PHILADELPHIA — For better or worse, Philadelphians, get ready for more tourists at your favorite restaurants, historic sites and tailgates because the City of Brotherly Love was just named one of the Top 10 must-visit cities worldwide.
Lonely Planet, an industry-leading travel guidebook publisher, listed Philadelphia in fifth place for the best global cities to travel to next year, making it the top-ranked U.S. city on the travel guide’s list. The Best in Travel guide is an annual look at countries, regions, and cities across the globe that are must-visit places based on relevancy, uniqueness and the “wow” factor that makes them unmissable, said Lonely Planet’s executive editor, Nitya Chambers.
“Philadelphia is the perfect blend of old school and modern metropolis, a city marked by rich history but with an ever-evolving cultural core,” Chambers said. “We were excited by the balance of old and new — museums, history, food, and iconic cultural references — that make it the kind of place that feels instantly familiar but embedded with unique and personal moments of discovery.”
The travel guide relies on the expertise of on-the-ground local contributors who discover, evaluate and craft suggestions for Lonely Planet, who then nominate must-visit cities reviewed by a panel of travel experts. Out of hundreds of nominations, Philly made it high on the list.
Time-honored classics such as Reading Terminal Market and the Philadelphia Museum of Art help bolster Philly’s international appeal, but mainstays such as FDR Park’s Southeast Asian Market show how local communities can bring exciting new experiences to the city.
Philly’s tourism industry isn’t meager, either. It’s a multibillion-dollar endeavor with more than 40 million visitors walking through the city’s streets every year, said Alethia Calbeck, chief communications officer at Visit Philadelphia. “Those visitors spent over $7 billion in our region in 2022,” she said. The tourism and hospitality business across the five-county Philly region currently employs nearly 200,000 people, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We’re thrilled and we feel like it’s well-deserved. Philadelphia is a wonderful city. It’s an East Coast gateway into the U.S. for international travelers,” said Robin Bloom, director of content at Philadelphia’s global tourism agency, the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have a thriving arts and culture scene, the world’s largest outdoor art gallery. Not to mention the walkability and accessibility on the East Coast. Also, the city’s inclusivity and diversity are a really big selling feature internationally. It’s also one of the most affordable top-tier cities in the country.”
Besides the ever-growing culinary scene in Philadelphia, which continues to get nods from the New York Times, James Beard awards, and the Michelin Guide (which called Philly the “Frenchest American city”), the city will soon host a plethora of events that bring widespread appeal, such as the FIFA World Cup and MLB All-Star Game coming to the city in 2026.
“It’s a really big deal because (Lonely Planet) recognizes 10 cities every year, and this year there were only two U.S. cities,” Calbeck said. “We stand on a list with incredible international cities like Paris, Nairobi, and Prague — it’s a big feather in our cap because it just helps people understand the quality and the cachet of our destination.”