Our readers’ love affair with Italian cities continues this year, with Florence taking top honors as the best in Europe yet again. Rome and Siena also ranked highly — a reflection of the fact that Italy, for many, ticks all the boxes for what you want out of a vacation. As one reader put it so brilliantly when describing Rome, “the cradle of civilization lives cheek by jowl with modern life.” Added another, “Called the Eternal City for good reason. It has everything — history, culture, religion, and food.”
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
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After a strong showing in 2017, Portugal continues to be having a major moment. Porto — which placed at No. 9 on last year’s list — jumped up to No. 4 for 2018, while Lisbon moved from No. 10 to 8. Both cities have been boosted by an increase in direct flights from the continental U.S., as well as an upswing in exposure on social media. And many of our readers mentioned how much they loved the local wines — and that their dollar went far there.
Spain, too, is enjoying a banner year. Seville (No. 5), Barcelona (6), San Sebastián (10) and Madrid (11) all made appearances on the list — thanks, no doubt, to the country’s overall connectivity, affordability, and thriving culinary scene, which ranges from Michelin-star icons to more humble boquerias. “Oh, how I loved Madrid,” said one fan. “It feels like a city that lives large in every way,” added another. “Walking the streets makes you feel like you are in another era when kings and queens ruled.”
Paris is back on the list at No. 12. Then again, it’s hard to imagine the French capital was ever off anyone’s list. Our readers wrote in comments praising the landmarks, the food, and, yes, the people. “We went hearing that Americans were not well liked or treated,” said one respondent. “We found just the opposite — Parisians were friendly and helpful most everywhere.”
For more on the No. 1 winner, Florence — and to see how all the others stacked up — read on.
10. San Sebastián, Spain
9. Siena, Italy
7. Kraków, Poland
5. Seville, Spain
4. Porto, Portugal
“Just go,” said one reader of this Tuscan gem, a center for Renaissance history. “The greatest art in the world in one place.” Indeed, many wrote in to say that iconic sights like the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and the Galleria dell’Accademia were all must-sees. And then there’s the food: “Endless bread, thin-crust pizza, and the thickest Florentine steak you can imagine,” chimed in one fan. If you are planning a trip, consider checking out the top hotels in the city — as voted by T+L readers.
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.