50 Most Beautiful Cities in the World
Cities entice us to visit them because of their undeniable beauty, whether that's through their architecture, natural surroundings or imaginative culture. FlightNetwork interviewed more than 1,000 travel writers, bloggers and agencies about which cities they would rank as the most beautiful and then generously compiled all the information.
From the City of Lights to the Pearl of the Adriatic, there is a stunning city for every kind of traveler. Read on to see which gorgeous corner of the globe you should add to your bucket list.
50. Athens, Greece
This Greek city is among the oldest in the world, and you can still see fifth-century relics today. Celebrate Athens' historical significance at the Acropolis, Parthenon and Panathenaic Stadium.
Visit the Monastiraki neighborhood for markets and rooftop bars. Hike (or take a cable car) to Lycabettus Hill for an incredible view of the city.
This massive Chinese city is rich in history and modern luxuries. Its must-see list is seemingly endless, so multiple trips might be necessary.
The Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven are just a few spots you'll want to head to first.
48. Jaipur, India
The Pink City has palaces, forts, bazaars, museums and gardens all within the capital of India's Rajasthan state. While you'll find the rosy pink hues nearly everywhere, don't miss the Hawa Mahal and City Palace.
In the white marble temple that is the famous Albert Hall Museum, you'll find a celebration of traditional Indian architecture and craft.
47. Bergen, Norway
Fans of the movie “Frozen” will want to book a ticket to this city on Norway's southwestern coast. Colorful wooden houses, mountains and fjords are all worth checking out.
Head to the wharf of Bryggen, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and check out the top of Fløyen Mountain for epic sunset views.
46. Marrakech, Morocco
This city in western Morocco is known for its never-ending beauty found in gardens, mosques and palaces, but it’s also a major economic hub.
Stroll the famous blue walls at the Majorelle garden, shops for textiles and jewelry in the massive medina, and visit Almoravid Koubba, the only surviving structure of Almoravid architecture.
Lush green landscapes, historic castles and a friendly village vibe make this city on Ireland's east coast a must-visit. Famous spots to visit in the capital of the Republic of Ireland include Trinity College (Harry Potter fans rejoice), St. Patrick's Cathedral, Iveagh Gardens and St. Stephen's Green.
And if you have time, take the day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
44. Cartagena, Colombia
Sun, sand and excellent seafood are significant aspects of this Colombian port city on the Caribbean coast. This popular beach destination also has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century, which you can experience at Ciudad Amurallada and Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.
With its white sand and turquoise waters, Playa Blanca is definitely worth the short boat ride from Cartagena.
Intricate temples, ornate palaces and some of the world's best street food make Thailand's capital special.
Don't miss the Grand Palace, meet the locals and shop at Chatuchak Market, or head to the river for the Damnoen floating market. While there, consider a boat tour to see the city from the water.
42. San Sebastian, Spain
This gorgeous resort town on the Bay of Biscay is in Spain but feels like its own little world. Set in the mountainous Basque Country, San Sebastian has the historic feel of Madrid combined with a relaxing coastal vibe.
The best way to explore it is on foot with lots of stops at colorful pintxo bars that offer bite-size snacks.
41. Dubrovnik, Croatia
While “Games of Thrones” may have upped the popularity of this spot as a filming location for the popular show, the southern Croatian city forged its beauty all on its own. White buildings with terracotta shingles face the breathtaking blue water of the Adriatic Sea.
Farther into the city, you'll find Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic architecture worth admiring. Grab a drink at the cliff bars, explore nearby Lokrum isle and take the cablecar to Mount Sr? for incredible views.
40. Seoul, South Korea
The Special City mixes old and new with neon lights among ancient palaces and the traditional Bukchon Hanok Village.
Explore the seven levels of the modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza or wander Jogyesa, the 620-year-old Buddhist temple. And if you can only see one palace, make it to Gyeongbokgung Palace — the city's largest.
39. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Take in the red, orange and yellow hues that decorate the Spanish architecture in this Mexican colonial city in the central highlands.
San Miguel de Allende is famous for its art, which you can appreciate inside and out by visiting the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, Fabrica La Aurora, Instituto Allende and El Jardín.
38. Queenstown, New Zealand
Gaze into the deep blue water of Lake Wakatipu with the Southern Alps as the backdrop in this New Zealand city.
Thrill-seekers love Queenstown for its adventure activities, but low key visitors delight in the area's vineyards, Queenstown Gardens and scenic drive to Glenorchy.
37. Hanoi, Vietnam
With inviting lakes and the Red River that flows near it, the capital of Vietnam is the perfect city for nature, culture and modern details, as French, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultures all blend together in Hanoi.
Make sure to see the water puppet theater, the Perfume Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Hanoi Old Quarter and the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The young and historical combine in Germany's land-locked capital. Testaments to the country's bitter history include the Holocaust memorial, the Berlin Wall's remains, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building.
The city is also famous for its countless museums and energetic nightclubs. Grab a museum pass to visit more than 30 establishments.
35. St. Petersburg, Russia
This Russian port city on the Baltic Sea is Russia's cultural center that also stuns visitors with its ornate architecture.
Check out the intricate details of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Palace, Saint Isaac's Cathedral and Catherine Palace. Immerse yourself in St. Petersburg's art at the Hermitage Museum, State Russian Museum and the Mariinsky Theater.
34. Cusco, Peru
Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this city in the Peruvian Andes is famous for its Spanish colonial architecture and ancient remains.
Take a day trip to Machu Picchu, but when you're in Cusco, visit the Plaza de Armas, Incan Temple of the Sun and San Blas.
This global economic hub, with its picturesque streets, sits on Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. The acclaimed Bahnhofstrasse neighborhood is perfect for window shopping, and the rest of Altstadt or Old Town celebrate the city's pre-medieval history.
Take a Limmat River cruise to see the city's iconic landmarks from the water.
32. Quito, Ecuador
Indigenous, European and Moorish history and culture mesh in Ecuador's capital in the Andean foothills. Hiking enthusiasts have countless trails to choose from, but the beauty of the mountains impresses everyone.
The colorful buildings on Calle de la Ronda house cafes, shops and art galleries. Dive into history in Old Town, and climb one of the two towers at the Basilica of the National Vow for stunning views.
31. Edinburgh, Scotland
Literature lovers will cherish the stunning views and rich history found in Scotland's hilly capital. J.K. Rowling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Muriel Spark all called Edinburgh home.
The compact city is famous for Edinburgh Castle, Arthur's Seat and the spooky Greyfriars Kirkyard, possibly the most haunted graveyard. Edinburgh is affectionately known as Auld Reekie, Scots for Old Smoky, from the days of coal-burning when folks in the countryside could see a cloud of smoke in the distant city.
History and religion dominate this Middle Eastern city that sits between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all consider Jerusalem to be holy, so there are countless prayer sites, chapels, shrines and monuments to see.
Don’t miss a day trip to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the planet, the Dead Sea. It’s also the saltiest body of water on the planet, making it a fun spot to float around.
29. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Though this ultramodern United Arab Emirates city is in the Arabian Desert, it's also famous for its water views. Shopping is the main pastime, but nature lovers can escape to the rolling dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and smell the 150-million flowers in the Dubai Miracle Garden.
See the city views from the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
28. Havana, Cuba
Brightly-colored Spanish colonial architecture, restaurants that author Ernest Hemingway loved and mojitos are just a few of the things that make this Cuban city beautiful. Stroll through the charming cobblestone streets to appreciate the ornate palaces (now mostly museums), one of the world's largest opera houses and elegant mansions.
For palm trees and ocean breezes, head to the miles-long Playas del Este beach.
Lush gardens, elegant museums and unblemished boulevards are just a few alluring features of Spain's capital. Visit the city's central shopping district for the view of and from the top of the Edificio Metrópolis Building that features 30,000 leaves of 24-carat gold.
Find a rare book at the Cuesta de Moyano, stroll through one of the city's palaces and smell the flowers in the Jardines de Aranjuez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
26. Bruges, Belgium
Once one of the world's chief commercial cities, this northwest port in Belgium has the classic components of a European city: canals, cobblestone streets and a variety of historic architecture.
The Burg Square has buildings dating back to the second century, the City Hall's ornate ceiling dates back to the 14th century, and the famous Markt square has colorful buildings and a belfry from the 13th century.
The Windy City offers stunning views of Lake Michigan, unique skyscrapers and countless delicious culinary experiences like deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs.
To get a feel of why locals love the city, explore Chicago's many diverse neighborhoods via the "L." Head to Wrigleyville for a baseball game and Hyde Park to eat at some of President Barack Obama's favorite restaurants.
24. Hong Kong
The city's skyscrapers are so remarkable that Hong Kong celebrates them every night with a light show, and the best seat in town is on board a ferry on Victoria Harbor.
The packed modern city has beautiful bits of nature, too, including the urban hiking trail Dragon's Back, Tai Lam Country Park and the Sai Wan swimming shed.
23. Quebec City
This Canadian gem feels more like Europe than North America. Wander the cobblestone streets in historic Vieux Quebec, visit the spectacular Montmorency Falls and watch the whales in the tiny Quebec village of Tadoussac.
If castles are your thing — and, really, how couldn’t they be? — stay at the stunning Le Château Frontenac.
22. San Diego
America's Finest City is a laidback beach town with stunning cliff views and surprise whale and dolphin sightings. Year-round near-perfect weather makes San Diego the ideal destination.
Head to Balboa Park for lush gardens, nearly 20 museums and access to the San Diego Zoo. Stop by the harbor to see the active naval fleet and tour the USS Midway.
Green spaces, waterfront views and a dynamic skyline combine to make Toronto one of Canada's most beautiful cities. The capital of Ontario has countless alluring spots to take in nature, including the Edwards Gardens, the Allan Gardens Conservatory and the Cloud Gardens Conservatory.
And don't miss the ferry ride to the Toronto Islands.
20. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The cosmopolitan waterfront city is known for its colorful La Boca neighborhood, iconic 19th-century buildings and clubs that get going at 2 a.m.
Packing your walking shoes and explore the city's rich architecture and your dancing shoes so you can practice the tango at night.
Explore the historic, artistic and intellectual districts of Austria's capital. The fairytale city on the Danube River is known for its palaces, cathedrals and coffee houses.
Plus, snow-capped mountains among tranquil waters are just a car or train ride outside of the city.
The mix of modern and traditional blends perfectly in Japan's capital. Ancient temples, towers with unmatched views and many gardens are just a few spots that make Tokyo beautiful.
For modern beauty, visit Shibuya and Harajuku.
The city that exists between Europe and Asia on the Bosphorus Strait is a collection of historical diversity. Take the Hagia Sophia, which has been a church and a mosque and is now a museum.
Istanbul has a bit of everything, including Christian mosaics, Islamic arts, Egyptian obelisks, a Roman-era arena and a palace that was the center of the Ottoman Empire.
16. Budapest, Hungary
Hungary's capital looks like a fairytale come to life with the Neo-Gothic Fisherman's Bastion, the gorgeous Chain Bridge and the 13th-century palace Buda Castle. The Danube River splits the city in half and provides tons of impressive waterfront views.
Don't miss the most photographed Budapest attraction: Parliament.
15. Rio de Janeiro
Dense mountains, vibrant city streets and stunning sea views make this Brazilian city a top destination. The Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are world-famous, and even the non-religious will stand in awe of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
You must order a Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail) and try the samba.
The city of a hundred spires that the Vltava River divides has gorgeous 14th-century bridges, alluring ninth-century castles and several architecturally appealing churches.
Petrin Hill offers visitors a dazzling selection of nature within the capital city of the Czech Republic.
Famous for its intricate canal system and narrow houses dating back to the 17th century, the Netherlands' capital is a European beauty. Hop on a bike and cycle to the city's many impressive artistic and historical establishments, including the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank house.
Visit in the spring, and you'll experience the inimitable tulip festival.
12. Lisbon, Portugal
Pastel-colored houses with terracotta roofs line the hilly city that offers dazzling views of the water. As one of Europe's oldest cities, Portugal's capital offers plenty for history buffs, including St. George's Castle, Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Praça do Comércio and the Ajuda National Palace.
Consider booking a local boat tour to see the city from the water.
This island city-state off the coast of Malaysia is known for its dense and multicultural population, tropical climate and modern architecture. Check out the human-made Punggol Waterway Park and the Gardens by the Bay for a bit of nature in the city.
Visitors will find beauty in the city's many luxury restaurants as well as its award-winning street food.
Italy has countless areas known for their beauty, but strolling through one of the world's ancient cities is hard to top. The capital of Italy has its famous spots like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter's Basilica (technically in Vatican City).
But Rome has plenty of hidden gems that are equally delightful, including Gianicolo Hill, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and several rooftop restaurants and bars that overlook the city.
Enjoy views of the South Pacific Ocean from this harbor city that is the capital of New South Wales. The Sydney Opera House, with its sail-like design, is one of the most iconic images of Sydney.
The Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach all offer additional stunning views of one of Australia's largest cities.
8. San Francisco
The City by the Bay stuns with its waterfront setting along the Pacific Ocean, classic Victorian homes and iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge.
The city is particularly gorgeous (in an eerie kind of way) when the fog descends, as it often does.
7. Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa's port city on the southwest coast is rich in natural beauty, including splendid beach views and the commanding Table Mountain. Head to Cape Point for Instagram-worthy views of the Atlantic Ocean, and take the cliffside Chapman's Peak drive.
There are numerous gorgeous beaches, including Long Beach, Blouberg Beach and Eden on the Bay.
Beaches, art and soccer (ahem, futbol) all make the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain a must-see city. Beloved Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí's stunning work can be seen throughout Barcelona at La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and Casa Milà.
Catch a game at Camp Nou stadium or a show at the Palau de la Música Catalana, both of which are beautiful in their own way.
From lush forests to sparkling blue waters to imposing mountains, Vancouver has so much beauty it's hard to know where to look. The seaport city is one of Canada's densest and most diverse metro areas.
Picturesque spots are endless. Just a few include Stanley Park, English Bay, Grouse Mountain, Granville Island, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Gastown neighborhood.
4. Venice, Italy
This famous Italian port seems like a tourist trap until you experience it. The ornate bridges, colorful houses, cute canals and divine architecture make the crowds worth it.
A few things not to miss: St. Mark's Square, Piazza San Marco, Doge's Palace, Teatro La Fenice and the cluster of islands known as Murano.
Like the other cities topping this list, one can always find new beauty in London. There are the classic beauties like Big Ben, Tower of London, Waterloo Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Then, there's the natural elegance of St. James' Park, Syon House and Richmond Park.
London's cute neighborhoods are endless in their artistry as well and include Notting Hill, Knightsbridge, Wingate Road, Soho, Shoreditch and many more.
2. New York
The densely populated North American urban oasis has it all: art, culture, food, nature, architecture, theatre, shopping — the list goes on. Five distinct boroughs make up the city that sits where the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River connect.
Some of the most iconic New York City views are at the top of Rockefeller Center, on the Brooklyn Bridge and in Central Park. Experience some of the world's best art on Broadway, at The Met, during a show at Lincoln Center or strolling the downtown art scene.
The City of Love also happens to be the most beautiful. From the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower to the sweet smells of the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris exudes beauty. See the city from a sunset cruise on the Seine, indulge in rich pastries, stroll across the ornate bridges and take in the opulent architecture.
Classic and timeless Parisian beauties include the Arc de Triomphe, Place du Trocadéro, the Panthéon, Palais Garnier and Sacre-Coeur.
Honorable Mention: Tallinn, Estonia
This list sparked much debate among our readers and editorial team. That's why we chose to add several honorable mention cities that we deemed worthy of a shoutout. First up: Tallinn, Estonia.
This was recommended several times by readers on Facebook, and it's no surprise why. With its location on the Baltic Sea, this capital city of Estonia is packed with history. Its Old Town is a must-see, as one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities that's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Honorable Mention: Savannah, Georgia
This southern city in the United States has all the charm you'd expect of the South. As Georgia's oldest city, visitors love the cobblestone streets, parks and historic buildings in Savannah's downtown.
Here, you'll find the Savannah Historic District, Savannah Victorian Historic District and 22 parklike squares — all of which make up one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the U.S. And it's in Chippewa Square where you can sit on the very park bench seen in the movie, "Forrest Gump."
Honorable Mention: Hoi An, Vietnam
While Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi already made the list, our editors believe Hoi An, located farther south along the coast, deserved a mention.
The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its Old Town is exceptionally well-preserved. Check out the covered "Japanese Bridge" that features a Buddhist temple attached to the side. Visit for the Hoi An Lantern Full Moon Festival, which takes place every full moon cycle, when people exchange flowers, lanterns and other gifts for good luck.
Honorable Mention: Riga, Latvia
Riga is often overlooked, but it's another capital city with a historical center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And its Art Nouveau architecture — the largest collection in the world — is especially worth a visit.
Honorable Mention: Florence, Italy
While Rome and Venice already made the cut, it's hard to imagine a beautiful cities list without mentioning Florence. Often considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, it has been dubbed the "Athens of the Middle Ages."
And just like Greece, it has decadent art, monuments and architecture at every turn. Art aficionados won't want to miss the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, among others.
Honorable Mention: Salzburg, Austria
Visitors can relish in the beautiful Baroque architecture throughout Austria's capital city.
While its 27 decadent churches highlight some of the best designs, the fortress of Hohensalzburg offers a nod to the city's history. It's one of Europe's largest medieval fortresses and dates back to the 11th century.
Honorable Mention: Munich, Germany
Germany's third-largest city deserves a mention due to its mix of historic and modern architecture. Several buildings destroyed in World War II were reconstructed to be the new landmarks that stand today.
Make your way to the city's center, and explore the Marienplatz open square, which features both the Old and New town halls. It has served as the city's main square since 1158.
Honorable Mention: City of Penang Island, Malaysia
This city (also known as George Town) comprises Penang Island as well as several smaller islands. What makes it unique is its combination of both colonial and Asian architecture. Highlights include Fort Cornwallis, the City Hall, the High Court and St. George's Church.
Fun fact: Right before Malaysia gained independence from the British, Queen Elizabeth II declared George Town a city, making it the country's first in modern history.
Honorable Mention: Eze, France
This city (or town really) perched above the Mediterranean Sea dates back to around 2000 B.C. In fact, ancient Greek silver from the area now makes up part of the British Museum's collection.
As you can imagine, the architecture here is quite exquisite — so much so that several people call it a village-musee ("museum village"). Make sure to check out the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, the city's oldest building.
Honorable Mention: Bucharest, Romania
Romania's capital city is also the country's largest. Located on the banks of the Dambovita River, its architecture is quite a blend of historical, interbellum, communist-era and modern styles.
Because of its elegance, it has been nicknamed the "Paris of the East" or "Little Paris." In fact, it has its own Arcul de Triumf, modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Don't miss the Palace of the Parliament, the largest Parliament building in the world that also houses the notable National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Honorable Mention: Boston
One of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston offers insight into American history. Just take the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail to catch all 16 significant historic sites.
Our favorite is Boston Common, America's first public park, where visitors can take a stroll through the lush greenery. Of course, you'll also want to check out Boston Harbor, the very site of the infamous Boston Tea Party.
Honorable Mention: Antigua, Guatemala
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua's beauty comes from its Spanish Baroque architecture as well the three volcanoes that provide a stunning backdrop.
Don't miss the bright-yellow Merced Church or the Aro de Santal Catalina.
Honorable Mention: Brussels, Belgium
Yes, Bruges made the list, but Belgium's capital city is equally charming, albeit on a much larger scale.
A city known for its gastronomy, its architecture also doesn't disappoint. Make sure to check out the historic Grand Place and the Royal Museums of Art and History.
Honorable Mention: Luxembourg City
This capital city of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Not only does it have stunning architecture — including, of course, Luxembourg Castle — but it also stands out for having quite a lot of museums for being such a small size.
Highlights include the National Museum of History and Art and the National Museum of Natural History.
Honorable Mention: Aspen, Colorado
Another smaller city on this list is Aspen, tucked away in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. What was once a mining town has become a hub for think tanks, music, art and culinary endeavors.
But, of course, it's the natural beauty of the mountains at every turn that make this such a beautiful destination.