And in the third place – Tel Aviv. The widely distributed tourist guide book Lonely Planet ranked the Israeli hot spot third on its top 10 cities of 2011.
"Our top picks show that a city doesn’t need to be a heaving metropolis to get on the list," wrote the editors, adding, "Then again, sometimes it helps."
While the first place was unsurprisingly nabbed by New York City, the coveted second place went to the North African city of Tangier, Morocco, which editors called "A stylish new Tangier with a dynamic arts community, renovated buildings, great shopping and chic new restaurants."
Israel's unofficial capital came in third, receiving a slew of compliments from the editors: "Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill," they wrote.
"Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple. Yet, scratch underneath the surface and Tel Aviv, or TLV, reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub.
'Truly diverse Mediterranean hub' (Photo: Elisheva Zeltzer)
"By far the most international city in Israel, Tel Aviv is also home to a large gay community, a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East. Thanks to its university and museums, it is also the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes," it read.
Other cities to make it on the list in order of appearance are Wellington, New Zealand; Valencia, Spain; Iquitos, Peru; Ghent, Belgium; Delhi, India; New Castle, England and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In addition to the top 10 cities, the guide also selected the top 10 countries for 2011, ranking Syria
in the ninth place. The Jewish state, however, did not make it on to that list.