Exploring the melting pot: the most diverse cities around the world

Travelling is all about experiencing new cultures and lifestyles. From the music-drenched American South to the storied Baltics to a Down Under foodie haven, we’ve picked our top 12 multicultural travel destinations.

Melbourne, Australia

When in Melbourne, stop by a food market and taste some yummy treats

When in Melbourne, stop by a food market and taste some yummy treats ©Benjamin Ashton/Unsplash

Dubbed the “world’s most liveable” city year after year, Melbourne is enriched by a multicultural population spanning some 140 cultures. And it spares nothing in celebrating them all.

Head down to Federation Square for a constant rotation of cultural events, Lygon Street for the annual Italian festival and the Hellenic Museum for the Festival of Homer. Melbourne’s expansive restaurant scene spans cuisine from Vietnam, China, Hungary, Russia, Ethiopia and more, plus it’s famous for its world-class coffee. Dine in or visit a local market to explore a vast array of eats.

São Paulo, Brazil

You are now entering the Japanese district of São Paulo

You are now entering the Japanese district of São Paulo ©wsfurlan/Getty Images

Being Brazil’s economic hub delivers another benefit to São Paulo: it’s one of the most multicultural cities in South America. Whole neighbourhoods reflect the legacy of immigrants and visitors from Italy, Portugal, Japan, Germany, Korea and Lebanon.

Explore the Japanese-influenced Liberdade district, try Italian dishes in Bixiga, and dance Samba every Saturday in just about any bar. Spare some time for the Museu de Arte, the Museu Afro-Brasil and the Pinoteca do Estato – and, of course, a football match.

Ottawa, Canada

Pretty view of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Pretty view of Parliament Hill in Ottawa ©Danielle Donders/Getty Images

Canada’s capital speaks both English and French, and you’re likely to hear many other languages represented as well.

A rich calendar of festivals celebrates a variety of global cultures, as well as music from all around the world. Take in Ukrainian dancing, Latin vibes, or laid-back blues. And if you’re near Parliament Hill, take some time to explore the abundance of museums and galleries.

For food, the sky is the limit: churros, panini, dim sum, pho, ramen and Korean barbecue abound. Ask an Ottawan, and they’ll tell you that for a late-night snack shawarma can’t be beaten.

Houston, US

Go on now ... explore Houston!

Go on now … explore Houston! ©Nate Hovee/Shutterstock

A cosmopolitan powerhouse, Houston takes the “Texans do it bigger” theme to extremes. Global cultures collide here in a mix of art, culture, music and food.

A whole area near downtown bursts with world-class galleries and museums. Many are free to the public, with the Menil Collection a standout. Barbecue fans can get a taste from all the corners of the world: Cajun, Korean and Texan are all represented.

Renowned for its classical music, this mega southern city offers a resident symphony, opera and ballet, along with hundreds of venues for jazz, blues, country and rock.

Birmingham, UK

Library of Birmingham in all its glory

Library of Birmingham in all its glory ©SilvanBachmann/Shutterstock

The second most diverse city in the UK, Birmingham is a rich plurality of cultures. An artsy city by nature, it’s home to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery and Library of Birmingham, just to name a few.

Foodies can enjoy cuisine from 27 nationalities and will revel in the city’s famed Indian restaurant scene – in particular, its flavoursome balti curry bowls. There are five Michelin award winners, too.

Kick back after dinner with a Bollywood film at Star City, which has six screens devoted to the genre. And be sure to check out the village of Bournville, built by John Cadbury, founder of the iconic purple-wrapped chocolate.

Read more: discover more of England with our easy 10-day road trip 

Lausanne, Switzerland

The rolling Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Lausanne

The rolling Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Lausanne ©Oliver S/Shutterstock

Close to the Alps and close to key business centres, French-speaking Lausanne has long been a draw for expats, tourists and students. It’s a cultural hub that celebrates dance, music, theatre and cinema.

Watch a showing from the Swiss Film Archives, check out a topical exhibition at the Museum of the Hand, and tap your toe to city-wide performances at the annual Fête de la Musique.

There’s also a wealth of international cuisine to choose from, including Indian curries, Cantonese Peking duck, Brazilian Churrasco and classic Italian plates.

Munich, Germany

At Munich's Viktualienmarkt you'll find treats from all over the world

At Munich’s Viktualienmarkt you’ll find treats from all over the world ©Rudi_Lange/Getty Images

The picturesque capital of Bavaria, Munich is an intercultural city with a London-esque vibe. A city with gourmet tastes, it’s brimming with dining options from Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Ethiopia, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

Home to over 80 museums, it’s ideal for exploring art, culture and history. Try the Museum of Five Continents, the State Collection of Egyptian Art and the iconic neoclassical Glyptothek. Visit during summer for Tollwood, a massive international cultural festival held at Olympic Park.

Read more: explore this Bavarian gem with our 3-day guide

Lyon, France

An enchanting experience ... Lyon's Festival of Lights

An enchanting experience … Lyon’s Festival of Lights ©Sebarrere/Shutterstock

A thriving, cosmopolitan regional city with some 21,000 events annually, Lyon has plenty going on.

Head to La Confluence, between the rivers Saône and Rhône, for ethnic cuisine, varied architecture and head-turning nightlife. Electronic music is huge here, and you’ll feel bass thrumming from a wealth of underground venues: the Nuits Sonores festival brings it out into the open.

Be sure to take some time for the Festival of Lights and the Biennial Modern Art Festival, which showcase contemporary art from all over. Food-wise you’ll enjoy eats from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Lebanon and more.

Pecs, Hungary

Pecs is home to diverse architecture; Mosque of Pasha Gazi Qasim is one such example

Pecs is home to diverse architecture; Mosque of Pasha Gazi Qasim is one such example ©aeduard/Getty Images

A European Capital of Culture, Pecs is built on a history of Roman, Turkish and German settlement. The city’s rich heritage is evident in its impressive diversity of religious monuments, languages and cuisines.

Head to the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter to explore a multitude of art, music and rustic cuisine. There’s plenty to excite foodies. In addition to the food suggested by its storied history, you can also dine out on Italian, American and Tex-Mex. In summer, join the Promenade Festival for art, music and street food.

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö Food Truck Festival is a low-key foodie event

Malmö Food Truck Festival is a low-key foodie event © life_is_grape_

Transformed in recent years into a multicultural haven, Malmö is more than 1/3 foreign-born. A booming startup scene and influx of migrants and refugees have delivered an intriguingly cosmopolitan air.

The cuisine spans Indian, Asian, Turkish and Syrian food, with everything from pho to falafel on the menu. Affordable eats rub shoulders with the Michelin-starred. On weekends head to bohemian Möllevången, which houses a market bursting with international eats, art and crafts. During the summer the Sommarscen Malmö and Malmö Festival offer a wealth of multicultural immersion.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hunt for some unique souvenirs in Sarajevo's Old Bazaar

Hunt for some unique souvenirs in Sarajevo’s Old Bazaar ©greta6/Getty Images

Arguably one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, Sarajevo brings together Slavic, German and Byzantine influences. The result is a rich diversity of architecture, food and culture that’s particularly evident in the Old Town, where the houses of worship of four different religions nestle together.

Stroll down the main street of Ferhadjida, and marvel as the architecture switches from European to Ottoman-inspired. Explore Moricá Han, with its Turkish rug shops and eats, the breath-taking Gazi-Husrev-Beg mosque, and the ancient Sarajevska Pivara brewery.

Malacca, Malaysia

Hop in one of these colourful rides and let Malacca unveil itself to you

Hop in one of these colourful rides and let Malacca unveil itself to you ©tourdottk/Shutterstock

A historic city in richly multicultural Malaysia, Malacca is built upon hundreds of years of trade between East and West. Dutch, Portuguese and British heritages fuse with local traditions for a one-of-a-kind experience. Architectural highlights include St Peter’s Church, the Portuguese fortress at Porta de Santiago, the Dutch Stadthuys and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum.

The food is a flavourful explosion featuring laksa and rendang curries, coconut shakes and rice-based desserts. Browse the street markets and food vendors for tasty home-style cooking.

Looking for more travel inspiration?
Tips Tricks See all
How the Least CO₂ sorter works
4 mins read

How the Least CO₂ sorter works