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Top 10 Cities To Visit in 2016

There’s never a bad time to start planning your next vacation trip.

Researching your upcoming travel destinations is important. Some destinations are iconic… others not so much. Tourist guidebooks will tell you what spots are must-sees for those who love to travel. But everyone has their own idea of where their ideal vacation will take them. So, how do you start planning your dream trip in 2016?

2016 cities to visit

That’s where U.S. News comes in. They use a methodology that takes into account expert analysis in combination with their reader votes. They narrowed down the destinations that can be considered the World’s Best Places to Visit. This year’s ranking list sees cities from almost every continent and cultures from every walk of life. Despite their differences, these destinations do have a few things in common: they boast a variety of one-of-a-kind attractions, iconic sights, unique landscapes and distinct eateries.

Here is our pick of the Top 10 Cities To Visit In 2016, and why:

#1 Maui, Hawaii

Why go? Maui — one of the most beloved of all the Hawaiian Islands — lives up to its superlatives with exotic beaches (like Kaihalulu), palatial resorts (like the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea) and lush terrain (as seen in the Iao Valley State Park). For many Hawaii vacationers, Maui is just right — offering a taste of just about everything the Aloha State has to offer, from impressive wildlife to intriguing history and culture.

#2 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why go? Known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), this glimmering Brazilian metropolis has certainly earned its title. Resting at the mouth of a bay harbor, the city is lined with white-sand beaches, lush rainforests and surrounded by staggered green mountains. As the upcoming host of the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio is arguably South America’s hottest destination — and not just for its warm weather. The famous Christ the Redeemer statue presides over Copacabana Beach. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a livelier event than Rio’s Carnival.

#3 Barcelona, Spain

Why go? Though known for its fútbol team, Barcelona boasts much more than athletic talent. The city is a feast for the eyes: Visitors walk past medieval architecture in the Barri Gòtic and Gaudi’s innovative creations at Parc Güell. Meanwhile, Las Ramblas buzzes at all hours.

#4 San Francisco, CA, USA

Why go? Gourmet restaurants, funky boutiques and laid-back vibes are just some of San Fran’s charms. A ride on the cable cars and a visit to Alcatraz are musts. And, of course, don’t forget to visit the city’s crowning architectural achievement — the Golden Gate Bridge.

#5 Prague, Czech Republic

Why go? Prague has transitioned from a backpacker secret to a flourishing Eastern European capital. The narrow streets lead to iconic landmarks such as the Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral. Save some time for enjoying local pilsners on a bar crawl. A prosperous and bustling city, Prague now attracts more tourists than ever. But its picturesque downtown veils both a dark legacy and a resilient past.

#6 Vancouver, Canada

Why go? Vancouver may not be as grand as Toronto or as historic as Montreal, but it’s no mystery why this Canadian city regularly hosts international sporting events. The city bursts with parks, galleries and outdoor activities. Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver is both an urban and a natural playground: Its chic atmosphere, high-fashion boutiques and fondness for health-conscious eating have earned it the nickname “Hollywood North.”

#7 Zurich, Switzerland

Why go? From swimming in Lake Zurich in the summer to skiing the Alps in the winter, Zurich attracts visitors year-round. Delectable pastry shops abound, as do museums, churches and shops in Bahnhofstrasse. At night, check out the bars in edgy Zurich West. A fairytale city, Zürich is set on the banks of both a river and a lake, with the snow-topped Swiss Alps rising in the background. Clean cobblestone streets hug a hilly terrain and medieval church spires reach heavenward.

#8 Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Why go? People flock to this town along the Yucatán Peninsula to unwind along white-sand beaches and azure waters. With the lively La Quinta Avenida parallel to the beach, travelers don’t have to venture far to find entertainment. Playa del Carmen is largely a beachy tourist destination as opposed to an authentic Mexican town, but there are certain sensibilities and customs that could make your stay there more pleasant.

#9 Jerusalem, Israel

Why go? For many visitors to Jerusalem, the rumor of a constant Almighty presence suddenly becomes very real; even the most adamant non-believer will find it hard to deny that there’s something ethereal about this city. While the image of ancient Jerusalem—a city still ruled by King David and his followers—is what most travelers expect, you’ll find instead a destination in flux. Beyond the historic walls of the Old City lies a buzzing metropolis where traditional lifestyles collide with cosmopolitan developments.

#10 Crete, Greece

Why go? Crete’s diverse landscape is speckled with ancient ruins, fragrant olive groves and gorgeous beaches. Visitors can spend their days doing anything from shopping in Agios Nikolaos to hiking the Samaria Gorge before noshing on fresh fish at one of the island’s lively tavernas. If there was one word to describe the Greek island of Crete, it would be “diverse.” Sandy beaches hide among soaring mountains, palm tree forests grow in the middle of sprawling plains, bustling modern cities share coastlines with centuries-old structures.

We hope these recommendations will help point you toward your next vacation destination. Cast your vote to help U.S. News determine next year’s World’s Best Places to Visit list.

What’s your next travel destination? Have you been to any of the 2016 Top Ten Cities? Leave us a comment below.

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