The outcomes of the World’s Best Awards, in particular, can have far-reaching consequences when the readers of Travel + Leisure rally behind a particular viewpoint. Hotels, Michelin-starred dining, cultural significance, popular tourist destinations, and, more recently, compliance with phrazle COVID-19 protocols are all taken into account when determining the best cities in the world. In the end, we rank the top 25 cities in the world based on the aggregated votes cast for each one and the resulting scores. Hundreds of thousands of individuals comb through the WBA lists when they are released. Cities all throughout the world feel the effects, as tourists plan trips based on these places and interest grows in the less well-known winners.
T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards survey is an opportunity for our readers to give their thoughts on travel destinations and services all over the world. Visitors ranked cities on a variety of criteria, including tourist attractions, cultural offerings, dining, hospitality, shopping, and overall value.
Looking back at 2021’s top cities and comparing them to 2022’s offers some interesting insights. This year, Florence re-entered the top five, jumping from sixth to fourth place, while Udaipur, India fell from second to tenth. One respondent said, “The weather is wonderful, the music scene is excellent, and the food is outstanding.” San Miguel de Allende, last year’s winning city, took this year’s No. 2 slot and garnered numerous superlatives. Kyoto, Japan, fell from fifth to fourteenth, but Istanbul and Ubud, Indonesia, remained in the top five.
T+L readers also re-appreciated certain 2019 winners for 2020, such as Mérida, Mexico (tied for No. 12), a hub in the Yucatán that one reader called “one of the best places to visit for music, dance, and gastronomy.” Seville is one of the Spanish cities making a comeback this year (No. 11). Andalusia’s capital was termed “a great place to get lost in” by one WBA voter and “enchanting” by another.
The real Cinderella story of this list, though, is Oaxaca, which jumped all the way from No. 8 last year to No. 1 this year. Keep reading to find out why Oaxaca was named the best city in the world, and to see which other global centers made the cut.
One, Oaxaca, Mexico
Even though San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico was voted by readers as their favorite city in 2016, this Mexican city in the southwestern United States has reclaimed the top spot. For foodies, particularly those with a penchant for mole and mezcal, this is a paradise on earth. Oaxaca City is a great place to sample the region’s food, which is heavily influenced by the strong Indigenous Zapotec culture. The “wonderful local Indigenous food,” as one poll respondent put it, was a major draw. Oaxaca’s 17th-century architecture, tempting cocktail culture, and busy craft markets, as well as the warmth of its people, have all been praised by several readers. Someone who voted for you will go out of their way to make you feel important. Another respondent cited the city’s “wonderful museums, streets, cafés, and restaurants” as reasons for its success.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
M&RR, a digital marketing agency, manages and monitors the World’s Best Awards survey on a protected website. T+L and M&RR take anti-fraud measures by employing both automatic and manual methods. In the fall of 2022, readers will be able to submit suggestions for new questions to include in the 2023 survey. You shouldn’t feel like you have to nominate the same people every year. Candidates are welcome to use email, social media, videos, room drops, and other forms of creative outreach to spread word about the World’s Best Awards poll, so long as they adhere to the criteria for doing so. Here you’ll find our criteria for promotions.
3rd Place: Ubud, Indonesia
Voting in the 2022 World’s Best poll was available from October 25, 2021, through February 28, 2022. You may find the findings in the August 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure, as well as on the website of the same name. From October 24th, 2022, through February 27th, 2023, the 2023 survey will be conducted (dates subject to change).
Airports, cities, cruises, spas, hotels, hotel chains, islands, tour operators, safari outfitters, and national parks in the United States are just few of the categories where readers can leave feedback. Cruise lines are given grades based on the aggregate of passenger reviews of each ship in the fleet. Click here for additional information about how the survey was conducted.