As travel continues to grow at a record pace, more tourists are trying to look beyond oversaturated hotspots like Paris or Cancun and find destinations that provide rich, captivating experiences without feeling overcommercialized.
That’s why Condé Nast Traveler recently conducted a study among its readers in search of the cities that offer the very best experiences for tourists.
From the idyllic landscapes of Spain to the vibrant cultural tapestries of Mexico, these are the destinations that half a million travelers voted as the best in the world.
5. Antigua de Guatemala, Guatemala
Nestled in a valley surrounded by volcanoes, Antigua de Guatemala is truly as majestic as it sounds.
Featuring majestic high peaks, lush forests, and picturesque lakes, the landscape here seems to have jumped right out of a painting.
Beyond its natural allure, though, the city is best known for its rich cultural heritage.
In 1979 the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and legions of fascinated tourists looking for a window into Guatemala’s remarkable past have been flocking to it ever since.
While in the city, make sure to explore the Santa Catalina Arch, Iglesia de la Merced, Hill of the Cross, and the Antigua Guatemala Central Park.
The adorned colonial architecture and cobblestone streets evoke a sense that Antigua de Guatemala is actually frozen in time.
The city quickly comes back to life through its many festivals and traditional celebrations, often accompanied by colorful processions and lively music that seems to fill entire streets.
Local markets are also not to be missed, especially for those with a knack for collecting unique memorabilia from their travels.
There, you’ll find handmade textiles, ceramics, and local delicacies that’ll have you going back for seconds.
4. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Most of us know Puerto Vallarta as the tropical paradise that boasts some of Mexico’s most gorgeous sun-soaked beaches.
With highs of 89.6°F and lows of 75.2°F (32°C and 24 °C), temperatures surely allow for a warm beach vacation even as we quickly approach winter.
However, if you do get the chance to visit Puerto Vallarta in the upcoming months, I highly recommend putting off swimming for a day or two to enjoy the city’s rich cultural heritage and lively atmosphere.
Stroll through the Malecón, explore the iconic Zona Romántica, marvel at Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or climb up to the Hill of the Cross Viewpoint – the soft-sanded beaches will be waiting right there for you once you come back.
3. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico claims yet another spot in the top 5.
This time, though, the likes of Cancun, Tulum, and Los Cabos have been outshone by the gorgeous San Miguel de Allende, a jewel in Mexico’s colonial crown.
The city enchants visitors with its cobblestone streets, colorful facades, and rich artistic heritage.
If you’re ever in the area, you can’t miss Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, an iconic pink church that dominates the skyline and serves as a symbol of San Miguel’s charm.
If you’re looking for a hearty, mouth-watering meal, you’re in luck!
Here, you’ll be able to savor some truly authentic Mexican dishes infused with local flavors and spices. Green pozole, enmoladas, and salsa verde enchiladas are all must-trys.
2. San Sebastián, Spain
San Sebastián is a city that boasts idyllic beaches, vibrant city life, and gorgeous architecture with none of the chaos of Barcelona, Madrid, or Costa Brava.
However, San Sebastián is probably best known for its world-class culinary scene, having one of the highest “Michelin star restaurants per capita” rates.
After you’ve had the meal of a lifetime, put the energy to good use by touring Miramar Jauregia, visiting the San Telmo Museum, or marveling at the views of the San Sebastián Aquarium.
1. Victoria, Canada
The enchanting Canadian city that seamlessly blends natural beauty with historic charm was named the best city in the world to visit right now, and for good reason.
Victoria’s Butchart Gardens, the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, and Craigdarroch Castle exude the type of old-world elegance that perfectly accompanies a warm yet wintery city break.
If you’re searching for a more exciting pastime, whale-watching tours in the nearby waters provide a chance to witness the majesty of orcas and humpback whales in their natural habitat.
Finish the day off with a stroll through Beacon Hill Park, where the scenery this time of year will make you feel like you’re the main character of your very own movie.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com