Every year, Travel + Leisure mines through tens of thousands of World’s Best Awards surveys—in 2015, we received responses from 199,652 people from around the globe—to better understand where are readers love to go, and why. Of course, the responses say just as much, if not more, about what our readers don’t like.
We asked readers to rank 266 cities on everything from their value to the friendliness of their people: and some cities failed to warm tourists’ hearts. Not surprisingly, many of the cities that found themselves on our 2015 Unfriendliest Cities in America list (based on separate data from our annual America’s Favorite Places survey) were also called out in this census.
Here, some of our most-loved cities for cultures and the arts, or for wild nightlife and burgeoning food districts, show that even the best have room for improvement. (Want to see the cities that have already achieved excellence? Click here for our World’s Friendliest Cities list.)
Of course, we’ve all had an unfriendly encounter with a local, or caught a city that’s just woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We know these cities, at their best, can all be inviting, vibrant, and dynamic destinations.
30. St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
29. Newport, R.I., U.S.
This coastal town, with its clutch of ultra-luxe B&Bs and the staggering mansions along the Cliff Walk, is certainly attractive, but the wealth and exclusivity make themselves known to out-of-towners (even if you’re just visiting from another well-to-do city). “It’s too crowded,” one reader reported, “and the locals don’t want you there!”
28. Monte Carlo, Monaco
“Monte Carlo has become a playboys’ playground,” Robert Barnes reported ruefully. “It’s haughty and ultra-expensive,” said another reader. Escape the casinos and hotels and head to the Jardin Exotique or the Romanesque-Byzantine Cathedrale de Monaco (Princess Grace’s final resting place) for a touch of the city’s more cultural aspects.
27. Shanghai, China
26. Lyon, France
Many praised this walkable, attractive city, though unfortunate encounters with locals dragged down Lyon’s overall score. It did, however, outshine many of France’s other, even-less-friendly cities, thanks in part to its praiseworthy culinary scene. After a bowl of steaming truffle soup, puff pastry-crusted sea bass, or a dish of chestnut sorbet drizzled with chocolate sauce, who could stay in a sour mood?
25. Buenos Aires, Argentina
In this year’s survey, many repeat visitors to Argentina’s capital sadly noted a decline in atmosphere. Buenos Aires’ nightlife continues to wow, but crime and crumbling infrastructure made many uneasy. While economic troubles have made a visit to this South American destination very affordable, it’s also cast a bleakness over the once inexhaustible city.
24. Milan, Italy
23. Marrakesh, Morocco
One of Morocco’s largest, most-touristed cities is known for its dazzling medieval medina, the bustling souks fragrant with scented oils … and for being difficult to navigate as a tourist. “If [you] even raise your camera, [people] are on you like flies, wanting money.” While its gardens and riads enchant, hassling vendors can be exhausting.
22. Nice, France
Bad puns aside, Nice’s people did not get high marks for kindness. “The people were not friendly at all,” remarked one unhappy traveler. “I would not pay to go back.” If this French city is on your can’t-miss list, consider a stop in Èze, a medieval clifftop village located halfway to Monaco, or St. Paul de Vence, a hilltop village that has long enchanted artists.
21. Xi’an, China
Since the discovery of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army, Xi’an has become a major tourist destination. Tourists from around the world flock to see the life-size terracotta warriors and horses, though the city isn’t necessarily up to the challenge of hosting all the selfie-stick-wielding hordes. Pushy shop-owners make for tense people-to-people experiences.
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