Oaxaca & San Miguel de Allende – Best Small Cities in the World!

World Best Small City 2020

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Six countries — the U.S., Thailand, Italy, Japan, India, and Portugal — each had two cities on the list. Only one surpassed them: Mexico, which had four cities placing in the top 25. T+L readers praised centers such as Mexico City for their color, energy, authenticity, and creativity. “It’s different at every turn,” said one reader of the capital, who noted that the “small markets are vintage gold.” The varied cuisine and dynamic art scenes found around the country also drew raves from several travelers.

But of all the vibrant urban centers in our southern neighbor, Oaxaca came out in the lead. Read on to find out why — and which other spots joined it on this year’s list of the best cities in the world. San Miguel de Allende rated #2!

No. 1 Oaxaca

Whether you’re into art, architecture, food, history, spirits of the drinking kind, or handicrafts, Oaxaca has it in spades. “One of the most delightful cities I’ve ever visited,” wrote one World’s Best voter. A center for mole and mezcal making, Oaxaca is filled with fantastic markets, including Mercado Benito Juárez, where visitors can find local staples like grasshopper tacos. The city also boasts both a modern art museum in a 17th-century mansion and, 20 minutes away, an impressive pre-Colombian archaeological site. Artisanal culture is not just alive in this southern Mexican city but thriving. “We visited a basket maker, a lady making red pottery, rug weavers who dye their own yarn, and an amazing group of woodcarvers that paint/decorate the carving,” reported one T+L reader, who presumably went home with an extra suitcase.

No. 2 San Miguel de Allende

You can grab a bench in El Jardín — the square at the heart of this central Mexican city — and take in roving mariachi bands, religious ceremonies, fruit vendors, gossiping abuelas, and kids begging their parents to buy them balloons. Beyond the bustling streets, our readers also loved San Miguel’s rooftop restaurants, colorful colonial architecture, design-forward hotels, and artisanal wares. As one noted, it’s “an artist/designer’s little gem of a city.”

Read More About The Amigas Travel Experience in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende


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At Dulce Vida Travel we love the Mexican experience, especially the warmth and generosity of the Mexican culture. We are based in San Jose California.

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