1. Marrakech, Morocco—Towering minarets, sandstone buildings glowing deep pink in the noon sun, snake charmers, and fire-eaters in Djemaa el-Fna square, the souk (market) with its winding, narrow streets, and the El Bahia Palace filled with dazzling tiles and carvings are just some of Marrakech’s charms. Designer Yves Saint Laurent called the city home for years. A museum featuring his clothes and sketches will debut in 2017.
2. Madrid, Spain—Madrid is a cosmopolitan city with parks, gardens, and more than 60 museums, including the noted Museo del Prado and the Reina Sofia. With more than 2,000 rooms, the Palacio Real rates among Western Europe’s largest palaces. Parque de Retiro, the city’s 330-acre, fountain-filled oasis, is soothing and the food markets and Michelin-starred restaurants are tantalizing.
3. Anchorage, Alaska—The only American city to make National Geographic Traveler’s list, Anchorage offers pubs and restaurants within a 30-minute drive of Alaska’s wilderness where fishing, hiking, and spotting brown bears are just some of the adventures. Summer’s 19+ hours of daylight affords plenty of time for enjoying the city and the Alaskan outdoors.
4. Seoul, South Korea—Explore the shops of flashy Gangnam, sample the street food in Gwangjang Market, bar hop in Jongro, take in a panoramic city view from the observatory deck of N Seoul Tower, and walk through Bukchon Hanok Village, the site of more than 900 traditional Korean homes and guesthouses.
5. Moscow, Russia—Classic Moscow blooms in the colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, the central Red Square, and the imposing Kremlin museum. Find contemporary Moscow at Winzavod, a wine-bottling factory turned art center, and by walking through one of the city’s central neighborhoods.
6. Cartagena, Colombia—On Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena has inspired writers, such as Gabriel García Márquez, who set Love in the Time of Cholera in the city. Stroll the walled Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where brightly painted colonial mansions line the winding streets and visit Bocagrande, a fashionable district of trendy, open-air cafés.
7. Hamburg, Germany—Laced with canals, Hamburg, on the Elbe River, is Europe’s second busiest container port. Speicherstadt, a port warehouse district, is part of HafenCity, a large inner-city development project. The Elbphilharmonie, a new concert hall complex, is scheduled for completion soon, but the complex’s massive central plaza with its exceptional city views is already open.