Whatever your next urban adventure abroad, you’d be smart to factor in the insights of your fellow TripAdvisor travelers who have been there recently. A whopping 54,000 of them have rated 37 of the world’s most visited cities, and their findings can help you make better travel choices.
The cities that offer the best overall experience, according to the survey, are Tokyo, New York City, and Barcelona. Those that offer the worst overall experience are Mumbai, Punta Cana, and Moscow. Because we each have our own interests and needs when we travel, though, it’s more useful to consider which cities rate best and worst in the specific categories that matter to you.
When it comes to value for money, for instance, the best cities are Budapest, Lisbon, and Hanoi. You’ll find the worst value for money in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro (especially this year, what with prices elevated, thanks to the World Cup), and Copenhagen. Culture vultures should consider those cities that rate highest culturally, of course—Rome, Vienna, and Paris—while foodies should note the cities with the best restaurants: New York City, Cape Town, and Tokyo. Taking the kids? The most family-friendly cities are Stockholm, Singapore, and Copenhagen. Going solo? Singapore, Tokyo, and Vienna are most comfortable for those traveling alone.
If you’ve already chosen your destination, take advantage of your fellow travelers’ insights so you can plan smartly. Say you’re headed to Moscow or Beijing: Not only do those cities have the least helpful locals, but they are also the world’s worst for taxi services and have the least friendly taxi drivers. So suss out alternative means of transportation. As someone who has navigated both cities alone, I recommend the subway. It’s clean and fast. The subway can be confusing, though, so my recommended Plan B is to hire an English-speaking driver via your hotel concierge.
You might also arrange for a safe, reliable driver if you’re bound for Mumbai, Punta Cana, or Marrakech—which were voted the toughest cities to get around in—or to Marrakech, Hanoi, or Sharm el Sheikh—rated worst for public transport. Look for local transportation and sightseeing-excursion companies on TripAdvisor or, once you get there, have your hotel concierge order up a driver for you and, if you use his services and like him, get his business card and phone number so you can make further arrangements with him later. That’s how I personally have navigated Mumbai, Marrakech, and Hanoi. In Sharm el Sheikh, I rented a car—and that was an adventure, to put it mildly.
If you’ve made plans to take the kids to Marrakech, Moscow, or Mumbai—rated the world’s least family-friendly cities—consider how you’re going to keep the children engaged while sightseeing and occupied during down time. Use TripAdvisor to suss out local travel firms that can arrange for either family-oriented group excursions or kid-friendly private guides so that everyone in the family can get the most out of the city.
Wherever you’re headed, check whether the city is one of the 80 included in TripAdvisor’s City Guides mobile app. The app lets you pull up information about local restaurants and attractions for free while you’re out and about exploring the city, with no Internet connection and no insane data-roaming charges. Bon voyage!
Note on survey methodology:
The survey was sent to those who have written a review on either a hotel, restaurant or attraction in the featured cities during 2013. To be included in the results, a city was required to have a minimum of 300 completed responses, with the ranking based on average scores for each question. All analysis was conducted by Brainbox Research. The selection of featured cities is based on the key cities from countries that receive the largest number of international visitor arrivals (data compiled by the UNWTO 2012).