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28 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the World

Written by Lana Law Updated Jan 12, 2024

Travelers are always looking for inspiration to guide their adventures. Coming up with a list of places to visit can be challenging when you're staring at a globe. What are the top tourist attractions in the world? The most iconic sites that all travelers have on their bucket-list of things to see around the globe?

Some destinations just stand out above the rest. Many are the type of places where you can take a photo, and it requires no explanation to identify the location: the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. But some places are less well known to new travelers or those who have not yet ventured out to the more exotic destinations. These can often be the most rewarding to visit.

For many of these attractions, it's what they symbolize and the destinations they represent that make them so significant. In other cases, it is the site itself that makes it worth visiting the country. Some of these are the more popular UNESCO World Heritage sites .

If you're looking to start your own checklist of places to visit during your life, begin with our list of the top tourist attractions in the world.

1. Eiffel Tower, Paris

2. the colosseum, rome, 3. statue of liberty, new york city, 4. machu picchu, peru, 5. the acropolis, athens, 6. the taj mahal, india, 7. pyramids of giza, egypt, 8. great wall of china, 9. angkor wat, cambodia, 10. petra, jordan, 11. grand canyon, usa, 12. stonehenge, england, 13. borobudur, indonesia, 14. niagara falls, canada & usa, 15. bagan, myanmar, 16. sydney opera house, 17. mount kilimanjaro, 18. the louvre, paris, 19. forbidden city, china, 20. prague castle, czech republic, 21. chichen itza, mexico, 22. corcovado and cristo redentor, rio de janeiro, 23. château de versailles, france, 24. mount fuji, 25. central park, new york city, 26. alhambra, spain, 27. buckingham palace, london, 28. ubud, bali, indonesia.

Spring flowers in front of the Eiffel Tower

The symbol of Paris and one of the most photographed structures in the world, a visit to the Eiffel Tower is a must for all travelers. Few landmarks inspire such a passion for travel as this single iron structure.

Young travelers heading out on the road for the first time, couples looking for a special getaway, artists looking to spur their creativity, and romantics of all types are all drawn to Paris. This is a city where history and culture collide and where travelers of all kinds can find the experience they're after.

Head up the tower for spectacular views over the city, and don't miss a chance to see the tower lit up at night.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

The Colosseum

The most famous and largest structure still standing from the Roman Empire, the Colosseum is also the biggest attraction of modern-day Rome . It's been a bucket-list destination of travelers for generations. And it does not disappoint.

Set in the heart of the city, the Colosseum is an easy place to visit. Direct flights from around the world land in Rome daily, making it a destination you can visit in a weekend if you choose. Wander through Rome's ancient streets, tour the colosseum, and if time allows, plan a trip to other areas of Italy .

Statue of Liberty

America is full of great sights and places to visit , but it's the Statue of Liberty that represents the United States like no other place. This symbol of freedom in New York City was gifted by the French to the American people in 1896.

Of all the attractions in New York City , this is one every tourist must see. The best thing to do at the Statue of Liberty is to take a ride up to her crown and soak up the view over the city. Access to the statue is via ferry, also a highlight of a visit.

If you don't have time for a tour, you can still see the statue without leaving Manhattan. Head to Battery Park for the best views. You can also see the Statue of Liberty on a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry. See our guide to touring New York City by water on the NYC Ferry System .

Machu Picchu

If you are planning to see only one attraction in South America, this is the place to come. The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is arguably the most impressive ruined city in the world.

Much of the attraction comes from its location, high in the jungle-clad mountains of Peru. Set on a high plateau with soaring green mountains, the setting is surreal. The sheer tenacity of the original builders to create this amazing place in what would have been impenetrable jungle, is, in itself, impressive.

Visitor numbers are now limited to a maximum per day, so the experience has been greatly enhanced.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Peru

The Acropolis in Athens

Perched above present day Athens , the Acropolis draws you up and in. Follow in the footsteps of the ancients as you walk up the same steps that have been walked on since 438 BC - 2,500 years.

Views out over the city are incredible as you walk between the meticulously restored ancient buildings. Near the end of the day, you'll want to linger and watch the sunset from the stairs near the entrance. This is a nightly ritual in Athens.

The site is also impressive looking up at it from the city below. Spend an evening dining on a rooftop patio to soak in the view of the hilltop ruins lit up at night.

Read More: Visiting the Acropolis in Athens: The Essential Guide

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is the one sight in India that all travelers need to see. The country is filled with incredible cities and fabulous places to visit, but the 17th-century Taj Mahal in Agra is the one place that says you've been to India.

This mausoleum, commissioned by the Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is known internationally as a symbol of love. This fantastic structure, made with inlaid precious and semi-precious stones, has to be visited to be fully appreciated.

Its riverfront setting, surrounding gardens, and reflecting pools are also what make the Taj Mahal so special.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in India

Pyramids of Giza

If you've visited places like the Colosseum in Rome or the Acropolis in Athens, built over 2,000 years ago, you may think you have a good handle on ancient sites. But the Pyramids of Giza take ancient to a whole other level. These were built over 4,500 years ago. Tourists were coming to see these magnificent structures literally thousands of years ago.

Located just outside Cairo , the pyramids, which is also where you'll find the Sphinx, are easy to get to, and tours are easy to arrange. A sunset camel ride around the structures is a wonderful experience.

Great Wall of China

In a land of modern cities and towering skyscrapers, the Great Wall of China, built between the 14th and 17th centuries, is a stark contrast but a striking image that all visitors to China should see.

A stroll along the top of the wall provides an incredible view of the structure snaking off into the distance. The wall stretches an astounding 21,196 kilometers, through some remote areas.

Many travelers seeing the sights of China choose to visit the wall on easily organized tours from Beijing, a relatively short motorcoach ride away.

Stone faces at Angkor Wat

Surrounded by jungle and, in some cases, overgrown with huge trees and roots, the ancient structures of the Angkor complex may look like a movie set to some visitors.

Wandering through Angkor Wat, the main centerpiece of the complex, it's easy to feel like you've entered another era. This is without a doubt, one of the most impressive sites in Southeast Asia and the main reason many people visit Cambodia .

The stone faces peering out over the buildings and gates are images that you won't soon forget.

Angkor Wat is located just outside the city of Siem Reap, a popular tourist center in Cambodia.

Petra

You may have an Indiana Jones feeling as you walk through a 1.2-kilometer-long narrow crack in the sandstone hills and emerge into a hidden city. First built over 2,000 years ago and lost to the outside world for 600 years, the city was only discovered in 1812.

Stunning buildings are carved directly into the red rock walls and are wonderfully preserved, just begging to be explored and photographed.

If you arrive early, an eerie silence, coupled with long shadows, give this abandoned city a special feel.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Jordan

Grand Canyon

The greatest natural attraction in the United States, the Grand Canyon is a key sight for all travelers planning their lifetime of adventures. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, looking out over the carved landscape, will awaken your senses.

Several hikes in the canyon and along the rim offer unique perspectives. Walk even a short distance down the Bright Angel trail to gain additional views and to experience what the canyon is like below the rim.

For even more adventure plan a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the canyon.

The Grand Canyon looks different throughout the day and at different times of the year. One trip is never enough. If you are going to add this place to your to-see list, consider what you want to do here to determine the best time to visit.

Read More: Top Attractions at the Grand Canyon

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of those places that makes you ponder what went on here over 4,500 years ago. It's long been a mystery to historians, and has captured the imagination of countless visitors. Despite the large number of tourists that descend on Stonehenge, the place still has a mystical feel.

At the site, giant stones, some standing, some fallen, are set in two roughly circular patterns that are oriented to highlight the summer and winter solstices. For a truly memorable experience, plan your visit during one of these times.

An easy day trip from London , Stonehenge can easily be worked into your UK itinerary.

Sunrise at Borobudur

Set in a steamy jungle with three volcanoes providing the backdrop, Borobudur is Indonesia's top tourist attraction .

Borobudur dates from the 9th century and is one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world. It's a fascinating place to wander about. Over 500 Buddhas are spread around the site, some of which sit under ornate stupas.

Try to visit early in the morning when you'll have the best chance of experiencing a bit of early mist, and the view to the volcanoes will be the clearest.

Niagara Falls in winter

On the border between the United States and Canada, these great falls have been drawing explorers and travelers for centuries. Just over an hour from the city of Toronto, Niagara Falls is easy to get to, and the town is a fun place to spend a night or two.

Walk up to the edge of the falls, stroll along the paved walk lining the gorge for different views, or take a boat tour for a close-up look at the water pouring over the lip of the gorge above you. For a bird's-eye view, head up the Skylon Tower to look out over the falls.

At night, see the falls lit in different colors. If you're visiting in winter, watch the huge plume of mist rising into the sky above the falls.

Niagara Falls is easily reached from Toronto, Canada, or Buffalo, New York.

Bagan, Mayanmar

While this ancient site may not be on the average traveler's radar, it's another of Southeast Asia's bucket-list attractions.

Spread out over a lush plain are more than 10,000 sacred structures dating from 1044 through to 1287. Hire a bicycle and pedal your way from one amazing structure to the next, or take a tour. Some of the structures can be entered, but the real beauty is the sheer number that dot the landscape.

For an aerial view, consider taking a hot air balloon tour at dawn.

Sydney Harbour

Like many other attractions around the world, the Sydney Opera House is one of those places that is easy to identify and obviously associated with Australia. A photo of yourself in front of the white sails screams Australia.

The Sydney Opera House was built in several stages and officially opened in late 1973. To fully experience the building, take a tour inside to see the unique shape and hear the exceptional acoustics.

Soak up the view from the Opera House area back towards the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mount Kilimanjaro

The highest peak in all of Africa, this majestic mountain – a dormant volcano – is one of the most recognizable symbols of the continent. The snowcapped peak is an impressive 5,985 meters (19,340 feet) and is often the backdrop to photographs of the wild animals that roam Amboseli National Park and other areas.

You can see this beautiful sight from afar or tackle the multi-day hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for the fantastic views over the land, and to watch the sunrise.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tanzania

The Louvre, Paris

If there is one museum in the whole world that you absolutely must see in your life, it's the Louvre. Even if you are not a fan of museums, this one is worth the trip to Paris to see.

Although most people know it as the home to the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa , this is just one of the reasons to visit the Louvre .

The museum holds countless masterpieces by the greatest artists that have ever lived. But even the building itself is an icon. The glass pyramids and the 18th-century building are recognizable to almost everyone, and have been shown in countless movies.

Forbidden City

Like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, in Beijing is one of the top places to visit in China . The sprawling complex dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and is a spectacular example of historical China.

Over the centuries, the palace has housed 24 Ming and Qing Emperors. Inside the city, the Palace Museum holds over 340,000 artifacts showcasing the treasures of China's dynasties. In front of the Forbidden City is the massive Tiananmen Square .

Prague Castle

Prague is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sitting atop a hill across the river from the center of the city, Prague Castle casts an imposing aura over its surroundings. The castle is an incredible collection of buildings constructed from the 9th to 14th centuries.

Stroll over the ornate 14th-century Charles Bridge spanning the Vltava River and head up the hill to wander the narrow, twisty streets in the castle complex . The castle is one of the largest in the world, and around almost every corner is a historical building, church, or open square.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

The ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza have been drawing curious tourists since they were first brought to light by a popular book by John Lloyd Stevens in 1843. Today the site, located near the center of the Yucatan Peninsula, is one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

The 30-meter-high Pyramid of Kukulkán has been restored to its full glory along with many of the other significant buildings, including the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and the eerie Skull Platform.

Chichen Itza is located about 200 kilometers from Cancun and is easily accomplished in a day trip from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other areas of the Mayan Riviera either on your own or as part of a group.

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro with Cristo Redentor

Keeping a watchful eye over the citizens of Rio de Janeiro from his perch atop Corcovado mountain is the stunning statue of Cristo Redentor. This huge 30-meter-high statue with its arms wide open in a welcoming gesture has been one of Rio's top tourist attractions since 1931.

The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world . The views from the top of the 709-meter Corcovado look out over this beautiful sight, including Sugarloaf Mountain and the city perfectly poised for beautiful photographs. The best way to get to the top is a ride up through the forests of the Tijuca National Park on the 3.5-kilometer Corcovado Rack Railway.

Château de Versailles

The wealth and grandeur of 17th-century France is on display at the incredible Château de Versailles. The château and the grounds are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be near the top of your touring plans when in France.

The Château de Versailles has an unbelievable 2,300 rooms housing some of France's most impressive interior design work, especially in the world-famous Hall of Mirrors. Other important rooms include the King's State Apartment and the Queen's Apartment.

The grounds of the château encompass 800 hectares, and one of the most impressive sights is the Gardens (Les Jardins). Geometrical pathways follow immaculately trimmed hedges past serene pools all surrounded by lawns cut to within an inch of their life.

Chureito Pagoda and Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is the most well-known and highest mountain in Japan. Often pictured snowcapped, this dormant volcano is both a spiritual site and one of the top tourist attractions in Japan . Soaring 3,776 meters high, Mount Fuji is one of three Holy Mountains, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Hiking to the top of the mountain is a popular thing to do in Japan. Each year, nearly 300,000 people follow one of four routes to the top. One of the most popular things to do is time your hike so that you reach the summit just before sunrise.

Mount Fuji is located 100 kilometers east of Tokyo and is easily accessible via public transit and tours .

Read More: Exploring Mount Fuji: A Visitor's Guide

Fall colors in New York's Central Park

Loved by generations of New Yorkers and by people from around the world, Central Park is one of the most famous public spaces in the world. The backdrop to countless movies and television shows, the park's walkways, lakes, and historical sights have been drawing city dwellers and visitors since it was first created in 1858.

Some fun things to do in Central Park include taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park, visiting the Strawberry Fields Forever area and Imagine monument dedicated to the late John Lennon, renting a row boat, or just strolling under the towering trees. If you find yourself in the park in the cold season, ice skating is one of the most popular things to do in New York in winter . Going ice skating with your sweetie is also a romantic thing to do in New York.

The Alhambra, Granada

The stunning Alhambra is perched high on the hills above the Spanish city of Granada and is a testament to the wealth and power of the Nasrid Dynasty of the 13th Century. A huge complex full of ornate gardens, lush courtyards, bubbling water features, and spectacular buildings make it one of Spain's top tourist attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Count on a full day to explore the Alhambra with its incredible buildings which include the Palacios Nazaries consisting of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), the Palacio de Comares (Palace of Ceremonial Rooms), and the Palacio de los Leones (Palace of the Lions). Views out over the city of Granada and the surrounding mountains from the ruins of the Alcazaba are among the highlights.

Buckingham Palace, London

The stately palace located in the heart of London attracts millions of visitors every year. This iconic building and treasured monument is home to the ruling monarchy and its grand façade showcases the importance of the Royal Family in British society.

Highlights of a visit to Buckingham Palace include witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony where guardsmen with their red tunics and bearskin hats execute an intricate series of maneuvers.

If you find yourself visiting in the summer, try your best to get tickets for the tour through the grand State Rooms with their extensive and impressive collection of priceless art and period pieces.

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

A fun town with a Boho vibe, Ubud is high on the list of things to see and do in Bali . Located inland in a lush area, the town has a wide range of cultural and natural attractions. A must-see is the Sacred Monkey Forest , a dense site of towering trees, river gorges, historic temples, and of course, monkeys. Hundreds of monkeys live in this protected area and wander freely on the pathways providing non-stop entertainment.

Just out of town are the world-famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces . Descending from a ridge to the valley below, the terraces flow according to the landscape.

Ubud features prominently as a destination for shopping, many of Indonesia's best artisans have shops here selling everything from Batik fabrics to ornate jewelry.

Ubud is also known as a place to work on your inner well-being, countless yoga studios and wellness retreats are located here.

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The World's Most-visited Tourist Attractions

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

For nearly 500 years, the emperors living within Beijing's opulent Forbidden City dictated who could enter and leave. Well, the gates have opened, and tourists are pouring in to see it all for themselves. Attendance is up by 2.5 million since 2010.

The Forbidden City is a dream destination for some Americans, but most have never researched a trip to Everland or Lotte World. Yet these South Korean theme parks also rank among the world's 50 most-visited tourist attractions—beating out the Eiffel Tower (nearly 7 million), the Great Pyramids (4 million), and Stonehenge (1 million). And there are more surprises.

Where we choose to spend our vacation time says a lot about what we value. Despite—or perhaps because of—what the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) calls "global economic challenges," more travelers are hitting the road than ever. International tourist arrivals increased by five percent in 2013, according to the UNWTO. That translates to a record of more than one billion trips. With its population of 1.36 billion, China has become the second-largest exporter of tourists. Russia, now the fifth-largest outbound market, increased travel spending by 26 percent.

Like it or not, theme parks clearly have worldwide appeal. France's Disneyland Park draws about the same number of visitors (10.5 million) as Sacré Coeur, and four of the world's 20 most-visited tourist attractions are Disney parks.

Many inspiring and iconic places can't quite keep up. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum narrowly missed the top 50, as did the British Museum in London (6.7 million), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (6.3 million), and the Roman Colosseum and Forum (5.1 million each). The Berlin Wall Memorial Site logged only 500,000 visitors in 2013, though extra crowds arrived in November 2014 for the 25th anniversary of its fall.

Accessibility can be a factor. It takes extra effort to reach Yellowstone National Park (3.2 million) or the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China (4.8 million). And Peru's Machu Picchu has restricted tourism to help maintain the site's integrity; only 2,500 can enter per day, or 912,500 per year.

So what is the most-visited tourist attraction in the world? And can 91 million people be wrong? Read on to see the results—and an explanation of our methods for calculating it all.

Julie Bang/Travel + Leisure

The Methodology: To tally up the world's most-visited attractions, we gathered the most recent data supplied by the attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets. In most cases, it was 2013 data. Attractions that don't sell tickets gave us estimates as best they could.

We defined "tourist attractions" as cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces. So Boston's shop-filled Faneuil Hall Marketplace (est. 1742) made the cut, but not Minnesota's Mall of America, which, with 40 million annual visitors, would otherwise have tied for No. 4. Short walkways and plazas also fit our definition of tourist attractions; that disqualified the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also omitted beaches, bridges, and sites that draw almost exclusively religious pilgrims.

Reported by Kate Appleton, Rich Beattie, Adrien Glover, Lyndsey Matthews, April Orcutt, Joshua Pramis, and Ann Shields

No. 1 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Annual Visitors: 91,250,000

Hand-painted ceramics, lanterns, intricately patterned carpets, copperware, gold Byzantine-style jewelry, and more eye-catching products vie for your attention within this 15th-century bazaar's vaulted walkways. It has since expanded and become increasingly touristy, but locals, too, are among the millions of bargain hunters. To haggle like a pro, lowball your starting offer and don't be afraid to walk away. And if it all gets overwhelming, break for a succulent doner kebab or strong cup of Turkish coffee.

Source: Grand Bazaar management

No. 2 The Zócalo, Mexico City

Jorge Castro/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 85,000,000

Formally known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the enormous Zócalo thrums with activity. It hosts military parades, cultural and political events, concerts, exhibitions, fairs, and public art installations. Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace flank this historic public square, and an imposing Mexican flag, raised and lowered daily, waves over the scene.

Source: Mexico Tourism Board

No. 3 Times Square, New York City

Annual Visitors: 50,000,000

Tourists flock to New York 's neon heart for the flashing lights, Broadway shows, megastores, and sheer spectacle—including costumed characters eager to pose for photo ops. Pedestrian-only areas with café tables introduced a few years ago have made it easier and more appealing to hang out here. Times Square can even be a convenient, if chaotic, base, thanks to hotels at every price point and easy access to public transportation: subways, rails, buses, and more yellow taxis than you can count.

Source: The Times Square Alliance

No. 4 (tie) Central Park, New York City

Annual Visitors: 40,000,000

New York has larger green spaces, but none is more famous than Central Park , which stretches across nearly 850 acres of prime Manhattan real estate—an oasis for both tourists and locals. You can ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages, check out the modest-size zoo, climb to the top of 19th-century Belvedere Castle, or take a break from pounding the pavement to sprawl on the Great Lawn, gazing at the skyscrapers above.

Source: Central Park Conservancy

No. 4 (tie) Union Station, Washington, D.C.

Opened in 1907, this busy station shuttles some 12,500 passengers daily in and out of Washington, D.C. But it also handles millions of tourists who pass through to take in the impeccably mixed architectural styles throughout the colossal building: from Classical to Beaux-Arts to Baroque. More than 70 retail outlets make Union Station a shopping destination, and it's also a jumping-off point for many D.C. tours.

Source: Union Station

No. 6 Las Vegas Strip

Annual Visitors: 30,500,000

In 2013, 77 percent of Vegas tourists—30.5 million—chose to stay at hotels right on the four-mile-long Strip. And why not? Roll out of bed and onto the Strip to catch the Bellagio fountains in action, shop, gamble, and, of course, people-watch (which can get especially fun later at night). For a cool new vantage point, hop aboard the High Roller , a 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel that debuted in March 2014. It's part of Linq, a flashy 300,000-square-foot shopping and entertainment complex by Caesars.

Source: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

No. 7 (tie) Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo

Annual Visitors: 30,000,000

Built more than 100 years ago to honor the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, this Shinto shrine in bustling Tokyo is a peaceful haven surrounded by a holy forest of more than 100,000 trees. Seasonal gardens feature spring azaleas, summer irises, brilliant autumn leaves on Japanese maples and ginkgos, and black pines dusted with winter snow.

Source: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

No. 7 (tie) Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo

Tokyo's oldest temple was dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon, the most compassionate Buddha, in 628. Dramatic nighttime illumination highlights vermilion and crimson detailing in the Five-Storied Pagoda. Continuing centuries-long tradition, stalls along the temple's Nakamise Street sell food and goods to pilgrims, whose numbers swell around New Year's.

No. 9 Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario

Annual Visitors: 22,000,000

Straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada, three massive waterfalls, together called Niagara Falls , spill about 6 million cubic feet of water—from a maximum vertical drop of 165 feet—every minute. While there are about 500 taller waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls is spectacular for its sheer power. It's also more accessible than many major falls, a short flight or drive for millions of regional tourists.

Source: Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp./Canadian Tourism Commission

No. 10 Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Annual Visitors : 21,600,00

Unlike harried commuters, visitors take their time in the main concourse of this Beaux-Arts landmark , pausing to view its glittering ceiling painted with a map of the constellations from the night sky. Shops, an annual holiday market, special events, and restaurants also attract attention. Two of the grandest venues are the Campbell Apartment, serving craft cocktails, and the historic Oyster Bar —featured on AMC's Mad Men —which shucks 2 million fresh bivalves a year.

Source: Grand Central Terminal

No. 11 Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

Annual Visitors: 20,000,000

The Old Basilica , begun in the 16th century and completed in 1709, stands in stark contrast to the massive new basilica, designed by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, which was built in the mid-1970s and looks like a sports arena. It is, in fact, intended to hold 50,000 people, who come for mass—celebrated several times a day—and to see an image of the Virgin Mary that is said to have appeared on an apron in 1531.

No. 12 Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL

Annual Visitors: 18,588,000

The Most Magical Place on Earth is high on virtually every family's to-do list and remains the most-visited theme park on the earth. Expanded Fantasyland now includes the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train family-style roller coaster and a chance to meet Anna and Elsa from the smash-hit Frozen in the Princess Fairytale Hall near Cinderella Castle. Time-tested attractions include the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain, the daily Disney character parade down Main Street, USA, and a fireworks spectacular that lights up the sky many nights.

Source: TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report

No. 13 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

Annual Visitors: 18,000,000

Dating back to 1742, Faneuil Hall ("the Cradle of Liberty") once hosted speeches by such greats as Samuel Adams and George Washington. Today, the downtown marketplace has more than 100 specialty shops and eateries and occupies a pedestrian-only, cobblestoned area that swarms with tourists and street performers. Each winter, Faneuil Hall also hosts Boston's tallest Christmas tree, along with festive light displays and choirs.

Source: Faneuil Hall Marketplace

No. 14 Tokyo Disneyland

Annual Visitors: 17,214,000

Disney's Tokyo outpost has become the second most-visited theme park in the world (beating out Anaheim, CA's Disneyland, which held that title in 2010). It shares the sweetness of the original parks' Fantasyland with Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant as well as Tomorrowland's Space Mountain and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue. A musical soundtrack and other renovations have improved the Adventureland classic: Jungle Cruise Wildlife Expedition, while a new after-dark night cruise promises more surprises.

No. 15 Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA

Annual Visitors: 16,202,000

Though not as massive as its Orlando counterpart, the original Disney park , which occupies about 85 acres of land, has retro charm and some better features. Here the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction lasts almost twice as long and ends in a humid southern bayou with fireflies (instead of a gift shop). The Indiana Jones Adventure ride careens over lava, past swarms of beetles, and under that 16-foot rolling boulder. Thrill-seekers will also appreciate that the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has reopened.

No. 16 Forbidden City, Beijing

Annual Visitors: 15,340,000

It doesn't have a street address—which is only fitting for a place that was once considered the center of the universe. Nowadays, tourists swarm this 178-acre walled compound of opulent halls, gardens, and winged pavilions. Attendance is up by 2.5 million since 2010. It can easily take half a day to explore the grounds, and history buffs will appreciate the self-guided audio tour—or a hired guide.

Source: Forbidden City Palace Museum and China Odyssey Tours

No. 17 Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco

Annual Visitors: 14,289,121

Beaches, cliffs, hills, forts, and towering redwood trees make up the Golden Gate National Recreation Area , easily accessible from San Francisco. Many visitors come to embrace the outdoors, whether hiking, biking, swimming, birding, riding horses, or whale-watching. But this scenic area is also rich in history and includes landmarks like Alcatraz prison and the Presidio, an 18th-century military post. You can even base yourself within the recreation area; Cavallo Point's rooms and suites occupy restored turn-of-the-20th-century Colonial Revival buildings that overlook San Francisco Bay .

Source: National Park Service

No. 18 Tokyo DisneySea

Annual Visitors: 14,084,000

DisneySea , the companion park to Tokyo Disneyland overlooking Tokyo Bay, took inspiration from aquatic myths, legends and the lore of the sea. Divided into seven "ports of call," the park emphasizes water attractions with Venetian gondolas, a Mermaid Lagoon, a journey to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and an Aquatopia with quirky boats in a sea of rocks, whirlpools and water spouts. But it's not all fountains and bubbles—the park also has scary rides like the Tower of Terror, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.

No. 19 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Annual Visitors: 14,000,000

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture—all soaring buttresses, crouching gargoyles, and magnificent rose windows— Notre Dame has survived attacks of Huguenots, sansculottes, occupying armies, and questionable renovations since its completion in 1345. In spite of its often violent past, visitors flock to the cathedral for the hushed peace and reflection it provides, even in the midst of Paris.

Source: Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency

No. 20 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Annual Visitors: 13,000,000

Cascading three miles from the Panhandle down to the Pacific, Golden Gate Park serves as playground and haven for this diverse city. The park's offerings include museums (the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences), botanical wonders (the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, a rhododendron forest, and more than 75,000 trees, among others), sporting fields and courts, playgrounds, and even a small herd of buffalo.

Source: San Francisco Recreation & Park Department

No. 21 Balboa Park, San Diego

Chelsea Loren/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 12,000,000 to 14,000,000

Balboa Park's 1,200 acres form a mini-city with 15 accredited museums, 19 gardens, nine performing arts groups, a miniature railroad, a golf course, tennis courts, lawn bowling, a gymnasium, a historic carousel, and a Super Sonic Samba School. Not to mention the world-famous San Diego Zoo , with three crowd-pleasing giant pandas. Balboa Park also features the Spreckels Organ, whose 4,518 pipes range from the size of a pencil to 32 feet tall.

Source: Balboa Park

No. 22 South Street Seaport, New York City

Annual Visitors: 12,000,000

This 12-block historic East River site in Lower Manhattan dates back to the 1600s, and its cobblestoned streets are packed with shops and restaurants. Pier 17 will reopen in 2016 after undergoing extensive renovation. Commercialism aside, the history runs deep here and is perhaps best experienced on one of the two 1800s tall-masted schooners the South Street Seaport Museum maintains. Go for a sunset sail with Gotham as a backdrop.

Source: The Howard Hughes Corporation

No. 23 San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, TX

Annual Visitors: 11,500,000

Cypress-lined cobble-and-flagstone paths meander for four miles along both sides of the narrow San Antonio River. Locals and visitors come to the River Walk's horseshoe-shaped loop downtown to browse shops and hang out at restaurants like Boudro's for a prickly-pear margarita and guacamole prepared tableside. The Museum Reach river walk section stretches an additional 1.7 miles north, past art installations under every bridge and the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Source: San Antonio River Walk (Paseo del Rio)

No. 24 Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Michela Sieman/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 11,229,000

Built to honor the late Walt Disney's utopian ideal of the innovative future (the name is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), Epcot attracts guests who skew a little older than those of its neighbor, the Magic Kingdom. Restaurants are aimed at more sophisticated palates, and annual celebrations include a flower and garden show and an international food and wine festival. Perennial favorite rides like Soarin', Mission: SPACE, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends keep the kids and kids-at-heart happy. Expect visits to the Norway pavilion to spike when a Frozen -themed ride debuts in 2016.

No. 25 St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Annual Visitors: 11,000,000

One of the holiest Catholic sites, St. Peter's Basilica teems with ornate gold, marble columns, paintings of angels, iconic statues, and works created by a who's who of Renaissance artists, including Raphael, Brunelleschi, Bernini, and Michelangelo, who sculpted the marble Pietà and designed the massive dome. For a nominal fee, you can climb 320 steps to the top and soak up the most famous panorama of Rome.

Source: Italian Government Tourist Board

No. 26 Great Wall of China

Annual Visitors: 10,720,000 (Badaling and Mutianyu areas combined)

Once used as a wartime defense, the Great Wall winds "like a dragon tail" from eastern China to western, spanning some 5,500 miles. While much of what is visible today was built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), construction began on various sections as far back as 770 B.C. Credit goes to the million slaves and prisoners of war who carried blocks of granite, bricks, stones, and dirt on their backs up to the top of the ridgelines. The Badaling section, closest to Beijing, draws the biggest crowds. Word has gotten out, inspiring some travelers to make the longer drive to the more serene Mutianyu section.

Source: National Tourism Administration of the People's Republic of China and China Odyssey Tours

No. 27 Sacré Coeur Basilica, Paris

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 10,500,000

Sacré Coeur lures visitors to the summit of Montmartre for a litany of reasons—while some come to pray and meditate, most come for the remarkable 360-degree views of the City of Light from its highest vantage point. The construction of the basilica, which started in 1871, was intended to restore peace to a site stained by violence during the Paris Commune.

No. 28 Disneyland Park, Marne-la-Vallée, France

Annual Visitors: 10,430,000

When Disney's first European theme park opened in 1992, many French protested the "cultural imperialism" of such an American symbol opening 40 minutes outside of Paris. Today it's one of the most-visited locations in Europe. So be prepared to queue for popular rides like It's a Small World, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. A 3D ride inspired by the film Ratatouille opened in 2014; enter through a replica of Gusteau's restaurant.

No. 29 Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Annual Visitors: 10,198,000

Since 1998, this animal-themed park has successfully marketed Mickey Mouse and silverback gorillas under one all-inclusive "roof." If it has four legs or wings or a tail, chances are you'll find it at this zoo/museum/school theme park. Don't miss the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, or the 14-story Tree of Life sculpture carved with some 325 animals. Fun fact: at one point park creators also wanted to include a section for mythological creatures called "Beastly Kingdom."

No. 30 Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Annual Visitors: 10,110,000

Disney describes this park (est. 1989) as " the Hollywood that never was and always will be ." Laid out much like a real-life motion picture studio, with a 154-acre network of streets and buildings and miniature replicas of famous landmarks, it showcases the golden age of film. But most kids make a beeline to Toy Story Midway Mania! at Pixar Place and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue.

No. 31 Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan

Annual Visitors: 10,100,000

Opened in 2001 and a near twin to its Orlando sibling—albeit one with more sushi— this popular movie theme park is one of four operated by Universal in Japan. Highlights include a Jaws -like shark encounter, Jurassic Park roller-coaster ride, Sesame Street in 4-D, and now the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Interesting fact: investment banking firm Goldman Sachs is the park's largest shareholder.

No. 32 Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood, CA

Annual Visitors: 10,000,000 to 12,000,000

Nothing says Hollywood like the (literally) star-studded Walk of Fame , with each star bearing the name of a celebrity with enough cachet to be immortalized on the street. That means stars from James Dean and Marilyn Monroe to, more recently, Tina Fey and Neil Patrick Harris.

Source: Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

No. 33 Pike Place Market, Seattle

Annual Visitors: 10,000,000

One of the oldest continually operating farmers' markets in the U.S. (est. 1907), this nine-acre National Historic District is famous for kitschy Seattle souvenirs, salmon-throwing fishmongers, and its "gum wall" installation art. The many seafood restaurants include Market Grill and Emmett Watson's for oysters. It's just down the street from one of the original Starbucks—complete with an early-edition logo featuring a more, er, risqué mermaid.

Source: Pike Place Market

No. 34 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Annual Visitors: 9,345,695

Originally Cherokee homeland, America's most-visited national park first opened in 1940 and covers some 520,000 acres of protected Tennessee and North Carolina forestland that's bisected by the Appalachian Trail. Whether hiking Chimney Tops (or any of the 800 miles of trails) or driving the super-scenic U.S. Highway 441, visitors are sure to get an eyeful of the mystical haze that inspired the park's name. To escape the crowds, park ranger Caitlin Worth recommends heading to Balsam Mountain Road, a high-elevation gravel road accessible from the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

No. 35 Musée du Louvre, Paris

Annual Visitors: 9,334,000

The world's largest museum is both the subject of ongoing architectural controversy—not everyone agrees with the 1989 addition of I. M. Pei's 69-foot-high glass pyramid entrance—and an art-lover's wonderland of some 35,000 masterworks. Throngs parade through the former 12th-century palace to see such famous highlights as Leonardo da Vinci's smiling La Gioconda , a.k.a. Mona Lisa —a painting that, rumor has it, was originally commissioned by François I to hang in his château at Fontainebleau. And the crush of visitors continues to increase, up about 10 percent since 2010. One tip: avoid peak crowds by timing your arrival to Wednesday or Friday evening, when the museum is open until 9:45 p.m.

No. 36 Navy Pier, Chicago

Annual Visitors: 8,900,000

While the USS Chicago —docked at the end of the pier—is a reminder of its World War I military past, this bustling Lake Michigan promenade now caters to civilians with a mix of carnival rides, dancing fountains, trinket stalls, an IMAX theater, and local food favorites Garrett Popcorn and Billy Goat Tavern. Don't miss the exceptional stained-glass museum featuring colorful works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Source: Navy Pier

No. 37 Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, CA

Annual Visitors: 8,514,000

Cars Land, a 12-acre real-life rendition of Radiator Springs from the films that pay homage to Route 66 and retro-cars culture, remains a big draw at Disney's California Adventure . Guests "racing" in the Radiator Springs Racers attraction never know which car will get the checkered flag. Most fun, though, is still Soarin' Over California, a simulated hang-glider flight over the Golden State complete with motion, wind, and the sweet scent of orange blossoms.

No. 38 Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Annual Visitors: 8,200,000

With its dramatic cantilevered roof and harbor setting, the Sydney Opera House is easily Australia's most recognizable landmark—and its most visited. Few tourists leave Sydney without at least stopping here for a photo op. But you can do much more: go backstage for a tour, attend one of the 40-plus weekly performances, and watch the sun set over the city and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the alfresco Opera Bar. Make your grand exit on the scenic Manly Ferry, which passes right by.

Source: Sydney Opera House

No. 39 Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL

Number of Visitors: 8,141,000

Hogwarts fans went hog wild when Islands of Adventure opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, and the attendance numbers continue to reflect Harry's magic touch. Shops, restaurants (The Three Broomsticks), and rides are all branded with the boy wizard; nonbelievers can find rides themed with Marvel superheroes and other trademarked characters. The Jurassic Park River Adventure, for instance, is a hairy river-raft ride with a terrifying T. rex attack, set in a habitat for animatronic dinosaurs.

No. 40 (tie) Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Annual Visitors: 8,000,000

Dinosaur fossils, a huge stuffed elephant, and an insect zoo have been wowing kids for generations (and for free). The 126-million-item collection even includes the notorious Hope Diamond. But this National Mall favorite continues to innovate, in the last few years opening the Ocean Hall and the ambitious Hall of Human Origins, where visitors come face-to-face with specimens and models of their ancestors.

No. 40 (tie) Grand Palace, Bangkok

Number of Visitors: 8,000,000

The gold-spired Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of Thailand's most important sacred sites. The riverfront complex, built in 1782, housed Thai kings for 150 years. The Outer Court serves as the visitor entrance today; the Center Court was the king's residence; and the Inner Court, the quarters of his consorts and daughters. Keep an eye out for Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located near the Outer Court.

Source: Thailand Tourist Services

No. 40 (tie) Pier 39, San Francisco

Melissa Zink/Travel + Leisure

Of course it's corny—replete with candy shops, T-shirt emporiums, stuffed animals, and fried food—but this tourist magnet at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf offers great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps the wooden pier's biggest attraction is the noisy community of sea lions that bark and bask on the docks. Aquarium of the Bay is by the pier's entrance.

Source: PIER 39

No. 43 Palace of Versailles, France

Annual Visitors: 7,527,122

King Louis XIV did a pretty nice job redoing a place that started out as a mere hunting lodge and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's so nice, in fact, that people willingly trade a day in Paris cafés for the experience of wandering Versailles' hallways, like the gilded Hall of Mirrors—the best place to channel your inner Sun King.

No. 44 Ocean Park, Hong Kong

Annual Visitors: 7,475,000

Sure, there are roller coasters, but this 40-acre theme park stands out for attractions that are more down to earth. There's Panda Village, where, despite the name, visitors come to see playful otters; Pacific Pier, where you can feed seals and sea lions; and the Sea Jelly Spectacular, where you can marvel at some 1,000 jellyfish, including many phosphorescent species. A mountain divides the park, which you can navigate by bus, train, even cable car. (It's a bus ride away from central Hong Kong.)

No. 45 Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Annual Visitors: 7,470,000

You'd have to be a pretty big curmudgeon for Bourbon Street not to put you in a good mood. Free-flowing music and booze might have something to do with it. Restaurants and bars pack this historic strip of the French Quarter; Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is even rumored to be haunted. Of course, if you really like crowds, grab your mask and join the Mardi Gras circus.

Source: New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau

No. 46 National Museum of China, Beijing

Annual Visitors: 7,450,000

This museum on Tiananmen Square measures 2.07 million square feet—surpassing New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2 million square feet—and reopened in 2011 after a decade-long renovation. It presents 5,000 years of Chinese history, as approved by the Ministry of Culture. (In other words, don't expect much on the Great Leap Forward.) Artifacts include ancient Chinese Buddhist sculptures, a cowboy hat Deng Xiaoping wore on a visit to the U.S., and glazed pottery from the Tang dynasty. The museum also hosts temporary shows on subjects ranging from Leo Tolstoy to African art.

No. 47 (tie) Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong

Annual Visitors: 7,400,000

Hong Kong Disneyland features tried-and-true crowd-pleasers like Sleeping Beauty's castle and Space Mountain as well as the recent additions of Mystic Point (2013), Grizzly Gulch (2012) and Toy Story Land (2011), increasing the park's size in the last three years by 25 percent. What sets this park apart from the others? It was designed according to the Chinese rules of feng shui in a nod to local culture. It also has a dedicated stop on Hong Kong's efficient metro.

No. 47 (tie) Lotte World, Seoul

The world's largest indoor theme park is just the beginning of a complex that seems as big as Seoul itself. An outdoor amusement park, a folk museum, theaters, malls, an aquarium, and other venues round it out, along with—of course—plenty of karaoke machines.

No. 49 Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea

Annual Visitors: 7,303,000

Everland amusement park in South Korea has been thrilling kids since 1973 and knows how to keep them coming. The park is divided into themed sections that range from American Adventure (a rodeo experience, a wildly swinging Columbus ship) to Zoo-Topia (Amazon River ride, Safari World). It holds the record for the world's steepest wooden roller coaster.

No. 50 Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Annual Visitors: 7,000,000 to 8,000,000

The Taj Mahal is a graceful tribute to eternal love—a mausoleum that a 17th-century Moghul emperor built for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Gardens and reflecting pools with fountains lead to the mausoleum made of white marble with inlaid flower patterns made of semiprecious stones. The number of visitors has more than doubled since 2010 (when it welcomed 3 million).

Source: Department of Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh

World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

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10 Most Popular Tourist Attractions in the World

10 Tourist Attractions

Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis .

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times , Conde Nast Traveler , and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008 . She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack : The Trtl Pillow . It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience : Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto : Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat : Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at [email protected] .

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The world’s most popular tourist attractions have a gravity all their own, pulling millions into their orbits each year. There’s no one formula that drives the demand either; some spots rely on natural beauty to inspire awe—and visits—and others feel like the center of the universe, drawing curious eyes from around the globe.

Forbes , Travel + Leisure , and U.K.-based TravelSupermarket have all done the numbers and come up with definitive lists of the most popular tourist attractions. Using these tallies as a springboard, we’re excited to bring you a snapshot of some of the standouts, from the world’s most popular public park (any guesses?) to the theme park that beats all others (are you surprised?) and the globe’s most visited palace (hint: if you see William and Kate there, it’s only because they’re on vacation).

The numbers don’t lie—these spots are among the most popular in the world—but they also don’t tell the whole story. So along the way, be sure to jump in with your own favorites in the comments section.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter . It’s full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today !

Image Gallery

Times Square, New York City, New York

Times Square, New York City, New York

Most Popular: Public space

What it's Got: Flashing signs, crowds, stores, restaurants, theaters, and hot-dog carts—everything that makes New York New York.

Why You Should Go: As the single most popular tourist attraction on the planet, Times Square lives up to its claim as the "Crossroads of the World." That alone makes it worth checking out.

Why You Shouldn't Go: New York City has so much more to offer.

Central Park, New York City, New York

Central Park, New York City, New York

Most Popular: Public park

What it's Got: Central Park offers ponds, woodlands, gardens, playgrounds, statues, and restaurants, as well as a carousel, a castle, and a zoo, on 843 acres of Manhattan.

Why You Should Go: You can choose from hundreds of activities set against an unexpectedly convincing pastoral backdrop. And your lungs enjoy the break from all the traffic fumes of the surrounding city.

Why You Shouldn't Go: Honestly, there are very few reasons not to go, though you may prefer to stick to daytime strolls. (However, the park has become much safer at night in recent years.)

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Most Popular: Palace

What it's Got: As the world's largest palace complex, the Forbidden City has nearly 10,000 rooms full of the furniture and art of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Why You Should Go: The scale and grandeur of the Forbidden City can't really be described; it's one to be experienced first-hand.

Why You Shouldn't Go: The Forbidden City can get extremely crowded, especially during Golden Week holidays in fall and winter. Expect the sort of congestion where you'll be lucky to see much except the back of other people's heads.

Walt Disney World, Florida

Walt Disney World, Florida

Most Popular: Theme park

What it's Got: Six individual theme parks in one super park. Disney World's Magic Kingdom alone beats out all other theme parks in the world to be the most visited on earth.

Why You Should Go: Walt Disney World makes its name as the "most magical place on earth," with options for all ages and interests, as long as those interests include theme parks. For many families, it's a rite of passage, and it's one of the only places where having breakfast with a mouse is a good thing.

Why You Shouldn't Go: Long lines, high humidity, and the inevitability of witnessing dozens of public sugar-crash tantrums—from both adults and children.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Most Popular: Religious building

What it's Got: Nearly 850 years of history, some of the world's most impressive stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, and views of Paris from the South Tower.

Why You Should Go: Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is a magnificent feat of architecture and construction set in one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Why You Shouldn't Go: The long lines and conveyor-belt river of tourists pouring through the cathedral offers few chances to pause and really admire the beauty of the place.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, Massachusetts

Most Popular: Market

What it's Got: Faneuil Hall has nearly 50 shops, dozens of food stalls, and 14 full-service restaurants housed in three restored 19th-century buildings in downtown Boston.

Why You Should Go: Beating out Istanbul's Grand Bazaar and Seattle's Pike Place as the most popular market on the planet, the 250-year-old gathering place offers a mix of free entertainment, window-shopping opportunities, and food that's easy on all budgets.

Why You Shouldn't Go: The carnival atmosphere and increasing number of chain stores masks some of the market's historical charm.

Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

Most Popular: Gaming hot spot

What it's Got: The Vegas Strip delivers 24-hour action, high stakes, all-night buffets and celebrity-chef restaurants, shows, and (in the warmer months) a serious pool scene.

Why You Should Go: While it borrows inspiration from around the world (you'll find the canals of Venice, the Eiffel Tower, and the Empire State Building), the Strip is an utterly unique phenomenon everyone should experience at least once. Whether you're a gambler or not, there are always dozens of activities to sweep you up.

Why You Shouldn't Go: Las Vegas can be a strange and exhausting place, especially if you have a low tolerance for flash.

Niagara Falls, U.S. And Canada

Niagara Falls, U.S. And Canada

Most Popular: Natural wonder

What it's Got: Water, and a lot of it. Over 700,000 gallons of water plunge over the falls each second. Visitors can see the different individual falls from lookouts on the Canadian and U.S. sides, or get a different view with helicopter or boat tours.

Why You Should Go: The thunderous falls are impressive in a way that can't be captured on film. And a concerted effort on both sides of the border to class things up a bit has yielded options for visitors looking for more than a motel and a burger.

Why You Shouldn't Go: There's no disputing the majesty of the falls, but unless your kitsch tolerance is high, the tacky souvenir shops and tourist attractions close to the action can get old fast.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina And Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina And Tennessee

Most Popular: National park

What it's Got: Mountains and forests spanning two states, 800 miles of maintained trails, 1,500 bears, and a rich diversity of plant and animal life.

Why You Should Go: It's free! Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few major national parks that doesn't charge an entry fee. With scenic drives, backcountry camping, and everything in between, the park is suitable for a wide range of abilities.

Why You Shouldn't Go: At its best, a national park offers beauty and a bit of solitude, but Great Smoky Mountains' popularity can mean crowds and traffic, particularly on summer and fall weekends.

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

Most Popular: Scenic outlook

What it's Got: One of the world's most scenic funicular railways, which leads to a panoramic lookout of Hong Kong at 1,300 feet above sea level.

Why You Should Go: A thrillingly steep ride up the mountain yields temperatures on the Peak that are cooler than you'll find down in the city. And on clear days and evenings, visitors are rewarded with amazing views of Hong Kong, water, and outlying islands.

Why You Shouldn't Go: Long tram lines getting to and from the Peak can be a drag. Air pollution or fog often obscures the amazing views. And a fear of heights can turn getting to and being at the Peak into an exercise in panic.

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China's Top 15 Must-Visit Attractions: Historical, Cultural, Scenic & More

With a vast territory and a long history, China offers so much to see and explore. We have listed for you the top 15 must-visit attractions in China for any classic China tour.

Content Preview

  • 1. The Great Wall
  • 2. Forbidden City
  • 3. Terracotta Army
  • 4. Giant Pandas
  • 5. Yellow Mountains
  • 6. Li River
  • 7. Potala Palace

8. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • 9. Mogao Caves
  • 10. The Bund
  • 11. West Lake
  • 12. Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve
  • 13. Victoria Harbor
  • 14. Lijiang Old Town
  • 15. Erhai Lake

1. The Great Wall of China in Beijing

In the eyes of most travelers, you haven't been to China if you haven't climbed the Great Wall .

One of the iconic symbols of China, the Great Wall is the longest wall in the world , an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over a rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery. It deserves its place among "the New Seven Wonders of the World" and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China.

T he most integrated and best-preserved sections are close to Beijing. Among them, the Jinshanling section has the most beautiful scenery and is very suitable for hiking.

The Mutianyu section has a better architecture with densely spaced watchtowers and easy to climb, which is suitable for families with the elderly and children. Which Sections of the Great Wall Should I Visit?

The Simatai section is good for a night tour of the Great Wall. See our 4-Day Beijing Highlights and Great Wall Night Tour

There is no better way to explore China's Great Wall than by hiking or walking along with it. Tread the centuries-old bricks and walk through watchtower ruins. Take your time and feel the history come to life. See 1-Day Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking Tour

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family 's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

2. The Forbidden City in Beijing — Imperial Palace for 24 Emperors

It was once a "palace" city where ordinary people were forbidden entry . An extravagant demonstration of ancient Chinese architecture, over 8,000 rooms with golden roofs are elegantly designed and painted in red and yellow.

The Forbidden City was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties for 560 years till 1911. 24 emperors lived there. Listed as World Cultural Heritage, it also houses many Chinese cultural and historical relics and treasures . See 4-Day Beijing Private Tour with Visit to Forbidden City

It is recognized as one of the five most important palaces in the world (with the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in the UK, the White House in the US, and the Kremlin in Russia). Read on How to Visit the Forbidden City — for Discerning Travelers

3. The Terracotta Army in Xi'an — 2,000-Year-Old Underground Army

The Terracotta Army has been laid underground for more than 2,000 years . However, in 1974, farmers digging a well uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. In 1987 it became World Cultural Heritage.

It is significant because the hundreds of detailed life-size models represent the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period (475—221 BC), and who were the decisive factor in forming a united China.

It raises interesting questions about why it was made, which await your consideration when you come face-to-face with soldiers of the past. See our 3-Day Essence of Xi'an Tour including Terracotta Warriors

You could make your own warriors at a cave-dwelling where there are only a few craftsmen left who continue to work in a traditional way . Read more about How to Visit the Terracotta Army Hassle Free

All our tours are customized . Our travel consultants will create an itinerary based on your interests, group sizes, travel length, and other requirements.

4. Giant Pandas in Chengdu — China's "National Treasure"

The giant panda is not only deeply loved by the Chinese, but by many foreigners too, and not just children. Although there are many zoos in China and elsewhere, where you can see a giant panda, the best place to see them is Chengdu — the giant panda's "hometown" .

There are three places you can see pandas close up : Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center, Dujiangyan Panda Valley, and Bifengxia Panda Base.

  • Chengdu Panda Center is in the north of the city and is more established.
  • Dujiangyan and Bifengxia Panda Bases are 1-2 hours from Chengdu and you can see pandas in their natural habitat.
  • You can get even closer to the pandas by taking a volunteer program in Dujiangyan or Bifengxia Panda Valley . See our 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Volunteer Program Tour

Read more about How to Plan a Panda Tour

5. The Yellow Mountains near Shanghai — Legendary Wonders

In east China, close to Shanghai and Hangzhou, the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area (Huangshan) woos travelers with its five wonders : sunrises , seas of clouds , oddly-shaped rocks , twisted pine trees , and hot springs . The Yellow Mountains are the most famous peaks in China.

The villages nearby such as Hongcun Village were once considered to be the utopia of ancient China . Villagers have diverted water into "house gardens" and "water yards", which exist only in this village. The village, in its breathing-taking setting, looks like a Chinese painting. Canola flowers in spring can be the icing on the cake.

Bishan Village is the best choice if you want to enjoy some quiet moments with your partner. Stay in a typical Hui-style inn, feel the freshness of the air on an early morning walk, and drink a coffee while enjoying nature in its unspoiled beauty. See our 3-Day Ancient Villages and Yellow Mountains Tour

6. The Li River in Guilin & Yangshuo — China's Most Celebrated Scenery

The karst landscape along the Li River has captured the heart of artists. Generations of Chinese painters and poets have been inspired by the beauty of nature there, using their pens and brushes to capture the breathtaking natural scenery. When Chinese travelers seek a place for natural beauty, they first think of Li River and Yangshuo .

The Li River was listed as one of the "World's Top Ten Watery Wonders" by America's National Geographic Magazine. Several world-famous figures have visited the Li River, including former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush (senior), and Bill Gates.

The 83-kilometer-long section of the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo is the most beautiful. The river landscape is decorated with startling hills, steep cliffs, and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo groves.

Taking a leisurely cruise or a 3–4-hour family-friendly moderate hike (more on Li River hiking ) are good ways to enjoy the Li River's beauty.

Guilin & Yangshuo offer many interesting activities. You could challenge yourself to an SUP (stand-up paddleboard, i.e. a mini raft) on the Yulong River, take a bamboo raft , have a cycling tour into the countryside, or take an exciting drive with an all-terrain vehicle . See 5-Day Dynamic Guilin and Yangshuo Tour

7. The Potala Palace in Tibet — Heart of the Roof of the World

The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet . In 1994 it was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. It is a huge treasure house of materials and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture, and art. The palace is widely known for its precious sculptures, murals, scriptures, Buddhist statues, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within it.

You could witness the architectural miracle containing the regal heritage of Tibet, listen to stories of Dalai Lamas who lived in the palace, and view the palace from the four best angles .

Tibet doesn't accept independent travelers . Traveling with a travel agency is required. Read more about Tibet Travel Restrictions or contact us to explore the main highlights from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp. See our 8-Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Private Tour

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park , the inspiration of Avatar, is a must-see place for its out-of-this-world scenery . It is huge with many different scenic areas. The "floating mountains and peaks" that inspired Avatar are concentrated in this park.

The top-rated scenic areas are Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and Gold Whip Stream. These three areas can be visited by tourists of any age.

Walking is not hard at the main attractions, where cable cars, elevators, a tram, and shuttle buses are available and concrete paths and steps have been built. See our 4 Days Essence of Zhangjiajie

9. The Mogao Caves in Dunhuang

"In the West, there is the Louvre; in the East, there are the Mogao Caves."

The Mogao Caves are famous for their exquisite murals and Buddhist statues . The Mogao Caves were included in UNESCO's world cultural heritage list in 1987.

Artists from different periods of the Middle Ages left their work there. All kinds of works spanning over one thousand years complement each other.

Standing out in the desert, the Mogao Caves are like a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road .

In addition to visiting these wonderful caves, you could get some hands-on archaeological experience. We can take you to the Dunhuang Research Academy. There, you can linger over copies of murals created by masters and can copy a sample mural on a mud slab with your own hands under the guidance of the teacher.

  • 5-Day Dunhuang In-Depth Private Tour including Visit to Mogao Caves
  • 13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour - Silk Road Highlights and China's Gateway Cities

10. The Bund in Shanghai — Stunning Skyline, Colonial Architecture

The Bund is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. It showcases the world with its colonial European buildings and skyscrapers on the other side of the Huangpu, housing one of the world's foremost business districts.

The Bund was Shanghai's most prosperous area in the late 19th century and early 20th century. When the first British company opened an office at the Bund in 1846, it became the epitome of elegance .

one of the best ways to explore the Bund is to take an in-depth cultural walk where you could step into some of the iconic old buildings and learn about the stories behind them. A night cruise on the Huang Pu Rover could also be a good choice.

11. West Lake in Hangzhou — Paradise on Earth

Hangzhou is renowned as China's "paradise on earth" owing to its beautifully crafted landscape . West Lake was created after the Chinese love for garden-style parks for recreation.

West Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands, and hills.

To admire the beauty of West Lake, you can leisurely bike around the lake, walk around the lake, or take a short cruise on the lake . We could also find a perfect location for you to enjoy afternoon tea while enjoying the beautiful view of West Lake. See 4-Day Shanghai & Hangzhou with Watertown Tour

12. Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve — Gemstone-Colored Lakes, Colorful Forests, Meadows

Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve is called "the last pure land on earth" and "the last Shangri-La" due to its breathtaking natural scenery.

"I want to go there with my sweetheart to see the clear blue sky, the snowcapped mountains, and the golden meadows, to experience an autumn fairy tale." A Chinese romantic drama movie, I Belonged to You , made Daocheng a desirable romantic place to visit.

As early as 1928, the Austrian-American explorer Joseph F. Rock visited Daocheng and captured its beauty, printing pictures of it in the National Geographic magazine and making it known to the world .

The Tibetan cultural experience is another highlight of this route . You can see many ancient monasteries and Tibetan-style houses during the trip.

  • 8-Day Chengdu to Shangri-La Adventure Tour - Chengdu, Xinduqiao, Daocheng, Riwa, Xiangcheng, and Shangri-La
  • 9-Day Panorama Western Sichuan Tour — Chengdu, Wolong (Baby Pandas), Rilong, Danba, Tagong, Litang, Riwa, Yajiang, and Moxi

All our tours can be customized. The itinerary can be adjusted according to your group size, time, interests, and other requirements. Just contact us .

13. Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong — Mighty Skyscraper Skyline

The view over Victoria Harbour from Victoria Peak is to Hong Kong as climbing the Great Wall is to China ; it offers the iconic outlook over Hong Kong's "high rise" to success and prosperity.

Victoria Peak is the best spot to have a bird's eye view of Hong Kong . Viewed from the peak, both day and night scenes are worth taking in. See high-rise buildings around the busy Victoria Harbour stretching out towards the Chinese mainland. At night the scenery is gorgeous when the Symphony of Lights of various buildings dances in unison .

14. Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan — Cobbled Pedestrian Streets, Small Waterways

Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan is characterized by ancient cobbled streets, stone bridges, and water-wheel-driven canals decorated with flowers. Shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, snack stalls, and hotels can be found everywhere .

The big waterwheels are a landmark of Lijiang Old Town. As you enter the old town, you will see them. The river flowing through the old town keeps them rotating. Bar Street is next to them, which is busy at night.

You could also go to Naxi Hieroglyphs and Painting Exhibition Hall to experience Naxi art . The Naxi are the only people who still use hieroglyphs to write in the world .

  • 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour - Meet the Amazing Beauty of Yunnan
  • 9-Day Yunnan Family Tour - Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La

All our Yunnan tours can be customized. Contact us to create a trip for you according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.

15. Erhai Lake in Dali — One of the Most Beautiful Lakes in China

Erhai Lake is the most beautiful place in Dali . It is a plateau lake. Erhai Lake is in the shape of an ear, hence its name Erhai ('Ear Sea'). This plateau lake is like a deep blue gem set in the green land. The water of the lake is calm and blue. The soft and gentle wind by the lake will make you feel relaxed.

Every December, flocks of black-headed gulls from Siberia fly in to spend the winter at Erhai Lake .

Biking is the best way to travel around the lake . Capturing the beauty of the landscape bathed in sunshine and breezes is a real pleasure. There are two cycle routes around Erhai Lake : Haixi (on Erhai's west shore) and Haidong (on Erhai's east shore). The Haixi route is more suitable for young or inexperienced riders. Haidong route is quiet and has panoramic views. Contact us to arrange mountain bikes with helmets for you.

  • 4-Day Dynamic Dali Tour - Hike and Bike
  • 6-Day Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Tour - Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Tour
  • 7-Day Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour - A Feast of Landscapes and Ethnic Minority Culture

The Most Popular China Tour Itineraries

Our tour services are personalized . We will help you to maximize your travel experience by suggesting the optimal trip for the time you have and the places you want to see. Just contact us .

  • The Golden Triangle (8 days): Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai — the most popular destinations for a first trip
  • Classic Wonders (11 days): Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai — classic architecture, culture, and scenery
  • Find more ideas from our China tours .
  • 2-Week Riches of China
  • 9-Day Beyond the Golden Triangle
  • 14-Day China Natural Wonders Discovery
  • How to Plan Your First Trip to China 2024/2025 — 7 Easy Steps
  • 15 Best Places to Visit in China (2024)
  • How to Plan a 10-Day Itinerary in China (Best 5 Options)
  • 2-Week China Itineraries: Where to Go & Routes (2024)
  • China Weather in January 2024: Enjoy Less-Crowded Traveling
  • China Weather in February 2024: Places to Go, Costs, and Crowds
  • China Weather in March 2024: Destinations, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in April 2024: Where to Go (Smart Pre-Season Pick)
  • China Weather in May 2024: Where to Go, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in June 2024: How to Benefit from the Rainy Season
  • China Weather in July 2024: How to Avoid Heat and Crowds
  • China Weather in August 2024: Weather Tips & Where to Go
  • China Weather in September 2024: Weather Tips & Where to Go
  • China Weather in October 2024: Where to Go, Crowds, and Costs
  • China Weather in November 2024: Places to Go & Crowds
  • China Weather in December 2024: Places to Go and Crowds

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Park Schloss Charlottenburg im Frühling

Berlin's Top 10 Attractions

Are you on a whistle-stop tour of the capital or just looking for the Berlin Top 10 ? Well look no further, because we've picked the top ten things to see and do in Berlin so you don't have to. The choice of the top 10 Berlin attractions was by no means easy - this city has so much to offer! But here are the top 10 attractions and places you do have to visit in Berlin.

Top pick 1: Reichstag & glass dome 

Dome of the Berlin Reichstag sight in warm light

When the decision was made to move the Federal Government to Berlin, it was time to reawaken the Reichstag building from its long years of slumber on the Mauerstreifen, the military zone between the two sides of the Wall. The building has since been completely modernised, and today's visitors to the Reichstag can look out from the building's glass dome to get a bird's eye view of the hustle and bustle in the city. There are also a number of government buildings in the vicinity of the Reichstag, for example the Bundeskanzleramt ( Federal Chancellery ) and the Brandenburg Gate .

Experience the government district and many other highlights from the water with a boat tour:

Tickets for boat tours

Top pick 2: Brandenburg Gate - Berlin's signature attraction

The Berlin landmark Brandenburg Gate in sunlight

Without a doubt, the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's signature attraction. Built in 1791, it was just one of many old city gates around the city of Berlin which, at that time, was still a manageable size. The decorative Pariser Platz was laid at the foot of the gate and is now home to many of the city's important buildings, for example, the Hotel Adlon with its wealth of history and the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts).

Jurassic World Gates

Jurassic World: The Exhibition in the Expohalle Urban Banks

Jurassic World: The Exhibition is an interactive experience for the whole family on around 2,500 square meters, based on one of the biggest blockbusters in film history. Visitors walk through the famous gates of "Jurassic World" and come face to face with life-size dinosaurs.

Mehr erfahren

Top pick 3: Berlin Television Tower (Fernsehturm) - Berlin's highest attraction

Berlin television tower at sunset as panorama

The Berlin Television Tower , which is known to locals as the Fernsehturm , and is instantly recognisable from the distance, stand outs of the skyline at 368m, making it the tallest building and by far highest tourist attraction in Berlin. Built in the 1960s, visitors to the tower can enjoy a unique 360° panorama of the city. Tip: Visit the TV Tower with the Berlin Welcome Card and save up to 25 per cent. The Berlin WelcomeCard enables free travelling with all public transport services to the Berlin visitors. With over 200 partners and outstanding discounts the Berlin WelcomeCard offers you a complete „carefree“ package. 

Tickets for TV-Tower & Restaurant Sphere

Berlin Welcome Card

Dali - die immersive Ausstellung in Berlin

Dali Surreal - The immersive exhibition experience.

This exhibition is a newly conceived multimedia spectacle that presents the world-famous artworks of Salvador Dalí (1904 - 1989) in a way never seen before.

Top pick 4: Humboldt Forum - always a great place to visit

modern and baroque elements of the Humboldt Forum Berlin

Directly opposite Berlin's Museum Island , a new cosmopolitan forum for culture, art and science has opened in the heart of the capital: the Humboldt Forum . Visible from afar, it covers an area of around 30,000 square metres. The reconstructed baroque palace facades shine in bright quince yellow. State-of-the-art interactive exhibitions await you under one roof and spread over five floors. Since September 2021, the world-famous collections of the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art are also on display here.

Also take a look around the corner from the Humboldt Forum: The Friedrichswerder Church , built by Schinkel, is now a very special museum, displaying sculptures of classicism in the high neo-Gothic church hall.

Top pick 5: Gendarmenmarkt - Berlin's most beautiful attraction

Konzerthaus (Concert Hall) and Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) at Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

The Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most stunning squares in the city, located close to Friedrichstraße , Berlin's exclusive shopping street in the central Mitte district. Three of the most impressive examples of architecture in the capital city are to be found here: the Concert House designed by Schinkel and the German and French Cathedrals (the Deutscher Dom and the Französischer Dom ).

Combine your visit to Gendarmenmarkt with a city tour and discover other top sights:

Tickets for Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

Deutschlandmuseum Berlin

Deutschlandmuseum

The immersive history experience! Travel through 2000 years of German history: sneak round a castle, operate Gutenberg’s printing press, dance in the roaring 20s and see the ruins of Berlin after WW2. Finish in the 1990s on a Berlin S-Bahn.

Top pick 6: Kurfürstendamm - Berlin's most famous shopping street

Kurfürstendamm: Shopping in Berlin

Extending all the way from the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz to Berlin's elegant Halensee neighbourhood, the affectionately termed Kurfürstendamm is the most expensive address in the capital city and home to the most exclusive brands. Europe's biggest department store KaDeWe is also situated on the extension of the Ku'damm, on the street known to locals as the Tauentzien (short for Tauentzienstrasse). You will find many sights and top attractions along this famous shopping street. The little ones will just love the Zoo Berlin , Germany's oldest zoo.

Day-Tickets for Zoo Berlin

Top pick 7: Charlottenburg Palace

Walkers in the summery park of Charlottenburg Palace

The magnificent Charlottenburg Palace is located just out of the centre of the city. The beautiful palace hosts fine collections of china and paintings and is situated in the middle of a picturesque palace garden right next to the river Spree. If you don't fancy a walk in the park, you can feed your mind instead in the Charlottenburg museums located directly opposite. Make sure to go on a stroll through the extensive park after visiting this very royal Berlin attraction.

Top pick 8: Museum Island 

Museum Island-Altes Museum

Berlin's Museum Island is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and home to the city's most important exhibition centres: the Altes Museum ( Old Museum ), the Neues Museum ( New Museum ) the Bode Museum , the Pergamon Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie ( Old National Gallery ). The collections in these buildings encompass over 6,000 years of art and cultural history. Unfortunately, the Pergamon Museum is closed for extensive renovation work.

Just opposite Berlin's Museum Island, the magnificent monumental Berlin Cathedral, an important landmark of Berlin whose history dates back to the 15th century, is also located on the Museum Island.

Tip: Visit Berlin's museums with the 3-day Berlin Museum Pass . For €29 (reduced €14.50), the museum pass guarantees free admission for all Berlin visitors on three consecutive days to many museums. Order now in the visitBerlin-Shop

Tickets for the Museum Pass

Top pick 9: The Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Centre

Berlin Wall Memorial

The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer ( Berlin Wall Memorial ) is located between the districts of Wedding and Mitte on Bernauer Straße, consisting of the Memorial to the Victims of the Wall, a Documentation Centre and the Chapel of Reconciliation. The surviving section of the wall and watchtower enable visitors to get a real feel for the reality of the border facilities. A must see Berlin attraction, not only for visitors interested in Beriln's history.

Get to know more about the Berlin wall at the East Side Gallery .

Top pick 10: Victory Column - magnificent view on Berlin

Bird's eye view of the Berlin Victory Column in Tiergarten

The Berlin Victory Column is one of the most famous landmarks of the German capital. The 67-metre-high column, crowned by the golden Berlin Peace Angel, the "Goldelse", visible from afar, stands in the middle of the Tiergarten. From the platform you have a magnificent view over the parklands of the Tiergarten and over the whole of Berlin. The Victory Column was erected in the 19th century and originally commemorated Germany's wars of unity. Today it has become a symbol of peace.

From the Victory Column you can walk in the Tiergarten but also walk to the nearby Brandenburg Gate , Potsdamer Platz or the Berlin Reichstag .

More about sights in Berlin:

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Museums in Berlin

Do you know what is planned in the historic centre of Berlin and which new openings are coming up? Find out on our infographic:

Berlin's new cultural centre

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Top attractions in Copenhagen

Some sights and attractions are almost synonymous with Copenhagen. We've gathered them here. Most are within walking distance from the city centre and you are free to pick and choose between the Copenhagen classics. With a Copenhagen Card , you'll have access to more than 80 attractions.

Copenhagen Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo

With more than 4,000 animals from all over the world, Copenhagen ZOO is one of Denmark's most visited attractions.

Den Blå Planet, National Aquarium Denmark

Den Blå Planet, National Aquarium Denmark

Is it better down where it's wetter? Find out at Denmark's National Aquarium.

SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark

SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark

Denmark's largest art gallery, SMK has an outstanding collection of Danish and international art.

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace

Take a peek behind the scenes of the Danish Royal Family.

Bakken

A unique mini theme park in the woods north of Copenhagen, Bakken is the oldest amusement park in the world. 

The National Museum

The National Museum

Denmark's showstopping national history museum.

The Round Tower

The Round Tower

This 17th Century tower and observatory is one of Copenhagen's most iconic buildings.

Experimentarium

Experimentarium

Forget any school memories you may have of boring science classes and dry textbooks. Denmark’s leading science centre has been capturing the imagination of adults and children alike for over thirty ye ...

Glyptoteket

Glyptoteket

Art and sculpture museum in central Copenhagen with a glorious winter garden.

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen houses some of Denmark's greatest cultural treasures. The castle was built 1606-34 by Christian IV as a pleasure palace. In the basement you will find the Danish crown j ...

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

Experience 800 years of royal history at the awe-inspiring Christiansborg Palace.

Kronborg Castle - UNESCO World Heritage

Kronborg Castle - UNESCO World Heritage

Drama-packed Kronborg is one of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles. 

Frilandsmuseet

Frilandsmuseet

The Open Air Museum, Frilandsmuseet, is one of the oldest and largest open air museums in the world.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

Magical Tivoli Gardens is Copenhagen's central theme park. And one of the oldest in the world.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Arguably one of Copenhagen's most iconic tourist attractions, the sculpture of The Little Mermaid was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s  famous fairy tale.

The Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden

Ten hectares of gardens with a butterfly house and a tropical palm house dating to 1874. 

Natural History Museum of Denmark

Natural History Museum of Denmark

Natural History Museum of Denmark is the Danish national museum for nature and is beautifully located in the corner of the Botanical Garden close to Nørreport Station in the heart of Copenhagen. Marve ...

Planetarium

Planetarium

Discover the secrets of the universe at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium.

King's Garden

King's Garden

Denmark's oldest royal gardens.

Strøget

Copenhagen's largest shopping area is centered around Strøget in the heart of the city.

The Marble Church

The Marble Church

The city’s most impressive church, with views over the city from the top, the Marble Church is also known as Frederik's Church.

Skip the crowds and explore beyond the beaten track

We suggest you visit some of the neighbourhoods that makes Copenhagen special. It's a pocket-sized city, so you won't have to travel far. And see our editorial staff's handpicked tips for each month. 

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Editor's choice - Our 5 tips for this month

Each month the editorial staff at VisitCopenhagen give you five of their personal recommendations on what to do in Copenhagen. 

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10 Australian destinations you simply can't miss

As a first-time visitor to Australia, you'll be tempted to see it all – from our iconic cities to the outback wilderness. If you need to refine your agenda, here’s our list of the 10 most iconic places in Australia.

By Natasha Dragun

Australia is a vast country with no shortage of incredible destinations and experiences. Our eight states and territories stretch across an entire continent, so exploring them all in one trip isn’t always possible. Find out what destinations should be high on your bucket list with our list of iconic places you simply can’t miss.

Cairns and Great Barrier Reef Region

Anemone with clownfish, Frankland Islands, QLD © Phil Warring

Anemone with clownfish, Frankland Islands, Queensland © Phil Warring

In the tropical north of Australia, the rainforest meets the sea and two World Heritage sites unite: the  Great Barrier Reef , the  Daintree Rainforest . Imagine lush jungles tumbling to the edge of secluded white beaches, the soft sand disappearing into world-class dive sites, and curious clownfish looking back at you from the colourful coral. 

When to visit:   The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is between June and October, when the weather is just right. Though December to February brings the miracle of  turtle hatching  season.

Read our Cairns travel guide

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW © Cultural Attractions of Australia

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales © Cultural Attractions of Australia

Australia’s largest city is one of the world’s prettiest. Much of its allure revolves around the harbour , a dramatic expanse that creates a sanctuary for some of the country’s best beaches . This is the Sydney you see on postcards, with the immense Harbour Bridge and shell-like fans of the Opera House skirting the emerald waters. More sandy stretches await along the coast, from Coogee to Bondi , attracting surfers and sun-worshippers alike. 

When to visit: The best time to visit Sydney is between October and May when it’s almost always sunny and the beaches are irresistible. The can’t-miss whale season, however, runs from June to September and sees up to 20,000 ocean giants migrating along the coast.

Read our  Sydney travel guide

Uluru, Red Centre, NT © Tourism Australia

Ulu r u, Red Centre, Northern Territory © Tourism Australia

This huge red monolith is a World Heritage site, and one of Australia’s most emblematic landmarks. r u">Ulu r u is literally the heart of Australia, and the ochre soil is as dramatic as the massive sandstone rock itself. You can cycle, walk, ride a camel or take a helicopter around the nearly 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) circumference, then dine under the stars on a sand dune – your meal featuring native ingredients and your view lit by an incredible glowing art installation: Bruce Munro’s Field of Light .

When to visit: The best time to visit Ulu r u is from June to August, when the desert is cooler and temperatures are milder. While the region is hot in summer, the mild nights and open-air dining make it all worth it.

Read our r u travel guide">Ulu r u travel guide

Hosier Lane, Melbourne, VIC © Visit Victoria

Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Victoria © Visit Victoria

This southern metropolis captures everything Aussies love most in this world – leisure, sport, art, music and coffee (just to name a few). In Melbourne , you can find eye-popping street art and a plethora of en vogue restaurants and bars. From hidden speakeasies to rooftop bars where you can sip a cocktail and watch the sunset, Melbourne is a trailblazer in the food and wine stakes. Once you've wined and dined, you can’t miss a road trip along the  Great Ocean Road . Just a few hours from Melbourne, wild koalas, impressive rock formations and endless coastlines await.

When to visit: The best time to visit Melbourne is between November and March, when the sun is shining and the events calendar is jam-packed with things to see and do. The Australian Open tennis tournament, held in January, kicks off the international Grand Slam calendar. 

Read our Melbourne travel guide

Perth and Margaret River

Olio Bello, Margaret River, WA © Tourism Western Australia

Olio Bello, Margaret River, Western Australia © Tourism Western Australia 

Australia’s western capital is the gateway to some of the state’s most epic adventures – not least those involving food and wine. It’s a three-hour drive from Perth to the  Margaret River region, one of the few places in the world where wine grows within metres of the beach. The vineyards here are known for their cabernet sauvignon grapes, but take it from us, all the wines grown here are exquisite. There’s also a myriad of craft breweries, acclaimed restaurants , luxury hotels, spectacular forests and plenty to keep the kids entertained.

When to visit: The best time to visit Perth and Margaret River is between September and November, when the region is blanketed in native wildflowers. From January to March, the city comes alive with festivals galore, including Perth Festival  and  Sculpture by the Sea .

Read our Perth travel guide

Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, SA © Ben Goode

Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia © Ben Goode

This secluded island off the coast of South Australia is named after the (you guessed it) abundant local kangaroo species. But Kangaroo Island offers more than just ‘roos’! The island is a haven for all kinds of Australian flora and fauna. Think koalas, sea lions, echidnas, wallabies and dolphins – just to name a few. You’ll also discover an extraordinary array of breathtaking landscapes – cosy coves, towering trees and remarkable rock formations. When you’re done marvelling at nature, you can retire to the charming towns to enjoy a glass of locally produced wine paired with fine produce grown on the island’s farms.

When to visit: The best time to visit Kangaroo Island is in the summer months, between December and February, when it’s perfect beach weather. Yet, the mild winter months offer vibrant greenery and the perfect chance to do some whale watching.

Read our Kangaroo Island travel guide

Twin Falls, Kakadu, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/Jewels Lynch

Twin Falls, Kakadu, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/Jewels Lynch

World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park offers a front-row seat to the dramatic wilderness of the Northern Territory. The park is a three-hour drive from the capital city of  Darwin and when you arrive, you’ll find woodlands, floodplains, mangroves, tidal mudflats and even monsoon forest. Stay overnight and see landscapes ranging from thundering waterfalls to rocky gorges. If you want a place to feel completely insignificant – in the best possible way – Kakadu awaits.

When to visit: The best time to visit Kakadu is in the dry season, between May and October, when the temperatures are cooler, while August to November is the best time to see crocodiles.

Read our Kakadu National Park travel guide

Roaring 40s Kayaking, Hobart, TAS © Roaring 40s Kayaking

Roaring 40s Kayaking, Hobart, Tasmania © Roaring 40s Kayaking

Located on the island state of Tasmania, Hobart is the perfect place to pause, reconnect and take a breath of some of the freshest air in the world. Visitors can get a taste of the things that make Australia great, from fine dining and cultural attractions to stunning natural beauty. There's an endless parade of outdoor activities within reach of the city: epic alpine mountaineering, ocean kayaks and World Heritage-listed hikes . After a breathtaking adventure, reward yourself with the tastes of Tasmania at Hobart’s best restaurants or enjoy some locally brewed beverages at the irresistible bar offerings .  

When to visit: The best time to visit Hobart is during the summer months, between December and March, when the climate is warmer and the weather is more stable. Visitors in winter, however, get the best view of the Aurora Borealis , also known as the Southern Lights .

Read our Hobart travel guide

Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, QLD © Tourism Australia

Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland © Tourism Australia

If the Gold Coast enjoys a sparkling reputation, it's because there are 300 days of sunshine here every year. This golden city unites the things that make this country great: beautiful beaches , a blissful tropical climate, world-class restaurants and bars , and easy access to tangles of rainforest – you can be surfing one minute, then trekking half an hour later. The ‘Goldie’ is also home to a parade of theme parks and attractions , promising endless days of action and adventure for the whole family . 

When to visit: Though temperatures are great all year round, the best time to visit the Gold Coast is between January and May or August to December, when the weather’s pleasant and there’s hardly ever rain.

Read our Gold Coast travel guide

Broken Head Beach, Byron Bay, NSW © Destination NSW

Broken Head Beach, Byron Bay, New South Wales © Destination NSW

There’s a reason why Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth and Simon Baker (along with thousands of other lucky Aussies) call  Byron Bay home – it really is one of Australia’s most beautiful coastal coves. Nestled on the coast of northern New South Wales, Byron is tipped by a picturesque hilltop lighthouse (the mainland's most easterly point). In the town’s centre, you can get a tarot reading, take a surfing lesson , indulge in paddock-to-plate meals, or simply sip a local brew while spotting dolphins and watching whales on their annual migration. 

When to visit: The best time to visit Byron Bay is between November and February, when it’s all sun, fun and blue skies. While the best time for whale watching in Byron is from May to September.

Read our   Byron Bay travel guide

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Uluru Aboriginal Tours, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT © Tourism Australia

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Esplanade Theatres on the Bay

The best Singapore attractions to visit

From dizzying rooftop retreats to wild night-time safaris, there's no shortage of amazing things to do in this metropolis

Cheryl Sekkappan

With its blend of old and new, colonial and contemporary, Singapore is a true wonder of Southeast Asia. Gleaming skyscrapers, luxury hotels, Instagrammable parks and boulevards filled with air-conditioned malls – Singapore truly has it all. Oh, and there are  loads  of attractions and great things to do to keep the hordes of visitors occupied too. It can be hard to know where to start. There's nature in abundance, and endless ways to seek out amazing views. There's galleries and shops galore too, for the less adventurou. So here's a run-down of the best Singapore attractions, as selected by our local experts just for you.

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click  here .

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in Singapore  and where to see interesting architecture and landmarks in Singapore

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Must-see attractions in Singapore

Jewel Changi Airport

1.  Jewel Changi Airport

If you've just got off the plane, don't have to leave the airport just yet! Entertain yourself at the latest lifestyle concept, Jewel Changi Airport. This majestic dome is home to over 280 dining and retail outlets, with some open around the clock – think dining at ungodly hours at American fast-food chain A&W or food court Five Spice, or killing a couple of hours with a movie at 24-hour Shaw Theatres. You can also catch the hourly light and sound show at the HSBC Rain Vortex, the mall’s 40m-tall indoor waterfall, from 7.30pm to midnight. Honestly, this place is ridiculous. Arguably worth the flight just to see this. Not a sad pasty shop in sight. There's even play attractions for the little ones – including trampolines! Hell, you could even add a day onto the stay and use the on-site hotel. Sure makes checking in a little sweeter. 

Singapore Botanic Gardens

2.  Singapore Botanic Gardens

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a jewel among the many beautiful parks and gardens in Singapore. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features attractions like  a swan lake where visitors can feed the black Australian swans and  the Evolution Garden Walk, a well-landscaped plot containing the fossilised remains of ancient trees. It's also home to the world's largest collection of orchids – some 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, plus the national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim – at the National Orchid Garden.  During weekends, tours to its rainforest patch are available, while outdoor concerts are often held at Symphony Lake. And with the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, where children can run wild and explore the  farm, orchard, and forest which has its own stream and ponds, this nature spot is family-friendly.  

Haw Par Villa

3.  Haw Par Villa

  • Things to do

Opened in 1937, this weird and wonderful park was named after its owners, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the brothers who made their fortune from the acclaimed cure-all ointment Tiger Balm. Multicoloured statues and tableaux – some looking rather neglected – depict scenes from Chinese mythology. The highlight is the Ten Courts of Hell (responsible for childhood nightmares for generations of Singaporeans) where dioramas showing human sinners being punished in a variety of hideous and bloodthirsty ways – in extremely gory and graphic detail. It’s a safe bet that you will never see anything like it anywhere else. There is the infamous 10 Courts of Hell to navigate, but don't worry, it's not too scary. You can go in groups of up to 25 if you believe the whole 'strength in numbers' thing. 

National Gallery Singapore

4.  National Gallery Singapore

The former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings have been refurbished to become Singapore’s National Gallery. It is the largest visual art gallery in the city-state and is mostly dedicated to local and Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present day. So all the pretty modern and contemporary stuff then. Many of the works on display are drawn from the permanent National Collection but there’s also a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions to check out too. So there's always something new to check, even if you've been before. Plenty to look at. 

Chijmes

5.  Chijmes

Once a convent school, CHIJMES has transformed into a hip lifestyle enclave brimming with bars, restaurants and cafés. It’s currently undergoing a revamp – and it’s more than just a cosmetic update. A fleet of new F&B joints are flocking to the old school, including El Mero Mero, Here & There, and Prive. Whether you want to just chill on the lawn, get your yoga on, or just eat and drink basically everything you've ever eaten, you can do it here. An essential stop while you're in Singapore really. Especially if you want to just be in a place doing stuff. 

Gardens by the Bay

6.  Gardens by the Bay

The stuff of nature-lovers’ dreams, Gardens by the Bay is a truly magnificent site. The 250-acre green haven is filled with huge, flora-wreathed towers connected by ‘skyways’ and two enormous conservatories. Opened in 2012 as part of a drive to bring more greenery into Singapore, the gardens are free for guests to explore but you'll need an admission ticket for access to the flower domes that house rotating floral exhibitions. Needless to say, this is a non-negotiable must-see. There's also season passes for $20 (aprx. £11), so you can visit again and again. You'll want to, as it's absolutely massive. And beautfiul. 

Universal Studios Singapore

7.  Universal Studios Singapore

This outpost of Universal Studios' theme park empire on Sentosa Island has an array of world-class rides across its various regions. There's Transformers: The Ride (a 3D adventure where you have to protect the Allspark), Battlestar Galactica (twin roller coasters that are sure to get your heart racing), Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (everyone's favourite water ride), Enchanted Airways, Canopy Flyer and Revenge of the Mummy. Your kids will obviously never forgive you if you don’t let them run amok here. There's fun for all the family here though, whether you like thirll-seeking rides or chilling with the cast from Madagascar, it's all going on. Latest additions include a Trick or Thrills attraction. 

Singapore Zoo

8.  Singapore Zoo

With 28 awe-inspiring hectares to explore, it's unlikely that you'll be able to cover Singapore Zoo in its entirety in a day. But you give it a good go. Unlike traditional zoos, which keep its animals in cages, this place was the first in the world to implement the 'open concept', which has animals in individually landscaped enclosures. There are more than 4,000 animals to see across 11 zones, including Wild Africa, Primate Kingdom and Frozen Tundra. There's over 300 species, so honestly, all sorts of things you'll never see anywhere else. Visit the world's largest captive colony of orangutans, feed the friendly Asian elephants and see the rare white tiger. You can also feed giraffes, if you're tall enough. A zoo done properly. Good to see. You also have amazing attractions like the night walk at the rainforst, and virtual experiences. 

Night Safari

9.  Night Safari

Set in lush secondary rainforest, the Night Safari is a must-see for visitors. The world’s first night zoo (opened in 1994) allows you to witness what over 2,500 nocturnal animals from 130 species get up to after dusk, in naturalistic habitats and without barriers, via the use of special lighting techniques. Lions? Check. Rhino? Check. Leopards? Check. Flying squirrels? Check! There's animals from seven geographical regions, and you get to see the lot without much work (you'll ride a tram all the way through). You can get open dated tickets too, so no stress on exactly when you rock up to the safari. 

Singapore River Safari

10.  Singapore River Safari

Another animal exploration! This time it's the watery (and other) ones. Manatees, crocodiles, flamingos and monkeys are just some of the 5,000 beasties you’ll encounter in this river-themed wildlife park, which boasts the world’s biggest freshwater aquarium and a panda exhibit housing the cuddly couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia. So good they named them twice, twice. The River Safari is split into two zones: the Rivers of the World, which showcases animals from eight rivers including the Congo and Yangtze, and Wild Amazonia, where you can come face-to-face with over 30 animals from the rainforest on a boat ride aptly named Amazon River Quest. You can also see ancient-looking creatures, from a time long before we all started visiting zoos and stuff. 

Bird Paradise

11.  Bird Paradise

  • Zoos and aquariums

A sad goodbye to Jurong Bird Park and an enthusiastic hello to Bird Paradise. This new 17-hectare park has eight stunning, walk-through aviaries modelled after the different biomes of the world. Think African rainforests, South African wetlands, and Australian dry eucalypt forests. This is where you can walk among free-flying birds, including some of the world's most threatened species and one of the largest populations of Hornbills under human care. 

The new park comes with refreshed programmes too. Visitors are in for a treat at new avian shows like Predators on Wings and Wings of the World, as well as behind-the-scenes tours at the Avian Healthcare and Research Centre and the Avian Breeding and Research Centre (with more to come). Otherwise, get up close with bird friends at special feeding sessions; the $8 fee will go to conservation programmes across the region that are supported by Mandai Wildlife Group. 

Pulau Ubin

12.  Pulau Ubin

Take a walk on the wild side as you step foot on one of Singapore’s most popular off-shore islands. A sprawling 1,020 hectares, Ubin boasts lush greenery and abundant wildlife, drawing nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the many wonders of the granite island. There are plenty of activities to get up to here: go birdwatching at Pekan Quarry, wander through nature trails, and hike 75 metres up Puaka Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the islet. The sea-and-mangrove route will be a breeze for moderate kayakers (it's a word) and will be an accessible challenge for beginners. So go on, enjoy the chill chill vibes that are Kayaking around the lushious Singapore islands. 

MacRitchie Reservoir

13.  MacRitchie Reservoir

  • Walks and tours
  • Central Water Catchment

Singapore’s oldest nature park is continuously filled with joggers, families and weekend strollers – plus those flocking to see the occasional free concert. You can get into the reservoir’s rainforest via the MacRitchie Trail, which offers straightforward boardwalk treks and more ambitious, longer hikes. There’s plenty of wildlife here, from flying lemurs to tree frogs and pangolins – but they do tend to hide out of sight. The one exception are the long-tailed macaque monkeys that hang about. Be warned, though: having been fed by less responsible visitors, they can be aggressive little terrors. Don't feed them, or wave about snacks. They're cute when behaving though, so do come along wo the big green lung right at the heart of Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It's one of the most significant, untouched, bits of land on the entire island. 

Marina Bay Sands

14.  Marina Bay Sands

The 2,500 rooms at this hotel offer views of the South China Sea or Marina Bay and the Singapore skyline, but let’s be honest: the Moshe Safdie-designed SkyPark is the real crowd-puller, sitting atop the three hotel towers 200 metres above ground level (that's high up, that is). Non-hotel guests have to pay for the privilege of enjoying unfettered views from the Observation Deck across the city – but it’s definitely worth it. To take that selfie to make all your friends back home seethe with envy, if nothing else. We're talking proper panoramic views, from the Gardens by the Bay to the Supertree grove sculptures, and of course that skyline. You can see the lot from up here. Well worth catching at various times of day. 

Changi Airport

15.  Changi Airport

An airport doesn’t sound like much of an attraction – more a series of interminable queues filled with tetchy flyers and shrieking babies. But Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted the world’s best airport for the fifth consecutive year – and there’s much to marvel at here. Butterfly habitats, Balinese-style rooftop pools, 24-hour cinemas, spa centres, and the highly-raved Jewel Changi Airport – trust us, this ain’t your average airport. There are far worse stopovers during a long-haul flight. I mean, you read about Jewel Changi Airport, didn't you? This is the airports-are-a-great-place epicenter of the world. A lot of the long-haul flghta go out of here too, so why not book yours there? you can just rock up very early, get a massage, have a little swim, the obligatory pre-flight drink at any ridiculous hour, and then you're jetting off. Stress free. Alternatively, when you turn up to the airport just forget the hotel for a few extra hours and chill. It's a holiday no? 

Orchard Road

16.  Orchard Road

Once home to an orchard of fruit trees, this area of Singapore is now widely known as the shopping district. Stretching out over two kilometres in the centre of the city, Orchard Road is home to numerous coffeeshops, beauty salons, art galleries, hotels, designer and discount outlets, restaurants and nightclubs. Come armed with cash, and plenty of it. This is a 1.6 mile road full of amazing places to part-take in the old retail therapy. Whether you're looking for fantastic dining, beautiful shops (such as The Grande Whisky Collection, which has a nice 4,500 of the earest and oldest whiskies in the world), and more. There's also some decent hotels, like the Four Seasons. 

Esplanade Theatres on the Bay

17.  Esplanade Theatres on the Bay

Few buildings have created such a stir in Singapore as the Esplanade. Opened in 2002, the eye-catching bayfront complex has been dubbed ‘the durians’ by locals because of its resemblance to the spiky (and stinky) tropical fruit. It’s the city’s most prominent performing arts centre and the programme bears an eclectic mix of Western and Eastern influences. Book a gig, concert or theatre show in advance and make a cultural evening of it. There's usually around 3,500 events at this venue every year, so you'll find something you like. There's also a lovely park nearby for those of you who enjoy a post-production stroll. 

Singapore Flyer

18.  Singapore Flyer

Marina Bay’s giant, 42-storey, 165m observation wheel continues to pull a mix of tourists and locals who come for the breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city available from one of its capsules. Each flight lasts 30 mintues and on a clear day the panorama from the top of the wheel stretches into neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia. If you fancy pimping your experience a bit, take a look at the dining and cocktail packages that are available. If you'd like to soak up some sweet sweet knowledge also, you're in luck – these 30 minute adventures come with an in-capsule audio guide and interactive screens designed to help you discover the past, present, and future of Sinapore. 

National Museum of Singapore

19.  National Museum of Singapore

After an $118 million refurb and rebranding job, the Singapore History Museum reopened as the National Museum of Singapore: the largest museum on the island. There are two main galleries: the Singapore History Gallery, which traces the history of Singapore from its beginnings in the fourteenth century to the present day and the Singapore Living Galleries, which focus on four lifestyle themes – food, fashion, film and photography.  That's over 700 years of Singapore to get stuck into, and over 1700 artefacts.  It’s worth a visit just for the building, an imposing neoclassical structure, complemented by modern glass additions. Until October 2021 there's a visual record on COVID-19 too, if current history is your thing. 

ArtScience Museum

20.  ArtScience Museum

Shoehorning art and science into the same room and doing justice to both was always going to be a big risk. But by and large, the ArtScience Museum succeeds. Future World: Where Art Meets Science is a collaboration with Japanese art collective teamLab and features interactive experiences that are also perfect Instagram fodder. The building is a lot of fun too, a real spaceship vibe to the layout – it has ten fingers that anchor by a round base in the middle. So that's worth a looking alone. Inside, with the art-science crossover it should have something for everyone. 

Check out more great things to do in Singapore

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101 best things to do in Singapore

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Lisbon Portugal Tourism Guide

Home > What to See and Do > Top 10 Must-See Attractions

Top 10 Attractions and 50 Things to Do in Lisbon

The most extraordinary sights and the most memorable experiences.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon

1. Jerónimos Monastery

This World Heritage monument is a marvel of Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) architecture. It was built in 1502, and features magnificent stonework inspired by the sea and the East, particularly in the cloisters. Paid for with the profits from the spice trade, it’s the resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama, whose tomb is found at the entrance of the church.

See the Jerónimos Monastery Visitor's Guide .

Torre de Belém, Lisbon

2. Belém Tower

Lisbon’s most iconic monument rises from the river, where it served as a beacon to the many explorers who departed from this site in the 15th and 16th centuries. Also protected as World Heritage , it looks like a small castle out of a fairy tale, and is a symbol of the Age of Discovery .

See the Belém Tower Visitor's Guide .

Castelo de São Jorge, Lisbon

3. St. George's Castle

Lisbon’s highest hill has been crowned by fortifications for literally thousands of years. The first ones were built by the Visigoths in the 5th century, then the Moors expanded them in the 9th century, and Portugal’s first king remodelled them in the 12th century. The medieval castle became a royal residence until the 1500s, and what stands today is the restored version of the Moorish and medieval construction. It houses a small archaeological museum, but is mostly visited for the breathtaking panoramic view of the city.

See the St. George's Castle Visitor's Guide .

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

4. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Businessman and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian was one of the world’s wealthiest men in the mid-20th century, and created a foundation in Lisbon to promote the arts and education around the globe. He put together one of the world’s greatest private art collections , and a museum was built next to the foundation’s headquarters. He only acquired masterpieces, so everything on display is outstanding, from paintings by old masters such as Rembrandt and Rubens, to Egyptian antiquities and unique pieces of Lalique jewelry.

See the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum Visitor's Guide .

MAAT, Lisbon

Exhibitions related to modern art, architecture and technology are presented in an iconic building of curved lines that descends into the river. Even if you don’t visit the art inside, you may walk around, and even on top of, this waterfront landmark, as it serves as a viewpoint, looking out to 25 de Abril Bridge.

See the MAAT Visitor's Guide .

Museu dos Coches, Lisbon

6. Coaches Museum

Lisbon’s most popular museum became even more so when it moved to a bigger building across the street from its original home. Its collection of magnificent carriages (unique in the world) is now displayed in a modern building designed by Pritzker Prize architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and includes vehicles dating back to the 16th century, ridden by Portuguese and other European royals.

See the Coaches Museum Visitor's Guide .

Parque das Nações, Lisbon

7. Parque das Nações

Eastern Lisbon was transformed into a futuristic ocean-themed neighborhood when it was chosen as the site of 1998’s World Fair. It’s now home to office and apartment buildings, but also to one of the city’s greatest attractions, the Oceanarium, which puts all of the world’s ocean habitats under one roof. From there, visitors walk along the pleasant waterfront promenade towards Vasco da Gama Bridge (Europe’s longest) and the Vasco da Gama Tower (the city’s tallest building).

See the Parque das Nações Visitor's Guide .

Museu do Azulejo, Lisbon

8. Tile Museum

Ceramic tile art dates back to ancient Egypt and is found all over the Mediterranean, but nowhere else in the world did it evolve as much or as imaginatively as in Portugal. Here, tiles became more than just geometric figures decorating walls, they also depicted historical and cultural scenes to cover palaces, street signs and shops. There is only one place on the planet where you can follow the history and evolution of this art form, and that’s Lisbon’s Tile Museum. Set in a magnificent 16th-century convent , this is the city’s most beautiful museum . It’s a unique gallery with a collection of tilework that ranges from Moorish-influenced pieces from Seville to modern examples by contemporary artists. In the splendid church dripping with gold is also a series of Dutch panels, from a time when Europe started imitating Chinese ceramics.

See the Tile Museum Visitor's Guide .

Museu de Arte Antiga, Lisbon

9. Ancient Art Museum

It has paintings by masters like Bosch and Dürer, but the main reason to head to this museum is for a lesson in how the East and the West influenced each other , thanks to the Portuguese “Age of Discovery.” Highlights include Japanese screens illustrating Japan’s first encounter with Europeans as the Portuguese arrived on their ships, a monstrance made with gems brought back by Vasco da Gama, and the 15th-century masterpiece “Panels of St. Vincent” depicting Prince Henry the Navigator and other personalities of the time.

See the Ancient Art Museum Visitor's Guide .

Museu Berardo, Lisbon

10. MAC/CCB

Located next to Jerónimos Monastery, this museum (formerly named Berardo Collection Museum) presents a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art . Most of it belongs to Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo, who collected works by major European and American artists like Picasso, Magritte, Paula Rego, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

See the MAC/CCB Visitor's Guide .

40 OTHER MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon

Discoveries Monument

This massive monument is shaped like a ship with 33 people aboard, led by Prince Henry the Navigator. The other colossal sculptures are of other personalities related to the Portuguese Age of Discovery , such as explorers, poet Luís de Camões, and painter Nuno Gonçalves. Inside are temporary exhibitions and an elevator that takes visitors to the terrace at the top, which offers a breathtaking view of the neighboring monuments. Outside, on the ground, is a vast compass with a map of the world tracing the routes of Portugal's heroes of the sea.

See the Discoveries Monument Visitor's Guide .

Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

Rua Augusta Arch

The triumphal arch that once welcomed those arriving in Lisbon by boat, now offers visitors one of the best views of the city from the top . From the feet of its gigantic sculptures is a bird’s-eye perspective of Lisbon’s grandest square opening to the river, the cathedral, and downtown’s cobbled streets.

See the Rua Augusta Arch Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Lisbon

Portas do Sol Viewpoint

The most stunning view of old Lisbon can be admired and photographed from this terrace by the castle. This medieval part of the city looks more like a Mediterranean village or a Greek island than a capital city, with white church towers, domes and colorful houses tumbling down the hill towards the waterfront. In the surroundings are several cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating.

See the Portas do Sol Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon

São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint

This terrace at the top of a hill was landscaped in the 1800s and is one of Lisbon’s most romantic spots . Locals and tourists take photos of the postcard view , and gaze across to the castle as they enjoy drinks from a kiosk café. It’s found next to the terminal of one of the city’s iconic funiculars , the Elevador da Glória.

See the São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon

Santa Justa Elevator

A monumental wrought-iron elevator , designed in Gothic Revival style by one of Gustave Eiffel’s disciples, was inaugurated in 1902 to facilitate the climb of one of Lisbon’s hills. It connects Baixa (downtown) to Chiado and Bairro Alto at the top of the hill, but is now mostly a tourist attraction, as it also offers a panoramic view .

See the Santa Justa Elevator Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Lisbon

Santa Luzia Viewpoint

A pergola frames a perfect view of Alfama’s domes and rooftops descending the hill towards the river at this romantic terrace next to a small church. It’s incredibly picturesque from its two levels -- the landscaped upper level with lush bougainvillea is adorned with tile panels, while the lower level has a reflecting pool.

See the Santa Luzia Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

Ribeira das Naus

This promenade connects the Baixa and Cais do Sodré districts, and turns into something of an “urban beach” in the summer. It’s the favorite sunbathing spot in the city center for locals and tourists (who lie on the steps that descend to the water or on the lawn behind them), and the terrace of its kiosk-café is one of the most popular spots for drinks on the waterfront. It’s also one of the best places to catch the sunset in the autumn and winter months, when the sun disappears on the horizon on this more southern location of the city.

See the Ribeira das Naus Visitor's Guide .

Lx Factory, Lisbon

An abandoned factory complex dating back to 1846 became one of Lisbon’s trendiest places to be , when it started housing offices, shops, cafés and restaurants in 2008. It’s one of the top destinations for dinner throughout the week and for brunch on weekends, when it also hosts outdoor markets selling everything from locally-grown vegetables to crafts, fashion, and accessories. All of the interiors have kept their industrial architecture and vintage pieces in their décors, and the exterior is a true street art gallery .

See the Lx Factory Visitor's Guide .

MuDe Design and Fashion Museum, Lisbon

MuDe - Design & Fashion Museum

Lisbon has one of Europe’s best design and fashion collections , and it’s displayed in the former headquarters of a bank, in the city’s main pedestrian street. There are creations by many of the world’s leading designers from the mid-1800s to the present, like Charles & Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Philippe Starck, Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. Most of the pieces were amassed by a local businessman, but there have also been donations, including an outfit by Tommy Hilfiger himself.

See the MuDe Visitor's Guide .

Palácio da Ajuda, Lisbon

Royal Palace of Ajuda

Portugal’s last royal palace was built at the top of a hill in 1795. It was to be one of Europe’s largest palaces, but was abandoned and the project left unfinished during the French invasion of Portugal and later when the country became a republic. However, the neoclassical building is grand enough, and the royal family left behind the crown jewels and a collection of decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, which are displayed in the magnificent rooms . Across the street is the royal botanical garden , laid out in 1768. Split into two levels, it has exotic trees and plants, 18th-century sculptures and fountains, and a beautiful view of 25 de Abril Bridge.

See the Ajuda Palace Visitor's Guide .

Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, Lisbon

São Vicente de Fora Monastery

The world's largest collection of baroque tile panels , including several illustrating La Fontaine's fables, can be seen inside this monastery from 1582. Those panels were added in the 1700s, and line the cloisters and much of the interior. It’s possible to climb up to the roof, for a view over Alfama.

See the São Vicente de Fora Monastery Visitor's Guide .

Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon’s fortified cathedral is the city’s second-oldest monument, after the castle. It’s a robust building from 1147, and most of it survived the 1755 earthquake. Its cloisters reveal archaeological remains of the city’s past 3000 years , while the treasury presents a collection of priceless sacred art .

See the Lisbon Cathedral Visitor's Guide .

Igreja de São Roque, Lisbon

Igreja de São Roque

Built in the 1500s, this was one of the world’s first Jesuit churches , with a very plain façade but with a number of extraordinarily gilded chapels inside. One of them is a unique masterpiece of European art , and said to be “ the world’s most expensive chapel .” Built in Rome in 1742, using only the most precious gems (ivory, lapis lazuli, gold, silver, marble, gilt bronze, agate, porphyry...), the chapel was shipped to Lisbon to be assembled in this church, where it can now be seen together with other side-chapels equally rich in ornamentation.

See the Igreja de São Roque Visitor's Guide .

Igreja de Santa Catarina, Lisbon

Igreja de Santa Catarina

The magnificent baroque and rococo interior of this church is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful sights , but it remains a little-known treasure. It dates from 1727, and most of it actually survived the 1755 earthquake, unlike the majority of churches and everything else in the city. It’s therefore a rare example of Lisbon’s wealth up to the 18th century, with a monumental organ that’s a masterpiece of gilded woodwork and a stucco ceiling that’s considered one of the most outstanding of its kind in Europe.

See the Igreja de Santa Catarina Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro da Graça, Lisbon

Graça Viewpoint

A pine-shaded terrace at the top of one of Lisbon’s tallest hills is a meeting place for locals, who love to admire their city as much as tourists do. No one can resist taking a photo of the view of the castle and the rooftops below it , and stopping for a drink served from a kiosk standing in the shadow of a baroque church.

See the Graça viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Lisbon

Santa Catarina Viewpoint

Lisbon’s favorite sunset spot is one of its most central viewpoints. It’s a terrace located close to many of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants, so it’s where many start their night out. There’s a kiosk serving drinks to be enjoyed on the amphitheater-like steps, where bohemian locals and tourists get together in a chill-out atmosphere. They’re overlooked by a sculpture of Adamastor, a mythical sea monster imagined by Portugal’s great 16th-century poet Luís de Camões.

See the Santa Catarina Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Lisbon

Senhora do Monte Viewpoint

It rivals the Santa Catarina viewpoint as the favorite sunset spot , but here there are no cafés and the view is more breathtaking. It’s a quieter viewpoint, but has become quite popular, as it offers a panorama of almost the entire city . It’s faced by a small 18th-century chapel and an image of the Virgin which gave it its name (“Lady of the Mount”).

See the Senhora do Monte Viewpoint Visitor's Guide .

Elevador da Bica, Lisbon

Bica Funicular

It perfectly frames a view of the river, so Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo would always be one of Lisbon’s most photographed streets , but what makes it such a picturesque and irresistible place (and arguably the city’s most beautiful street) is the presence of a charming funicular . It has been going up and down the hilly street since 1892, connecting the Bairro Alto district to the waterfront. Its journey takes just 5 minutes, and it carries up to 23 passengers, but it’s now mostly used as a backdrop for selfies.

See the Bica Funicular Guide .

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon

Ribeira Market

Lisbon’s main market since 1892 became the city’s top food destination in 2014, when it added a food hall managed by Time Out Lisboa magazine. It’s a lively place from morning to night, with stalls offering some of the most creative dishes by some of the city’s top chefs. They’re enjoyed at canteen-style communal tables inside, or outside, facing Dom Luis I Square.

See the Ribeira Market Visitor's Guide .

Docas de Santo Amaro, Lisbon

Docas de Santo Amaro

The best close-up views of the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge are from the warehouses-turned-restaurants below it. They face a marina, and are the starting point of a promenade that leads to the Discoveries Monument and the many other attractions of Belém. This is a popular destination at lunch and dinner time, as well as for afternoon drinks. It’s also the departure point of sightseeing cruises. The bridge is often compared to the Golden Gate in San Francisco, but it was actually modelled after the Bay Bridge in the same city. One of the pillars (across the road from here) has a glassed observation deck at the top, and houses an exhibition explaining the mechanisms that make a suspension bridge work.

See the Docas de Santo Amaro Visitor's Guide .

Cristo Rei, Lisbon

A gigantic image of Christ standing on a tall pedestal was inaugurated across the river in 1959, as a way for the episcopate to thank God for having spared Lisbon from World War II. An elevator takes visitors up to the terrace by the feet of the statue, from where there's a panoramic view of practically the entire city . From the landscaped surroundings there’s a close-up view of 25 de Abril Bridge , which stands right below.

See the Cristo Rei Visitor's Guide .

Convento do Carmo, Lisbon

Carmo Convent

The roof of this 14th-century church, which was Lisbon’s greatest medieval building, collapsed in the earthquake of 1755, but its Gothic arches still stand. It was never restored, to serve as a reminder of the disaster, but it remains one of the city’s most impressive monuments . The former sacristy is a small archaeological museum with an eclectic collection of treasures, from Portugal and elsewhere, including a Visigothic pillar, a Roman tomb, and eerie South American mummies. Behind the building are the Terraços do Carmo, terraces now occupied by an open-air café and bar, offering a view of the castle and of the Santa Justa Elevator , which can also be accessed from here.

See the Carmo Convent Visitor's Guide .

Panteão Nacional, Lisbon

National Pantheon

A domed church that took 300 years to complete is now the pantheon holding the tombs of Portugal’s most illustrious personalities (from 15th-century explorers, to Presidents, to legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues ). The marble interior is a fine example of baroque architecture , but it’s mostly visited for the terrace surrounding the dome , which overlooks Alfama and the river.

See the National Pantheon Visitor's Guide .

Basilica da Estrela, Lisbon

Basílica da Estrela

Inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome and Mafra Palace outside Lisbon, this royal basilica was built according to the wishes of the queen in 1790. The imposing dome stands out in the city’s skyline, and it’s possible to get a close-up view of it from the terrace , which overlooks the city. The marble interior includes a remarkable nativity scene , created by Portugal’s leading baroque sculptor. Across the street is one of Lisbon’s most delightful parks .

See the Basílica da Estrela Visitor's Guide .

Palácio Fronteira, Lisbon

Fronteira Palace

It’s way off the beaten path, outside the city center, but it’s worth making the effort to see this palace from 1670, as it’s a fine example of aristocratic architecture. It was influenced by the Renaissance, and has one of the world’s richest collections of decorative tiles , which can be admired inside or in the magnificent gardens .

See the Fronteira Palace Visitor's Guide .

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

Edward VII Park

Lisbon’s sloping “central park” offers a view of downtown Lisbon, with symmetrical box hedging pointing to the river. On one side is a beautifully-tiled pavilion which hosts special events, and on the other are small lakes and a greenhouse filled with exotic species of plants from tropical climates.

See the Edward VII Park Visitor's Guide .

Jardim do Príncipe Real, Lisbon

Jardim do Príncipe Real

The center of Lisbon’s trendiest district is a romantic garden laid out in 1863. It’s shaded by different species of trees, including a gigantic parasol-like cedar. It’s surrounded by mansions, including the exotic Ribeiro da Cunha Palace , which is now a monumental shopping gallery. There are statues of 19th-century poets and a memorial to the victims of homophobia, as well as kiosk cafés serving refreshments throughout the day.

See the Jardim do Príncipe Real Visitor's Guide .

Vasco da Gama Bridge, Lisbon

Vasco da Gama Bridge

Inaugurated in 1998 as Europe’s longest , this bridge remains one of the largest in the world. It seems to almost vanish into the distance, and it’s possible to walk under it, following the waterfront promenade of the Parque das Nações district. There’s a park below it, where locals jog, cycle, walk their dogs, and play soccer, as very few tourists pose for selfies on the boardwalk with the bridge as a backdrop. By the promenade is a statue of Catherine of Braganza , the Portuguese princess who became the queen of England when she married King Charles II, who named the borough of Queens in New York in her honor.

See the Vasco da Gama Bridge Visitor's Guide .

Pink Street, Lisbon

Pink Street

The color of the pavement gave it its nickname, but this pedestrian street is officially Rua Nova do Carvalho on the map. It’s quite a small street, but is the epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife , and the New York Times even placed it on a list of “12 favorite streets in Europe.” It hosts a street party throughout the week, mixing locals and tourists, who sit or stand outside the different bars.

See the Pink Street Visitor's Guide .

Roman Theater, Lisbon

Lisbon Museum

Divided into five different branches, this museum tells the story of Lisbon and explains the different aspects of its culture. The main branch is an 18th-century palace that the king built for a nun (who happened to be his mistress), and features a formal garden with live peacocks and ceramic animals. That’s Palácio Pimenta , and inside it documents Lisbon’s history, from prehistoric times to the 20th century, through paintings, archaeological finds, and a scale model of the city before its destruction by the 1755 earthquake. Another branch is the striking Casa dos Bicos , a 16th-century building covered in over 1000 diamond-shaped stones that was one of the few survivors of the earthquake. Its ground floor is an archaeological site with traces of Lisbon life from the past two millennia, while upstairs is an exhibition devoted to the life and work of author José Saramago, featuring his Nobel Prize and multilingual editions of his books. Another famous Portuguese personality, Saint Anthony, is celebrated in another branch, next to the church with his name, built on the site where he was born (right in front of the cathedral). A fourth branch is found in the city’s grandest square -- in the western turret of Praça do Comércio, and presents temporary exhibitions. But if you visit only one branch of the museum make it the Roman Theater , which is an archaeological site showing the remains of what was once a sizable theater during Lisbon’s Roman occupation. Pieces unearthed during the excavations are shown in a building next door.

See the Lisbon Museum Visitor's Guide .

Orient Museum, Lisbon

Orient Museum

As the European power with the longest presence in Asia (Macau was only handed over to China in 1999), Portugal has quite a story to tell about how its culture influenced and was influenced by the East. This museum does just that, with a permanent collection dedicated to the Portuguese presence in Asia . It includes Indo-Portuguese furniture, Japanese screens, paintings, porcelain, textiles and religious artifacts. The restored 1940s warehouse it’s housed in also presents temporary exhibitions covering a variety of themes related to the different Asian cultures.

See the Orient Museum Visitor's Guide .

Casa Museu Medeiros e Almeida, Lisbon

Medeiros e Almeida Museum

A 19th-century mansion houses one of Lisbon’s most outstanding art collections . Somehow, it remains one of the city’s top secrets, often overlooked by travel guides. It’s the former home of a wealthy businessman, who displayed his treasures in 25 rooms, including a Rembrandt portrait and other paintings by major artists like Rubens and Tiepolo. It also presents one of the world’s largest collections of clocks, some of the first Chinese porcelain imported by Europe, a silver tea set that once belonged to Napoleon, and a marble and bronze fountain that originally stood in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, among hundreds of other surprising pieces.

See the Medeiros e Almeida Visitor's Guide .

Museu de Marinha, Lisbon

Maritime Museum

Located in the western wing of Jerónimos Monastery, this museum provides a flashback to the Age of Discovery and Portugal’s nautical history. Ancient globes, models of ships, maps and astrolabes explain the pioneering role of the Portuguese in the exploration of the oceans and in aviation , displaying the plane the made the first crossing of the South Atlantic by aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922. Other treasures include artifacts found in shipwrecks, the yacht and barges of the Portuguese royal family, and a wooden figure of Archangel Raphael that accompanied Vasco da Gama on his voyage to India.

See the Maritime Museum Visitor's Guide .

Jardim Tropical, Lisbon

Tropical Botanical Garden

If you have time for just one garden in Lisbon, make it the Tropical Botanical Garden next to the Jerónimos Monastery. Created in 1906 to show the exotic plants and trees from the Portuguese colonies , it’s now a beautiful and peaceful place to escape the crowds of tourists in the neighborhood. Busts of Africans and Asians are dotted around, and there’s a Macanese arch leading to an Oriental Garden, but there are also plants from other lands that were not colonized by the Portuguese. Giant palm trees welcome visitors, as do the peacocks, ducks, geese, swans, chickens, and other fowl that waddle around or swim on the pond.

See the Tropical Botanical Garden Visitor's Guide .

Aqueduct, Lisbon

Águas Livres Aqueduct

Lisbon created one of the world’s most impressive water systems in the early 1700s, thanks to a monumental aqueduct. It’s recognized as one of mankind’s most remarkable hydraulic and engineering constructions , and its 109 arches and different reservoirs escaped the destruction of the devastating 1755 earthquake. They make up the award-winning Water Museum , and it’s possible to walk over the aqueduct’s 14 largest stone arches (the world’s tallest when they were built), rising 64 meters (210 feet) from the ground. Smaller arches, decorated with baroque tile panels illustrating human consumption of water over history, can be seen leading to the Mãe d’Água reservoir nearby, whose rooftop offers a view of the arches and of the surrounding neighborhood. Inside, it often hosts temporary art exhibitions. Another reservoir can be visited on weekends below Jardim doPríncipe Real, while the main branch of the museum is located a short walk from behind Santa Apolónia train station, in the former steam pumping station. It preserves the iron and steel machinery in the Victorian and Neoclassical styles, considered treasures of Europe’s historical and industrial heritage.

See the Aqueduct and Water Museum Visitor's Guide .

Amoreiras 360, Lisbon

Amoreiras 360º

A group of glass postmodern towers altered Lisbon’s skyline and were therefore controversial when they were built in 1985, but their shopping mall soon became the city’s favorite shopping mecca. Newer and bigger malls are now more popular, but that of Amoreiras is still a destination, as it provides access to an observation deck at the top of one of the towers. There’s a 360-degree view of almost the entire city , from the Parque das Nações district in the east to Belém in the west. The mall below has dozens of stores and an excellent food court.

See the Amoreiras 360º Visitor's Guide .

Museu do Chiado, Lisbon

National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado

Art fans will want to head to this converted convent which houses the biggest collection of contemporary Portuguese art . It’s shown in thematic and temporary exhibitions, but there are always works by the leading national artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Almada Negreiros, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, and Paula Rego. A drink or light meal at the café on the sculpture-filled terrace is a great way to end a visit.

See the National Contemporary Art Museum of Chiado Visitor's Guide .

Museu Militar, Lisbon

Military Museum

Lisbon’s oldest museum recalls major battles, wars and the military history of Portugal in sumptuous rooms with beautifully-painted ceilings . The room named after Vasco da Gama shows how the country conquered and defended its colonies, while another room is entirely dedicated to WWI. Elsewhere it displays one of the world’s largest collections of artillery , swords used by kings, and replicas of 16th-century armor, among a variety of other pieces. The cannon-filled courtyard features tile panels illustrating some of the most historic battles that guaranteed that Portugal remained an independent Iberian kingdom.

See the Military Museum Visitor's Guide .

Lisbon Beach

There are many places in the city to enjoy the abundant sunshine and the mild temperatures, but luckily there are also several beaches nearby. That makes Lisbon one of Europe’s most blessed cities, and you can have your feet in the ocean or be on your surfboard in just minutes from the center of town. There’s a long stretch of sand to the south, offering everything from lively seaside bars to surfing waves , to secluded spots and nude beaches , and then there’s the coast to the west, easier to reach, and therefore more popular with tourists. Wilder beaches of stunning natural beauty are found to the north, by Europe’s westernmost point . Most can be reached by public transportation, and will make you want to prolong your stay in the city.

See the Lisbon Beaches Guide .

Sintra

A day trip to Sintra should be included in any visit to Lisbon. This fantasyland was Europe’s first center of romantic architecture, which has made it a World Heritage Site . It’s a magical place with several fairytale palaces and castles , but the must-see is the extraordinary Pena Palace , which looks like something that not even Disney could imagine.

See the Sintra Tourism Guide .

Lisbon Hotel

Top Places to Stay

Best Waterfront Hotels: Altis Belém Hotel , MYRIAD by SANA Hotels Best Views: Memmo Alfama , Hotel do Chiado , Solar dos Mouros Best Pools: Olissippo Lapa Palace , Palácio do Governador , EPIC SANA Marquês Best Hotels by the Castle: Solar do Castelo , Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel Best Central Hotels: Pousada de Lisboa , Bairro Alto Hotel , Altis Avenida , The Ivens Best Central Apartments: Residentas Aurea , Chiado Camões Apartments , Flora Chiado Apartments Best Beach Hotels: Farol Hotel , The Albatroz Hotel

Alfama neighborhood, Lisbon

Complete Lisbon Guide

Insider's guide with the latest travel tips, information and advice from local experts:

Where to Stay

Hotels in Alfama and the Castle

Hotels on Avenida da Liberdade

Hotels in Bairro Alto

Hotels in Baixa

Hotels in Chiado

Hotels in Príncipe Real

Hotels in Avenidas Novas

Neighborhoods

Avenida da Liberdade

Avenidas Novas

Bairro Alto

Cais do Sodré

Campo de Ourique

Parque das Nações

Príncipe Real

What to See & Do

Top 50 Attractions

Top 30 Museums

Top 30 Viewpoints

Best Beaches

Best Day Trips

Itinerary Advice

Family Attractions

On a Rainy Day

1 Day in Lisbon

Tourist Card

Tourist Map

Most Popular Attractions

Jerónimos Monastery

Belém Tower

Castle of St. George

Ajuda Palace

Coaches Museum

Tile Museum

MAC/CCB Museum

Ancient Art Museum

Pena Palace (Sintra)

Most Popular Beaches

Praia da Conceição

Costa da Caparica

Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

Praia da Ursa

Transportation

Travel Cards

Tram 15 to Belém

Train to Belém

Glória Funicular

Bus 101 to Cristo Rei

Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

Airport Guide

Airport Transportation

Rossio Station

Santa Apolónia Station

Oriente Station

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Washington, D.C.   Travel Guide

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world's top 10 tourist attractions

29 Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.

Not surprisingly, many of Washington D.C.'s main attractions relate to its principal enterprise: politics. These include the White House and the U.S. Capitol , of course, as well as monuments and historic sites dedicated to notable figures who

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world's top 10 tourist attractions

The Tidal Basin The Tidal Basin free

If you've never been to Washington, D.C. before, plan to spend some time along the Tidal Basin, an approximately 107-acre pond encircled by a 2.1-mile loop trail. Constructed to use the strong tides of the Potomac River to clear silt from the Washington Channel and to maintain steady water levels in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pools , it now also serves as the backdrop to some of D.C.'s best-loved sites. Every spring, the Tidal Basin bursts with color as cherry blossom trees (gifted to the city from Tokyo ) bloom into cotton candy-colored tufts, and they attract hordes of visitors. The cherry blossoms hit peak bloom (defined as when 70% of the cherry blossoms are open) on March 17 , according to the National Park Service. You can follow the path that leads around the basin, but recent visitors recommended testing the waters in a paddleboat. Paddleboats are available to rent from spring until fall for $28 to $40 per hour (depending on the day) for a four-passenger boat. You can pick up a paddle boat every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the boat dock near Maine Avenue.

Even if you don't make it to town for the cherry blossoms, you won't want to miss the three major memorials that can be found along the Tidal Basin's shores: the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial . A memorial to Virginia Declaration of Rights author George Mason, also stands nearby.

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The White House and the Washington Monument The White House and the Washington Monument free

Even if you're only in town for a short trip, visiting the Washington Monument and the White House – two marble symbols of the U.S. – is a must for any first-time D.C. visitor.

Standing just shy of 555 ½ feet, the Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world at its completion in 1884. Nowadays, you can ride one of the monument's glass-encased elevators to the top observation deck to enjoy 360-degree views of the city, which invariably impress visitors. You can explore the attraction's exterior for free 24 hours a day, but National Park Service rangers are only available from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. to answer questions. The monument itself is open to visitors every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free timed-entry tickets can be reserved up to 30 days in advance via Recreation.gov . (There is a $1 nonrefundable service charge for each ticket.) Some same-day tickets are distributed daily on a first-come, first served basis. The ticket window opens at 8:45 a.m.; be prepared for a line. The Smithsonian Metro stop is closest to the monument. Visit the National Park Service's Washington Monument page for more information.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Lincoln Memorial Lincoln Memorial free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  The best time to see this monument is after dark when it's illuminated. You'll still contend with crowds, but it will be worth it. – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

Although the Lincoln Memorial is just one of the District's many monuments, the larger-than-life Honest Abe is also among travelers' favorites. History buffs might enjoy reading Lincoln's  two famous speeches – the Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address – which are both etched into the memorial's north and south walls, respectively. Meanwhile, art history and architecture aficionados will enjoy admiring the building's striking design by Henry Bacon, complete with 38 Doric columns, 36 of which signify the states in the Union at the time Lincoln passed away.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Popular Tours

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World War II Memorial World War II Memorial free

U.S. News Insider Tip:  While it's pretty during the day, the memorial is incomparable at night. Visit after sunset. – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

The World War II Memorial was dedicated in 2004 to the 16 million American military members who served during World War II, including the thousands of individuals who lost their lives during the fight. A circle of 56 columns (representing the U.S. states and territories from the era) looks over the Rainbow Pool. At night, with lights shining, this memorial can be quite ethereal. The structure also has a wall of more than 4,000 gold stars – one for every 100 Americans who died in the conflict.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials free

One of the most moving war memorials, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – or "the Wall," as it's commonly referred to – is a long black granite wall with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who perished during the Vietnam War emblazoned on its surface. Recent travelers said their visits to the site were heartbreaking but thought-provoking and powerful, adding that even the toughest of individuals will find it hard to not become emotional while reading the wall's names. If you're looking for a specific person, keep in mind that the soldiers' names are ordered by the date they died, not alphabetically. Also, reviewers recommend using the attraction's name books and visiting during the day when there's ample sunlight.

When you're wandering along the eastern side of the Mall, venture to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Paying tribute to the 1.5 million who served in "The Forgotten War," this privately funded site contains 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers in combat. In a triangular area known as the Field of Service, soldier statues march toward an American flag. Next to the soldiers is a 164-foot-long granite wall that pays homage to the unnamed troops that fought in the Korean War. Another highlight of the memorial is the Pool of Remembrance, a tranquil place for reflection. However, some past travelers cautioned that the memorial lacks signage, so younger visitors may not understand as much as those who lived through the war.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial free

Located on the northwest rim of the Tidal Basin , this 30-foot granite memorial pays homage to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Everything from its address at 1964 Independence Ave. (a reference to the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Congress) to its design (which shows King emerging from a "mountain of despair," a reference to his "I Have a Dream" speech) are meant to reflect King's significant contribution to American history. What's more, this towering sculpture opened to the public in 2011, making it one of the newest memorials to open in the District. It is also the National Mall's first memorial dedicated to an African American.

Previous visitors raved about this memorial, adding that its powerful symbolism and beautiful design will give you chills. Plus, the sculpture's proximity to other memorials and monuments like the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial make it convenient to reach. However, some reviewers wished there was more information on King's life, legacy and commitment to nonviolence around the statue.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum free

Note: Beginning in 2018, the museum embarked on an ambitious, multiyear, multimillion-dollar effort to renovate and reimagine all of its exhibits and put 1,400 new objects on display. It's reopening galleries in stages, but the IMAX theater is closed. Check the website to see what's on display before you go.

Attracting millions of people each year, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum contains a trove of celebrated aircraft, including Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega 5B, the Apollo 11 Command Module, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Wilbur and Orville Wright's 1903 Wright Flyer, among others. Exhibits include flight simulators, an IMAX theater and the Einstein Planetarium. And parents beware: The gift shop is huge, so get ready for pleas from your kids. 

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture free

U.S. News Insider Tip: When hunger strikes, don't miss the Southern comfort offerings at Sweet Home Cafe, including fried chicken, collard greens and fish po'boys. The food is surprisingly delicious for a museum eatery. – Nicola Wood, Senior Editor

Designed to replicate the three-tiered crowns found in Yoruban art from West Africa, with bronze-colored latticework accents that honor the ironwork of enslaved African Americans, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture opened on the National Mall in 2016. More than 40,000 artifacts are displayed inside, including photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, boxing headgear and a robe used by Muhammad Ali, and a fedora once worn by Michael Jackson.

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world's top 10 tourist attractions

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum United States Holocaust Memorial Museum free

You need to be in the right frame of mind to visit this sobering museum that focuses on the atrocities of the Holocaust. Through film footage, photographs and historical artifacts, it confronts subjects such as Hitler's rise to power, anti-Semitic propaganda and the horrors of the Final Solution. In addition to its permanent exhibition, "The Holocaust," the museum mounts several special exhibits. The facility also has a Hall of Witness, a three-story chamber beneath skylights; a Hall of Remembrance, a space with an eternal flame intended for individual reflection as well as public ceremonies; the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center; a library and a reading room.

Past travelers felt moved by this powerful museum but cautioned that its graphic collection is not ideal for younger children. (Indeed, the museum itself has age recommendations for its exhibits, signaling that some material may not be suitable for kids.) Many were especially impressed with its informative, thorough and respectful displays, adding that you can easily spend a few hours perusing its halls.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

National Gallery of Art National Gallery of Art free

U.S. News Insider Tip: There are two things you won't want to miss here: the rooftop terrace, which affords panoramic views of the city and a photo op with a giant blue rooster, and the only Leonardo da Vinci oil painting on permanent exhibition in the U.S. – Catriona Kendall, Associate Editor

If you're any kind of art connoisseur, you should make a stop at the National Gallery of Art. Composed of the East Building, which houses the gallery's more modern works (think: Henri Matisse and Mark Rothko), and the West Building, which contains the collection's older works (from Sandro Botticelli to Claude Monet), this museum has enough to fill an entire afternoon. Visitors often remark on the museum's large size and expansive collection. Pace yourself and maybe order a coffee, gelato or lunch at one of the gallery's five bars and cafes.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Even if you don't have time to catch a performance, head to the rooftop of the Kennedy Center to grab a drink and see an incredible sunset from the terrace. The on-site REACH art gallery and sculpture garden (free) are also fun to wander around. – Erin Evans

Many travelers highly recommend a visit to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, built and named for America's beloved Camelot president. The Kennedy Center houses the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera and hosts numerous other dance, theater and musical performances throughout the year. Although ticket prices can run a bit high, you can take in a performance for free on the Millennium Stage. The Kennedy Center debuted a new permanent exhibit in 2022: Visitors can explore the free "Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy" immersive exhibit to learn about the relationship between Kennedy's presidency and the arts. The facility also includes the REACH, an indoor/outdoor complex comprising an art gallery, sculpture garden, classrooms and studios, lecture halls, a video wall and more interactive spaces.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History free

With a collection of more than 147 million items, this robust Smithsonian museum on the National Mall attracts millions of visitors each year. Some of the museum's highlights include replicas of giant whales and other marine life in the Sant Ocean Hall. There's also a 2,000-pound, 52-foot model of a mega-tooth shark suspended above a dining area. In addition, you can venture to the Butterfly Pavilion for some fluttery fun with multicolored bugs. No stop at this museum would be complete without stopping by the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – "Deep Time" exhibit features approximately 700 specimens, including Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops dinosaurs. Other permanent exhibits explore human evolution, ancient Egypt and geology, among other topics.

Although this museum is especially appealing to families, past visitors said there's something for everyone here. However, the property can get quite crowded on weekends, holidays and during the busy summer season, so consider arriving on a weekday or in the offseason to avoid crowds. Recent museumgoers also suggested saving some time for the Hope Diamond, which is on display in the geology exhibit.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Washington National Cathedral Washington National Cathedral

U.S. News Insider Tip: Opt for a tour instead of exploring on your own, especially if you want to spot some of the cathedral's weirder gargoyles (like the famous Darth Vader). – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

Construction first began on this massive cathedral – the sixth largest in the world – in 1907, but it wasn't actually completed until 1990. (Though work on the building continues, including extensive and ongoing repairs after an earthquake damaged the structure in 2011.) Designed in the Gothic style, the Washington National Cathedral sits surrounded by gardens, creating a pleasant atmosphere for visitors. Take a stroll around the cathedral and peer at its high vaults and flying buttresses, keeping a close eye out for gargoyles (there's one of Darth Vader!). Step inside to admire the building's intricate stained-glass windows.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

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Arlington National Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery free

Arlington National Cemetery sits in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The cemetery spans about 1 square mile and serves as the final resting place for more than 400,000 service members, veterans and their families. Visitors should be sure to spend some time viewing the Memorial Amphitheater, the John F. Kennedy Gravesite and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Additionally, finding the grave of a notable veteran, family member or friend proves to be a powerful experience, according to visitors. The cemetery also has a downloadable app available to help you pinpoint the location of a grave.

Previous travelers appreciate the trolley tour from Arlington National Cemetery Tours, but they warn that the excursion is a bit pricey at $19.50 for adults, $10.75 for children ages 4 to 12 and $15 for seniors ages 65 and older. (There are discounted prices for service members, veterans and their families.)

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Planet Word Planet Word

The world's first voice-activated museum, Planet Word strives to provide an immersive language experience through multiple exhibits and interactive galleries. Its word-centric exhibits span three floors and explore such topics as how people learn to speak, words’ origins, the world’s diversity of languages, famous speeches (which visitors can recreate using teleprompters), songs (which you can deliver karaoke style), jokes and how advertising uses language to persuade consumers. It also has a library, of course, as well as recording booths for listening to others reflect on the power of words and for preserving your story. Its Lexicon Lane contains multiple "puzzle cases" with themed word puzzles that can be solved using various clues deposited around the room. The museum, which opened in 2020, also has a restaurant and a gift shop.

Visitors frequently enthuse about this museum with adjectives like "clever," "creative," "fascinating" and "innovative." Many say its well-executed interactive activities make it an especially engaging place for families. Plan on spending at least a couple hours here.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress free

Arguably the most magnificent building in Washington, the U.S. Capitol is where visitors go to witness politics in action. Inside, members of both houses of Congress debate and create national policy and law, while visitors explore the building's north and south wings and circular centerpiece: the Rotunda. This iconic hall houses paintings, frescoes and sculptures depicting famous scenes from American history, not to mention an iconic cast-iron dome added to the structure in 1868.

Touring the Capitol is free of charge, but you'll need to make your reservation well in advance to ensure you get a tour slot (you cannot see the Capitol without booking a tour). The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center welcomes visitors Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Inauguration Day). The tour does not include the Senate and House of Representatives galleries. Though some travelers express mixed reviews on whether the U.S. Capitol warrants the time and effort spent (both making reservations and going on the actual tour), most agree the site is well worth a visit.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum free

The National Portrait Gallery most notably houses images of every previous president, allowing visitors to reminisce about each political figure as they progress through the hall of portraits. The presidential portraits aren't alone, though, as the National Portrait Gallery also houses artistic renderings of notable American citizens ranging from sports figures to civil rights leaders. Moreover, the National Portrait Gallery only takes up half of the building and shares the space with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This museum showcases rotating exhibits, which have previously exposed visitors to work created in response to the Vietnam War, glasswork, native women artists and more. The Smithsonian American Art Museum also operates a separate branch, the Renwick Gallery, devoted to contemporary craft and decorative arts.

Previous travelers insist that you take a few minutes to enjoy the shared Kogod Courtyard; its glass-paneled roof protects visitors from the elements while maintaining an abundance of natural light. These visitors also recommend that you take a few hours to explore both the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as there are a variety of interesting, small exhibits that are easy to miss if you're in a rush.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute free

More than 1,800 animals reside at the Smithsonian's 163-acre National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, from Asian elephants to cheetahs to sea lions. Look up every now and then as you stroll beneath the Orangutan Transport System (called the O Line): You may spot orangutans swinging along cables between steel towers. Or, if you're more intrigued by animals native to South America, head over to the Amazonia exhibit, home to creatures like titi monkeys and multiple frog species. The Great Cats exhibit features Sumatran tigers and African lions, among other feline predators. The zoo also has a playground and other attractions geared toward kids. If you time your visit for the holidays, swing by the zoo after dark for its ZooLights exhibition, when animal lanterns and lights bedazzle the park.

Recent visitors praised the zoo's pleasant surroundings and broad selection of species. Others warn future travelers to temper expectations: It's popular during the spring and summer seasons and there are long lines for (somewhat overpriced) food. Though some said the zoo could be more exciting and have a broader array of animals, keep in mind the more than 360 species are free to visit.

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Capitol Hill Walking Tour with US Capitol and Library of Congress

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U.S. National Arboretum and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum U.S. National Arboretum and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum free

Note: Due to the discovery of boxwood blight, the arboretum has closed its Boxwood Collection and adjacent Perennials Collection in order to prevent spread of the disease. It is closed until further notice.

Located northeast of downtown Washington, D.C., the United States National Arboretum rewards its visitors with beautiful outdoor spaces. The arboretum's outdoor collections range from dogwoods to azaleas to magnolias, but none of the plants are the area's primary attraction. Instead, most travelers make the trek here for the National Capitol Columns and the bonsai collection. The National Capitol Columns were built in 1828, decorated the Capitol building until 1958 and found their way to the arboretum in the 1980s. Now, the columns serve as an excellent place to snap photos or enjoy a picnic. The area's bonsai trees sit in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, which boasts an astounding 300 miniature trees that staff members rotate through the museum's three pavilions and special exhibits gallery.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery free

The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery combine to comprise the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art. Opened in 1923, the Freer Gallery showcases American paintings from the late 19th century aesthetic movement, plus art from China, Egypt, India, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. The Sackler Gallery opened in 1987 in the adjacent building, and it displays Thai earthenware, a Tibetan Buddhist shrine, Iranian artifacts and a host of rotating exhibits.

Past visitors particularly appreciated the Peacock Room, a gilded blue and gold room filled with frescoes of peacocks and pottery. The Sackler Gallery's underground exhibits also serve as a boon for sweltering tourists during the District’s hot summer months, which delighted recent travelers. The general consensus is that there are some remarkable works of art here.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Rock Creek Park Rock Creek Park free

A large urban park extending from the Washington, D.C.-Maryland border to the Potomac River, Rock Creek Park is a destination for an expansive array of outdoor activities. It has more than 32 miles of hiking trails and 13 miles of horseback riding trails while bicyclists can use its paved trails and roads. It has a nine-hole golf course and tennis courts. Fishing and paddleboating on the Potomac River are additional options. The park also boasts plenty of built things to see, such as scenic bridges, fountains and statues.

In addition to its more than 1,750 acres of outdoor space, the park encompasses multiple noteworthy structures. The Nature Center features a book- and game-filled children's Discovery Room, displays of live turtles and snakes and an observation deck. It provides hiking information and serves as the starting point of the half-mile Woodland Trail. The Peirce Mill operated as a grist mill from 1829 to 1897, making the historical building the last one of its kind in the area. The Old Stone House, constructed around 1766, ranks as the oldest building on its original foundation in Washington D.C. Its former kitchen contains historical exhibits.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

National Archives Museum National Archives Museum free

A treasure trove of the United States' founding documents, the National Archives Museum is high on travelers' to-do lists and almost always has long entrance lines. But once you do get inside, you'll see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, along with one of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta. Other interactive and kid-friendly exhibits fill the museum, which is located off the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro station on the Green and Yellow lines. Conveniently, the museum is also a popular stop on many of the city's best bus tours .

If you love history, you'll enjoy visiting this museum. Reservations are not required but are available. Reserving free passes on Recreation.gov's website comes with a service fee of $1.00 per ticket, but travelers say paying for advance tickets will save you from having to wait in a long line to enter. The museum encourages reservations during its peak season from March through Labor Day. Also, be aware that photography is not permitted anywhere inside the building.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

9:30 Club 9:30 Club

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you're attending a concert at this venue, plan to arrive early, as the line can stretch around the block for popular artists. And if possible, avoid using the coat check (unless you want to be stuck waiting in line for hours after the show).  – Alissa Grisler, Associate Editor

The 9:30 Club has often been heralded as one of the best live music venues in America. The iconic club began earning its accolades around the time it opened in 1980, though, and has hosted groups like Nirvana, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fugazi and Public Enemy, among others. While the 9:30 Club relocated and expanded over time, the club is still small enough to feel intimate. Its location near the bustling U Street corridor means that travelers will have no shortage of options for a pre-show dinner or a post-show drink (the staple Ben's Chili Bowl is just a few blocks away). Alternatively, the 9:30 Club offers a small menu of quesadillas, nachos and tacos if you want to eat there.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

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Heurich House Museum Heurich House Museum

German-American immigrant and brewing entrepreneur Christian Heurich built the mansion that now bears his name in the late 19th century. Now, its stands as both an example of Richardsonian Romanesque residential architecture as well a testament to the business-owner's legacy. (It also, appropriately enough, serves as the headquarters of the District of Columbia Brewers Guild, a nonprofit trade organization serving the city's craft brewing industry.) The museum aims to preserve the building, its grounds and its collections while demonstrating the relevance of Heurich's version of the American dream to the modern day.

Visitors typically find the tour guides highly knowledgeable and enjoy seeing the fine period furniture and the well-preserved, intricately decorated structure.

world's top 10 tourist attractions

National Building Museum National Building Museum

U.S. News Insider Tip:  The permanent exhibits are a bit technical, but special exhibits are accessible (and often hands-on!) for everyone, regardless of their knowledge of architecture. – Marisa Méndez, Senior Editor

Washington boasts countless examples of iconic architecture, but the National Building Museum fittingly stands out from the rest. The gargantuan former Pension Building, which completed construction in 1887, once housed the United States Pension Bureau as well as a variety of political events like inaugural balls. In 1985, the building completed its transition into a museum, and it was officially renamed the National Building Museum in 1997. Currently, the museum showcases various interesting intersections of architecture and design throughout American history and culture via approximately 100,000 photos, 130,000 architectural drawing and prints, and more than 20,000 objects ranging from building materials to toys.

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Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Frederick Douglass National Historic Site free

Like other parts of the South, the Washington metropolitan area – which includes Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. – was once home to numerous plantations that profited off the labor of enslaved African Americans. To learn more about one of the region's most famous former slaves, visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in the district's Anacostia neighborhood.

At this historical site, you'll learn all about Frederick Douglass, who had been born into slavery in 1818 who fled from Maryland to New York City in 1838. After becoming a free man, Douglass devoted his life to speaking against slavery, producing abolitionist newspapers and writing about his experience as a slave. In 1872, Douglass and his then wife, Anna, moved to Washington, D.C. The couple moved into the house known as Cedar Hill in 1878. After the death of his first wife in 1882, Douglass married Helen Pitts in 1884 and continued to live in the house until his death in 1895.

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The Mansion on O Street The Mansion on O Street

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world's top 10 tourist attractions

United States Botanic Garden United States Botanic Garden free

world's top 10 tourist attractions

Washington DC by Moonlight Electric Cart Tour

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African American History Tour with Museum Admission

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world's top 10 tourist attractions

International Spy Museum International Spy Museum

world's top 10 tourist attractions

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The top 10 most visited tourist attractions in the USA

T ravel and tourism have make a strong comeback in the US after the pandemic, and the country continues to be one of the top destinations in the world .

According to finance website Insider Monkey, revenue from the travel sector is expected to reach $190 billion this year, while the country’s tourism industry is worth over $1.2 trillion .

The website has compiled a list of top tourist sites in the US , and New York was shown to be home to two of the most visited tourist attractions- Times Square and Central Park .

Here are the places that made it to the top ten list .

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois- 20 million annual visitors

Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s l argest and most attractive green spaces , featuring lush landscapes, gardens, and tree-lined paths. It houses the Lincoln Park Zoo , one of the oldest zoos in the country. It has a wide variety of animals and offers free admission .

Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Florida- 20 million annual visitors

Magic Kingdom offers the classic Disney experience , featuring Cinderella Castle as its centerpiece. The theme park offers a range of well-known attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean , Space Mountain, It’s a Small World , Haunted Mansion, and the Jungle Cruise.

Niagara Falls, New York- 20 million annual visitors

Niagara Falls, New York, is a popular tourist destination primarily because of the natural wonder it hosts: Niagara Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. Viewing the falls is easily accessible from multiple vantage points, including observation decks, walking paths, and boat tours .

Grand Central Terminal, New York City- 21.6 annual visitors

Grand Central Terminal, which opened in 1913, has a rich history and has played a pivotal role in the development of transportation and commerce in New York City. The terminal is an architectural masterpiece known for its Beaux-Arts style, ornate details, and grandeur. The main concourse’s celestial-themed ceiling with a depiction of the zodiac is particularly famous.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California- 24 million annual visitors

The park covers more than 1,000 acres and offers a green oasis within the urban environment of San Francisco. Its meadows, gardens, lakes, and tree-lined paths provide an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Golden Gate Park offers views of the surrounding landscape , including that of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge , and the Marin Headlands. These viewpoints provide excellent photo opportunities .

Mall of America, Minnesota- 40 million annual visitors

The Mall of America is one of the largest shopping malls in the world , with over 5.6 million square feet of retail space. Its sheer size alone attracts tourists, but that’s not its only draw. Minnesota does not have a sales tax on clothing and shoes , making the Mall of America an appealing shopping destination for both locals and out-of-state visitors.

READ ALSO: What is the origin of Labor Day and why is it celebrated today?

Union Station, Los Angeles, California - 40 million annual visitors

Los Angeles Union Station, opened in 1939, is an example of Mission Revival and Art Deco architecture . Its historical significance as a transportation hub and architecture make it a sought-after attraction. The station has a variety of dining options , including restaurants and cafes, where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the station’s ambience. There are also some retail shops offering souvenirs and gifts.

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada- 42 million annual visitors

The Las Vegas Strip is renowned for its world-class entertainment options . Visitors can enjoy a wide range of performances, from legendary musical residencies and Broadway-style productions to magic shows, comedy acts, and concerts featuring top-tier artists. The Strip is also a gambler’s paradise , offering a wide variety of table games, slot machines, poker rooms, and sports betting venues in hotels and casinos .

READ ALSO: What caused the flooding and the mud at Burning Man festival in Nevada?

Central Park, New York- 42 million annual visitors

Central Park is home to numerous recognizable landmarks, including Bethesda Terrace, Central Park Zoo , Strawberry Fields (a tribute to John Lennon), Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle, and the Central Park Conservatory Garden. Central Park has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows (including Friends), and literature, further enhancing its recognition and appeal to tourists worldwide .

Times Square, New York- 50 million annual visitors

At number one is Times Square, one of the most iconic locations in the world . Its bright lights, towering skyscrapers, and electronic billboards have made it a symbol of New York City. The Square is famous for its annual New Year’s Eve celebration, including the ball drop . People from around the globe flock to Times Square to ring in the new year, making it a bucket-list destination for many.

The US is one of the most visited countries in the world, as it provides a host of diverse attractions. Here are the 10 most popular sites in the country.

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These 3 Ontario sites are among Canada’s most disappointing tourist attractions: study

Posted 5 hours ago Breanna Marcelo

world's top 10 tourist attractions

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Three Ontario tourist hot spots have been named as the most disappointing attractions in Canada, according to a new study.

The study , conducted by e-learning platform Preply , analyzed 130 tourist attractions across 29 cities within the country. It also looked at over 1,000 reviews on travel review platform Tripadvisor. 

The final ranking was based on a calculation of the ratio between four- and five-star reviews and one-, two-, and three-star reviews. Lower ranked reviews were classified as a “disappointing” experience, while higher ranked reviews were classified as “positive” experiences.

As a result, the study found that Marineland took the number one spot as the most disappointing tourist attraction in the country. The study says  the aquarium, zoo, and amusement park received mixed reviews from visitors. 

“While some appreciate the opportunity to see marine life up close and have a day out with the family, others called it ‘outdated’ and ‘sad’, having found it less enjoyable than anticipated,” the study read. 

According to the study, the theme park received nearly 56 per cent of disappointing reviews. 

Last month, it was revealed that two more belugas had died at Marineland due to a stomach issue. This brings the park’s total to 17 when it comes to whale fatalities as of 2019.

READ MORE: ‘More will die soon,’ 2 belugas passed away at Marineland – whistleblower says the attraction has deteriorated beyond repair

Meanwhile, other GTA attractions that were included in the top ten were Ontario Science Centre at number seven, with 28 per cent of disappointing reviews, and Canada’s Wonderland at number eight, with 28 per cent of disappointing reviews. 

Here are the top ten most disappointing tourist attractions in Canada:

  • Marineland, Niagara Falls (55.36%)
  • La Ronde, Montreal (51.86%)
  • Chinatown, Victoria (37.88%)
  • Colombia Icefield Discovery Centre, Jasper National Park (37.39%)
  • Olympic Park, Montreal (30.80%)
  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver (29.15%)
  • Ontario Science Centre, Toronto (28.35%)
  • Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan (28.18%)
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff (23.16%)
  • Montreal Biodome, Montreal (21.86%)

To see the full list, click here. 

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