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18 World-Class Cities That Belong on Your Travel Bucket List

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By Alessia Barranca

Frugal Feature

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If you plan on traveling when you retire and are looking for inspiration on where to go, we’ve compiled a list of 18 of the most beautiful cities in the world. 

Paris, France

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Paris is an open-air museum with architectural gems, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, and the opulent Sacré-Coeur Basilica. From romantic strolls along the river Seine to exploring the bohemian vibes of Montmartre, there is beauty everywhere you turn in Paris. 

Luberon, Provence, France 

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The Luberon boasts breathtaking natural beauty with lavender fields, sprawling vineyards, and rolling hills everywhere you look. Take your time walking through quaint villages perched on hilltops as you bask in the warm Provençal sunshine with a glass of wine and picnic. 

Rome, Italy

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Rome uniquely blends ancient ruins, Renaissance architecture, and modern buildings. Walking down a street, you might pass the crumbling facade of a Roman temple next to a Baroque church and a contemporary art gallery. Add to this world-class cuisine and delicious Gelato, and Rome is a complex city to keep off your bucket list. 

Venice, Italy

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The floating city of Venice is another beautiful Italian city where people flock to ride a gondola along the picturesque canals. As you stroll through the city, you can wonder at the colorful buildings, the stunning architecture, and the vibrant St. Mark’s Square. Free from the noise and traffic of cars, Venice offers a tranquil vacation for those looking to get away from it all when they retire. 

Cinque Terre, Italy 

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Cinque Terre, also in Italy, is a string of five villages that cling to the cliffs along the Italian Riviera. The villages are Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. They are the definition of picture-perfect, and the photographs you send back home will leave people green with envy. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its stunning beauty, colorful houses, and vineyards cascading to the sea.

London, England 

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London boasts a remarkable blend of architectural styles, from medieval castles like Hampton Court to the neoclassical elegance of Buckingham Palace and the modern marvels of The Shard skyscraper. You can also make the most of the many green spaces, such as Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, both great spots for a picnic on summer days. 

Barcelona, Spain 

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Barcelona is synonymous with Antoni Gaudí, the famous architect whose whimsical and colorful creations define the cityscape. Marvel at the Sagrada Familia, a breathtaking basilica still under construction, or Park Güell, with its whimsical structures and panoramic views. Along with enjoying amazing tapas and exploring La Boqueria Market, you can enjoy time at the beach at one of the many art galleries. 

New York City, USA 

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The Big Apple is a city that never sleeps, with something to offer everyone, from world-class museums and Broadway shows to iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and Central Park. It may not spring to mind when you think of the word beauty, but it is one of the most breathtaking cities you will visit.

Kyoto, Japan 

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Immerse yourself in Japanese culture in Kyoto, a city with beautiful temples, gardens, and geisha districts. The city’s traditional wooden houses built in classic Japanese style captivate tourists, as do the elaborate kimonos worn in the Geisha district. Kyoto is renowned for its meticulously designed gardens, each a work of art. You can witness cherry trees blossom, a bucket list item if you are lucky enough. 

Prague, Czech Republic 

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Prague’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason. It’s a stunning architectural tapestry that reflects different eras. Stroll through the medieval streets lined with Gothic churches, such as the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, or marvel at the grandeur of Baroque palaces like Wallenstein Palace.

Marrakech, Morocco

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 Marrakech is a city that explodes with color. From the ochre-colored buildings of the Medina to the vibrant displays of spices in the souks (markets), the city is a visual feast that will stay with you forever. To add to the beauty, street performers fill the air with traditional Gnawa music for a truly unique atmosphere. 

Chefchaouen, Morocco 

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Morocco is also home to the magical town of Chefchaouen, also known as the “Blue Pearl” for its blue-washed buildings. The car-free Medina is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets lined with blue houses. Add in the pops of color from flowers overflowing from window boxes and vibrantly painted doorways, and the effect is like stepping into a living fairytale.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia 

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Ubud is a beautiful town located in the mountains of Bali, Indonesia. It is known for its traditional arts, crafts, and dance performances. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a photographer’s dream, offering breathtaking panoramic views of stunning rice terraces sculpted into the hillsides.

Bruges, Belgium

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The medieval city of Bruges is known for its well-preserved historic center, canals, cobblestone streets, and beautiful architecture. It’s a historic center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It feels like stepping back in time. You can have a leisurely day and take a boat tour along the canals, where you photograph as you glide under picturesque bridges. The Market Square is the heart of Bruges and is a great place to people-watch, soak up the atmosphere, and visit historic buildings.

Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest is divided by the Danube River, with Buda on the hilly west bank and Pest on the flat east bank. Each side boasts stunning architecture. On the Buda side, explore Buda Castle, a sprawling complex offering fairytale-like charm and panoramic city views. On the Pest side, marvel at the neoclassical Hungarian Parliament Building along the Danube’s banks. Or, be awestruck by the grandeur of St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest. 

Santorini, Greece

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Santorini is a Greek island known for its whitewashed houses, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful beaches. Forget the typical white sand beaches! Santorini boasts unique beaches formed by volcanic ash. The dramatic black sand beaches in Perissa and Kamari offer a one-of-a-kind experience for your bucket list. 

Lucerne, Switzerland

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Lake Lucerne, the crown jewel of Lucerne, is a shimmering body of water surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Take a scenic boat cruise on the lake, enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, like Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, nicknamed the “Queen of the Mountains.” The lakefront promenade is a picturesque place to stroll, offering stunning scenery and a glimpse into the city’s vibrant life.

Zermatt, Switzerland 

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Zermatt is a car-free resort town in the Swiss Alps. It is a popular winter destination for skiing and snowboarding and a summer destination for hiking and biking. If you enjoy hiking and beautiful views, Zermatt is your place. An impressive network of hiking trails easily caters to all skill levels. You’ll find leisurely walks through meadows, challenging climbs, and mountain peaks; there’s something for everyone.