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Updated by Rajashri Venkatesh on Jun 22, 2017
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25 Cities You Must Visit Before You Die

No matter how old you are never stop making your bucket lists. Every now and then take a break and enjoy the world around you. World is filled with most exotic and sinfully beautiful places that one must visit before they die. Here is your ultimate guide to the must visit places..

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 262
New York, United States

New York is a choose-your-own-adventure kinda place where a left turn reveals glitzy lights and after-hours cabarets, while a stroll to the right unveils brownstones carved from thick brick and sweet cafes set along cobbled lanes. It’s a city of happy accidents where the further you fall down the rabbit hole the greater the gains become. Set your sights as high as the skyscrapers and extend that to-do list as long as Broadway – New York is yours for the taking, and it will gladly welcome you in if you’re daring enough to explore.

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Rome, Italy

With an artistic heritage dating back to Etruscan times, Rome is one of the world’s great art cities. Throughout history, it has played a starring role in the major upheavals of Western art and the results are there for all to see – amazing classical statues, stunning Renaissance frescoes, breathtaking baroque churches. Walk around the centre and even without trying you’ll come across masterpieces by the greats of the artistic pantheon – sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael, fountains by Bernini. In Rome, art is not locked away from view, it’s quite literally all around you.

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Venice - Lonely Planet

From the look of it, you'd think Venice spent all its time primping. Bask in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, but make no mistake: this city's a powerhouse. You may have heard that Venice is an engineering marvel, with marble churches built atop ancient posts driven deep into the barene (mud banks) – but the truth is that this city is built on sheer nerve. Reasonable people might blanch at water approaching their doorsteps and flee at the first sign of acqua alta (high tide). But reason can’t compare to Venetian resolve. Instead of bailing out, Venetians have flooded the world with voluptuous Venetian-red paintings and wines, music, Marco Polo spice-route flavours, and bohemian-chic fashion. And they’re not done yet.

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London - Lonely Planet

London is as much about high-density, sight-packed exploration (the West End, South Bank, the City) and urban dynamism as it is about wide-open spaces and leafy escapes. Central London is where you will find all the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights, but escape to Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Park to flee the crowds and put the city’s greener hues into gorgeous perspective. Or venture even further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for effortlessly good-looking panoramas of riverside London.

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 229
Paris, France

Paris has all but exhausted the superlatives that can reasonably be applied to any city. Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower have been described countless times, as have the Seine and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between the Left and Right Banks. Yet, what writers have never been able to even slightly reflect is the grandness and magic.

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Vatican City, Rome

You’ll need at least a morning to do justice to the Vatican Museums. The highlight is the Michelangelo-decorated Sistine Chapel, but there’s enough art on display to keep you busy for years. If you’re with a tour guide, or if you can sneakily join a tour group, you can pass directly from the Sistine Chapel through to St Peter’s Basilica; otherwise you’ll have to walk around and approach from St Peter's Square, itself one of the Vatican’s most dramatic sights. Once finished in the basilica, you’ll probably be ready for a break. There are few good eating options in the Vatican itself, but the graceful residential district of Prati is full of excellent trattorias, takeaways and restaurants.

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Budapest, Hungary

Budapest’s beauty is not all God-given; man has played a role in shaping this pretty face too. Architecturally, Budapest is a treasure, with enough baroque, neoclassical, Eclectic and art nouveau (Secessionist) buildings to satisfy anyone’s appetite. Overall, though, Budapest has a fin-de-siècle feel to it, for it was then, during the capital’s ‘golden age’, that most of what you see today was built. Nearly every building has some interesting or unusual detail, from art nouveau glazed tiles and neoclassical bas-reliefs to bullet holes and shrapnel scorings left over from WWII and the 1956 Uprising that still cry out in silent fury.

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Bangkok, Thailand

It’s the contradictions that give the City of Angels its rich, multifaceted personality. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a city of climate-controlled megamalls and international brand names just minutes from 200-year-old village homes; of gold-spired Buddhist temples sharing space with neon-lit strips of sleaze; of slow-moving rivers of traffic bypassed by long-tail boats plying the royal river; and of streets lined with food carts, overlooked by restaurants on top of skyscrapers serving exotic cocktails. As Bangkok races towards the future, you can rest assured that these contrasts will continue to supply the city with its never-ending Thai-ness.

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Jaipur, India

Jaipur, the City of Victory, is chaotic and congested, though it still has a habit of tickling travellers pink. Stunning hilltop forts and glorious palaces fit like footprints from a rich royal past, candyfloss-bright turbans blaze a trail through brilliant bargain-filled bazaars, and fluttering saris catch the eye like butterflies.

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 234
Yogyakarta, Indonesia

If Jakarta is Java’s financial and industrial powerhouse, Yogyakarta is its soul. Central to the island’s artistic and intellectual heritage, Yogyakarta (pronounced ‘Jogjakarta’ and called Yogya for short), is where the Javanese language is at its purest, Java’s arts at their brightest and its traditions at their most visible.
Fiercely independent and protective of its customs, Yogya is now the site of an uneasy truce between the old ways of life and the onslaught of modernity. Still headed by its sultan, whose kraton remains the hub of traditional life, contemporary Yogya is nevertheless a huge urban centre (the Yogya conurbation is 1.6 million) of cybercafes, malls and traffic jams, as it is a stronghold of batik, gamelan and ritual.
Yogya remains Java’s premier tourist city, with countless hotels, restaurants and attractions. It's also an ideal base for exploring nearby attractions, including Indonesia’s most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.

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Andermatt, Switzerland

Blessed with austere mountain appeal, Andermatt contrasts low-key village charm with big wilderness, but that’s all set to change. The Orascom leisure development group has invested Sfr1 billion into transforming Andermatt’s former army barracks into a year-round megaresort complete with six five-star hotels and an 18-hole high-altitude golf course. The creation of 2000-odd jobs is expected to give a much-needed boost to Andermatt’s economy, but critics say it will strain the already-fragile Alpine environment, despite eco-friendly measures such as renewable energy policies. Once an important staging-post on the north–south St Gotthard route, Andermatt is now bypassed by the tunnel, but remains a major crossroads, with the Furka Pass corkscrewing west to Valais and the Oberalp Pass looping east to Graubünden.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

At once both a cinematic cityscape and a grimy urban front line, Rio de Janeiro, known as the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city), is nothing if not exhilarating. Flanked by gorgeous mountains, white-sand beaches and verdant rainforests fronting deep blue sea, Rio occupies one of the most spectacular settings of any metropolis in the world. Tack on one of the sexiest populations on the planet and you have an intoxicating tropical cocktail that leaves visitors punch-drunk on paradise.

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Petra, Jordan

The charms of Petra aren’t immediately apparent, but stay even a little while and its long, straight and narrow streets and stone houses will quickly grow on you. With an in-town winery, a couple of terrific places to eat and an interesting little museum, it’s the sort of place where you’ll most likely stay longer than you planned, and be very happy you did so.

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Jerusalem, Israel

People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3000-year history, but still today your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city will leave you speechless. More than beautiful, however, Jerusalem is a spiritual centre, holy to the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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Běijīng, China

Stop–start capital since the Mongol Yuan dynasty, Běijīng is one of China’s true ancient citadels. It is also an aspiring, confident and modern city that seems assured of its destiny to rule over China ad infinitum.

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Kathmandu, Nepal

For many people, stepping off a plane into Kathmandu is an exhilarating shock - the sights, sounds and smells can quickly lead to sensory overload. Whether it be buzzing around the crazy polluted traffic in a taxi, trundling down the narrow winding streets of the old town in a rickshaw, marvelling at Durbar Sq or dodging the tiger balm sellers and trekking touts in Thamel, Kathmandu can be an intoxicating, amazing and exhausting place.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is hot. And we’re not talking about the weather. These days, there are more happening restaurants, bars, galleries and clubs around town than there are exquisite Ottoman mosques (and that’s a lot). The international fashion and design press have been talking up İstanbul ad nauseam, but the most significant thing about the accolade ‘World’s Hippest City’ is that İstanbullus themselves have come believe it. The creeping sense of decrepitude that had fallen like a pall over their once-all-powerful home town has vanished, replaced by a sense of energy and innovation not seen since the days of Süleyman the Magnificent.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

You can't walk a kilometre without bumping into a masterpiece in the city. The Van Gogh Museum hangs the world's largest collection by tortured native son Vincent. A few blocks away, Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures fill the gloriously restored Rijksmuseum. The Museum het Rembrandthuis offers more of Rembrandt via his etching-packed studio, while the newly doubled-in-size Stedelijk Museum pulls out Mondrian among its modern stock. And when the urge strikes for something blockbuster, the Hermitage Amsterdam delivers: the outpost of Russia's State Hermitage Museum picks from its three-million-piece home trove to mount mega exhibits.

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Luxor, Egypt

Built around the 4000-year-old site of Thebes, the ancient capital of the New Kingdom, contemporary Luxor is an eccentric combination of provincial town and staggering ancient splendour. The concentration of monuments is extraordinary: they tower incongruously above the buzz of everyday life and make this a most compelling destination.

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 231
Oia, Greece

Perched on the northern tip of the island, the village of Oia (ee-ah) reflects the renaissance of Santorini after the devastating earthquake of 1956. Restoration work has whipped up beauty and you will struggle to find a more stunning Cyclades village. Built on a steep slope of the caldera, many of its dwellings nestle in niches hewn into the volcanic rock. A magical way to reach the village is along a cliff edge walkway that rambles north from Fira through a series of linked settlements. If you travel by road, you'll pass through sage green slopes splattered with wildflowers, rich red- and coffee-coloured earth and views of blue, blue sea.
Not surprisingly, Oia draws enormous crowds and overcrowding is the price it pays for its good looks. Try to visit in the morning or spend the night here; afternoons and evenings often bring busloads from the cruise ships moored in the bay.

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Siem Reap, Cambodia

Back in the 1960s, Siem Reap (see-em ree-ep) was the place to be in Southeast Asia and saw a steady stream of the rich and famous. After three decades of slumber, it’s well and truly back and one of the most popular destinations on the planet right now. The life-support system for the temples of Angkor, Cambodia’s eighth wonder of the world, Siem Reap was always destined for great things, but few people saw them coming this thick and this fast. It has reinvented itself as the epicentre of the new Cambodia, with more guesthouses and hotels than temples, world-class wining and dining and sumptuous spas.

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 256
Cuzco - Lonely Planet

Cosmopolitan Inca capital, Cuzco (also Cusco, or Qosq’o in Quechua) today thrives with a measure of contradiction. Ornate cathedrals squat over Inca temples, massage hawkers ply the narrow cobblestone streets, a woman in traditional skirt and bowler offers bottled water to a pet llama while the finest boutiques hawk alpaca knits for small fortunes. The foremost city of the Inca Empire is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Few travelers to Peru will skip visiting this premier South American destination, also the gateway to Machu Picchu.

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Las Vegas, USA

It's three in the morning in a smoky casino when you spot an Elvis lookalike sauntering by arm-in-arm with a glittering showgirl just as a bride in a long white dress shrieks 'Blackjack!'
Vegas, baby: it's the only place in the world where you can spend the night partying in Ancient Rome, wake up in Paris and brunch under the Eiffel Tower, bump into Superman on the way to dinner in New York, watch an erupting volcano at sunset and get married in a Pink Cadillac at midnight. Take a free craps lesson or double down with the high rollers, browse couture or tacky souvenirs, sip a neon 3ft-high margarita or a frozen vodka martini set on a bar made of ice. Vegas' landscape is a constantly shifting paradox, a volatile cocktail of dueling forces: sophistication and smut, risk and reward, boom and bust. Sound schizophrenic? That's all part of its charm.

Jul 17, 2014 - lonelyplanet.com - 296
Dubrovnik, Croatia

Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe and beauty when you set eyes on the Stradun never fades. Indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that have protected this civilised, sophisticated republic for five centuries.
Although the shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991 horrified the world, the city has bounced back with characteristic vigour to enchant visitors again. Take the revamped cable car up to Mt Srđ. Marvel at the Mediterranean lifestyle and the interplay of light and stone. Trace the rise and fall of Dubrovnik in museums replete with art and artefacts. Exhaust yourself retracing history, then plunge into the azure sea.

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Prague, Czech Republic

The 1989 Velvet Revolution that freed the Czechs from communism bequeathed to Europe a gem of a city to stand beside stalwarts like Rome, Amsterdam and London. Not surprisingly, visitors from around the world have come in droves, and on a hot summer's day it can feel like you’re sharing Charles Bridge with half of humanity. But even the crowds can’t take away from the spectacle of a 14th-century stone bridge, a hilltop castle and a lovely, lazy river – the Vltava – that inspired one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of 19th-century classical music, Smetana’s ‘Moldau’.