There’s a striking amount of diversity among the global superpower cities, which are filled with everything from centuries-old palaces to neon-lit skylines and staggering skyscrapers. We’re always curious about where in the world you go, what you loved, and who you went with. From historical sites to local art, signature dishes to sun-washed beaches, there’s something for everyone among these beautiful international cities. To figure out where you should travel to next, below are 10 cities you should look into visiting.
Only in Singapore does an airport become a must-see attraction, one that receives millions of passengers a year but also lures locals with a bounty of designer shops, gardens, gourmet food, and one-of-a-kind sights. Here’s Asia’s financial powerhouse turns its ambitions to elevated infrastructure and homegrown innovation. Opened last April and designed by Safdie Architects, the new $1.7-billion Jewel Changi Airport features a canopy bridge and glass walkway shrouded in fog and suspended 75 feet in the air. But the real showstopper is the seven-story Rain Vortex, an indoor waterfall (the world’s tallest) that cascades down from a central oculus in the roof. A sight for sore eyes and a city you must see.
Steeped in history and wearing its cultural identity proudly on its sleeve, the capital of Catalonia is a region of Spain where independence and defending it is in the blood. Steeped in history and wearing its cultural identity proudly on its sleeve, the capital of Catalonia is a region of Spain where independence and defending it is in the blood. The defiant Catalan capital’s intoxicating mix of beach, architecture and creativity has framed the city as the poster child of global over tourism—and its solutions. From baby steps and tapas on Las Ramblas, to the hidden speakeasies of Barri Gòtic, Europe’s largest Gothic quarter and the heart of Barcelona, to the industrial-sized clubbing of Port Olimpic, Barcelona keeps its travelers sated. Is it any wonder that it boasts the fifth-most TripAdvisor reviews among the world’s cities?
Few cities serve up the ability to walk the history of the Western world like Roma. Heck, just Palatine Hill invites you into two millennia of Western Civilisation, if you’ve got an hour. The Eternal City has always been coveted. These days, the bounty is an immersive step back in time. Declarations of love for the city have multiplied with the channels of self-expression, and of course has directly fueled its #5 Promotion ranking, including the second-most TripAdvisor reviews on the planet and very frequent Google searches.
In Madrid, everything old is new again. With much-needed investment in its bounteous (but long-dormant) infrastructure and public assets, the Spanish capital is finally reviving its city-building legacy. Spain’s kinetic capital is currently enjoying a people-powered rebirth. Madrid is, more importantly, finally committed to the modern reinvention of the city focused on its citizenry.
While Dubai has massive shopping malls and the world’s biggest, tallest and most expensive everything’s, Abu Dhabi is positioning itself as a leading global arts and culture hub, with the world’s largest mosque, and museums designed by just about every starchitect you can think of. The UAE’s second city passes on the ostentatious and pursues the culturally significant. While the Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi is already open, the city is hard at work on Saadiyat Island on the construction of a Norman Foster-designed Zayed National Museum, a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Tadao Ando’s Maritime Museum, and a Performing Arts Center by the late Zaha Hadid
Amsterdam doubled down on its enviable culture, connectivity and quality of life. Surprised to see a mid-sized European capital with a fading party rep ranked so high? You obviously haven’t visited in a while. The city is also embracing corporate Brexit refugees who are setting up shop after leaving London, drawn by the global connectivity of the airport and new, direct four-hour London Eurostar rail service (handy if they forgot something in their old offices).
It’s not just the name of a new Zaha Hadid airport, and the area where it is set, but also literally “big prosperity” in Mandarin. Come for the prosperity, stay for the profound sense of place. Beijing is one of the worlds best when it comes to product category, which considers institutions, attractions and infrastructure along with airports and museums. Into this very mixed bag we’ll put Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, and the Mutianyu Great Wall, a bucket list attraction reasonably close to Beijing.
If Sydney weren’t so (relatively) isolated, chances are it would be challenging Paris and London for visitor number supremacy. It’s the laid-back, safe and sunny manifestation of the good life. Let’s use new residents as a benchmark: according to local numbers, Sydney has been gaining more than 80,000 new residents annually. Friendly, warm, young and rich, Sydney is a beauty with a growing line of suitors. Sydney is gifted with perfect integration of the natural and built, and accessible by all manner of ferries and watercraft, from which new angles on icons like the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge are revealed.
Fascinating what a well-educated, well-paid and diverse population can do for a city’s rankings. In the case of San Jose, the economic, cultural and political capital of Silicon Valley, it’s everything, giving the city its only rankings to date. Talent, smarts and money are a potent mix that’s given San Jose—the largest city in Northern California in terms of area and population—a #3 ranking for per capita GDP in the world. While immigration is ever more contentious elsewhere, the city continues to draw some of the best and brightest tech talent and entrepreneurs on the planet.
Switzerland’s financial center and largest metropolis is a magnet for foreigners who, along with multilingual Swiss nationals, enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living—the city ranks #13 for GDP per capita. Often ranking among the world’s most livable cities, Zurich is exactly the kind of place you’d want to call home: efficient, clean and safe. For the uninitiated, Zurich may seem like a bourgeois and reserved kind of place, but under the buttoned-down oxford you’ll find a thriving arts landscape, an adventurous restaurant scene and plenty of vintage finds that won’t break the (Swiss) bank account.