tasty 87 percent approval rating.

📍 Discover the best things to do in MelbourneLeah GlynnMelbourne Editor

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Naples

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21. Naples

What makes us great: Nestled between Mount Vesuvius and the sea, Naples is Italy‘s cultural soul. Beautiful and bustling, Naples will have you falling in love at first visit with its old-school charm, Unesco World Heritage Sites, vibrant street life, warm Neapolitan hospitality, a lot of sunshine and delectable food. It is the birthplace of pizza, after all. Get lost underneath the dangling clothes of the Quartieri Spagnoli, sip on a smooth shot of espresso from Bar Mexico, take a dip in the sea in the coastal neighborhood of Posillipo, and munch on a traditional sandwich of cicoli and ricotta from Antica Salumeria Malinconico for a wholesome Neapolitan experience.

Visit now because: Stroll through the reawakened Galleria Principe di Napoli, where young Neapolitan entrepreneurs are repurposing abandoned spaces like cocktail bar and bistro ScottoJonno and jewelry artisan AG Albachiara Gattoto name a few. 

The big numbers: Not only is the food in Naples excellent, but it’s pleasantly cheap too, with locals scoring their city’s dining scene 96 percent for quality and affordability. It’s also the friendliest city on the list, with 98 percent of locals saying its’s easy to make friends. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Naples

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Gabriela R. ProiettiContributor, Naples

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Singapore

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22. Singapore

What makes us great: Though small, Singapore is teeming with incredible things to do – from arts venues and themed nightlife spots like Ark11 to adrenaline-inducing attractions like HyperDrive. We’re home to some of the best restaurants in the world, but also plenty of humble hawker stalls serving traditional fare. And all of this is highly accessible via an uber-efficient public transport system, plus it’s clean, and super safe for solo travel. For a respite away from city bustle, head to Sentosa’s beach clubs like the new Tipsy Unicorn, soak up the sun at the Southern Islands, or venture to the outskirts for farms like Bollywood Veggies.

Visit now because: New events, pop-up festivals, and food and drink outlets are springing up pretty much every single week. The thrifting scene in Singapore has had a huge revival recently, so there are plenty of cool spots like NearesTTen and The Née Vintage Store to snag rare vintage togs. Lots of new cycling and trekking routes have opened up as well; check out the Rail Corridor, which recently got an extension with over 21 kilometres of trails.

The big numbers: Singapore knows how to eat out and stay out. The city’s food and nightlife scenes had approval ratings of 91 percent and 80 percent respectively.

📍 Discover the best things to do in SingaporeRachel YohannanEditor

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Miami

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23. Miami

What makes us great: We could list off our 35-mile stretch of beachfront, year round balminess and 24/7 nightlife, but that’s stating the obvious. Over the past few decades, Miami has evolved from a resort town to a full-fledged metropolis, offering all the things other global powerhouse cities do – fantastic restaurants and bars, sporting arenas and events, an enviable arts and culture scene – only our high rises come with an ocean view and whatever’s offered in English is offered in Spanish, too. As a city we are unapologetically and authentically ourselves – whether you like it or not. And damn, do we know how to have a good time. 

Visit now because: Between globally recognized chefs like Massimo Bottura opening restaurants here (Torno Subito is coming to Miami this year) and secondary outposts for Latin American restaurant groups, you can get a taste of the entire world in one place. Local chefs are leveling up, too. Check out our latest food hall opening, Julia & Henry’s, for a sample. 

The big numbers: Miami’s legendary party scene got a big thumbs up from locals – the city had the second-highest score for nightlife, with a 94 percent approval rating. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in MiamiAshley BrozicContributor

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Bangkok

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24. Bangkok

What makes us great: Food is both an indulgence and a source of pride for Thais, and eating in Bangkok is practically a sport. From street-side stalls and food carts on bustling streets to fancy restaurants in sleek skyscrapers, the options are endless – and many are wallet-friendly and available around the clock. Visiting more than one restaurant a night is a regular occurrence for locals, who fill up before heading out for a night at one of the trendy bars that define the local cocktail scene. That’s not all – alongside a thriving food and drink scene, Bangkok is seeing an emerging pop art culture promoted in a spate of hip galleries across town.

Visit now because: The citywide art fest Bangkok Design Week is coming up this month. Hop aboard the city’s new train lines and discover the work of local talents – and in between gallery and event visits, drop by one of the city’s best dining spots, which includes 35 restaurants with Michelin stars and 9 venues on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants lists (not to mention night markets and food streets). 

The big numbers: Thailand’s not shaking that ‘Land of Smiles’ nickname: 98 percent of Bangkok locals said their city makes them happy – and the same percentage said it was beautiful, too.

📍 Discover the best things to do in BangkokTop KoaysomboonEditor-in-Chief, Time Out Bangkok

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Lima

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25. Lima

What makes us great: In a montage of ancient temples, modern high-rises, arresting museums and many of South America’s finest restaurants, Lima spreads along the clifftops of Peru’s glittering Pacific coast as one of Latin America’s most alluring destinations. This capital is ostensibly chaotic, and underappreciated because of it, but beneath the surface Lima is a creative and sophisticated city. It’s the cooking pot for many of the continent’s most exciting culinary innovations and the address of some of its suavest city neighborhoods. In Lima’s centre, you could spend days roaming around troves of colonial architecture and museums showcasing Peru’s huge breadth of indigenous cultures, or hit the coast for phenomenal surfing – in the country which has a strong claim to have been the birthplace of the sport.   

Visit now because: You’ll get to experience one of the world’s most exciting food destinations right now. Lima’s Central was crowned number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2023, which has added extra buzz to the eating scene – and there are a clutch of other city restaurants in close pursuit. 2024 will also see Lima host the World Athletics U20 Championship in August.

The big numbers: Surprise, surprise – the city home to the world’s best restaurant scored full marks for its food scene, with 100 percent of locals rating it highly. 

📍Discover the best things to do in PeruLuke WatersonContributor, Lima

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Budapest

Photograph: Shutterstock

26. Budapest

What makes us great: Europe’s most beautiful capital lounges either side of the Danube, connected by elegant bridges and superb public transport. Budapest is more than just two cities in one, having recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of the union of Buda and Pest. It’s a green city, lined with bike lanes every which way. It’s generally a safe place to party, for women, too. And it’s the same gorgeous metropolis the City fathers created from the 1870s onwards, all grand façades and remarkable detail.  Its spas are another unique attraction – don’t miss the panoramic jacuzzi at the Rudas – along with floating nightspots, most notably the A38 live venue and DJ space. Michelin-starred restaurants cluster in the business quarter, the informal Borkonyha, the perfect introduction to Hungarian wines and gastronomy. Many seek out the homely comfort of classic Magyar dishes, best sampled at the cosy Lánchíd Söröző, where queues snake out the door in winter holiday season towards the Chain Bridge it is named after.

Visit now because: The big hitters in the Liget Project, the transformation of City Park to a contemporary cultural hub, are always showcasing something new. Exhibitions and live shows feature at the House of Hungarian Music, while a new National Gallery will be taking shape on the site of a former concert venue.

The big numbers: No-one can deny Budapest’s good looks – when asked if their city is beautiful, 94 percent of locals said yes.

📍 Discover the best things to do in BudapestPeterjon CresswellEditor, Time Out Croatia

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Beijing

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27. Beijing

What makes us great: Beijing is a delightful blend of ancient charm and modern drive that stands out as the ever-beating heart of China. Its streets have stood since the times of emperors and ceremonies, with sites like the Forbidden City and Summer Palace offering glimpses into the past. Meanwhile, its unique neighbourhoods are great for anyone who wants to experience the friendly hum of local life. The 798 art district buzzes with creativity, the varied food scene ranges from humble street food like Chinese pancakes to vegan food and Peking duck feasts, and the Hutong alleyways showcase the city’s soul. 

Visit now because: Beijing’s coffee culture is growing, with cafés across the city offering their spin on serving coffee with a Chinese touch. The dining scene in the CBD is vibrant, and a new shopping haven, Scitech More Shopping Mall, has recently opened.

The big numbers: Beijing scored highly across the board, but stands out for its dining scene, which got a very impressive 98 percent approval rating.

📍 Discover the best things to do in Beijing

Wendy XuContributor, Beijing

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Dubai

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28. Dubai

What makes us great: Dubai has sealed its position as the city everyone wants to live in (like we didn’t know). The city is the first choice for wannabe expats and is ranked as one of the most affordable tax-free destinations in the world, so if you fancy upping sticks this year, look no further. There are pool parties, brunches and beach clubs; shows, festivals and gigs; a phenomenal home-grown dining scene (perfectly paired with stunning outposts of the world’s best restaurant brands), a city-wide fitness campaign and an incredible, all-encompassing approach to kids. Entrepreneurs thrive, families flourish and nationalities blend to create a culture of togetherness. It’s hands down the cleanest, friendliest, most welcoming city you could wish to visit. Oh, and did we mention the weather?

Visit now because: You’ll be in good company: Ed Sheeran is on his way, as are American band One Republic. There are nine lush new hotels to stay in too, with the epic One&Only One Za’abeel home to the UAE’s longest suspended infinity pool and next door to the Middle East’s first eatery from the world’s most decorated female chef, Anne-Sophie Pic.

The big numbers: Superior quality is the name of the game in Dubai, so it’s no surprise the city’s food and nightlife scenes ranked highly, with an approval rating of 98 and 96 percent respectively (making Dubai the best city on the list for nightlife).

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Louise CharlesworthEditor-in-Chief, Time Out Dubai

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Montreal

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29. Montreal

What makes us great: Combine one of the biggest cultural hubs in the world with old school European architecture and cutting-edge design and you’ve got Montreal. Add a smattering of some of the finest food in the country, a cutting-edge cocktail scene, free family activities and some of the coolest festivals (including Montreal en Lumiere, one of the largest outdoor winter events in Canada), and it’s easy to see why everyone falls in love with it – ubiquitous orange cones, endless construction and language laws included. Come for the friendly, open atmosphere, and stay for the winter party. With an illuminated giant ferris wheel, evening disco skating nights and free museum visits, you can’t go wrong.

Visit now because: When the temperature drops, the city’s nightlife scene heats up. We’re talking about new free interactive light installations all over downtown, and Igloofest, where you can dance under the stars all night.

The big numbers: It might be below freezing this time of year, but Montrealers don’t let the cold bring them down – 94 percent of locals we surveyed said they are happy.

📍 Discover the best things to do in MontrealLaura OsborneEditor, Time Out Canada

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Glasgow

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30. Glasgow

What makes us great: Plenty of cities boast world-class food, beautiful scenery and popping nightlife. Only one is full of Glaswegians. Glasgow’s identity and sense of community are infused into its soul, and spare no newcomer. Expect to be welcomed with open (albeit playfully mocking) arms as you explore a world of unique museums, indie bookshops, and £1 shots. You heard that right: your wallet will escape Glasgow unscathed, with restaurants like Sugo and Topolobamba offering cheap but delicious grub, and in a place that was recently named the best UK city break for architecture, simply walking around becomes an event in itself. Plus, culture is taken seriously. It’s no surprise Glasgow has produced most of Scotland’s best bands and actors, considering the city’s thriving live music scene and the enduring appeal of the near century-old Glasgow Film Theatre. Whoever you are, Glasgow awaits with great patter and a cool pint of Tennent’s.

Visit now because: Independent shops selling locally handmade gifts and produce are popping up around the entire city, so there’s always something new to treat yourself to. And of course, the eclectic Barrowlands Market, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, remains a perfect distillation of the city’s good-hearted chaos.

The big numbers: Good food, happy people – Glasgow’s got it nailed, with a 92 percent food quality score and happiness rating.

📍 Discover the best things to do in GlasgowAnnie McNameeContributor, Time Out London and UK

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Sydney

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31. Sydney

What makes us great: It’s impossible not to start with the harbour, widely recognised as one of the most spectacular in the world. But there’s more to this ocean inlet than the section near our famous white-sailed Opera House and the Harbour Bridge – the waterway weaves around the whole city, carving out breathtaking nooks bordered by walking tracks, public gardens, restaurants and bars. And then, of course, there are our pristine beaches. It’s no wonder everyone fixates on Sydney’s stunning coast and nature, but our food scene is also world-class, with a curated pick’n’mix of the best food from every corner of the world. 

Visit now because: Sydney’s absolutely buzzing right now, with loads of exciting new restaurant and bar openings. There’s huge post-pandemic investment in nightlife, music, the arts, events and a speedy metro rail, so the streets are more alive than ever. And this year, the huge international festival SXSW will be held in Sydney.

The big numbers: Surrounded by nature, fringed by beaches and boasting one of the world’s most iconic harbours, Sydney is undeniably gorgeous – and 97 percent of locals agree.

📍 Discover the best things to do in SydneyAlice EllisSydney Editor

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Buenos Aires

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32. Buenos Aires

What makes us great:  After Michelin’s first guide to the Argentine capital was published in November, it’s safe to say Buenos Aires is one of South America’s leading food and drink cities. Some 52 restaurants were recommended, a healthy debut that included six Bib Gourmand awards, two one-stars in Trescha and Don Julio and a lone two-star in Aramburu – all confirming the city’s position as a dining hotspot.  Meanwhile, bartenders are continuing to shake up the cocktail scene after Tres Monos took home the prestigious Art of Hospitality prize from last year’s World’s 50 Best Bars awards; two other watering holes, Cochinchina and Florería Atlántico, also rank in the top 50. A host of tipple taverns have opened in the past year, including Kona, Mixtape Listening BarSofaPunto Mona and Dimi. The latter three bars can all be found in the Chacarita neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from well-known Palermo, and the barrio is going from strength to strength. Dining hotspots include Na NumPicaron and Ajo Negro that bear Michelin mentions, while other openings include Acido and Guchito Taller de Sanguches sandwich bar. 

Visit now because: Big-name Latin indie bands such as Conociendo Rusia, Bandalos Chinos and El mató a un Policía Motorizado frequently rock up at intimate venues across the city such as KonexC Complejo Art Media and Luna Park; there are also cool home-grown festivals such as Buena Vibra. In November, Creamfields makes a welcome return to the EDM circuit after a nine-year hiatus. 

The big numbers: Excellent dining is one thing Buenos Aires can claim, but the city’s culture scene got high praise in our survey, too, with a 79 percent approval rating for its quality and a 60 percent affordability score.

📍 Discover the best things to do in Buenos AiresSorrel Moseley-WilliamsContributor, South America

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Kuala Lumpur

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33. Kuala Lumpur

What makes us great: A meeting of the old and the ultra-modern, Kuala Lumpur’s centuries-old heritage sites — including mosques, Taoist temples and stunning Hindu shrines — sit in the shadow of sky-high supertowers and sprawling shopping malls. The food scene is a melting pot of some of the world’s best street eats, whether you go the way of kopitiams (a type of dependable local café), hawker stalls or neon-lit night markets. Let’s not forget the rest: charming coffee-slinging cafés, hot-ticket chef’s openings spotlighting local produce, Michelin-starred restaurants, and everything in between. Explore the city’s many arts and culture hubs, like APW, REXKL and The Zhongshan Building, which house cafés, bars and specialty shops. These multi-purpose venues are where the creative class and the city’s cool kids work hard and play harder, with weekend events with no shortage of things to do.

Visit now because: This is a city celebrated, above all, for its cuisine. At two-Michelin starred Dewakan, Darren Teoh is redefining modern Malaysian cuisine through indigenous ingredients harvested from one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Stay out for a drink or two at one of KL’s many craft cocktail bars (Bar TrigonaColey, the list goes on) or dance the night away at drum‘n’bass haunts, rooftop parties, and the like. 

The nig numbers: The city’s top qualities, according to our survey, are its friendliness (with 90 percent of locals saying it’s easy to make friends) and its food (which scored a healthy 94 percent approval rating).

📍 Discover the best things to do in Kuala LumpurNg Su AnnContributor, Kuala Lumpur

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Manila

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34. Manila

What makes us great: A city that used to be regarded as a necessary stopover before jumping off to one of the Philippines’ famed white sand beaches, Manila’s current renaissance proves it deserves to be a destination in its own right. Although the notorious snarling traffic remains omnipresent, it can be credited for the organic growth of micro-communities, like Poblacion and Legaspi and Salcedo Villages. It’s easy to spend the day exploring one of these walkable neighbourhoods: enjoy a cold brew from a third wave coffee joint like Yardstick and Assembly Hall; explore an artisanal jeweler’s studio such as Erica Concepcion and Joyce Makitalo; discover homegrown designers and craftsmen like Rajo LaurelPuey QuiñonesJo Ann BItagcol and Sapatero; and then grab a bite in one of the many chef-driven bistros like TandemSampiroLampara, and Metronome. For a night cap, head to a cocktail bar or speakeasy; La Vie en RoseBar Good TimesITO Space and The Curator are some favourites.

Visit now because: Manila’s contemporary art scene is flourishing, with festivals like Art Fair Philippines and Art in the Park forging the way. On the classical front, a handful of heritage buildings and museums have been refurbished and reopened to the public recently thanks to an administrative push that celebrates local history and culture.

The big numbers: With a 90 percent score for quality and an 88 percent score for affordability, Manila’s food scene got a big round of applause from locals this year.

📍 Discover the best things to do in Manila

Stephanie ZubiriContributor, Manila

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Seoul

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35. Seoul

What makes us great: There’s something for every type of traveller in Seoul. Looking to party all night? The neighbourhoods of Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam are calling your name. Food your driving force? Seoul has street food, polished plates and everything in between. There are international art shows, like Frieze Seoul, for the culture-seekers and tours to the border between North and South Korea for the history buffs. Nature lovers can take their time to explore the famed Bukhansan Mountain, and if you’re a coffee addict, Seoul’s cafe culture (there are 18,000 joints and counting!) is not to be missed. One thing’s for sure: no two days will ever be the same here.

Visit now because: With K-anything all the hype these days, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that the government has announced a whopping 1.3 trillion South Korean won into the ‘2023-2024 Visit Korea Year campaign’, which means there will be a load of events happening all throughout the year. Particularly exciting events include the Korea Beauty Festival in June and a large K-culture festival in September. 

The big numbers: Four percent of Time Out editors worldwide voted for Seoul as one the coolest cities in the world right now.  

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Jocelyn TanContributor, Seoul

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Hanoi

Photograph: Avinash Gatreddi/Shutterstock.com

36. Hanoi

What makes us great: Ancient, bustling and endlessly beguiling, Vietnam’s capital is not short on options for a good day out. Stroll through the maze of narrow streets in the Old Quarter, revealing a piece of history on every corner, from French colonial architecture to ancient temples. Join locals sipping Vietnamese coffee by the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, and then wander down alleys looking for street food – don’t miss Bun Cha Huong Lien’s famed bun cha, a noodle dish served with grilled pork and a savoury, sweet, and tangy broth. Get to know Hanoi’s cultural side with a visit to the Temple of Literature, honouring knowledge and scholarship, or explore the innovative art scene at the Manzi Art Space

Visit now because: An influx of new openings are redefining the dining scene in this legendary food city. Get stuck into some ribs at smokehouse Barbaros, try contemporary Korean cuisine at JUMARC, or relish elevated northern Vietnamese flavours at The East. Round out the night with stunning cocktails and panoramic views at the boat-inspired Lighthouse Sky Bar

The big numbers: Hanoi got a seriously impressive overall liveability score in our survey, with 100 percent of locals saying they’re happy and that they think the city is beautiful, 94 percent saying it’s easy to make friends and 88 percent saying it’s easy to find love. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Hanoi

Diana TruongContributor, Southeast Asia

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San Francisco

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37. San Francisco

What makes us great: Don’t believe the ‘doom loop’ narrative about San Francisco – the city is buzzing once again and remains one of the greatest travel destinations on the planet. Sure, the office-heavy financial district is still quieter than in 2019, but the rest of the city is alive with a palpable energy that harks back to the pre-2020 glory days. For visitors, San Francisco offers all the makings of a perfect vacation: an unbeatable food scene, great weather year-round, abundant natural beauty, beautiful neighborhoods to stroll, trendy hotels and, of course, world-class wine – be it sipped in a cosy neighbourhood restaurant or on a sprawling vineyard under an hour away in Wine Country. 

Visit now because: San Francisco’s bar scene is having a moment. There’s been an onslaught of lively new openings recently, from sky-high rooftop bars like Cavana and underground speakeasies like the Felix to natural wine bar GluGlu. Sober folks will appreciate another trend in SF: a great selection on non-alcoholic drinks on every menu.

The big numbers: Locals in San Francisco remain optimistic, with a huge 98 percent of San Franciscans saying that the city makes them happy. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in San FranciscoClara Hogan

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Barcelona

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38. Barcelona

What makes us great: Of course, Barcelona’s many magnificent attractions make it a magnet for tourism – and while certain areas should be avoided because of tourist saturation, there are plenty of others where you can experience the real heart of the city. For every iconic and overcrowded site like the Sagrada Familia, there’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered – ever heard of Gaudí’s Torre Bellesguard? Barcelona’s bars (SIPS) and restaurants (DisfrutarÀbac) consistently top lists of the world’s best places to eat and drink. There are always exciting dining novelties popping up – take Xeixa, located in the former brothel where Picasso met the ladies of Avignon. Year after year, Barcelona’s street culture draws crowds to popular festivals like Llum BCN, and commemorations provide the perfect excuse to celebrate the city’s great artists. 2024 marks the Year Tàpies, where the city will be celebrating 100 years since the birth of the Barcelona-born painter and sculptor.

Visit it now because: This is shaping up to be an exciting year for Barcelona, especially along its waterfront. Beyond the thrill of the America’s Cup happening between August and October, the highlight of the summer will be the grand opening of Time Out Market Barcelona, right by the sea on the Maremagnum terrace. 

The big numbers: Barcelona’s a beauty, that’s for sure – and so say 95 percent of locals who live there. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in BarcelonaMaría José GómezDirectora, Time Out Barcelona

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Abu Dhabi

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39. Abu Dhabi

What makes us great: Many visit Abu Dhabi to see iconic buildings like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi, only to be pleasantly surprised by UAE capital’s nature and culture. On one end of the emirate,  adjacent to Eastern Mangrove National Park, skyscrapers kiss the horizon, while the other end sees 4X4s smashing over sand dunes. Abu Dhabi loves to welcome visitors – 90 percent of locals rated the city for friendliness – and over 200 nationalities call the emirate home. Enjoy the best entertainment at Etihad Arena, a stellar line-up of award-winning restaurants as seen in the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards, a jam-packed calendar of international sporting events including the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and UFC, cultural heritage festivals like Sheikh Zayed Festival and events that break Guinness World Records not once, but four times in one single evening. 

Visit now because:  It’s a great time to get stuck into beachside eats at the vibrant Mamsha Al Saadiyat, from acclaimed Japanese hotspot Niri to the booming UAE-born burger brand Pickl. Meanwhile Saadiyat Island is currently hosting the star-studded Saadiyat Nights, where you can catch performances from Mariah Carey, Sting and more. 

The big numbers: Eating out in Abu Dhabi won’t break the bank, according to locals. The city’s food scene got an 84 percent approval rating both for its quality and affordability.

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Sonali ShahDeputy Editor, Time Out Abu Dhabi

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New Orleans

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40. New Orleans

What makes us great: New Orleans is rightly a bucket-list destination for its big-ticket annual events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, but the party never stops in this celebratory city. Every season brings a new set of festivals, while the city’s iconic dining scene can, of course, be enjoyed any time of year. There’s everything from century-old institutions and James Beard award-winners to celebrated dives and top-tier bars (the cocktail was invented here, after all). The city itself is a museum, with historic buildings and unique architecture – and not just in the French Quarter. As the birthplace of jazz, music is a part of everyday life, and the live music calendar is always packed. And after all the celebrations? The city’s many beautiful parks offer a serene escape.

Visit now because: This year, the legendary Jazz Fest expands to eight days to include the Rolling Stones, and Essence Fest celebrates its 30th anniversary. New Orleans will also be home to a major event on the culinary calendar, as the city hosts the Bocuse d’Or and Pastry World Cup in June – the first time the competition has been held in the US.

The big numbers: New Orleans is the friendliest US city on the list, with a near-perfect 94 percent of locals saying it was easy to make friends in the Big Easy.  

📍 Discover the best things to do in New OrleansGerrish LopezContributor, New Orleans

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Philadelphia

Photograph: Shutterstock

41. Philadelphia

What makes us great: Exploring Philly is a bit like sifting through a cultural archaeological dig. The new layers don’t so much sit on top of the existing as they are marbled into the grain. When they mix, you get magical restaurants like Friday Saturday Sunday, a Rittenhouse neighbourhood staple and the 2023 James Beard winner for Most Outstanding Restaurant, which has existed under the same name and address since the ’70s but was taken over in 2015 and transformed into the must-visit dining spot it is today. You get the transcendent spaces of the Bok Building, cradled in the bones of an FDR-era trade school that by day is an enclave for artists and creatives, and by night, is home to a world-class rooftop bar and one of Philly’s best restaurants in Irwin’s. You get one of the smartest examples of urban redevelopment in the Navy Yard, a riverfront community in the shadow of rusting warships with dozens of acres of public park space and walking trails. You get a city that’s peaking at a moment in time when what it’s becoming and what it once was are still intertwined. 

Visit now because: Philly’s sprawling Lincoln Financial Field will be home to WWE’s week-long WrestleMania extravaganza this spring. Ready to rumble?

The big numbers: Ninety-two percent of locals said their city makes them happy. Maybe it is always sunny in Philadelphia. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in PhiladelphiaTim McManus

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Austin

Photograph: Shutterstock

42. Austin

What makes us great: There are a million reasons everyone’s moving to Austin, but there’s one reason they stay: nature. From Ladybird Lake, where you’ll often see a corral of tech bros on paddle boards, to the various crystal-clear creeks hiding outside city limits, nature is a cornerstone of Austin’s culture. When temps climb over 100 degrees (which is often), a dip into the lush blue oasis of Barton Springs Pool, minutes from downtown, refreshes both body and soul. Beyond Barton, Austin’s surrounding creeks and swimming holes will make any visitor rethink the notion that Texas is only a barren desert. Stroll down any of the several greenbelts encircling the city and you, too, will ask yourself, ‘Should I move here?’

Visit now because: The CMT Awards are returning to Austin for a second year on April 7, bringing country music’s biggest stars to the Lone Star state. Or you could see for yourself why Austin is renowned for its festivals at SXSW and Austin City – and the United States Grand Prix rounds out the rest of 2024, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. 

The big numbers: Ninety-four percent of Austinites would vouch for Austin’s beauty, while 82 percent said it’s easy to find love in the city. There’s clearly a connection there… 

📍 Discover the best things to do in AustinDeven WilsonContributor, Austin

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Boston

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43. Boston

What makes us great: If you’re looking for charming neighborhoods, iconic landmarks and sometimes overbearing accents, you’ve come to the right place. Between strolling the historic Freedom Trail, exploring the Museum of Fine Arts and eating your way through the North End, the list of things to do in Boston is endless. Despite the citywide 2am closing time, nightlife here is as vibrant as ever, from the chic bars in Back Bay to the more eclectic scene in Cambridge. Boston in 2024 remains a hub of innovation and tradition, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a city that can do both this year.

Visit now because: The Back Bay just became home to the first Raffles in North America – a pretty knock-out pad to base yourself at while you get stuck into Boston’s better-than-ever restaurant scene.

The big numbers: Locals gave major props to Boston’s art and culture scene, which got a respectable 75 percent approval rating.  

📍 Discover the best things to do in BostonJQ LouiseEditor of Time Out Boston

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Accra

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44. Accra

What makes us great: With over 4 million peopleAccra is nothing if not lively. New bars, restaurants and galleries continue to spring up and find their place in the rhythm of bustling markets, honking motorists and raving nightlife. Largely thanks to its day parties and DJ sets, Accra is increasingly becoming a favourite holiday destination – especially during the festive months. It’s also a hub for learning and creativity, with Africa’s biggest photography and archive library, Dikan Center, recently opening in the city. The rise of galleries, studios and curated art exhibitions happening across Accra have transformed parts of the city into vibrant hubs for creative gatherings, nurturing a grassroots artistic community and cementing Accra as Africa’s new favourite art destination.

Visit now because: Accra is positively humming with exciting new ventures across music, nightlife and the arts. Creative dining space Palm Moments hosts Accra’s hottest nightlife trend, Fake Fridaysevery last Thursday of the month, while Accra’s Imullar Sound System is a daytime event featuring killer live DJ sets. In the art world, Thursday Lates is a monthly series of free art exhibitions, showcasing the latest from the city’s emerging creatives. 

The big numbers: Accra scored a stunning 100 percent happiness score, with the same percentage of locals saying the seaside city was beautiful to look at.  

📍 Discover the best things to do in Accra

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Kofi DotseContributor, Accra

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Marseille

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45. Marseille

What makes us great: Distinct from any city in France – or the world for that matter – Marseille is an intriguing mix of big-city swagger and southern coastal charm. It has all the cool street art and sleek architecture you’d want from a city break, while also offering the chance to sail the Mediterranean and hike the limestone cliffs of Calanques National Park. A port city that’s been around for over 2,600 years, Marseille is home to a myriad of cultures, reflected in the Armenian delis, Algerian rappers and Tunisian restaurants. The dynamic culinary scene embodies the city’s appealing mix of old and new, from iconic 1943 pizzeria Chez Etienne to meat-centric hotspot Bouillon. Food has also fed the many social impact projects, like Après M, a former McDonald’s that’s now a food bank, community hub and job training centre.

Visit now because: Chosen over other French coastal cities, Marseille will host sailing events for the Paris 2024 Olympics between July 28 – August 9. Summer kicks off with the multi-cultural Festival de Marseille (June 14 – July 6) and wraps up with the Kouss Kouss Festival (last week of August), where over 100 restaurants get creative with the classic Maghreb dish. 

The big numbers: With 92 percent of locals saying it’s easy to make friends in Marseille, the coastal city is up there as one of Europe’s friendliest.  

📍 Discover the best things to do in MarseilleAlexis SteinmanContributor, Marseille

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Taipei

Photograph: Wassamon / Shutterstock.com

46. Taipei

What makes us great: The fact that Taiwan is the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage speaks volumes about its progressive stance, and Taipei is the liberal heart of the island. Modern skyscrapers and the Miramar Ferris Wheel might dominate the skyline, but in their shadows you’ll find colourful temples and Hokkien-style old houses. Visitors can enjoy savoury local treats and cuisines from around the world, a fantastic nightlife scene and abundant natural beauty (the city sits beside several rivers and is surrounded by mountains). Best of all, Taipei is affordable, and the convenient transportation system enables you to get around the city with ease.

Visit now because: The Taipei Dome – Taiwan’s first indoor baseball stadium – opened in December, and will house approximately 14 restaurants that will start running in the first half of the year. Next door, Eslite‘s Songyan outlet is scheduled to begin operating in late January – a 24-hour bookstore not to be missed by bookworms. 

The big numbers: Eighty-eight percent of Taipei locals would call their hometown beautiful, while the city’s eating and drinking scene scored an impressive 90 percent approval rating. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Taipei

Ken ChaoContributor, Taipei

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Istanbul

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47. Istanbul

What makes us great: Once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Istanbul is now the dynamic and cosmopolitan heart of Türkiye. The city is packed with historical riches – take the Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque, to name a few. Those who want to experience Istanbul’s buzzing social life should head to the lively areas of Kadikoy, Galata, Besiktas or Karakoy. The Bosphorus on the European side is, of course, one of the most beautiful parts of Istanbul – make sure to visit the neighborhoods of Ortakoy, Arnavutkoy, and Bebek, take a walk on the coastal promenades and spend a morning in one of many cosy cafés. Istanbul Modern, Türkiye’s first modern and contemporary art museum, was recently renovated and reopened in a new location and is a must-see. Finally, there’s the immense clubbing scene – we recommend Klein PhönixFrankhanMini Müzikhol, and Gizli Bahçe.

Visit now because: In 2022, Istanbul’s restaurants were featured in the Michelin Guide for the first time. Michelin-starred Turk is a shining example of the city’s colourful and innovative dining scene, headed up by chef Fatih Tutak whose modern interpretation of traditional Turkish flavors is truly fantastic. 

The big numbers: A whopping 100 percent of Istanbul residents said their city was beautiful. When you see the shimmering Bosphorus and the Blue Mosque’s miranets silhouetted against the sunset, you’ll see why.

📍 Discover the best things to do in IstanbulSeda PekçelenManaging Editor, Istanbul

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Osaka

Photograph: Shutterstock

48. Osaka

What makes us great: Japan has one of the fastest-ageing populations in the world, but you wouldn’t know it from walking through the bustling streets of Osaka. The city has a decidedly youthful spirit, jam-packed with boisterous standing bars and affordable food stalls. It’s easy to see why Osaka is hailed as ‘the nation’s kitchen’. There are the okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) restaurants and kushi-katsu (deep-fried skewer) counters. Sashimi at car park-turned-outdoor-eatery Izakaya Toyo and two-Michelin-starred La Cime, ranked eighth on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Then there’s the city’s rich history, found in landmarks like the sixteenth-century Osaka Castle, and a community of locals known for their uninhibited and friendly nature. Is it any wonder Osaka was chosen to host the World Expo 2025?

Visit now because: Following the success of the world’s first Super Nintendo World, opened in 2021, Universal Studios Japan is set for an exciting upgrade this spring with an all-new Donkey Kong-themed area. Building on Super Nintendo World’s real-life video game features, Donkey Kong Country promises more opportunities for visitors to interact with their surroundings using their Power-Up Bands, as well as a hair-raising mine cart rollercoaster.

The big numbers: Luckily for locals, eating out in the kitchen of Japan won’t batter the bankcard, as Osaka’s food scene was given a very impressive 88 percent affordability score. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in OsakaEmma SteenStaff Writer, Time Out Tokyo

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Hong Kong

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49. Hong Kong

What makes us great: 2024 marks the first year since 2020 Hong Kong is fully open to the world again, ushering in the return of many exciting events. It’s still one of Asia’s most unique places to visit, particularly when it comes to food – the city has a distinct street food scene and its open-air dai pai dongs are perfect for budget travellers, while those with a bit more cash to splash can head to any number of Michelin-starred restaurants and restaurants with scenic views of the Victoria Harbour. It’s also surrounded by nature, with plenty of outdoorsy activities such as hikingcoasteering and canyoning to get stuck into – and its brunch scene is popping. In March, Hong Kong cements its status as Asia’s art hub with the full-scale return of Art Basel and Art Central, where a mix of local and international artworks will be showcased alongside enhanced programmes at M+ and the Hong Kong Palace Museum. New attractions include the world’s first Frozen-themed land at Hong Kong Disneyland and the near-completion of Kai Tak Sports Park.

Visit now because: Hong Kong’s bars are regularly crowned on prestigious lists – check out the city’s OG-hidden bar 001 and the new Cantonese-inspired bar Kinsman, followed by breathtaking skyline views at Cardinal Point

The big numbers: Hongkongers rightfully rate their city’s good looks, with 88 percent saying they find Hong Kong beautiful. 

📍 Discover the best things to do in Hong Kong Tatum AnchetaEditor-in-Chief, Time Out Hong Kong

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Vancouver

Photograph: Elena_Alex_Ferns / Shutterstock.com

50. Vancouver

What makes us great: Vancouver is the kind of city in which climbing a nearly three-kilometre mountain trail is considered a good time. But there’s more to the West Coast metropolis than just hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, snowboarding, and skiing. The city is as much a summertime destination as it is a wintertime one – locals flock to beaches and events such as the Celebration of Light fireworks extravaganza, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and Khatsahlano, a street party in one of the city’s most photogenic neighbourhoods. Year-round, Vancouver is – outside of Japan – the unofficial sushi capital of the world, and boasts an exciting contemporary foodie scene with nine one-Michelin-starred restaurants. A hip new spot, Andrea Gail, is very Vancouver: the décor is punk, the food vegetarian, and it’s located near a shipping yard.

Visit now because: Drinking in Vancouver has never been more exciting than it is right now. For craft beer aficionados, no trip is complete without a visit to Storm, one of the city’s oldest and boldest. And cocktail lovers will swoon over the selection at Key Party, a speakeasy hidden behind a faux accountancy firm storefront. 

The big numbers: Vancouver could well lay claim to being Canada’s prettiest city, with 94 percent of locals saying they found the city beautiful (beating Montreal by 2 percent).  

📍 Discover the best things to do in VancouverShawn ConnerContributor, Vancouver

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