According to the United Nations, 66% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. But, guess which part of the world is the most urbanized? That would be North America: more than 81% of its population can be found in large metropolitan centers. Cities like Chicago and New York City are certainly world-famous. They attract much interest and often boast high-earning tourism industries.

However, what draws us to these cities? Perhaps, it's the thrill of experiencing something new. Regardless of the reason we travel, new cities will always rise, if only temporarily, into locations that capture our imagination. If you're one of those yearning to see the world's most impressive cities before they're on the map, we've got you covered. Below, we introduce you to five cities on the cusp of worldwide travel renown.

Tallinn, Estonia

Aerial view of Tallinn, Estonia
Credit: Oleksiy Mark/ Shutterstock

Savvy travelers know Tallinn as the capital of Estonia. However, did you know that this enigmatic city was once called Reval? Tallinn didn't get its current name until 1918.

Today, the city is notable for its small size and spectacularly preserved architecture. It's also one of the least polluted cities in the world. Tallinn's green city status is fast drawing the attention of many travel enthusiasts.

If you've never been to this majestic city, you're in for a treat. Tallinn is a mix of ancient and modern influences. You're as likely to find a vibrant nightlife scene here as enchanting cobblestone streets, city walls with Gothic spires, and structures exhibiting medieval Baroque architecture.

If you're a history buff, you won't be surprised to learn that Tallinn's historic Old Town center became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The city is one of the best-preserved Hanseatic towns in northern Europe, and it has retained the most important social and economic features of a medieval northern European trading city.

That said, there's also plenty of growth here. You'll find Pirita and Viimsi, both located only a few miles from Tallinn, boasting modern restaurants, pubs, and recreational facilities. If you'd like an unparalleled travel experience, be sure to visit the Viimsi Open Air Museum, Restaurant Tuljak, Restaurant OKO, the Tallinn Viimsi Spa Hotel & Aquapark, and Pohjakonna Stairs (the oldest and highest location in Viimsi).

La Paz, Bolivia

View of gondola in La Paz, Bolivia with city and mountains in background
Credit: saiko3p/ Shutterstock 

Dominated by the Andes mountains, the nation of Bolivia is a land of spectacular landscapes rivaling those in Nepal or Switzerland. This remote and often underrated tourist location was once ignored by travelers. However, recent economic developments have made Bolivia worth visiting for anyone who wants an unfiltered taste of South America.

The city of La Paz, though not the most visited in South America, has gradually become an increasingly popular destination. It boasts affordable rents, limited urban sprawl, and a relatively secluded location. However, it's the environment that really sets the city apart from all the others.

You don't have to go far to lose yourself in the vast Uyuni Salt Flats (the world's largest salt flat) or the ominous Yungas Road (known as the "Death Road"). Surrounded by craggy, vertigo-inducing mountain landscapes, Yungas Road is the premier destination for daredevil enthusiasts. Fancy taking a bike ride on the road? You'll have to start at La Paz (the world's highest capital at 11,942 feet) and climb up to La Cumbre Pass (at a dizzying elevation of 14,783 feet above sea level) before descending almost 4,000 feet to the city of Coroico.  

Bagan, Myanmar

Hot air balloons over the Bagan, Myanmar, cityscape
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Having long been secluded from the world, Myanmar hosts some of the world's most remote, untouched, and unique landscapes. The pristine Burmese terrain, flanked by the Irrawaddy River, seems almost otherworldly in nature. We get the idea that this city will be on everyone's travel itinerary before long. In fact, Bagan's majestic beauty earned it a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage designation in July 2019.

This magnificent South East Asian city boasts more than 3,500 Buddhist temples, shrines, and stupas. If you've never visited Bagan, consider including this little-known city on your list of must-see destinations. We recommend a boat trip down the Irrawaddy River. Be sure to make stops at the picturesque Sagaing Hills and the historic Bagaya Kyaung Monastery. For a breathtakingly bold adventure, take a hot air balloon ride over the Bagan cityscape.

Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain landscape with the Tajo Gorge in view
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Anyone seeking an undiluted taste of southern Spain will find Ronda satisfying from start to finish. The city is well secluded at about 62 miles west of the hub city of Malaga. Of course, the most obvious destination of interest here is the Puente Nuevo. This so-called "new bridge," is an impressive 18th-century stone structure connecting the two sides of the city between a more than 300-foot deep gorge.

That alone is a view worth a long plane ride. However, being atop these secluded cliffs means you'll also get a panoramic view of the surrounding Spanish countryside. The Puente Nuevo certainly epitomizes the creativity and resourcefulness inherent in modern European architecture. In itself, Ronda is a traveler's paradise; it has an authentic, rustic charm that has yet to be marred by excessive tourist traffic.

Almost everything is within walking distance from Ronda; you'll find a fair selection of quaint restaurants, shops, and lodgings here.

Utrecht, Netherlands

The Oude Gracht canal in Utrecht
Credit: Sara Armas/ Shutterstock

Imagine the look and feel of Amsterdam on a smaller scale, and you'll have a perfect picture of Utrecht. This university town is renowned for its unmistakable Dutch character. The city is dominated by canals that can be toured by boat. You'll see everything from quaint wharf side houses to trees that are more than 200 years old when you sail down the canal routes.

Be sure to check out Oudegracht, the most famous canal in Utrecht. When you get hungry, stop by one of the dock cellar restaurants for culinary treats you're sure to remember long after your meal.

If land attractions are more your speed, you'll find plenty in Utrecht to hold your interest, such as shopping centers, museums, parks, and restaurants. Utrecht's unique offerings combined with a lack of foot traffic make it an attractive destination.

For an experience unlike any other, be sure to visit Utrecht's Museum Speelklok and the DOMunder. The Speelklok is a music lover's dream: it boasts pianolas, Dutch street organs, and music boxes that play their own music. Yes, it's literally a museum full of self-playing musical instruments! Meanwhile, the DOMunder features 2,000 years of Utrecht archaeological treasures. With all of these attractions, it's no wonder that Utrecht tops our list of soon-to-be trending cities.