You’ve finally managed to book a few days of leave for a city break. You’ve done London; Paris is passé; New York’s nothing new. In this age of globalisation and heavily-doctored Instagram photography, there are plenty of cities starting to spread their wings. From new tourist hotspots, to your next business destination, these are the up-and-coming destinations to visit in 2019.
Delhi is massive. Really big. It’s also hectic, loud, colourful, beautiful and ambitious. Basically, it’s an opportunity. Bordering the frankly jam-packed Uttar Pradesh, Delhi has plenty to offer anyone looking for a metropolis attractive to tourists and businesses alike. The downside is that with all this burgeoning ambition, pollution is at an all-time high (search for Bryan Adams’ recent concert photo of his silhouette framed in the city’s pollution, and you’ll see the problem). Sort that, and Delhi could become the world’s premier city.
The city that straddles the Bosphorus has had a bit of trouble recently. Then again, as the gateway between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has always been tumultuous. There are dangers, of course, but 15 million people live there, and the magical atmosphere is more than worth it. The concentrated culture on offer, from the Byzantine Hagia Sophia to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque to the disorienting Grand Bazaar, makes Istanbul a must-visit.
While it’s only South Korea’s third-largest city, this plucky upstart is home to a heap of plucky start-ups, being the country’s tech capital. It certainly looks to model itself on the world’s major cities – there’s even a South Korean equivalent of Central Park. It also borders the capital, Seoul, so expect to see plenty of Seoul residents making the commute to East Asia’s next boom town.
Porto/Oporto has pretty much everything you need from a city, with the added bonus of having half of the area dedicated to producing alcohol. South of the river Douro is Vila Nova de Gaia, home of port wine, with dozens of famous port houses including Taylor’s. Cross the Luis I bridge to Ribeira, Porto’s riverside quarter, for an open city that still resonates with the local – the further north (up a hill that sorts the men from the boys), the quieter, with the area’s blue and white pottery adorning most street corners.
Oman’s capital is one of the Arabian Peninsula’s fastest-developing cities, which isn’t surprising considering it’s been an important trading port between East and West since the first century AD. However, this hasn’t resulted in history and character being replaced by high-rises and suits: you’re much more likely to see an arabesque dome than a power-dresser. The overarching sense in Muscat is one of calm, which might be forsaken for development. Here’s hoping the two can live side by side.
6. São Paul
Competing with Delhi in the megametropolis stakes, São Paulo is as Brazilian as you can get without putting in a set of Ronaldinho’s teeth. Open, culturally vibrant and hyperactive, its status as a major seaport combines with the young and growing work force to make São Paulo Brazil’s business centre and an official ‘Alpha Global City’. It’s playing with the big boys now. Highlights include the neo-Gothic cathedral and Oscar Niemeyer’s Edifício Copan.
If a city’s centre is a designated UNESCO heritage site, you’re onto a winner. The largest city in the Baltic states, Latvia’s Riga, is full of history, with the Art Nouveau centre just the beginning. Riga was a member of the Hanseatic League, giving it extra heft across Medieval Europe, which is easy to see in the ornate architecture pristinely preserved for you to go and take pictures of.
It’s that old adage: when life gives you oranges, develop Spain’s third-largest city, renowned for stunning architecture and high-end cultural pursuits. Valencia regularly wins anecdotal awards for being one of the world’s most liveable cities, happy to carry on being itself while Madrid and Barcelona take all the heat. The mix of Modernista and futuristic buildings gives the city – and especially its former riverbednow- parkland – a unique flavour. Again, like the oranges.
A popular filming location, due to its similarities with New York and London, Vancouver is much more than a film set. It has one of the world’s highest quality of life scores, is one of Canada’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities (52 per cent of residents have a first language other than English) and boasts both a thriving nightlife and stunning landscapes on its doorstep. At the time of print, there was also a river otter in Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden eating all the koi carp. You don’t get that in London.