a street with signs and signs on it

Call it biased, call it obsessed, or just call it what it is. Japan is one of the places where you feel like no matter how many times you visit, it’s never enough. So much that you enjoy remains the same, yet so many wonderful new things are always coming about. Condé Nast Traveler just released their annual “readers choice awards” results, and not one, or two – but three Japanese cities made the top 5 in the “best cities” list.

Conde Nast Traveler surveyed over 600,000 readers to create their list of the world’s best cities, and the results were unanimous: people love Japan. Tokyo was ranked as the world’s best city to visit for the umpteenth time, and Osaka and Kyoto also drawing into the top 5. In the same rankings, Vienna placed 4th while Singapore placed 3rd.

a graffiti on a wallRounding out the top 10 in the “Readers Choice Best Cities” awards, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Taipei and Sydney rounded out the top 10. Merida, Mexico, – Dresden, Germany – and Quebec gained the top three spots in the “best small cities” list.

Now naturally, a survey doesn’t represent the world at large, or niche interests that some travellers have , but it’s a pretty great indicator. Conde Nast Traveler readers are typically super engaged travellers always looking for the best, and for Japan to offer the 1st, 2nd and 5th best cities in the 2019 rankings speaks volumes to what people feel while visiting.

a street with signs and signs on itI recently wrote about how sushi in Japan is an experience worth every penny, and really, the same argument could be applied for all things in Japan. There’s nothing like experiencing the honour and respect which every person shares with their peers, all the way up to the bow the ground staff gives your airplane when you depart.

Yep, People really bow, things really are clean and everything absolutely feels futuristic. And yes, there are quirks everywhere.

Side note: here’s the rules and etiquette for omakase in Japan.

It’s fantastic to see Osaka, long said to be the soul of the country and certainly the best city for food make it into the top 5. Osaka is one of the fastest growing destinations, with airlines launching direct services en masse. Read as: get there now, or ASAP before the rest of the world does this summer.

For all the same reasons, and the side reason of a Bullet Train journey to get there, Kyoto is another can’t miss in Japan. Home to some of the most amazing temples, including the Fushimi-Inari Shrine where those iconic “orange gate” pictures originate, you just can’t help but feel captivated. You’ll find a different style of sushi, passionate pastry shops and a feeling unlike other Japanese cities. Less than 3 hours from Tokyo, it’s easy to get there too.

There’s always a part of everyone that feels like the more someone say’s they “must go” somewhere, the less they actually want to do it – but with Japan, it’s best to ignore that thought. Start planning, save the points and discover why so many people can’t get enough. Including me…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. It’s official jump on something trendy and go with it. If looking for a sterile environment not particularly welcoming of tourists, but this being hidden by an almost-insurmountable language barrier, go for it and copy every other stereotyped travel opinion.

    It’s an easy country. It’s clean and safe. It’s currently surprisingly cheap, but nothing special. Time to get un-lazy and actually start looking at other places under the radar.

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