As I tallied the number of countries I’ve visited, an odd fact hit me: my trips have included the capital city for a majority of them. So a new stat emerged: how many country capitals have I visited? That added up to a whopping 24 cities! Settling on my top 5 favorite country capitals was a more difficult exercise.

There’s such a contrast between cities and countries. It often feels like apples to oranges. Yet travel leaves me with a feel of how much I enjoyed a place, so that’s how I made my judgments. I know. So scientific. But without further ado, here are my 5 favorite country capitals.

Bogota

This might seem like an odd first entry, but I really liked my trip to Colombia. The capital was my first stop, and I had a blast. From walking the streets of the old city, to taking the tram up to Monserrate, to driving up into the Andes for a day trip of hiking, and then returning for a bowl of mondongo, it was a marvelous four days. Other highlights included a guided walking tour and visiting the Museo de Oro.

What’s crazy is that at an elevation of 86,00 feet, it is the third highest capital city in the world. The sprawling metropolis is beaten by two South American neighbors: Quito, Ecuador and La Paz, Bolivia.

Athens

My time in Athens was way too short. What I did see just whet my appetite for another visit. This city is so chock full of history. Yes, it’s gritty. But you’re walking where the philosophers did, standing on Mars Hill where Paul addressed the Athenians, and seeing the ruins of an amazing civilization. Simply being there filled me with wonder that few placed have.

While I want to see a number of Greek islands, any trip back to the country will include at least a couple days in the capital city.

Mexico City

Mexico City isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s large. It’s sprawling. And it’s full of fantastic food and colorful culture. I’ve been twice now and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. You could fill weeks of time visiting this city. Mexico offers a lot of travel options, including the amazing Yucatán. But Mexico City tops my list of favorite country capitals I’ve visited in North America.

Whether next time is later this year or much further in the future, I’ll be sure not to lose my phone.

London

What can I say. The capital of the United Kingdom is hard to ignore. Whether its of walking along the Thames, enjoying fish and chips in Camden Town, or taking in the view from the Tower Bridge, my memories of London are fond. I’ve been twice and will likely visit again. And one of these days, I’ll actually see more than about 20% of the British Museum.

At the same time, I consider London overrated. If I tallied up the destinations visited by people I know who have traveled abroad at all, it would likely be the most common. There are many places in Europe I’ve enjoyed more. Yet for a capital city, it’s among the best.

 

Beijing

I’ve not visited much in Asia. But of the capital cities I have seen, Beijing is my favorite. It has such a depth of history. Not to mention the most amazing dumplings I’ve ever tasted. A day trip out to the Mutianyu segment of the Great Wall is one of my favorite travel experiences ever.

It’s unlikely I visit China again. At one point, I figured I’d certainly be back. But much has changed since our visit in 2018.

Final Thoughts

Some runner-up country capitals include Copenhagen and Dublin. As is the case with any list, something doesn’t make the cut. I’ve also mulled over which capital cities go down as the worst I’ve visited. More on those later, and why I didn’t care for them.

What are your favorite country capitals?