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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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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?

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

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 the 2021 U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings and 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. 

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 , 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 3.8 million people last year . 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, U.S. News recommends visiting 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, says U.S. News.

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 300-500 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, the world’s tallest tower, one of the world’s 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. 

Last year, 6.4 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 93 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 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 U.S. News suggests planning 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 afield 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 36 million people calling it 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 $1.5 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

U.S. News quotes English writer Samual Johnson when making the case for London as one of the best places to visit in the world: “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

Instead of choosing just one city or region, U.S. News selected an entire island for the coveted top spot. South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earned the honor for its “breathtaking scenery, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and affordable activities."

They really weren’t kidding about those once-in-a-lifetime activities, either. 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.”

Honorable Mention: British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands beach

Sadly, we can't include every destination in the world here. But to make the ruling a bit fairer, we've included two places that were included in previous U.S. News & World Report lists. They may not be in the top 30, but they're incredible destinations everyone should plan to visit at least once.

The British Caribbean is one of the most enjoyable and exclusive vacation destinations in the world. With some 60 islands and cays to explore, the British Virgin Islands offer a little something for everyone — granite boulders, mountainous cliffs and, of course, the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. 

What to Know Before You Go to the British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands cave

Where to stay:  Sugar Mill Hotel

Hot tip: Because of the warm weather, travelers tend to flock to the islands around the holidays, so plan your visit in the fall to avoid large crowds. Looking to save a few bucks? U.S. News suggests staying on Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, then making a day trip to the British Virgin Islands.

Fun fact: BVI’s Norman Island was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, “Treasure Island.”

Honorable Mention: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam with tulips

Sometimes, Amsterdam gets a bad rap for its Red Light District and marijuana-peddling coffee shops , but there’s so much more to this European city than those two sound bites. 

Amsterdam offers plenty of opportunities to delve into history and culture, too, from the home where Anne Frank wrote her journal during the Holocaust to the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings at the Van Gogh Museum. 

It’s also a surprisingly kid-friendly destination, with spots like the NEMO Science Museum and the spacious Vondelpark for little ones to explore.

What to Know Before You Go to Amsterdam

Amsterdam sign

Where to stay: citizenM Amsterdam South

Hot tip: Avoid the high tourist season by planning your visit for just before summer (between April and May) or just after it (between September and November).

Fun fact: Amsterdam is home to what is surely one of the only cat-focused houseboats in the world: a floating feline sanctuary aptly named Catboat .

Best Places In The World To Visit

Here is the list of 33 best places in the world to visit, 1. paris, france - the city of lights.

Paris, France - The City of Lights

Known For : Eiffel Tower The Louvre Notre Dame

Paris, the enchanting 'City of Lights', captivates with its blend of history, art, and romance. Its cobblestone streets lead to iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame. By night, the Seine River reflects shimmering illuminations, echoing the city's luminous spirit. An epicenter of culture and elegance, Paris remains an eternal muse for visitors from around the globe.

Best Time: June to August

58 Paris Attractions

2. London, England - London: The heritage of England

London, England - London: The heritage of England

Known For : Tower of London British Museum London Eye

London, the heart of England, stands as a vibrant mosaic of history, culture, and innovation. From the regal Buckingham Palace and the echoing bells of Big Ben to the modern Shard piercing the skyline, the city embodies the nation's heritage. Cobblestone streets, iconic red buses, and the River Thames intertwining its fabric, London offers an immersive journey through centuries, celebrating the essence of English tradition while embracing the future.

Best Time: April to September

53 London Attractions

3. Pamukalle, Turkey - Pamukalle-The City of Minerals

Pamukalle, Turkey - Pamukalle-The City of Minerals

Known For : Pamukkale Natural Park Travertines Hierapolis

Pamukkale, located in Turkey, is often referred to as the 'City of Minerals'. Famous for its terraces of gleaming white calcium deposits, these natural thermal springs look like frozen waterfalls cascading down the mountainside. The therapeutic waters, rich in minerals, have drawn visitors for centuries, seeking rejuvenation and solace. With ancient ruins of Hierapolis nearby, Pamukkale offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical depth, making it a mesmerizing destination.

Best Time: September

10 Pamukalle Attractions

4. Dubai, UAE - A Megacity That Never Stops Growing

Dubai, UAE - A Megacity That Never Stops Growing

Known For : At the Top Burj Khalifa Dubai Fountain The Dubai Mall

Dubai, a jewel in the UAE's crown, stands as a testament to ambition and innovation. Rising from desert sands, its skyline boasts architectural marvels like the Burj Khalifa, piercing the heavens. Luxury shopping malls coexist with historic souks, offering a blend of tradition and modernity. As a city that never stops evolving, Dubai dazzles with its opulence, technological feats, and a vision that ceaselessly pushes the boundaries of urban development.

Best Time: November to April

123 Dubai Attractions

5. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza, standing tall on Egypt's desert plains, are enduring symbols of ancient marvel and mystery. Built as grand tombs for pharaohs, these monumental structures have for millennia captivated imaginations with their scale and precision. The Sphinx, silent guardian of the pyramids, adds to the enigma. A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site is not just a journey through sand and stone, but a leap back in time to a civilization's zenith.

6. Maldives, Maldives - A Tropical Haven

Maldives, Maldives - A Tropical Haven

Known For : Stay in an Overwater Bungalow Diving in Maldives Snorkelling in Maldives

The Maldives, an archipelago of over a thousand islands, emerges from the Indian Ocean as a tropical haven. Each atoll, with its aquamarine waters and powdery white sands, paints a picture of paradise. Overwater bungalows offer uninterrupted vistas of endless horizons, while vibrant coral reefs beneath the surface teem with marine life. For those seeking solitude and luxury embraced by nature's beauty, the Maldives is the quintessential retreat.

Best Time: Mid December to April

103 Maldives Attractions

7. Bangkok, Thailand - Of street food, skyscrapers and unending nights

Bangkok, Thailand - Of street food, skyscrapers and unending nights

Known For : Grand Palace Chatuchak Market Wat Pho Bangkok

Bangkok, the pulsating heart of Thailand, is a blend of modernity and tradition. Skyscrapers tower over ancient temples, while the scent of sizzling street food fills bustling alleyways. By night, the city transforms, with markets illuminating streets and rooftop bars offering panoramic city views. From the sacred spaces of the Grand Palace to the frenzied energy of Khao San Road, Bangkok delivers a whirlwind of flavors, sights, and unending nights of revelry.

Best Time: Late November to Mid Jaunary

129 Bangkok Attractions

8. Prague, Czech-Republic - A Historical and Cultural Excursion

Prague, Czech-Republic - A Historical and Cultural Excursion

Known For : Prague Castle Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) The Clementinum and the National Library

Prague, the heart of the Czech Republic, offers a mesmerizing journey through time. Its cobblestone streets, lined with Gothic and Baroque masterpieces, echo with tales of emperors and artists. The iconic Charles Bridge connects centuries of history, while the astronomical clock ticks away in Old Town Square. Serving as a canvas of architectural splendor and cultural richness, Prague promises an immersive historical and cultural excursion for every wandering soul.

Best Time: April to October

50 Prague Attractions

9. Great Barrier Reef, Australia - Nature's Biggest Marvel

Great Barrier Reef, Australia - Nature's Biggest Marvel

Known For : Green Island Heart Reef Hayman Island

The Great Barrier Reef, stretching along Australia's northeast coast, is nature's most magnificent masterpiece. As the world's largest coral reef system, it boasts a kaleidoscope of marine life and vibrant coral formations. This underwater wonder, visible even from space, offers a mesmerizing dance of colors and shapes. A sanctuary for biodiversity, the reef stands not only as an iconic symbol of Australia's natural beauty but also as the planet's most splendid marine marvel.

Best Time: June to November (Spring)

6 Barrier Reef Attractions

10. Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Known For : Watch Sunset at Oia Hike from Fira to Oia Ammoudi Bay

Santorini, perched atop the Aegean Sea, is Greece's postcard-perfect gem. Its iconic white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches cling to steep cliffs, offering breathtaking sunsets over the caldera. The island's volcanic past has sculpted unique beaches with red and black sands, while its villages brim with history and charm. A haven for romantics, Santorini's enchanting landscapes and azure waters create an unforgettable tableau of Mediterranean beauty and allure.

Best Time: June to September

41 Santorini Attractions

11. Sydney, Australia - The complete Australian experience

Sydney, Australia - The complete Australian experience

Known For : Sydney Opera House Sydney Harbour Bridge Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney, Australia's gleaming harbor city, delivers the quintessential Australian experience. Framed by the iconic Sydney Opera House and the sprawling Harbour Bridge, it's a vibrant blend of culture, cuisine, and coastal beauty. From the golden sands of Bondi Beach to its bustling markets and cosmopolitan nightlife, Sydney encapsulates the spirit of Down Under. Offering both urban allure and natural wonders, it's a destination that captures the heart and soul of the continent.

Best Time: December to February.

44 Sydney Attractions

12. Phuket, Thailand - Where Summer Beach Fashion Truly Comes Alive

Phuket, Thailand - Where Summer Beach Fashion Truly Comes Alive

Known For : Big Buddha Bangla Road Phuket Old Town

Phuket, Thailand's largest island, is the epicenter of summer beach fashion. Its golden sands and azure waters serve as a runway for sun-seekers, each flaunting vibrant swimsuits, breezy sarongs, and chic sun hats. Amidst the backdrop of swaying palms and beachfront bars, fashion truly comes alive, reflecting the island's effervescent spirit. Here, sun-kissed days are not just about relaxation; they're a stylish statement of tropical elegance and flair.

Best Time: November to February end

124 Phuket Attractions

13. Florence, Italy - The City of Character

Florence, Italy - The City of Character

Known For : Galleria dell’Accademia The Ufizzi Gallery Ponte Vecchio

Florence, Italy's artistic heart, is often described as the 'City of Character'. Birthplace of the Renaissance, its streets and squares are adorned with masterpieces from giants like Michelangelo and Botticelli. The Duomo's iconic dome dominates the skyline, while the Uffizi Gallery holds treasures of unparalleled beauty. Beyond art, Florence offers intimate cafes, Tuscan flavors, and a timeless ambiance, making it a destination where history and passion come alive in every corner.

Best Time: Throughout the year

42 Florence Attractions

14. Barcelona, Spain - The Paris of Spain

Barcelona, Spain - The Paris of Spain

Known For : Sagrada Familia Las Ramblas Park Guell

Barcelona, frequently hailed as 'The Paris of Spain', radiates with architectural splendor and cultural dynamism. The whimsical creations of Gaudí, from the iconic Sagrada Família to the vibrant mosaics of Park Güell, define its skyline. Narrow alleys of the Gothic Quarter, bustling markets like La Boqueria, and the sun-kissed beaches of Barceloneta collectively capture its unique spirit. Barcelona seamlessly blends ancient charm with avant-garde flair, mirroring the romantic allure of Paris in its own Iberian style.

Best Time: May to August

47 Barcelona Attractions

15. Mauritius, Mauritius - Indian Ocean's Island Paradise.

Mauritius, Mauritius - Indian Ocean's Island Paradise.

Known For : Black River Gorges National Park Seven Coloured Earth of Chamarel Scuba Diving in Mauritius

Mauritius, nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, emerges as the quintessential island paradise. Its powdery white beaches merge seamlessly with cerulean waters, providing a haven for sun-worshippers and water enthusiasts alike. Verdant mountains and sugar cane fields punctuate its landscape, while a rich tapestry of cultures defines its soul. From Creole rhythms to spicy curries, Mauritius offers a delightful blend of nature and heritage, embodying the very essence of tropical allure.

Best Time: July to October (winter)

146 Mauritius Attractions

16. Hong Kong, Hongkong

Hong Kong, Hongkong

Known For : Victoria Harbour A Symphony of Lights Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong, a dynamic metropolis, melds East and West in a vibrant tapestry of culture, commerce, and cuisine. Its iconic skyline, studded with futuristic skyscrapers, stands sentinel over bustling harbors and tranquil green mountains. From the aromatic alleyways of Temple Street Night Market to the serene trails of Lantau Island, Hong Kong offers a rich blend of urban energy and natural beauty, encapsulating the very essence of contrast and harmony.

Best Time: October to December (Autumn)

337 Hong Kong Attractions

17. Bali, Indonesia - An idyllic retreat

Bali, Indonesia - An idyllic retreat

Known For : Tanah Lot Uluwatu Bali Swing

Bali, nestled within the vast Indonesian archipelago, stands as an idyllic retreat for souls seeking tranquility and enchantment. Its landscapes, where verdant rice terraces merge with sun-drenched beaches, create a tapestry of natural beauty. Ancient temples, the gentle hum of Gamelan, and the intricate dance performances narrate tales of tradition and spirituality. From the bustling streets of Seminyak to the serene vibes of Ubud, Bali promises a rejuvenating escape into a tropical dream.

Best Time: April, May, June and September

300 Bali Attractions

18. Amsterdam, Netherlands - Heritage and history, parties and parks, food and fresh beer

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Heritage and history, parties and parks, food and fresh beer

Known For : Rijksmuseum Van Gogh Museum Vondelpark

Amsterdam, the jewel of the Netherlands, offers a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. Its winding canals are lined with historic houses, reflecting centuries of heritage. By night, the city pulses with lively parties and the hum of conversation. Sprawling parks provide serene escapes, while bustling markets and cozy cafés tantalize with sumptuous food and freshly brewed beer. Amsterdam is a celebration of contrasts, where tradition mingles effortlessly with contemporary delights.

Best Time: March to October

47 Amsterdam Attractions

19. Seychelles, Seychelles - The Honeymoon Paradise

Seychelles, Seychelles - The Honeymoon Paradise

Known For : Anse Lazio Snorkeling in Seychelles Sunbathing in Seychelles

Seychelles, an archipelago nestled in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, is often heralded as 'The Honeymoon Paradise'. Its pristine beaches, fringed by swaying palm trees and granite boulders, set the stage for romance. Crystal-clear waters shimmer under the tropical sun, while secluded coves offer intimate moments of tranquillity. A sanctuary for love and serenity, Seychelles is where newlyweds find their idyllic beginning amidst nature's most breathtaking canvases.

Best Time: April to May, September to October

96 Seychelles Attractions

20. San Francisco, Usa - The Golden State's City of the Golden Gate

San Francisco, Usa - The Golden State's City of the Golden Gate

Known For : Golden Gate Bridge Alcatraz Island Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco, perched on the edge of California's coastline, is fondly known as the 'City of the Golden Gate'. Its iconic red bridge stretches majestically across the bay, while its hilly streets offer panoramic views of the Pacific. From the historic charm of cable cars to the bohemian vibes of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco melds traditions with innovation. A cultural melting pot, it embodies the Golden State's spirit of diversity and progressive thinking.

Best Time: September to November (Autumn)

256 San Francisco Attractions

21. Mumbai, Maharashtra - The City of Dreams

Mumbai, Maharashtra - The City of Dreams

Known For : Elephanta Caves Marine Drive, Mumbai Juhu Beach

Mumbai, the bustling heart of Maharashtra, is often hailed as the 'City of Dreams'. Its skyline, a blend of colonial architecture and modern high-rises, tells tales of aspiration and evolution. From the vibrant lanes of Colaba to the serene Marine Drive promenade, Mumbai pulsates with energy. As the home of Bollywood and a melting pot of cultures, it promises a tapestry of experiences, where dreams take flight amidst its chaotic yet charismatic embrace.

Best Time: October to February

114 Mumbai Attractions

22. Kolkata, West Bengal - The city of Joy

Kolkata, West Bengal - The city of Joy

Known For : Victoria Memorial Fort William Kolkata Belur Math

Kolkata, nestled in West Bengal, is fondly termed the 'City of Joy'. A cradle of literature, arts, and revolution, its streets echo with tales of heritage and hope. Trams rumble past colonial edifices, while the aroma of roshogolla and street food fills the air. From the historic Howrah Bridge to the vibrant Durga Puja celebrations, Kolkata radiates a warmth and cultural depth, offering a soulful embrace to every visitor.

Best Time: October to March

79 Kolkata Attractions

23. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Andean mountains of Peru, is a testament to the architectural prowess and spiritual significance of the Inca civilization. Overlooking verdant valleys and shrouded in mist, this ancient citadel reveals a tapestry of stone terraces and temples. A journey to its enigmatic ruins offers a window into a bygone era, while challenging the physical and elevating the spiritual dimensions of those who tread its paths.

24. The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon, a majestic chasm carved by the Colorado River, stands as a testament to nature's unparalleled artistry. Spanning over 277 miles in Arizona, its layered red rock formations tell tales of Earth's ancient past. As sunlight dances across its vast expanse, visitors are left in awe of its sheer magnitude and raw beauty. A visit promises both a humbling perspective and an indelible imprint on the soul.

25. New Zealand - The Land Where Adventures Wait

New Zealand - The Land Where Adventures Wait

New Zealand, often dubbed the 'Land Where Adventures Wait', beckons with its juxtaposition of rugged landscapes and serene vistas. From the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the otherworldly geothermal terrains of Rotorua, it's a haven for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Each corner of this island nation offers a unique dance of earth, water, and sky, promising unforgettable experiences for every intrepid soul.

26. Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum in Rome, an enduring symbol of ancient grandeur, stands as a testament to the Roman Empire's architectural prowess and its thirst for spectacle. Once echoing with the roars of gladiators and spectators alike, this colossal amphitheater, with its arches and worn stones, evokes tales of bravery, drama, and human endeavor. A visit transports one back in time, offering a poignant glimpse into the heart of ancient civilization and its vast cultural tapestry.

27. Bora Bora, French-Polynesia - A colossal cosmos encircled by a mystique lagoon

Bora Bora, French-Polynesia - A colossal cosmos encircled by a mystique lagoon

Known For : Matira Beach Water Sports in Bora Bora Land activities

Bora Bora, situated in French Polynesia, is a colossal cosmos of vibrant blue hues and lush greenery, encircled by a mystique lagoon and barrier reef. Renowned for its turquoise water and luxury overwater bungalows, this tropical paradise effortlessly marries natural splendor with opulence. Each glimpse of its pristine beaches and silhouettes of Mount Otemanu on the horizon invites visitors into a realm of serene beauty and timeless allure.

Best Time: May to October

3 Bora Bora Attractions

28. Iceland - For the offbeat traveller

Iceland - For the offbeat traveller

Iceland, a realm of stark contrasts, beckons the offbeat traveller with its fiery volcanoes and glacial landscapes. From the ethereal glow of the Northern Lights to the geothermal springs of the Blue Lagoon, it offers an otherworldly escape. Its rugged terrains, dotted with waterfalls and geysers, promise an experience unlike any other. For those seeking paths less trodden and nature in its rawest form, Iceland is the ultimate destination.

29. New York City, Usa - The City that Never Sleeps

New York City, Usa - The City that Never Sleeps

Known For : Statue of Liberty Times Square Empire State Building

New York City, often dubbed 'The City that Never Sleeps', pulsates with unyielding energy. Its iconic skyline, punctuated by skyscrapers like the Empire State and One World Trade, stands as a beacon of ambition and dreams. The bustling streets, from Broadway's glowing marquees to Central Park's tranquil paths, tell tales of millions. A melting pot of cultures, arts, and ideas, NYC promises a perpetual dance of experiences, keeping its promise of sleepless wonder.

275 New York City Attractions

30. Costa Rica - Abundance of Natural Beauty

Costa Rica - Abundance of Natural Beauty

Costa Rica, a gem nestled between two oceans, is synonymous with an abundance of natural beauty. Rainforests teeming with vibrant flora and fauna stretch towards pristine beaches, where waves beckon surfers and sun-seekers alike. Majestic volcanoes rise against the horizon, and hidden waterfalls punctuate dense jungles. With its commitment to sustainability, Costa Rica not only offers a visual feast of biodiversity but also stands as a testament to harmonious coexistence with nature.

31. British Virgin Islands - The Gem of Caribbean

British Virgin Islands - The Gem of Caribbean

Known For : The Baths Rhone Marine Park (Salt Island) Fallen Jerusalem National Park

The British Virgin Islands, nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, emerge as a gem of turquoise waters and sun-kissed sands. This archipelago, comprising over 60 islands and cays, offers secluded bays, vibrant coral reefs, and verdant hills. Sailors drift lazily from one isle to another, seeking the perfect mooring spot, while beachcombers revel in the pristine shores. Reflecting the laid-back Caribbean spirit, these islands promise an untouched paradise for wanderers and dreamers alike.

Best Time: December to April

13 British Virgin Islan Attractions

32. Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi, nestled along Italy's rugged southern coastline, is a tapestry of sunlit cliffs and azure seas. This historic maritime town, with its maze of narrow alleys, boasts centuries-old architecture and bustling piazzas. Lemon groves scent the air, while vibrant bougainvillea drapes over stone walls. With its serene beaches and iconic cathedral, Amalfi perfectly captures the charm and romance of the Mediterranean, offering a slice of Italian paradise to every visitor.

33. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, located in the heart of Cambodia, stands as a testament to the Khmer Empire's architectural brilliance and spiritual devotion. This sprawling temple complex, with its intricate carvings and grandeur, is both a symbol of national pride and a UNESCO World Heritage site. As dawn breaks, its iconic silhouette against the rising sun offers a moment of serenity and timelessness, inviting travelers to step back into a golden era of Cambodian history.

Are there more best places in the world that we missed out? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was published by Vrinda Movva

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The Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022

By CNT Editors

Best Destinations in the World The Gold List 2022

There are three great lists annually in  Condé Nast Traveler,  all of which have changed due to the events of the last two years: the Readers’ Choice Awards , which you, our beloved audience, select; the Hot List , which compiles the new and notable of the previous year; and this one, which is ultimately about the places and experiences our editors carry in their hearts. This year, when we say  our editors,  we mean  CNT ’s entire global crew, working in locations from California to Beijing ; we’ve also expanded the parameters of the list to include not just the hotels and cruises you’ve seen in years past, but also the destinations we treasure. The Gold List is, more than ever, made by humans for other humans—something we need more than ever in this day and age. Here, our favorite destinations in the world.

Read the complete set of Gold List winners   here .

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Cholula Puebla Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

I love when I can feel familiar with a new place in 48 hours. In Puebla , Mexico’s historic, fourth-largest city, all the spots you want to hit are walking distance within its center, itself a tidy sprawl of bright pink and yellow villas and small plazas. That includes food markets for a crispy cemita (a schnitzel-­style sandwich with all the fixings); the gilded Capilla del Rosario and the city’s famed talavera, or ceramic houses; I stayed for close to an hour watching the row of artisans hand-paint and hand-fire their mugs, plates, and vases at Uriarte Talavera. Before the pandemic, tourism was just starting to happen here, and the city was in that sweet spot of supporting a new breed of traveler, like with the artisanal-inspired Cartesiano hotel, but without muting any of its essence for international business. I liked that I had to use my shoddy Spanish with barkeeps and store owners. And that sitting in those plazas meant a front-row seat to daily Poblano life: vendors selling sliced cucumber spices with cayenne, old-timers playing dominos. Puebla felt like a special somewhere on the verge of discovery in a country with pockets already turned over to the masses. My guess with all that’s happened this past year is that it still does. —Erin Florio

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

If you were to hook the city of Rio de Janeiro up to a cardiogram, the needle would swing off the page. The city thrums with live samba and bossa nova at all hours of the day; the bustling streets, bookended by the dramatic rise of granite monoliths on one end and the pounding waves of the Atlantic on the other, have a pulse all their own. It's easy to feel this when you're amid throngs of colorfully clad cariocas —I feel it most swaying to the live music at Pedra do Sal on Monday nights, or when, perched in the leafy hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa, I hear people in neighborhoods below lean out their windows to cheer when Flamengo scores a goal. It's a complicated city, with plenty of issues—insecurity, corruption, inequity, to name just a few—but there's a premium on joy and celebration that isn't reserved for Carnaval . There are few places in the world where you know you couldn't possibly be anywhere else, and whenever I hear the whole of Arpoador beach break into applause as the sun sets in summer, I'm reminded that Rio is one of them. —Megan Spurrell

Alentejo Vicente Coast

Alentejo, Portugal

I call the road to the sea through Portugal’s Alentejo region the place where the beatniks read Pessoa; you can imagine Kerouac breezing through its small hotels, surf camps, and villages scattered with craft shops, markets, and bohemian bars. For me it’s a place of happiness. There are boutique hotels like São Lourenço do Barrocal and Dá Licença and olive groves, cork oaks, and infinite horizons. The road ends at Vicentine Coast National Park, a wild, protected coastline in southern Europe. A paradise for surfers , it has electrifying sunsets, but the icy waters stop it from ever getting too crowded. —David Moralejo

Svalbard Norway

Svalbard, Norway

Arctic Svalbard —whose capital, Longyearbyen, is the world’s northernmost town—is like nowhere else I’ve been. On the one hand, it’s a deep-nature Scandi fantasy of snowmobiles, Northern Lights, ski-touring along glacial valleys, and surprisingly smart boutiques with stacked wine cellars. But there’s also a compelling strangeness to this international settlement, where no one is born and no one dies. There are the Soviet mining towns with their Lenin busts, whether abandoned or (even weirder) still working; the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which preempts a coming apocalypse; it’s advisable to leave Longyearbyen with a shotgun, in case of polar-bear attack. As much as a destination, it’s a journey into the heart of the climate crisis, with academics from across the world doing game-changing research here. I’m itching to go again—to escape but also to think and connect, which is what happens in all the best places. —Toby Skinner

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Goa India

My first trip to Goa as a college student was wrapped in dreams of homemade chorizo and reliving moments from the cult Bollywood coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai . Many trips and feni cocktails later, Goa remained a respite for my city-weary bones. The state straddles its multicultural past and present, trading up ’60s hippie markets for hipster boutiques while keeping its old-world Indian and Portuguese traditions intact. Simple fish-curry plates, aunties doing an impromptu jig to fado, old-timers squabbling over their favorite Goan soccer club, and the right freshness of bread coexist with edgy global menus, alt-music gigs, and all that is artisanal and arty. The ocean changes color from one season to the next, the multi-color sunsets never repeat, and like many travelers, I continue to return and find my salve in sunshine, sea, and susegad —the quintessential Goan idea of the slow, easy, and good life. —Diya Kohl

Plettenberg Bay South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is South Africa's summer playground, and I, a Capetonian, would drive the 186-mile coastal path along the scenic Garden Route each year to join the fun. The bohemian seaside town sits atop a sheltered bay, where a jumble of hipster coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and kitsch boutiques tumble down onto fynbos-covered cliffs—where a slew of new hotels like The Robberg Beach Lodge sit beside grandes dames like The Plettenberg Hotel . Pretty young things like to celebrate the end of matric student exams, where hedonism sweeps across the bay, while dolphin and whale watches come during the languid, warm winter months. Venture just outside Plett to find the luxury Tsala Treetop Lodge , a manicured Gary Player golf course, indigenous Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, the Plett Polo Club on the Kurland Estate, and a host of animal sanctuaries to meet cheetahs, elephants, and monkeys. But above all, come for the glorious golden beaches. Central Beach—dotted with bars—surfy Lookout Beach, and the eerie, mist-covered sands of Robberg Nature Reserve. Search hard enough and you might stumble on a sand dollar—the symbol of Plettenberg Bay, thought to bring eternal luck. —Isabella Sullivan

Scottsdale Arizona

When I can’t take another minute of winter, I head to Scottsdale. As, historically, do the day-drinking spring breakers and the far less rowdy snowbirds. Recently, though, the Valley of the Sun has come into its own, claiming its stunning desert setting and Southwest culture in new ways. If I’m bringing the kids, the 1929 Frank Lloyd Wright–designed grande dame The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (on the border of Scottsdale and Phoenix), is my place. It has sprawling grounds and seven pools, one with a legitimate waterslide, and just underwent a much-needed facelift. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort , terraced into the side of its namesake adobe-hued mountain, has my favorite spa in town. Its adults-only pool on weekends and easy access to sunrise hiking give me plenty of excuses to leave the kids at home. Solo or with family, I can always bank on sunshine, a great exhibit at Phoenix’s nearby Desert Botanical Garden, and excellent Sonoran-style Mexican food. —Rebecca Misner

Tuscany Val Graziosa

Val Graziosa, Italy

I am a frequent traveler to Val Graziosa, a valley near the Pisan mountains and a part of Tuscany relatively unknown and terribly beautiful. Here there is Monte Pisano—“ che i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno, ” the poet Dante said, a small group of mountains that hides Lucca from Pisa and makes it impossible for the Pisan locals to see the city of Lucca. There are olive trees everywhere, producing the best olive oil on Earth in a splendid countryside. I love to walk around the surroundings of Montemagno—please read the book Maledetti Toscani, by Curzio Malaparte, and you will understand a lot about Italians from this region. I love to go to the grocery store in Patrizia for a glass of wine (the one and only épicerie of the village) and then to Certosa di Calci, a 14th-century monastery, and one of the many secret beauties in my crazy country of Italy. —Maddalena Fosati

Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When I first went to Chiang Mai, I intended to stay a couple of nights and ended up staying more than a week; for me, that trip is a reminder of travel at its most impulsive and impetuous: the freedom to move on when you feel like it. There’s no beach pressure here, and inland Thailand always feels more interesting than the obvious hits of the beachfront. And, away from the beaches, there's the sense of a modern Thai city where young creatives are carving out a contemporary aesthetic, with the energy that a large student population gives a city. —Rick Jordan

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The world's 30 best places to visit in 2020-21.

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can't-miss vacations.

Best places to visit in the world

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30. Niagara Falls

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24. Great Barrier Reef

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Oia at sunset, Santorini

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Best of the Best Destinations 2024

Best of the Best Destinations

Top Destinations - World

Travelers’ Choice Awards Best of the Best winners are destinations whose hotels, restaurants and things to do received a high volume of above-and-beyond reviews and opinions from our community over a 12-month period. Fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor’s 8 million listings are awarded Best of the Best, signifying the highest level of excellence in travel.

Congrats to all of the 2024 winners and a big thanks to the travelers who made it possible.

You’ve probably got one or two of these destinations on your list of dream vacays. What can we say? People love them—and for very good reason.

Dubai

Dominican Republic

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

Phuket

New York City

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Brilliant Maps

Making Sense Of The World, One Map At A Time

Top 100 International Tourist Destination Cities By Country

Top 100 tourist cities by country

Which city is the most popular international tourist destination? Surprisingly, it’s not Paris, London or New York.

According to 2012 data from Euromonitor International , the number one tourist destination in the world was Hong Kong with 23.7 million visitors.

Singapore and Bangkok were ranked numbers 2 and 3 respectively, showing just how much Asian tourism has grown in recent years. London, at number 4, was the top ranked non-Asian city with 15.5 million international visitors and New York City, at number 8, was the most visited city in the Americas with 11.6 million tourists.

When looking at countries as a whole, the map at the top of the page is revealing. At first glance it shows just how few African countries made the list. Another interesting finding is that while London is the 4th most visited city, it’s the only UK city to make the list. Moreover, while many European countries have top 100 cities (Switzerland being a notable exception) none has more than Italy’s 4.

But that’s nothing compared to the big 3 who dominate the list:

  • India has 6 cities on the list: Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kolkata.
  • The United States has 8: New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Honolulu, Washington D.C.
  • And, China has whopping 9 cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Zhuhai, Suzhou, Guilin, Nanjing.

Plus, this doesn’t include Hong Kong (#1) and Macau (#5), which ae both Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China .

Below are the complete rankings. Please note if you click on a city you’ll be taken to HotelsCombined where you can compare the cost of local hotels:

The data all comes from this Euromonitor International report . I’d strongly encourage you to read it if you’re curious about their methodology and other interesting findings.

If you’d like to learn about the growth of international tourism, have a look at the following books:

  • Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism
  • Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act
  • 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, the second edition: Completely Revised and Updated with Over 200 New Entries

Did your favourite city not make the list? Let us know in the comments below:

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Sporxx says

March 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm

How about Jerusalem?

March 11, 2015 at 3:20 am

The results are biased. HK does get a massive flow of tourist but this can be explained by the fact that HK airport is a massive hub (works the same for Singapore airport). It’s not a touristic destination in itself, providing the tourist facilities out of HK international airport (very few) and the time people actually spend in hk. It’s more a stop over than a touristic destination. Then, you have the flow of Chinese tourists that cross the border on week ends to go shopping in HK. sqame situation, they benefit to the economy but can they actually be counted as part of the touristic industry ?

So yes, in term of people you can rank it that way but the figures do not say what kind of flows arrive to HK.

Warren Lauzon says

January 20, 2018 at 8:41 pm

No, it is not based on inbound flights. It is based on the fact that thousands of mainlanders walk across the border every day to buy non-contaminated baby formula.

turnipcake says

March 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm

As Sa said concerning Hong Kong, this list measures arrivals of tourists, I assume, at the cities’ international airports (see report). This does not show how long tourists stay in these cities, if at all. Many of the cities are close to interesting historic and scenic areas.

July 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Hong Kong first ? Is it a joke ? There’s nithing to see there ! Nothing, comparing to Paris, London, NYC or Beijing…

January 20, 2018 at 8:40 pm

It counts mainland tourists, who can walk across the border. But as far as “nothing to see” – have you ever actually been there?

January 20, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Yes, I’ve been there several times. Besides shopping and a few sites, what can you see there. Paris, for example, is much much more worth it.

January 21, 2018 at 8:34 pm

Funny.. I had the same impression of Paris. Once you see the Eiffel tower and a few other sites, there is not much “there” there except for overpriced restaurants and snooty bakeries 😀

Manamana says

July 26, 2015 at 11:12 am

In Poland Krakow gets much more turists than Warsaw

Rental Italy says

October 12, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Rome on 12th place, lower than Shenzhen and Macau… Wuite surprising results.

emmettbrady says

December 26, 2016 at 12:47 am

that list seems like a load of nonsense

Raj Kishor Kannoujea says

January 6, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Nice job! but need to more.

Helmut Kremers says

March 10, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Munich had 14.1 million visitors last year – and that wasn’t even the best, so how come it isn’t on the list?!

Rahul gupta says

April 24, 2017 at 7:05 am

india brautiful country with lots of diversity and more than 22+ official language having wonders of the world filled with colors and more than 2000+ local language and world second largest English speaking nation having desert ,hills,mountain,snow fall ,largest green forest,.i think it is a pack of whole European + africa. it has lots of beautiful beaches in then having world almost every religion ,here you get temple,mosque ,churchs,and many more

SIDDHANT GARG says

May 5, 2017 at 5:09 pm

apart from India more places should you visit

Bhupinder Singh says

September 12, 2019 at 5:09 pm

If India is such a wonderful place, why does everyone want to leave?

Rental24H says

January 12, 2018 at 4:55 pm

woooww! very nice photos~! good luck

Kanika Bakshi says

January 2, 2019 at 5:02 am

India is a beautiful country with lots and different culture. you will be able to learn more about its culture, traditions and languages with different food recipes.

Jonathan Ridgway says

April 14, 2019 at 12:18 am

This is list is sooo inaccurate. Business insider has a more correct list.

Kaushal Soni says

September 29, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Loved it, Insightful List!

Patricia Kavanagh says

December 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

Echo sentiments above. HK is a transport hub. Much more complex than first seems. India already has large population so will skew figures for there.

Chiku Cab says

January 28, 2020 at 11:17 am

Hey, nice post and very informative, Thanks for sharing this information.

April 4, 2020 at 8:42 am

Here is an interesting fact about the list. Turkish city Edirne has only 200K population and not so much touristic to get in this list on 62th place in the world and 4th in Turkey. Why is it here? Because Edirne covers the western border of Turkey between Bulgaria and Greece and so the EU. It is not just touristic numbers, it is also industrial transportation and transit passages all over to Turkey. This list is not accurate.

Aman Kumar says

September 26, 2020 at 7:06 am

now its very old

Kirti Pathak says

January 5, 2021 at 3:43 pm

You have list top 100 list but I think you can add some more to it.

Big Cab varanasi says

September 10, 2022 at 8:50 pm

Very informative post… Thanks for sharing

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A wide river runs through the base of an immense canyon, which steeps cliffs leaving down to the water far below. The sky is a gradient of blues and pinks, and the light colors the canyon walls, giving the entire picture a rich and warm tone.

The Path of Totality North America

Dance, gawk or run in the dark, but don’t look directly at the sun.

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From the beaches of Mazatlán, Mexico, to the rugged coves of Maberly, Newfoundland, the sky will be the stage on April 8 as a total solar eclipse sweeps across North America. This year, the moon will be near its closest point to Earth, resulting in an unusually wide swath and long-lasting totality.

Mexico, Canada and 13 U.S. states will greet the darkness with celebrations. The Portal Eclipse Festival in Mazatlán promises “spiritual growth” through D.J.s, yoga and more. NASA will be broadcasting from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where $15 will get you admission to a festival and eclipse glasses called, fittingly, the Greatest Spectacles. On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Cosmologists Without Borders will offer space-themed programs. And if you’re game to run with a headlamp, consider a race in Millinocket, Maine.

You can find an interactive map at eclipse2024.org and a list of activities at nationaleclipse.com .

— Danielle Dowling

Paris France

Preparing for the olympics, and millions of sports lovers.

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Already one of the most visited cities in the world, Paris is preparing to welcome millions of travelers this summer as host of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games . It will be the biggest sporting event in the city’s history, and to mark the occasion many well-known monuments are being transformed into sports and entertainment venues.

In a first, the Olympics opening ceremony will not be held in a stadium but outdoors, along the River Seine and near the Eiffel Tower. Outdoor swimming and the para-triathlon will be set against the backdrop of the Pont d’Iéna. The Grand Palais , renowned for its vast glass dome, is undergoing an extensive renovation to stage the fencing and taekwondo events. The grand gardens of the Château de Versailles, just outside Paris, will be transformed into a gallery and course for the equestrian events. La Concorde will stage the Olympic debut of break dancing and other sports like skateboarding and three-on-three basketball.

If that weren’t enough, Paris, along with Normandy, is also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition. “Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment” will feature 130 works at the Musée d’Orsay (March 26 to July 14), tracing the artistic movement and how it captured a changing city. The reconstructed Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was ravaged in a fire in 2019, is also scheduled to open to visitors on Dec. 8, 2024.

— Ceylan Yeginsu

Yamaguchi Japan

Savor the temples and the cuisine and skip the crowds.

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Yamaguchi is often called the Kyoto of the West, though it’s much more interesting than that — and it suffers from considerably less “tourism pollution.” A compact city of about 190,000, it lies in a narrow valley between the Inland and Japan seas.

With its impeccable gardens and its stunning five-story pagoda , Rurikoji Temple is a national treasure. The city’s small winding lanes offer an assortment of experiences: pottery kilns like Mizunoue , situated on the grounds of Toshunji Temple; chic coffee shops like Log and Coffeeboy , and older-style options like Haraguchi ; and wonderful counter-only shops that serve oden, or one-pot dishes. Just a 15-minute walk south is the hot-springs village of Yuda Onsen.

Given the tourist crush in Kyoto, Yamaguchi has also been offering a smaller scale — but no less historic — alternative to Kyoto’s Gion summer festival for some 600 years. Yamaguchi’s Gion Festival, which features parades, costumes and dancing, also takes place in July; 2024 will be its first year operating again at full tilt since the pre-Covid era.

— Craig Mod

New Zealand by Train

Riding the rails through vineyards, volcanoes and snow-capped peaks.

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Road-tripping across New Zealand via camper van is a free-spirited traveler’s dream. But a simpler and more sustainable way to go is by train. Opt for a 17-day journey on the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains offered by Great Journeys , the tourism division of KiwiRail, New Zealand’s national rail operator.

The journey starts in Auckland and explores transcendent sites like the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum . Guests ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island and board the Coastal Pacific for a ride through world-class vineyards and along the jagged coast, stopping to whale- and dolphin-watch before ending in Christchurch. The last leg on the TranzAlpine starts on the lush Canterbury Plains then climbs over the Southern Alps, with views to white-capped peaks, rushing rivers and alpine lakes. Accommodations are in four-star properties at stops along the way. Coming in spring: carriages with luxurious reclining seats, panoramic windows and partial glass ceilings.

— Stephanie Pearson

Maui Hawaii

A mindful resurgence of tourism after a catastrophic fire.

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Maui, Hawaii’s second largest island and one of its most popular among visitors, was dealt a devastating blow last summer when wildfires blazed across its western shores , killing at least 100 people and razing the town of Lahaina . Nonessential travel to the affected areas was paused for two months; with such tragedy came concerns among travelers and residents about the resurgence of tourism, Maui’s top economic sector.

Though Lahaina remains closed, the island is once again welcoming visitors and still brimming with an abundance of activities and lush landscapes to enjoy: In the community of Kihei, Kamaole State Beach Park is ideal for snorkeling and spotting sea turtles. Farther north in Kapalua, a gentle walking trail meanders through lava fields and along the sea. And some of Maui’s most cherished natural attractions, like Haleakala National Park , are far removed from the fire zone. Travelers can also go a step further by volunteering to help people displaced by the wildfires.

— Christine Chung

Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Arizona

Honoring the sacred indigenous land around the grand canyon.

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While Grand Canyon National Park is no stranger to travel bucket lists, there’s a new reason to visit the southwestern United States. The recently designated Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni , or Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, now conserves around 900,000 acres of plateaus, canyons and other land surrounding the Grand Canyon. Considered the ancestral homelands of more than a dozen Indigenous tribes, the monument also preserves more than 3,000 Native cultural and historic sites, reflecting the area’s deep spiritual and sacred significance.

Support the local Native American community by booking a Colorado River adventure with the Hualapai River Runners , a white-water rafting company led by Hualapai Tribe river guides. But whether above or below the rim, be sure to look up: The California condor, the largest bird in North America and once facing extinction, now has a population of more than 100, thanks to recent conservation efforts.

— Gina Rae La Cerva

New hotels and advanced biometric technology enhance visits

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Singapore hasn’t stopped racing toward modernization since its independence in 1965. Now the cosmopolitan city-state, already known for its cuisine , architecture and world-class airport, is transforming itself with a luxury hotel boom. Edition recently opened a 204-room property in the downtown Orchard Road district, while the Standard will open later this year. Famed hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt , which closed in recent years for major renovations, will also return.

Changi Airport has also undertaken a major expansion. In November, Terminal 2 fully reopened with new automated check-in kiosks, bag drops and immigration lanes, more than quadrupling the terminal’s capacity to 28 million passengers per year. And many passengers will be moving through Changi even more efficiently this year, as the airport plans to adopt the latest biometrics and facial recognition technology for passport-free departures.

O’Higgins Chile

Sample delectable local foods while connecting with rural farmers.

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This overlooked region south of Santiago has been facing a changing climate, wildfires that are threatening hundred-year-old grapevines, frequent earthquakes and undervalued traditions. So a group of local cooks, winemakers and artisan growers have joined to preserve their campesino, or rural farmer, identity. In late 2023 their initiative, known as Ruta de los Abastos, began offering rural culinary experiences to connect visitors to local beekeepers, oyster farmers and other producers.

Markets and restaurants — like El Abasto in the city of Rancagua and the vineyard-based restaurants at Food and Wine Studio and Viña Vik — are highlighting regional ingredients like locally raised lamb, salt from the coast at Cáhuil and a rustic, low-alcohol wine called chacolí, produced by area growers. On the coast around Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos, amid minimalist beach lodges like Hotel Alaia , locavore seafood with natural wine lists — like those found at Mareal — dominates the scene.

— Nicholas Gill

Ladakh India

Trek to mountaintop monasteries and savor a stark and rugged landscape.

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Ladakh, a mountainous region known as the Land of High Passes, is nestled between the Himalayas to the south and the Karakoram range to the north. This rugged land, with its stark beauty and remote villages, is a place where time seems to have stood still.

In recent years, though, administrative changes have greatly improved infrastructure and accessibility. The Atal Tunnel , a remarkable feat of engineering, allows visitors to sidestep the infamous Rohtang Pass , turning a treacherous ride — lasting several hours in the best of weather — into a brisk 20-minute one. That makes it easier than ever for visitors to experience the area’s stunning landscapes, pristine lakes, Buddhist monasteries and other cultural attractions, which in Leh (Ladakh’s largest city) include markets, several museums and an extraordinary nine-story palace . New hiking and trekking routes in Leh and the Zanskar Valley round out the options for those in search of adventure.

— Poras Chaudhary

Geneva Switzerland

Satisfy your curiosity about quantum physics, and your cravings for chocolate.

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The tiniest bits of nature are the biggest attraction at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, and its 17-mile-long particle accelerator on the outskirts of Geneva. But until recently, visitors had limited options for nerding out. Open since October, the family-friendly, Renzo Piano-designed CERN Science Gateway changes that with activities like quantum karaoke, quantum air hockey and miniature magnetic accelerators modeled after the Large Hadron Collider, where in 2012 physicists discovered the elusive Higgs boson , seen as a key to understanding the universe’s origins.

Less mind-blowing but still satisfying to hungry scientists and laypeople alike, the Choco Pass , a self-guided chocolate tour that debuted in 2022, lets visitors sample Geneva’s famous truffles, bonbons and pralines. And if you want to explore the nature of time — or timepieces — book a table at Breitling Kitchen , the Swiss watch brand’s fourth crossover restaurant, which features menus designed by Juan Arbelaez of “Top Chef.”

— Adam H. Graham

Dominica The Caribbean

A bird’s-eye view of rainforests, reefs and a boiling lake.

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A patchwork of volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls and hot springs has earned Dominica, a 290-square-mile independent nation in the West Indies, the nickname the Nature Island. Later this year, visitors will be able to get a bird’s-eye view of the wild landscape thanks to a $54 million, 4.1-mile cable car line that will whisk passengers from the lush Roseau Valley up to Boiling Lake , a roughly 200-foot-wide fumarole flooded with nearly 200-degree water, which currently requires a demanding hike to reach.

The island is also a playground for eco-adventurers: Hiking trails crisscross its three national parks , its crystal cascades make for ideal waterfall rappelling , pristine coral reefs offer some of the best diving in the world, and more than 20 species of whales and dolphins abound along the island’s west coast — including a resident population of sperm whales, which will get their own dedicated sanctuary this year.

— Nora Walsh

Manchester England

New concert venues open in a music-mad city.

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Music has long been at the core of Manchester’s gritty soul, from Joy Division and the Stone Roses to Oasis and, now, Harry Styles, who is backing Britain’s largest new music arena, Co-op Live , set to open in April. Stars like Liam Gallagher, Eric Clapton and Barry Manilow are booked to inaugurate the 23,500-capacity space, which will complement the reopening of concert halls like the post-punk incubator Band on the Wall and New Century , where the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Tina Turner have all graced the stage.

For those interested in emerging talent, the city will host two major music conferences this year, including Worldwide Music Expo , a behemoth packed with concerts, speakers, films and an awards ceremony, and Beyond the Music , a smorgasbord of performances, parties, workshops and more. In November, Laurie Anderson will headline the Factory International arts center with “ARK,” a multimedia “dark comedy for the end of the world.”

Craters of the Moon Idaho

Celebrate a centennial amid cinder cones and star parties.

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Between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, outpourings of lava blanketed what would become eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho, creating a surreal landscape with gaping craters, steep-sided cinder cones and underground lava tubes. President Calvin Coolidge established the area as a national monument in 1924; for its centennial, Craters of the Moon will unveil new and rehabilitated trails, wayside exhibits developed in partnership with Shoshone-Bannock tribal elders, and a packed calendar of events.

Marvel at this Dark Sky Park at a centennial Star Party with telescopes from the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society, or camp out under one of the largest remaining “pools” of natural nighttime darkness in the United States. And enjoy it all in relative solitude. Expanded to 750,000 acres to cover the Great Rift, a 52-mile-long crack in the Earth’s crust, Craters of the Moon is about the size of Yosemite National Park but receives just 6 percent of the visitors.

— Ratha Tep

Baltimore Maryland

Explore urban waterways and an array of native artwork.

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It’s an enormous year for Charm City. The 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act is bringing in a new Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center ; the Baltimore Museum of Art is increasing the presence of Native artists with solo shows, thematic exhibitions and changes to displays and labels across the museum; and Baltimore Peninsula , a place for visitors and locals to shop, dine and play, will breathe new life into a long-neglected port area.

For outdoor enthusiasts, a network of waterways called the Baltimore Blueway — open to kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and rowboats — will connect visitors throughout the waterfront to cultural, historic and natural sites. And movie buffs take note: The director John Waters will be in his hometown shooting a film based on his first novel, “Liarmouth.”

— Daniel Scheffler

Salar de Uyuni Bolivia

Crunching or splashing across the world’s largest salt flat, under starry nights and mirrored skies.

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Like all the best places, Salar de Uyuni, 12,000 feet high in the Andes, can be demanding. Getting there means a rough overland journey, nights in dusty hotels and the threat of altitude sickness, but when you walk on the world’s largest salt flat, your crunching footsteps are often the only sound on this blanched, 4,000 square miles of salt crust, left behind when prehistoric lakes evaporated. Geometric striations lace the crystalline surface, while the rainy season only amps up the wonder, turning the salt flat into a liquid mirror that reflects otherworldly cloud formations, sunsets and starry nights.

There’s also an appetite for what lies beneath it: Earth’s second-largest stash of lithium. Demand for the “white gold” — used in electric-car and smartphone batteries — is surging. Last year Bolivia authorized two Chinese companies to begin extracting about 50,000 tons annually from the Uyuni salt flats. The mining efforts could affect the area’s beauty and ecosystem. Better go to the Salar soon.

— Lucinda Hahn

Negombo Sri Lanka

A fishing village with stunning temples and plenty of seaside delights.

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Tourism in Sri Lanka has long focused on Dambulla’s astonishing cave temple and the beaches of the southern coast. But travelers in search of less-trafficked destinations are paying newfound attention to Negombo, a fishing village. Less than 25 miles up the western coast from the capital, Colombo, the village of Negombo offers a nearby international airport, hiking and plenty of beaches.

Had enough sun? Visit stunning temples and landmark cathedrals then unwind in one of the dozens of seafood restaurants — chefs here make good use of local prawns and crabs — in the charming downtown, known for its colonial-style buildings and Dutch canals.

Sustainability is a focus for businesses, especially the just-opened Uga Riva , a luxe hotel in a refurbished manor house that once welcomed Mohandas K. Gandhi and diplomats from around Asia. Tourism in Sri Lanka took a hit in recent years because of political unrest, followed by the coronavirus pandemic — but the country is back on track, and your money goes a long way.

— Liza Weisstuch

Massa-Carrara Italy

See the home of the marble that makes the masterpieces.

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In an effort to reduce the crowds that fill the galleries of the Uffizi in Florence , the renowned museum has been transferring some of its masterpieces to lesser-known locales across Tuscany. As part of the latest initiative in the ever-expanding program known as Uffizi Diffusi , a collection of works, including paintings from the studio of the Italian Baroque painter Carlo Dolci, will be exhibited this spring in the town of Massa, at the Palazzo Ducale , which also houses the government offices of the Massa-Carrara province in northwestern Tuscany.

Art enthusiasts can also explore the surrounding Apuan Alps from which the marble for so many masterpieces — including Michelangelo’s David — was sourced, tour marble quarries and maybe even meet a working sculptor carving on the side of the road.

— Ingrid K. Williams

Bannau Brycheiniog Wales

Conserving welsh culture among scenic mountains.

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Reclaiming the name Bannau Brycheiniog for a beloved national park in Wales last year was more than a linguistic change to Welsh from English ; it was a shift to spotlight the Welsh culture of the 520-square-mile park, formerly known as Brecon Beacons. The park’s emphasis on the relationship between nature and local culture is also shown in a new logo. Instead of the burning brazier of Brecon Beacons, the logo now has an ancient Welsh crown set within a green forest under stars, a reflection of the park’s commitment to a future where planting native trees restores temperate rainforest, the revegetation of peatland captures carbon and the dark sky is protected from light pollution.

While visiting Bannau Brycheiniog, “the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom,” make use of the park’s public transport and bike rentals, including the Explore Wales Pass for trains and buses, or take in the views by hiking through waterfall country from the village of Pontneddfechan.

— Susanne Masters

Support local recovery in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake

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Before the earthquake that killed almost 3,000 people in September, the Ourika Valley in Morocco seemed like the dreamiest of escapes: silvery-green olive groves that give way to the dramatic reddish ridges of the Atlas Mountains, simple guesthouses and luxurious boutique hotels, farm-fresh cuisine, hiking, horseback riding — and all just an hour’s drive from Marrakesh.

Those retreats are staffed almost entirely by people who live in the valley’s villages, which have long experienced government neglect. The earthquake pulverized mud-brick homes around Ourika, killing many residents. Nearly all hospitality workers were forced to move into makeshift tents, yet within days they were back on the job at several lightly damaged hotels.

That’s because the whole region depends on tourism, and it — along with Marrakesh and Morocco as a whole — needs visitors now more than ever. But locals hope visitors will understand that there’s more to Morocco than its glossy surface. Khalid Ait Abdelkarim, a hotel worker whose home was destroyed, said Ourika welcomed tourists because “that’s what Moroccan people do.” But, he added, “We also deserve good lives.”

— Vivian Yee

Valencia Spain

Contemporary art with a side of paella.

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Spain’s third-largest city has long been overshadowed by Barcelona, despite sharing similar characteristics: miles of velvety sand beaches along the country’s east coast, a vibrant cultural scene and a rich gastronomic tradition (Valencia is considered the birthplace of paella). But Valencia, which was named the European Commission’s “ green capital ” for 2024 — an award that recognizes cities for their environmental efforts — stands apart for travelers seeking more sustainably minded, less crowded destinations. The city has been revitalizing its historic center with leafier, pedestrian-only spaces, most recently with Plaza de la Reina , its lively public square, and is on track to be climate-neutral by 2030.

Valencia’s cultural landscape has also received a major boost with the Hortensia Herrero Art Center. Opened in November in the restored Valeriola Palace, the space houses the Spanish billionaire Hortensia Herrero’s private contemporary-art collection and includes more than 100 works by artists like Anish Kapoor , Andreas Gursky and Mat Collishaw .

— Vivian Song

Kansas City Missouri

Women’s soccer takes center stage in a heartland hub.

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No doubt, soccer reigns supreme: In March, the Kansas City Current will unveil the first stadium built for a National Women’s Soccer League team, and Kansas City holds bragging rights as the sole Midwestern host for the FIFA World Cup 2026 . But other headliners abound, with new lures for budding bookworms and adventurers.

Opening in March, the Rabbit hOle museum will showcase a century’s worth of American children’s literature with immersive and interactive exhibits. (In the case of the towering installation for “The Funny Thing,” by Wanda Gág, children will be scrambling to feed “jum-jills” to the “aminal.”) Young thrill-seekers can soar up the new 150-foot-tall KC Wheel at Pennway Point , a new entertainment district. And beginning in April, visitors can get their kicks at Rock Island Bridge , a reimagined railway bridge that will offer dining above with kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding below.

Antananarivo Madagascar

Textiles and contemporary art flourish on an island known for natural wonders.

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Most tourists to Madagascar come to see wildlife or luxuriate on the beautiful islands off its northern coast, but the country’s teeming capital is developing a vibrant arts scene, and La Fondation H , a contemporary arts center that opened last April, was created to showcase Malagasy talent. It occupies a restored French colonial brick building, and the first exhibit is dedicated to one of the world’s greatest textile artists: Madame Zo, who died in 2020 and whose weavings were inspired by traditional Malagasy fabrics and basketry.

La Fondation H is the latest addition to Madagascar’s rapidly growing number of institutions specializing in contemporary art, including the Musée de la Photographie de Madagascar and Hakanto Contemporary , an arts center with a calendar of group shows and solo exhibitions by artists from Madagascar and beyond and also an artists-in-residence program. Maison Gallieni , which also houses the consulate of Monaco, offers four comfortable rooms in a house in a pretty garden with a pool.

— Alexander Lobrano

Yucatán Peninsula Mexico

A new train makes remote sites more accessible.

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The Maya Train , a new service that began partial operations in December, will connect popular destinations on the Yucatán Peninsula — including beachy Cancún, historical Mérida and the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá — to more distant sites, like Calakmul, a once powerful and still relatively intact Maya city near the Guatemalan border, and Palenque, gateway to the famous archaeological park in Chiapas state.

While the estimated $20 billion project, which began in 2020, has been criticized for threatening water quality and wildlife habitat, it is hoped that the service will benefit less-touristy destinations like the gulf port town of Campeche, a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for its 16th-century fortifications. Intended to bring jobs and investment and spread tourism beyond Mexico’s Caribbean beaches, the train will eventually ring the peninsula, traversing five states over nearly 1,000 miles of track and connecting directly with the new airport in Tulum.

— Elaine Glusac

Lake Toba Indonesia

Bask in the serenity of the world’s largest crater lake.

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The value of simply sitting in a vast hole in the earth and stirring condensed milk into a cup of Sumatran coffee is difficult to overstate. About 74,000 years ago, one of the planet’s most significant volcanic explosions blew a 60-mile-wide gash into Sumatra, creating the foundation for Lake Toba, the world’s largest crater lake. It is curious to consider that a place where one can listen to the clink of a spoon inside a coffee cup once rocketed ash and gas 30 miles into the stratosphere.

Unlike Indonesia’s more popular destination, Bali, Lake Toba is without the crowds. It’s also far from the din of the country’s audacious plans to move its sinking capital . On the Tuk-Tuk peninsula, where most travelers base themselves, take a hike to learn about the Batak people who call the area home. Pass terraced rice paddies and churches with rusty sheet-metal roofs and then dive into the lake — into this cathartic space that once knew cataclysm but now knows calm.

— Joel Carillet

Almaty Kazakhstan

Luxe baths, kaleidoscopic cathedrals and hyper-contemporary food.

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Kazakhstan’s largest city, with a population of two million, has the feel of a peaceful but active rural town. The underground metro gleams with intricate tile work. The Arasan baths are the apotheosis of bathing pleasures: massages atop marble slabs, cold plunges, unbearably hot saunas. Walk the leafy streets in an attentive mood and you’ll find endless delights — like a mustachioed man playing the accordion in front of the kaleidoscopic Ascension Cathedral .

Almaty’s status as a cultural hub, though, is increasingly evident in its food scene. “Neo-nomad” cuisine — focused on flour, water and meat — is being championed in hyper-contemporary style; sample it at Auyl or Tör . Cuisine from northwest China is on offer at Lanzhou Noodle , and great coffee at Sensilyo Coffee or JumpinGoat . Gaze upon the patchwork quilt of fruits and nuts splayed out at the Green Bazaar — and then try PlatformA , a large food hall that recently opened inside a Soviet Modernist building.

Quito Ecuador

Ride a brand-new metro line through nearly 500 years of history.

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Updated Jan. 10, 2024: Ecuador declared a nationwide state of emergency . Please heed travel warnings, including advisories from the U.S. Department of State , before visiting.

When the brand-new 14-mile Metro line in Quito, Ecuador’s high-altitude capital, becomes fully operational this year, its 15 stations will connect the city from north to south, making it easier for travelers to explore — from the exquisitely preserved churches of the UNESCO-listed historic center to modern districts flaunting avant-garde towers designed by the likes of Bjarke Ingels and Moshe Safdie .

Although parts of Ecuador have made headlines for cartel-related violence , crime rates in Quito are down, according to the National Police, and a dedicated police force patrols areas popular with tourists. Check out San Francisco Market in Old Town to see traditional curanderas (female healers) who offer cleanses (from stress relief to fertility support) using bouquets of flowers and herbs. And grab a table in the hip La Floresta neighborhood, where homegrown chefs like Rodrigo Pacheco, whose farm-to-table restaurant Foresta is set to reopen after a hiatus, are getting creative with Ecuadorean ingredients.

Mingan Archipelago Quebec

Sea-sculpted monoliths, puffins and indigenous heritage.

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In the wild Côte-Nord region of Quebec, the Mingan Archipelago , a national park reserve on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, unfolds ethereally. Hike amid Canada’s largest concentration of erosion-sculpted monoliths, which rise like fossilized works of art; kayak on the misty sea; and explore secluded beaches framed by marshes and forests. And watching over the land are the people of the Innu First Nations group .

Last summer, the Canadian government pledged to create new initiatives to support the Innu connection with the lands and waters, and to ensure the transfer of knowledge between generations. Visitors can share in that knowledge with new programs offered by the Mingan reserve, including spiritual and wellness workshops led by the Innu Nutashkuan community . For full coastal immersion, head to the Île aux Perroquets , where you can watch puffins and bed down under handcrafted quilts in a lighthouse keeper’s quarters.

— AnneLise Sorensen

Montgomery Alabama

A new sculpture park is dedicated to both slavery and emancipation.

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When it comes to conversations about race in America, few destinations are as engaged as Montgomery, the former capital of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. In 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice became the first site of its kind to address racial terror across America, represented by 800 suspended steel pillars, one for each county where a lynching was known to have taken place.

This year, the Equal Justice Initiative, the nonprofit that opened the memorial, will debut a companion site: Freedom Monument Sculpture Park . On the banks of the Alabama River, the 17-acre park will exhibit works by Kehinde Wiley and Theaster Gates; artifacts, including dwellings relocated from a cotton plantation and a pen where enslaved people were held; and the 43-foot-tall National Monument to Freedom. Dedicated to the millions of enslaved Black people who were emancipated at the end of the Civil War, the steel-walled monument, which resembles an open book, will be engraved with more than 120,000 of their surnames.

Tasmania Australia

Where foraging for ingredients is part of the local flavor.

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Venture outside and help protect vulnerable species in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, with several new guided walks . Tasmanian Walking Company , in partnership with the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, offers a three-day trek across rugged Bruny Island to map flora and collect seeds for the garden’s seed bank.

To get a taste of the island’s Indigenous culture, join members of the local Palawa community on multiday treks through the powder white sands of Wukalina (Mount William National Park) and orange-lichen-covered rocks of Larapuna (Bay of Fires). Or to get an actual taste of the island, forage for ingredients like wattle seeds and pepperberries with guides from Palawa Kipli , a company that is Indigenous-owned and operated — the experience ends with a tasting menu that includes smoked payathanima (wallaby).

Locavore menus are the norm throughout Tasmania, and the chef Analiese Gregory , a wild-cooking expert, will be showcasing ingredients like hand-gathered abalone and sea urchin at her yet-to-be-named restaurant set to open early this year.

Waterford Ireland

Viking history and a newly expanded rail path.

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Yes, Waterford is synonymous with crystal, but the city, founded in 914, also sparkles with history and natural treasures. In the Viking Triangle, Waterford’s cobblestone core, a new digital story trail brings the past to life at stops like the medieval landmark Reginald’s Tower . The city also offers less-ancient attractions, including the new Irish Wake Museum , dedicated to the funeral ritual, and the Irish Museum of Time , which showcases grandfather clocks, watches and more.

Waterford’s natural riches rival its historical ones, notably the Copper Coast, hemmed by towering cliffs and scalloped coves. The coast forms part of the Waterford Greenway , a nearly 30-mile path along a disused rail line. In 2023, a new section linked the Greenway to the center of Waterford. Top off your Greenway adventure with afternoon tea amid one of Ireland’s largest collections of plants at Mount Congreve Gardens , which reopened in 2023 after a multimillion-dollar refurbishment.

Tsavo National Park Kenya

Celebrate africa’s most successful elephant rehabilitation program.

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In 2021, African savanna elephants went from vulnerable to endangered , putting them on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list for possible extinction. But in Kenya, the elephant population has grown by 21 percent since 2014, to a total of 36,280. Almost half live in Tsavo, home to Africa’s most successful elephant rehabilitation program, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust .

At its heart are several core conservation projects, including an elephant orphanage, rehabilitation units and mobile veterinary clinics that have treated more than 11,000 animals, including some 3,500 elephants, since 1977. The organization has rehabilitated and released 200 elephant orphans (120 are still in their care) and runs anti-poaching teams, builds water sources and secures vulnerable boundaries. The wildlife trust also manages six small eco-lodges, which provide local jobs and help its conservation work. In 2024, the trust will open the first lodge next to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary , dedicated to saving the critically endangered black rhino.

— Danielle Pergament

Brasília Brazil

A modernist capital reopens its architectural gems.

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Brasília, Brazil’s capital since 1960, is often overshadowed by more flamboyant destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. But Brasília, a planned city famous for its futuristic, Modernist white buildings that rise from the Brazilian highlands, is opening up in new ways. The Palácio da Alvorada , the presidential residence, which had been closed to visitors for a decade, will reopen early this year.

Another symbolic change is the recent removal of the barriers that since 2013 had surrounded the Palácio do Planalto , the presidential office, offering greater access to its reflecting pools and arches. The Planalto was one of the government buildings stormed by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro last year. Its expanded accessibility signals a return to the original vision of Brasília’s architects, Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa, of an open and integrated city.

— Paulo Motoryn

El Salvador

Savor local flavors of corn, coffee and more in a fast-changing country.

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While questions remain about how it was accomplished , El Salvador’s security situation has drastically improved, opening up large areas of the country. Long-ignored hotels and restaurants are experiencing renewed interest along the Ruta de las Flores, a 20-mile string of rural villages in the western highlands that are surrounded by coffee fincas and pine forests, culminating in the ever-expanding night market in Nahuizalco, home of the Nahua, an Indigenous group.

In San Salvador, the capital, the dining scene is charging beyond fast-food chains, led by the fine-dining hot spot El Xolo , which champions local varieties of corn in its restaurant inside the Museo Nacional de Antropología . Coffee shops like Carajo and Crafters promote small farms growing native varieties like pacamara.

Along the coast, government initiatives like the new pier and seafood market at Puerto de la Libertad receive the most attention, but more deserving are the riverbed oyster bar Chepe Aleta , in the town of El Zonte, and the beach camps and eco-lodges outside the Playa El Tunco surf bubble.

Koh Ker Cambodia

A vast 10th-century temple complex gains unesco status.

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For anyone put off by the constant throngs and overly Instagrammed images of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia — a bucket list destination for seemingly everyone on Earth — a millennium-old sprawl of ruins in a nearby region offers a more remote and adventurous alternative. Built in the 10th century, some two centuries before Angkor Wat, the sacred city of Koh Ker was recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status in the fall of 2023.

The heart of the site is a 4.5-square-mile cluster of temples — notably a seven-tiered pyramid known as Prasat Thom — along with statues, stone carvings, artificial ponds and vast trees whose roots entwine many of the crumbling structures.

Siem Reap, Cambodia’s second-largest city, is the best base for travelers. Roughly 70 miles from Koh Ker (around two hours by taxi), Siem Reap is home to a brand-new international airport and a crop of stylish new homegrown crash pads like Babel Boutique Hotel . And if you’re not intimidated by the crowds, Angkor Wat is just down the road.

— Seth Sherwood

Vestmannaeyjar Iceland

Take a battery-powered boat to the world’s largest puffin colony.

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A new electric ferry has helped connect Iceland’s mainland to this small archipelago — also called the Westman Islands — off the country’s south coast, where the world’s largest puffin colony has turned many residents into active conservationists . (The archipelago was unaffected by the mid-December volcanic eruptions elsewhere in Iceland.)

From May to September, Heimaey, the main island, becomes a favorite weekend destination for Icelanders, who fill up sleek new villas during the frequent concerts and festivals, while cruise ship passengers can be seen racing around the outer islands on rib boats, visiting the Beluga whale sanctuary and riding A.T.V.s into the crater of the Eldfell volcano, which nearly wiped out the town during a 1973 eruption. Home to one of the country’s most important fishing communities, with a new seafood festival and a wave of culinary offerings like an artisan bakery and a craft brewery , Vestmannaeyjar has been hailed by the local media as the “ food capital of Iceland .”

Montevideo Uruguay

South america’s most laid-back capital turns 300.

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Although it is the capital of one of South America’s most progressive nations (weed and same-sex marriage are legal, and its electrical grid is almost entirely powered by renewable sources ), Montevideo has a reputation for being on the quieter side. But as the city of 1.4 million celebrates 300 years , this is a perfect time to fall for Montevideo’s more subtle, easygoing charms.

Among the tree-lined boulevards of Pocitos, Cordón and Centro, shuttered neighborhood diners that once served simple Uruguayan fare are being lovingly restored as stylish yet affordable eateries. One is Pantagruel , a corner bar that preserved its midcentury furnishings when it reopened last year (try a glass of tannat , Uruguay’s specialty wine). Montevideo also has the world’s longest Carnival, with 40 nights of parades and block parties, from Jan. 25. It’s more affordable and family-friendly than Rio’s, and no less glittery.

— Laurence Blair

Mustang Nepal

A remote citadel of tibetan culture cracks open the gate.

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Nestled high on the Tibetan plateau in the northern reaches of Nepal, the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Mustang is a bastion of traditional Tibetan culture, preserved for centuries by its remoteness. Now, a new 183-mile road linking the region to China as well as the gleaming but debt-saddled and increasingly contentious international airport in Pokhara — both projects backed by Beijing — will give travelers easier access to sites like the well-preserved medieval fortress of Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang, which was a restricted area for tourists until the early 1990s.

Wilderness treks through the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges traverse river gorges, glacial lakes and rugged trails dotted with yaks and sheep. While budget-friendly hotels abound, the new, luxury Shinta Mani Mustang makes Nepal’s new trekking rules , which require hikers to use a local licensed guide or porter, easier to follow by offering a range of tours with certified guides.

Vienna Austria

A grand reopening in the city where the waltz became famous.

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After a three-year, 100-million-euro makeover, the Wien Museum , dedicated to Vienna’s history, recently reopened with a free permanent exhibition that chronicles its hometown’s rise from a Roman military camp to an imperial capital to a city that consistently ranks among the world’s most livable . Along with additional floors, there’s a new entrance, a plaza, a Viennese restaurant and a terrace overlooking Karlsplatz, a square with connections to the painter Gustav Klimt .

Fans of Johann Strauss, who composed “The Blue Danube,” an unofficial anthem of the city, can waltz over to the House of Strauss, a sparkling new museum opened on Oct. 25, what would have been Strauss’s 198th birthday. And for the competitive dancers, July’s EuroGames , one of several L.G.B.T.Q. events planned in the city this year, will draw thousands of queer athletes to face off in the ballroom as well as in other sports like tennis and basketball.

Brisbane Australia

Food, art and vertiginous views in a city gearing up for its olympic moment.

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Scheduled to host the Summer Olympics in 2032, Brisbane is undergoing a face-lift with a $3.6 billion expansion of the Queen’s Wharf area, set to partly open in 2024. The development includes the restoration of historic buildings, four new hotels, parks and public spaces, and an 820-foot-long Sky Deck with bars and restaurants overlooking the Brisbane River.

But there’s more than big development: At Agnes, a restaurant with a rooftop bar, chefs are renowned for their skill in cooking over an open flame. The Calile Hotel, with balconied rooms overlooking a palm-lined pool, feels like an oasis in the middle of the city. Rounding out the cultural experience is Brisbane Powerhouse, a 1920s power station reborn as a cultural hub, the site of the Melt Open , a celebration of queer arts and artists, and Vertigo , a restaurant where harnessed and clipped-in diners eat while dangling four stories above the ground. After dinner, they can abseil down the building’s exterior.

Pasadena California

An artsy, walkable corner of los angeles county that’s worth the metro ride.

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Pasadena’s natural beauty is clear as soon as you roll into town — maybe on the Los Angeles Metro, where the just-opened Regional Connector project makes possible a one-seat ride from the sands of Long Beach to the stands of the Rose Bowl. The San Gabriel Mountains preside over Pasadena like a sylvan crown, and hiking and biking trails framed by forested valleys and tumbling waterfalls abound in places like the Angeles National Forest .

The leafy city center is eminently strollable, with a vibrant main street and the nearby Norton Simon Museum , which features a sculpture garden inspired by Monet’s grounds at Giverny. The Tony Award-winning Pasadena Playhouse offers serious drama as well as youth-focused programming. And PST Art , a Getty museum project, will include exhibitions at Pasadena museums and art centers this year. To fuel up, try the innovative newcomer Bar Chelou (its name means “weird” in French) or a new wave of Asian restaurants, notably the Cantonese-influenced Colette .

Hurghada Egypt

Dive in the rich underwater world of the red sea.

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An hour’s flight from Cairo and just off the coast of Hurghada, Egypt, the Great Fringing Reef remains an abundant marine ecosystem that includes 40 types of sharks and 400 coral species.

The reef’s resiliency is often credited to the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association , a nongovernmental organization founded by divers in 1992. The group has since installed one of the world’s largest mooring systems (to reduce the harms of dive-boat anchors), instituted a local ban on single-use plastics and made snorkel tours and beach cleanups social events for residents and tourists. Last year, the organization opened three long-awaited dive sites to help minimize the impact on other reefs.

On land, the recently opened Serry Beach Resort , overseen by one of Egypt’s first female hotel directors, offers 453 rooms and suites decked out in locally made textiles fronting an infinity pool and the crystalline Red Sea. Egypt remains a relatively safe destination despite its proximity to the Israel-Hamas war.

— Michele Bigley

Boundary Waters Minnesota

A protected watershed, but for how long.

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Last January, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order that bans toxic mining on 225,504 federal acres within the Rainy River Watershed in northern Minnesota for 20 years. That was good news for the 150,000 annual visitors who paddle the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a network in the watershed of more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes that connect 1,100 freshwater lakes.

This roadless wilderness is pristine, a place to fish for walleye, hear the haunting call of a loon and camp in thick boreal forest — it’s also a habitat for bears, wolves and lynx. A suit by a local conservation group seeks to expand the ban on mining. But the area’s future remains uncertain: A bill has been introduced in Congress to reverse the order, and a subsidiary of a Chilean mining company has received approval to conduct exploratory drilling on state land next to the wilderness.

Thessaloniki Greece

An ancient seaside city gets decked out in rainbows.

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The squat, round White Tower is to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, as the Acropolis is to Athens. The structure, built in the 15th century under Ottoman rule and once known as the Tower of Blood, was renamed and painted white in the late 1800s by a prisoner in exchange for his freedom. The tower will glow with rainbow colors representing a different kind of liberation this year as thousands of L.G.B.T.Q. travelers gather from June 21 to 29 to celebrate EuroPride — the city’s chance for a redo after the pandemic scuttled its turn to host the event in 2020.

Thessaloniki, founded in 316 B.C. and named for a sister of Alexander the Great, is renowned for its Byzantine mosaics as well as its clubs, cafes and bars. Savor a glass of ouzo along the bay — unlike Athens, Thessaloniki is right on the water — and see if you can spot Mount Olympus.

— Danial Adkison

Normandy France

Celebrating a region’s role in the impressionist art movement.

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The revolution began quietly, a century and a half ago, with a canvas depicting a port in this region in northern France. Painted in 1872 by Claude Monet and displayed two years later at a pioneering Paris exhibition of iconoclastic artists — including Renoir, Degas and Pissarro — “Impression, Sunrise” was a hazy, color-soaked view of Le Havre that gave birth to perhaps the 19th century’s most famous artistic style. For the 150th anniversary of that show, the Normandy Impressionist Festival (from March 22 to Sept. 22) will celebrate the region’s centrality in the lives and works of the movement’s major figures. (Paris will also host numerous events.)

Rouen, whose cathedral was famously portrayed by Monet , will take center stage. Events there will include a lighted projection on the cathedral’s facade by the avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson and an exhibition of the painter David Hockney’s Normandy-inspired work at the city’s Musée des Beaux-Arts . Impressionist-themed exhibitions and events are also expected in Giverny (where Monet lived), Honfleur (home to the Eugène Boudin Museum ), Le Havre and other Normandy spots.

Grenada The Caribbean

White sands and underwater art on an island of timeless charm.

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More flights from JetBlue , Virgin Atlantic and Air Canada promise easier access to this Caribbean island nation, but you may never want to leave. Grenada’s verdant terrain, bountiful farms and uncrowded white-sand beaches entice with culinary delights, natural attractions and new luxury accommodations.

The 28-room Silversands Beach House will open in February on Portici Beach, and later this year, the Six Senses La Sagesse will offer 56 suites and 15 villas, each with a private pool. All the better to relax after a submarine visit to Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park , the first of its kind, where a recent upgrade includes 31 new pieces of art .

Grenada and its smaller islands, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, offer plenty of places to snorkel, fish, dive and sail, but don’t miss a tour of a rum distillery , chocolate company or spice garden : There’s good reason Grenada, which celebrates 50 years of independence this February, is known as the Spice Isle.

— Elisabeth Goodridge

El Camino de Costa Rica

A coast-to-coast trek with cloud forests, local chocolate and more.

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With new signage, the Camino de Costa Rica , a 174-mile cross-country hiking trail that connects the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, became easier to navigate last year. Organized into 16 sections, the trail knits together 25 rural communities and terrain that ranges from beaches to cloud forests. The full hike can take from 11 to 16 days, and along the way, travelers passing through Indigenous areas can hire members of the Cabécar community as guides. The trail also traverses national parks and sanctuaries that host dazzling birds like the resplendent quetzal .

Trekkers can camp, book hotels or stay overnight with families, sampling homegrown coffee and chocolate as well as dishes like a variety of gallo pinto made with beans, rice and coconut milk that’s often enjoyed on the Caribbean side of the trail. Local outfitters offer custom itineraries, including accommodations and luggage transfers, and activities like rafting, horseback riding and canoeing — all ways to help support areas off the tourist track.

Albanian Alps

Rugged peaks where hikers wander and shepherds roam.

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The remote mountain range in northern Albania, known as the Accursed Mountains, or the Albanian Alps (although it also reaches into Montenegro and Kosovo), has for years entranced hikers seeking serenity among its peaks. It may not be peaceful for long: Budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz announced new routes to Albania, making its glassy lakes and miles of relatively untouched trails more accessible for explorers looking for an affordable paradise.

Once reachable only with a four-wheel drive, northern villages like Theth are now accessible by a narrow but paved mountain road, although drivers may still need to wait for a passing cow or two. Visitors can stay with locals in guesthouses or farm stays to get a glimpse of rural life before hiking the Valbona Pass within a national park encompassing some 200,000 acres to gaze across wildflower-strewn valleys and see shepherds tending to their flocks.

— Isabella Kwai

Whitehorse Yukon

For northern lights viewers, a warm welcome in a remote capital.

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In the current 11-year solar cycle, magnetic activity in space will peak between January and October, expected to prompt more frequent and active northern lights. In the clear skies around Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon territory in northwest Canada, aurora-viewing tours have become a draw, taking place via canoe, snowshoe and fat-tire bike.

Surrounded by mountains and boreal forests, Whitehorse offers a warm welcome from the wilds in flourishing small businesses, including Yukon Brewing , offering “beer worth freezin’ for,” Gather Cafe & Taphouse , which shares space with a glassblowing studio, and Woodcutter’s Blanket , serving craft cocktails and microbrews in a 1930s log cabin.

Nature is never far from the city, where you can stay in a cabin built to blend into the landscape at Black Spruce resort, or soak under starry skies at Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs .

Choquequirao Peru

An archaeological wonder reachable only on foot, for now.

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As its tourism industry was recovering from pandemic losses, Peru was gripped by antigovernment protests that led to the shutdown of Machu Picchu , the country’s most famous attraction, and caused travelers to leave or cancel trips in droves. Now, as tourism is rebounding, efforts are gaining steam to direct visitors to lesser-known archaeological sites .

One site being considered for expanded tourism infrastructure is Choquequirao . Another spectacular Incan citadel, it receives fewer than 10,000 visitors a year. The catch: It’s a three- to four-day trek to get there. The government last year announced a $200 million investment in the site, with a plan to build a cable car and improve trails to boost tourism. A window may slowly be closing to reward a spirit of adventure with an enigmatic, ancient complex, surrounded by snowy peaks and wilderness, that feels entirely your own.

— David Feliba

Dresden Germany

Romantic landscapes and an avant-garde treasure trove in a city long on the mend.

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All but leveled in the Allied firebombing of 1945, Dresden has been rebuilding for decades. Now, with the historic center’s major restoration projects nearly complete, the city is ready to fete a favorite son: the archetypal Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich .

Born 250 years ago in September, he’s being celebrated across Germany, though Dresden — where he spent most of his creative years — is throwing the biggest party. Starting in August, the Albertinum and the Kupferstich-Kabinett museums will pay tribute with a joint exhibition. Serious fans — whether of his work in particular or Romantic landscapes in general — will want to follow in his footsteps along the Elbe Valley’s trails with Friedrichian-lore-loving guides.

If your tastes lean modern, no fewer than 1.5 million works of 20th-century art await at the Archiv der Avantgarden-Egidio Marzona , set to open May 5, in the restored Blockhaus, a new raw-concrete jewel housed in an opulent 18th-century shell.

— Abbie Kozolchyk

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Mexico

Welcoming endangered insects in verdant forests.

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As many as a billion monarch butterflies overwinter every year in this green forest of fir, juniper and pine trees in Central Mexico. After decades of falling population numbers , the beloved black, orange and white insect was classified as endangered in 2022 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This 139,000-acre reserve has six sites where visitors can hike into the forest and see the clusters of butterflies perched high in the tree canopy. Each sanctuary has a different appeal: The Rosario sanctuary is near the historic mining town of Angangueo, with quaint hotels like Rancho Cumbre Monarca , while Piedra Herrada is a two-hour drive from Mexico City.

Overwinter season is from November to March, and the ideal time to visit is midweek, when the sanctuaries are less crowded and less noisy, so you may be able to not only see the butterflies, but also hear their collective flutter.

— Jorge Valencia

Flamingo Florida

Rediscover a beloved lodge in the heart of the everglades.

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The vast beauty of the Florida Everglades is perhaps best appreciated at night, when the national park is all constellations and creatures. But for those who don’t care to brave the elements (or the mosquitoes) while camping outside or in an R.V., it has been impossible to stay anywhere with air-conditioning since two hurricanes destroyed the park’s only hotel in 2005.

That changed in November with the reopening of the Flamingo Lodge , now elevated and made out of sturdy shipping containers. A renovated visitor center and restaurant have been built to better withstand sea level rise caused by climate change.

The return of the beloved facilities, along with glamping “eco-tents,” has given birders, stargazers and anglers a reason to reconnect with the outpost of Flamingo, on mainland Florida’s southernmost tip and less than two hours by car from Miami.

And if you’re lucky, you may spot flamingos in Florida Bay.

— Patricia Mazzei

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A road bends through the lower elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains.

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Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

Italy :  Spend 36 hours in Florence , seeking out its lesser-known pockets.

Southern California :  Skip the freeways to explore the back roads between Los Angeles and Los Olivos , a 100-mile route that meanders through mountains, canyons and star-studded enclaves.

Mongolia : Some young people, searching for less curated travel experiences, are flocking to the open spaces of this East Asian nation .

Romania :  Timisoara  may be the most noteworthy city you’ve probably never heard of , offering just enough for visitors to fill two or three days.

India: A writer fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills , taking in the tea gardens and riding a train through the hills.

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

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15 Easy International Travel Destinations For Your Next Vacation

While some people are willing to travel anywhere in the world, many would-be travelers aren’t so willing. I’ve always been an adventurous traveler, but the rest of my family doesn’t share my excitement.

When it comes to traveling, they worry about how difficult it may be to get there and how hard it will be to get around with the language barrier and unfamiliar customs. These fears keep them from going anywhere other than Hawaii for vacation.

Toronto's skyline - easy International travel destinations

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Why Try an “Easy” Destination

These are all legitimate concerns, but there are plenty of locations outside the U.S. where none of these concerns apply.

I mean, let’s face it, my parents aren’t going to be convinced to travel to far away countries like India or Japan , but I do think they can be convinced to travel outside the country if the location is close to home and easy to navigate.

If you’re been avoiding vacationing outside the U.S. due to travel fear, consider one of the easy International travel destinations listed here for your next trip. And if you’re willing to travel a bit farther than 5-6 hours, a whole other set of possibilities open up for leery travelers like my parents.

Melbourne - easy international travel destinations

The criteria used to select these locations was:

  • Easy to get to (no more than a 6-7 hour, direct flight from most major cities)
  • English is the primary language used at the destination (on a resort, especially — everyone will speak English)
  • A lot of planning and organizing is not required. In fact, at the beach locations you can sit back and relax and never leave the resort if you don’t wish to.
  • Customs and practices are very similar to the U.S. so you won’t feel out of place or nervous.

15 Easy International Vacation Ideas

1. cancun, mexico.

Valentin Imperial Maya Resort in Playa de Secreto, Mexico

Cancun is the #1 travel destination for U.S. travelers abroad. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, all of which also make it a very easy place to visit. It’s close, so the flights are short and often cheap — good deals crop up regularly to Cancun.

It can be an enticing vacation option because of the alluring clear, blue waters and year-round warm weather. While we love that about Cancun, we also love all the incredible outdoor activities, day trips, and tours in the region.

Amazing all-inclusive resorts line the stretch of white sandy beach, and stretch down the coast into the Mayan Riviera . You might need to be a bit careful while traveling around the area (I wouldn’t recommend renting a car and trying to get around on your own).

There are plenty of reputable companies that will cart you around to see the archeological sites and to take a dunk in a cenote — which was one of the most amazing things I’ve done on any vacation. You can also get a real taste for the Mexican culture outside of the resorts in Cancun, if you want to.

Try one of these tours:

  • Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
  • Reef and Shipwreck Snorkeling Tour in Cancun
  • 3-in-1 Street Food Tour with transportation (food stalls + local market+ murals)

2. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Technically, it’s a U.S. territory, not another country, but that just makes it even easier. San Juan , the main city, with its cobblestone streets and vibrant nightlife, has a laidback feeling that contributes to a relaxing vacation, and golden-sand beaches are not far away.

While you’re there, why not learn how to salsa dance? It’s a highly popular activity, with many nightclubs hosting dedicated salsa nights. Take a walk through the cobbled streets of Old San Juan and explore its colonial architecture, vibrant art, and delicious food. Explore El Yunque National Forest , one of the most lush tropical rainforests in all of Puerto Rico! This stunning park features waterfalls, trails, and plenty of wildlife to take in.

Tour one of the island’s 3 rum distilleries. Casa Bacardi offers three tour options to choose from. Sip your welcome cocktail while you decide between the founder’s experience, the legacy tour, rum tasting tour, and the mixology class.

There are dozens of comfortable resorts in the city and directly on the beach that will cater to all your vacation needs and make sure you feel right at home. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is what cocktail to order.

  • Flavors of San Juan Food Tour
  • Puerto Rico Guided Adventure in El Yunque Rainforest
  • Old San Juan City Walking Tour

3. Toronto, Canada

Toronto Skyline

A very modern city along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is the fifth-largest city in North America and feels quite a bit like New York or Chicago. If you enjoy city life — bustling markets, a vibrant restaurant scene and world-class museums — this is a great, and easy destination to enjoy without the hassle of language issues.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has an impressive display of meteorites, including three from Mars. Another must-see attraction is the Distillery Historic District, a pedestrian-only neighborhood that once housed the largest distillery in Canada dating back to the 1830s. Many tourists and locals have reported ghost sightings in the area.

For the best views of Toronto, head to the CN Tower, the tallest building in the city at 1,815 feet tall. Thrill-seekers can experience the EdgeWalk , the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk around the tower. Hockey fans won’t want to miss the Hockey Hall of Fame , where they can even practice their slapshot on an immersive model rink complete with virtual goalies.

Getting to Toronto, Canada from the United States is easy, as there are direct flights from key destinations, with just one stop-over from secondary markets. The flight is just 6 hours from Portland, Oregon , and an hour and a half from New York .

  • Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto
  • Toronto walking tasting tour with Secret Food Tours
  • Show me the City! Toronto Walking Tour

4. Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic at sunset

There are a couple of great beaches in Dominican Republic — Punta Cana and Santa Domingo — where both European and U.S. travelers flock to relax in the sun. It’s easy to get to — a quick flight from Miami — can be inexpensive and provides luxury resort accommodations with all-inclusive options.

While the resort offers plenty of entertainment, there’s also a lot to explore in the surrounding areas. Take a leisurely stroll through the charming town of Santa Domingo , once the capital of the Hispanic Americas. The Museum of the Royal Houses is a treasure trove of cultural history. Don’t miss Los Tres Ojos National Park, an impressive limestone cave system with crystal-clear water.

Experience over 40 miles of uninterrupted beach views along the Costa del Coco (Coconut Beach), or venture to Cap Cana to witness the natural beauty of Hoyo Azul . Take a dip in the 45 ft deep cenote full of turquoise spring water, located inside Scape Park which offers unique adventures such as ziplining, snorkeling, and splash hammocks.

  • Look for hotels in Punta Cana
  • Look for hotels in Santo Domingo
  • Small Group: Saona Island Full Day Tour
  • 4×4 Dominican Adventure with Chocolate and Coffee Tasting from Punta Cana
  • Small-Group Cruising and Snorkeling Catamaran Tour

5. Grand Cayman Island

grand cayman islands

Miles of pristine beaches and an impressive food scene make Grand Cayman a great location for relaxation and indulgence. The island is only 22 miles long, so you can easily drive from Seven Mile Beach on the west side of the island to the East End on a day trip.

I hesitated to add Grand Cayman to the list because they drive on the left and that can be intimidating to some travelers, but you don’t have to drive in order to get around the island.

Visit the Cayman Turtle Centre where you can experience turtles up close and the islands ecosystem. While away the entire afternoon watching shark feedings, splash around with green sea turtles, and hike the Blue Hole Nature Trail.

Visit and tour the Cayman Spirits Co. which is the only distillery on the island. Scuba divers, beginners and veterans, will delight in the Kittiwake shipwreck and artificial reef. Explore the US Navy submarine that has been turned into an artificial reef for a variety of sea life.

There are also a number of great resorts where you can hang out for a week without ever needing to leave. Just choose a hotel on Seven Mile Beach and you’ll have everything you need within walking distance or rent a bicycle and see the sights.

» Look for hotels in Grand Cayman

  • Starfish Point, Stingray City and Coral Garden (3-Stop Adventure)
  • Small Group E-Bike Grand Cayman Ecological Half-Day Tour

6. Luxury Barge Cruising in France

Inside the Finesse hotel barge

If you’ve never looking into barge cruising before, you absolutely should. One the list of easy travel experiences, taking a barge cruise is perhaps one of the easiest there is. Not only is the entire itinerary planned out for you, you will also have a driver and tour guide with you at all times.

So even in France , where the language and customs might be a bit different than the U.S., you don’t have to worry about it for a second. You will always have an English-speaking guide with you.

A luxury barge cruise is one of the best ways to have a completely relaxing vacation. The boat meanders slowly down the canal, passing through some of the most beautiful and lush countryside. You stop every day for excursions to nearby vineyards and museums.

All of your meals are prepared and served for you by a professional chef. You can take leisurely walks or bike rides down the canal, alongside the boat. Or you can just sit back and watch the scenery pass by.

Check out European Waterways – they’re the best! You can also read the full review of our barge journey through Burgundy, France.

iceland

Absolutely packed full of a natural wonders and stunning beauty, Iceland is a perfect destination for leery travelers. The tour companies have worked out a brilliant system where you can sign up for everything you want to do all in one place. With so much to see check out our 7-day Iceland Itinerary and 12 Incredible Things to do & See in Iceland.

The Golden Circle tour is a highly scenic drive with many photo-ops. Stop at the Kerid Crater, where you’ll view a volcanic crater lake, the stunning Gullfoss Waterfall, and see the spouting hot springs in the Geysir area. The last stop is the historic Thingvellir National Park, where you can walk through and see the stunning geology of Iceland .

A stop at the Blue Lagoon , a geothermal spa in Iceland is a popular place to stop for a long soak in the warm waters. It is a man-made “hot spring” tucked among the low hills near Grindavík, just 20 minutes southeast of the airport.

A Northern Lights tour is a must while you are there. The best time to see them is in the winter. These tours go from September 1st and April 15th.

You can book round-trip airport transfers, and most of these tours you can do all with one company, you’ll pay just once and have all of the details of your excursions taken care of by one tour company. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

While Icelandic is the main language, English is spoken everywhere in Reykjavik and where ever tourists might be found. If you are a foodie or just love to travel for food make sure to check out our guide on where to eat in Reykjavik and what to order.

  • Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon Including Admission & Kerid Volcanic Crater
  • Reykjavik Food Walk – Local Foodie Adventure in Iceland
  • Ice Cave by Katla Volcano Super Jeep Tour from Vik
  • #1 Northern Lights tour in Iceland from Reykjavik with PRO photos

Ireland road trip

One of the easiest countries to travel around is Ireland . Most tourists take advantage of the beautiful countryside by renting a car and driving from place to place. Start out by flying into Dublin and spending a few day seeing the city and trying to Irish food.

Then take a car around to the west side of the country, which they have dubbed the Wild Atlantic Way . This includes many of the most popular areas of Ireland to explore, like Donagal, counties Clare, Galway and Kerry. Here are 13 amazing Ireland road trips you’ll love.

Some of our favorite areas to explore are part of  Ireland’s Ancient East, which includes Tipperary and the adorable town of Kilkenny , plus Kildare. While you are there stay in one of these fairy tale castles.

English is the official language in Ireland. The roads are a bit narrow in places, but well marked, and most hotels offer free parking. It’s very easy to drive around , with the exception of driving on the left. Also be sure to note that you MUST add the extra insurance to any car rental in Ireland. It’s mandatory.

  • Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin
  • Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin
  • Fast-track Easy Access Book of Kells Tour with Dublin Castle
  • Irish Food Trail – Walking Tour of Dublin
  • Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough and Kilkenny Day Tour from Dublin

9. Scotland

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Aside from the sometimes hard-to-understand accent, a trip to Scotland is like visiting an unspoiled, natural paradise. Most travelers start in Edinburgh or Glasgow and then start driving north into the wild and beautiful countryside.

To see what you’re missing in Scotland, check out our guides to Edinburgh where you should plan to visit the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the British royal family. Scotch whisky is Scotland’s national drink so you may want to take a tour or two on the Scotch Whisky Trail , and explore the lovely area of Fife while visiting St. Andrews and see the ruins at Inchcolm Island . There is incredible food in that area, and it’s definitely fit for foodies .

We also highly recommend visiting some of the isles, like Isle of Skye and Islay (particularly if you’re a fan of peaty whisky!).

See our 7-day itineraries that are perfect for exploring the west of Scotland and the east of Scotland and the hotels to look out for .

  • Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh Castle Tour: Fast-Track Guided Tour in English
  • Hogwarts Express and the Scenic Highlands Day Tour from Inverness
  • St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
  • The Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness

10. New Zealand

Auckland

In New Zealand , you can rent a car and travel throughout either the North or South Island easily. A quick flight between the two Islands will likely be needed though, due to distance, unless you have at least two weeks and don’t mind lots of driving.

We spent some time in Auckland, with amazing wine tasting on Waiheke Island , before heading to the fun and quirky Rotorua area. You might also want to visit Hobbiton, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, and the nearby glowworm caves . Here’s our 7-day itinerary for the North Island, which is a very nice trip, and easy to do.

You might also want to check out our post with 9 romantic destinations to visit in New Zealand.

  • Hobbiton™ Movie Set 2-Hour Walking Tour from Shires Rest
  • Cruise Milford NZ Small Boutique Cruise Experience
  • Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua

11. Australia

Sydney, Australia

In Australia , though you can drive from town to town, getting between the bigger cities will require flights. It’s one VERY large country. You can visit Sydney , which is bustling with things to do like great beaches and cafes, or spend some time in the wine country of South Australia ( Barossa , McLaren Vale and Adelaide ), our personal favorite.

We also really enjoyed Melbourne and the Yarra Valley wine region just an hour away. Of course, you can also arrange a tour to the outback or the Great Barrier Reef, if you want to see something completely unique to Australia. Consider taking a look at some of the Australia’s most scenic road trips to see what is off the beaten path .

For travelers, Victoria is quite accommodating, offering numerous outdoor activities, wineries to visit, and open roads to explore. While you’ll likely want to base yourself out of Melbourne, be prepared for a bit of driving.  The sun-soaked beach town of Byron Bay is worth a visit for it’s friendly people, arty culture, and awe-inspiring nature.

English is the official language of Australia and the people are very nice and accommodating. Enjoy one or all of these classic Australian dishes while you are there.

  • Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise from Cairns
  • Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
  • All Inclusive Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney with Scenic World
  • Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles Day Trip from Melbourne

12. London, England

Millennium bridge in London

Another great place to vacation with ease is London and the surrounding English countryside. Since England speaks English and has many of the same customs as the U.S, it’s an easy travel destination that won’t put you too far outside your comfort zone.

There are tons of great things to do in London so you won’t even have to leave the city if you don’t want to drive on the left. If you love food, be sure to check out London’s food markets , especially our favorite Borough Market . Here are all the top iconic landmarks to check out, and a guide to see all the top sights along the Thames in one day.

There are also great train systems that can take you to places like Stonehenge , Windsor , Bath , and even the Harry Potter Studio Tour outside of London without having to get in a car.

With so many diverse and unique neighborhoods we suggest staying in different areas of London  while you visit. There are fun and unique dining opportunities in London you can even have dinner on a double decker bus , which we highly recommend.

  • Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London
  • Downton Abbey Village, Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds Day Trip from London
  • The Tower of London – Small Group Tour with a local expert
  • Original Harry Potter Locations Tour – London
  • Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath with Pub Lunch in Lacock

13. Madeira, Portugal

Madeira harbor

Madeira, Portugal is a stunning island located in the Atlantic Ocean known for its lush forests, beautiful beaches , and incredible hiking trails. There are plenty of activities to enjoy while visiting this paradise, from exploring the charming city of Funchal to taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of Porto Santo Beach. One must-try activity while visiting Madeira is to take a cable car ride up to Monte, which offers breathtaking views of the city and at the top visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, which is home to an impressive collection of exotic plants and waterfalls.

Another must-do activity while in Madeira is to take a Levada walk. Levadas are man-made irrigation channels that run along the mountainside and are surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. One of the most popular Levada walks is the 25 Fontes Walk, which leads you to a stunning waterfall and natural pool. There are plenty of activities you keep you busy.

Finally, no trip to Madeira would be complete without trying the local food and wine. Madeira is known for its unique cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Portuguese and African flavors. Be sure to pair your meal with a glass of Madeira wine , which is produced on the island and has been famous for centuries. Whether you prefer a dry or sweet wine, there is a Madeira wine for everyone to enjoy.

  • Around The Island – Two Days Tour From 9am to 5pm (each Day)
  • Madeira Dolphin and Whale Watching on a Ecological Catamaran
  • Madeira Best of the West Day Tour
  • Porto Moniz – Enchanted Terraces: Open 4×4 Full Day Tour

14. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium, is a beautiful and charming city known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and canals. There is no shortage of things to do while visiting this picturesque city. One of the must-see attractions in Bruges is the Belfry of Bruges, which offers stunning views of the city from its top. You can also take a boat tour along the canals to get a unique perspective of the city’s architecture and scenery.

Another great activity while in Bruges is to visit its many museums and art galleries. The Groeningemuseum is one of the most popular museums in the city and houses a vast collection of Flemish and Belgian art. The Memling Museum is located in the former hospital of St. John and contains a collection of medieval medical instruments and artwork.

No trip to Bruges would be complete without sampling its famous cuisine and chocolate. Belgian chocolate is known for its high quality and rich flavor, and you can find a variety of chocolatiers and shops throughout the city. Be sure to also try some of the local specialties, such as Flemish stew, moules frites (mussels with fries), and waffles. Pair your meal with a Belgian beer, which is also renowned for its quality and variety, and you will have experienced some of the best of Belgian cuisine.

We’ve stayed at a few great hotels in Bruges and enjoyed each experience for different reasons. If you pick a hotel in the historic center, it will be very centrally located and within easy walking distance of the things in the center of  Bruges  that most tourists intend to do. If you have more time to spend make sure to visit the medieval town of Ghent. This itinerary will help you see everything with some pointers on where to stay .

  • Belgian Chocolate Workshop in Bruges
  • Love, Architecture & Art of Bruges
  • Best of Bruges: History, Chocolate & Beer Tour

15. Munich, Germany

Old Town Munich

Munich, Germany, is a vibrant and historic city known for its beer, culture, and architecture. One of the must-see attractions in Munich is the Marienplatz, which is the central square of the city and home to the famous Glockenspiel clock tower.  If you’re close enough to visit Neuschwanstein castle , you absolutely should make the effort.

The Alte Pinakothek is one of the most popular art museums in the city and houses a vast collection of European art from the Middle Ages to the Rococo period. The Deutsches Museum is also worth a visit, as it is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world and contains a variety of interactive exhibits and displays.

Finally, no trip to Munich would be complete without experiencing its famous beer gardens and festivals. The Oktoberfest is one of the most famous beer festivals in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as pretzels, sausages, and Weisswurst, which is a traditional Bavarian white sausage served with sweet mustard.

  • Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castle Small-Group Premium All-Inc Tour from Munich
  • Bavarian Beer and Food Evening Tour in Munich
  • Munich Old Town Small-Group Walking Tour

Before You Go

Since you made it to the end of this article, you’re probably pretty interested in other travel destinations. Here are a few more articles we think you might enjoy.

12 Exciting Travel Destinations in Asia

21 top foodie destinations around the world.

  • 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations
  • 10 Most Romantic Destinations in the Mediterranean

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the easiest countries for a first-time international traveler to visit.

Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman Island, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, England, Portugal, Belgium, and Germany are all very easy first-time travel destinations. These countries have robust tourist infrastructures, widely spoken English (or high English proficiency in the case of Japan ), and relatively easy-to-navigate public transportation systems. Countries within the European Union such as France, Italy , and Spain also offer many conveniences for first-time travelers with rich cultural experiences.

What should I keep in mind when planning my first international trip?

First, consider the language spoken in your destination – it may be helpful to learn basic phrases if English is not widely spoken. Second, look into visa requirements; some countries may require you to secure a visa before your trip. Third, consider your destination country’s cost of living and exchange rates to budget accordingly. Fourth, research about the culture and customs to respect local traditions and norms. Lastly, be aware of the country’s safety level, public transportation options, and the availability of health care facilities.

What are the must-haves I should pack for my first international trip?

First, your passport and possibly a visa, depending on your destination. Keep digital and physical copies of these documents in case of loss. Second, adaptors for your electronics, as plug types vary around the world. Third, a basic first-aid kit with essentials like band-aids and medicine for common ailments. Fourth, a cell phone with international capabilities and possibly a local SIM card for data usage. Lastly, clothes are appropriate for the climate and respectful of the local culture.

See how easy it is to travel internationally? There are many easy international travel destinations to go to where you won’t feel overwhelmed or unsafe. The pleasure of traveling doesn’t have to be scary or inconvenient. Get out there and see the world!

Be Prepared For Travel

Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home

  • Find and book the best hotel (our favorite booking site is Expedia)
  • Research flight options (our favorite tool is Skyscanner )
  • Book a tour (we always use Viator to find the best tours)
  • Rent a car through Discover Cars (they search the best deals for you!)

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Laura

Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.

7 thoughts on “ 15 Easy International Travel Destinations For Your Next Vacation ”

Thanks for sharing. Some great tips. We went to Puerto Rico last year and it was amazing. Although from California it’s about 9 hours of flying! But it was still worth it.

If only there was a way to make flights shorter. Puerto Rico is worth it though, like you said!

Great information you shared in the blog post. I will add your blog to my wish list and explore all these information in future. Thanks a lot for this share…

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How can you get to either New Zealand or Australia in a 6 or 7 hour flight from the US?

Hi! I really appreciate this list. Well assembled. I would enjoy a list as well that indicates the same sort of easy cities with the exclusion of the 6-7 hour flight criteria. We are cut visiting Sweden and it’s so easy. Looking forward to more of your articles.

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11 Dream International Vacations That Are Surprisingly Affordable

From Portugal to Panama, here’s where you can get the most bang for your buck.

international tourist spots

As the world becomes more connected by air travel, international vacations are increasingly affordable — but you have to know where to look and when to book. Typically, if you're hoping to save money, you should plan your trip around a destination's off-season. As a bonus, you're bound to have a better travel experience when you don't have to jostle your way through crowds to get to the top attractions.

Whether you're dreaming of a vacation as far from the U.S. as Australia or as close as Toronto, the actual cost could surprise you (in a good way). Using data from the booking platform Kayak , we've compiled a list of 11 international destinations where your dollar will go the furthest, plus when to book for the cheapest airfare and accommodation.

Toronto, Canada

Just north of the U.S. border is a growing city bursting with culture, a diverse culinary scene, and activities catering to a range of age groups and interests. Often mistaken for the Canadian capital, Toronto is sometimes known as "Hollywood North" for its wealth of celebrity residents. Foodies will want to make stops in Little Italy, one of several Chinatowns, and Little Portugal for a gastronomic jaunt around the world. Tourists may also be inclined to catch a hockey game, sample craft beer, and take a trip to the famous CN Tower to get unmatched views of the city.

Kayak data indicates that Toronto's low season runs from October to March, with the exception of December because of holiday travel. The cheapest flights can be found for about $180 from New York's JFK Airport in October. A direct flight from JFK to Toronto takes less than two hours.

Hotels downtown seem to be cheapest in January and February, when you can expect to pay as little as $33 per night for three-star accommodation. They're most expensive in September, going for an average of $371 per night.

Grand Est, France

The area formerly known as Alsace (now officially part of the larger Grand Est region) is beloved by French travelers. It doesn't attract nearly as many visitors as Paris or the Cote d'Azur, so you'll get a quieter experience. Kaysersberg, once featured on the TV program Le Village Préféré des Français as the French's favorite village, exemplifies many of the characteristics that have endeared Alsace to locals. It's got architecture that dates back to the 13th century, world-renowned wine cellars, and hearty Alsatian cuisine.

Fly to Strasbourg, the capital of Grand Est, in February or March for the best price. From New York City, round-trip flights can be found for less than $700, and you can stay in a three-star hotel for as low as $89 per night in the off-season. Kayak says the cheapest months for accommodation in Grand Est are August (an anomaly) and October.

Armenia attracts tourists with its rich arts scene, upscale shopping, and history museums packed with treasures. Though the capital, Yerevan, is a popular destination, no trip to this Asian country is complete without stepping into the gorgeous and rugged countryside. Head out to Khor Virap, a monastery first established during the 600s, for mountainside views and ancient architecture about 45 minutes away from Yerevan. It's worth the additional hour it takes to drive out to Garni Gorge, topped by a Roman temple, along the way.

Winter is Armenia's low season. The cheapest month to fly from NYC to Yerevan is November ($838 for a round trip, on average), though flights from January through March aren't much more expensive. Three-star hotels average $90 per night in January, the cheapest month for accommodation.

Brisbane, Australia

The capital of Queensland on Australia 's east coast is arguably the country's design capital. Drop by the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (colloquially called QAGOMA , one entity) or the Institute of Modern Art ( IMA ) to get a sense of Asian-Pacific art. Go shopping in the Fortitude Valley district, where you'll be able to pick up pieces from local and international designers. And, of course, because it's Australia, it's easy to get in touch with the local wildlife. Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary , just about 20 minutes from the city, to hang out with more than 100 critters (not just koalas, either).

In general, Australia doesn't exactly fit the bill of "budget travel" for Americans, considering the absolute cheapest round-trip flight from NYC to Brisbane on Kayak costs almost $1,000. However, relative to other Australian destinations, this waterfront city is one of the more affordable entry points. The cheapest month to book a flight to Brisbane is September, the first month of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Three-star hotel stays average in the $150 range from April through July, then spike in August.

Madeira, Portugal

It's been 600 years since the Portuguese colonized Madeira , and the archipelago continues to astound visitors with its natural beauty. Trek along miles of rugged coast to see the Atlantic at its most paradisiacal. The capital of Funchal is home to a number of hotels offering glamour, glitz, and stiff cocktails. Speaking of drinks — be sure to check out the famous fortified wine named after the island where it was made.

Typically, a round-trip flight from NYC to Funchal will set you back anywhere from $650 to $1,100, with the lowest prices offered November and January to May. Hotel prices fluctuate on a similar schedule and range from about $150 to $330 per night for a three-star property.

If you're looking for a cheaper Mediterranean vacation , hop to the sea's southern side and try out Tunisia. The country has history (with a Roman colosseum — the Amphitheatre of El Jem — some say is even better than Rome's), miles of beautiful, sandy beaches, and bazaars with carpets, ceramics, and metalwork.

Kayak data indicates that the cheapest time to fly from NYC to Tunis , Tunisia's capital, is November (about $560), then September to October and January to May ($608 to $768). Prices for a night in a three-star Tunis hotel range from around $100 to $200, with the cheapest months on Kayak being September and December through March.

Etyek, Hungary

Budapest gets the majority of Hungary's visitors, but if you want to delve deeper into the country's culture, drive 18 miles west of the capital to Etyek, often called the "vineyards of Budapest." This area has been producing grapes since the 18th century and has been likened to Champagne for its excellence of crisp wines like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. The town is also a pilgrimage for film buffs, with huge movies like "Blade Runner 2049" and "The Martian" having been shot there.

Etyek is about a 30-minute drive from Budapest. September through November and January through April are the cheapest times to fly to the Hungarian capital from NYC, according to Kayak data . Outside of the busy summer season, round-trip flights can be found for $524 to $620.

While September is a cheap time to fly to Hungary, it happens to be the most expensive month for accommodation. Book your trip in January, February, or March to snag a three-star hotel for $160 a night or less.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

That St. Vincent and the Grenadines were the last of the British colonies in the Caribbean to gain their independence (only in 1979) could be a reason why the islands have lagged behind other big players in drawing tourists. The upside of that, however, is the lack of crowds at beaches and on trails leading through lush rainforest to dormant volcanoes.

Visitors will fly into St. Vincent's Argyle International Airport, open only since 2017, and ferry over to the smaller islands of the Grenadines. The route is run several times a day from Kingstown.

Round-trip flights from NYC can be found for under $600 in March, May, and November. Hotels on St. Vincent remain surprisingly cheap throughout the year, showing the same sporadicity as flight prices. Go in January, May, June, August, or December for average nightly prices under $200 for three-star properties. The cheapest month for accommodation is December, when you can find a good hotel for about $50 a night.

Panama City, Panama

Meander through Panama City's old quarter where Spanish-style houses line cobblestone streets. Eat your way through Panamanian cuisine — yuca, plantains, empanadas, sancocho de gallina (chicken stew), and fish soup are among the most-loved dishes — and then top it all off with a tour of the city's thriving cocktail scene. The rainforest is easily accessible from Panama City if you're eager to swap the urban jungle for real jungle scenery.

Even though Panama is located in the Northern Hemisphere, its seasons — of which there are only two — are opposite of the U.S.'s. "Winter" (aka the wet season) lasts from around May to December and "summer" (the dry season) lasts from December to May. It's cheaper to go during the wet season, when the climate is least comfortable.

Prices for a round-trip flight from NYC to Panama City's Tocumen International Airport range from $339 to $659, with the cheapest times being April to June and September to October. The most expensive flights are in December. You can often stay in a three-star property for under $130 per night if you go between June and September.

Nicholas Schmidt/Travel + Leisure

Guatemala is consistently ranked a Travel + Leisure reader favorite for its combination of natural beauty and historic wonders. Visitors can wander through ancient Mayan ruins, hike the mountains and jungles, or explore the historic streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua. Guatemala also boasts a thriving arts scene, perfectly preserved Spanish architecture, and unique cuisine like chuchitos (Guatemala-style tamales).

Book a trip for May or September for the cheapest flights ($269 to $344) on Kayak . Three-star hotels during that time should cost in the $120- to $140-per night range, while stays during August — the cheapest month for accommodation — cost, on average, $108 nightly.

Hanoi, Vietnam

You get a little bit of everything from a trip to Hanoi: vibrant culture, thousand-year-old history, a food scene that spans world-famous street carts to Michelin-starred restaurants, and a touch of jungle evidently seeping from the outskirts into the city. With $1 USD converting to about 25,000 Vietnamese dong, roughly the cost of a delicious banh mi , you should find it easy to stick to your budget and still live indulgently in this bustling capital.

Round-trip flights from NYC to Hanoi cost about $870 at their cheapest, from September through November, which is Vietnam's transitional period from the hot and humid wet season to the dry (and touristy) season. During this time, three-star properties go for about $125 to $150 a night.

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Where to go in 2024: The 16 best places to travel

topdestinations2024-featuredimage-BCD

This past year has been a time of regeneration, renewal and reckoning for travelers and the travel industry alike.

Travel has certainly resurged since pandemic-related restrictions were lifted ... but it is different from before.

Travelers faced new frustrations, whether it was higher prices, longer wait times or more crowds. Destinations eager to welcome back waves of visitors were confronted with obstacles like unprepared infrastructure, the impact of inflation on local populations and unforeseen environmental calamities. Hotels and airlines continued to struggle with staffing shortages, operational challenges and supply chain issues.

And yet, despite those hurdles, the desire to travel has never shone brighter. Intrepid adventurers journeyed to new (to them) corners of the globe in search of unique experiences. Folks who had perhaps put off a trip or two found reasons to take them. And all of us discovered the joy of reconnecting with loved ones near and far.

As we look ahead to next year, we are excited to share our list of the best places to go in 2024, drawing from our own editorial team's expertise and also that of our outstanding group of contributors from around the world.

We thought long and hard about things like new airline routes , fabulous hotel openings and events set to take the world stage by storm. But at The Points Guy, we also think why we travel is as important as where we travel.

Maybe you want to use your hard-earned points for an over-the-top flight in Singapore Airlines' Suites or just to get the family together at Grandma's house for an overdue visit. Perhaps you want a carefree all-inclusive beach vacation , or to get firsthand insights into a destination at the forefront of sustainability .

From the thrill of Olympic competition in France to the otherworldly landscapes of Bolivia, the wildlife-rich Bissagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau and the exciting design developments taking place in both San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — whatever your travel goals or preferences, we've got an incredible roster of places just waiting to be explored next year.

Get ready for a few surprises, a dash of inspiration and a healthy helping of wanderlust as we share our most exciting places to travel to in 2024.

— Eric Rosen

international tourist spots

Best for experiencing once-in-a-lifetime events on the world stage

Whether it's high fashion or haute cuisine, France is known for creating creme-de-la-creme experiences. But the sheer number of special events and exciting new developments expected to take place there in 2024 will have even the French exclaiming, "Sacré bleu!"

The marquee happening, of course, will be the 2024 Summer Olympics from July 26-Aug. 11. The opening ceremony will take place along the Seine in the heart of Paris , but showstopping venues will include the magnificent grounds of Versailles for the equestrian events, various stadiums throughout the country, and even French Polynesia for the surfing competition. The stage is set for a truly spectacular set of games.

The Olympics have even displaced the Tour de France from its normal final stage along the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The alternate is, thankfully, a sun-splashed finish line along the Cote d'Azur in Nice . That's within easy driving distance of the relatively new Carlton Cannes , a luxurious reimagining of one of France's most iconic hotels courtesy of IHG. Hilton is also planning a vast French expansion with various branded properties in cities including Cannes, Dijon, Bordeaux and Marseille.

On a more somber note, June 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, and the region is planning over 100 special events to commemorate this historic event, including a June 1 sound-and-light show using 2,500 drones over the five landing beaches. From March 22-Sept. 22, the region will also host the Normandy Impressionist Festival, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition. Events will include a major show of James Abbott McNeill Whistler at Rouen's Fine Arts Museum, while the Musee d'Orsay in Paris will host the "Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment" showcase of 130 masterpieces of painting, sculpture, photographs and more.

In the east, Strasbourg will be UNESCO's 2024 World Book Capital, with events organized around various themes like poetry, refuge, debate and more. The Alsatian capital is also home to one of Europe's most charming Christmas markets in the month leading up to the holiday , which is well worth a visit.

Wine lovers should head to Bordeaux for its famous Fete le Vin from June 27-30 to enjoy the region's famous vintages and gourmet delicacies, along with live music and other performances. They can even put their Accor points to use with a stay at a new Philippe Starck-designed, 97-room Mondrian constructed around a historic 19th-century building right in the city center, complete with an expansive open-air terrace. Now that's something worth toasting to.

TPG tip: Hotel reservations around the Olympics can be notoriously hard to confirm and Paris is cracking down on short-term rentals, so if you plan to attend the Games, prepare to pay high prices for an official package ... or take your chances trying to book something at the last minute.

San Diego, California & Tijuana, Mexico

international tourist spots

Best for art and design lovers who appreciate cross-cultural collaborations

In a first, two neighboring cities in two different countries have been designated the World Design Capital for 2024: San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. The World Design Organization accolade recognizes cities that effectively utilize design to enhance their residents' economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life. San Diego and Tijuana will celebrate the designation through unique experiences, from events and festivals to exhibitions and summits.

Community events scheduled throughout 2024 include Tijuana's World Design Street Festival (April 28), where travelers can attend concerts, public design workshops, exhibitions and design studio open houses. The Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Centro Cultural Tijuana will simultaneously host an exhibition called "Frontera," focused on jewelry design. In September, both cities will host an interactive World Design Experience.

Aside from its WDO duties, San Diego has a lot going on. One of the West Coast's largest adaptive reuse projects, the 10-acre, sustainably designed Horton Campus , set for completion at the end of 2023, has transformed a former downtown shopping mall into a chic development with white-and-glass structures, parks, shops and lab space, each with either a green roof or solar panels.

San Diego's white-hot culinary scene continues to heat up, with Valle winning Oceanside's first Michelin star earlier this year. Restaurant openings to look forward to in 2024 include all-day cafe Wildflour from award-winning chef Phillip Esteban, the farm-and-vine-to-table Cellar Hand , and chef Brian Malarkey's highly anticipated French-inspired steakhouse, Le Coq, in the tony coastal enclave of La Jolla.

San Diego's hotel roster is also growing. The new owners of the historic Lafayette Hotel in North Park, which had fallen into disrepair, unveiled a stylish $31 million renovation this summer, and the bucolic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will celebrate its 100th anniversary following the completion of multimillion-dollar renovations in 2024. The iconic Hotel del Coronado is in the throes of a wholesale revamp. The Beach Village at The Del will unveil a full makeover at the end of 2023, while its Victorian section will be renovated in 2025. A new 39-room boutique hotel in Coronado called The Bower is also slated to debut in fall 2024.

Tijuana got its own new hotel in 2023: Hotel Brecha , a boutique hotel with art-filled walls and nine sleek rooms. Recent bar and restaurant openings across the city's diverse culinary scene include the speakeasy-style Border Saloon and seafood spots Don Vergas Mariscos Tijuana and Don Timon .

TPG tip: Tijuana, which has been sorely lacking in green space, will have a new eco-park by the end of 2024, Parque Esperanto . The 320-acre plot will involve the reforestation of 15,000 trees and feature amenities like an open-air gym, sports fields, zip lines, children's play areas and a bicycle path.

— Devorah Lev-Tov

Assam, India

international tourist spots

Best for lovers of tea and tigers keen to explore one of India's hidden corners

Home to a fascinating blend of Indigenous tribes, awe-inspiring landscapes, traditional mountain villages and UNESCO-inscribed national parks, the eastern Indian region of Assam has cultural and natural wonders just waiting for travelers to explore — without the crowds you might find in better-known South Asian destinations.

The region's main artery, the mighty 1,800-mile-long Brahmaputra River, runs from the Himalayan highlands of Tibet to Assam's wildlife-rich floodplains, bordered by lush, terraced tea plantations, ornate temples and riverside villages.

Even with just a week or 10 days for your journey, you can learn about tea cultivation in Jorhat (Assam produces over 50% of India's famed tea), marvel at imposing Ahom temples in bustling Sivasagar — the sacred former capital of Assam's Ahom kings — and learn about the socially inclusive religion of neo-Vaishnavism on Majuli, one of the world's largest river islands and a haven for birdlife.

Straddling the border with Bhutan, UNESCO-listed Manas National Park is a biodiversity hot spot known for its sightings of buffaloes and rhinoceroses that graze in forests that surround the Manas River. The highlight of any visit, though, is a Jeep safari to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kaziranga, which provides sanctuary to endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, panthers, bears, gaurs (Indian bison) and myriad other species.

Next year, several new cruise itineraries will make the region more accessible to travelers keen to get off the beaten path without sacrificing creature comforts. Banyan Tours will operate four-, seven- and 10-night Assam cruises from Kolkata aboard the luxurious ABN Charaidew II and the more intimate 12-cabin ABN Sukhapa . Both ships feature spacious, beautifully appointed cabins, large sun decks, small spas, a library, gourmet cuisine and onboard naturalists. Guests can spend time in between excursions scouring the waters for species such as the endangered Ganges river dolphin and the smooth-coated otter.

TPG tip : For travelers looking for rare tiger and mammal encounters across several Indian regions, in January, andBeyond will offer a 16-day limited-edition Project Tiger Expedition that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's renowned tiger conservation initiative. The itinerary begins in Delhi before visiting three of India's most iconic national parks: Kanha, Kaziranga and Ranthambhore.

— Caroline Lascom

international tourist spots

Best for an affordable Mediterranean beach getaway

Turquoise Mediterranean waters lapping beautiful beaches? Check. Picturesque hilltop villages? Check. Forest-covered mountains and mouthwatering food and wine? Check and check. Albania has all the attributes of more popular Southeastern Europe destinations like the Greek islands but without the crowds and the high price tag.

Begin your adventure in Tirana, the capital city, where Brutalist architecture blends with charming, tree-filled neighborhoods. Take a cable car ride up Mount Dajti for panoramic views of the city and stay at the sophisticated Tirana Marriott , though IHG loyalists might want to hold out for the opening of the InterContinental in 2025.

Just an hour southwest from Tirana International Airport (TIA), check in to the newly opened Melia Durres Albania, a luxurious beachfront retreat in a dreamy beach town offering stunning Adriatic Sea views and an opportunity to unwind.

Heading south along the coast, enjoy picturesque beaches while exploring charming towns like Dhermi and Jale, and savor the local cuisine, renowned for its fresh seafood and Mediterranean spices.

Then, immerse yourself in the country's vibrant summer music scene . The weeklong Kala Festival in early June features house, disco, soul and funk music across five intimate stages along the pristine shores of the Ionian Sea.

Back in the hinterlands, you can delight in mouthwatering delicacies at the AgriTourism Huqi farm located a short drive from the capital, like slow-cooked lamb (mish ne pus), and sample a variety of flavorful cow and goat cheeses. Don't forget to try local wines like the tangy white ceruja and full-bodied red kallmet at the family-run Nurellari Winery, less than a half-hour from the 13th-century fort city of Berat.

For an even deeper glimpse of the country's rich heritage and archaeological sites, wander its many ancient settlements, like Butrint, which played host to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. Even with all that history, Albania feels exciting and new once again, and you won't have it to yourself for much longer.

TPG tip : Fly into a major European gateway like Frankfurt or Paris and then connect to Tirana via air. From there, book a one-way car rental to the port city of Sarande so that when your time in Albania is over, you can catch a 30-minute ferry to Corfu, Greece, where you have even more history and beaches to explore, and many low-cost flight options to major European airports.

— Matt Moffitt

international tourist spots

Best for epic wildlife and sustainable travel

One of the most biodiverse places on Earth, framed by rugged Pacific and Caribbean coastlines and home to magical cloud forests, picture-perfect volcanoes and extraordinary marine reserves, Costa Rica has long captivated wild-at-heart travelers.

An eco-tourism pioneer in the 1990s, and dubbed the "Switzerland of South America" due to its mountainous green landscapes and political stability in a sometimes volatile region, Costa Rica continues to raise the bar with its commitment to environmental protections; over 25% of its land is national parks and reserves.

For travelers looking to combine sustainable outdoor adventures with sumptuous accommodations, 2024 is when it all comes together. A flurry of exciting new hotels are set to debut, including Nekajui, just the sixth of Marriott's ultraexclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserves . Designed with a light environmental footprint on a pristine swath of the Papagayo Peninsula, the 107-key resort takes inspiration from a traditional stone Costa Rican hacienda surrounded by treehouse-style buildings tucked discreetly into steep hillsides.

Nearby, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste will be the brand's first Costa Rican outpost, embodying the "pura vida" lifestyle with a holistic wellness center and cenote-inspired spa. Elsewhere, the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo comes back online following a multimillion-dollar renovation with a new beach club and expanded wellness offerings.

For travelers looking for a low-key retreat with easy airport access, as well as proximity to San Jose's cultural attractions, the new Hyatt Centric in Escazu — another brand first for Costa Rica — will offer World of Hyatt loyalists an ideal bookend to a Costa Rica road trip.

The wildlife-rich Osa Peninsula is more accessible (and especially alluring to points enthusiasts) these days thanks to the recent opening of Botanika, part of Hilton's Curio Collection. The eco-chic property places travelers within striking distance of Corcovado National Park, one of the best places on the planet to view sloths, toucans, giant anteaters, howler monkeys and ocelots.

Visit the region from August through December to witness one of the world's greatest natural attractions: humpback whales migrating to Golfo Dulce, one of just four tropical fjords on the planet. The habitat, critical for the survival of the whale species, was awarded Whale Heritage Site status in 2023, one of only eight such sites worldwide.

TPG tip : U.S. airlines are adding new flights to Costa Rica, including Delta Air Lines, which will boost its service from Atlanta with three additional flights per week to both San Jose and Liberia (for Papagayo) from Jan. 13. Flights on the Liberia route are currently available this winter starting at 26,000 Delta SkyMiles or $421 round-trip.

South Korea

international tourist spots

Best for glimpsing the future while exploring the past

The "Korean Wave" — a tide of global popularity the country's cultural economy has created thanks to K-pop music, K-dramas on television and movies — has swept the world in recent years. In fact, youth tour company Contiki has announced the first K-Wave trip to South Korea to showcase local pop culture.

However, South Korea's entertainment culture is just one of a long list of reasons this Asian sensation should be on your 2024 travel list.

Four distinct seasons provide stunning backdrops year-round, so there's no wrong time to visit. Spring brings the magic of Jinhae's cotton candy-pink cherry blossoms while crimson and cadmium foliage frames the historic temples of Naejangsa and Taeansa during fall.

The past and the future intersect in the capital, Seoul, where heritage sites like the 14th-century Jongmyo Shrine coexist with futuristic architecture, including the Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza and the striking Seoul City Hall, with its seven-story vertical garden and prismatic glass facade.

Set to open in late 2024, the Seoul Robot and Artificial Intelligence Museum will showcase science and technology through interactive exhibits featuring AI and virtual reality. Robots aided in the museum's construction and will participate in its day-to-day operations, including welcoming guests and leading tours.

New spaces and exhibitions await visitors at the Busan Museum of Art, which showcases modern Korean artwork. Renovations begin in 2024 and will add high-tech features like evolving 3D projections.

A luxury clifftop island retreat overlooking the East China Sea, the stunning JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa, designed by Bill Bensley, debuted in 2023. And though it will be a while, in 2025, the luxury chain Capella Hotels and Resorts is set to open its first Korean property, Capella Yang Yang, near Songjeong Beach in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, where travelers can explore the region's famous pine forests and enjoy its ultrafresh seafood.

TPG tip: Travelers eager to explore South Korea's assorted allures can take advantage of increased airlift from the U.S. United Airlines has upped its frequencies between Incheon International Airport (ICN) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to 12 flights weekly. By the end of 2023, Air Premia will add flights between Seoul and Honolulu, too.

— Kristy Tolley

Eclipse path, United States

international tourist spots

Best for travelers who want to see a rare total solar eclipse in their own backyard

On April 8, some 31.5 million Americans will be able to witness a total solar eclipse from their doorstep when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely blocking the sun's face. The heavenly event will cut its way across North America, passing through Texas, the Midwest and some Eastern states. It's a sight you won't want to miss — the next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the contiguous United States for another 20 years.

Parts of San Antonio will experience about two minutes of midday darkness, making it the largest U.S. city along the path of totality. The 15-mile-long San Antonio River Walk is just south of the path, so visitors there will only see a 99% partial eclipse. Nevertheless, many hotels and restaurants are hosting viewing events, including a Solar Brunch at The Moon's Daughters , where guests and locals can see the eclipse unfold from the indoor-outdoor perch on the 20th floor.

An hour northwest of San Antonio, the town of Kerrville, Texas, one of NASA's Primary Eclipse Partners, will have over four minutes of darkness. The Texas Hill Country community's Schreiner University will host a weekendlong festival with celestial yoga, trail walks and observatory tours.

With renowned institutions known for cutting-edge research in space science and technology — and expecting four minutes of totality — Dallas will be one of the best eclipse destinations. At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science , 20 astronomers will answer questions. The city's many hotels, meanwhile, plan to offer stylish viewing, like Virgin Hotels Dallas, which will host a lively rooftop pool party.

This will be Indianapolis' first total solar eclipse in more than 800 years, and the town is going all-out with a citywide party to celebrate its 3 1/2 minutes of totality, including events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (NASA will broadcast live from the venue) and the Indianapolis Zoo.

In Cleveland, another NASA partner city, a natural phenomenon known as a lake effect (where cool air blows away clouds from the shoreline of Lake Erie) will allow visitors to view the eclipse for nearly four minutes. Downtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is offering a solar eclipse package with club-level accommodations for two and celestial-themed cocktails. The Great Lakes Science Center and NASA's Glenn Research Center are hosting Total Eclipse Fest from April 6-8, with science activities for kids and a classical music concert.

Buffalo will experience just under four minutes of totality, with the best vantage points found inside Niagara Falls State Park, while the Sheraton Niagara Falls is offering a two-night package , including eclipse viewing glasses and breakfast.

In Vermont, Stowe Mountain Resort will whisk skiers and snowboarders via gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, for high-altitude views during the nearly three minutes of totality the town is set to experience.

TPG tip: Holland America has put together a 22-day Solar Eclipse cruise , where guests will depart from San Diego and experience the eclipse off the coast of Mexico.

— Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau

international tourist spots

Best for intrepid naturalists seeking an under-the-radar destination

Sandwiched between Guinea and Senegal, Guinea-Bissau is one of West Africa's lesser-visited destinations, but that's what has helped keep the 88-island Bissagos archipelago 31 miles off its coast so untouched.

This astonishingly wildlife-rich island chain — often dubbed the Galapagos of Africa — is an idyll of empty white-sand beaches, thick mangroves, teeming lagoons and dense palm and cashew forests. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, the Bijagos (as they're also known) are home to thriving populations of saltwater hippopotamuses, manatees, dolphins, green sea turtles, flamingos, rays, sharks and around 175 fish and 500-plus bird species.

And you won't be vying for sightings with other safari vehicles or Zodiac boats. These paradisiacal islets are home to just 33,000 or so residents who hew to their traditional matriarchal society, and there are no formal resorts or ecolodges.

The archipelago has also been quite difficult to reach. However, a handful of luxury and small-ship cruises have begun to call at the islands. Ponant Cruises has just opened sales for its first dedicated nine-day "Adventure in the Bissagos Islands" itinerary (April 7-15, 2025) on Le Lyrial, which starts and ends in Dakar, Senegal. During the journey, guests can expect to spy towering baobabs and flocks of migratory birds, playful vervet monkeys and vividly colored lizards, and take part in ancient ceremonies alongside the Bijago people.

On board MS Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten now offers a 14-day "West Africa Archipelago" cruise (paired with Cape Verde), which includes four days of deploying small rigid inflatable boats and sea kayaks to navigate the islands and channels for awe-inspiring wildlife sightings. The line also arranges encounters with the islanders, who have acted as custodians of this wonderfully biodiverse and pristine part of Africa, and who dedicate some 100 days per year to sacred rites and ceremonies such as fanado and difuntu .

Swan Hellenic's Ghana-to-Senegal "Crucibles of West Africa" trip, on the new 152-guest SH Vega, has two days scheduled in this off-the-grid sanctuary, where shore excursions include explorations of Orango National Park's mangrove thickets and savannah as well as trekking through traditional villages on Canhabaque.

As with many of the world's island paradises, the clock is likely ticking down on the Bissagos remaining immaculate and undeveloped, so if you hope to see them as they are, 2024 is the year to go.

TPG tip: Non-cruisers can visit the islands by first flying into the capital, Bissau, from Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal. Alternatively, Delta Air Lines has daily direct flights from New York to Dakar, from which there are daily connections on Air Senegal to Bissau. From Bissau, hire a speedboat for the hourlong journey to Bubaque, where the affordable Saldomar guesthouse and Hotel Kasa Afrikana make great home bases for daytrips to islands like Rubane, Orango and Canhabaque.

— Kathryn Romeyn

Quebec, Canada

international tourist spots

Best for pristine landscapes and rich Indigenous cultures

Quebec has long attracted travelers with its cosmopolitan towns , distinctly French flair and untouched wilderness. Thanks to a bold commitment to supporting Indigenous tourism, in 2024, the Canadian province will also provide new and meaningful ways to experience its natural beauty, its people and its culture.

Travelers can take in the aurora borealis while learning about Inuit traditions in Quebec's Arctic region of Nunavik, scan for beluga and blue whales with an Innu guide in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, or forage for mushrooms and berries in the Laurentian mountain range. Across Quebec, there are now abundant opportunities to delve deeper into the ancestral traditions of the area's First Nations, Innuit and Metis people.

The recent addition of Anticosti Island to Canada's cache of UNESCO-protected heritage sites will draw wilderness seekers to its otherworldly canyons, primordial forests and cascading waterfalls. The island's 1,440 known fossil species offer the most "complete and best preserved paleontological record of the first mass extinction of animal life, 447-437 million years ago," according to UNESCO, providing a unique window into our planet's past.

For urbanites, Quebec City's lamplit, cobblestone streets have never been a hard sell for a weekend getaway, but now there are even more reasons to linger. Join one of Cicerone 's locally led walking tours, shop for regional artworks along Rue du Tresor, see Inuit art at the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec (a new exhibit starts in February) and then dine on inventive boreal cuisine at Indigenous-owned restaurant Sagamite, whose owners have added two boutique hotels to their portfolio and will open a new microbrewery in 2024.

Head just outside the city's 400-year-old walls to Canada's only recognized Huron-Wendat community. Here, the superb First Nations-owned Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations was recently revamped with luxe suites and rooms appointed with Indigenous artworks and textiles with First Nations motifs. The hotel's restaurant, La Traite, helmed by much-lauded chef Marc de Passorio, provides a magical initiation into ancestral flavors with standout dishes like local tomatoes with sage and Quebec buffalo mozzarella and hearty bison medallions with beet puree and thyme juice.

TPG tip : Bookend your trip with a stay in Montreal , where the hotel scene is buzzing. There's the new art deco-inspired Honeyrose Hotel, Montreal, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, where Marriott points will come in handy, and the iconic Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, an elegant retreat on Montreal's Golden Square Mile which has been revamped and is now part of Hilton's Curio Collection.

Queensland, Australia

international tourist spots

Best for travelers Down Under looking for the right mix of urban and wildlife adventures

Best known for one of Earth's natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef , there's a lot more to this northeastern Australian state (though a visit to the reef is still top of the list while you still can — climate change and other factors are having increasingly adverse effects on much of the aquatic ecosystem).

In the capital, Brisbane , once-gritty environs like Howard Smith Wharves have been revitalized with trendy bars and restaurants. However, one of the biggest redevelopments is still on the horizon. The $2.6 billion Queen's Wharf precinct is nearing completion on 30 acres of prime riverfront land with not one but three hotels planned, plus over 50 dining and drinking venues, a huge footprint for retail and tons of outdoor spaces like a 100-meter-high sky deck with 360-degree views. In October, the city will also host the first annual Melt Open festival celebrating queer art and culture.

Down south in the blingy surfer haven of Gold Coast, travelers will be able to check in to a sleek new twin-towered Mondrian hotel and residences, while north along the Sunshine Coast, the tourism industry is taking the lead in regenerating bush once used for cattle grazing with native subtropical rainforest, which visitors can enjoy by staying at the avant-garde new Kurui Cabin at the base of the Cooroy Mountains.

In an effort to cultivate Indigenous-owned and -operated tourism businesses, the state has already invested 7 million Australian dollars in the Growing Indigenous Tourism in Queensland Fund. What's more, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island — the world's largest sand island and a habitat for diverse wildlife where you can also swim with migrating humpback whales — has officially reverted to its traditional Butchulla name, K'gari.

Speaking of islands, luxury travelers can have an entire one to themselves along the Great Barrier Reef thanks to the November opening of Pelorus Private Island in the Great Palm archipelago off the Townsville coast. The nearly 1,000-acre paradise has just a single four-suite residence designed in a traditional, breezy Queenslander style, where guests can customize their entire experience from days out yachting between islands or exploring the island's teeming fringe reefs to enjoying leisurely meals prepared by a private chef.

TPG tip: It's getting even easier to travel from the U.S. directly to Queensland since United increased its frequencies between San Francisco and Brisbane from three times per week to daily in October and will launch three weekly nonstops between Los Angeles and Brisbane in December.

Train travel

international tourist spots

Best for high-velocity thrills or romantics looking to slow things down

Trains revolutionized travel in the 19th century, but 2024 might just be a rail renaissance thanks to new, thrilling high-speed routes, plush overnight sleepers and lavish itineraries on par with the world's best hotels.

Global developments in high-speed rail are coming to a pitch, with various highly anticipated routes finally entering operation. In Florida, the long-awaited Brightline has opened up an efficient new corridor between two major U.S. cities that are favorites with tourists. The service, which tops out at 125 miles per hour, connects Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Miami in just three hours (with 15 daily departures) and also courses between Miami and West Palm Beach via Aventura and Fort Lauderdale.

In Europe from late 2024, the ultraquiet Frecciarossa train will zip from Paris to Barcelona in just seven hours, shaving two hours from current travel times. In time for the Summer Olympics , Spanish rail company Renfe also plans to extend its daily Madrid-Marseille service through to Paris.

If you're craving tropical surroundings, Belmond's Eastern & Oriental Express returns to Southeast Asia in February after a pandemic hiatus. The restyled trains feature eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar and an open-air observation car. The three-night "Essence of Malaysia" itinerary will operate from November to February from Singapore to Penang, with stops in Kuala Lumpur and the island of Langkawi (via private boat). Operating from March to May and August to October, the "Wild Malaysia" experience steams from Singapore along the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula, with stops to spot wildlife at Taman Negara National Park and Penang before returning to Singapore.

Later in 2024, Orient Express will debut its opulent La Dolce Vita trains with lavish art deco cabins, haute cuisine and world-class bartending. The eight itineraries span one to two nights and include a Sicilian service starting and ending in Palermo via Agrigento and Taormina with a whiz-by of Mount Etna. Other standout itineraries include from Rome to Sicily (via a ferry) and a romantic circular route from Rome to Venice with a stop at Siena.

Finally, Europe continues its relative boom in new sleeper train services . Leading the way is Nightjet, which already connects major cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich. In 2024, the Austrian train operator will expand its Belgian routes from Brussels to Dresden and Prague. Additionally, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF will introduce a high-speed seven-hour service between Paris and Berlin, including stops in Strasbourg on the night route.

TPG tip: Use a Eurail pass (from $208) to explore multiple European countries using rail operators like Deutsche Bahn, SNCF and Trenitalia. Note that high-speed or sleeper options like Nightjet and Eurostar have extra reservation fees (typically $10-$20), but it's still much cheaper than buying individual tickets.

— Jordan Waller

international tourist spots

Best for beach and nature lovers who want to avoid crowds

Many travelers make the trek to South Africa for its spectacular wildlife and vibrant cities, but few hop across the border to Mozambique. Though the country has experienced ongoing conflicts in the far north, the central and southern parts remain relatively insulated from internal struggles.

Getting there is easier than you might think, too — Airlink offers direct flights to Vilankulos along the coast from Johannesburg , and more recently, the airline launched a nonstop flight between Cape Town and the capital, Maputo. While some travelers tend to skip the city, if you do make use of that route, consider a layover for a night or two. Maputo is a hub of activity with oceanside restaurants serving ultrafresh seafood with icy 2M beers and bakeries proffering crispy, creamy pasteis de nata, a holdover from Portuguese rule. The city's music scene is also buzzing, with bars and clubs playing everything from reggaeton to marrabenta (a hybrid of Mozambican dance with Portuguese folk music).

The main reason people come to the country is for the untouched Indian Ocean beaches along its 1,700-mile coast, which are lapped by aquamarine waters that rival the Caribbean. Over the past few years, a cluster of hotels have opened along the coast, including Kisawa, a design-focused property with 11 villas on a 740-acre sanctuary on Benguerra Island in the ecodiverse Bazaruto Archipelago.

Around two hours from Vilankulos on the mainland and set on a peninsula along a sheltered saltwater lagoon, Sussurro is an intimate pared-back lodge whose sandy-hued rooms are filled with artisan-made baskets and wooden furniture. Next year, Banyan Tree is expected to open Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira, which promises to be an uberluxury spot, on a private island north of Beira.

For safarigoers, Gorongosa, a national park that has been undergoing a two-decade-long rehabilitation, has become a beacon of regeneration and economic activity in an area where tourism was entirely decimated by civil war. This year, Muzimu Lodge, a tent camp, opened on the banks of the Mussicadzi River. Wildlife is not as abundant as in nearby Kruger National Park (though you can expect to see huge packs of wild dogs and teeming herds of antelope), but the biodiversity is some of the richest in the world, with nearly 500 species of birds. Indelible landscapes like chalky limestone gorges dotted with vegetation and inky caves, woodland savannah and giant "Jurassic Park"-like forests with sausage trees and native Borassus palms will leave you awestruck.

TPG tip : Ensure you allow ample time for your visa application. The process has moved online, which makes it infinitely swifter than previously, but the application time can still take up to a month and costs $160 or more depending on the type you apply for.

— Mary Holland

Note from TPG editors : Due to an ongoing terrorist insurgency in the far north of Mozambique, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 warning advising travelers to exercise increased caution when traveling in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also recently experienced some unrest following local elections, so be sure to investigate the current situation before booking a trip.

international tourist spots

Best for food lovers and thrillseekers looking for something out of this world

Arriving in Bolivia can feel like you've landed on the moon. Have you seen the magnificent Salar de Uyuni? It's a vast salt pan with 3,900 square miles of desertlike cracked earth punctuated by cactus-covered rock piles. Though this parched corner of the earth draws visitors from around the globe, high-end accommodations have been lacking, but that's been changing quickly. In 2022, the Chilean hospitality brand Explora unveiled an intimate six-room mountain lodge set in a slick, glass-fronted building with snug, wood-lined rooms overlooking the flats.

Guests can partake in excursions, but the property also forms part of a greater six-night odyssey: a nomadic expedition where guests journey from Chile's Atacama Desert to Salar de Uyuni, stopping off at Explora's other "Mountain Lodges" along the way. Loads of thrilling activities are on offer, such as biking explorations across the Salar, through quinoa fields and beyond, as well as hikes across the largest islands and up into a village to see ancient Andean burial sites.

Whether you decide to begin your journey in the Atacama or Uyuni, don't miss Bolivia's capital La Paz, which sits in a bowl at a (literally) dizzyingly high elevation of 11,975 feet. The city's restaurant scene is arguably one of the most exciting in South America. Make a reservation at Gustu and enjoy a multicourse extravaganza of local delights including alligator and creamy aged corn. Hailed as one of Latin America's best restaurants, it was founded by Noma's Claus Meyer and is now helmed by chef Marsia Taha Mohamed. Also snag a table at Ancestral, where chef Mauricio Lopez (former head chef of Gustu) roasts vegetables and osso buco over an open flame, served alongside Bolivian wines.

The same team that opened the design-driven Atix Hotel (long a favorite among international visitors) unveiled the new Met Hotel last year in a soaring charcoal building with traditional Bolivian arts and crafts highlighted throughout its interior spaces. If you're traveling after July 2024, be sure to check out Altu Qala, a hotel set in a restored neoclassical building with wood-paneled walls and handmade cabinets in upcycled wood. The owner is also behind The Writer's Coffee, a cafe serving artisanal brews in the city, perfect for combating altitude fatigue.

Finally, for the best views of La Paz, take a trip on Mi Teleferico, the cable car transit system that's been expanding its network with various routes and now has 30 stations and 10 lines. Climb into the plastic bubbles, filled with locals whizzing across the city, and head up to El Alto, which sits at a staggering 13,325 feet.

TPG tip: If you really want to soak up the food and wine scene in La Paz, add in an extra few days to acclimatize. It's the highest capital in the world (11,975 feet) and altitude sickness is a high probability, so whizzing in and out is not recommended.

Bali, Indonesia

international tourist spots

Best for sustainability searchers who also crave cultural connection

Bali is an island of contradictions. It's home to a majority Hindu population but part of predominantly Muslim Indonesia. Visitors in the millions come both to sunbathe and party on its beaches while also seeking spiritual awakenings through wellness retreats. After decades of overtourism, Bali is also pioneering responsible, lower-impact ways for visitors to enjoy its natural wonders and renowned hospitality.

In 2024, the government will levy a $10-per-person fee on international tourists that will directly fund cultural and environmental protection, such as waste management. It's an incremental but important step toward becoming a more sustainable destination.

Luxury resorts are also leaning into the trend. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay recently debuted Telu, a bar constructed entirely of upcycled materials that serves cocktails made with sustainable ingredients. In early 2024, Ayana Estate will open Museum Saka, a breathtaking 50,000-square-foot gallery showcasing the work of Balinese artists, historians and scholars, all of which is meant to bestow guests with a deeper understanding of the community's vibrant heritage.

At Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape , about an hour from Ubud, chef Eka Sunarya began experimenting with hypercreative and ultralocally sourced menus. He has since decamped to nearby Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve , where he continues to highlight seasonal Balinese cuisine with a no-waste philosophy.

Seminyak's Desa Potato Head — with its beach club and pair of striking, sustainably designed hotels that all together send just 3% of their waste to landfill — continues to be a regenerative tourism pioneer. In 2024, the resort is opening an ambitious Collective Waste Centre that will radically reduce landfill waste from eight nearby resorts, beach clubs and restaurants through high-efficiency sorting, processing and reuse practices.

A slew of exciting all-new hotels beckons design lovers and wellness seekers to Bali, too. Part of Hilton's LXR Resorts & Hotels, Umana Bali is expected to open in November 2023, a brand first in Southeast Asia. Guests will enjoy not only epic vistas from its 72 clifftop pool villas but also next-level cultural programming emphasizing legacy crafts and spa treatments utilizing ancient healing techniques.

Expected to debut in spring 2024, IHG's Regent Canggu will feature 150 suites and villas in one of Bali's hottest beach locales. Architecture by WATG and interior design by HBA will blend contemporary Indonesian fashion and cultural influences with traditional design motifs. Slated for late 2024, Kimpton Naranta Bali will bring boutique vibes to the Nusa Dua resort scene in the reimagined former Amanusa resort, designed by Kerry Hill.

TPG tip: Some of Bali's best points hotels offer deep cultural dives into Balinese village life. At Alila Manggis (from 3,500 World of Hyatt points per night), guests can take part in water purification rituals, visit the Indigenous Bali Aga tribe and trek to the "Gateway to Heaven" temple. At The Laguna, part of Marriott's Luxury Collection (from 33,000 Bonvoy points per night), exclusive experiences include lunch with the seventh generation of Kerambitan's royal family.

Cairo, Egypt

international tourist spots

Best for ancient treasures in a modern metropolis

Few destinations offer the same look at the mysteries of the past quite like Cairo. While this desert city has long been a magnet for those intrigued by the wonders of ancient Egypt and its former rulers, new attractions and highly anticipated hotel openings will draw even more travelers to this bucket list destination in 2024.

With that in mind, Cairo's most exciting addition will be the long-awaited reopening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which, after years of delays , is on track to welcome visitors by early 2024. A colossal project that began more than 20 years ago, this massive repository — the largest archaeological museum ever built — will house over 100,000 Egyptian artifacts, including 5,000 relics found in famous pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb.

Recently discovered artifacts from the Saqqara — an expansive necropolis located within Egypt's UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient capital of Memphis — are also expected to be added to the museum's collection in due course. The treasures include multiple tombs, ancient workshops and burial shafts full of priceless antiquities, such as a mummy believed to be the most complete one ever found in Egypt.

To accommodate the influx of tourists expected in 2024, Cairo's hotel scene is rapidly expanding, too. Among the new properties currently in the pipeline are points-friendly accommodations like a Hyatt Centric, a Hilton and a Waldorf Astoria, plus the luxurious rebranding of the historic Shepheard Hotel into the Mandarin Oriental Shepheard, Cairo.

Unsurprisingly, Cairo's prime position on the Nile and proximity to other historic destinations also make it an excellent place to embark on a river cruise , especially in 2024. Several top river cruise lines offer itineraries that start or end in the city, making it possible to tack on visits to other ancient sites like Luxor and Aswan, Egypt. New standout ships to consider include Viking Aton (the fourth of six ships Viking expects to be sailing the Nile by late 2025) and AmaLilia (AmaWaterways' second ship devoted to Nile River cruises).

TPG tip: It should become easier than ever to reach this historic metropolis thanks to more nonstop routes from the U.S. to Cairo in the works. In addition to adding new nonstop flights from Newark to Cairo this past summer, Egyptair has filed a request with the Department of Transportation to launch service between Los Angeles and Cairo in the coming months. If approved, service on the Star Alliance carrier would give visitors yet another convenient way to reach the ancient city.

— Christine Gallipeau

Note from TPG editors : We want to acknowledge that all eyes will be on the widening conflict in the region as we end 2023 and look ahead to next year. Before planning your own trip to Egypt, stay up to date on State Department advisories , current events and the unfolding situation in neighboring Israel and beyond .

The Bahamas

international tourist spots

Best for rediscovering paradise right on our doorstep

Dazzling white- and pink-sand beaches; calm, clear seas shaded in myriad hues of blue; and easy access from various U.S. hubs have long made the Bahamas a top tourist destination. Expect 2024 to be an extra-buzzy year for this Caribbean nation, though, thanks to new hotels, exciting cruises and more flights from major airlines.

Goldwynn Resort & Residences on Nassau's famous Cable Beach was 2023's big hotel debut, offering 81 studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites just a short drive from the airport so visitors could be on the beach within an hour of landing. Set to open mid 2025, the ultraluxurious Montage Cay will occupy a 48-acre private island in the Abacos. The $352 million project will feature 50 oceanfront suites with private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The property will also comprise villa residences and a 47-slip marina for private yachts.

The Bahamas are drawing even more interest from major cruise lines, too. Norwegian Cruise Line christened its exciting Norwegian Viva megaship with a short cruise to its Bahamian private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in November 2023. The line's second Prima Class vessel, Viva, boasts the "fastest slides at sea," a three-level go-kart racetrack and millions of dollars of art on board. Royal Caribbean's new Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas , is also set to start sailing short new cruises focusing on the Bahamas in 2024.

Cruise lines are adding new private-island experiences, too. Slated to open in summer 2024, Disney's Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera will offer amenities ranging from an adults-only beach to a family water play area and food hall-style dining. The destination is being designed with the environment in mind, too — about 90% of its electricity will be provided via solar panels.

TPG tip : Getting from the U.S. to the Bahamas will be easier than ever in 2024, especially from the West Coast. Alaska Airlines is adding seasonal nonstop flights from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) four times weekly and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) three times weekly to Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). The services will run from Dec. 15, 2023, to April 9, 2024. JetBlue is launching its own new flight between Nassau and Los Angeles beginning in November 2023 that will fly once per week on Saturdays. Delta debuted a new nonstop from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau this fall as well.

— Becca Blond

I travel nonstop. Here are 12 places you absolutely have to see in 2024.

There's no shortage of fascinating places to visit in 2024. I know because I'm on the road 365 days a year, and in 2023, I traveled to a few destinations I can personally recommend.

I don't just parachute into these places for a few days with my reporter's notepad. I spent several weeks in almost all the cities on my list. I shopped in the markets, explored the city and befriended the locals. Sometimes, I also brought my college-age sons along for the adventure.

You'd think "What's your favorite destination?" would be the question people ask me the most, but it's not. (I'll share the number-one question in just a minute.)

First, here's my list of the 12 best places to see in 2024, along with the best time to visit.

Check out   Elliott Confidential , the newsletter the travel industry doesn't want you to read. Each issue is filled with breaking news, deep insights, and exclusive strategies for becoming a better traveler. But don't tell anyone!

Learn more: Best travel insurance

January: Antarctica

You'll want to sail down to Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere summer. Temperatures are relatively mild and the normally tempestuous Drake Passage is calmer. I flew to Ushuaia, Argentina, and boarded the Hurtigruten Expeditions MS Fridtjof Nansen for a 10-day cruise down to Antarctica in late December and arrived in the White Continent just before the New Year. It was spectacular. Even though it looks a little risky, you should not miss a hike on the ice to see the penguins. If you're really brave, try the polar plunge into subfreezing water. Unfortunately, we missed our chance to dive into the Antarctic because the glacier was calving, sending large sheets of ice crashing into the water. Go see it before it's gone.

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February: Doha, Qatar

Qatar is one of the most underrated destinations in the world. The weather in late winter is nearly perfect – warm days, cool nights. My sons and I spent time wandering around the world-famous Souk Waqif, a crowded market where you can buy almost anything, but the main activity seems to be drinking coffee and smoking vanilla-scented shisha (we tried the coffee, but skipped the shisha). Highlights of our visit included an afternoon spent at the National Museum of Qatar, which explains where this gleaming metropolis came from, and a journey to the desert to see the monoliths by American sculptor Richard Serra.

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March: Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, on New Zealand's South Island, feels like a different planet. March is early fall in the Southern Hemisphere, but even then, the hills remain a brilliant shade of green. You'll recognize this place if you've ever seen one of the Lord of the Rings movies, but there is so much more to it than the striking cinematic scenery. Christchurch is a welcoming city with terrific coffee shops (my favorite was Espresso Studio by Fushoken) and great dining options that are easy on the wallet. I spent days wandering around Hagley Park in the middle of town and admiring the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Make sure you get out of town to hike up in the mountains. You don't have to love Middle Earth to enjoy New Zealand's South Island.

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April: Kyoto, Japan

If you can get to Kyoto in April, you should do it. The cherry trees bloom in mid-March and usually reach their peak in early April. But even if you miss Sakura season, you really need to see this place. The former Japanese capital is filled with ancient temples and shrines. This is also the place to go to learn how to make sushi from the artisans at Kyoto Sushimaking or, as you are struggling to adjust to the new time zone, find a place that serves authentic ramen. My sons and I kept coming back to Kyoto Engine Ramen , hidden down a narrow alley and always crowded with jet-lagged expats. 

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May: Hoi An, Vietnam

Vietnam was the biggest surprise during my 2023 travels. I spent a long weekend in Hoi An, in the central part of the country, and I'm still processing the natural beauty of the place, with its steep green mountains and postcard-perfect beaches. Hoi An is an ancient city filled with temples and a rich history of various cultural influences, including Chinese and French. Make sure you get down to the marketplace and out on the Thu Bon River at dusk, when the boats drift downstream with their colorful lanterns. And check out the pho for dinner over at the Anantara Hoi An Resort . 

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June: Fukuoka, Japan

If you're looking for something different in Japan, outside of Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo, you should check out Fukuoka. It is easily the most friendly of the Japanese cities I visited. If you make this a second stop in Japan, I highly recommend getting there via the Shinkansen (bullet train), which is an engineering marvel. Fukuoka also has excellent shopping. We stocked up on green tea before heading back to the States. If you can catch the hydrofoil out to Iki Island, it's well worth it. Don't miss dinner at the Iki Retreat if you go. It's worth the trip. 

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July: Santiago, Chile

Chile has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, and there's no better time to visit than during the middle of the Southern Hemisphere winter. Some of the top resorts, such as Portillo , are only a short drive from Santiago. Even if you visit Chile during the summer, you can still look at the snow-capped Andes mountains and think about the world-class skiing in the southern hemisphere.

August: Seoul, South Korea

I know this is going to sound strange, but the best part of visiting Seoul was taking long walks in Gyeongui Line Forest Park, a three-mile-long urban park that used to be an old railroad line. It takes you through some of Seoul's famous neighborhoods, and you'll find an almost endless variety of coffee shops and restaurants where you can stop and enjoy the view. Sure, there are irresistible cultural sites, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple. But I will always remember Seoul for its vibrant coffee-shop culture and friendly people.

September: Los Angeles

I returned to the States for a few weeks this fall. I stayed in Marina Del Rey, California,  but spent some time along the beach in Venice and Santa Monica. And there's one takeaway from talking to shopkeepers and tour operators. Early fall is really the best time to visit L.A. Hotel rates, particularly in touristy areas, tend to slip during the shoulder season. I love L.A. during the early fall, and if you find yourself near the beach, you should check out Santa Monica's A Walk Through Pier History tour, which tells the backstory of this iconic attraction. And who doesn't love an old merry-go-round?

October: Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Golden Triangle region, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, used to be known for its opium trade. Today, it's all about tourism. Although the rainy season is over, it still isn't too busy here, so you'll practically have all the temples to yourself and can take long walks through the rainforest or along the rice fields without having to dodge busloads of visitors. There are elephants here, and there may be no better place to see them than at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort , which also offers dramatic views of the Ruak River and beyond it, Myanmar and Laos.

November: Siem Riep, Cambodia 

Words fail me when trying to describe the experience of watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world. It's an historic landmark of breathtaking scale that is being devoured by the jungle. I've never seen anything like it, and I probably never will again. Go to the main temple complex just before dawn and watch the sun come up. Getting to Siem Riep is much now easier thanks to a new international airport, and there is plenty to do in the city. But this destination is all about the temples. You'll need at least three days to even get a sense of the scale of Angkor Wat, but it will be something you'll never forget.

December: Hobart, Tasmania

There may be no better place to spend the end of the year than in Hobart, Australia. It is the peak of the Southern Hemisphere summer, and Hobart is one of the coolest Australian cities in which to enjoy it. You can watch the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race from the suburb of Battery Point or catch the ferry out to the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) to see one of the most bizarre art museums in the world. If you can get out of town, check out Cradle Mountain and visit with the Tasmanian Devils at Devils@Cradle Sanctuary.  

So is there an answer to the question, "What's your favorite destination?" With so many places to see, I can't pick just one favorite. I love all these places.

And yet, this isn't the most frequently asked question. My friends have stopped asking me how I am; now they ask me where I am. Given the fact that I don't have a permanent home, it's a fair question.

So where am I now? Santiago, Chile, for the next few days, and then headed to Uruguay. By the way, you can follow all of my adventures and catch my podcast on my free newsletter, Elliott Confidential . I can't wait to see where else 2024 takes me. If you have any South American destinations you'd like to recommend, please send me an email (I'm at [email protected] ). I'd love to hear from you.

Christopher Elliott  is an author, consumer advocate, and journalist. He founded  Elliott Advocacy , a nonprofit organization that helps solve consumer problems. He publishes  Elliott Confidential , a travel newsletter, and the  Elliott Report , a news site about customer service. If you need help with a consumer problem, you can  reach him here  or email him at  [email protected] .

CNN

Where to go in 2024: The best places to visit

Editor’s note: Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter . Get news about destinations, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, and where to stay.

So many places to see in the world. So many people eager to see them.

International tourism reached about 90% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, and the United States issued a record number of  passports . And if you visited any popular destination over the summer, you’d probably argue it was more crowded than ever.

So maybe it’s time to look at places that are still largely undiscovered, or alluring in the offseason, or frequently overlooked for their larger first cities or neighbors. Maybe it’s time to head to places that are making it easier for tourists to visit and those that pay close attention to encouraging tourism that’s sustainable.

With those things in mind, CNN Travel chose 24 places to consider as you make your 2024 plans:

Sumba, Indonesia

For those looking for a beach destination that prioritizes community consciousness and sustainability, the Indonesian island of Sumba delivers.

With its remote villages, untouched forests, ancient rituals and world-class surf breaks, Sumba is the perfect antidote to the crowds of Bali, which is just an hour’s flight away. It might not be internationally famous yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s small. Sumba is more than 4,000 square miles in size (more than 10,000 square kilometers) – twice the size of Bali.

It was the  Nihi Sumba  resort that brought this island into luxury seekers’ sights when it first opened in 2012. More than a decade on, Sumba has welcomed several new luxury eco-resorts. These include  The Sanubari,  a series of beachfront villas that opened in 2022, and  Cap Karoso , located on the island’s southwest.  —Karla Cripps

Turkey’s Black Sea coast

Far less known than the Mediterranean yacht-magnet resorts of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, the  Black Sea region, also known as Karadeniz,  offers a very different side of the country. Less touristed and with a cooler, damper climate that produces verdant scenery and  delicious black tea , the region has historic towns and villages as well as beaches and adrenaline-producing activities.

In summer, it’s a refreshing escape from Turkey’s more sweltering regions. Visitors can explore ancient streets that still echo to the clang of blacksmith hammers in Safranbolu, soak up beach life in Amasra and climb to where one of the world’s oldest monasteries clings to a cliff at Sumela.

For thrill-seekers, there’s white water rafting, and when winter brings heavy snowfalls, the region’s eastern Kaçkar Mountains transform into a  heli-skiing paradise .  —Barry Neild

Tartu, Estonia

Pucker up. Tartu, in southern Estonia, has been named a European Capital of Culture for 2024 — with  special attention paid to kissing . One of this university city’s most celebrated sights is its statue of two students locked in a passionate embrace, but here in the “City of Good Thoughts,” the love-in is more high-minded than carnal.

Tartu is renowned as Estonia’s intellectual center, home to its oldest university as well as the must-visit Estonian National Museum and the impressive Science Centre AHHAA, the largest science museum in the Baltics.

The Old Town is the perfect place to base yourself, but just north of the city center on the banks of the Emajõgi River, Supilinn (“Soup Town”) is also worth a visit. This historic neighborhood filled with pretty, wooden houses was formerly a slum but is now becoming one of the city’s most desirable addresses.  —Maureen O’Hare

Tainan, Taiwan

Celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2024, Tainan has become a Taiwan hotspot on the international stage. This southern city has surpassed the capital, Taipei, to boast the highest overall hotel occupancy rate in Taiwan in the past two years.

What makes it so special? Tainan is considered the street food capital of Taiwan and is loved for its beef soups and oyster omelets, otherworldly natural landscapes (check out Tsao Shan Moon World), scenic sunsets over salt farms, colorful old temples and cool new museums.

It was also listed among Booking.com’s top 10 sustainable tourism destinations in 2023.  —Maggie Hiufu Wong

Northwest Michigan

Refreshing, unsalty Lake Michigan lures boatloads of tourists in summer, but the shoreline, quaint towns and rolling countryside of Northwest Michigan have plenty to offer year-round.

On Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City makes a great home base for exploring wineries on the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas or picking cherries or apples in season. Then fall’s foliage is ripe for peeping, followed by winter’s inviting blankets of snow.

From Traverse City, the scenic M-22 highway winds up the Leelanau Peninsula and hooks back down through Leland, home to a  historic fishing village  and a collection of interesting  shops and galleries .

Glen Arbor is another town worth perusing on the way to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore , where off M-109 an all-sand, 3.5-mile hike over massive dunes to the Great Lake and back preps hardy hikers for a delicious dinner.

Farm Club , a farm-restaurant hybrid seven miles from downtown Traverse City, serves beautifully prepared dishes showcasing the region’s ingredients — many grown on site — in a minimalist, barnlike space that spills outdoors.  —Marnie Hunter

Trans Dinarica Cycle Route, Balkans

Launching in 2024, the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route will be the first and only bike route to link all eight countries of the Western Balkans. The 100-stage trail is designed for cyclists of all abilities and its 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) is made up of quiet asphalt roads, forest trails and bike paths.

Riders can enjoy Albania and Croatia’s spectacular coastlines, Kosovo’s national parks, Montenegro’s rugged mountains and lush woodland and sparkling rivers throughout Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Riders can get more information and sign up for news of route updates, maps, accommodation and services at  transdinarica.com .   —MO

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is large and makes for a great island escape. But what if you want an escape from your great island escape? That’s where little Culebra comes in. It’s about 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico and world away from  San Juan’s noisy, rum-soaked nightlife .

The emphasis here is on outdoor activities and unwinding. Be sure to check out  Flamenco Beach , curving for about a mile around a sheltered bay. It has little in the way of waves, making it a superb spot for snorkeling and swimming. And a graffitied tank — a US military relic — offers a striking photo op.

Much of the island is  a natural refuge , and you can also go hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and fishing. Take  a day trip  or  stay over  and make it your main destination.  —Forrest Brown

This southern African nation is trying hard to make a break on the tourism scene, having recently introduced a  quick-approval tourism e-visa . While major tourism infrastructure might not be up to speed yet, it’s a chance to explore a country still off the travel radar.

The capital of Luanda has a reputation as a pricey party city, but out in the wide-open spaces beyond, Angola has some jaw-droppingly spectacular scenery and cultural treats. Second city  Lubango  offers Portuguese colonial architecture, an impressive Rio-style Christ the King hilltop statue and access to the Tundavala Gap, a giddying plunge from cool tablelands into shimmering dusty plains.

Also worth a look: the dramatic 1,300-foot-wide (396 meters) Calendula Falls and Atlantic coastline surfing paradises such as Barra do Kwanza and Cabo Ledo.  —BN

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Not to be confused with St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, Saint John is located in New Brunswick — also on Canada’s east coast. This charming little city is an excellent base from which to enjoy the nearby  Bay of Fundy , famed for having the world’s highest tides.

The city itself is filled with historic architecture, including the  Saint John City Market , a National Historic Site of Canada. Built from 1874 to 1876, it’s filled with shops and food venues. A five-minute walk away is the  Saint John Arts Centre . Set in the city’s historic Carnegie Building, it’s the only former Carnegie Library in eastern Canada.

In terms of accommodation, there are seaside cottages, hotels, motels, campgrounds, historic inns and B&Bs. Food here is as excellent as you’d expect from a maritime city in Canada, with a broad range from cheap eats to fine dining.  —KC

South Korea

With word that “Squid Game” — still the most-watched show on Netflix — is set to return with a new season in 2024, it’s time once again to embrace the K-wave.

Thankfully, travel to the country is easier than ever before. The government is waiving its K-ETA requirement — the electronic travel visa for South Korea — for travelers from  22 countries  till the end of 2024 as part of its Visit Korea Year campaign.

This is a country that truly has it all. After exploring futuristic cities such as Seoul and Busan, the cultural and historic side of old Korea awaits at Andong, dubbed the “Spirit of South Korea,” or the seven cemeteries of the ancient  Gaya Tumuli , newly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2023.  —MHW

Sandwiched on the Adriatic coast between Greece and Montenegro, it’s astonishing that Albania wasn’t more popular as a beach destination before. But its wallet-friendly prices have seen tourism boom here over the past few years — so much so that in 2023, record numbers of Italians flocked across the Adriatic for their bargain summer breaks.

2024 sees the opening of a new airport at Vlorë, on the coast, which will make those beach trips easier. But there’s far more to Albania than its coast. The country has a rich culture, including Christian and Muslim history, with historical centers in towns such as Berat and Gjirokastër, as well as jaw-dropping mountain landscapes (Theth is the most popular).

In 2023, Albania got Europe’s first wild river national park, around the 168-mile (270-kilometer)  Vjosa River  — or to go really off the beaten track book a self-drive tour with  Drive Albania .  —Julia Buckley

Stretching about 2,700 miles from top to toe, long and slim Chile offers a little something for everyone.  In the north, spectacular landscapes simulate  Mars on Earth  in the Atacama Desert, where the 51-room  Our Habitas Atacama  emphasizes sustainability.  The new hotel is a good fit for the “world’s leading green destination,” a title Chile just picked up at the World Travel Awards for the second year in a row.

The natural world puts its best foot forward all over the country: Thousands of miles of Pacific coastline to the west, the towering Andes in the east and lakes, volcanoes and wild Patagonia in the south.

World-class skiing in July and August — a welcome break from the sweltering Northern Hemisphere — is two hours or less from the capital, Santiago. And the new high-altitude Parque Nacional Glaciares near the city protects land in the country’s most populous and  historically little-protected  area.  —MH

Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia

Every year there’s another installment in the soap opera surrounding the Great Barrier Reef — will it be de-listed by UNESCO? Has the coral regrowth gone well this season?

For tourists who’d rather not wade into the situation, there’s another way to experience some of Australia’s gorgeous underwater bounty. About 37 miles (60 kilometers) off the coast of Western Australia, the lesser-known  Abrolhos Islands  are home to some of the most beautiful scenery of the country’s Coral Coast, above and below the water.

Humpback whales pass through in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, and lucky travelers may catch a glimpse of Australian Sea Lions. There are no hotels on the islands, so intrepid visitors can either overnight in the town of Geraldton or splash out for a liveaboard boat, which provides opportunities to watch brilliant sunsets over the Indian Ocean and scuba dive in the early hours when the fish are at their most active.  —Lilit Marcus

Macedonia, Greece

Athens and the islands get more crowded every year, but in northern Greece, the region of Macedonia is relatively free from overtourism. Yet it has everything visitors flock elsewhere in Greece to see: archaeological sites, history-rich towns and beaches galore.

This was the land of Alexander the Great. His father, Philip II of Macedon, is buried at Vergina, where his tomb has been turned into a world-class  subterranean museum  displaying the finds. Nearby, there are Byzantine remains in the hilltop city Veria, and superb wineries such as  Kir-Yianni  in the rolling hills around Naousa.

Thessaloniki — the region’s capital and Greece’s second city — is a gastro hub as well as a mishmash of architectural and archaeological eras. Near the city are the sandy beaches of Halkidiki; toward the border with Thrace are archaeological spots like ancient Philippi, and the city of Kavala, whose Ottoman past shows in every building . —JB

It may be most famous for the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal, but this Central American country is so much more than a transit destination.

Not only does Panama have a vibrant capital city with a historic old quarter that’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the country also holds over a dozen national parks, including Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, the highest point in Panama.

Panama City is also the only world capital with a tropical rainforest within its city limits. Visitors keen to delve further into Panama’s cultural landscape in a sustainable way can book community-based tourist adventures through a digital portal called  SOSTUR Network , which connects travelers with rural communities and tourism businesses.  —Tamara Hardingham-Gill

Galicia, Spain

Empty beaches bordered by the wild Atlantic Ocean and framed by the rugged landscape of the  Islas Atlánticas National Park . Mouth-watering seafood. And a historic city forever entwined with the famed  Camino de Santiago.  Welcome to Galicia, an autonomous region in the northwest tip of Spain.

Galicia’s regional capital city,  Santiago de Compostela , has long been on the tourist map thanks to its striking 12 th -century cathedral, which is the endpoint for the hundreds of thousands of walkers who  embark on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage  each year. But even if you weren’t planning on packing your walking boots, bustling Santiago should be on your radar.

And for spectacular views, head to  Cabo Fisterra , a rocky peninsula home to the picturesque Finisterre lighthouse. The former lighthouse residence is the  Hotel O Semáforo de Fisterra . Lighthouses are a bit of a theme in Galicia — there are 19 in total, including the UNESCO-protected 1st-century  Tower of Hercules , believed to be the world’s oldest surviving Roman lighthouse.  —Francesca Street

Singapore’s offshore islands

The city-state of Singapore shows urbanism at its finest: biophilic skyscrapers, neon-lit supertrees and six-star hotels all outdoing each other to redefine “luxury.” But venturing off the peninsula is quickly becoming a more interesting option.

Singapore is developing some of its smaller, uninhabited islands by, well, not developing them. Just a ferry ride away from the mainland, Lazarus Island is now home to a few rentable tiny houses made with reconstituted wood and powered by solar energy. Nearby, Sisters’ Island will open the country’s first marine park — including a sea turtle hatchery and coral protection area — in 2024.

Already open for exploring is St. John’s Island, where a 1.7-mile trail highlights native plants and flowers while shining a light on the island’s colorful history, which included a period as a quarantine center during a cholera outbreak. It’s a fitting place to think about life after a pandemic.  —LM

Mérida, Mexico

The Yucatán Peninsula is best known for its tropical beaches, but venture inland, and you’re in for an unexpected urban treat.

“Mérida’s uniqueness comes from a blend of Mayan and colonial heritage,” said David Casanova, who has a  real estate YouTube channel  on Yucatán state’s capital city with his wife, Megan Sequeira Casanova. “The city’s excitement starts with its diverse cuisine and friendly locals and expands to its year-long favorable weather.”

In town, Paseo de Montejo is lined with historic mansions, museums, art galleries and local vendors. The Casanovas tout the city’s boutique hotels, including  Kuka y Naranjo . For nearby getaways, there’s Progreso Beach (less than an hour away), fascinating Mayan ruins and underground water caves called cenotes.

If you’re concerned about personal safety in Mexico, the  US State Department  rates Yucatán and Campache states as the two safest as of December.  —FB

A longtime travel favorite thanks to its diverse landscape and spectacular architecture, Morocco has bounced back determinedly after a devastating earthquake this past September.

While visitors tend to congregate in popular cities such as Marrakech, Rabat and Fes, the country certainly isn’t short of less crowded spots that are arguably just as alluring. Standouts include Tétouan, the city near the first  Regis Hotels and Resorts Morocco property , and the historic Meknes, which is among the country’s nine UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Morocco is proving to be a world leader when it comes to sustainable tourism, with the launch of various initiatives to boost its renewable energy generation. The country is also home to a number of significant eco-friendly hotels, including the Berber-run  Kasbah du Toubkal , located at the base of the spectacular High Atlas Mountains.  —THG

Florida’s freshwater springs

How would you like to immerse in water clear as gin any day of the year? You can do that in some of the 1,000 or more recognized  fresh-water springs  scattered around northern and central Florida.

These  pristine natural pools  provide stable temps and visibility for swimming, tubing, snorkeling, diving, wildlife viewing and more. Here are a few of the best:

Wakulla Springs  has a swimming area in 70 F (21 C) degree water, and the state park offers a boat ride tour. The  depth at the vent  is about 185 feet (56 meters).  Rainbow Springs  is considered one of the most beautiful in the state.  Ginnie Springs , a privately owned site, is renowned for its diving and cavern.  —FB

Texas Hill Country

In the heart of Texas, Hill Country boasts its own natural springs. One prime spot,  Krause Springs  in Spicewood, lures visitors with more than its spring-fed pool and natural swimming hole — there’s also a butterfly garden full of magical wind chimes. And the  Blue Bonnet Cafe  — home to some of the world’s most divine cream pies — is just a short drive away in Marble Falls .

Meanderers will also find rolling hills and hiking trails, winding rivers,  wineries , barbecue, music and dance halls, plus an explosion of wildflowers in March and April. And in 2024, April also brings a celestial spectacle to Hill Country — the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Gruene Hall  in New Braunfels is legendary among Texas’  historic dance halls , and Luckenbach, a tiny hamlet outside the larger German-influenced town of Fredericksburg, has a dance hall and regular pickers’ circles under the oak trees.  —MH

One of the smaller and lesser-known emirates of the United Arab Emirates, Fujairah is as mellow as it is beautiful. Filled with spectacular mountain ranges and pristine beaches, it’s significantly less developed than the likes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, offering an authentic and tranquil vibe that’s hard to beat.

Fujairah has a cooler climate compared with the other emirates because of its mountainous setting, but the winter months are definitely the most pleasant time to visit.

Snoopy Island, a snorkeling spot that looks like the famous cartoon dog lying on his back, is a top draw thanks to its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs, while the cascading waterfalls of the Wadi Wurayah National Park are another must-see.  —THG

The jaw-dropping landscapes of Greenland — an autonomous territory of Denmark situated northeast of Canada — are set to get a little more accessible for international travelers this year.

New international airports are opening in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and the coastal city of Ilulissat. These aviation hubs promise longer runways that will be able to handle larger commercial aircraft. The climate crisis is a visible, real threat in Greenland, and investment in the tourism sphere is increasing as changing climates  pose roadblocks to traditional industries.

Learn more about how Greeenland is adapting, and the stories of the Inuit people who’ve lived in the region for thousands of years at the  Icefjord Centre  in Ilulissat on the West Coast. Colorful Ilulissat is also home to the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord, which offers the staggering sight of a bay filled with floating icebergs. In general, nature is the main event in Greenland, with other highlights including whale watching, dog sledding and Aurora Borealis sightings.   —FS

Before the pandemic, Uzbekistan was poised to be the  next big thing  in travel thanks to a series of ambitious reforms to transform the country into a world-class destination.

Now, its time has finally come.

Offering visa-free access to citizens of 86 countries, Uzbekistan’s untouched landscapes and well-preserved architecture are ready and waiting to awe visitors.

For greater insights into Uzbekistan’s position at the heart of the fabled Silk Road, a historic trade route that ran from China and India to the Mediterranean, the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva await. Meanwhile, the mountainous Uzbek village of Sentob — about 3.5 hours from Samarkand — was added to UNESCO’s list of “ Best Tourism Villages ” in 2023. It’s been cited for its commitment to sustainable development, with a focus on nature, organic food and eco and mountain tourism.

Getting around the country is easy thanks to the high-speed Afrosiyob Express train, connecting capital Tashkent with Samarkand and Bukhara.  —KC

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com

Frescoes cover the interior of the Rock Church at Sumela Monastery in Turkey's Black Sea region. - imageBROKER.com/Alamy

10 Places to Visit in 2024

Here are 10 places to escape the crowds or rediscover spots you thought you knew

Whatever your preferred style of travel—from island-hopping by canoe to following your stomach around culinary hubs— we’re confident something here will unlock an urge to pack up and go.

The pandemic might have brought Belmond’s swanky Eastern & Oriental Express train to a temporary halt, but the company used the downtime to refresh the train’s wood-paneled cabins, and brought Taiwanese chef André Chiang on board to steer restaurants featuring a fusion of Southeast Asian cuisines. The train’s new routes, which launch in February, spotlight Malaysia’s wildly diverse landscapes.

Lamu, Kenya

Kenya’s safari parks remain its main draw, but new developments in Lamu, a palm-tufted island just off the northeastern coast, offer a culture-packed and hushed alternative. The recently launched NaiSabah, a traditional Omani dhow boat , offers multi-night itineraries around the Lamu archipelago, promising days packed with beach picnics, dives and nature walks .

Jeremy Bastard

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Nicknamed Australia’s Galápagos , it's one of the best places to encounter wild koalas and kangaroos , along with penguins, whales and wallabies. The 2019-2020 bush fires destroyed half of its wildlife habitat, but Kangaroo Island has bounced back. Two renewed lodges come staffed with guides who take the guesswork out of finding creatures.

Kyushu, Japan

The southernmost of Japan’s four main islands has long drawn in-the-know visitors from mainland Asia. But a supersize dose of new tourism projects has made its night markets, temples and onsen (hot springs) more widely accessible. Train geeks will celebrate a new 5-hour sightseeing route serving seasonal bento boxes and views of the hissing volcanoes and rocky coastlines.

Hoshino Resorts

Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City was set to deliver long before Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce made it a gossip column fixture. CPKC Stadium , a venue for soccer, music events and markets, will open in March. Pennway Point , an entertainment district coming in spring, will feature a beer garden, BBQ joint, and a Ferris wheel.

Prague, Czech Republic

“ Prague never lets you go. This dear little mother has sharp claws,” wrote Franz Kafka. Judging by the tourist numbers, those claws have reach. And this year ushers in a new reason to visit: Kafka’s hometown is marking the 100th anniversary of the writer’s death with events across the city . And when the Kafkaesque existential dread gets to be too much, Prague's legendary pubs await.

The Jewish Museum in Prague

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula may be dismissed by some as a haven for spring breakers, but there’s much more to the state of Quintana Roo. SHA Wellness Clinic , known for its longevity treatments, opens in January in Costa Mujeres, and an hour south, the Riviera Maya Edition hotel at Kanai just opened in a 620-acre nature reserve.

SHA Wellness Clinic

Buenos Aires, Argentina

In Buenos Aires, an often-lauded culinary scene is shining brighter than ever. The Belgrano neighborhood can introduce you to two core elements of life in Argentina: fútbol and meat. After a match at El Monumental , South America’s largest stadium, dine at Corte Comedor ’s modern grill with hard-to-find cuts of beef, veggies and charcuterie from sister spot Corte Charcuteria.

Leo Liberman/Corte Comedor

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minn.

You can still drink straight from many of the 1,200 lakes in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters , the million-acre liquid maze by the Canadian border. Often navigated via multiday canoe camping trips , the wilderness grants visitors time on solid ground, too, in rustic lodges and on island hiking trails. With miners eyeing the region, every visit this year plays a role in the area’s conservation.

Jenn Ackerman + Tim Gruber

Balearic Islands, Spain

Spain’s Balearic Islands are ditching their dance-all-night rep for something more Zen. Think fewer foam parties, more meditation circles. Ibiza , once synonymous with shot-slinging nights, now appeals to mindfulness mavens. In Mallorca , the new Son Bunyola hotel ditches the island’s DJ parties in favor of scenic cycling and languorous afternoons in the 92-foot-long pool.

Cover photo: Getty Images

Produced by Shay D. Cohen

UN Tourism | Bringing the world closer

International Tourism to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2024

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International Tourism to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2024

  • All Regions
  • 19 Jan 2024

Following a strong 2023, international tourism is well on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

According to the first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of the year, international tourism ended 2023 at 88% of pre-pandemic levels , with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals . The unleashing of remaining pent-up demand, increased air connectivity, and a stronger recovery of Asian markets and destinations, are expected to underpin a full recovery by the end of 2024.

Middle East, Europe and Africa performed strongest in 2023

The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer provides a comprehensive overview of the sector's performance in 2023, tracking recovery by global region, sub-region and destination. Key takeaways include:

  • The Middle East led recovery in relative terms as the only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels with arrivals 22% above 2019.
  • Europe , the world's most visited region, reached 94% of 2019 levels, supported by intra-regional demand and travel from the United States.
  • Africa recovered 96% of pre-pandemic visitors and Americas reached 90%.
  • Asia and the Pacific reached 65% of pre-pandemic levels following the reopening of several markets and destinations. However, performance is mixed, with South Asia already recovering 87% of 2019 levels and North-East Asia around 55%. 

International Tourist Arrivals (% change over 2019)

Available data shows several destinations, including both large, established destinations as well as small and emerging ones, reporting double-digit growth in international arrivals in 2023 when compared to 2019. Four sub-regions exceeded their 2019 arrival levels: Southern Mediterranean Europe, Caribbean, Central America and North Africa.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: "The latest UNWTO data underscores tourism's resilience and rapid recovery, with pre-pandemic numbers expected by the end of 2024. The rebound is already having a significant impact on economies, jobs, growth and opportunities for communities everywhere. These numbers also recall the critical task of progressing sustainability and inclusion in tourism development"

International tourism hit US$1.4 trillion in 2023

The latest UNWTO data also highlights the economic impact of recovery.

  • International tourism receipts reached USD 1.4 trillion in 2023 according to preliminary estimates, about 93% of the USD 1.5 trillion earned by destinations in 2019.
  • Total export revenues from tourism (including passenger transport) are estimated at USD 1.6 trillion in 2023, almost 95% of the USD 1.7 trillion recorded in 2019.
  • Preliminary estimates on the economic contribution of tourism, measured in tourism direct gross domestic product (TDGDP) point to USD 3.3 trillion in 2023, or 3% of global GDP. This indicates a recovery of pre-pandemic TDGDP driven by strong domestic and international tourism.

Several destinations reported strong growth in international tourism receipts during the first ten to twelve months of 2023, exceeding in some cases growth in arrivals. Strong demand for outbound travel was also reported by several large source markets this period, with many exceeding 2019 levels.

The sustained recovery is also reflected in the performance of industry indicators. According to the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker, both international air capacity and passenger demand recovered about 90% of pre-pandemic levels through October 2023 (IATA). Global occupancy rates in accommodation establishments reached 65% in November, slightly above 62% in November 2022 (based on STR data).

Looking Ahead to 2024

International tourism is expected to fully recover pre-pandemic levels in 2024, with initial estimates pointing to 2% growth above 2019 levels. This central forecast by UNWTO remains subject to the pace of recovery in Asia and to the evolution of existing economic and geopolitical downside risks.  

The positive outlook is reflected in the latest UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index survey, with 67% of tourism professionals indicating better or much better prospects for 2024 compared to 2023. Some 28% expect similar performance, while only 6% expect tourism performance in 2024 to be worse than last year. Key considerations include:

  • There is still significant room for recovery across Asia. The reopening of several source markets and destinations will boost recovery in the region and globally.
  • Chinese outbound and inbound tourism is expected to accelerate in 2024, due to visa facilitation and improved air capacity. China is applying visa-free travel for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia for a year to 30 November 2024.
  • Visa and travel facilitation measures will promote travel to and around the Middle East and Africa with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to implement a unified tourist visa, similar to the Schengen visa, and measures to facilitate intra-African travel in Kenya and Rwanda.
  • Europe is expected to drive results again in 2024. In March, Romania and Bulgaria will join the Schengen area of free movement, and Paris will host the Summer Olympics in July and August.
  • Strong travel from the United States, backed by a strong US dollar, will continue to benefit destinations in the Americas and beyond. As in 2023, robust source markets in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, will continue to fuel tourism flows and spending around the world.
  • Economic and geopolitical headwinds continue to pose significant challenges to the sustained recovery of international tourism and confidence levels. Persisting inflation, high interest rates, volatile oil prices and disruptions to trade can continue to impact transport and accommodations costs in 2024.
  • Against this backdrop, tourists are expected to increasingly seek value for money and travel closer to home. Sustainable practices and adaptability will also play an increasing role in consumer choice. 
  • Staff shortages remain a critical issue, as tourism businesses face a shortfall in labor to cope with high demand.
  • The evolution of the Hamas-Israel conflict may disrupt travel in the Middle East and impact traveler confidence. Uncertainty derived from the Russian aggression against Ukraine as well as other mounting geopolitical tensions, continue to weigh on confidence.

Related links

  • Download the News Release on PDF
  • World Tourism Barometer | EXCERPT | Volume 22 • Issue 1 • January 2024
  • World Tourism Barometer | PPT Version | Volume 22 • Issue 1 • January 2024
  • UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker
  • UNWTO World Tourism Barometer
  • UNWTO Tourism Data Dashboard

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