Skip Navigation

Famous Cities

Photo © Degolasse

Travel Guide General Guides Famous Landmarks Famous Cities

edit

Introduction

Manila city

Manila city

© All Rights Reserved AIRrunner

What makes a city famous? There are thousands and thousands of (big) cities throughout the world. And although quite a few of them are not more than an enormous collections of concrete, steel and glass, there are some gems worthwhile the effort of travelling to. Maybe famous is not the right word, but at least some aspects of what makes a city great (culture, history, location etc) can be found in the shortened list below. So whether it's the lights and love of Paris, the beaches of Rio or the location of Cape Town, they all live up to the imagination.

Top

edit

Africa

Cape Town

Cape Town

Cape Town

© All Rights Reserved hihoscuba

Cape Town is the second largest and southernmost city in South Africa and capital of the Western Cape province. It is also arguably one of the most beautiful cities in world. With the Table Mountain providing a backdrop to the city and mountains, beaches and wineries lining the landscape, it's not hard to understand why Capetonians are so proud of their home. And it's not just the scenery which has made Cape Town such a popular travel destination in recent years. The friendliness and diversity of the Capetonians themselves accounts for much of the attraction of the city. A former major trading port, Cape Town has become a cultural melting pot of British, Dutch, French & German settlers and the local Khoisan and Bantu tribes. Add attractions like Robben Island, the Green Point Market, Boulders Beach and nearby the Cape of Good Hope, and it’s obvious why this place is popular.

Marrakech

Marrakech

Marrakech

© All Rights Reserved JOSE_MARIA

Marrakech is a popular travel destination in Morocco. Famous for ochre stucco buildings, the city is surrounded by the Atlas mountains, making for a spectacular setting. Capital of the south and known as the "red city", the atmosphere is decidedly more African than that of Fez, Rabat and Meknes, other Imperial cities. It's primarily this unique atmosphere which makes Marrakech the most visited Imperial city and nowhere is this better experienced than in the alleyways and souks (markets) of the Medina, the Old City. Indeed, such is the change that you think yourself on a movie set as you wander through it. Other highlights include the Djemaa el-Fna (the central square), the Palais el-Badi, the souqs, Jardin Majorelle, Menara Gardens the Ali ben Yousself Medersa and Mosque, Saadian Tombs and the Museums of Marrakech and of Islamic Art.

Top

edit

Asia

Beijing

Mao is still watching the Forbidden City

Mao is still watching the Forbidden City

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Beijing, the capital of China, is looking much more into the future than into the past. Nowadays, it is a city crowded with tourists from China and all over the world. But just a stone's throw away in the past, the city was hardly ever visited by any foreigners. Since 1989, many things have changed and Beijing has been growing into a huge metropolitan area with around 16 million people living on a vast, expanding area. It is one of the most important cities in China from a cultural and political standpoint. The Forbidden Palace, in front of Tiananmen square, is a good example; but hidden between the high rise buildings and 10-lane motorways are some other magnificent examples of culture and religion, like the Temple of Heaven and the Temple of the Sleeping Buddha. Close to the city are other significant historical attractions like the Ming Tombs and of course the biggest structure on earth ever built by humans: The Great Wall of China.

Kyoto

Lanterns

Lanterns

© All Rights Reserved Degolasse

Kyoto was Japan's capital until it was moved to Tokyo in 1868. Unlike hectic Tokyo, Kyoto is considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful city. Only Rome lays claim to more designated Unesco World Heritage Sites than this city nestled amongst the mountains of Western Honshu. The magnificent array of temples and shrines include famous names like the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaju and the Ryoanji zen garden. Kyoto is a sightseers paradise and much can be taken in on foot, although don't expect it to be the first impression you get of the city on arrival. Urban sprawl and ultra modern buildings like the glass and steel main train station, show signs of a city embracing modern times despite it's deeply traditional roots. But once you do find yourself in areas like Old Kyoto wandering down alleys of traditional narrow, wooden houses you will learn to appreciate the great artistic heritage that defined Kyoto for over a thousand years.

Top

edit

Caribbean

Havana

Havana/Cuba

Havana/Cuba

© All Rights Reserved marlis

Havana is the capital of Cuba, a sprawling city of 3 million. It lies at the very northwest of the island. Most people start their trip in Havana and it has a pleasant old and worn feeling to it. The local mix of cigars, rum and music, combined with the numerous vintage cars still driving the Havana streets, has a huge attraction to people. The old town (Havana Vieja) is on the UNESCO world heritage list and as a consequence has been given extra attention with new bright colours painted on the beautifully restored buildings. A stroll along the different squares and small lanes in between with some brief stops for a cuba libre or mojito is one of the highlights of any visit to Cuba.

Top

edit

Central America

Antigua

GUATEMALA - Antigua - center

GUATEMALA - Antigua - center

© All Rights Reserved vanessa

Antigua is an amazing Spanish colonial city known for its well preserved Spanish Mudejar influenced Baroque style buildings, ruins and colonial churches. Due to the wealth of cultural importance the town was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1543, Antigua was the third capital of Guatemala and held the title for over 200 years. After a series of devastating earthquakes in the 1770s the Spanish Crown ordered the relocation of the capital, with a population of over 60,000 people, to a safer area. Although many people left some still remained even though today the population of the town is still under 35,000. Antigua is a great place to spend a few days exploring and learning about the early colonial history and culture of Guatemala.

Top

edit

Europe

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

© All Rights Reserved epsibz

With about 800,000 people, Amsterdam is one of the smaller capitals in the world, but it is a very popular city for tourists visiting the Netherlands or just the city itself. And, if you just have several days in the Netherlands, make a visit to Amsterdam your main thing. Of course, Amsterdam is well known for its Red Light District, but it has much more to offer. Amsterdam is teeming with museums, like the famous Van Gogh Museum and of course the national Rijksmuseum. Also the Anne Frank House is one of the hotspots to visit, if you want to know more about the time during the war. It has some more strange museums as well, like a Torture Museum, a Sex Museum and a Hash(!) Museum. As Amsterdam is a major trading centre for diamonds, you will also find a museum about this precious jewel as well. Walk along the canals and over the many squares Amsterdam offers, and enjoy a city that has something to offer for both the culture and art lovers, and the more kinky type of person. All put in a beautiful setting with water and typical Dutch historical building styles.

Istanbul

Istanbul, the city which divides Asia and Europe, is the only city in the world which is situated on two continents.

Istanbul

Istanbul

© All Rights Reserved jikgoe


This city of (officially) 13 million inhabitants - the largest city in Turkey - celebrates a unique culture which fuses Eastern and Western influences and a history stretching back as far as 5500 BC. It's a city which can easily compete with the most beautiful cities in Europe or even the world and walking around its historic streets and along mosques and bridges, you will soon see why. Be sure to spend at least 3 or 4 days here, as there is a lot to explore, especially on the European side, though don't forget to pay a visit to the lesser known Asian side.

London

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and one of the biggest and famous cities in Europe. London, together with its neighbour across the channel, Paris, is one of the main destinations in Europe for travellers.

Piccadilly Square, London

Piccadilly Square, London

© All Rights Reserved Mavr8k


It is a cultural melting pot where people from around the world have found a home, a legacy of their colonialist past and a great contributor to its vibrant culture today: according to the 2001 census, over a quarter of the population of London was born outside the United Kingdom. Home to Big Ben, the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Tower of London and fish and chips in your local, London provides days of distraction for the first time tourist.

Paris

Paris, the capital of France, is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities. Known as "The City of Light" as well as "The City of Love", it welcomes millions of visitors every year.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

© All Rights Reserved clintonb


With museums housing impressive collections of artworks and sculptures, cathedrals and churches intricately designed, palaces lavishly decorated, hundreds of parks providing green spaces and tranquility, list of events that leave one wanting for more than 24 hours per day to fit everything in, and more importantly, the richness of the cuisine found in this metropolitan city and the most sumptuous feast that one can indulge in, Paris is a mistress after one's own heart. No stay in Paris will be complete without a visit and a picture of the Iron Lady. That is, the Eiffel Tower. The single most iconic structure that identifies Paris to the world, in 2009, the tower turned 120 years old and the occasion was celebrated all year long with special exhibitions, fireworks lightshows.

Rome

il Colesseo

il Colesseo

© All Rights Reserved maridod

Rome is the capital and largest city in Italy. It is one of the most important cities in the world in terms of history and culture, as it was at the heart of the Roman Empire and is the centre of one of the world's major religions. Although it has relatively 'new' attractions like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, the city is mostly known for its older magnificent buildings and ruins, like the Colosseum, Pantheon and the Forum Romanum. And if that is not enough, you can always visit another country, right in the middle of the city: Vatican City, the residence of the Pope, which is known for its huge basilica, St. Peter's. Of course, like any other Italian city, you can enjoy good cappuccinos, pizza and pasta in Rome as well. Or just sit down and relax for a while enjoying a fresh beer or good wine, after walking from one highlight to the other, because that's what Rome is all about.

Top

edit

Middle East

The Green Line, Beirut

The Green Line, Beirut

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Beirut

It was called the Paris of the east for a long time, until the civil war started in 1975 when 27 Palestinian civilians where killed by an attack on a bus. After the civil war which ended early during the 90's of the last century, Beirut, the capital of Libanon, struggled back to become one of the most pleasant places to live in the Middle East, settled along the Mediterranean coastline. Wandering along the Corniche, watching and being watched, is a pleasant activity at first light or in the late afternoon when the sun goes down again. Another attraction near, or actually in the sea, are the famous Pigeon rocks, which lie immediately east of the city. You will feel like being in a modern western city when drinking a beer on of the terraces in the centre of Beirut. But just a kilometre further away you will still be struck by some buildings destructed by the civil war, on both sides of the famous Green Line, which was the dividing line between Muslims and Christians.

Cairo

Cairo

Cairo

© All Rights Reserved capisco

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is an amazing city full of life and movement, and it is that way almost 24 hours every day, with the noisy honking of horns, children playing in the streets and merchants selling their wares and services. And here, the Egyptians are most at home in this powerful, modern and ancient city. The city has a wide range of great sights and attractions, including the Pyramids of Giza, three enormous structures (plus the mysterious Sphinx) that remain emblems of Egypt's grand past and one of the best known places in the world. Others include the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, home to many fascinating ancient Egyptian artifacts and the chaotic Khan el-Khalil Souk.

Damascus

Damascus is the capital of Syria and after Aleppo it is the biggest city in the country with slightly less than 2 million people living here.

Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

© All Rights Reserved Antonxiii


It is located in the southwest of the country not far from the border with Jordan. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Although the largest part of the city is rather chaotic with much traffic and not much of interest for travellers, the old part of the city is a great place exploring on foot. The medina (souq) is a colourful place to visit and the old city has several quarter like the Christian quarter. Centrepiece is the Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus. It is one of the largest mosques in the world, and one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. Damascus deserves at least a few days before exploring the rest of the cultural highlights of Syria.

Dubai

Dubai is the second-largest of the seven emirates that together constitute the United Arab Emirates.

Mosque at One

Mosque at One

© All Rights Reserved Musti


This is one of the fastest growing areas anywhere in the world with buildings being erected at an enormous speed. Plans are even more ambitious with hundreds of high rise buildings to be added (including the highest building in the world) and thousands of islands in the form of the world or palms which are for the rich and famous only. Unfortunately, much of the old and original Dubai is hidden away in between, but can still be found in the old quarter of the city.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is appropriately described as the City of Gold.

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

© All Rights Reserved jkirsch


It is magical, with the mix of ancient history and modernization blended together to form a worldly experience. Jerusalem will forever remain one of the holiest cities in the world, where an interesting mix of religions living together in tolerance, respect and harmony. But religious pilgrimage isn't the only reason to visit Jerusalem: those not interested in religion can choose from a wide range of vacation activities and night-time entertainment to keep busy and enjoy the ambience to all hours of the early morning. Views from the hills around Jerusalem are breathtaking.

Top

edit

North America

New York

ny police

ny police

© All Rights Reserved finny7

New York, New York, the city so great they named it twice, goes by many other names as well. Probably most interesting to the traveller is the unofficial declaration of being the "world's capital." New York is the largest city in the USA, the fourth largest city in the world, and one of the most ethnically diverse cities on earth. The city is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island. Some of the most popular attraction include the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and sadly enough also Ground Zero, the former location of the famous Twin Towers. Spend at least a week in New York during your first visit!

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, was a simple quiet town until the mob decided to turn it into a gambling mecca. Established in 1905, it became a city in 1911 and from then onwards grew rapidly.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

© All Rights Reserved PhotoGlen


Today some of the world's most famous casinos are here and wild nights can be experienced here. The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City. If you want to hit up the big casinos on the strip or some of the smaller ones in downtown there is a casino for everyone. If you don't want to gamble, there are plenty of musicians, dance clubs, magic acts and even some outdoor activities around to entertain you. Remember: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and VIVA LAS VEGAS!

Top

edit

South America

Buenos Aires

Boca - Buenos Aires - Argentina

Boca - Buenos Aires - Argentina

© All Rights Reserved Midworlder

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a sprawling mass of a city on the banks of the Río de la Plata, not a river but the world's widest estuary. First impressions may be of a dirty, polluted and noisy city, but a scratch below the surface will unveil a wealth of character. This city lives for football, in particular the age old rivalry of Boca and River. It's a city of extremes, from the wealthy Recoleta (where a grave will cost you more than a house in London's rich suburbs) to the filthy but charming Barrio de Once, a crowded neighborhood with pickpockets and beggars.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the pumping heart of Brazil and is located along the beautiful beaches and coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.

Lights of Flamengo in foreground, Corcovado behind

Lights of Flamengo in foreground, Corcovado behind

© All Rights Reserved Jeremy T


From dusk till dawn this thriving city has a multitude of fantastic sights, sounds and experiences to be had be they hidden jems like the rickety tram up to Santa Theresa or standing proud like Christ the Redeemer that heralds visitors in to this unique city. Named the River January because settlers thought that the mouth of the bay was actually the mouth of a river, the city is enfolded and runs itself like an oozing river among the feet of a handful of majestic mountains, Sugarloaf and Corcovado among other smaller hills. The beautiful cariocas, the people of Rio are known for a vivacious love of life, partying and a laid back attitude that is infectious to visitors.

Top

edit

Oceania

Perth

Perth by Night

Perth by Night

© All Rights Reserved Degolasse

Perth is the capital of the Australian state of Western Australia. With a population of around 1.7 million (2010 estimate) Perth is the largest city in Western Australia and home to three-quarters of the state's residents. The city is also the fourth most populous urban area in Australia, and with a growth rate of 2% is currently the fastest growing major city in Australia. It's also the world's most remote biggest city and the nearest one, Adelaide, is several days of driving and thousands of kilometres east in South Australia.

Sydney

Sydney is Australia's largest and oldest city. It is the site of the first European colony in Australia, which was established in 1788 in what is now known as New South Wales. Two centuries later, 21st century Sydney is a multicultural city known for iconic structures such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

© All Rights Reserved Scobie67


While Sydney is Australia’s most expensive city, it has Australia's highest quality of living, and Conde Nast travelor readers have voted Sydney the best city to visit for 8 straight years. Other fantastic sigths and attractions include Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Circular Quay and of course Bondi Beach. And outside of Sydney is Manly and further away are fantastic nature parks full of hiking trails and Australian wildlife. Add to that a near perfect climate (except on those extremely hot summer days), and it's not difficult to understand the choice of Conde Nast.

Contributors

as well as Herr Bert (1%)

Help contribute to this article to share the ad revenue.

Famous Cities Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Famous Cities

This is version 34. Last edited at 14:29 on Oct 25, 11 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License