The 10 best cities in Europe

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey was open to vote from Jan.11 to May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world lift COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope this year’s award winners inspire your own travels as you return to the world.



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The call of a european holidays remains strong for US travelers: in 2019 Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK all ranked in the top 10 most popular countries for US visitors, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. And while there’s nothing wrong with going straight to a beach on a Greek island or a wine villa in Tuscany, you’re missing out on something if you don’t at least spend some time to soak up the dynamic energy of the best cities in Europe.

Every year for our The best prices in the world investigation, T + L asks readers to influence travel experiences around the world – to share their opinions on major cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, etc. Cities rated by readers on their sites and monuments, their culture, their cuisine, their conviviality, their purchases and their overall value.

Italy – consistently one of the most visited countries in the world each year – claimed three of our readers’ favorite European cities. The top-ranked Italian contender is Florence, last year’s winner and magazine cover star in August 2020, who arrives at No.2. the food, the beauty, the people. ”

But there are a few surprises on this list. In southern Europe, still a hotspot for tourism for its milder climate and relaxed lifestyle, several of the top-ranked destinations are smaller, more isolated towns: the Italian port city of Trieste (# 7 ), for example, and San Sebastián (No. 5), in the Spanish Basque Country, home to less than 200,000 people but famous the world over for its inordinate contributions to avant-garde cuisine. (Fun fact: it is the city with the second highest number of Michelin stars in the world.)

Also on the list are cities in some countries of the former Eastern Bloc, indicating a wider readership interest in exploring Central and Eastern Europe. Ljubljana, the charming capital of Slovenia, comes eighth, and Krakow, Poland, moves up four places from last year to third in our readers’ rankings. “Horse drawn carriages in the Old Town Square, music, food, beautiful architecture, music and street entertainment,” recalled one respondent. “You feel like you’ve stepped back in time and immediately drawn to the place.”



a large ship in a body of water: these European cities have been voted the best by the readers of Travel + Leisure.  From Istanbul to Seville, and everywhere in between, these cities are superb centers of art, fashion, food and more.


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These European cities were voted the best by the readers of Travel + Leisure. From Istanbul to Seville, and everywhere in between, these cities are superb centers of art, fashion, food and more.

Two top 10 cities can be found in Turkey, a nation of nearly 85 million people straddling Europe and Asia – a unique position that influences everything from its stunning architecture to its cosmopolitan cuisine. One of this year’s winners is Bodrum, an ancient city on the Aegean Sea, which readers have ranked No.6.

The other, Istanbul, is a city at the crossroads of history with a timeless allure. Find out below why T + L readers ranked it number one in Europe’s best cities and what other mainland destinations were on the list.

1. Istanbul



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After finishing second last year, the city of 15 million people overtook Florence to claim the title of No.1 city in Europe, according to T + L readers. “My favorite city,” wrote a survey respondent. “It was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, but there is also an incredible contemporary culture, shopping, food and architecture.” Popular historic sites here include Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, but there are also plenty of more modern attractions – shops in the Nişantaşi district in Galataport, a cruise ship terminal, and a mixed-use development on the islands. shores of the Bosphorus. And the city’s striking new airport provides such a smooth welcome that many survey respondents include their arrival among their best travel memories. One reader said: “Even a week is not enough to fully appreciate this cosmopolitan world capital.”

WBA Hall of Fame honored. Score: 91.32

2. Florence



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WBA Hall of Fame honored. Score: 90.48

3. Krakow, Poland

Video: The best small towns in Europe (Travel + Leisure)

The best small towns in Europe

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Score: 89.39

4. Rome



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WBA Hall of Fame honored. Rating: 88.88

5. San Sebastian, Spain



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Rating: 88.87

6. Bodrum, Turkey



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Score: 88.82

7. Trieste, Italy



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Score: 88.54

8. Ljubljana, Slovenia



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Rating: 88.47

9. Porto, Portugal



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Rating: 87.79

10. Seville, Spain



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Rating: 87.73

Discover all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines and more in the The world’s best prices for 2021.

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