Lonely Planet rates Newcastle in world's top 10 cities to visit

Forget London, Paris and even Sydney.

Newcastle in Australia has been named one of the top 10 must-see destinations in the world in 2011.

Amid fierce competition, the NSW harbour and beach city claimed the ninth spot in Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities to visit in 2011, unveiled globally today.

The rankings are the centrepiece of the travel bible's much-anticipated annual collection of the best trends, destinations and journeys, titled Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2011.

Lonely Planet Asia Pacific travel editor Shawn Low said the rankings came from hundreds of ideas submitted by authors, staff and bloggers, then refined by a panel of in-house travel experts.

Sydney has never made the list before so to have Newcastle as the only Australian city in the top 10 was controversial

"The rankings come down to topicality, excitement, value for money and that special X-factor."

The final list "raised plenty of eyebrows" largely because a number of the most famous cities in the world once again failed to make the top 10, Mr Low said.

"Sydney has never made the list before so to have Newcastle as the only Australian city in the top 10 was controversial," he said.

"The whole idea is to challenge people to get off the beaten track and visit places like Newcastle that have been flying under the radar."

A diverse array of assets such as surf beaches, dining, night life, arts and "a unique blend of imagination and sophistication" justified Newcastle's top 10 ranking, Mr Low said.

The Herald in Newcastle found that travellers staying in the city agreed with its inclusion.

Ellie Tuckett, 25, from England is visiting for the second time and believes "it has everything you could ask for".

"Newcastle has a gorgeous beach scene and a chilled-out vibe with friendly people," she said.

"It's on my list of places I would love to live in permanently."

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