We all have different holiday objectives, but the wealth of choice can make decision-making overwhelming.
Fortunately, the travel experts at Lonely Planet have created a literary road map that details the best places to work through your bucket list in the form of a beautiful coffee table book called The Cities Book – A Journey Through The Best Cities In The World.
So, whether you’re looking for clubbing, culture or child-friendly travel, the book pin-points precisely where you’ll find it. Here’s a sneak preview of what the stunning book reveals.
Best for History
Istanbul ‘stands at a crossroads of cultures, Eastern and Western’ and is packed full of age-old sites, says Lonely Planet
According to this new tome, Charleston in South Carolina is perfect for history buffs. It was founded in 1670 and many of its historic quarters ‘retain their colonial elegance’. Those keen on war history might be interested to learn that it’s where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired in 1861.
Istanbul is no less worthy-a trip. Formerly the capital of the Ottoman Empire, it ‘stands at a crossroads of cultures, Eastern and Western’ and is packed full of age-old sites.
Hiroshima, meanwhile, offers a particularly sobering and thought-provoking experience in the form of the Peace Memorial Park. The city was the target of the world’s first atomic bomb during WWII and its Peace Memorial Park is where visitors can ‘witness the devastating lessons of history’, Lonely Planet’s book explains.
Best for Architecture
Aesthetically pleasing: Barcelona is well-known for its impressive architecture, including the Palau de la Musica Catalana
There’s no shortage of places to enjoy impressive architecture, but this over-abundance can often leave travellers feeling spoiled for choice.
Fortunately, the new Lonely Planet book whittles it down to five favourites – the top being Barcelona.
‘There’s more to it than the wonderful, wonky buildings of Antoni Gaudi,’ it states. ‘Take Jean Nouvel’s priapic Agbar Tower or the fabulously flamboyant interior of the Palau de la Musica Catalana.’
It also cites Chicago, Rome, Istanbul and Mumbai as essential places to visit for beautiful builds.
Best for Families
Family ties: Thanks to several child-friendly museums, Chicago is the perfect destination for a family holiday
If there’s an entire clan embarking on your next foreign jaunt, Chicago is a top tip – thanks to ‘child-friendly museums and plenty of parks. Plus, it’s famous for baseball and deep-dish pizza – American childhood favourites’.
In Asia, rovers should head to Singapore, where ‘pram-friendly pavements, kid-friendly hospitality staff and world-class attractions’ dazzle youngsters.
Venice is also on the shortlist thanks to its complete lack of cars.
Best for Coffee
The perfect place for a caffeine hit: Ethiopia’s sprawling capital, Addis Abada, tops the Lonely Planet list for coffee fans
Given that its the birthplace of coffee, it’s perhaps not surprising that Ethiopia’s sprawling capital, Addis Abada, tops the Lonely Planet list for those seeking the ultimate caffeine hit.
Melbourne isn’t far behind though, and has extra kudos because many global coffee chains have failed there.
The book also hails Rome as the ‘godfather of the stand-up espresso’, where most baristas have a decade of experience and serve their creations in style.
Best for Adventure
Those seeking adventure should head straight to Alaska’s Anchorage, pictured, which ‘mixes city streets with hiking trails’
The great outdoors is a big place, but those seeking adventure should head straight to Alaska’s Anchorage, which ‘mixes city streets with hiking trails’.
Of particular note is Flattop Mountain, which ‘features a heart-pumping scramble to the summit’, while Chugach State Park offers ‘mountain-studded, immersive wilderness’.
Other open-air playgrounds include Kathmandu, Hobart, Rwanda’s Kigali and Bolivia’s La Paz.
Best for Nightlife
Party time: Belgrade ‘parties like the sun won’t ever rise with floating nightclubs, jazz acts in Brutalist tower blocks and clinking cocktail glasses set against faded, Neoclassical grandeur’
There are, of course, nightclubs all over the world.
But this book insists nocturnal party-goers should make a beeline for Belgrade, which ‘parties like the sun won’t ever rise with floating nightclubs, jazz acts in Brutalist tower blocks and clinking cocktail glasses set against faded, Neoclassical grandeur.’
If you’ve already done Serbia’s capital, then they also recommend visits to Berlin, New Orleans, Dublin and Rio de Janeiro.
Best for LGBT-friendly
Different strokes: A brightly-coloured Tel Aviv has long been a popular, comfortable place for LGBT tourists to visit
For people navigating the western world, its never been a better time to be a gay tourist.
The experts at Lonely Planet credit Toronto with hosting one of the globe’s biggest LGBT Pride festivals, which is well-deserved after being the first city in North America to legalise same-sex marriage.
That said, it has some fabulous competition in the form of Berlin, which has been Europe’s flourishing gay capital since the 1920s, New York, Tel Aviv and, of course, sexy Sao Paulo.
Best for Music
Rock on: For music fans, Lonely Planet highlights Austin, Texas, for its ‘scores of venues and a palpable energy’
There are some obvious destination points for music-lovers, ranging from Liverpool (the city that’s spawned the most UK Number 1s) to the birthplace of grunge: Seattle.
But Lonely Planet highlights Austin, Texas, for its ‘scores of venues and a palpable energy’, while specifically name-checking SXSW and Austin City Limits as festival highlights.
After the success of chart-topper Gangnam Style, it also recommends Seoul for its ‘K-pop hologram concerts’ and revived indie scene.
Best for Wine
Cheers to that! The capital of Georgia is hailed by Lonely Planet as the highlight of a country ‘with wine-making at its heart’
Enjoy sipping on a good glass of Malbec? Then you can thank the Argentinian region of Mendoza for that.
However, while that’s often a good geographical starting point, there are plenty of other places worth travelling for cork-popping, including Tbilisi. The famed capital of Georgia is hailed by Lonely Planet as the highlight of a country ‘with wine-making at its heart’.
Beyond that, there are several world-class wine-touring regions around Melbourne, including the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley. Bordeaux and Cape Town also offer top-quality quaffing experiences.
Best for Skylines
Now that’s a view: Hong Kong offers mind-blowing vistas – especially at Victoria Peak, where guests can see for miles
There’s no denying that New York wins the battle of the global skylines.
So, if you’ve already conquered Manhattan’s majestic view, then this book suggests a trip to Hong Kong for equally mind-blowing vistas. Specifically, try Victoria Peak, reached by taking the Peak Tram to the top.
If you’re in the UK, Edinburgh also makes the list thanks to its ‘dark and brooding skyline’. Shanghai and Seattle make the shortlist, too.
Best for Cycling
Get in lane: According to Lonely Planet, you can’t find a better place for your next bicycle adventure than Copenhagen
There’s an old adage that says: have wheels, will travel.
And, according to Lonely Planet’s expert writers, you can’t find a better place for your bicycle adventure than Copenhagen, which they bill as the ‘poster child for cycle-friendly urban design’.
Stateside, Portland has long cultivated America’s biggest bike culture, which thrives despite the extreme weather.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, ‘has laid miles of bike paths and introduced a bike-share scheme so many neighbourhoods are pleasant places to pedal’.
Best for Museums
Culture: Beijing has an ‘incredible range of museums, from the bizarre to the Forbidden City’s brilliant Palace Museum’
If you’re familiar with London, you’ll already know that it’s well-known for boasting some of Europe’s best free museums, including the Natural History Museum and the V&A.
Elsewhere, this book recommends Beijing, due to its ‘incredible range of museums, from the bizarre watermelon museum to the Forbidden City’s brilliant Palace Museum, where China’s complex history is explored’.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, the best museums go one better and ‘have an island on the Spree river to themselves’.
Best for Festivals
Sounds good: Over in Colombia, each new year begins with the Cartagena International Music Festival
With more choice than ever, holidaymakers can truly feast on festival options.
Lonely Planet suggests Austin‘s South By Southwest, which started in 1987 but has ‘evolved from an alt-rock get-together into a celebration of film, music, technology and general forward-looking fun’.
Over in Colombia, each new year begins with the Cartagena International Music Festival, which hosts classical musicians from across the globe. Edinburgh‘s annual summer festival, each August, is also a must-see.
Best for Food
Eat your heart out: Spain’s San Sebastian scores major points for its pintxo bars, which can be found all over the old town
‘It may not have the most Michelin stars, but few cities have as strong a mid-range dining scene as Melbourne,’ the book asserts. ‘There’s great creativity at work among the global cuisines here.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Japan’s Tokyo also makes the grade. ‘From the most humble backstreet izakaya to the most artfully-presented sushi, it takes your tastebuds on a magical tour.’
Back in Europe, Spain’s San Sebastian scores major points for its pintxo bars, which can be found all over the old town.
Best for Beaches
Life’s a beach: Cape Town is world-renowned for its golden sands, plus the iconic Table Mountain (pictured)
If you’re wanting surf and sands, head to Cape Town, which is world-renowned for its golden beaches. In particular, the wilder shores of Platboom are recommended.
The book also urges people to try Rio de Janeiro‘s ‘beach neighbourhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana, which are so well-known that songs have been written about them’.
Miami‘s beach is similarly suggested, in part for the art deco backdrop.
Best for Art Galleries
Art-lover’s paradise: The Palazzo Vecchio and the Medici Chapels are essential sights to visit in Florence, pictured
Few places, if any, do art as well as Italy – which is why Florence is an absolute must for any art-lover’s itinerary.
The Palazzo Vecchio and the Medici Chapels are essential sights to visit, while the Uffizi Gallery serves-up Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael and da Vinci.
George Town in Malaysia, meanwhile, has ‘opened its walls to street artists, making this one of several cities with a strong, open-air art scene’.
Best for Cool Neighbourhoods
The place to be for hipsters: Berlin neighbourhoods Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are trendy hangouts for cool kids
‘For 20 years or more Berlin has attracted creative types with its low rents,’ the book says. ‘That’s changing, but neighbourhoods such as Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are still hip hangouts.’
Similarly, Lisbon is also a destination point for hipsters, especially in Alfama or Bairro Alto.
And, of course, New York‘s East Village is also a place to see – and, crucially, be seen.
Best for Wildlife
By the bay: San Francisco’s guests will know that wild coyotes have returned to the city, while sea lions are regularly at Pier 39
With the Nairobi National Park stretching out for more than 100 square kilometres, it’s the perfect place to spot wild animals such as lions, tigers and rhinos.
Rio de Janeiro also boasts some impressive wildlife, with hundreds of bird species flying overhead.
If you’re travelling in September and October, head to Cape Town, which Humpback whales migrate past. ‘Jackass penguins, Cape fur seals chacma baboons and rock hyraxes happily live there all year round,’ the book says.
In America, those in San Francisco will notice that wild coyotes have returned to the city, while sea lions are regularly at Pier 39.
The Cities Book: A Journey Through The Best Cities In The World is out now. Published by Lonely Planet.