things to do in budapest

There are some cities that I just can’t get enough of. It could be for any particular reason: the energy, a lively culinary scene, a spectacular setting, a melting-pot of cultures, history, architecture, a laid-back pace or a mix of everything. These are cities that I would never tire of visiting. Without further ado, here are my 20 favorite cities (in no particular order):

favorite cities to visit
My home, Amsterdam, is my favorite city! 🙂

1. Montréal

Ahhh, Montréal! I love this city! From Old Montréal with its gorgeous historic buildings to the city’s striking architecture and arts/design scene, fab restaurants and lovely parks, this city has tonnes to offer. Most of all, I love the energy in this city, a unique brand of joie de vivre that never let’s you go once it has you in its grip!

The Notre Dame Church in Old Montreal.

2. Berlin

Arguably one of the coolest cities in the world, Berlin is an awe-inspiring mix of historical landmarks, cutting-edge architecture, a vibrant cultural and arts/design scene, and some of the friendliest people in any capital city. Read about how to spend a few days in Berlin.

Colourful murals adorn these buildings in the Kreutzigerstrasse in Friedrichshain, Berlin.

3. Melbourne

Australia’s second-largest city is a true delight that begs to be explored. Melbourne‘s coffee scene is second to none and the culinary landscape is varied and highly developed. Stroll around Melbourne’s hidden lanes and arcades, go shopping in South Yarra or wander around the Botanical Gardens and feel Melbourne cast its spell on you!

The Melbourne skyline as seen from the banks of the Yarra River.

4. Buenos Aires

Famous for its tango, steaks and Evita, Buenos Aires has much more to offer. I stayed for five days on my first visit, and a whole month on my second! From colourful San Telmo to grand Recoleta, Buenos Aires’s neighbourhoods are a joy to explore!

The famous Plaza Mayo with the Casa Rosada

5. Sydney

I have a soft spot for Sydney as I spent quite a bit of time here as a teenager. Sydney Harbour, with its iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, is absolutely spectacular – I could spend hours here just watching the goings-on in the deep blue harbour. But don’t forget the historic Rocks, Darling Harbour and Sydney’s melting pot of cultures reflected in its foodie, cultural and arts scenes.

View of Sydney, Australia, from the plane window.

6. Cape Town

Another stunning harbour-side city which I can’t get enough of! The views from the top of Table Mountain are bewildering, as is the drive around the Cape Peninsula. Cape Town is a lively hodge-podge of markets, historic buildings, colourful neighbourhoods like Bo Kaap and terrific restaurants and cafés. Read about things to do in Cape Town and spectacular road trips from Cape Town.

cape town helicopter flight
Panoramic view of Cape Town from a helicopter tour.

7. New York

My first trip to New York left me quite literally breathless from excitement. It’s one of those amazing cities that just lifts you off your feet and takes you for an exhilarating spin. How could I not include New York in this list!

New York’s stunning skyline.

8. London

Another global city that you can return to time and time again without ever getting bored! London, like New York, can be overwhelming at first so the trick is to take your time and experience the city in little bites. Read about alternative ways to explore London.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

9. Kuala Lumpur

The city I called home for 17 years. Kuala Lumpur looks a lot different now compared to the sleepy place I knew when I was growing up. This city has developed so fast in the past 20 years that I’m always amazed each time I return. The Petronas Twin Towers are the city’s biggest icons but there are lush parks, bustling markets, massive malls and a world-class foodie scene all waiting to be discovered. Don’t miss the various districts such as Chinatown. Read about things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur City Centre

10. Istanbul

Straddling two continents, the word ‘exotic’ was probably invented here! With its ancient monuments, stunning mosques, imposing palaces and bustling bazaars, Istanbul is a wonder in itself. I’ll never tire of the breathtaking views across the Bosphorus and visits to the numerous hammams! Read about how to experience Istanbul like a local.


11. Vienna

The grand Hofburg in Vienna.


One of the grandest capital cities in Europe, Vienna boasts not only stunning historic palaces and impressive museums but a distinct urban vibe that never fails to excite. Admire the Hofburg, the adjacent Spanish Riding School and the Schönbrunn Palace, visit the beautiful Belvedere and Albertina museums, indulge in aromatic Viennese coffee and the world-famous Sachertorte (cake), and chill along the banks of the Danube Canal.

Read more about Vienna, including things to do in Vienna and my suggested Vienna walking route. Search for hotels in Vienna.

12. Bologna

A street in Bologna

Bologna is one of my favourite cities in Europe. There’s just something about this city that keeps drawing me back! The city’s biggest attractions are its imposing historic monuments such as its towers and its incredible food scene but stroll around the city in the shade of its gorgeous porticoes, visit the Sunday antique market or join the locals at one of the many terraces and you’ll soon discover why I love Bologna!

Read more about things to do in Bologna. Search for hotels in Bologna.

13. Rio de Janeiro

The mind-blowing panoramic view of Rio from the viewing platform at the foot of the Christ Statue.

The home of the Christ Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain and Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Rio de Janeiro is a city of big contrasts, immense beauty and warm, engaging people. The Rio Olympics in 2016 added several new attractions to the city, including a refurbishment of its downtown waterfront district. There’s so much to see and do in this fascinating city – I’ve been there five times now and I still have the feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface!

Read more about Rio de Janeiro. Search for hotels in Rio de Janeiro.

14. Hong Kong

The stunning skyline of Hong Kong.

With its awe-inspiring skyline, cosmopolitan buzz and wondrous mix of Oriental and Western influences, Hong Kong is definitely one of my favourites in Asia. Gleaming skyscrapers and dazzling malls stand alongside serene temples and bustling street markets. For a change of scenery, head for the outer islands and discover sleepy fishing villages and quiet beaches.

Read more about things to do in Hong Kong. Search for hotels in Hong Kong.

15. Barcelona

Seafood stall at the La Boqueria market in Barcelona.

A favourite for many visitors from around the world! What’s not to love about Barcelona? The city of Gaudí, Miró, top-notch cuisine, a buzzing nightlife and the blue waters of the Mediterranean lapping its sandy shores, Barcelona never fails to excite!

Read more about things to do in Barcelona. Search for hotels in Barcelona.

16. Madrid

Palacio Real in Madrid.

Madrid, the capital and largest city of Spain is another of my perennial favourites. With its grand architecture, majestic palaces, stunning museums and broad tree-lined avenues, it ranks right up amongst Europe’s great capitals like London and Vienna, at least in my book. What distinguishes Madrid from the other European capitals is its unique flair. Stroll around the compact city centre, indulge yourself at the Mercado de San Miguel (one of my favourite markets in the world!) and sit at one of the many plazas, and you’ll quickly get a feel of this unique flair!

Read about things to do in Madrid and lesser-known museums in Madrid to visit. Search for hotels in Madrid.

17. Graz

The second-largest city in Austria is often overlooked, which is a pity, because Graz offers visitors a plethora of historic, cultural and foodie experiences. What I love most about this city is how laid-back it is. Combined with UNESCO World Heritage listed Italian Renaissance architecture in its old town, the atmosphere is almost Mediterranean-like! In Graz, you’ll find gorgeous buildings and leafy parks, terrific restaurants, countless alfresco cafés, a vibrant coffee culture and local design shops. Not far from the city, you’ll also find the South Styria wine country – think fabulous wines and food!

Read about things to do in Graz, check out my Graz itinerary and learn about the South Styrian Wine Road. Search for hotels in Graz.

View of Graz from Schlossberg.

18. Vancouver

The Aquabus which connects various points along the shores of False Creek in Vancouver.

Definitely one of my favourite cities in North America! Vancouver is blessed with a spectacular natural setting, hemmed in between a large harbour and imposing mountains. Indulge yourself in Vancouver’s food scene (the sushi and sashimi are some of the best I’ve had), stroll around the compact city centre between towering skyscrapers or in leafy neighbourhoods, discover the city’s craft beer scene, get a panoramic view of the city from Grouse Mountain or shop at the popular Granville Island Market.

Read about things to do in Vancouver. Search for hotels in Vancouver.

19. Valencia

City of Arts & Sciences

Another Spanish city I absolutely adore. Though Barcelona and Madrid steal much of the limelight, Valencia has a lot to offer visitors. The historic city centre is a maze of atmospheric alleys and squares but a stone’s throw away, another amazing sight awaits: the City of Arts and Sciences, a wondrous architectural marvel which houses theatres, museums and the aquarium. A short tram-ride brings visitors to the city’s broad, sandy beaches, where locals spend their weekends.

Read about things to do in Valencia. Search for hotels in Valencia.

20. Budapest

The majestic Parliament Building in Budapest on the banks of the Danube.

Budapest, the capital of Hungary is another of my Euro favourites. The Buda district, with its iconic castle, is a big attraction but head to the Pest district with its eclectic architecture, broad avenues, bustling markets and vibrant night life. Go for a Danube river cruise to see the city’s historic riverside monuments, have a coffee at Café New York (often touted as one of the world’s most beautiful cafés) or soak in one of the city’s famous thermal baths! You’ll soon see why I always enjoy a visit to this city! Read more about things to do in Budapest. Search for hotels in Budapest.

So there you go: my favorite cities which I have no qualms visiting again! Now, wouldn’t it be cool to do a round-the-world trip through these cities? 😉


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