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Let me start by stating this list is by no means every beautiful city in the world. Many gorgeous, amazing cities aren’t here. I think you’ll agree with me, though, beautiful cities can be found in every part of the world.
I even believe that every city and town, even the smallest, most non-descript ones, has at least a beautiful corner. But this list is of the cities that everyone can agree are some of the most beautiful. Can we agree on that?
These are the ones you should go see or at least put on your future travel vision board and then branch off from there. And when you do go, purchase your travel insurance from TravelInsurance.com so you can protect your travel investments and be immersed in beauty without worry!
Now, in no particular order (we promise), here is our list of the top 10 most beautiful cities in the world.
Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit
1. Cape Town
Multicultural and picturesque, Cape Town, South Africa, had to be on our list of the most beautiful cities in the world. This frequently overlooked but the utterly stunning city sits at the base of South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain on a peninsula surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the South Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors flock there from around the world to enjoy the beautiful weather, see the fascinating sights and explore the pristine beaches. Of all the major cities in South Africa, Cape Town is what comes to mind for amazing scenic attractions.
Lion’s Head is the peak of one of the surrounding mountains and is popular with hikers. It’s fairly steep and is about 3.5 miles. You’ll need to plan about 90-minutes to get to the top.
It’s actually part of the southern section of Table Mountain National Park and helps form the Cape Floral Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The region is 7,750 hectares of lush flora and fauna so it’s a favorite with nature lovers. Cape Peninsula also has rocky sheer cliffs above the sea creating gorgeous scenery filled with a rich history.
Signal Hill is another great way to enjoy the beauty of Cape Town. As its name suggests, Signal Hill was where people flew flags to let others know about the weather conditions.
Climb it to get great, panoramic views of the city and ocean. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway probably gives you the best views of Cape Town as it takes you to the top of Table Mountain.
The trip takes less than five minutes but the floor of the cable car actually rotates so you get a 360-degree panorama of the city. Visitors to amazing Cape Town love the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It’s a mixed-use venue, cultural hub, and part of a historic harbor.
You can get great photos of iconic Table Mountain in the background as well as beautiful ocean views. The waterfront features great shopping and entertainment.
Accommodation in Cape Town
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2. New York City
The Empire State Building, in midtown Manhattan, is one of the most famous buildings in the world. At 1,454 feet tall, it offers panoramic views of the city, boroughs, and up to six states.
Tickets are sold for their observation decks. I personally recommend the VIP tickets as the lines are long to take the ride up on the elevators.
Come at sunset and bring your camera! You can watch and photograph the city turning from bright and bustling to a twinkling nightscape as the day turns to night.
Pretty Central Park and its 843 acres of green space have attracted visitors for more than 150 years. This iconic park is set in the middle of Manhattan between the Upper West and Upper East Sides.
The park is filled with beautiful trees and flowers, perfect for peaceful long walks, picnics, and doing one of the self-guided tours of special sections and plantings.
The New York Public Library, a National Historic Landmark, holds millions of books along with fascinating exhibitions. The famous main branch is in Midtown Manhattan and was built in the Beaux-Arts style, gated by two massive stone lions.
The iconic main entrance steps are at Fifth Avenue and East 41st Street. Step inside and find the Main Reading Room with a 52-foot-high ceiling that’s served as a setting for films like Ghostbusters and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center, is a solemn yet beautiful monument to the 2,983 people killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.
It also pays homage to the first responders, civilians, and other emergency workers who risked their lives saving others and their enduring courage in the days after.
You’ll find excellent service with a location to match at the Motto by Hilton New York City Chelsea. The hotel has many attractions within walking distance.
It’s also a good centralized location if you’d like to branch out and explore some of the boroughs. The property also has a restaurant, fitness center, and terrace.
3. San Francisco
This gem on the west coast has always been considered one of the most attractive cities in the world because of the diverse neighborhoods and hilly landscape.
One of the most photographed attractions there is the stunning Golden Gate Bridge. This iconic structure is a suspension bridge recognizable for its main cables and high towers painted a vibrant red-orange.
Each year millions of people come from around the world to see how the famous bridge spans the Golden Gate strait that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
There is the beautiful Golden Gate Park, which is adjacent to the bridge and is a fantastic place to relax, picnic, and enjoy the sight of one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Ferries take visitors there for tours and stories of the time served by some of the worst criminals in American history. On a clear day, Alcatraz Island offers beautiful panoramic views of San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, and Marin County north of the city.
Another park, Twin Peaks, can give you another vantage point from which to see San Francisco.
Besides taking amazing photos of the city that will look like vintage postcards, you’ll also get to enjoy the animals, including the endangered mission blue butterfly, and plant life as you hike the short trail.
Another great hike in the city for amazing views is the one at Lands End in the northwestern part of San Francisco which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Trek along the windy shoreline at the mouth of the Golden Gate Strait through the cypress and eucalyptus trees to spot shipwrecks and the Sutro Baths ruins.
You’ll also see the memorial to the USS San Francisco which is a WWII cruiser from the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. Lastly, you must experience the darling cable cars that have carried people up and down the city streets since 1873. The tracks are now a historical landmark.
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The citizenM San Francisco Union Square is located in the city center with many attractions within walking distance. It has a restaurant and a lounge and past guests have loved the location.
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Sydney, Australia, also gets a World Most Beautiful City designation because of the way natural beauty and art are combined in this modern city. The Sydney Opera House is instantly recognizable as an architectural marvel of both Modern and Expressionist styles.
In 2007, it was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it brings 10.9 million visitors each year. It serves the city as a multi-venue performance center offering programs for all tastes.
Nearby, the Sydney Harbour Bridge spans the city center to the North Shore. It’s a wonderful wide steel arch bridge with a climb to the top for the willing and an enjoyable walk with spectacular harbor views for everyone else.
Sydney Harbour is considered one of the world’s most beautiful harbors and features lovely beaches and coves as well. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is the oldest scientific institution in Australia. It’s peaceful inside and gives visitors gorgeous views of the harbor.
This is a great place to get your photos of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. See traditional plants and beautiful horticultural exhibits inside too.
For views of the harbor from another perspective, hike the short South Head Heritage Trail.
You’ll also get great views of the beaches in Sydney, historic gun emplacements, and maybe spot some whales. A charming red and white striped lighthouse offers a nice vantage point.
The Meriton Suites Sussex Street in the city center is close to these attractions and other iconic sites while providing luxurious accommodations.
The property has a fitness center, a whirlpool tub and sauna, and an indoor heated swimming pool. The suites are roomy with kitchenettes and some have water views.
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Often considered the world’s most beautiful city, Paris is definitely among the most stylish and sophisticated. It’s the capital city of France and it holds a fascinating place in history for its politics and art. Paris is also known for food, fashion, love, cinema, cafes, perfume, and more.
Paris may be the City of Lights with important art and fashion houses, but it also has quaint corners, cobbled streets, and cozy bakeries. Whatever your idea of beauty, Paris has it.
The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 much to the horror of many Parisians, but now it’s a source of pride as well as an iconic landmark. Visitors can take an emotional ride to the top with exceptional views of the city from every floor as you ascend and descend.
The gorgeous Musee d’Orsay once served as a Beaux-Arts-styled railroad station. Now it holds an incredible collection of French Impressionist paintings, furniture, sculptures, and photography, dating from 1848 to 1914.
Sainte-Chapelle is a stunning chapel with glorious stained-glass windows built by Louis IX in the mid-13th Century. It was the center of his royal residence, the Palais de la Cite, and housed the relics of the Passion of the Christ. Fifteen glass panels and a huge rose window combine to create a wall of light inside. It’s truly magnificent.
The Sainte-Chappelle is a spectacular example of French Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another of Paris’ world-class museums is the Musee de l’Orangerie. This used to be a winter greenhouse for the orange trees that grew in the Tuilleries Gardens.
Now it’s a gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings including the big Water Lilies masterpieces by Claude Monet.
The Arc de Triomphe was ordered by Napoleon I to commemorate his victories and now is a symbol of French nationalism. The adjacent terrace gives wonderful views of the city and avenues. Each evening, the flame of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is lit.
The Louvre Museum is another French icon and holds many of Europe’s most important paintings including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It’s considered the greatest and richest art museum in the world, and the most visited, with works of art from almost every age and time.
The building itself served as a royal palace for more than two centuries until the French Revolution. But it has about eight centuries of Paris history attached to it.
So if you want to be in the heart of all the French culture, art, and Parisian history, choose the Hotel West-End – a luxury boutique hotel next to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. It’s stylish and ultra-Parisian in furnishings and decor. Here, you’ll be treated to a marble bathroom and soundproof windows.
It’s within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, the Arc de Triomphe, and other important attractions. A continental breakfast is included in the rate.
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6. Rio de Janeiro
Many of the most beautiful cities in the world have amazing natural attractions like the capital city, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Famous for its lively Carnival, sultry bossa nova, and incredible beaches, Rio de Janeiro is also one of the most visited cities in the world.
From the top, several hundred meters above the harbor, you’ll get panoramic views of the city, Botafogo Cave, and Guanabara Bay. Get there by tram and plan to watch the sunset.
The first hill you’ll reach by tram is called Morro da Urca. You’ll get great views from there too as well as nice hiking. The area around Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain is called Urca and it’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro.
It’s a very cosmopolitan area and has great architecture and is lined with bars serving wonderful food and wine. Rio de Janeiro is also home to another of the Seven Wonders of the World. Corcovado–Christ the Redeemer.
Completed in 1931, the art deco statue stands over the city 710 meters above sea level. There are 220 steps leading to the feet. Aim for sunrise or sunset for the best photos and crowd level.
Another beautiful and tranquil place to visit in Rio de Janeiro is the Botanical Garden. You’ll be wowed by two 800-yard-long rows of royal palm trees that make you feel like you are strolling the king’s gardens.
Inside there are more palms and many other plants. Enjoy a nice and peaceful walk in a natural setting where you can hear many chirping birds.
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Ipanema Beach is a luxurious stretch of white sand, blue sea, boutiques, and restaurants.
Tall and tan or short and pale (raises hand), you’ll want to sway like a samba strolling this ultra-chic beach. Find fabulous sunsets here too.
You’ll find much more beauty within the city in the urban Tijuca National Park. The park is in the mountains but still inside Rio de Janeiro. The biodiversity here is breathtaking.
Visitors enjoy finding waterfalls, viewpoints, monuments, and summits on hikes. It’s a true oasis in a bustling, lively city.
Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
A stunning option for city accommodations can be found at the Vila Santa Teresa in the district of the same name. They are convenient to Christ the Redeemer and other attractions and they offer an airport shuttle.
The property, which is more like a villa, also has a refreshing pool, amazing sea views, a sun terrace, and a lounge. All the rooms have air-conditioning and a flat-screen TV, plus breakfast is included in the rate. The grounds are gorgeous too.
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7. Quebec City
Walled cities are naturally some of the most beautiful places to live in the world and Quebec City in the province of Quebec in Canada is exquisite. Old Quebec is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was founded in the early 17th Century by the French explorer Champlain.
It’s the only walled city in North America with intact ramparts, bastions, and gates. A visit there feels as if you’ve been transported to the cobbled streets of a French village. There is an Upper Town called Haute-Ville and a Lower Town called Basse-Ville. Both are utterly charming with little boulangeries and creperies.
Walk the ramparts overlooking the St. Lawrence River and spy the wonderous Chateau Frontenac. There’s so much to do and see, eat and drink in this amazing city. There is even a gorgeous 275-foot waterfall on the Montmorency River called Montmorency Falls.
You can see it when you visit Parc de la Chute-Montmorency. To reach the top, there are two paths built on the face of the rock. But you can also skip the rock climbing and steep hike by taking a cable car to enjoy the same fantastic views.
For views of Old Quebec and the St. Lawrence River, visit Terrasse Dufferin. This is an elevated historic boardwalk that leads you around Chateau Frontenac.
In the winter, the toboggan slides are open and in the summer, the promenade is filled with musicians and is a great place to see the evening fireworks. You’ll get postcard-worthy pics of the river, the Chateau, and the surrounding area from the walkway any time of year.
The Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral was originally built in 1647 and was made entirely of stone.
Accommodation in Quebec City
With all this amazing history around you’ll need a hotel to match the vibe. The Hotel Clarendon was built in 1870 and is in the heart of Old Quebec. This is a beautiful hotel in an excellent location. The hotel is within walking distance to Chateau Frontenac, restaurants, and shopping. They also have a restaurant onsite or room service.
8. San Miguel de Allende
The beauty of the city of San Miguel de Allende in the central highlands of Mexico comes from its Spanish baroque architecture and influences. The city also has a vibrant arts scene with many fiestas of art, music, and food held throughout the year.
Cobblestone streets lead to the main plaza, El Jardin, and the pink neo-Gothic church, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the iconic city landmark.
El Jardin is the heart of the city. Here, you can spend hours people-watching, shopping, dining, or listening in on a political rally or a music performance.
Nearby, the Templo de San Francisco features an 18th Century churrigueresque facade. Visitors can also find local art at Fabrica la Aurora which is a textile mill that’s been renovated and now has cafes, galleries, and shops.
It’s within walking distance of El Jardin and is a draw for art lovers who like to see the creators at work or take classes. Another paradise for art lovers is the Instituto Allende, a beautiful campus for art and language studies.
The school used to be a home for area nobility, a family called Condes de la Canal. It was built for them in 1736. It’s located close to the city center and is open to all visitors. Take a workshop, browse the galleries, or just stroll the peaceful gardens. There are also charming cafes. If you find beauty in public libraries, you must see the Biblitoecta Publica de San Miguel de Allende.
They offer a large collection of both Spanish and English language books and films. It’s a nice place to stop and browse away from the noise of the city. Stop in for refreshments at their cafe or take in a film or concert. The library has built a reputation for being an excellent cultural center.
El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden is where visitors to San Miguel de Allende go for natural beauty. The garden is 170 acres of wildlife, local cacti, and other plants and trees.
This is also where the community comes to enjoy cultural acts and programs. Otherwise, you can hike, picnic by waterfalls, or just enjoy the outdoors.
Accommodation in San Miguel de Allende
Steps from museums, the public library, and Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is the charming colonial-style Hotel Mansion Virreyes by Rotamundos. Enjoy garden views, the onsite restaurant, and the terrace. The rooms are large and the location is excellent.
One beautiful city of the world is also the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, with the looks of a storybook coming to life. It’s an artistic hub of northern Europe and is famous for its picturesque bike paths, canals, bridges, and 17th Century Golden Age architecture.
You’ll also find delightful tulip stands and coffee shops. Take a canal cruise early in your visit so you can get an overview of the city. Then head to the Museum District to see the Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt and Vermeer paintings and the modern Stedelijk.
The Rijksmuseum is the story of the country’s history, from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. The Rembrandt masterpiece The Night Watch is housed here. The Van Gogh Museum in the same district holds the largest collection of his works including Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, and The Bedroom.
For wartime history, visit the Anne Frank House in the city center. You’ll hear and see the story of this brave girl and her family through narration, photography, videos, and personal items.
For natural beauty, take a picnic in the famous city park, Vondelpark, designed and opened in 1850. This is a gorgeous city park to enjoy the sunshine, hike, or take a bike ride. The open-air museum Zaanse Schans is also a great place to enjoy the country’s outdoor spaces.
It’s a recreation of a Dutch village with houses made of wood and windmills from the 17th and 18th Centuries. If you’d like to take photographs of beautiful everyday life in the Netherlands, head to its largest street market south of the city center.
The Albert Cuyp Market serves eye candy of flowers, fresh produce, and local goods. Mingle with the citizens and get to know their delightful way of life.
Accommodation in Amsterdam
Stay in the city center at the Hotel Estherea on the Singel Canal. It features traditional Dutch decor with romantic rooms. Some rooms have canal views, but all of them have a private bath and free WiFi. In the lobby, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are served. The hotel is within walking distance of museums, shopping, cafes, and restaurants.
For something higher-end, check out the world-famous and quintessentially Dutch Hotel Pulitzer.
For a visual journey, watch out YouTube video of the Best Things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands below!
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What place comes to mind when you hear about a pink world, a beautiful city, and a royal residence? Jaipur! It’s the capital of India’s Rajasthan state and was once ruled by Indian royalty (who founded the Old City in 1727) and then the British Raj.
Known as Pink City, its famous landmarks are actually pink, originally under the orders of King Sawai Ram Singh. This is one of the reasons Jaipur stands as one of the prettiest cities in the world.
In 1876, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, (who would later be crowned King Edward VII, Emperor of India), visited this majestic city.
Pink was considered the color of hospitality and to celebrate the Prince’s visit, the artistically inclined Maharajah Sawai Ram Singh ordered that the city buildings be painted pink. The delighted Albert called Jaipur the “pink city,” and the name stuck. Today, many parts of the city sport the same fetching shade of pink and see a fresh coat every few years.
The future king and emperor also had an elegant concert hall erected. The Albert Hall is on the grounds of Ram Niwas Public gardens and is now home to a superb museum.
Jaipur’s most iconic building, Hawa Mahal, is made of red and pink sandstone and is an architectural marvel. It’s also called the Palace of Breeze and was built in 1799.
As part of the Royal City Palace, it let the royal ladies see the city streets without being seen themselves, which was forbidden. The Amber Fort is close to Jaipur in Amer, Rajasthan. It’s a beautiful ancient fort with ramparts, gates, and cobblestone streets, and it overlooks Maota Lake.
It was built of red sandstone and marble and has four levels, each with a courtyard. The historic and cultural center of the City Palace holds the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and is still home to the royal family.
It’s an opulent complex of buildings, galleries, courtyards, and restaurants. Walking through the palace gives you a real sense of elegant Jaipur royal life.
Another palace shows the incredible scale of the Rajput architectural style. The Jal Mahal is the “Water Palace” and it sits in the center of Man Sagar Lake.
It was built in 1699 and was later renovated and enlarged in the 18th Century. The red sandstone palace looks as if it’s floating on water and is a pretty and peaceful site from the banks of Man Sagar Lake.
Currently, you cannot get inside, but you’re welcome to take amazing photos of its impressive exterior with lush foliage growing out of the pink top!
Accommodation in Jaipur
For a stay in such an enchanting city, you need an enchanting hotel to match. The Alila Fort Bishangarh Jaipur is a Hyatt brand hotel in an excellent location atop a hill with gorgeous views away from the bustle of the city. The hotel offers free WiFi and has a terrace with a cooling swimming pool, garden, and fitness center.
The hotel is a fort built in the Rajput style and the rooms have flat-screen TVs and a private bath. The 24-hour front desk has knowledgeable staff eager to help guests with tours and dining reservations. Past guests loved the quiet location and friendly service.
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Jen is a Pittsburgh-based writer with a background in hospitality and tourism. Her specialties include sales and marketing technology and travel content. When she isn’t on assignment, Jen catches up on her many newsletter subscriptions, watches nocode tutorials, and spends time with her family.