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Sydney ranked world's best city

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The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge are two of the city's best-known landmarks.

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australia's biggest city, Sydney, has again been named the world's best city by readers of the U.S. magazine Travel and Leisure.

It is the eighth time in 10 years that Sydney, known for its iconic opera house, harbor bridge and stunning beaches, has topped the list.

It was followed by the Thai capital Bangkok in second place, with Italy's Rome and Florence in third and fourth places respectively. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai made its first appearance in the top 10, placing fifth.

New York ranked sixth, followed by Istanbul in Turkey, Cape Town in South Africa, Oaxaca in Mexico and San Francisco.

Travel and Leisure magazine announced the 2005 results in a variety of categories in New York on Monday. The scores are indexed averages of responses by readers to a questionnaire that asks them to rate destinations, properties and companies relevant to their recent travel.

Bali again won the award for the world's best island, with the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan being voted by readers as the world's best hotel.

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Nancy Novogrod, said there had been significant changes in readers' taste since the survey was launched 10 years ago.

She said smaller, independent hotels now held more appeal than larger ones, and interest in off-the-beaten-track locations continued to grow.

Crystal Cruises was named world's best large-ship cruise line and Singapore Airlines took the title of world's best international airline.

Novogrod said low-cost and regional airlines had become favorites among U.S. domestic airlines, with Midwest Airlines ranking No. 1.

In the top islands ranking, Bali was followed by Santorini, Maui, Kauai, Great Barrier Reef Islands (Australia), Vancouver Island, Cyclades (Greece - Santorini was rated separately), Sicily, Hawaii, and Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Among the best hotels, Singita Private Reserve at Sabi Sand, South Africa ranked second, followed by the Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, India.

Eight hotels have ranked on the list of top 100 hotels worldwide every year since 1996. They are the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay; the Oriental, Bangkok; the Halekulani, Hawaii; the Peninsula, Hong Kong; Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea; Ritz-Carlton Cancun; Ritz-Carlton, Chicago; and the Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, California.

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