A European gem is Lonely Planet's new top city

Every year Lonely Planet picks the cities that should top your travel list, from the popular places you should visit again, to the spots you've never thought of. Best in Travel 2019

Posted: Oct 23, 2018 11:59 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2018 12:02 PM

With its modern design, 15 Michelin-starred restaurants and extremely bike-friendly culture, it's no surprise that Denmark's capital has topped Lonely Planet's top 10 cities to visit in 2019 list.

Copenhagen's street food scene is booming on Refshaleøen, a former industrial area with a food and craft market, Reffen. Tivoli Gardens theme park (one of the world's oldest) is offering a February winter season, says Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's editorial director.

There's a new artificial ski slope and hiking area on top of a waste management center, and the Danish Architectural Centre has moved into BLOX, Rem Koolhaas' cultural center.

Noma, the restaurant that officially put New Nordic cuisine on the worldwide stage, triumphantly returned home to Copenhagen in 2018.

But beyond the new and the bold, Copenhagen is one of those cities where you can never run out of things to do.

Our advice? Use the Danish capital as your home base for day trips to Roskilde -- home to UNESCO-listed Roskilde Cathedral, where Denmark's queens and kings are buried -- Malmo, Sweden; and the breathtaking Louisiana Museum.

Why visit these cities?

The top 10 list offers a mix of well-known and lesser-known locations: popular cities already getting attention for their attractions and events; towns off the beaten path that are worth a second look; and cities that are have suffered from natural disasters and deserve our focused attention.

For the 14th year, Lonely Planet editors asked for nominations from its staffers and hundreds of contributors from around the world and picked 10 cities, regions, countries and value destinations to recommend for its 2019 Best in Travel picks.

"Best in Travel is the Lonely Planet's annual advice on where to travel to, each year," says Hall. "We're keen on places offering great value, and above all else want to give the best guidance on why now is a great time to go to a particular place."

Those places include second place Shēnzhèn, China; Novi Sad, Serbia in third place; Miami, Florida in fourth place; and Kathmandu, Nepal rounding out the top five.

China's city of the future

While most visitors to China want to explore the capital Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong, Shēnzhèn is making its mark as a city of the future featuring "hypermodern architecture, innovative environmental practices and a slew of new design openings, all connected to neighbor Hong Kong by high-speed rail," says Hall.

There's also a booming art and design scene, excellent food choices, a fun club and music scene and quirky theme parks.

"it's the place to get a taste of modern China, close enough to easily combine with Hong Kong, and a place that while most people would not have considered visiting in the past is a destination for the future," he says.

It'll be an even easier weekend trip from Hong Kong when the new bullet train opens at the end of 2018, reducing travel time between Hong Kong and Shēnzhèn to about 20 minutes.

Music fans already love Serbia's second city

While Novi Sad isn't nearly as well known as the capital of Belgrade, it's much more hip. Nicknamed the "Athens of Serbia," it's home to the country's annual EXIT Festival, which is held each July at the 18th century-era Petrovaradin Fortress (which is worth a visit anyway).

The festival contributes to a vibrant music and arts scene and a youth-oriented vibe. Next year, Novi Sad will be 2019's European Youth Capital. It may be a practice run for 2021, when the city will celebrate the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture.

Gateway to Latin America

With its stunning beaches, South Beach scene and art scene mixed with Cuban and other Caribbean and Latin American cultures, Miami is hopping with something for everyone.

The art and design community is especially vibrant these days, with Art Basel Miami Beach in December (note the Rubell Family Collection re-opening on December 3), the Perez Art Museum Miami and the child-friendly Frost Museum of Science. A hidden gem: The Wolfsonian-FIU Miami Beach has a wonderful collection of design objects, photography and other art from the "Farm to Factory" period of the 1850s to the 1950s — as well as objects specific to Miami's history.

After a devastating earthquake, rebirth

Three years after it was hit by a devastating earthquake, Kathmandu is welcoming visitors to a city that is much quieter, by design.

"It remains the doorstep to the Himalayas, with medieval architecture, great food and nightlife and increasing wellness offerings," says Hall.

"It's also much quieter than it has been in the past with cars banned from the historic center and motor horns banned across the Kathmandu Valley," Hall points out.

It's also hosting the South Asian Games in 2019.

"Lonely Planet has a warm historic attachment to Kathmandu, and Nepal, so I was really pleased to see us be able to talk about the city's continued recovery from the 2015 earthquake," Hall says.

Lonely Planet's top 10 cities

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

2. Shēnzhèn, China

3. Novi Sad, Serbia

4. Miami, Florida

5. Kathmandu, Nepal

6. Mexico City, Mexico

7. Dakar, Senegal

8. Seattle, Washington

9. Zadar, Croatia

10. Meknes, Morocco

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