For globetrotting travelers, it’s easy to recognize a spectacular city. They are energetic, diverse destinations intent on preserving local heritage and revitalizing undervalued neighborhoods, and they possess distinct personalities that set them apart from other metropolises. Whether it’s the city you’ve called home for years or one you only just stumbled upon during your travels, the best destinations are intriguing cultural centers that can’t be replicated anywhere else. No city proves this better than Kyoto, Japan, which returned for the second year in a row to the No. 1 spot on Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best list.
Readers called it the quintessential Japanese experience, offering visitors everything from history (in the form of spiritual shrines) to notable cuisine (shojin ryori) and encounters with Geisha. Italy’s classic crowd-pleasers, Florence and Rome, once again appear on Top 10 list — as they have for 10 consecutive years. Bangkok, likely bumped from the list in 2014 due to governmental unrest, has returned to the number six spot. Below is the full list of the World’s Best cities in 2015, which is compiled based on reader surveys.