The world we live in is rapidly changing—there simply is no denying that. Technology, travel, and new advances in a huge variety of different fields are changing the ways we live around the globe. In the past, certain cities or even entire countries that were regarded as dangerous are now opening up and becoming incredible places to live. Places that people would barely travel to, let alone decide to live, have become some of the most exciting and dynamic cities on the planet. It’s truly incredible how so many cities are growing and meeting the demands of the 21st century lifestyle.
Honestly, all of these cities that are changing so quickly just make us want to travel the world and explore new places! It’s a whole new ballgame out there—places we may have written off in the past are becoming some of the hottest destinations on the planet. And in five more years, who know which up and coming cities will be taking the spotlight? We live in such an exciting time for travel. Here are the 25 cities that have changed the most over the past 5 years—some of these destinations are surprising!
25 Phoenix, Arizona
According to Lonely Planet, Phoenix is known for its year-round warm temperatures and sunny days—what’s not to love? Predictably, many retirees have flocked there over the years, but now, its cheap housing prices, amazing weather, and the incredible natural landscapes just a short drive away are attracting lots of young people. Luxury spas and resorts are actually popping up all over the place, and the nightlife scene is getting better and better. You’ll have to see for yourself!
24 Budapest, Hungary
Back in the 1990s, Budapest was a mystery to many people outside of Europe—this city was behind the “Iron Curtain” of the Cold War, and tourists wouldn’t have dreamed of visiting. But according to Trip Savvy, Budapest now has a booming tourism industry, and it has been called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The spas, the cheap accommodation, the surprisingly delicious fine dining scene, and the incredible views of the Danube river simply can’t be beat.
23 Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is booming these days. This is slowly becoming Kenya’s city that doesn’t sleep. According to Roads and Kingdoms, this city is attracting more and more tourists, and it’s also got a serious tech scene. In fact, investors are even looking to turn sections of Nairobi into miniature “smart cities,” which run on advanced technology. It is truly becoming the city of the future—it’s going to be so interesting to see how it changes even more in the next decade.
22 Warsaw, Poland
Another city that was once “hidden” behind the veil of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, Warsaw is now becoming one of Europe’s coolest little cities. According to Travel and Leisure, much of the city had to be rebuilt after World War II, and while many sections are sleek and modern, the Old Town is beautiful and traditional. There are cute markets, important historical monuments, and countless shops where you can get pirogues for every meal if your heart desires.
21 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
As a nation, Cambodia has faced some serious struggles in the past, and while this country is still developing in many ways, it’s cities are much nicer than you may have imagined. According to Smarter Travel, Phnom Penh, the capital, is getting a boost from increased tourism and expats who enjoy the low prices. Want to zip around on a motorbike all day, try new food, and explore temples? Then you may want to visit Phnom Penh sometime in the future!
20 Medellin, Colombia
In the past, you might have heard about how Colombia was dangerous—but things are rapidly improving for this South American nation, and Colombia cities are changing for the better. According to Lonely Planet, Medellin is a hip new travel destination for those who want to venture off the beaten path a bit while still enjoying modern luxuries. And the prices are still low! This is the place to dance all night and see a whole new side of Colombia.
19 Boise, Idaho
Surprised to see this up and coming city on this list? Yes, Boise is way out in Idaho, but it’s not the sticks! According to CN Traveler, Boise is really making a name for itself. This city is known for its growing culinary scene. But not only that, it also becoming a major ski destination. The mountains surrounding this city are unbelievable, and the ski resorts around Boise are one of the best kept secrets in America. It’s worth checking out!
18 Hobart, Tasmania
According to CN Traveler, Hobart is the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania, and it’s also becoming a more popular city for tourists and new permanent residents alike. There are plenty of historic buildings still around, nice harbors where boats are docked, and lots of cute new cafes, art galleries, and shops popping up. The state of Tasmania is truly beautiful, with wildlife unlike anywhere else. It is an underrated part of Australia—travelers should make their way over!
17 Tallinn, Estonia
Never heard of Tallinn before? Well, this city is making some big changes—and making headlines because of it! According to The New York Times, Estonia was the first country to start up an “E-visa” program. Basically, people with remote jobs can apply to be residents of Estonia through this program and use cities like the capital of Tallinn as their home base. This is a super exciting step towards making it easier for people to be location independent.
16 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling city in Southeast Asia, where prices are super affordable and the food is simply divine. According to The Independent, this city is always buzzing with things to do, and it’s becoming a super popular spot for remote workers and startups to base themselves. There is a thriving expat community here, and the overall quality of life in the city has been rapidly improving over the past two decades.
15 Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is often just thought of as “that city where they had the Winter Olympics once”…but the truth is that there is SO much more to Salt Lake City these days. According to Business Insider, more people are moving to Salt Lake City because of the prices, but the natural beauty is also a huge draw. Although the area can be fairly religious and traditional, expect to see more and more tech companies setting up shop here.
14 Manchester, United Kingdom
When you think of visiting the United Kingdom, your mind might immediately jump to London—but don’t overlook some of the smaller, up and coming cities around the country. According to The Culture Trip, Manchester is only getting better. This laid back city has lots of trendy neighborhoods and plenty of things to do. Plus, the local university means that the students always keep the city lively. It’s definitely worth checking out these days—don’t miss this cool little city!
13 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
If you follow a bunch of travel influencers on Instagram, you may not see a whole lot of photos of Ethiopia popping up on your feed, but honestly, that could change soon. According to CNN, the capital city of Addis Ababa is also becoming more and more of a hub for tech companies based in Africa. Just like Nairobi, so many people are seeing potential in these cities. The culture is a mix between the modern and the traditional lifestyle.
12 Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is seriously making strides. So many people have discovered this amazing city that many travelers planning long-term trips around Asia have overlooked in the past. According to Lonely Planet, Taipei has become a haven for remote workers, freelancers, creatives, and people looking to get in on the startup game because the city is super affordable, clean, modern, and culturally rich—oh, and the WiFi is insanely fast. This city is definitely worth a few days—it’s such a fun place!
11 Valparaíso, Chile
Many visitors to Chile immediately head for the capital city of Santiago, or they visit the stunning natural landscapes of Patagonia. But Chile has some other cool cities that are changing for the better—like Valparaíso, for instance. According to The Culture Trip, Valparaíso has a lovely historic seaport, an active nightlife, and a wild annual carnival celebrating the local culture. It’s also cheaper than Santiago to visit, so lots of people are catching on to this up and coming destination.
10 Dallas, Texas
Texas has a few major cities that are changing the game for this state. It’s not all cowboys and horses! You may have heard that the city of Dallas is becoming a more attractive destination for young people. According to US News, this is partially because lots of startups are choosing to set up shop in Texas. The cheaper cost of living, the warm weather, the amazing food, and the creative culture in the cities makes it the place to be!
9 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is one of the hottest cities in Southeast Asia right now. Seriously, this little city in Northern Thailand has it all! According to Lonely Planet, Chiang Mai is one of the most popular destinations for remote workers, budget backpackers, and expats, and because of that, the hospitality and tourism industry in this city is booming. You could make new friends just by stepping out of your AirBnb—it’s just buzzing with people who want to see the world.
8 Las Vegas, Nevada
Yes, we all know that Las Vegas is where you go if you want to have a fun weekend—but according to Movoto, it’s actually becoming a really popular place for millennials to live. And they’re not doing it for the nightlife—they want that low cost of living, the cool artsy neighborhoods, the diversity and creativity. It’s all there in Las Vegas. Of course, more high end resorts are always popping up, but it’s also a fun place to live permanently.
7 Newcastle, Australia
Newcastle wasn’t always known as such a cool city—according to Trip Savvy, it used to be a pretty industrial area without a whole lot of draw. But things are rapidly changing in this city, and because rents are rising across Australia, young people are flocking here and really changing things for the better. This city has already changed a lot in the past five years—we’re interested to see what it will be like a few more years from now.
6 Mazatlan, Mexico
We all know Cancun and Cabo are the perfect spots if you want to hit up a fancy resort for vacation—but what if you want to do something a little different? According to Reader’s Digest, Mazatlan is about to become one of Mexico’s biggest destinations. This seaside city has it all, from gorgeous beaches to amazing food, with a more laid back vibe than the big resorts. It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely more affordable than other popular destinations in Mexico.
5 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is a hot destination right now, and the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is bringing in tons of tourists every year. According to Smarter Travel, this city is super modern, sophisticated, and a bit on the pricey side—but you absolutely get what you pay for. This city is also super safe, so if you’re a solo traveler who tends to worry a lot, it’s a great place to kick off your trip. Just make sure to save your pennies first!
4 Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow was always known as Scotland’s rougher city compared to Edinburgh, but that perception is quickly changing. According to The Culture Trip, Glasgow is now famous for its incredible vegan food scene, voted best in the UK, their many free museums and interesting libraries, and all of the awesome cultural events that go on every year. Don’t be intimidated by rumors about Glasgow’s old reputation—it’s so much better than most people realize, and it is well worth a visit.
3 Lagos, Nigeria
The city of Lagos in Nigeria has been growing in leaps and bounds. According to WikiTravel, this city is known for its major tech scene. There are also some super underrated surf beaches (one of Nigeria’s many surprises!) and the area Victoria Island is an upscale business hub where many different companies are based. This city is expected to continue growing rapidly over the next few years, and it will likely become more and more popular as a tourist destination.
2 Adelaide, Australia
Yes, Melbourne and Sydney are both super cool cities—but some of Australia’s other cities are really coming into their own. According to The Culture Trip, Adelaide is getting a ton of positive buzz right now. This city is much more affordable than Melbourne and Sydney, and it has that fun-loving Aussie vibe that everyone comes to the country for. We highly recommend checking it out—it has an amazing “cafe culture” and tons of hip, artsy neighborhoods to stay in.
1 Bucharest, Romania
You’ll find that many travel bloggers used to say that Bucharest wasn’t worth more than a day or two stopover, but now, you may see that this opinion is finally changing. According to Lonely Planet, Bucharest is evolving as a city, and it has a gritty, grungy vibe that many backpackers have come to appreciate. There have been big tourism campaigns lately to help people see another side of Bucharest, and checking out this unique city for yourself is a great idea.
References: lonelyplanet.com, tripsavvy.com, roadsandkingdoms.com, travelandleisure.com, smartertravel.com, cntraveler.com, thenewyorktimes.com, independent.co.uk, businessinsider.com, theculturetrip.com, cnn.com, usnews.com, movoto.com, readersdigest.com, wikitravel.com