Forget Paris. And while we're at it, you can forget New York City, London and Rome, too. It's not that we have anything against these world-class cities, but they certainly tend to steal the limelight when it comes to ranking lists of the best cities in the world.
FlightNetwork is a Canadian travel website that set out to make a comprehensive list of the world's 50 most beautiful cities, ranked by travel bloggers, writers and agencies. Of course the aforementioned cities made the list. But in the interest of fairness, we've picked out the most unusual and less-acclaimed cities that deserve their own space in the spotlight.
With a nickname like the "Pink City," it's no wonder that the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan is awash in Technicolor hues. To welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1876, the Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire old city painted pink in a show of hospitality, and it still stands today.
As one of the earliest planned cities in modern India, Jaipur is included in the popular tourist circuit deemed the Golden Triangle, which also includes Delhi and Agra. If you've got some extra cash, consider staying in the Presidential Suite at Raj Palace, currently available for a cool $45,000 a night — one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient city has become a major destination for fans of the HBO smash hit "Game of Thrones," as it doubles as King's Landing in the show.
The stone walls that run 1.2 miles around the city date back to the 600s, while the winding streets of its Old Town are pedestrian-friendly (no cars allowed). Come for the epic Byzantine architecture, stay for the stony beaches and Photoshopped-blue waters.
This postcard-pretty port city is surrounded by mountains, fjords and the famous timber wharf, Bryggen. Rows of brightly colored cottages line the cobblestone streets, while the surrounding forested slopes are a hiker's paradise.
While you're there, check out the the famous fish market for smoked fish and whale meat, or ride the funicular to the top of Fløyen, one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. From there you'll have a panoramic view of the harbor and fjords — but bring your umbrella. It's statistically one of the wettest cities in Europe.
Queenstown, New Zealand
If you're looking for adventure, head Down Under to the idyllic town of Queenstown. Surrounded by New Zealand's longest lake, mountain ranges, and the Nevis Valley (home to one of the highest bungee jumps in the world!), this city satisfies most adrenaline junkies.
That said, if you'd rather unwind than whitewater raft, Queenstown is also a gateway to the wine-making region. Its high altitude and diverse climate make for perfect pinot noir varietals.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
This colonial-era town, about a 3.5 hour-drive from Mexico City, has a little something for everyone. Its well-preserved baroque architecture can be found everywhere, thanks to UNESCO designating more than 100 acres of the small city a World Heritage Site in 2008. Since the early 20th century, San Miguel has enjoyed a Bohemian culture, thanks to the establishment of art schools as well as backpacking artists and writers flocking there.
For foodies, the picturesque city is considered a bit of a mecca for Mexican cuisine. Its street food scene deserves its own pilgrimage, while the seemingly endless good weather begs for daily al fresco dining.
More than half the country's population is packed into the capital of South Korea, making for a city full of sensory overload. If you want rest and relaxation, this cutting-edge metropolis may not be for you.
Whether you're here to shop, karaoke or eat, the city has both neon-lit modern skyscrapers and some of the largest urban parks in the world. The mix of old and new cultures also shows up in the contemporary architecture, ancient palaces and Seoul's four guardian mountains that surround them all.
San Sebastian, Spain
If eating food is your main mission, consider this beachy resort town full of Michelin-starred restaurants and picturesque plazas. The rugged Basque countryside surrounds a city full of public art, crumbling fortresses and tantalizing tapas.
Consider that the historic old city center is considered the best nightlife spot in town (and perfect place for pintxos bar-hopping), and you'll see why it's also the ideal city for strolling after sunset.
This city on the equator has the second-tallest capital in the world, located on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano. Being this high up means majestic vistas at every turn, and high-altitude hiking that will (literally) take your breath away.
Once a former fishing village and now the business hub of the Middle East, Dubai is a city of stark contrasts. While you might immediately picture opulent indoor shopping malls and some of the tallest buildings in the world, the surrounding desert's epic landscapes make for a nice safari, while the beaches are pristine — although finding a free beach can be a challenge.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Russia's former imperial capital is a master class in opulent architecture. Dazzling domes, gold spires and medieval mosaics make for a city that sparkles, even when the snowy winters seem to last forever. The "city of palaces" only gets around 60-70 days of sunshine a year, so it makes sense that the ornate buildings are a feast for the senses. With its 40 canals and 400 bridges, Saint Petersburg is sometimes considered the "Venice of the North."