Top 10 Favourite Cities

If this wasn’t a travel blog, then London would easily top the list (even if not everyone loves it like I do). But it is, so here are my favourites from the rest of the world…

1. Berlin

Siegessäule (Victory Column, Berlin)

Siegessäule (Victory Column, Berlin)

It’s certainly not the most beautiful city on this list, nor does it have as long a history as others (although it’s certainly packed more than its fair share in over the years). But I adore the place, and for a long time thought I’d end up living there for a second time. I still might. The three years I lived there really turned me on to travel, and each time I go back i discover a bit more to love. It’s a constant theme for me that the people are one of the most important things for me in terms of how much I like a place – and I love the Berliners.

2. New York

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Berlin may be my favourite but New York is the most exciting. Every time I go I feel the same surge of adrenaline that I got when I first moved to London. Everywhere you go you feel like you’re starring in your own movie.

3. Lisbon

No. 28 Tram, Lisbon

No. 28 Tram, Lisbon

It may be crumbling and a little shabby in places, it may be covered in graffiti, but it’s still stunning. Its location, tumbling down hills towards the River Tagus and the ocean, is perfect, and the buildings look beautiful covered in Azulejos. And the Barrio Alto is my favourite place in Europe to have a drink – the atmosphere as everyone fills the narrow cobbled streets outside the bars is incredible.

4. Madrid

Somehow it feels less overrun by tourists than Barcelona (which I also love), and I’m not sure why, as it’s got just as much to offer. The Prado & Reina Sofia are two of my favourite museums in the world.

5. Bangkok

“You come from London? Very big, and very busy, yes?” said my taxi driver last time I arrived in Bangkok. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Bangkok beats London hands down on both counts. That was the first thing that hit me when I first visited – it almost overpowered me with the scale and sheer energy of the place. I can’t wait to spend more time there next year, as it’s likely to be my last stop on my trip.

6. Istanbul

The fortune-telling bunnies of Istanbul

The fortune-telling bunnies of Istanbul

I’ve written a fair amount about Istanbul recently. I’d recommend it to anyone.

7. Vientiane

Joys food stall on the banks of the Mekong - best food in Vientiane

Joy's food stall on the banks of the Mekong - best food in Vientiane

Not the most obvious choice – many of the travellers in Laos found it dull, and just used it as a necessary stop on the way to or from Thailand, or further south in Laos. Which is one of the things I liked most about it – it must be a contender for the most laidback capital city in the world, everything seems to move at a very slow pace (if it moves at all), and it doesn’t have the UNESCO World Heritage status or as many crumbling colonial buildings as the much more popular Luang Prabang. All of these are part of its charm – it’s lack of tourist appeal keeps it feeling more Lao than most of the other big tourist spots, where it feels like the whole economy revolves around tourism (which it almost certainly does). If I was going to be a diplomat, I can see a posting to Vientiane being just the sort of one I’d like.

8. Sydney

There are two things that would make London almost perfect: better weather, and a beach. Sydney has them both, and the city has a great quality of life. Although after spending a while there, I don’t think I could live there – it feels a bit small after London!

9. Tokyo

Geoff joins the Harajuku girls

Geoff joins the Harajuku girls

I was only there for 36 hours on the way home from Sydney, but it was everything I’d hoped for. I’m a bit of a modern architecture junkie, so I was in heaven. Add in the insane pop culture, some sightseeing, great sushi and a little shopping, and it was the perfect day and a half.

10. Paris

What did we do before Eurostar? My most memorable trip was taking advantage of their £42 nightclubber fare (travel after 4pm, return before 1030am the next day) to have a night of dinner and then dancing. Best of all was the chance to wander down the Champs Elysees down to the Louvre at 5am, with only a couple of early morning joggers for company – having such a stunning place to yourself is truly incredible (and you have the train journey home for a much-needed sleep!)

And the biggest disappointment? Milan. The Duomo was covered in scaffolding, the weather was rubbish, the hotel terrible, and the locals unfriendly.

5 responses to “Top 10 Favourite Cities

  1. I’ve patted myself on the back with civic pride at your number 1.

    OK, even though it’s my home town, I’m going to stick London in there. And Moscow, which is mind-fuckingly overwhelming. And Helsinki, because it’s in Finland. You could fill Runcorn with Finns and I’d probably put Runcorn on the list too. But Helsinki is also genuinely a fave. Wellington was heaven on a hot summer’s day. An amazing location. Dunno if Guanajuato and Oaxaca are big enough but they both blew my mind. Riga is a joy. Stockholm is fairy-tale beautiful. Yes, Barcelona. Is that ten? No. Not quite. Yes, of course, New York. And Montreal. And everywhere else wonderful in the whole wide world.

  2. My brief experiences of Helsinki are largely coloured by being there for work reasons…I should give it another go though, as I love the Finns. Other than Barcelona, haven’t been to any of those others…but they are all high on my list. Too many places to go, never enough time!

  3. On what basis you short-listed them ?

  4. I’m rather fond of Vientiane as well. Though it’s aging structures haven’t been as UNESCO polished as Luang Prabang, it really has such a distinct style. And the gai yang and spicy salads along the Mekong have to be one of the best dining experiences available in Southeast Asia. -X

  5. We share a favorite number one!

    I recently found some old photos of me and some friends “gegen es”. Also in the stack was a cool photo looking up through the glass at gold elsa’s feet.

    There was a feeling of liberation and release after the wall came down that I’ve never been able to find elsewhere. I’m not even sure if it still exists in Berlin, as the commercialism of the west slowly envelops the remnants of ossi culture.

    For me, other “top 10s” change as I change, but Berlin still remains number one. Short listed behind Berlin are Delhi and Dhaka.

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