Cultural tourism relates to a city’s majestic art, fascinating architecture, age-old customs, impeccable hospitality, authentic cuisines, thriving nightlife, and many more facets. These compelling aspects make up the culture of a place that plays an influential role in developing and boosting the tourism of a particular destination.
And of all the cultural places to visit in the world, this list highlights the 20 most cultural cities in the world that are not only perfect for your next holiday but are also the most appealing places in the world.
20 Best Cultural Cities In The World
Here are the best cultural tourism destinations that you ought to visit if you want to do more than just travel. Learn a thing or two about the culture of these places.
- Milan – The Fashion Capital Of The World
- London – A Flawless Combo Of Cosmopolitan Culture & Old-World Charm
- Rome – A City That Oozes Royalty, Romance, And Ruins
- Jerusalem – An United Abode Of Judaism, Islam, And Christianity
- Bangkok – A Fantasy Land Of Temples, Bars, And Buzzing Nightlife
- Toronto – A True Showcase Of Unity In Diversity
- Miami – A Dazzling City Where Beach Scenes Are Done Right
- Singapore – A Cuisine Hybrid That Brings Flavors Of The World Together
- Madrid – A City That Cannot Survive Without Flamenco
- Dubai – A Skyscraper-City That Is Synonymous With Luxury
- Rio de Janeiro – The La La Land Of Festivals & Carnivals
- Barcelona – A City That Speaks Architecture
- Varanasi – The Spiritual Capital Of India
- São Paulo – An Owl City That Has Over 2000 Nightclubs
- New York – Shining With The Empire State Of Mind
- Tokyo – The Food Capital Of The World
- Vienna – A City That Breathes Music, In & Out
- Istanbul – A City That Brings Ancient Relics Back To Life
- Shanghai – The Museum City
20. Shanghai – The Museum City
Shanghai, also known as the global financial hub, is the largest city of China, and also the most populous city in the world. It is the birthplace of Chinese cinema, and boasts of numerous cultural attractions such as national as well as regional museums, diverse architecture, fascinating art galleries, sybaritic restaurants and cafes, and a vibrant nightlife.
Major Attractions: Shanghai Museum, The Bund, Shanghai World Financial Centre, Oriental Pearl Tower, Yu Garden, and more.
Best Things To Do: Experience speed on the world’s fastest train – the Maglev, rejuvenate at Disneyland Park, enjoy a peaceful walk at the Bund, and more.
Best Time To Visit: October to November.
19. Istanbul – A City That Brings Ancient Relics Back To Life
Witness the old world charm while traversing through the empire city of Istanbul. Straddling across Europe and Asia, Istanbul is the world’s only transcontinental city with an amalgamation of Asian and European culture. The relics of antiquity, historical museum, bustling markets, medieval ruins, upmarket restaurants, and peppy nightclubs form a major part of cultural tourism in Istanbul.
Major Attractions: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Bosphorus, and more.
Best Things To Do: Take a tour of the Bosphorous Cruise, shopping at the Grand Bazar, explore the Basilica Cistern, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to May or September to November
18. Vienna – A City That Breathes Music, In & Out
Vienna is another city which adds to the charm of elegant European culture. The city of canals is known for its artistic legacy, imperial architecture, and majestic museums. Vienna’s long-lived culture of music, theatre, and opera is now accompanied by a contemporary trend of opulent coffee houses and elegant restaurants.
Major Attractions: Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Belvedere, Albertina, and more.
Best Things To Do: Visit the State Opera House, explore the Tiergarten Schönbrunn zoo, enjoy riding on the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to May or September to October
17. Tokyo – The Food Capital Of The World
Unlike other cultural destinations of the world, Tokyo’s culture is not only limited to ancient art and architecture. This metropolitan city depicts a unique blend of futuristic and traditional world with architecture ranging from historical temples to neon-lit skyscrapers. The most beckoning part of Japanese culture is their food. Tokyo has the most number of Michelin-starred restaurant than any other city in the world, thus, earning the title of ‘food capital of the world’.
Major Attractions: Tokyo SkyTree, Imperial Palace, Tokyo National Museum, Odaiba, Shinjuku Gyoen, and more.
Best Things To Do: Spectate a game of Sumo Wrestling, dine out at the finest restaurants, visit the Tokyo Disneyland, and more.
Best Time To Visit: March to May and October to December
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16. New York – Shining With The Empire State Of Mind
New York, the most lively city of United States, is also a popular commercial, financial, and cultural cities of the world. The city houses ultramodern architectural buildings, highest number of theaters, musical concerts, and a bustling nightlife which beckon every traveler to visit this place once in a lifetime.
Major Attractions: Central Park, Empire State Building, Statue Of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more.
Best Things To Do: Attend a broadway show at Times Square, visit the Brooklyn Bridge, explore the High Line, visit the Bryant Park, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to June and September to November
15. São Paulo – An Owl City That Has Over 2000 Nightclubs
Holding a record of maximum number of nightclubs, Sao Paulo is a city that never sleeps. The city witnesses a vast cultural diversity with sophisticated art and architecture on side and an uproaring party culture on the other. Keeping aside cultural places to visit, the Paulistanos possess an eternal love for music and theatre which reflects brightly from their culture.
Major Attractions: Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo Museum of Art, Sao Paulo Cathedral, and more.
Best Things To Do: Witness the Samba Saturdays, watch a play at the Theatro Municipal de Sao Paulo, and more.
Best Time To Visit: September to March
14. Varanasi – The Spiritual Capital Of India
Varanasi, a major pilgrimage city in India, is one of the most visited cultural travel destinations of the country. Situated on the banks of the divine Ganges river, Varanasi is one of the oldest civilised city of the world which can be best explored with personalized India tour packages. This mystical city is considered as an abode of Lord Shiva, and is of great religious importance to the Hindus who visit this place in order to repent, seek forgiveness, and to pay final respects to the departed family members.
Major Attractions: Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Panchganga Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Ramnagar Fort, Chaukhandi Stupa, and more.
Best Things To Do: Witness the evening prayer ceremony at Ganga Ghat, River Rafting, explore the Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary, and more.
Best Time To Visit: November To February
13. Barcelona – A City That Speaks Architecture
This Spanish seaside city possesses a rich cultural heritage in the form of art and architecture which dates back to the middle ages. Barcelona is one of the most visited cultural places in the world which is not only famous for its historical past but also for its Catalan cuisine and elegant wine and dine restaurants. It is one of the most interesting cultural tourism places to visit if you want to have a holistic experience.
Major Attractions: Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Gothic Quarter, La Boqueria, Museu Picasso, and more.
Best Things To Do: Explore La Boqueria food market, enjoy Tibidabo Amusement Park, trek to Montjuic, cable car ride at Montserrat, and more.
Best Time To Visit: May to June or September to October
12. Rio de Janeiro – The La La Land Of Festivals & Carnivals
The first thing that comes to one’s mind upon hearing Rio de Janeiro is the famous ‘Christ The Redeemer’ statue. The ‘Marvellous City’ is an important part of cultural tourism famous for its colourful lifestyle, high-spirited nightlife with music in the veins of every Carioca. The enthusiastic lifestyle of the people coupled with the golden sand beaches, and picturesque mountains make the city even more enticing.
Major Attractions: Christ The Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, Corcovado, and more.
Best Things To Do: Santa Teresa tour, hike the Sugarloaf mountain, shopping at Ipanema, nightlife at Botafogo, and more.
Best Time To Visit: December to March
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11. Dubai – A Skyscraper-City That Is Synonymous With Luxury
Dubai, the most sumptuous cultural tourism city, is a synonym of luxury. The lavish culture of the Emirati people reflects in their ornate architecture, extravagant hotels and resorts, and expansive malls. Being an epitome of development, Dubai is one of the most futuristic cities of the world in terms of technology, and architecture.
Major Attractions: Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, The Ferrari Museum, Aquaventure Waterpark, and more.
Best Things To Do: Desert Safari, Shopping at Dubai Mall, dune bashing, cruise the Dubai Creek, quad-biking, and more.
Best Time To Visit: November to March
10. Madrid – A City That Cannot Survive Without Flamenco
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is another city which depicts the majestic grandeur of European culture. The city’s culture is beautifully moulded in the artistic and architectural masterpieces, which is further enhanced by the culinary delights where fine art meets fine dining on the bustling streets of the city which become even more lit during the night.
Major Attractions: Buen Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace Of Madrid, Museo Nacional Del Prado, Puerta del Sol, and more.
Best Things To Do: Visit the Temple of Debod, do the flamenco, shopping at the flea market, explore the Almudena Cathedral, attend a theatre performance at Gran Vía, and more.
Best Time To Visit: September to November and March to May
9. Singapore – A Cuisine Hybrid That Brings Flavors Of The World Together
One of the most tourist-friendly cities in the world, Singapore is an indispensable part of cultural tourism. This island city is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world in terms of lifestyle, language, and cuisine. It is a global financial with the most efficient transport system in the world, eco-friendly business hubs, and a plethora of national parks in Singapore.
Major Attractions: Gardens By The Bay, Sentosa, Universal Studios, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Merlion Park, and more.
Best Things To Do: Enjoy the Night Safari, go on a Singapore Zoo tour, experience the River Safari, enjoy riding on the Singapore Flyer, and more.
Best Time To Visit: February to April
8. Miami – A Dazzling City Where Beach Scenes Are Done Right
One of the leading cities of cultural tourism, Miami lures culture lovers to visit its white sand beaches, artistic beauty, and architectural jewels. This culturally diverse city is one of beckons you to capture a glimpse of its exuberant culture which reflects through its dazzling nightlife, innovative cuisines, and thrilling adventure sports.
Major Attractions: Miami Seaquarium, Jungle Island, Coral Castle, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and more.
Best Things To Do: Shopping at Lincoln Road, swim at the Venetian Pool, go bowling at the Dolphin Mall, experience skydiving, and more.
Best Time To Visit: March to May
7. Toronto – A True Showcase Of Unity In Diversity
Toronto, often called the capital of language diversity, is one of the finest example of cultural tourism. This culturally and linguistically diverse city is an exceptional example of hospitality and the number of ethnic groups that it accommodates. Other than that, Toronto is also known for its freezing winters, prodigious skyscrapers, and extensive culinary delights.
Major Attractions: CN Tower, Lake Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Casa Loma, and more.
Best Things To Do: Dine at the CN Tower, enjoy sailing at Lake Ontario, explore the Canada’s Wonderland, visit the Toronto Islands, shopping at Eaton Centre, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to May and September to October
6. Bangkok – A Fantasy Land Of Temples, Bars, And Buzzing Nightlife
One of the most budget-friendly cultural tourism destinations, Bangkok is famous for its iconic temples, vibrant cuisine, and lively bars all over the world. The Thai culture resides in each and every aspect of the city, be it ultramodern architecture, tropical beaches, the traditional martial arts, or the much-hyped go-go bars. Apart from this, this temple land is also popular among the honeymooners who flock to Bangkok, Thailand all around the year. It is also one of the most popular cultural tourism destinations.
Major Attractions: Phi Phi Islands, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya, Railay Beach, Wat Arun, Ko Pha Ngan, and more.
Best Things To Do: Island hopping at Phi Phi Islands, scuba diving and snorkelling at Similan Islands, nightlife at Pattaya, and more.
Best Time To Visit: November to April
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5. Jerusalem – An United Abode Of Judaism, Islam, And Christianity
Jerusalem, in true sense, is the quintessence of cultural tourism. It might be the only city in the world where one can hear church bells in consonance with Namaz, and the sound of the Shofar. The city’s cultural diversity is accompanied by its contrasting ancient and newfangled architecture, lifestyle, and beliefs. This city offers captivating tourist attractions ranging from museums to buildings, and restaurants and bars.
Major Attractions: Church Of The Holy Sepulchre, Dome Of The Rock, Western Wall, Mount Zion, and more.
Best Things To Do: Hike the Israel National Trail, visit the Yad Vashem, shopping at Old City Market, explore the Monastery of the Cross, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to May or October to November
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4. Rome – A City That Oozes Royalty, Romance, And Ruins
Rome, also known as the Eternal City, is the epitome of European culture. Traversing through this city feels like travelling back in time to the middle ages. The cultural heritage of the city is restored in the ancient ruins like the age-old Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Piazza Venezia. The mesmerizing art and the bustling city life of this city render it one of the most romantic destinations in the world. It is also one of the must-see tourist places in Italy.
Major Attractions: Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Vatican Museum’s, St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon, and more.
Best Things To Do: Shop at the Spanish Steps, savour the Gelatos at Giolitti, explore the Piazza Navona, visit the museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, and more.
Best Time To Visit: October to April
3. London – A Flawless Combo Of Cosmopolitan Culture & Old-World Charm
London, the capital city of England, depicts an amalgamation of both ancient and modern European culture. The cosmopolitan culture of the city can be estimated by the fact that one in every 3 Londoners is a foreign born. Other than that, the royal city is also known for its heritage architecture, creative art, film festivals, performing arts, and delectable cuisines.
Major Attractions: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Of London, British Museum, Tower Bridge, Palace of Westminster, and more.
Best Things To Do: Boating at River Thames, visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, witness the best skyline views from The Shard, explore the London Dungeon, and more.
Best Time To Visit: May to September
2. Milan – The Fashion Capital Of The World
Take a bus tour around the streets of Milan to absorb the rich history associated with its architecture, people, and food. Dressing to impress is a way of life and a given in the fashion capital of the world. Be prepared for a classy experience in a city that’s had more than its fair share of scandals, historic moments, and iconic people who have made a big imprint on human civilization, making it a significant cultural tourism destination.
Major Attractions: Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Sforza Castle, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Palazzo dell’Arengario, and more.
Best Things To Do: Watch an Italian classic at Teatro alla Scala, explore Royal Palace of Milan, admire the modern art at Pinacoteca di Brera, and more.
Best Time To Visit: April to May and September to October
1. Paris – An Epitome Of Love, Romance, And Modern Art
Paris is a city overloaded with European culture. It is the most romantic destination of the world and a hub of modern art, fashion, film festivals, cinemas, shopping and gastronomy. Another important part of Parisian culture is the French cuisine which is served in iconic restaurants and blissful bakeries.
Major Attractions: Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre-Dame de Paris, Sacré-Cœur, Paris, and more.
Best Things To Do: Visit Disneyland Paris, dine at the Eiffel Tower, explore the Tuileries Garden, shopping at Champs-Élysées, and more.
Best Time To Visit: June to August and September to October
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Frequently Asked Questions About Cultural Tourism
Which are the most famous cities in Europe?
Paris, Rome, London, Madrid, Spain, and Vienna are some of the most popular cities in Europe that travellers often add to their itinerary. If you are planning a backpacking trip, you can add several more destinations from the surrounding countries.
Which is the most populous city in the world?
Tokyo is the most populous city in the world which has a population of approximately 9 million people. It is also one of the fastest developing cities in the world.
Which are the most popular cultural cities of South America?
Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the most popular cultural cities of South America. Most travellers explore these capitals before exploring other destinations in the country.
Which city is known as the fashion capital of the world?
Paris, Milan, London, and New York are known as the fashion capitals of the world.
Which city is known as the spiritual capital of India?
Varanasi is known as the spiritual capital of India. Home to some of the most popular temples and pilgrimage sites, many devotees travel to Varanasi for spiritual gatherings every year.
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