To quote Carrie Bradshaw, I’m what you might call a bonafide city girl. From the time I left home at 18, I’ve lived in as many cities as possible: Chicago, Buenos Aires, Paris, Denver, Boulder, and Kampala, Uganda.
Excitingly, I just moved to a new city — Ann Arbor, Michigan! In celebration of that, I wanted to highlight my favorite cities from my travels. It was hard to cull down the list, but all seven of these are special; in my humble opinion, they all have that that ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ appeal.
Here are my favorite cities, in no particular order…
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would probably be Edinburgh.
It has everything you might want: gorgeous architecture, proximity to the ocean, and colorful neighborhoods. But more than that, it speaks to my soul.
Edinburgh is a city made for bookworms; the birthplace of Harry Potter, and the fount of so many authors and poets. When I was there in May, I spent a full day writing in a café, as being in Edinburgh just seemed to call for it.
A few tips – If you’re in Edinburgh, walk down Victoria Street, the pastel-colored street that inspired Diagon Alley (see above). I would also recommend hiking Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano located within the city limits that provides a substantial workout as well as sweeping views of the city.
Cape Town is a new favorite. I visited twice in 2017, and from the first moment I saw it, I was a goner. It has everything: mountains, ocean, great restaurants, and culture. If that weren’t enough, it also has perfect weather, vineyards, and an affordable cost of living. It’s basically the perfect city, and certainly the most visually stunning one I’ve ever seen. Plus, if you lived there it would be so easy to travel to Mozambique, Namibia, and so many other incredible places in Africa… sigh.
Related post: 11 Things You Can’t Miss in Cape Town
San Francisco is my dream city, and has been since I was a child. I first laid eyes upon it when I was 9. I remember that trip vividly: staying at a quirky Kimpton hotel, the chilly night air, the Savage Garden CD I bought (lol).
But what I remember most is thinking, I absolutely have to live here someday. As a kid from the Midwest, I loved the hills, the ocean breeze, the availability of seafood, Chinatown… everything.
Honestly, I still haven’t given up on that dream — I hope to be in San Francisco… eventually.
This one’s not surprising, is it? I can never get enough of Paris.
After living there for a year, and three college summers, I still return every chance I get. In fact, I was there twice last summer, just for a few days, just to soak up the atmosphere.There are few things I love more than strolling around the Marais, stopping for steak frites and snapping pictures of street art.
Also, after all these years, I still think French is the most beautiful language in the world. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the sound of it — so walking Paris is such a pleasure.
Related post: 10 Books That Will Make You Want to Visit Paris
No matter how many times I visit, I never tire of London. I love its excellent pubs, parks, and restaurants (how I wish we had pubs in America). I love how it’s a metropolis brimming with diversity, and yet it still feels English: from the the London stock bricks to the bright red phone booths. There’s just a sense of English propriety about the city, and I love that.
Related post: Living in London: My Sun-dappled Three Weeks
Penang is how I pictured Southeast Asia before visiting: humid air, Chinese lanterns, decaying colonial buildings, slowly spinning ceiling fans. Honestly, I didn’t do much while I was there — I visited a few Peranakan mansions (so spectacular), but mostly just walked around. And of course, stopped at hawker centres for some of the best meals of my life — how I miss you, curry laksa.
Related post: Penang is for Street Art and Hawker Centre Lovers
Hong Kong has an energy that feels intoxicating. The heavy humidity, the people hurrying down the sidewalk, the narrow streets, the high-rises… it’s like the New York of the East. I also fell in love with (you guessed it) – the food. If you visit, try the beef brisket noodles and thank me later.
Oh, and the dim sum.
Related Post: Hong Kong: My First Asian Metropolis
Runners-up: I also love New York, Detroit, Seville, Lyon, Lisbon, Stockholm, Bologna, Mexico City, Brighton, Valparaiso, New Orleans, Pamplona, Barcelona, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, St. Petersburg, and Tbilisi, among others. I guess I’m not picky.