What are the best cities in the world for walking, arting, and eating?
August 19, 2014 10:31 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I have realized that our ideal form of travel is to get an apartment in another city for a week or two and spend the entire time walking around the city, eating, and visiting museums. What are the best cities in the world we can do this in where we can also get around speaking English, Spanish, or German?

-Must be a dense-enough urban fabric that it's consistently interesting to walk around, and large enough that we won't exhaust its sights too quickly
-Must have highly functioning public transportation and/or easy to use taxis for when we get tired of walking
-Must have great, diverse food, especially street food/cheap eats/hole in the wall restaurants
-Must have at least a handful of worthwhile museums. We love contemporary and encyclopedic art museums best, but also like funky specialized museums like the Museo Naval in Madrid. We are less interested in galleries or in historic sites.
-(the hardest) It should be possible to get around and order things, and ideally to have simple conversations, in English or in our rudimentary German and Spanish and our extremely rudimentary French. I hate being the people who expect the world to speak English, and I am happy to learn basic greetings and such in the local language, but realistically we are just not going to spend three years learning Thai to go to Bangkok if it turns out that is necessary.

We live in New York and love it, of course, and other places we've really enjoyed traveling to in the past have included Tokyo, Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, Dubai (surprisingly walkable!), and London. Places we have not enjoyed as much have included Bruges (too small), Santo Domingo (not walkable and not great food), San Juan (not walkable), and Valencia (too small).

Places we have not been to yet but that I assume we will also enjoy (but feel free to correct me!) include Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and Istanbul. Please pile other suggestions on me!
posted by EmilyFlew to Travel & Transportation (74 answers total) 132 users marked this as a favorite
My friends just got back from a month in Lisbon and said they loved it for all the reasons you desire, though they found the food a little lacking (lots of tinned fish?).
posted by greta simone at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Montreal is not far from you and the train trip is beautiful, especially in the fall.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 10:39 AM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Berlin: Lots of museums, dense & walkable + great, easy to use public transport. Really easy to get by using English.
posted by garethspor at 10:41 AM on August 19, 2014 [9 favorites]

Berlin is great, and lots of people speak both German and English.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by anitanita at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by JimN2TAW at 10:48 AM on August 19, 2014

Definitely Barcelona and Berlin. I'd also add Florence to the list.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Barcelona fer shure. There's a Museum of Military History up above the Olympic Park that has to be seen. Plus Gaudi etc.

Budapest is stretching your language reqs, but hits all the rest perfectly.
posted by PMdixon at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2014

DC is so obvious that I feel like I'm missing something.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

Amsterdam definitely meets your qualifications, and maybe Rotterdam as well.
posted by neushoorn at 10:50 AM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is a really broad question, because in pretty much any major, large city in the world you can get by with just English, and most major cities outside the U.S. are walkable and have good public transportation.

You can get by with English in any major city in Asia, for example, and most major Asian cities fit all of your requirements. You definitely don't need to know Thai to spend time in Bangkok- it's a city with a strong tourism industry and many people speak English.

In Mainland China, you get get around Beijing and Shanghai just fine with English; smaller cities may be more challenging but it's still very possible. They both fit all of your requirements as well.

I would think this would be true of almost any major city in Europe as well as Latin America, too.
posted by bearette at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yes to Florence as well. If you can get by in Spanish you can likely fake it a bit in Italian, romance languages are similar enough to muddle through. And Barcelona in the autumn is utterly glorious. Maybe Granada? Sevilla?
posted by elizardbits at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

DC is so obvious that I feel like I'm missing something.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:49 PM on August 19

And the San Francisco Bay area is so obvious that I also feel like I'm missing something.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Vienna is lovely.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'll throw in Rome and Athens. We're planning a trip to Marrakech, but it sounds like it might tick your boxes.
posted by umwhat at 10:56 AM on August 19, 2014

I love visiting Copenhagen. And nthing Berlin, which would be my top choice for you.
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vienna! I just spent two weeks there earlier in the year and it meets absolutely every single one of your criteria.
posted by scody at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chicago meets all your criteria. (Granted, I am a bit biased. : ) )
Toronto works too.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is how my wife and I travel.
It depends how you want to prioritize your list. For example I really like Berlin and Amsterdam, but if food is a big priority for you, they should be further down the list. Likewise I love Istanbul, but the Art museums are of secondary interest. Barcelona can be great if you find a slow time of the year to visit, etc, etc,

Montreal has great food and enough to see for a long weekend, but maybe not a week.

You have Tokyo on your list, but Kyoto is also awesome for this.

Some find Vienna a bit dull, but it has amazing museums, its walkable, and with a little research some very good food (better than Berlin I think). I liked it a lot.

I think you might find Florence too small if you thought Valencia and Bruges were small. Also lets not kid anyone - eating well in Florence requires serious effort.

What about Hong Kong? If you love the crowds of NYC you'll probably like it. If your favorite part of Manhattan is the West Village you might not. But it does tick all of the boxes.
posted by JPD at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also Rome, and Venice, for sure.
posted by Prawn at 11:02 AM on August 19, 2014

Thanks for the answers so far everyone! I know this is almost an insanely broad question, but I do appreciate the suggestions.

Just to clarify a little, while of course there are lots of wonderful cities all over the world that you can walk in and that have food, maybe there are not SO SO many that you walk around in for hours a day for a week and a half and not see everything? For instance, I love San Francisco but I feel a little claustrophobic in it after 4 days or so. Same for Montreal, though we did really enjoy a long weekend there recently.
posted by EmilyFlew at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2014

Given that clarification I would say that of your list of options the only one that still fits is Istanbul. There just isn't ten days worth of sights and nabes to walk around in any of those other cities.

Depending on your tolerance for temples and maybe a train based day-trip to Nara I also think Kyoto still fits.

And HK.
posted by JPD at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Philadelphia is really great.
posted by odinsdream at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely Paris and London! I don't feel like I even scratched the surface after a week in each-mainly walking and metro-ing. I speak basic french and did fine in Paris. Loved the food and street culture and people watching in both cities-and the museums are amazing.
posted by purenitrous at 11:11 AM on August 19, 2014

I know what you mean about feeling claustrophobic, and I tend to move around a lot on vacations as a result. So I will say that the only two places I've wanted more days in were Edinburgh (where I have actually been twice, but would go back to in a heartbeat) and Granada. Both are maybe smaller than some others mentioned here, but they are so beautiful and atmospheric and Granada in particular has food that could keep you occupied for weeks and weeks.
posted by something something at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Edinburgh, Dublin, Athens, Istanbul, Marseilles, Morocco, Rio and Buenos Aires.
posted by fshgrl at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2014

Also what time of year are you planning to go? Some of our suggestions would be awful for the summertime, for example, or heinously cold in the middle of winter.
posted by elizardbits at 11:30 AM on August 19, 2014

I think the answer to your question is Berlin. The museum island in Berlin alone could occupy a week.

But I'll second Lisbon as well. While Lisbon isn't enormous, it is many faceted, and when you throw in neighbouring Sintra, weeks can go by easily.
posted by vacapinta at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

What about small countries? I am of course biased towards Israel but it's very easy to get by here in English. No one city in Israel is big enough to fill a ten-day trip, but in 10 days you could definitely see Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, and there are one-hour trains running between the three. Plenty of museums and great great food (both local and int'l cuisine) and historical/cultural sites. Just don't come between May-September because you probably will not enjoy the heat.
posted by alona at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tokyo. Great food, and you can see art stretching from Hellenistic Silk Road Culture to contemporary bleeding edge avant garde. The city is very walkable. I have walked from Shinjuku on the west side to Tokyo Station on the east. The middle of the city is very interesting in that there is a combination of low-rise neighbourhoods with ultra modern skyscrapers.
posted by Nevin at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Berlin or Budapest are my suggestions - Berlin has a more developed art scene, but wandering around Budapest is a joy!
posted by Middlemarch at 11:51 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just got back from a trip to Oslo and it would definitely fit your bill. Highly walkable but with a good tram, bus and underground system. Lots of different neighbourhoods to explore. And you most certainly will very easily get by in English, it's everywhere. It might be too small to supply a week or more's entertainment, but it's only a 45 minute flight to Bergen and within a shortish journey to Stockholm or Copenhagen if you wanted to expand, and those are also very good cities for the kind of tourism you want to do.
posted by mymbleth at 11:55 AM on August 19, 2014

We stayed two weeks based in an apartment in central Lyon (found through airbnb) earlier this year and didn't get to everything we wanted to.
posted by bfields at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Consider Chicago. (My parents bought a condo there, and we did this sort of `walk around for a week' visit this summer.)

Lots of fantastic museums, great things to eat, I found the public transportation totally easy (you buy a week CTA pass, and then it's just taken care of). And it's easy to get to.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm sure you've been, but Boston hits all your points, especially if you include Cambridge and Somerville. It is obviously smaller than New York or London, but the art scene and the food scene are both really vibrant.

Rome is fabulous but don't go in the summer, it really gets destroyed by tourists. Amsterdam is probably my favorite city in Europe (laid back, hip, beautiful, all the most annoying tourists stay in one small district), but it is fairly small and the food is hit or miss.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second Hong Kong.
posted by mamabear at 12:12 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Three of the largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, are quite near one another and have frequent train services running between them. The Hague is situated between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Each of these cities pretty much meets your requirements (though you may want to get guide books for each so you know where to find the good bits). Situated between Amsterdam and The Hague there's the smaller town of Leiden, which has several interesting museums and nice city sights, and 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station there's Haarlem, which has much the good stuff that Amsterdam has but on a smaller scale and with fewer tourists. 15 minutes by train from the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena station there's Utrecht, which is also a historic city with several good museums and a very walkable city centre, and a quite different vibe from Amsterdam.
posted by rjs at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

First off, I'll strongly second Berlin as the most obvious choice in the series New York, Paris, London, ...?. According to Wikipedia it's the second-largest city in the EU, and has a good reputation for all of the things you're looking for. Everyone I talked to spoke English, and I was there for 3 days and didn't scratch the surface as far as seeing the city.

Aside from that, you might like Vancouver, although it might not be large enough for you. Transit/walking/bikes are all pretty good, food was excellent and diverse, and I didn't have enough time to see everything I wanted to when I visited this spring for 5 days. I'm not sure how it is for museums etc though (I was doing other things).

Budapest is amazing and I would definitely recommend it in general (again, not sure about museums specifically) but again, not sure it's large enough for you. Also, while you can get around most places, I ran into a lot of people who didn't speak English well enough to communicate, including a few shops and transit officials. Food was amazing, if you find the right places.
posted by randomnity at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rome seems almost too obvious, but there's a good reason for that (it's got everything you want). Try to go in the off-season or the shoulder season, though.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2014

Rome definitely - the whole fun of it is wandering about and it is big enough that my mother and I managed to walk all week without seeing everything (we walk a lot too).

Surprisingly Venice was pretty good for this too. It's pretty small, but there are SO MANY tiny streets we happily spent five days wandering, and never even managed to get out to the outer islands (which are supposed to be great).

I don't speak Italian either, but I have eaten in enough Italian restaurants that I can get by.

Tokyo and Hong Kong would be great - I don't speak Japanese or Cantonese, and managed to travel around both of those on my own aged 18 with no difficulty (English is an official language in HK anyway). You really ought to learn the signs for "men" and "women" (toilets), but aside from that you'll be fine.
posted by tinkletown at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2014

Santiago, Chile. I spent three weeks there last fall and did exactly what you want. Rented an apartment, went to museums, ate stuff, wandered, took the metro all with basic Spanish. I also biked in the city, saw quality live performance, went to a jazz festival, took side trips via public transportation outside the city. It was a great 3 weeks.
posted by Pineapplicious at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2014

Stating the obvious, but, geez, c'mon: New Orleans!

Good bike touring, too. Confederacy of Cruisers rent bikes and really awesome tours.
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Absolutely Chicago, the food is fantastic and wildly varied, it is a city of neighborhoods so there are lots of interesting places in the city with their own unique character (and lots of ethnic enclaves with spectacular hole-in-the-wall, feed-the-immigrant-locals places), and the big museums are world-class ... and there are lots of fascinating smaller museums on local and regional art, history, ethnic history, etc. Plus there's good music and small theater (it's where lots of plays that go on to Broadway start out) and comedy clubs. If you have not seen the Art Institute, you are missing out on one of the U.S.'s top art museums -- second in size only to the Met in the US, and frequently ranked first in the US for quality of the collection, and typically among the top 5 worldwide.

The city itself is also an architecture museum of the first order, particularly for architecture post-1880 -- prairie-style, skyscrapers, Chicago-school, modernist, City Beautiful; Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Mies van der Rohe -- and the Chicago Architecture Foundation does absolutely fantastic walking and boat tours of Chicago architectural landmarks that turn it into a proper museum as well as a living city.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:02 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

COPENHAGEN. I've only spent weekends in Copenhagen but I adore the city. I'd happily spend a week or so there just settling in to a groove.

I'd also love to spend more time in Barcelona. I go there reasonably frequently for work and it never feels long enough.
posted by nerdfish at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to the primo suggestions above including NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam and London, consider:

Madrid, though be alert there are lots of smooth pickpockets near the museums. The Prado and tapas alone are worth it. Also Barcelona, which has a fabulous Miro exhibit and some of the most incredible architecture in the world, plus outrageous food. I would also consider St. Petersburg -- the Hermitage!
posted by bearwife at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I apologize for missing the end of your question. OK, so here are some more suggestions that are more responsive: Boston (Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stuart Gardner museum, Fogg museum), Washington D.C. (Corcoran, National Gallery, etc. and surprisingly wonderful food choices), Tokyo, and Milan.
posted by bearwife at 1:15 PM on August 19, 2014

I think Dublin is too small for what you want.
posted by Duffington at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Boston, Tokyo, Shanghai, Melbourne and Zurich for years each. I've walked and walked those cities, visited the museums and ate anything and everything and was never bored when I stepped out of my door intent on exploration. All have great public transport, english accessible for the important stuff, large and varied with many opportunities for side trips and world-class museums.
posted by michswiss at 1:42 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dresden and Leipzig
posted by brujita at 2:07 PM on August 19, 2014

Zagreb. Especially if you do things like take a train to Rijeka for a day, or spend a day at Plitvice. English and German will get you around, summer/fall is tourist season.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:25 PM on August 19, 2014

I suppose the "old" part of Dubai is walkable, but if you consider Dubai as a whole as "walkable," you're not really limiting the selection with that criteria!
posted by benbenson at 2:31 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you could do some really cool stuff from Nice. It's a metropolitan city, with great food and some amazing museums. You can also take the Chemins de fer de Provence and explore the little towns along the line as day trips. I'm pretty sure I took it along the coast to Monaco, it took about 30 minutes and was pretty cheap (like mass transit cheap)

I'd go in spring or early fall. I wish I had spent more time there, one of these day's I'm going back.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:34 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the answers, everyone -- especially for making me reconsider cities we've passed through but never really settled in to for a serious week of walking and eating (Chicago, DC, New Orleans).

I've marked as best answer the places we haven't been to yet and that I'm especially excited about, and welcome any other answers!

And for further clarification, assume we can go any time of the year that would be best -- this is more of a lifetime bucket list question than a where do we go next summer question.
posted by EmilyFlew at 2:38 PM on August 19, 2014

My votes are for The Hague and Berlin.
posted by trip and a half at 3:10 PM on August 19, 2014

Has no-one really said Toronto yet? lots of galleries and museums, amazing food, you can spend each day walking around the different cultural areas of the city and it will be different each day. There are also lots of interesting things to do just outside the city if you want to take day trips, like provincial parks, wineries in the Niagara region, or spend a day on the Toronto islands. I walk everywhere in the city, and hop on the TTC or cab it when I get tired. late may is a particularly nice time to visit, all the flowers are starting to bloom, and all the canadians come out from their winter hiding to drink beer on patios.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:15 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seoul. You don't need to know Korean to get around, but a phrase book would help.

I actually prefer Daejeon and Busan, but it sounds like you'd like Seoul better.
posted by kathrynm at 4:21 PM on August 19, 2014

DC is kind of small, but most museums (and the zoo) are free! And Bon Appetit says we have the hottest restaurant in the country. And food trucks for cheap(ish) eats.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit.
posted by JoanArkham at 4:22 PM on August 19, 2014

How has nobody mentioned Montreal yet? Great food at good prices; eminently walkable; public transport is better than most cities I've been to. There are some great museums, and culture everywhere you turn if you stay out of the suburbs.
posted by sauril at 4:31 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I definitely experienced some local shops' reluctance to speak Spanish (instead of Catalan) to me in Barcelona, but I did really enjoy it there. I could have spent a whole day just in their open air farmers market thing.
posted by Night_owl at 5:15 PM on August 19, 2014

We did exactly this in Barcelona and I think my face melted it was so awesome.
posted by floweredfish at 6:30 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was the one who suggested New Orleans, but I might actually tip toward Montreal after all. Food might actually be better there. Even glitzy tourist-traps in Montreal serve good food. Nobody would think to serve bad food, it just doesn't occur to them. And it's way more diverse than New Orleans.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:39 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Uh Rome of course. How is this not already on the list 100 times? Rome's historical center is super compact - you can walk across it in an hour - and crammed to bursting with world class art history sites -- not only superb museums, but churches where museum-quality art is displayed in its original setting and entrance is free. Easy to get around in English. You can live there for months and not plumb the depths of what there is to see. And of course the food is excellent. Rome is the answer!
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:05 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Edit - it's true that Rome is best when not overrun with tourists. Try early November and don't stay near the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or the Vatican. Instead stay near the Pantheon or Piazza Navona or the Campo di Fiori.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:15 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Rome and Buenos Aires (the latter has an enormous cottage industry in providing medium-term apartments for expats).
posted by psoas at 6:27 AM on August 20, 2014

(Oh, and from your original list: Cape Town is wonderful in many ways, but it's not so much a compact walking city. Many of the big attractions are fairly spread out, and the main tourist neighborhood is pretty backpacker-y.)
posted by psoas at 6:46 AM on August 20, 2014

Thirding DC. I just spent 11 days there and didn't see everything. If you go make sure you are in walking distance of Georgetown, since the metro does not go there. Be close to the foggy bottom station and then the whole metro is extra easy.
posted by mariecheri at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2014

3rding Buenos Aires. I studied abroad there in college and basically did what you want to do for the three months that I was there. Also AirBnbs there are absurdly cheap.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:34 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Buenos Aires is one of the best-dressed cities in the world. People put on jewelry and makeup up to go to the laundromat. If you like to go casual (or even less-than-your best-turned-out in any given moment), beware that you may feel out of synch there.
posted by Quisp Lover at 1:15 PM on August 20, 2014

Another vote for Melbourne as the best place in Australia for those things you mention.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:10 PM on August 21, 2014

I just came back from Mexico City and I would reccomend for the reasons below.

Must be a dense-enough urban fabric that it's consistently interesting to walk around, and large enough that we won't exhaust its sights too quickly - Yes, one of the largest cities in the world

-Must have highly functioning public transportation and/or easy to use taxis for when we get tired of walking- Taxis are available and largest metro next to NYC in Americas

-Must have great, diverse food, especially street food/cheap eats/hole in the wall restaurants - Great street food to big swanky restaurants in condesa/roma neighbourhood

-Must have at least a handful of worthwhile museums. We love contemporary and encyclopedic art museums best, but also like funky specialized museums like the Museo Naval in Madrid. We are less interested in galleries or in historic sites. - Mexico city has more than 150 museums including museum of tequila/mezcal . You name it, it probably has a museum for it.

-(the hardest) It should be possible to get around and order things, and ideally to have simple conversations, in English or in our rudimentary German and Spanish and our extremely rudimentary French. I hate being the people who expect the world to speak English, and I am happy to learn basic greetings and such in the local language, but realistically we are just not going to spend three years learning Thai to go to Bangkok if it turns out that is necessary.- I went to mexico city without taking any spanish in hs or college and could get by the metro, grocery store and restaurant. People are willing to help you and rudimentary spanish can take you a long way.

Added bonus is that the weather is always neighborhood of 50-70 due to the high elevation of Mexico city
posted by radsqd at 9:06 AM on August 22, 2014

odinsdream: "Philadelphia is really great."

Seconding Philadelphia. The Museum of Art is just really, really fantastic. I had no idea till I went. It's huge and has really great collections.

In addition to the traditional attractions there are lots of really cool museums, including the Mütter Museum which features medical specimens and oddities. There is also the Magic Garden which is a maze of mosaics built by Isaac Zagar. He's also done mosaics all up and down South Street.

Speaking of wall art, Philly has a lot of murals, many of them really excellent. I think there is a mural tour you can go on by bus to see them all.

Philadelphia has one of the larger public parks on the East coast, Fairmount Park. Part of the parkland is the location of the 1876 U.S. Centennial celebration and World's Fair. One of the buildings from that fair still stands and now houses the incredibly fun Please Touch Museum which is really more geared towards kids but honestly still enjoyable if you know how to have fun like a kid. The best feature for grown-ups might be the scale replica of the fair which shows all the buildings, the trains, one of the first monorails, as well as the boats and parkland.

You can hop on a train up the the Mt. Airy or Wissahickon area to walk Forbidden Drive or one of the many other very scenic and walkable trails there.

Philadelphia may not have as many restaurants as New York city does, but it does have some really excellent ones. There are a lot of great fancy ones in the center city area, but you can go up to Olney for a great selection of Korean restaurants or down to South Philly to one of the many Vietnamese restaurants all of which are clustered in strip-malls geared towards Vietnamese. We also have a small contingent of Indonesian restaurants and shops further into South Philly. All of these locations are pretty easily reached by a combination of subway or bus.

If you do come here, eschew the cheesesteaks offered at either Pat's or Gino's. The easiest and best by public transportation is probably Max's near the intersection of Broad & Erie. Just take the Broad Street Line to the Erie exit. Ask someone to point you towards Max's but you'll know you're there within a block because of the amazing smell. My favorite by car is Tony Luke's on Oregon Ave but I imagine it would be seriously difficult to get there.

Also, if you come here and want any food or travel suggestions, feel free to MeMail me.

I'll also second Montreal. Our trip there was amazing and their giant market (can't remember the name) had incredible fruits and vegetables, so make sure to visit during some kind of harvest season to check out the amazing produce.

Finally in terms of China — I guess thinks have probably changed in the last 10 years but when I visited there in 2005 it often was difficult to find people who spoke English, especially if you sought out hole-in-the wall style travel. Obviously the people in the hotel will speak English, but once you leave the hotel you may find yourself in a context where people's English is limited or non-existent if you travel independently rather than with some kind of group. Again, this was my experience 10 years ago. The food in China is obviously amazing and almost all comes from hole-in-the-walls. Most cities are massively huge and have tons of pedestrians. For a bit of novelty, in China I'd recommend Kaifeng. It's not huge by Chinese standards but it's large (5 million inhabitants in the metro area). Its Night Market is nothing short of incredible. The one downside — no actual museum there, but there is a highly enjoyable amusement park built to simulate old Kaifeng. Somewhere in the park is a small and wholly unremarkable exhibit on the history of Jews in Kaifeng.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:27 PM on August 25, 2014

We should have a blanket rule that you can't suggest the city you live in for questions like this.
posted by JPD at 4:53 AM on August 27, 2014

Fair enough. I withdraw my nomination.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:02 PM on August 27, 2014

A plug for Taipei, Taiwan. It's a large, dense city (2.5 million people!) so there is lots to see - we spent 5 days in the city center and wished we had longer. It is easier if you know Chinese, but most signs on the subway and street had English, and many store clerks and restaurant proprietors spoke at least rudimentary English. The city is beautifully laid out and easy to get around with an excellent metro system. We loved the night markets, museums, and shops. My father-in-law was our guide and speaks fluent Mandarin, but even when we didn't have him we did okay. (the notable exception was when we tried to get a cab - I had to pull up our destination on my phone in Chinese and show it to the driver, which worked ok).
posted by ReBoMa at 11:12 PM on August 31, 2014

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