7 cities perfect for both meetings and vacations

When planners are choosing a meeting destination, they have certain criteria that must take precedence: available hotel rooms, venues near the airport, good transportation options, and so much more. Leisure activities may be a consideration, but the city’s overall worthiness as a vacation spot usually falls below business needs on the priority list.

And then sometimes, the stars align, and a great meeting place doubles as a hot travel destination.

Lonely Planet recently released its Best in Travel 2018 lists, which feature the top 10 countries, cities, regions, and value destinations for travelers next year. Experts compiled the selections based on criteria such as great experiences, upcoming events, and new things to see and do.

We compared Lonely Planet’s lists to Cvent’s Top Meeting Destinations of 2017 in the United States, Asia Pacific region (APAC), and Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) to find seven magical locations that will serve attendees well for both business and pleasure.

U.S.

(Photo by A G Baxter/Shutterstock.com)

ATLANTA
Cvent list: No. 4
Lonely Planet list: No. 7 region (Southern U.S.)

Accessibility and a walkable convention district make Atlanta a perennial favorite for meetings and conferences. In 2018, the 50th anniversary of both Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the city raises the appeal for travelers with a renovation of the MLK Jr. National Historic Site and a schedule of commemorative programs and exhibits.

(Photo by Allard One/Shutterstock.com)

NEW ORLEANS
Cvent list: No. 11
Lonely Planet list: No. 7 region (Southern U.S.)

On top of its huge inventory of downtown hotel rooms and extensive exhibit space, New Orleans is always an ideal place for celebrations to remember (Mardi Gras, anyone?). The party scene will really take over in 2018, though, as the city marks its 300th birthday with special programs and events throughout the year.

(Photo by Pisa Photography/Shutterstock.com)

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
Cvent list: No. 44
Lonely Planet list: No. 9 best value

Less popular than many of its Florida neighbors, Jacksonville offers affordable yet luxurious options for both event planners and vacationers. It features many waterfront venues on the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean, and families on a budget will appreciate the beaches, large park system, and reasonably priced but tasty dining spots.

 

EMEA

(Photo by Mikhail Berkut/Shutterstock.com)

LISBON, PORTUGAL
Cvent list: No. 11
Lonely Planet list: No. 3 country

Competing with Spain’s and France’s renowned food is no easy task, but thanks to a blossoming culinary scene, Portugal is holding its own. Capital Lisbon is also attracting vacationers with new museums and a revival of its waterfront. Meetings and events benefit from low-cost flights to many European hubs; a network of trams and funiculars that connect the entire city; and unique venues housed in historical buildings.

(Photo by Sophie Wolter/Elbphilharmonie)

HAMBURG, GERMANY
Cvent list: No. 25
Lonely Planet list: No. 4 city

In Germany’s second-largest city, what’s good for meeting planners is good for leisure travelers — namely, the long-delayed opening of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. This stunning structure in HafenCity makes Hamburg’s walkable port area an even bigger draw, hosting concerts of all kinds. It also has a number of halls and rooms that can be rented for events.

 

APAC

(Photo by Cho Minjun/Shutterstock.com)

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
Cvent list: No. 10
Lonely Planet list: No. 2 country

While Seoul has long provided business travelers with modern venues and the latest, greatest technology, it has upped the leisure ante by opening Seoullo 7017, an elevated park on a former highway overpass, a la New York’s High Line. The country has also been upgrading sections of its high-speed rail lines in preparation of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

(Photo courtesy of SkyCity Entertainment Group)

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Cvent list: No. 18
Lonely Planet list: No. 5 country

Even people visiting New Zealand strictly for business can’t ignore the country’s natural beauty, but Auckland’s major draws for planners include accessibility (by air, water, rail, and road) and the most conference venues of any city in the country. While adventure travelers await the completion of the newest Great Walk trail in 2019, they can get their thrills 630 feet over Auckland by walking around or jumping off the Sky Tower.

Hannah Prince

Hannah Prince

Hannah joined Cvent after more than a decade in the journalism world. As a passionate editor, she's always willing to discuss the merits of the Oxford comma, the use of who vs. whom, or the definition of a dangling modifier. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, taking her dog to happy hour, and buying even more shoes.

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