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The Bulletin

World's top 10 cities led by Charleston, Cape Town and of course, Gustavia

Posting in Architecture

Gustavia: Almost as good as Florence.

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Gustavia? Where's Gustavia?

It's in the Caribbean, and readers of Condé Nast Traveler have voted it among the world's top 10 cities, according to one of the magazine's rankings. San Miguel de Allende in Mexico also made the grade.

The other 8 are cities that there's a better chance you've heard of, led by - no not San Francisco, Paris, London or any of those - but Charleston, South Carolina.

One of Charleston's many gardens.

Yes Charleston, the city where George Gershwin composed Porgy and Bess, which fired the first shot in the American Civil War, which hosted the country's first golf game and which is rich and resplendent with varied architecture and gardens, trumped every other metropolis in the world in the eyes of those who thumb through the well known glossy periodical.

Congratulations, Charleston.

To clarify the Top 10: In a sort of "equal time" maneuver, Condé Nast pulled together the leader from each of the regions into which it divides the world: the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Caribbean and Atlantic, and Australia/Pacific. It highlights this list on it website announcing the polls results.

Readers said Florence ain't too shabby.

The absolute Top 10 would look different, as readers ranked many cities above the Gustavia's (it's in St. Barts) and the San Miguel Allende's. For instance, all of the leaders in the U.S. and in Europe topped both of those cities.

It also looks as though readers of the U.S. magazine have a U.S. bias as the top 3 U.S. cities - Charleston, San Francisco and Chicago - outrank any of Europe's gems. Perhaps that's why Condé Nast featured the "equal time" chart.

Below are a few of the slices and dices, showing the city followed by reader rankings based on the combined factors of ambience, culture/sites, friendliness, lodgings, restaurants and shopping. For the full standings of readers' take on cities, islands, resorts, hotels and more, by ALL regions, click here.

And of course, take it for what you will. I tend to think of these polls as "where to be impressed if you have plenty of money and don't mind riding a big CO2 machine to get there."

Without further ado....

Condé Nast's Highlighted Top 10 Cities - The Winner From Each Region:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina            86.7
  2. Cape Town                                     84.8
  3. Florence                                         83.3
  4. Bangkok                                         83.0
  5. Vancouver                                      81.9
  6. Sydney                                           81.7
  7. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico     79.7
  8. Buenos Aires                                 76.1
  9. Beirut                                            75.9
  10. Gustavia                                        71.1

Top 10 Europe:

  1. Florence                                         83.3
  2. Barcelona                                       81.0
  3. Rome                                             80.9
  4. Paris                                               80.2
  5. Vienna                                            79.9
  6. Venice                                            79.0
  7. Budapest                                        78,8
  8. Krakow                                           78.4
  9. Prague                                            78.4 (tied for 8th)
  10. Salzburg                                         78.3

Top 10 U.S.:

  1. Charleston                                        86.7
  2. San Francisco                                    83.8
  3. Chicago                                             83.6
  4. Santa Fe                                            82.0
  5. New York City                                   81.6
  6. Honolulu                                           80.4
  7. Napa, Calif.                                       79.1
  8. New Orleans                                      78.4
  9. Seattle                                               78.2
  10. Boston, Carmel, Savannah (tie)         77.6

For other regions, see links in story.

Photos: Gustavia from GoDifferent LLC/O2Cruise.com. Charleston from Billy Hathorn. Florence from Enne. All via Wikimedia.

— By on November 15, 2012, 10:53 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure