The lights, the music, the culture! Cities are truly the most exciting places to travel. But you can’t see every city in the world, unfortunately. To help you out, we have a list of eight cities you absolutely must see at some point in your life. Whether you are an art buff, a history fiend, an architecture lover, or a party animal, these cities will fascinate you. You’ll never want to go home!
Montreal is an incredible destination for all kinds of travelers, especially in summer. Old Montreal is so filled with French Colonial architecture and narrow cobblestoned streets, it almost feels like walking around in Paris. The city’s many parks and relaxed vibe encourage hanging outside with some friends or a book. A thriving club and indie rock scene draws the hip set. The city is also an incredible destination for food lovers, specializing in decadent fare like smoked meat, rotisserie chicken, and poutine.
Panama is an up-and-coming travel destination right now, so Panama City is a bit under-the-radar, but it won’t be for long! You can walk along the shores of the famous canal and watch ships cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific. For refreshments after that, a cold ceviche and a beer from the waterfront seafood market is a must. Then you can takes in the sights and sounds of the Casco Viejo, the old Spanish part of town with stunning buildings and lively nightlife.
It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s true: you really have to see Venice before you die. The city built on water is breathtaking, and unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. Visitors should definitely take a boat ride on a canal and just admire the fairy tale settings around them at some point in their trip. Historical tourism is great here as well, with the Doge’s palace a definite must-see. The food, of course, is excellent. It’s Italian food in the motherland, after all! Venice is the home to the famous Harry’s Bar, the restaurant that invented beef Carpaccio, and their recipe is still unmatched.
Another city on water, New Orleans is a music town, through and through. On almost any day of the week, you can walk down Frenchman St. in the French Quarter and hear 10 different shows happening on every block. You’ll want to stay out forever, and you basically can: No closing time in NOLA! And do I even need to tell you how good New Orleans cooking is? You’ll eat Po’ boys, gumbo, pralines, and the best fried chicken ever, and wonder how anybody stays thin here.
Hong Kong is a true metropolis. With its dense cluster of high-rises and light-up everything, Hong Kong feels like a city from the future. To get a true sense of the scale of Hong Kong’s skyline, you can take a funicular railway to the top of Victoria Peak and look over the whole city. Then, to bring yourself back down to earth you can go to the Temple Street night market and try to get a good deal on a watch or brave some street meat. Shopping is huge in Hong Kong in general. If the night market wasn’t enough you can go to Chungking Mansions and buy almost anything, from cell phones to suits.
Istanbul has been a large and important city for millennia, and it shows. The age and scope of its architectural wonders are astounding. The Hagia Sophia, a building that has been both a church and a mosque, is astounding with its massive dome and minarets. For more history, the archaeological museum has a huge collection of rare artifacts that trace the city’s past as the crown jewel of multiple empires. After taking in the sights all day, you can relax in a hamam, or Turkish bath, and get seriously pampered.
Berlin is known as a dancing city, and for good reason! It is riddled with clubs where you can dance to house, techno, or psytrance until the sun comes up–or longer! During the day, cultural entertainments abound. The Berlin Philharmonic is particularly nice, as is the Bauhaus museum. You can also walk along the old Berlin Wall that was the dividing line between Communism and Capitalism during the Cold War. For more Cold War history visit the DDR Museum to get a taste of what life was like in Communist East Germany.
St. Petersburg is another architectural marvel of a city, with its gilded onion domes and grand imperial architecture. The Hermitage is a sprawling art museum/historical building founded by Catherine the Great, and houses everything from a replica of a Venetian gallery to historic exhibits about the Napoleonic Wars. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood has a rainbow-colored, domed exterior and a dazzling interior. If you’re feeling a little ghoulish, you can visit Yusupov Palace and take the Rasputin tour to learn more about the famed mystic and murder victim.