It’s no secret that traveling for business can be difficult. Long flights, meh food, and recycled convention center air can leave even the most veteran road warriors depleted and uninspired at the end of the day.
That’s why we wanted to put together a list of established and emerging international business cities that we think best cater to the modern traveler looking to get the most from their travel both professionally and personally.
Our criteria was simple. To make the list of top 10 cities for business travel, a city must have an impact on the global economy, exciting food scene, unique culture, and of course, an airport ranked in the top 40 of the world to make getting in and out as enjoyable as possible.
So let’s go! But seriously, let’s go “do business” in these places.
Formerly known as Edo (your in-flight crossword will thank you), Tokyo is the capital of Japan and currently the largest city in the world at a cool 33 million. Of the world’s top 500 companies, 51 call Tokyo home.
- Having two airports in the top fifteen of this year’s World Airport Awards put Tokyo over the top in our rankings to go along with the following highlights.
- Tokyo has more Michelin star restaurants (217) than any other city in the world, and is the spiritual home to highly regarded regional food choices like sushi (of course), izakaya (traditional small plates), donburi (rice bowls with meats and vegetables), and ramen that doesn’t come in a plastic bag (but does cost more than 25 cents).
- To assist the weary business traveler, elaborate spas known as onsens that feature massages, hot water treatments, and other ancient remedies are abundant.
- Extensive, affordable subway and railroad networks simplify travel around the city and country for those looking to stay a bit longer.
Singapore is the world’s largest island city-state and considered by Business Insider as the easiest place to do business (more elaborate than it sounds). It’s a main hub for the global economy in the South Pacific with large stakes in oil refinement and international shipping.
- Its airport, Singapore Changi, came in #1 back-to-back years in the World Airport Awards.
- Singapore has a happy citizenship. 84% have confidence in their government and Singapore leads the region in social policy and quality of life.
- The abundance of fresh bounty means tasty, simple cuisine can be found in restaurants and on the streets.
- The city’s park’s board continues to focus on creating green spaces to promote healthier living for Singapore’s residents and wildlife.
Brexit aside, London will always be a main player in the world economy–just how the Romans imagined two thousand years ago when they founded the city (then, Londinium). The city hosts more international retailers and ultra high-net-worth individuals (over 30 million dollars in assets) than any other city in the world while being one of the centers of European investment.
- London has hosted three summer Olympics, the most of any city.
- It has four world heritage sights including the Tower of London and Kew Gardens that houses everything Westminster and St. Margaret’s Church.
- Its six airports handle more passengers per year than any other international network with Heathrow ranked number 8 in the WAA top 100.
- London hosts numerous soccer clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and West Ham that play in the country’s top flight and most watched soccer division in the world, the English Premiere League.
4. Greater San Francisco
Take Silicon Valley, throw in some of the United States’ top universities, add a little bit of zeitgeist, and you have what’s going on in San Francisco. America’s bashful, wine guzzling, trolley clanging city has turned into ground zero for technology upstarts and industry-disrupt icons. The City is a hub of activity and aggregator of the surrounding epicurean bounty while acting as launching point to significant cultural activities and lifestyles in Northern California.
- The Bay Area is home to Salesforce, Reddit, Google, Square, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Airbnb, Yelp, Pinterest, UBER, Lyft, Dropbox, and Craigslist (and probably the next big thing).
- Vibrant boroughs spur a food scene steeped in James Beard nominated chefs and restauranteurs.
- San Francisco’s airport lies between Silicon Valley and the city itself for balanced access to both while smaller, regional airports in Oakland and San Jose offer more specific choices if needed.
- A prime location on Northern California’s coast means easy access to Napa Valley, golf on the Monterey Peninsula (more specifically, Pebble Beach), and world class surfing and mountain biking.
Having both the touch of Japanese and now Chinese influence (to put it lightly), Taipei’s strong infrastructure is mirrored by an economy focused on technology industry manufacturing and operating as one of the largest creditors to the world economy.
- Taipei’s street food is some of the best in the world both day and night, offering a mix of all the best cuisine Asia has to offer.
- The Taiwan Taoyuan Airport comes in at 20 on the WAA rankings, so even though the island and city are starting to take off, the airport is already equipped to handle the modern business traveler.
- Getting around Taipei is straightforward with a well laid out subway system and grid layout above ground.
Host to one of the international-tech community’s most important conferences of the year, Mobile World Congress, Barcelona continues its long tradition of being at the center of global business and commerce. The strongly independent city resides in the region of Catalonia in Spain, oozing with cultural that manifests itself in small plates of food, unique architecture, and arguably the most popular soccer team in the world, FC Barcelona.
- Barcelona’s location on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula makes it an ideal business epicenter and launching point for travel.
- Eight World Heritage Sites dot the city with a few defining the skyline like the towering Sagrada Familia, one of famed architect Antoni Gaudi’s most prominent structures.
- Barcelona is Spain’s highest ranking city for GDP, and is a world leader in fashion, education, science, and the arts.
These days, Sydney is primed to welcome the world’s best business-minded humans as opposed to ship after ship of convicts like the old days. Its famous opera house is a symbol that represents the “down under” sensibilities that Sydney and Australia have to offer. It’s not all lagers and crocs however as Sydney operates one of the South Pacific’s top business hubs with strong ties to finance, manufacturing, and multinational corporations.
- Sydney has one of the best coffee scenes in the world, so whether you need a kicker before a business meeting or are a full blown java-head looking to steep the city’s finest, Sydney has a cup for you.
- Sydney’s location and abundant tourism have fostered a strong culinary scene featuring mainland Asia and South Pacific favorites.
- A newly opened, ultra-modern convention center will continue to strengthen Sydney’s standing in the international business community.
- Sydney is home to 9 of the 16 teams that compete in the country’s top rugby league while also hosting professional teams in hockey, basketball, soccer, cricket and baseball.
A fellow British Common-Wealth member along with Sydney, it’s not unusual to hear an Australian accent while running around Canada’s Pacific Ocean bordering metropolis, or any other accent for that matter as over half of Vancouver’s residents use English as a second language. The city’s history is based in logging, but you’ll be hard pressed to find an outdated cabin along its modern skyline of offices and condo buildings.
- The greater Vancouver area is a hotbed for commercial, television, and movie production. The current highest-grossing R-rated film ever, Deadpool, was filmed there and who’s star, Ryan Reynolds, resides.
- Vancouver is the only city to be featured five times in a row in the top ten of The Economist’s Global Liveability Rankings list, so come for the business and stay for…ever?
- Featuring one of the NHL’s premiere teams (the Canucks) and the Whistler Mountain community (everything outdoor sports) just a quick drive to the north, Vancouver is a sports enthusiast’s dream.
- Distinct communities within the downtown core and near the commercial district offer a wide variation of options for regionally sourced food and socializing.
In the vast deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is truly an oasis. Its record setting skyline supports the busiest financial center in the Middle East. Although it shares a region with some of the world’s largest oil producers, Dubai and the surrounding areas are fairly sparse of crude, leaving the city to promote a more western style of economics focusing on tourism, aviation (think, Emirates–the 4th largest international carrier), real estate, and financial services.
- Count yourself lucky if you’re visiting Dubai on business as the city consistently ranks near the top for average price of a hotel room.
- Dubai has over 70 malls, so if you forget to pack a belt, you’ll be covered.
- Skying over an already impressive skyline is the Burj Khalifa, known as the world’s tallest building and playground for Tom Cruise’s climbing hobby.
- With vibrant, wealthy city centers come world renowned chefs and restaurants. No matter your tastes, Dubai will supply proper fare at a high level.
10. Cape Town
Established by the Dutch East India Company as a supply center for their shipping operations back in the 1600’s, Cape Town has continued to be a beacon for international commerce deep in the southern hemisphere. Today it functions as Africa’s third largest economic city, offsetting declines in agriculture with growth in the finance, business services, and logistics sectors to service specialized local economies.
- Want to swim with great white sharks or go on safari? Cape Town is the best spot to launch your adventure pre or post business trip.
- Multinationals like Johnson & Johnson, Adidas, and Levi Strauss & Co. have operations in Cape Town to go along with strong local sectors in fishing, electronics, finance, and business services.
- For the brave carnivores, nowhere else will you have the opportunity to try such regional game as kudu, crocodile, zebra, springbok, impala, oryx, ostrich, blesbok, wildebeest, and warthog. Not sure what some of those are? Exactly.
Honorable Mentions: New York, Buenos Aires, Bologna, Toronto–if it wasn’t for low airport rankings, these cities would’ve made the cut of top 10 cities for business travel.
If you feel like we completely missed the mark on one of your favorite cities, let us know in the comments!