World’s Fiercest City Rivalries
Who wins and who loses?
Battle of the Cities: 2019
London and Paris. L.A. and San Francisco. Dublin and Edinburgh.
Around the world, rival cities have been battling it out for centuries, leading us to wonder: When pitted against their adversaries, which destinations come out on top?
By analyzing annual visitor counts and search interest via GoogleTrends, we've answered that very question. Read on to see which cities best their rivals.
Note: China does not have Google and doesn't get represented in any of the following findings.
London vs Paris
London and Paris, separated by the English Channel, have been rivals since medieval times, and continue to duke it out today for recognition and visits.
In 2019, London was ever so slightly more popular on Google Trends, earning a popularity score of 44 vs. Paris' 39 (you can read about the somewhat complicated way Google Trends determines its scores here).
Moreover, London also reigns supreme in terms of visitors; it welcomes about 20 million tourists a year, vs. Paris' 18 million.
The countries most searching for London all have ties to the city: the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, India and Australia. For Paris, the searches come from France, Iran, Belgium, Brazil and Chile.
As an English-speaking capital city, London is an obvious choice for international travelers. (Its culture and history are pretty excellent, too.)
Barcelona vs Madrid
In 2018, 8 million people visited Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, while 7 million visited Madrid, the capital of Spain. But in terms of Google Trends popularity, Madrid comes out on top, scoring 56 vs. Barcelona's 45.
Top searches for Barcelona come from France, Ukraine, Sweden, Austria and Russia. For Madrid, they come from Spanish-speaking nations Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico.
Madrid offers the best of both worlds: It's a fascinating destination that hasn't become a victim of over-tourism like, in recent years, Barcelona has.
Rome vs Venice
With all the talk about Venice being overrun by tourists — 4.5 million visited in 2018 — you wonder why you don't hear the same of Rome. In 2018, the capital of Italy welcomed 15.2 million people.
Rome also dominates Google Trends, 43 to 22, with most searches coming from the United States, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada.
Venice draws its interest from Japan, Austria, Colombia, Argentina and Spain.
Venice may have the canals but Rome has the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum and Roman Forum — plus it surrounds Vatican City and its sites.
Dublin vs Edinburgh
The capitals of Ireland and Scotland are both popular with tourists, though not in equal measure. Nearly 1 million visited Dublin in 2018, while nearly 3 million chose Edinburgh.
When it comes to searches on Google, however, Dublin gets the most attention, scoring 86 vs Edinburgh's 59.
Edinburgh's love comes from the U.K., New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and Greece. Dublin's searches are tops in Ireland, Brazil, the U.S., Portugal and Romania.
True, Dublin wins out when it comes to global interest. But Edinburgh welcomes far more tourists.
We're calling this a draw: Both cities are Celtic classics.
Tokyo vs Singapore
When it comes to the leading business cities of Asia, Tokyo and Singapore battle it out. More than 14 million people annually travel to Tokyo — and not always for business. Meanwhile, Singapore gets 18.5 million visitors.
In terms of Google searches, too, it's Singapore for the win.
Google searches for Tokyo (31) begin in Japan, Brazil, Turkey, France and Mexico, while for Singapore (84) they come from Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
"Crazy Rich Asians" didn't make Singapore a star, but it did highlight the city-state as an "it" destination. (Perhaps explaining its big year on Google.)
Washington D.C. vs Moscow
The political relationship between the United States and Russia is, shall we say, complicated. And when it comes to people visiting their capital cities, it's a very tight race: Washington gets almost 24 million tourists while Moscow welcomes 23.5 million.
Around the world, though, its Moscow that clearly drums up more search interest. Washington's searches (62) come mostly from the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Philippines and Mexico. Moscow's (85) come from Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Poland and Turkey.
True, Moscow is more searched for, but both capital cities are equally strong when it comes to history, culture and architecture.
Rio de Janeiro vs São Paulo
Although São Paulo is the capital of Brazil, the country's beachfront and Olympic host city of Rio de Janeiro gets the most interest online (scoring 81 vs. São Paulo's 65). In person, though? Well, the two get about the same amount of visitors: roughly 2.5 million.
Argentina, France, Chile, the U.K. and India search for Rio the most. São Paulo searches come from countrymen, Spain, Mexico, the U.S. and Peru.
São Paulo gets more global interest, but Rio still has the cache of its Olympic hosting. Ultimately, this tale of two cities provides different perspectives when visiting Brazil.
Istanbul vs Athens
The Greeks and the Turks have battled each other since the 8th century (or longer), but both played a pivotal role in the creation of the modern world and draw millions annually. Athens saw 5.5 million in 2018, while more than double that chose to visit Istanbul (13.3 million).
Turkey (42) draws interest from fellow Islamic nations Iran, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, as well as from within and nearby Russia. Athens (12) receives searches farther afield in the U.S. and Australia, as well as nearby Cyprus.
You can be in both Asia and Europe when visiting Istanbul, and get a true taste of both. No wonder people search for it the most (by a long shot).
Amsterdam vs Las Vegas
Las Vegas is renowned for being "Sin City," but Amsterdam's Red Light District and somewhat legal drug use make it a destination just as popular for bachelor parties. More than 42 million people tried their luck in Vegas in 2018. Although only 18 million visited Amsterdam, it is estimated it will receive 42 million by 2030.
Searches for Amsterdam (60) originate mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Austria, while Vegas (84) receives attention from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Winner: Las Vegas
In terms of visitors and global interest, Vegas leaves Amsterdam in the dust. It's best to bet big on this desert oasis.
Bangkok vs Ibiza
Continuing with the party theme, Bangkok, Thailand and Ibiza, Spain are both touted for their up-all-night dance parties (among other things!). More than 7 million went to Ibiza in 2018, but more than five times that found their way to Bangkok (38 million).
The coinciding searches for each hotspot come mostly from nearby countries: Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines and India for Bangkok (82), and Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Netherlands and Italy for Ibiza (43).
"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster," as the song goes.
Prague vs Budapest
Eastern European travel is on the rise, and both Prague (the capital of the Czech Republic) and Budapest (the capital of Hungary) are becoming particularly coveted destinations.
In terms of visits, it's unclear which city wins out: Prague received 6.7 million people in 2018, but Budapest hasn't released reliable figures.
In terms of Google interest, however, the answer is very clear: Budapest has a score of 81, vs. Prague's relatively lackluster 41.
Budapest's Google searches come mainly from within, as well as Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Greece. Prague obtains more interest from countries farther away, including South Africa, Colombia, Indonesia and Russia.
Budapest is rightly gaining notice for its history (it was once two separate cities, Buda and Pest), art and architecture. Still, we must say that Prague is well worth visiting, too.
Miami vs Orlando
Think the land of Mickey Mouse can beat out sizzling hot Miami? Not when it comes to searches, in which case the majority of people are interested in Miami (83), especially in Italy, Venezuela, France, the Dominican Republic and Switzerland. (Orlando's score of 67 stems from interest primarily in Puerto Rico, Ireland, the U.K., Brazil and Canada.)
Twenty-three million people visited Miami in 2018 — a lot, right? But turns out Mickey has three times more pull — 75 million people went to Orlando in 2018.
No amount of Google searches can beat Orlando's sheer numbers.
Even the winners of the Super Bowl want to go to Disney World!
Mexico City vs Buenos Aires
As capitals of Latin American countries go, is it Mexico City or Buenos Aires that draws more visitors? Turns out they're just about equal: Some 2 million people drop in to Mexico City annually, about the same as Argentina's capital.
In terms of Google Trends interest, Mexico City more clearly wins out, by a margin of 84 to 62.
Interest for Mexico City comes mostly from the U.S. Costa Rica, Canada and India; for Buenos Aires, it comes primarily from Brazil, Chile, Italy and Venezuela.
Mexico City wins out on Google Trends, but there's a reason they're in a dead heat in terms of visitors: Latin America's best is on display in both North and South America.
Dallas vs Houston
A state as big as Texas of course has a few big-name cities duking it out to be the best. When it comes to tourism, over 22 million chose Houston, the state capital, but 5 million more went to Dallas, the state's oil capital.
Houston leads on searches, though, making these two cities pretty darn even on the scale.
Surprisingly, Google searches for Dallas come mainly from Germany, Spain, Canada and Australia, while people in Colombia, Nigeria, Argentina, Malaysia and Italy are most interested in Houston.
It's just 3.5 hours between the two big cities. Why not see them both?
Montego Bay vs San Juan
Which Caribbean city gets the most love? In terms of Google Trends, it's no contest. San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, comes in hot with a score of 84, vs. Montego Bay, Jamaica's 52.
Montego Bay gets searched most by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Belgium and Chile. San Juan receives its searches mainly from the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Spain and Trinidad & Tobago.
Winner: San Juan
Anyone from the U.S. can visit San Juan without a passport — bonus!
Jakarta vs Kuala Lumpur
The capitals of Indonesia and Malaysia are very appealing to tourists and business travelers alike.
Jakarta receives fewer than 1 million visitors, but its growth has been climbing 20 percent year over year. However, Kuala Lumpur does best its Indonesian neighbor overall with nearly 14 million visitors.
Still, as viewed on Google Trends, Kuala Lumpur covers the map but actually scores just 30 against Jakarta's 64. People from Malaysia, India, Thailand, U.K. and Hong Kong are the top searchers for Kuala Lumpur. Indonesia, Brazil, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and South Korea search most for Jakarta.
Winner: Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur may not get the same amount of global interest on Google, but it welcomes so many more visitors that it's hard not to crown it the champ.
When you go, don't miss seeing the twinning Petronas Towers.
Shanghai vs Beijing
China is a massive country so when people decide to visit, they may have to pick between Shanghai, the largest city and the business hub, or Beijing, closest to the Great Wall of China and home to the Forbidden City. Beijing welcomed over 4 million people in 2018, but Shanghai recorded 62.9 million overnight visitors in 2018!
Shanghai's (30) top searches come from Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand — all places that may do business in the city. Beijing (22) receives its searches from Belarus, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Ireland.
No surprise here: Shanghai is stunning!
New York vs Boston
New York and Boston have had a long and storied rivalry, marked by a history of fan hatred amongst their sporting teams. (Yankees or Red Sox, anyone?) But when it comes to searches as well as tourists, Boston doesn't have a horse in the race.
While Boston saw nearly 2.7 million international visitors and more than 19 million domestic tourists, New York City witnessed a whopping 65.2 million visitors in 2018.
The Google Trends comparison is no less stark. There's not a drop of red on the Google map shown here and, with a score of 23, Boston is walloped by New York City's score of 91.
Those who do search for Boston tend to come from Canada, the Philippines, South Africa, the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Searches for New York City came mostly from the Dominican Republic, Israel, Argentina, Italy and the Netherlands.
Winner: New York
Probably the only people who will disagree with this winner will be New Englanders. (And they'll disagree fervently.)
Los Angeles vs San Francisco
It's a similar story on the West Coast, where rival cities Los Angeles and San Francisco offer two totally different vibes in Southern and Northern California, respectively. Liken San Francisco to Boston and the more cosmopolitan L.A. to Manhattan.
The City By the Bay took in 25.8 million visitors, half of what the City of Angels saw in 2018. (Though, to be fair, L.A. encompasses a much larger area.)
L.A.'s top searches came from Chile, South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico and Sweden. Those for San Francisco came from Singapore, Ireland, Argentina, Hong Kong and Israel.
L.A.'s score is 76 to San Fran's 45.
Winner: Los Angeles
Welcome to Hollywood, where everyone wants to be a star.
Vancouver vs Toronto
The neighbor to the north of the United States found a similar distinction between its big city hub on the Great Lakes and its more laidback West Coast metropolis.
Not only did the searches favor Toronto, but the East Coast city easily won out in visitors, welcoming 27.5 million in 2018 vs. Vancouver's 6.1 million.
Vancouver, located in British Columbia, reached more people in Taiwan, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. Toronto, located in Ontario, was checked out more by people in Pakistan, the U.A.E., Turkey, India and Poland.
It looks like Toronto is the only place searched when seeing this map of red. It scored 62 — double that of Vancouver.
With its cosmopolitan vibe, cutting-edge art scene and progressive spirit, Toronto is beloved for a reason. (Or rather, many reasons.)
Sydney vs Melbourne
Australia's dueling cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are both located in the southeastern part of the country. One is the largest city of New South Wales. The other is the capital of Victoria.
Sydney (the latter) was a stopping point for more than 11 million people, but Melbourne was right behind it with 10.8 million.
You wouldn't tell the cities are close by looking at the trends map — Sydney gets the majority of searches, especially from Indonesia, Poland, Canada, Sweden and Germany. Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and New Zealand search Melbourne the most.
But when you review the scores, Sydney bests Melbourne by a relatively slim margin of 67 to 58.
Who doesn't want to see the Sydney Opera House in person?