Kyoto, Japan, has been named the top travel destination in the world by readers of Travel+Leisure magazine in the US, knocking last year’s winner Bangkok clear off the top 10 list.
In the 19th edition of the publication’s annual poll of the best in travel, readers gave the former imperial capital an overall score of 90 points, not just for its cherry blossoms and zen gardens, but also for the cutting-edge ryokans -- Japanese inns -- that are being reimagined to offer experiences that straddle the modern and traditional.
Ryokans typically feature tatami mat flooring, sliding doors, and hot spring bathing areas. The ryokan experience is also defined by the traditional Japanese cuisine kaiseki, a multi-course meal that features small, light tapas-style dishes which focus on regional, seasonal ingredients.
Last year, The Daily Meal singled out Kitcho restaurant in Kyoto as the most expensive restaurant in the world. Described as a high temple of kaiseki, diners can expect to shell out $600 for dinner and drinks. British chef Heston Blumenthal has also called meals at Kitcho “extraordinary.”
Overall Europe dominated the list of top 10 destinations, snagging five of the top spots.
After Kyoto, readers put Charleston, South Carolina, as the second best city, followed by Florence, Siem Reap, Cambodia and Rome.
The best overall island is Santorini in Greece.
Here are the world’s top cities after Kyoto, according to T+L:
2. Charleston, South Carolina, USA
3. Florence, Italy
4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
5. Rome, Italy
6. Istanbul, Turkey
7. Seville, Spain
8. Barcelona, Spain
9. Mexico City
10. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
All pictures from Getty Images