Last week, National Geographic released its latest travel book “World’s Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations” (Hardcover, $40 US). I got a review copy in the mail, and immediately its picturesque photos and informational tidbits make it an eye-catching read from start to finish.
Even if you can’t get to these cities just yet, this guidebook gives you the feeling of picturing yourself already there, with tips to give you a good head start.
“World’s Best Cities” is inspired by a publication released by the Rockefeller Foundation citing how for the first time ever most people now live in cities – which is impressive.
This coffee table book starts off list of more than 200 cities based on population, starting with Tokyo and ending with Vatican City. Then there are further breakdown lists of cities by specific traveler’s interests – food, spa, eco-smart, festivals and nightlife – and offbeat or plain cute ones ranging from haunted or walled to happiest or high-altitude. These list-centered pages are mixed in through out the book – smart move! – so you keep going through every page entirely.
Overall, its layout is good. Fun or odd facts are on the far right of one page, vital stats or in the lower left corner of the other. Full-color and historic photos really shine here in showcasing various city landscapes and landmarks and the occasional food dish or local person. Some city pages also include point of view essays by residents who have built a reputable street cred (forgive the pun) while other pages go straight to their facts.
As food and local culture are now key points for many travelers, each city’s respective page gives a lot of explanations on what is the native cuisine and where to find locally-made goods. Best local places to go to tips are a good touch as well.
Nat Geo’s “Urban Insider” columnist Annie Fitzsimmons wrote the book’s preface. I’ve “virtually” met Annie (I follow her on Twitter and we have mutual friends in the travel sector) but she knows her stuff.
For those who enjoy exploring big cities by foot or book, this coffee table is nice for both active and armchair travelers.