Travel Thursday: Will Best City Survey Scores Change Your Bucket List?

Where was Madrid on the list? Photo by Alex Azabache

Many of us have not stopped traveling during the COVID Pandemic while others have been more cautious. Some have waited for regulations to dissipate before scrounging for that passport or your airlines rewards program membership number. 

As the travel gates reopen, we ponder where we should go first? Could a list of Best Cities In the World help?


When I travel, I always like to know what the locals enjoy doing above and beyond what’s in the tourist brochures, so when the‘s post of “The 53 best cities in the world in 2022” came out, we wanted to see what it had to offer. 

Every year, we quiz thousands of city-dwellers worldwide about life in their hometown right now. We want to know about the restaurant scene and the bar circuit. The theatre and the art galleries. The nightlife and the dating apps. What the neighbours are like and which neighbourhoods are actually cool. The idea is to create a global snapshot of city living, and point people in the direction of the places locals are really raving about.

Okay, I can follow such logic. Hometown people ranking their city for what it does and does not have. And this has always been part of my “modus operandi” when traveling to or arriving in a city. Strike up a conversation with the locals to see what they love about their city, what they find really represents their town, what they love there that they cannot find as good elsewhere. 


What did find out? Here are the Top 10 

  1. Edinburgh (Scotland)
  2. Chicago (USA)
  3. Medellín (Colombia)
  4. Glasgow (Scotland)
  5. Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  6. Prague (Czech Republic)
  7. Marrakech (Morocco)
  8. Berlin (Germany)
  9. Montreal (Canada)
  10. Copenhagen (Denmark)
  11. Cape Town (South Africa)
  12. Madrid (Spain)

Get Your Kilts Ready! – Was it a surprise to anyone that Scotland has two cities in the top 4? Scottish pride is alive and well as both Edinburgh and Glasgow get the hat tip from the locals and the magazine. We might just need to see how well the rainbow flag flies there. 

“You’re a phony celebrity and in two weeks no one’s going to give a shit about you… that’s Chicago.”  –  That may be a quote from Chicago (movie, play, etc), but we do not think this is true as the Windy City scored the Number 2 spot on the list. Here is what had to say. 


What makes us great: It may have been a tough week for our city, but we know Chicago will pull through: a massive 55 percent of locals described it as resilient in this year’s Index (the fourth highest in the world), and we’d be inclined to agree. After two years of on-off restrictions, we’ve come out stronger and more united, and now our beloved Midwest metropolis is thriving again – so much so, it was voted the funnest city in the world this year, too. Whether you want to try world-class dining, party until 4am at historic clubs, spend a day soaking up the sun along Lake Michigan, see iconic artworks or just wander among different neighborhoods, there’s never a dull moment to be had (yes, even when winter rolls around).

Visit now because: The food scene is popping off. We’re talking everything from sleek, high-end restaurants on Randolph Street and the country’s first-ever Michelin-starred Filipino tasting menu to some of the best mom-and-pop Mexican joints you’ll find in a big US city.

The big numbers: A whopping 96 percent of locals rate Chicago highly for its food and drink – the second highest in the world – with 95 percent saying the same about the city’s art and culture scene.

What do I think about Chicago? I need another go at the city as my first trip was an epic adventure of 4 days of Halloween back in 2010 and then a frigid freezing frozen fright of a St Patrick’s Day in 2013. I am VERY overdue for another visit and the locals agree as receiving a ranking of #2, they apparently love their city.

The City of Eternal Spring – “Oh yeah!” was what I actually said out loud when I saw Medellín as number 3 on the list. Last year, I had one of the best trips of my life to Colombia and one of the three places we visited was Medellín. I wrote a little about my trip there and shared some of the visuals in my post Travel Thursday: Being Out In Colombia Was The Thrill Of The Year


Working for Instinct Magazine since September 2014, I’ve been fortunate to go on many trips and meet many people. In October of 2021, I went on one of the top trips ever, and it was during the pandemic and it was to Colombia. We visited a couple of destinations within Colombia, but for this post, I’ll share just my Medellin leg of the trip. If you asked me right now, what city I’ve visited in the past that I would want to revisit the most, it would be Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring, and here are some reasons why.

I have had multiple friends follow my lead in the last months with a visit to Medellín and they have also thought very highly of the city. Inexpensive, lovely, colorful, safe, beautiful friendly people, the music, and so much more. Coming from being the the most dangerous city in the world just two to three decades ago to one of the hottest spots to travel to in the Western Hemisphere, Medellín should be on your bucket list. 

Where Else? – The list of 53 goes on with other cities to make note of..


9. Montreal (Canada) I know it’s on the top 10, but I wanted to mention it again. The culture, the gayness, the ease of everything, the summer, its Jazzfest, Saint Catherine .. Montreal will always have a place in my heart as a liberating city. Growing up in Maine, it was only a 5 hour drive to a new world. 

18. Porto & 28. Lisbon (Portugal) – I’ve only heard great things about Portugal and the ease of travel, the safety, and the acceptance of LGBTQ travelers and citizens. 

20. New York & 25. San Francisco (USA)  – After Chicago, it took until the 20th spot for another US city to appear. 

New Bucket List?


Definitely check out the Top 53 and see if the rankings may update what cities are on your must visit list.  I mean, who knows better than the locals? 

  • What do you think of Chicago making #2?
  • How would your home town rank?
  • Is there a city in your mind that is above and beyond and should have been the top or at least in the top 10 that wasn’t there?
A couple of beautiful sights I found during a visit to Tel Aviv, #31 on the list



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