The best cities in the world 2020

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Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, reckoned Italo Calvino; but the best have pretty decent architecture, a buzzing food scene and smart places to stay too. For our most recent annual Reader’s Choice Awards survey, with results announced in October 2020, a boho North American city topped the list, with old favourites (including Sydney, Singapore and Charleston) and new arrivals (such as Lyon and Chiang Mai) making the cut, too.

Here are the winning cities as voted for by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller in The Readers’ Choice Awards 2020:

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    20. Laguna Beach, California, USA. Score 90.75

    This city in California’s Orange County is known for its riverfront parks and secluded beaches.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    19. Florence, Italy. Score 90.78

    The Renaissance city is one of the finest city breaks in Europe – we list the best rooftop bars in Florence and our favourite things to do in Florence.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    18. Porto, Portugal. Score 90.8

    This Portuguese city sits on the River Douro – find out more with our expert guide to Porto.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    17. Victoria, Canada. Score 91.03

    The capital city of British Columbia is set on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and has smart, English-style buildings that display the city’s one-time connection to the UK.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    16. Siena, Italy. Score 91.15

    Tuscan Siena is a hilltop town built in red brick, with pretty façades and a grand, Gothic duomo. We named it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tuscany.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    15. Tokyo, Japan. Score 91.2

    This is a city of bright lights and intimate backstreets – we asked local Charles Spreckley to share his insider guide to Tokyo.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    14. Salzburg, Austria. Score 91.36

    Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the Alps.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    13. Valletta, Malta. Score 91.47

    The tiny capital of Malta is a sepia maze of narrow cobbled streets.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    12. Vienna, Austria. Score 91.48

    The revived Austrian city is famous for its Baroque architecture and centuries-old music scene – but there’s been a recent influx of more modern things to do in Vienna, from urban wineries to hip coffee shops.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    11. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA. Score 91.5

    Arty Carmel-by-the-Sea is a genteel oceanfront town on California’s dramatic Big Sur coastline.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    10. Sydney, Australia. Score 91.57

    For the fourth year running, Sydney made our list of the world’s best cities. Watch our Bondi Beach video guide with local designer Nicky Zimmerman, and explore lesser-known neighbourhoods such as Chippendale and Pott’s Point.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    9. Singapore. Score 91.58

    The recently revamped heritage hotel Raffles and the city’s forward-thinking biophilic architecture have helped put Singapore on the list for the second time.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    8. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Score 91.58

    Find the coolest ranch in New Mexico and the best things to do in Santa Fe.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    7. Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Score 92.13

    Read more about last year’s winner Charleston, South Carolina, or read our review of The Dewberry, a smart mid-century modern pad that’s worth checking out.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    6. Monte Carlo, Monaco. Score 92.23

    Discover 10 smart things to do in Monaco.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    5. Lyon, France. Score 92.41

    These are the best things to do in Lyon, the only French city to make the 2020 round-up.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    4. Kyoto, Japan. Score 92.48

    Here’s what to do in Kyoto, Japan’s most creative city.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    3. Mérida, Mexico. Score 94.38

    Merida is the most beautiful colonial city in Mexico’s Yucatan province.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    2. Chiang Mai, Thailand. Score 95.27

    The northern Thai city appears in the list of the best cities in the world for the first time. For inspiration, these are the coolest things to do in Chiang Mai.

  • The best cities in the world 2020

    1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Score 96.65

    This year’s winner, the Mexican town San Miguel de Allende, is the country’s arty enclave.

    Here are the winning cities as voted for by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller in The Readers’ Choice Awards 2019:

    20. Sydney, Australia. Score 87.70


    19. Taipei, Taiwan. Score 87.70


    18. Barcelona, Spain. Score 87.98


    17. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Score 88.19


    16. Copenhagen, Denmark. Score 89.28


    15. Osaka, Japan. Score 89.56


    14. Florence, Italy. Score 89.60


    13. Bergen, Norway. Score 89.64


    12. Vienna, Austria. Score 90.00


    11. Puerto Valletta, Mexico. Score 90.17


    10. Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Score 90.56


    9. Salzburg, Austria. Score 90.59


    8. Quebec City, Canada. Score 90.76


    7. Singapore. Score 90.95


    6. Santa Fé, New Mexico, USA. Score 91.27


    5. Kyoto, Japan. Score 92.10


    4. Tokyo, Japan. Score 92.19


    3. Dresden, Germany. Score 93.79


    2. Mérida, Mexico. Score 94.54


    1. Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Score 94.73

    Like this? Now read:

    The list of winners from the Readers’ Choice Awards 2020

    Readers’ Choice Awards 2020: All the winners

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