World’s Greatest Cities

by Telegraph Travel, December 1, 2017

The world’s greatest city? It’s a coastal gem in the shadow of an iconic mountain, where fine wine flows and penguins roam. It could only be Cape Town.

After a poll of 90,000 readers in the 2017 Telegraph Travel Awards, the South African city was victorious, beating Vancouver and Tokyo to the top prize. Remarkably, it’s the fifth consecutive year you’ve named Cape Town your number one – and with all eyes on South Africa in 2018, the centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s birth, few would bet against it repeating the trick in 12 months time.

The rest of the upper end of the ranking has a familiar look. Vancouver has played second fiddle to Cape Town for the last five editions of the awards, while Venice, Sydney and New York are perennial members of the top 10. Tokyo, however, knocked La Serenissima off the podium for the first time since 2012. The Japanese capital finished fifth last year, and seventh two years ago – can it challenge Cape Town’s dominance in 2018?

At a glance | Your three favourite cities

Other cities are scaling the rankings too. Seville, 13th two years ago, and ninth last year, rose to 7th overall. Florence climbed five places to eighth. Lisbon rose 10 places, as did Copenhagen. Prague, meanwhile, leapt eight places to 19th, Amsterdam seven spots to 28th, and Marrakesh seven places to 40th.

Seville cracked the top 10 this yearYour 30 favourite cities

  1. Cape Town (=)
  2. Vancouver (=)
  3. Tokyo (+2)
  4. Venice (-1)
  5. Sydney (-1)
  6. New York (=)
  7. Seville (+2)
  8. Florence (+5)
  9. San Francisco (-2)
  10. Rome (=)
  11. St Petersburg (-3)
  12. Barcelona (=)
  13. Melbourne (+4)
  14. Krakow (=)
  15. Singapore (=)
  16. Lisbon (+10)
  17. Vienna (+1)
  18. Chicago (+3)
  19. Prague (+8)
  20. Buenos Aires (-1)
  21. Rio de Janeiro (-10)
  22. Copenhagen (+10)
  23. Boston (=)
  24. Washington DC (-4)
  25. Istanbul (-9)
  26. Edinburgh (+4)
  27. Bruges (+2)
  28. Amsterdam (+7)
  29. Berlin (-4)
  30. Wellington (+1)

Your favourite UK city is still Edinburgh. It climbed four places to 26th this year, putting it well clear of York in 36th. London, meanwhile, fell eight places to 47th, with a spate of terrorists attacks surely playing a part in its decline. After York comes Bath, 41st overall, up one spot.

Falling fast this year was Istanbul, from 16th to 25th. It’s endured a tough few years, with terrorism also sadly to the fore. The same can be said of Paris, which fell from 24th last year to 32nd for 2017.

Other cities sliding down the rankings included Rio de Janeiro, from 11th to 21st, and Hong Kong, from 22nd to 34th.

What makes Cape Town so special?

By Pippa de Bruyn

With Telegraph readers voting Cape Town the best city in the world for the fifth consecutive year, you hardly need me to explain why it’s worth visiting. If anything, I’d rather you stayed away, at least until February, by which time the desalination plants being built around the city should be producing 108 million litres of water a day, alleviating the worst drought the city has experienced in more than a century. Until then, it’s a regimen of two-minute showers, waterless sanitisers and thanks-ever-so-much for flying home with your dirty laundry.

Not that the drought has dampened spirits here. Capetonians are a frontier lot. ‘As long as we haven’t run out of wine,’ is the standard quip, and, by Jove, we have plenty, and it’s good stuff. Outside Europe this is the oldest winemaking region in the world, and we’ve learnt a thing or two over the past 332 years. Yet South African wines remain remarkably underrated – I’m always dismayed by how much undrinkable plonk I find on your supermarket shelves. (A quick tip: labels with illustrations of wild animals are best avoided, as are wines with the vague appellation ‘Wine of Origin Western Cape’.) Terroir isn’t everything of course, but lesser known regions I’m partial to include Elgin, Elim, Walker Bay and Swartland. Stellenbosch remains a stalwart, where you’ll find the likes of Abrie Beeslaar – awarded 2017 Winemaker of the Year at the recent International Wine and Spirit Competition – happily rooting around his Kanonkop vines. It’s a region I’d happily rotate like a well-basted chicken till the end of time, and thankfully most of the best estates are now open for tastings seven days a week, with views, restaurants and architecture as varied as their wines. Cheap too, while wrecking ball Zuma is at the helm (Tip no 2: if Ramaphosa takes over as ANC president, your holiday is going to cost a tad more, so pay now or be prepared). Some prefer a day at the spa (if so, make it Librisa at the Mount Nelson), but it’s hard to beat the pleasure of a privately curated wine tour with Stephen Flesch, rolling through vineyard-clad valleys in a cocoon-like state of bliss (yes, with wines this good, I swallow).

But enough about wine. For most the real buzz – and reason enough to revisit the city – has been the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in September. It’s a triumph, name issues aside (rumour has it Zeitz resolutely refuses to nip his German name off the proud African bud, scotching an enormous donorship deal offered by Johann Rupert). Housed in a former grain silo, with interior spaces magnificently repurposed by London’s Heatherwick Studio, the building alone is worth a visit but the curated work – a chiaroscuro of humour and intelligence, pride and pathos, mystery and honesty –  is equally inspiring. Given that the MOCAA is the first and largest repository for contemporary work produced across Africa (and how easily one forgets that the continent comprises 54 different countries, and is bigger than China, the US and Europe put together) the exceptional standard should come as no surprise. And yet, there it is; guilty as charged. But it hardly matters – by the time you step out, blinking under the bright sun, sparks flying off a Korean fishing boat in a nearby dry dock, the looming flat-topped mountain swathed in its billowing tablecloth, your ideas of the continent will be challenged. A moment worth celebrating, so it’s into the Silo hotel and up to the Willaston bar to celebrate the best view of the city. But be sure to book. Because – and here’s the last tip – to enjoy the charms of a five-times beauty pageant winner, you’ll now need to make appointments.

 

This article was written by Telegraph Travel from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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