The world's sexiest cities

Cool and it knows it ... Mar Bella beach in Barcelona.
Cool and it knows it ... Mar Bella beach in Barcelona. Photo: Damien Simonis/Lonely Planet

Who comes up with these things, you might ask. Well, journalists with plenty of time on their hands, mostly. And that's exactly what happened in the US when Men's Health decided to name Austin, Texas that country's sexiest city.

And if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. Because, surprisingly enough, the Americans only managed to look as far as their own borders. It's time someone looked at the whole world.

This is all incredibly subjective of course, but for me, certain cities have far more sex appeal than others (and please note: I'll be the first one to put up my hand and admit that yes, I am indeed male, so my opinions might be slightly skewed towards a particular gender).

A city's sex appeal can be put down to plenty of things – the setting, the nightlife, the "vibe", if there is such a thing – but mostly, it's down to the people.

Some have it; some don't. If you're looking for sex appeal on your next overseas trip, this is where you should be heading...

San Francisco, USA
Okay, Men's Health says Austin, but I'm going to go with San Fran, save for the few gnarled hippies yet to be swept out of Haight-Ashbury. It's a culturally diverse city, it's open, friendly, and most people seem to be tipping the scales towards attractive. Go to Berkley, you'll see what I mean.

Paris, France
This has been written so many times it's gone past cliché and into a whole new universe of unoriginality, but stuff it, I'm going for it anyway. Because there's something undeniably sexy about Paris (maybe it's all the snappily dressed locals ramming their tongues down each others' throats in public places). I challenge you to go there and not be swept up by it.

Warsaw, Poland
The Polish capital isn't exactly romantic, but it does boast something else in ridiculous proportions: extremely attractive people. By some weird fluke of the gene pool, the Poles collected the vast proportion of the hotness. A night out at a club there is enough to have anyone applying for residency.

Seoul, Korea
You can find all the sex appeal you need on a subway in Seoul (just get on and look around you), but for a proper sample you need to experience the nightlife. For the pick of the expat scene (ie, drunk English teachers), head to the Itaewon area. If you're keen on meeting Mr or Mrs Korean Right, then head directly to the studenty area of Hongdae, and get charming.

Sao Paulo, Brazil
What's often overlooked about Brazilians in all the bikinied, waxed fervour is that there is no stereotypically "Brazilian" look, and that's never more apparent than in the melting pot of Sao Paulo. Everyone seems to look completely different, and yet alluring in that Brazilian way. And what's not to love about a night of dancing in a city that aches to let loose?

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Here are your instructions: Go to the Palermo district, say, around mid-afternoon. Shop; walk; eat; drink; dance; chat; drink; dance; eat; chat. Arrive home about 8am. Now try to tell me the Portenos aren't some of the best looking people in the world. And the most fun.

Caracas, Venezuela
I'm yet to make it to Caracas unfortunately, so I'm awarding this on the strength of the wide-eyed, slack-jawed stories I've heard from other travellers, and the fact the country has won six Miss Universe pageants – second only to the pageant-mad USA. Yes, that's enough for me.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Maybe it's the daily worries Israelis have to deal with, but they sure know how to let loose at night. Oh, and they also appear to be stunningly attractive, which you'd have to agree is a handy combination. I'll just throw the names Bar Refaeli and Natalie Portman out there.

Barcelona, Spain
Barca's sex appeal is pure rock 'n' roll. If Paris is Coco Chanel, then Barcelona is more like Debbie Harry. Everyone's hanging out in dingy bars, smoking as tattoos crawl down their arms, drinking beer, listening to music. It's a cool city, and it knows it. Works for me.

What would you rate as the world's sexiest city?

Hope you're enjoying the Backpacker blog – there will be a new one published every Tuesday and Wednesday on the Fairfax Media websites. To contact me with any topic suggestions or personal abuse, visit my website, or email me at bengroundwater@gmail.com. I'll do my best to get back to you (if you're nice).

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