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IQ Approved! 5 Places to Visit That Might Actually Make You Smarter

Written by Suzy Guese

This blog post was updated on April 2, 2020.

From Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway, writers have long toted the benefits of going away from home for a while to increase your understanding of the world and to help the brain function at higher levels. A recent study even equated travel to higher intelligence by finding that chimpanzees who traveled farther tended to be smarter than those who just stayed home.

The mundane day to day of desk jobs and binge-watching TV shows can leave your brain a bit fried. When you need a break, and your mind does too, consider heading to these smart destinations. You’ll most likely come home a little bit richer in both mind and spirit.

Mexico City, Mexico


When you travel, most likely you pick up some new facts and figures thanks to visits to museums. Well, Mexico City could help with your intelligence due to its wealth of museums. In fact, the capital claims to have more museums than any other city in the world with a total of around 150. Mexico City’s museums offer diverse collections to boost your world scope, from its Museo Nacional de Antropología, thought to be one of the world’s finest archeological museums, to more unique museum spaces like a shoe museum and a pen museum. Toss in the fact that the entire downtown area is layered in some 1,000 years of culture and you are bound to feel a bit smarter when you’re in Mexico City.

Tallinn, Estonia


Frequently named one of the most intelligent cities in the world, namely by the Intelligence Communities Forum, Estonia’s capital city Tallinn boasts strengths in research, technology, and software development. The city also places great importance on Internet connections, declaring that it is a human right. Visitors can best understand this thought while strolling the streets of Tallinn. Wi-Fi is available everywhere and mostly for free. The city has become a bit of a technology boiling pot, playing home to companies like Skype, Hotmail, and Transferwise. First established in the early medieval era, Tallinn will not just make you feel smart thanks to its free Wi-Fi and emphasis on technology. The Old Town remains one of the best-preserved Hanseatic town centers in the world. Its decidedly unusual mix of old and new, from ancient church spires to glass skyscrapers, will leave you scratching your head in wonder.

Tokyo, Japan


With its mix of traditional culture meets futuristic goals, Tokyo no doubt can make a traveler think a little bit more than normal. As one of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo lays claim to over 100 universities and colleges. It proudly boasts the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions. Sprawling and fascinating, Japan’s capital city features loads of shrines and gardens to calm the spirit, museums to enrich the mind, and restaurants to feed the appetite. Tokyo is also home to one of the highest number of festivals in the world, celebrating everything from films to cherry blossoms.

London, England

Image by J Brew via Flickr Creative Commons

Image by J Brew via Flickr Creative Commons

Bookworms rejoice when landing in London. The city is home to the world’s largest library, the British Library. Your brain will have all the stimulation it needs as you thumb through a collection of nearly 170 million books, manuscripts, and more. London also lays claim to one of the highest number of public libraries in the world. Travelers can not only enrich their minds in London’s libraries but also on its stages. The city is known for the arts with a great number of film festivals, theater performances, and famed museums like the Tate Modern and British Museum.

Washington D.C.


IQs soar upon entering the hallowed halls of Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian. Displaying the history of mankind, discoveries, and achievements, the Smithsonian spreads over 19 buildings. Stuffed to the brim with artifacts and information, your brain will need a breather after visiting places like the Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum. While London might house the largest library, D.C. boasts the Library of Congress, home to more than 162 million items on 838 miles of bookshelves. And perhaps D.C. dazzles the mind best with its history. You can stand where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed I Have a Dream speech or pour over the original Declaration of Independence.

What places do you feel smarter after visiting? Share your pick with us in the comments below.

About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at

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