Travel is one of those things that is both highly personal and, at the same time, highly connecting. Some of us travel for food or for the scenery, some for the sea and sun, and many for a variety of other reasons.
No matter our why, travelers keep traveling. And one thing that many travelers have in common is that regardless of if we are seeking connection or solitude, most of us are looking for some eye-opening experiences about other cultures.
One way we can do this is by immersing ourselves in the various cultures and customs of our destination. In fact, the number of travelers seeking culture is growing, and cultural hotspots are stepping into the trending destinations category this year. Luckily for those who are seeking some cultural awakenings and planning on basing their upcoming trips around it, the opportunities we are presented with these days are vast.
Tripadvisor’s 2023 travelers choice awards named the 25 of the best places in the world for culture, and while many of the winners were obvious culture-packed favorites, there were some that often fly a bit under the radar.
Here are 7 cities around the world that have been named some of the best places to experience culture this year:
Considered a generally safe country, Armenia is an undiscovered beauty that is full of history and culture. A melting pot of European and Asian influences, Armenia is a unique destination and one that should be considered by travelers looking for a dose of culture on their next trip.
The capital of Yerevan is a prime example of a Soviet city and was designed by Alexander Tamanyan (bonus points if you can find his monument in the city). It’s full of cafes with fantastic Armenian coffee, parks, museums, and shopping.
One thing to look out for here is the number of sculptures and colorful street murals spread throughout the city. And if it’s art you are looking for, there are more than enough world-class museums to keep you going.
Those who are here to understand Armenia’s long and tangled history can visit the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which contains books as old as the 9th century and explore the ruins of ancient fortresses.
Known to be an emerging destination for digital nomads, the world’s second-highest capital city of Quito ranks high as a cultural destination for a variety of reasons. First off, it was the first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage of Humanity site, thanks to its preserved culture, colonial treasures, and natural beauty. Surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, Quito’s old streets provide a glimpse into a city that is filled with historic culture.
Founded on the ruins of an Inca city in the 16th century, vibrant Quito is full of museums, stunning churches, and loads of that charming Spanish colonial architecture. Some consider this city to be the ‘middle of the world’, and there is no denying that this South American city is a meeting point of cultures, all of which are on display for those who visit.
Uganda has been ranked as being a welcoming country for tourists, and while most come to enjoy the wildlife, a couple of days in the capital city of Kampala shouldn’t be missed. The city is busy, loud, and lively, and that’s all the more reason to love it. The motorbikes, busses, and street vendors zigzag in and out of each other at a dizzying pace, and the action of the city can be enjoyed from a safe distance, perhaps a roadside stall, with a cold Nile beer in hand.
Not far from the shore of massive Lake Victoria, the city is perched among several hills. You could experience the city’s famed nightlife by enjoying that other-worldly African sunset from one of Kampala’s many rooftop bars, after a day of exploring the temples and tombs throughout the city. This is a city that comes alive when the sun goes down, and as it’s known to be one of the safer cities in East Africa, you can enjoy yourself while taking the same precautions you would in any large city.
Providing travelers with a healthy dose of southern Mexican charm, Oaxaca is considered to be one of Mexico’s places that is rich in culture. One main aspect of life here is the indigenous cultures of the area, who have their hand in every area of life here, from the crafts, the mezcal, and the food.
To visit Oaxaca means to interact with the locals, and this cultural experience will help to open your eyes to another side of Mexico, far away from the high-rise hotels and beach parties of Cancun.
Of course, before visiting, there are certain things to keep in mind, but one main tip would be to arrive hungry. Hungry for delicious street food and traditional drinks that will knock your socks off, hungry for streets filled with colorful architecture and stalls filled with arts and crafts, and hungry to explore this culture-packed region.
Come to explore this culinary destination, and at the same time, be ready to witness a place where despite 26 different indigenous languages being spoken, everyone seems to get along.
The Middle Eastern hub of arts and culture that is Amman is one that many people pass through on the way to visit the country’s more famous sites, but actually should be added to any Jordan itinerary. With so many things to see here, it’s a shame many head right to Petra without stopping to give Amman a second look. With its mix of modern skyscrapers, mosques, markets, and Roman architecture, there is enough to keep you busy for a few days before you head off into the desert.
One thing that is a must-see is the Citadel of Amman, located on top of one of the city’s original seven hills. This is the highest point in Amman, so it’s worth it for the view alone. Other sites of interest include the Roman Theatre, The Cave of Seven Sleepers, and The Jordan Museum. Stop by the city’s famed markets to barter with the shopkeepers for spices, pottery, and everything else you might want to bring home (one reason that stopping here at the end of your Jordan trip might make the most sense!)
It should come as no surprise that one of India’s cities is on this list of cultural destinations. While the country is packed with culture, it’s the city of Jaipur that made this list. Located in northwestern India’s Rajasthan state, this capital was India’s first planned city. Only about 170 miles from the megacity of New Delhi, Jaipur holds the distinction of being one of India’s most loved cultural destinations.
Nicknamed the Pink City because of the stucco buildings everywhere you look, Jaipur is dripping with Rajasthani culture. Folk dances and music that are so special they cannot be replicated anywhere. Arts and crafts and traditional jewelry are all standout stars here. Not to mention the cuisine of Jaipur and the warm and welcoming people that will greet you. Come to Jaipur and visit the colorful markets, temples, forts, and palaces, and don’t forget to take in a sunset at the famous Jal Mahal.
Poland is emerging as a post-pandemic travel hotspot, with many travelers returning to explore the country for its history, as the country has 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many other important historical things to see as well. The capital city of Warsaw, for example, has over 50 museums to enjoy. From Modern Art to Chopin, there is something for every type of culture seeker here. Visit the music and film festivals, or take part in the enriching and eye-opening walking tours retelling the horrors of the past.
Having been almost totally destroyed during World War II (about 80% was ruined), the architecture of Warsaw has largely been reconstructed, while some original buildings do stand. No matter how old, the streets and squares of Warsaw are picture-perfect and make the ideal backdrop for enjoying the many outdoor cafes.
For those who are interested in the entire list of the top 25 best places for culture, here are the winners:
- Fes, Morocco
- Jerusalem, Israel
- Athens, Greece
- Dublin, Ireland
- Jaipur, India
- Budapest, Hungary
- Berlin, Germany
- Seville, Spain
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Brussels, Belgium
- Venice, Italy
- Santiago, Chile
- Yerevan, Armenia
- Vienna, Austria
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Amman, Jordan
- Kyoto, Japan
- Quito, Ecuador
- Giza, Egypt
- Oaxaca, Mexico
- Warsaw, Poland
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Kampala, Uganda
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com