Each city offers a plethora of cultural attractions, historic landmarks, renowned museums and art galleries, picturesque parks, entertainment districts, award-winning restaurants, and massive shopping centers. This list of the world’s 25 largest cities is sure to beckon the most adventurous and discerning of travelers.
Tokyo is Japan’s bustling capital city, mixed with everything from traditional to ultramodern, from historic temples to neon-lit skyscrapers. The city is home to a plethora of edgy designer boutiques, mega-malls, award-winning architecture, and world-renowned cuisine. From saucer-eyed schoolgirls to giant robots to a particular, ubiquitous kitty, Japan’s pop culture has become a major phenomenon that has swept the globe. Tokyo has so much to offer, from a sushi breakfast at the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market to getting lost in the nation’s vast history at the Tokyo National Museum to strolling through the verdant gardens at the Imperial Palace or Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. No Tokyo trip would be complete without a visit to the opulent and spiritual Meiji Shrine.
Delhi is India’s capital territory, a massive metropolis that is situated in the northern part of the country. Delhi is both a city and a union territory, featuring two extremely different worlds; Old Delhi and New Delhi. New Delhi is the nation’s modern seat of government and capital, while Old Delhi is recognized by many as the ‘beating heart’ of the city’s greater metropolitan area. Travelers visiting this vibrant city for the first time will have the chance to experience its diverse crafts and arts industry, numerous performing arts venues, magnificent monuments, and excellent cuisine. Must-see attractions include The Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, and The Lotus Temple.
Shanghai is a marvelous city that is located on China’s central coast, along the shimmering waters of the East China Sea. The nation’s largest city, Shanghai offers an extraordinary amount of sightseeing opportunities for visitors to enjoy. The city offers everything from world-class art galleries and museums to picturesque parks and lovely gardens to traditional pagodas and fine old temples. Colonial-era buildings line the Bund, a magnificent waterfront promenade. Food is the heart of the Chinese social life, and with a city boasting its very own Michelin dining guide, visitors know they’re in for a treat. Shanghai features a number of jaw-dropping attractions, such as Yu Garden, Jade Buddha Temple, and the China Art Museum.
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s bustling financial center and one of the most populous cities on the planet. The city features rich architectural traditions to go along with a plethora of cultural institutions. Sao Paulo is home to many iconic structures, from modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer’s curvy Edificio Copan to the neo-Gothic cathedral and 1929 Martinelli skyscraper. The Patio do Colegio is a colonial-style church that marks the very location where Jesuit priests first founded this beautiful city in 1554. This South American jewel is brimming with several fascinating attractions, including the Museu de Arte, Teatro Municipal, Parque do Ibirapuera, and Mosteiro de Sao Bento.
Mexico is the sprawling and densely-populated capital of Mexico, situated a little over 2,200 meters above sea-level. Mexico City is truly a breathtaking place, surrounded by soaring mountain ranges and two snow-covered volcanoes; Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. Museum reproductions and isolated fragments of pre-Columbian architecture and art can be found in few places around the city. Centro Historico de la Cuidad is where visitors will find most of the action, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features over 1,400 structures from the 16th-19th centuries. Visitors should also be sure to check out the National Museum of Anthropology, Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, and Chapultepec Park.
Cairo is the sprawling and vibrant capital of Egypt, situated along the world-famous Nile River. At the heart of the city lies Tahrir Square and the magnificent Egyptian Museum, filled with a trove of fascinating antiquities that include gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts and royal mummies. The popular city of Giza is located just a few miles down and across the Nile, featuring the Great Sphinx and iconic pyramids that date all the way back to the early 26th century BC. Cairo offers so many impressive attractions and cultural landmarks, travelers would be hard-pressed to fit them all into a single trip; some of which include Al-Azhar Park, Ibn Tulun Mosque, Sultan Hassan Mosque, and Cairo Tower.
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is a densely-populated metropolis that is located on India’s west coast. Mumbai is the nation’s largest city, as well as its financial center. At the Mumbai Harbor waterfront lies the iconic Gateway of India arch that was made from stone in 1924 by the British Raj. Just offshore, visitors will find the nearby Elephanta Island, which is home to ancient cave temples that are dedicated to the worshiped Hindu God, Shiva. There are numerous fascinating attractions for visitors to explore, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Haji Ali Dargah, Taj Mahal Palace, and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Beijing is the massive capital city of China, and has been the political hub of the nation for over 800 years. Beijing has played a significant role in China’s academic, scientific, economic, and cultural life. The city is situated in the northwest part of the North China Plain, near the Yanshan Mountains. Beijing is the perfect jumping off point for exploring China, due to its extensive network of rail, road, and airline connections to other major cities. There’s no shortage of fascinating cultural attractions, historical landmarks, or unique sightseeing opportunities in Beijing. Visitors will definitely want to check out The Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Beihai Park, and The Temple of Heaven.
Dhaka is the bustling capital city of Bangladesh, surrounded by parts of the Balu, Shitalakshya, Turag, and Buriganga rivers. The city is at the center of the nation’s trade, government, and cultural influence. This chaotic and gloriously noisy city is bursting with energy and a plethora of fascinating attractions to explore. Once visitors start darting around the city in one of its famous and colorful cycle-rickshaws, the charm of Dhaka will slowly start to revel itself. From unexpectedly green parks to university campuses to British and Mughal monuments to Hindu temples, Dhaka offers so much to see and do. Some of the city’s other must-see locations include Lalbag Fort, Khan Mohammad Mridha’s Mosque, and the beautiful Ahsan Manzil.
Osaka is a commercial center and large port city that is located on the beautiful Japanese island of Honshu. The city is known for its hearty street food, modern architecture, and vibrant nightlife. The city’s position on the Yodo delta, along with its extensive network of canals and watercourses that are spanned by over a thousand bridges, has appropriately earned Osaka the moniker of “Venice of the East.” The city boasts a futuristic skyline with countless magnificent examples of contemporary architecture. From energetic music venues to superb museums to impressive art galleries, Osaka offers no shortage of fun things to do. Visitors should check out the marvelous Osaka Castle, Tennoji Park and Zoo, and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
Karachi is the energetic capital city of Pakistani’s Sindh Province, situated along the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea. This beta world city is the nation’s premier financial and industrial center, as well as a major seaport for Pakistan. The admiration and love by the citizens of Karachi for Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah can be seen all around the city in the form of landmarks, buildings, and monuments associated with, or named after the founding father. Karachi is also known for its world-renowned archaeological sites that are located at Kot Diji, Mohenjo-Daro, and Thatta. Visitors should also make time to see the Mohatta Palace, Frere Hall, and the Chaukhandi Tombs.
Buenos Aires is the large, cosmopolitan capital city of Argentina that overlooks the sparkling waters of Rio de la Plata. At the city’s center is the vibrant Plaza de Mayo, lined with historical and stately 19th-century buildings that include Casa Rodada, the iconic, multi-balconied presidential palace. Each of the city’s 47 barrios offer their own distinct character, providing visitors with more than enough variety as they explore these delightful neighborhoods. Some of the city’s more popular barrios include Belgrano, La Recoleta, and Palermo, with their bustling boulevards lined with large parks, palatial mansions, and luxury high-rises. Other popular attractions include the Buenos Aires Cabildo, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the National Museum of Decorative Art.
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Chongqing is a sizeable metropolis and municipality that is situated at the meeting point of the Jialing and Yangtze rivers in southwest China. The city is recognized for its friendly locals, diverse and spicy food scene, and rich cultural attractions. The city boasts many impressive art galleries, lush-green parks, fascinating museums, and even UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the night the city comes to life with its bright and colorful lights, towering skyscrapers, and thumping nightclubs. During the day, Chongqing offers a variety must-see attractions that include Fengdu Ghost City, Shibaozhai, Goose Neck Park, White Emperor City, and the Chongqing Zoo.
Istanbul is a vibrant metropolis in Turkey that straddles Asia and Europe, bisected by the Bosphorus Strait. Istanbul’s Old City is filled with cultural influences and dotted with reminders of the many different empires that once held power over these lands. The Roman-era, open-air Hippodrome that is located in the city’s Sultanahmet district was once the home of chariot races for several centuries. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features rare Christian mosaics and a marvelous 6th-century dome. The city is full of wonderful attractions for visitors to explore, such as the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Suleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the colorful capital city of India’s West Bengal state. Originally an East India Company trading post, the city was recognized as the nation’s capital during the British Raj-era, from 1773 to 1911. Today the city is better known for its cultural festivals, impressive art galleries, and renowned colonial architecture. Kolkata is home to the headquarters for the Missionaries of Charity (Mother House), which was founded by Mother Teresa, and also the site of her tomb. Kolkata offers many more fascinating attractions for visitors to check out, including Victoria Memorial, Fort William, Marble Palace, and Howrah Bridge.
Manila is the densely-populated, pulsating capital of the Philippines, overlooking the shimmering waters of Manila Bay. The city features a vast blend of modern skyscrapers and Spanish colonial architecture. Intramuros is the beating heart of Old Manila, and was once a walled city during the colonial times. It’s the site of Fort Santiago, a former military prison and storied citadel, as well as the 16th-century baroque San Agustin Church. Manila boasts a plethora of mega-shopping malls, packed markets, and exquisite restaurants. Visitors will be pleased by the number of attractions they’ll have to explore, including the San Agustin Museum, Chinatown, Ayala Museum, and the colorful promenade along Manila Bay.
A prime example of modern Africa, Lagos is a coastal megacity that is located in the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria. The city is home to a booming arts scene, posh clubs and restaurants, and a burgeoning tech industry. Victoria Island is the financial center of Lagos, also known for its charming boutiques, luxury beach resorts, and vibrant nightlife. Situated just to the north is Lagos Island, where visitors will find the National Museum Lagos, which displays cultural craftworks and artifacts. Lagos is home to a variety of scenic spaces, fascinating attractions, and prominent landmarks, such as the Nike Art Centre, Lekki Conservation Centre, Freedom Park Lagos, and Lekki Market.
18.Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is a massive seaside metropolis in Brazil that is famous for its Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. The city’s position between the Carioca Mountain Range and sparkling waters of the South Atlantic Ocean is so magnificent that UNESCO was cited saying “it’s a staggeringly beautiful location for one of the world’s biggest cities” when naming it a World Heritage Site. The city offers a wonderful mix of architecture, urban cultural landscapes, and planed green spaces. Rio de Janeiro is jam-packed full of world-renowned attractions for visitors explore while in town, including the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca National Park, and Quinta da Boa Vista.
Tianjin is a sprawling port city that is located in northeast China, approximately 70 miles southeast of Beijing. Following the 1858 Treaties of Tianjin, many Western nations established concessions within the city. The municipal churches and buildings, along with the European-style houses, are all reminders from that time period. In stark contrast, the city also features a plethora of modern skyscrapers, one of which includes the iconic Tianjin Radio and Television Tower. Tianjin offers a large variety of fascinating landmarks and attractions for its visitors to explore, such as the Century Clock, Tianjin Eye, Haihe Cultural Square, Tianjin Water Park, and the opulent Tianjin Museum.
Guangzhou is a massive port city in China that is situated just northwest of Hong Kong, along the winding Pearl River. The city boasts a plethora of avant-garde architecture, including the iconic Canton TV Tower skyscraper, the box-shaped Guangdong Museum, and Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House. Guangzhou is also home to several picturesque parks, cultural and heritage sites, sprawling shopping centers, and entertaining amusement parks. Guangzhou is definitely no slouch when it comes to its cuisine; visitors should check out The Kitchen Table, La Vita e’bella, and Social&Co. Some of Guangzhou’s other notable attractions include the Baomo Garden, Hauchecn Square, Shamian Island, and the Chimelong Tourist Resort.
Moscow is the cosmopolitan capital city of Russia, straddling the Moskva River in the western part of the nation. At the city’s historic core lies the Kremlin, a vast complex that contains tsarist treasures within its armory, and also serves as the residence for the nation’s president. Right outside of its walls, visitors will find Red Square, Russia’s symbolic center. It’s the site of the State Historical Museum, as well as St. Basil’s Cathedral, with its onion-shaped, colorful domes. Visitors will have enough renowned attractions to check out to keep them busy for a month, including the Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
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Shenzhen is a large, modern metropolis in southeast China that connects the nation’s mainland to Hong Kong. The city is known for its sprawling shopping centers, including Luohu Commercial City, a giant mall with a plethora of wares, from faux designer bags to tailored, custom clothing. Shenzhen features a variety of contemporary buildings, like the Ping An International Finance Centre – a 600-meter-tall skyscraper. The city boasts a number of lush-green parks, fascinating cultural sights, and phenomenal restaurants. Travelers exploring the city for the first time should check out the OCT Loft Creative Cultural Park, Shenzhen Museum, Xiaomeisha and Dameisha beaches, and Shenzhen Lianhuashan Park.
Lahore is the energetic capital city of Punjab, a province in northeast Pakistan that borders the nation of India. It’s the second-most populous metropolis in the country, right after Karachi. The city is known for its stunning and incomparable historic relics, everlasting traditions, and intriguing culture. Locals of Pakistan often refer to the city as the “Educational Heart,” with its renowned universities and institutes. The city offers a plethora of fun and exciting things to do, including taking a relaxing stroll through the Shalimar Garden Lahore, visiting the Hazrat Syed Ali Al-Hajweri Shrine, and exploring the Tomb of Jahangir Lahore.
Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore, is the capital city of India’s southern state of Karnataka. This bustling metropolis is the beating heart of India’s high-tech industry; it’s also known for its lush-green parks and vibrant nightlife scene. The foreign influence, rich heritage, colorful history, and diversity have all made Bangalore quite the melting pot for culture. Today visitors can find everything from adventure to history, book cafés to exquisite cuisine, and luxury malls to nature’s beauty. Travelers who are exploring the city for the first time will want to check out the Tipu Sultan Fort, Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore Palace, and Cubbon Park.
Paris is the cosmopolitan and wonderfully-romantic capital city of France, straddling the twisting Seine River. The city is a major center in Europe for culture, gastronomy, fashion, and art. This incomparable city boasts several grandiose monuments, such as the Champs-Elysees Boulevard, Notre-Dame, and Eiffel Tower. The charm of the city really lies in the details; from the perfectly trimmed trees to the quaint cobblestone streets to dainty tea salons to the perfectly puffed pastries, avant-garde art galleries, and Belle Epoque brasseries. There are many must-see attractions in the city of Paris, some of which include the Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, Sainte-Chapelle, Pantheon, and Luxembourg Gardens.
25 of the Largest Cities in the World
- Tokyo, Photo: mfs_plus/stock.adobe.com
- Delhi, Photo: Craig/stock.adobe.com
- Shanghai, Photo: djama/stock.adobe.com
- Sao Paulo, Photo: Flavio_Brazil/stock.adobe.com
- Mexico City, Photo: WitR/stock.adobe.com
- Cairo, Photo: dadoo25071991/stock.adobe.com
- Mumbai, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Beijing, Photo: Centaur/stock.adobe.com
- Dhaka, Photo: taoty/stock.adobe.com
- Osaka, Photo: Phattana/stock.adobe.com
- Karachi, Photo: suronin/stock.adobe.com
- Buenos Aires, Photo: daboost/stock.adobe.com
- Chongqing, Photo: gui yong nian/stock.adobe.com
- Istanbul, Photo: seqoya/stock.adobe.com
- Kolkata, Photo: rosetata/stock.adobe.com
- Manila, Photo: kieferpix/stock.adobe.com
- Lagos, Photo: el9th/stock.adobe.com
- Rio de Janeiro, Photo: marchello74/stock.adobe.com
- Tianjin, Photo: chungking/stock.adobe.com
- Guangzhou, Photo: creativefamily/stock.adobe.com
- Moscow, Photo: vvoe/stock.adobe.com
- Shenzhen, Photo: Zhao jiankang/stock.adobe.com
- Lahore, Photo: homocosmicos/stock.adobe.com
- Bangalore, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Paris, Photo: AA+W/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: ekaterina_belova/stock.adobe.com