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My Top Five Cities To Visit In 2015

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Last month, Lonely Planet published their Top Ten Cities To Visit in 2015. These are the ten cities they picked:

  1. Washington, DC (USA)
  2. El Chalten (Argentina)
  3. Milan (Italy)
  4. Zermatt (Switzerland)
  5. Valletta (Malta)
  6. Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
  7. Salisbury (England)
  8. Vienna (Austria)
  9. Chennai (India)
  10. Toronto (Canada)
El Chalten
El Chalten, Argentina. Can this little settlement even be called ‘city’?

To be honest, the list felt somewhat random to me. With some cities, I can see why they’re on the list (Valletta for example, which is totally underrated in my opinion, and is featured in a detailed post on Globetrottergirls.com here), but with others, I feel like they are completely arbitrary picks, and both Latin America and Asia are undervalued – and Australia has been ignored entirely, while more than half of the list is made up by European cities.

So I decided to put together my own list of cities I think you should visit in 2015 – and if you feel like visiting some of them next year, make sure to check out Contiki’s new destinations as well as its classic tours which include four of the places I suggest.

Please let me know what you think about my picks in the comments below, or share your own Top 5 or just one must-visit city for 2015 with me!

Top Five Cities to Visit in 2015

1 Cusco, Peru

I haven’t written much about Cusco yet but it will get a full feature here soon – It had been a long time since I had been enchanted by a city as much as I was by Cusco earlier this year. Surrounded by the green Andean Mountains, and set around a spacious Plaza De Armas (main square), it is the picture-perfect Spanish-colonial city. It was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in order to preserve the one-of-a-kind mix of Inca culture, Killke culture (the ethnic group that populated the area prior to the Incas) and Spanish colonial influence. Especially the San Blas neighborhood, set on a hill and lined with narrow alleyways and little squares, churches and cute restaurants, had me pull out my camera over and over again. San Pedro market, the city’s main market is one of the cleanest and best organized ones I’ve come across in Latin America, and I loved shopping for quinoa and other grains there, as well as Andean scarves and llama wool gloves to take home as souvenirs.

And then there’s Machu Picchu of course, the famous lost Inca city high up in the Andean Mountains that is the main draw for most people to visit Cusco. My recommendation: make sure to spend a few more days in this beautiful city and take in its beauty.

Cuzco Peru

2 Innsbruck

Lonely Planet voted for Vienna, but I say visit Innsbruck! The city has one of the most spectacular settings in the entire Alps, nestled in a valley between the towering snow-covered Alpine mountains on each sides. If you happen to fly into Innsbruck, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking landings in the world. A half hour drive out of the city brings you to some of the most stunning scenery in Austria – think snow covered mountain peaks and green Alpine meadows that would make Heidi squeal with joy. The city itself combines traditional Austrian architecture with a young student vibe where you find tons of bars, pubs and coffee shops. As long as the sun is out, restaurants and cafes put chairs and tables outside – even in the winter. Innsbruck is a mecca for anyone who loves outdoorsy activities, attracting hikers in the summer and turning into a skier’s and snowboarder’s paradise in the winter.

Innsbruck Austria

3 Mexico City

Mexico City’s capital just doesn’t get enough love, but it remains one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever been to. I remember that before my first visit, the thought of exploring a 20 million people metropole seemed quite daunting, but thanks to the excellent subway system and walkable historic center it is actually easy to navigate the city. The amount of world-class museums, accessible art (murals by Mexico’s great muralists in particular), diverse neighborhoods and incredible food markets make Mexico City one of the most vibrant cities in the world. When you need a break from the busy city environment you can take a break in Parque Chapultapec, a giant park right in the city, or head to the outskirts of Mexico City, where you find quaint neighborhoods such as San Angel, Coyoacan or Xochimilco, which still have the charm of little villages with leafy town squares and cobble stone streets.

Mexico City

4 Valletta, Malta

Valletta is one of Europe’s smallest capitals and is nothing like a typical capital city. The tiny capital (population just over 6,000) is surrounded by a massive, still intact city wall, erected in the 16th century by the Knights Of St John who built Valletta. The city is filled with ocher colored houses, many of which feature colorful wooden balconies. Surrounded by the Mediterranean on three sides and set on a hilltop, you have magnificent views over the sea and the harbor from almost any point in the city. Just looking down on one of the long streets of Valletta’s grid layout will have you hold your breath. The city is rightly UNESCO World Heritage site, and I will feature it in detail in a photo post later this week.

Valletta Malta

5 Vientiane, Laos

Vientiane is another highly underrated capital – even though it is one of the prettiest capitals in all of South East Asia. With its quiet, laid-back vibe it is worlds apart from bustling Bangkok or hectic Kuala Lumpur, but in Laos, people usually head straight to Luang Prabang. Admittedly, Luang Prabang is a showcase city with well-preserved French-colonial architecture, a fabulous night market and tons of boutique hotels and delicious eateries, but Vientiane has the prettier temples, the better river sunsets and a less touristy feel to it.

Vientiane LaosWhat would be your picks for cities to visit in 2015? And do you agree with my suggestions, or with Lonely Planet’s?

*Disclaimer: This post was written by me and brought to you by Contiki.
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40 Comments

  1. Your list is great! I came so close to going to Peru this year (I chose Colombia instead) but I heard nothing but great things about Cusco. Mexico City is another place I’ve been dying to visit. I’m glad to see both on your list! Hmm, if I were going to pick 5 cities I’d say 1) Havana, Cuba 2) Bogota, Colombia 3) Dalat, Vietnam 4) San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico and 5) Medellin, Colombia. These are just some of my favorite cities that I highly recommend people visit 🙂

    1. Thanks, Justine! I hope you’ll make it to Peru next year. I really liked it! I’ve been dying to go to Cuba and now that I see Havana on your list I am wondering if I can make it happen next year?! 🙂 And with two cities in Colombia I really have to go there! Surprised that it’s Medellin and Bogota though, and not Cartagena… heard such good things about it.

  2. LOL – what is it with lists anyway? Whenever somebody publishes a list they claim “authority”, where in reality they publish nothing but a very subjective impression in list form. At least you make this obvious in your title 😉

    I didn’t agree with LP’s list, but can’t agree with yours either. Mexico City I find just too big, and Cusco too touristy. My vote for a city in Mexico would probably go to Oaxaca, and Cartagena in South America – I believe both are more “authentic” if that’s possible.

    I’m half serious about writing a blog post titled “12+ reasons why you should not write list post!” :p

    1. Sigh… I guess everybody has a very different point of view on what makes a great destination 😀 I do pay attention to lists like this though, they definitely inspire me! The annual NYT list is the one that I usually like best and where the picks make sense 🙂

      P.S. Btw – knowing that you really like Cartagena makes me think I need to visit Colombia soon, Juergen! 😀

  3. Hi, Nice job on your list ! – after reading feedback from others- top places are going to be personal and often subjective based on a set of criteria that people rate differently than others! So like to see your point of view and why nice job!

  4. Personally I’d never visit Vientiane every again, but that’s just how I feel after having been stuck there for more days than I’d have preferred after we had to wait for our visas for Thailand over a long holiday weekend.

    It’s okay, but not somewhere I’d recommend to anyone, regardless of the rather lacklustre time we had there.

    1. I guess it is a very personal choice, Dale. I also know people who disliked Mexico City (too big) and Cusco (too touristy) but I thoroughly enjoyed both. Which cities would make your list?

    2. Oh totally. It’s more about my personal experience that makes me not look on it so fondly, but I still don’t think there’s enough there to encourage others to make the trip. Not saying the country isn’t beautiful though.

      I’d love to see Naples on the list, but it’s probably quite expected too and nothing new or interesting.

  5. Fabulous list! Malta looks like a charming destination! I think the focus should be on lesser-explored, yet stunning destinations. I am looking forward to 2015! Thanks for inspiring! 🙂

  6. These lists keep making my “places to go” list longer and longer! LP’s list does seem pretty random. I’ve never been anywhere on either list (well, besides D.C., I guess) but I will be heading to Mexico City at the end of 2015!

    1. Sky – don’t even get me started on the length of my ‘places to go’ list 😉 Great to hear that you’ll be visiting Mexico City!! Love that place and would return over and over again 🙂

  7. Oh Innsbruck is so adorable!! And the mountains are just breathtaking there! Actually these smaller cities can be so much better than Vienna (that I adore anyway!). Recently I discovered Graz and that was such a gem!

    1. Innsbruck really is!! I haven’t had Graz on my list of places to check out but I think I might have to check it out next time I’m in Austria 🙂

    1. You’re right! But I haven’t been there yet – maybe it’ll make next year’s list.. fingers crossed that I’ll finally make it to Japan in 2015, I am dying to visit Tokyo!

  8. I’m SO glad someone wrote a critical response to the Best in Travel 2015 reminding us all that just Lonely Planet doesn’t always have to be the ‘bible’ of travel!

    I questioned Innsbruck’s “Capital of the Alps” claim here: http://wp.me/p3H3S9-lS, and also lived in Salzburg for a year. Interesting which one of the two you picked!

    1. Salzburg is just a little too neat for my liking, to be honest 🙂 I always felt that Innsbruck was a little more authentic, not just all made up for the tourists. And yes, there is this picture-perfect area around the Goldenes Dachl but there’s also just so much non-touristy stuff, especially around the university. Now heading over to your site to read your article 😀

  9. Happy to see that my city made the #1 list.
    Washington D.C. Is unlike any other city in the USA–and I’ve been to a lot of them except Chicago–have only flown through there. Our museums are amazing, literally people from every nation live here, exciting in a different way than NYC and well it’s beautiful. Of course I’m biased cause I grew up in the suburbs. ;). I’ve lived half of my adult life in both NYC and D.C. and will never compare them. It’s like apples or oranges? They are both magnificent cities in their own way.

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