Cherry Blossoms along Testugaku-no-Michi (The Path of Philosophy) in Northern Higashiyama, Kyoto. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Kyoto in Japan has been named the best city in the world for visitors, for the second year in a row, by the influential Travel + Leisure magazine.
The city of temples and gardens was described by the magazine as offering the “quintessential Japanese experience”. It offers visitors everything “from history (in the form of spiritual shrines) to notable cuisine (shojin ryori) and encounters with the infamous Geisha dancers”, the magazine said.
If a theme could be discerned among this year’s winners, it perhaps involved well preserved historical quarters. There were three ancient European cities on the list: Florence (in fourth place), Rome (fifth) and Barcelona (eighth).
Charleston in South Carolina, with its cobble-stoned streets and pre-civil war era houses, was voted second. It was the only US city to make the list. It was followed by the temple city of Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Rounding out the list was Bangkok (sixth), Kraków (seventh), Cape Town (ninth) and Jerusalem (10th).
One of the world’s most widely read travel publications (with a circulation of around seven million), Travel + Leisure also asked its readers to rank the best hotels, islands and airports.
Readers were asked to judge destinations on factors including culture, food, friendliness, shopping and landmarks and rate them out of 100.
The best islands category was won by Ecuador’s spectacular Galápagos Islands, followed by Indonesia’s most popular holiday island, Bali, and the Maldives. Australia’s Tasmania came in at number four.
Oberoi Udaivilas, in Udaipur, India, was voted the world’s top hotel with a score of 99.29 out of 100. The hotel is set on 50 acres of old hunting grounds and includes a wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar.
Rooms for the the hotel, comprising of interconnected domes and corridors, overlooking a series of lakes, start at around $500US a night.
Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Aman, The Peninsula and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts were the brands most represented in the top 100 list.
The best airport was Singapore’s mammoth Changi airport with a score of 89.55, followed by Hong Kong International airport then Schiphol in Amsterdam, at number 3.
The full list of winners is published in the magazine’s August issue.
By Brigid Delaney, www.theguardian.com#Ga