Over the past couple of weeks, I have been running a 64-team tournament to find out, totally arbitrarily and unscientifically, what the best city in the world is, as chosen by members of Travelers Tell All, a Facebook group I run. There were no qualifications to vote other than group membership, and no criteria given for voting. For some it is favorite city they’ve visited, or would want to visit, or think they might like, or any other number of possible motivations one might have to vote between two arguably world-class cities.

I divided it into four “regionals,” seeded one to sixteen: USA, Europe, Asia, and “other.” The seeding is also arbitrary, made solely by me. Let’s examine the results by regional.

Italics won in the first round. Underlined italics won in the second round. Bold underlined italics advanced to the regional final by winning in the third round.

USA Regional

The USA regional first round looked like this:

(1) New York City vs (16) Denver

(8) Boston vs (9) Philadelphia

(5) Washington DC vs (12) Portland

(4) Los Angeles vs (13) Miami

(3) Chicago vs (14) Austin

(6) Las Vegas vs (11) Seattle

(7) New Orleans vs (10) San Diego

(2) San Francisco vs (15) Atlanta

The first round went largely according to seeding, although in what would be a bit of a theme, the Pacific Northwest outperformed its rankings, as Seattle and Portland knocked off Las Vegas and Washington, respectively. They would go on to defeat Chicago and Los Angeles as well in the second round – which also saw second seed San Francisco soundly defeated by New Orleans – before losing to the Big Apple and Big Easy in the Sweet 16.

Regional Winner: (1) New York City def (7) New Orleans

Biggest Surprise: The performance of 11 and 12 seeded Seattle and Portland, both of which won multiple matchups.

Preservation Hall in New Orleans

Europe Regional

The Europe regional first round looked like this:

(1) Paris vs (16) Reykjavik

(8) Copenhagen vs (9) Vienna

(5) Amsterdam vs (12) Edinburgh

(4) Barcelona vs (13) Florence

(3) Rome vs (14) Istanbul

(6) Venice vs (11) Lisbon

(7) Berlin vs (10) Madrid

(2) London vs (15) Dublin

In what was arguably the most boring regional, there was not a single lower-seeded victory until the Sweet 16, where Barcelona and Rome defeated Paris and London. To my horror, Vienna – my personal favorite city in Europe – fell easily in the first round.

Regional Winner: (3) Rome def (4) Barcelona

Biggest Surprise: None, really, as I honestly think any of the top five seeds could have won this part of the bracket.

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

Asia Regional

The Asia regional first round looked like this:

(1) Tokyo vs (16) Delhi

(8) Siem Reap vs (9) Mumbai

(5) Jerusalem vs (12) Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

(4) Beijing vs (13) Seoul

(3) Singapore vs (14) Tel Aviv

(6) Bangkok vs (11) Kyoto

(7) Shanghai vs (10) Kuala Lumpur

(2) Hong Kong vs (15) Hanoi

We got to a regional final of the top two seeds in a very roundabout way. The 3, 4, 6, and 7 seeds all lost in the first round (Singapore losing to Tel Aviv hurt me personally, as Singapore is my favorite city in the world), clearing the way for Tokyo and Hong Kong to cruise from there.

Regional Winner: (1) Tokyo def (2) Hong Kong

Biggest Surprise: Tel Aviv and Seoul defeating Singapore and Kyoto, and Beijing and Jerusalem, respectively, on their way to the Sweet 16.

The Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo is said to be the most crowded pedestrian crossing in the world.

Others” Regional

The “Others” regional first round looked like this:

(1) Sydney vs (16) Lima

(8) Melbourne vs (9) Auckland

(5) Vancouver vs (12) Cairo

(4) Toronto vs (13) Bogota

(3) Capetown vs (14) Buenos Aires

(6) Mexico City vs (11) Panama City

(7) Marrakech vs (10) Lagos

(2) Rio de Janeiro vs (15) Montreal

Once again, my favorite city in the regional, Mexico City, was out early, losing in the second round, as did top-seeded Sydney and 2 seed Rio. But the real story here was Cairo dominating despite its 12 seed, advancing all the way to the regional final, knocking out Vancouver, Toronto, and Auckland.

Regional Winner: (3) Capetown def (12) Cairo.

Biggest Surprise: Cairo, the 12 seed, winning three matches, becoming the only double digit seed in the Elite Eight, and coming within two votes of advancing to the Final Four.

The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is one of the best in the world!

Final Four

Match One: (3) Rome def (1) New York City

Match Two: (1) Tokyo def (3) Capetown

Final: (1) Tokyo def (3) Rome

So that was the tournament, with Tokyo coming out as the unofficial best city in the world. Do you agree with the results? What is your favorite city in the world?

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