The thrill of speeding traffic, the buzz of thousands of voices, and the electricity of a skyline at night: there’s a lot to be said for visiting a new city. But let’s take things up a notch. Experience the megalopolis — worlds unto themselves, these giant cities amass some of the most exciting attractions to be seen. From ancient wonders to modern skyscrapers, these expanding urban centers are as exhilarating as they are exhausting, so make sure you’re well prepared when setting out for the adventure of a lifetime.
1. Tokyo, Japan
A bewildering array of neon lights, swarms of people, and speeding bullet trains: Tokyo is the epitome of cities that never sleep. Full to the brim with sophisticated hotels and enticing cuisine, Tokyo attracts travelers looking for futuristic fun. From peering at the city from the world’s tallest freestanding tower to exploring centuries-old temple grounds and classical gardens, Tokyo has something for everyone. Once a fishing village, Tokyo has grown into one of the largest cities in the world and is a hub of Japanese culture.
2. Jakarta, Indonesia
A crowded and chaotic cosmopolitan city, Indonesia’s capital features culture, food, shopping, and electric nightlife. Oh, and some of the craziest traffic in the world. From one neighborhood to the next, Jakarta is a city of contrasts with sleek skyscrapers bordering age-old mosques and markets. Get a feel for the city by exploring bohemian bars and modern clubs or just stroll around while rubbing shoulders with the variety of people the city attracts; from artists to accountants, Jakarta brings people from all walks of life to its streets.
3. São Paulo, Brazil
The beauty of Brazil is only heightened by the casual sophistication of São Paulo. The third-largest metropolis in the world, São Paulo is a capital of cool boasting a dizzying array of things to do. From first-rate museums and art-house cinemas to experimental theatres and over 15,000 bars, São Paulo has it all. Take on the city by night with a local and satisfy your inner foodie at gourmet bistros that would impress even the most zealous of hipsters.
4. Seoul, South Korea
Forward-thinking when it comes to fashion and technology but also deeply traditional, Seoul is the perfect blend of old and new. Mixing modern architecture with ancient pagodas, the city center features serene spaces like a Buddhist temple and the country’s oldest palace. An appealing urban ideal of parks, culture, and design, Seoul is easily navigated thanks to its world-famous subway system, which runs round the clock. Bop along to a K-Pop soundtrack while exploring one of the most vibrant cities in the world — you’ll fit right in.
5. Moscow, Russia
Revered for its grandiose architecture, Moscow is Russia’s majestic crown jewel. An engaging mix of old and shockingly modern, you’ll feel the weight of years passed as you wander towards the heart of the city. Be sure to see the Kremlin and Red Square — the most significant symbol of the Russian Empire. Afterward, it’s only a short walk to St. Basil’s Cathedral. Whether you appreciate the classics or prefer the contemporary, Russia’s capital is sure to impress. For an extra dose of the country’s culture, head to the ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre or listen to world-class symphonies play Tchaikovsky.
6. Mexico City, Mexico
Things are heating up south of the border as Mexico City joins the ranks of megacities catching the eye of savvy world travelers. Long overlooked, the bustling city is thriving with design-forward hotels and restaurants, as well as galleries exhibiting some of the finest emerging contemporary artists in neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma. A city where the lowbrow and highbrow are equally enjoyed and respected, fill your day with the unique cultural experience. Head to a Mexican wrestling match known as Lucha Libre and afterward, enjoy the flavors of a fine dining experience topped off with sips of locally sourced mezcal. Party with Mexico City residents — Chilangos— and live la vida local while taking in the sights of a warm and inviting skyline.
7. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, was once a tiny fishing village. Today, it expands to incorporate an endless vista of skyscrapers as well as zen-style gardens. In Shanghai, centuries past meet the cultural developments of the present. Experience a world of fast-paced modernity, riveting arts and culture, and small neighborhoods chock-full of cozy comfort foods and sprawling green space. Shanghai is a city that revolves around cuisine and shared experiences, whether at a Michelin Star restaurant or a hole in the wall, the food culture speaks to the spirit of the city itself. Discover this rich and diverse urban space that offers up an endless menu of sights, sounds, skylines, and unforgettable experiences.
8. Delhi, India
Delhi is a city where time has stood still, and yet just around the corner, you can’t help feel but accelerated into the future, traveling forward in time towards the modern day. Begin your trip in Old Delhi, where you can explore a world of colorful spices being hauled in huge sacks by local workers. Then, hop on the modern metro to New Delhi, where you can marvel at colonial-era architecture and sip refreshing beverages to beat the heat. One of the world’s busiest cities, Delhi has a larger population than the continent of Australia, and while this also means a great deal of pollution, this megapolis is a complex weave of cultures, cuisine, and colonial history.