The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is an annual occurrence on this site, one I’ve hosted every March since 2009. It gets rolling around early February, when you begin nominating cities, with votes every week to narrow down the selected cities to one best city. Over the past few weeks on my Instagram @foxnomad, account I’ve been taking a look back as I look forward to visiting the 2016 winner, Lisbon.
Best City 2009 – Sydney, Australia
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on May 10, 2016 at 12:24pm PDT
Although The Best City To Visit Travel Tournaments began in 2009, I didn’t make it a tradition of visiting the winning city each year until 2011. However, I did make it to Sydney, which defeated Negril, Jamaica by a single vote, several years later. I still haven’t been to Zermatt, Switzerland, the 2010 winner though.
Best City 2011 – Porto, Portugal
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on Apr 25, 2016 at 4:45am PDT
2011 was the year I began visiting the winning city and the Portuguese voters made my trip to Porto an incredible time. I discovered the heart of Porto beats art, got special access to Harry Potter’s birthplace, and heard the story of Eiffel’s battle of bridges.
Best City 2012 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on Apr 26, 2016 at 4:03am PDT
The nomination of Sarajevo in 2012 ignited the Best City Travel Tournaments to come. Mentions on local news media, talk shows, I was touched by the passion of the people who brought me to Sarajevo. Saying a place has “a lot of history” is often overused but in such a small area, few can match Sarajevo – including the bridge where World War I bizarrely began.
Best City 2013 – Sibiu, Romania
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on Apr 27, 2016 at 12:25am PDT
A massive social media campaign by Sarajevo’s supporters was thought to be insurmountable, until the Romanians showed up in numbers to the Best City tournaments. Appropriately, the surprisingly optimistic Sibiu whose Christmas market transforms the town, was the first of three Romanian back-to-back wins.
Best City 2014 – Craiova, Romania
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on Apr 28, 2016 at 4:25am PDT
When Craiova, a small industrial city hoping to turn itself into a tourism hub in southwestern Romania won the Best City Travel Tournament in 2014, many who didn’t vote for it were upset. I can easily say that’s because they never made a trip to visit the people who brought me there in the first place. Here’s more of what Craiova looks like, and it may surprise you.
Best City 2015 – Targu Jiu, Romania
A photo posted by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on Apr 29, 2016 at 3:35am PDT
Returning back to Romania was a pleasure, especially to explore a new city in the country. Targu Jiu is a tiny town that lights up during Christmas, with many good places to eat and a strong artistic heritage.
2016 – On To Lisbon
At the end of the 2015 Best City Travel Tournament, many thought the Romanian cities were unstoppable but then, a country with winning experience returned: Portugal. Ending the three-year Romanian streak Lisbon won Best City in 2016. I’m currently making plans to visit later this year to, among other things, donate $1,000 to a local charity in person.
Several things still hold true after a 7 years of best city contests: no city has ever won twice nor has any one person won more than one tournament. Sign up for my free bi-monthly newsletter so you don’t miss best city 2017 but for now, this year is all about Lisbon.
You can find and follow my travels on Instagram @foxnomad and let me know if you have any tips on things I shouldn’t miss in Lisbon in the comments below!