The verdict is out. For its 19th annual poll, readers at Travel + Leisure voted for the top destinations in the world. What defined the very best in travel comes in the form of first-class cuisines, flourishing art scenes and much more. So before departing to these coveted cosmopolitan cities, don’t forget to purchase flight insurance to protect your travel investment.
1. Kyoto, Japan
The City of 10,000 Shrines is revered among travelers. Located in the central part of the island of Honshu, Kyoto brims with a stunning collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites and some of the country’s most exquisite cuisine. The Japanese hub scored 90.21 in the Travel + Leisure poll, the highest of any city. Visitors will find countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures here, but they’ll also come across a fair share of hip cafes and modern art. The city that once served as the imperial capital of Japan and the emperor’s residence for more than 1,000 years has now regained the throne.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Amid a map-full of potential winners, Southern charm must carry plenty of weight. As the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston packs picturesque churches, elegant architecture and more than 100 galleries of wondrous art. In the T+L poll, it followed on the heels of Kyoto with a score of 90.18. After riding in a horse-drawn carriage, you can wander through magnolia-filled gardens and taste Southern delicacies of fresh seafood. The antebellum port city couldn’t be better for relaxing, and beaches are only a short drive away.
Ever since the Renaissance, Florence has been a worldly city that has attracted travelers from near and far. In the city, you can stand in awe of Michelangelo’s David or snap a picture of the Ponte Vecchio. Spend a day at the Boboli Gardens, and when the sun sets, climb the hill toward Piazzale Michelangelo for panoramic views of Florence. Around every corner there is a postage stamp-worthy site. It’s no wonder Florence sealed the deal at the No. 3 spot.
4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
The name Siem Reap literally means, “Siam defeated,” but visitors have a different idea of the city. This once quaint village has “evolved into a chic haven of rest and relaxation,” according to The New York Times, where serenity seekers can discover some of Cambodia’s tastiest cuisine and vibrant nightlife. If you want art, you got it – Siem Reap is the heart of the country’s burgeoning art scene. It also has fair-trade shopping and the Red Lantern District.
Italy is the place to be on vacation, according to Travel + Leisure readers. Ranking the fifth-most popular destination for leisure, Rome has enough history and sprawling subways for any visitors to get lost. Check out the Roman ruins with a guided tour of the Colosseum followed by a walk through the Pantheon. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s world-famous painting in the Sistine Chapel either. If you want a romantic evening for two, head to Via Veneto, one of the most lavish and desirable streets in the Eternal City.
Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural capital. While the Blue Mosque bedazzles with 260 stained-glass windows, the ancient cathedral of Aya Sofia transports travelers back to the times of Constantinople. Admire the artistry of the Turkish carpet display in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts or catch a sunset on the Galata Bridge. You can even book a ticket to tour the Harem at Topkapi Palace, the oldest palace in the world.
Wherever you decide to go on your next all-star vacation, stay protected with travel insurance.