Underrated City Breaks
And with good reason too, as these cities offer incredible cultural, culinary, shopping and sightseeing experiences.
But if you fancy trying somewhere a little further off the beaten path, where are the most underrated city breaks in the world?
To find out, we’ve analyzed 100 of the most visited cities in the world and ranked them based on which have the highest percentage of five-star rated attractions, but the lowest number of visitors.
Most underrated city breaks
1. Rhodes, Greece
International arrivals: 2.41m
Total things to do: 327
Five-star things to do: 124
% of five-star rated things to do: 38%
Rhodes refers to both the Greek island and its capital city; despite receiving just 2.41 million visitors a year the city is clearly highly rated amongst visitors.
38% of the attractions here in Rhodes have been rated five star, including its famous medieval city, one of the best-preserved in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Marrakesh, Morocco
International arrivals: 3.02m
Total things to do: 3,375
Five-star things to do: 1,856
% of five-star rated things to do: 55%
In second place is the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, which receives just over 3 million visitors a year, with 55% of its attractions being deemed to be worthy of five stars.
The city is home to beautiful mosques, palaces and gardens and, like Rhodes, Marrakesh is an ancient medieval city, but doesn’t perhaps receive as many visitors as European cities.
2. Porto, Portugal
International arrivals: 2.49m
Total things to do: 1,310
Five-star things to do: 473
% of five-star rated things to do: 36%
Tied with Marrakesh, with slightly fewer visitors but also similarly fewer highly rated attractions is Porto, in Portugal.
Visitors to Portugal often flock to the capital of Lisbon, but the impressive bridges, candy-colored houses, and of course the local port wine make Porto well worth a visit.
Most overrated city breaks
1. Paris, France
International arrivals: 19.09m
Total things to do: 8,097
Five-star things to do: 1,575
% of five-star rated things to do: 19%
Paris receives over 19 million visitors a year, but just 19% of its attractions are rated as being of five-star quality by visitors.
Being such a commonly visited destination, you’re always likely to have some people who find a destination such as Paris to not be to their tastes, with common criticisms including the price, crowds, and concerns over cleanliness.
2. New York City, United States
International arrivals: 14.01m
Total things to do: 5,596
Five-star things to do: 1,292
% of five-star rated things to do: 23%
Similarly to Paris, New York is hugely popular, with 14 million annual visitors, but there are many quieter destinations with a higher rate of top attractions.
That being said, the city still has over 5,500 things to do, so even if they aren’t all in the top bracket, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied.
3. London, United Kingdom
International arrivals: 19.56m
Total things to do: 8,366
Five-star things to do: 2,096
% of five-star rated things to do: 25%
Despite being the most visited city on our list, London’s ratio of highly-rated attractions falls toward the bottom of the pile.
It is of course an iconic city that you should still visit at least once, but just 25% of its attractions received a five-star rating.
We started with Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations, looking at the 2019 edition to avoid visitor numbers being affected by COVID.
We then removed any destinations that were small towns rather than cities, as well as cities in Asia, as Tripadvisor figures for these destinations were disproportionately low and skewed the results unfairly. We then took the annual visitor numbers for 2019 for each city.
Next, we used Tripadvisor to find the total number of things to do in each city, as well as the number of attractions rated as five stars by visitors, to calculate the percentage of five-star rated attractions.
We then assigned each destination a normalized score out of ten based on how many visitors it gets (10 for the most visited, 0 for the least visited) and a score based on the percentage of five-star attractions (10 for the highest-rated, 0 for the lowest-rated).
Finally, we took an average of these two scores to reveal the most over and underrated of these city destinations.