With so many cities to be explored it's hard to know how to prioritize them. For every city I visit I'll give it a ranking to share my insight and offer help if you are having a hard time deciding. Obviously these rankings are based off my experiences and what I look for when I travel and may be different than yours.
Some of these ratings may seem low but I enjoyed all the cities on the list. I just didn't want to be handing out 10s and 9s to every city. I tried to look at the city has a whole and take into consideration the things to do, the ease of getting around, and the food and drinks.
The best way to use these rankings is if I were to recommend someone visit a city it would be in this order. For example, I really liked Amsterdam and found the history to be fascinating but I'd say you should visit Munich because I felt there was so much more to do.
If you want to see what I bring when I'm exploring a new city you can do that here!
Paris, France: 10/10
I was in Paris for almost a week and never ran out of things to do, and I didn't even go in the Louvre. I found the city easy to get around and architecturally very pretty. I thought the food was great, whether I had crepes (if you want to see my favorite you can here), tacos, or pizza. I checked out some of the best ranked cocktail bars in the world and discovered speculoos spread which is a real life changer! I went to an under ground jazz/dance club and found my favorite beer! I was busy the entire time but would love to go back and really slow travel and enjoy the city. Do things like have a bottle of wine by the Seine River or find a high traffic area and sip a cup of coffee and people watch. I felt Paris was a place you always hear about and is an obvious choice to be ranked high but in my opinion it lived up to the hype.
For more information on Paris click here.
New York City, New York: 10/10
This rating is a little unfair because I love New York. I first went when I was 15 (so like 2005) and was captivated by the lights and energy of the city. I loved watching people selling knock off handbags, it was so interesting to me! They had a system of when they heard cops were coming they'd wrap up their stuff, throw it over their shoulder and were on their way. I respected the hustle! I've then gone back in 2011, 2014, 2015 (lived in Brooklyn for 8 weeks), 2016, 2017, and 2018. It helps that two of my best friends live here.
New York has everything you could want. There are famous landmarks, historical places, great food and drinks, public transportation to easily get around, historic museums, cultural events, free events, and more. The city isn't perfect, it can be hot during the summer and cold during the winter, overly crowded and expensive, but hey, I've yet to see the perfect city. If you want a quiet day you can go into Central Park and you'll forget you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. If you're bored on a Tuesday you can go to the Comedy Cellar and might run into Paul Rudd, Adam Driver, and Jonah Hill as they watch Judd Apatow do stand up like I've done. You may be visiting your friend at the coffee shop he works at and see a Seth Meyers sketch be filmed. There are speakeasies, rooftop bars, and some of the best cocktail or craft beer bars in the world (check out As Is). From my experience, there really is no other place like it!
For more information on New York click here.
London, England: 9.5/10
London got a 9.5, not because it did anything wrong, I was there just such a short time. I'm already wanting to plan a trip back to do it the right way. The city reminded me a lot of NYC, probably because the same people designed them! London has famous landmarks, historic places, great food and drinks, public transportation to easily get around, cultural events, free events, and more. When I went there I thought I had the best pizza of life (this has happened before and I'm always disappointed the next time) and cookies (I had them again and they weren't the same). The more I look into London, they have some of the best cocktail bars and restaurants in the world. It truly looks like you can do it all here also. But, as I said, I just was there such a short time I wasn't there to experience it all, yet.
For more information on London click here.
Kyoto, Japan: 8/10
I really liked Kyoto and wish I was there longer. The city provided an authentic experience and interaction with Japanese culture. Whether that was seeing all the temples and gardens or seeing women walking around in kimonos in the Gion district. I felt there was plenty to do and could have easily spent more time exploring each of the neighborhoods. I would have also liked to eat at a restaurant in the Pontocho area and look over the river or even grabbed snacks and sat down in the grass. When it came to the food I enjoyed everything I had, but just wish there was a better breakfast selection. I feel this is one of the more visited cities in Japan and it's for good reason!
For more information on Kyoto click here.
To see a minute video of my trip click here!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: 7.5/10
A common either or question is, 'Mountains or beach?'. In Puerto Vallarta you don't have to choose because they have both! The city is surrounded by mountains and vegetation only adding to the beauty of the ocean. Plus, it's warm year round and not humid! Both times I have gone I have stayed at all inclusive resorts, which is great, but I haven't really explored the city. I don't know what there is to do, how easy it is to get around, or how the food is (I imagine great-I love Mexican food!). I did leave one of the resorts once to rent ATVs to go zip lining in the jungle and then tequila tasting which was awesome! If you are looking for a destination to hang out on the beach I highly recommend Puerto Vallarta. When planning a recent trip to Mexico I wanted to come back here over going back to Cabo.
For more information on Puerto Vallarta click here.
See my video of Puerto Vallarta here.
Munich, Germany: 7.5/10
Want to check out a city where beer is cheaper than water? You've come to right place! Munich has numerous beer gardens throughout the city and is obviously the home of the biggest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest! Munich has more to offer than just beer. There is a lot of World War II historical sites to be explored and you can learn about all of them by doing a walking tour. That tour is how I found out that if I wanted to surf there that's an option! Munich is also a great place to do day trips as you can easily check out Neuschwanstein Castle or Dachau and I recommend both. Munich is very walkable and if you are traveling farther out they have public transportation options. I thought the food was good but also some what limited. Then again, I was typically at the beer gardens and bratwurst and pretzels are common. I felt there was a greater sense of Germany (or Bavarian) Culture than when I went to Berlin (which makes sense).
For more information on Munich click here.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: 7/10
Whatever your vice is you can discover it here. Amsterdam is one of the most tolerant cities in the world. During World War II they were a safe haven for the Jewish and now the church helps to support gay pride. You can stop in a coffee shop to get weed or get into whatever you desire in the Red Light District. People are so tolerant you probably think marijuana is legal there, it's not, they just have a policy of tolerance. As long as you aren't hurting other people you are pretty much good! That isn't the only thing that makes Amsterdam great, the history is fascinating. I learned why they have the canals, how they basically started the stock market, how the church was involved with the Red Light District, and how England acquired what is now New York from them - I could be using Dutch right now!
The city is small, easily walkable, and beautiful. So much so that the whole place is basically a museum and historic buildings since there are almost 7,000 of them. If you don't want to walk you can grab a bike and cruise up and down the canals if you aren't taking a boat tour on them. They also have museums, like the Van Gogh or Tulip, or other historical sites like the Anne Frank house. I really like the food I had and there are Heineken and small older bars galore. I really enjoyed my time there but after a couple days I felt I had done everything I wanted to. I would recommend it but maybe just don't spend a lot of time there.
For more information on Amsterdam click here.
Tokyo, Japan: 7/10
Like most big cities Tokyo has a lot to offer whether that be shopping, great food, fancy cocktails, museums, and more! But I felt that a lot of the things they had to offer weren't necessary unique, other than eating at a Robot Restaurant or cruising around the streets in go carts of course. The city is extremely big so you are reliant on taking the subway but can walk pretty easily after that.
You can find whatever level of food you are interested in whether that is super fancy or pretty cheap. For the food I had I wasn't necessarily impressed with all of it, especially the sushi in the fish market.
It was still a cool experience but if you wanted more Japanese culture I would say go to Kyoto and if you want to see big cities there are others I prefer.
To see more information about Tokyo click here.
Beijing, China: 5/10
I definitely had a like/hate relationship with Beijing. Some parts were really cool and others were for sure a challenge. It didn't help that I strolled in knowing only English and thought I'd be fine. The people were really helpful and definitely tried to communicate and I always appreciate that - I only got laughed at once!
I found the city to be very big which made it hard to walk but also difficult to use a taxi because the traffic was crazy. I found it was best to navigate using the subway. But even using subway I would still have a long walk. My main reason for going was to check out the Great Wall of China but found a bunch of other things to do like the Forbidden City or Summer Palace. I had a lot of things I tried to do that I wasn't able to fully do because I either didn't have the right ticket or they were closed already. With the language barrier I had a difficult time ordering food and when I was successful I wasn't ever blown away. When it comes to Beijing, I'm glad I went but am not in a rush to go back.
To see more information about Beijing click here.
To see a minute video of my trip to Beijing click here!
Sydney, Australia: 4.5/10
I was looking forward to Sydney but was kind of disappointed with my experience there. There was nothing awful about it but I felt I flew 20+ hours to be in a hybrid of San Diego and New York City. Which if you've been to both cities it sounds awesome. It just felt like I was still in the United States, which isn't a bad thing, and may be a plus for some people but I was looking for something different.
I felt that Sydney would be a cool place to live but didn't feel it had a whole lot to offer as a tourist. I was also only there for a short time, didn't go to Bondi beach, the Blue Mountains, or do things like climb the bridge which would have obviously changed my experience. Overall, I thought it was a cool city but as a tourist there were others I liked more.
For more information on Sydney click here.
Berlin, Germany: 4.25/10
Berlin has numerous historical sites like Check Point Charlie, The Berlin Wall, or Hitler's Bunker. But, there were all kind of a disappointment. Which if you think it about it makes sense. They aren't trying to make it a tourist destination so Hitler Bunker is below a dirt parking lock or Check Point Charlie is in the middle of an intersection. I would highly recommend the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe though.
While in Berlin there didn't seem to be a whole like to do and coming from the Munich even the beer gardens just didn't feel the same. As my tour guide shared the wall had only been down for about 27 years so the city as a whole was still trying to find it's identity. I only went to a couple restaurants but I wasn't blown away by those. I had a hard time figuring out whether this was just my experience because they showed Berlin in the show Killing Eve and it looked way cooler than what I experienced.
For more information on Berlin click here.
One of the closest airports to San Miguel is in Leon which is over an hour away. As you drive to and in the city for the first time the poverty is one of the first things you notice but as you spend more time there the beauty of the city grows on you. Whether it's the cobblestone streets, Spanish architecture, or large creatively designed doors you'll find something. San Miguel is very small and easily walkable. There isn't a whole lot to do as I was able to knock off a lot of things on my list by noon. I thought the food was good and most restaurants have a rooftop which provides for a cool view of the city! I enjoyed my time there and would recommend it if you are in the area but probably won't go back myself.
For more information on San Miguel De Allende click here.
See my video of San Miguel De Allende here.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
Read my story in the about me section.
All photos on the blog are from my travels
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