World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

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

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

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

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

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

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

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

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

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

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

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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

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

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

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

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

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

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

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

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

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

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

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

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

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

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

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

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

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

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

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

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

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

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

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

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

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

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

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

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

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

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

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

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

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

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

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

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

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

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

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

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

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

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

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

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

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

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

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

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

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

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

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

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

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

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

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

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

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

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

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

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

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

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

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

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

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

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

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

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

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

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

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

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

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

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

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

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

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

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

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

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

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

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

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

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

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

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

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

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

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Top tourist attractions in the world

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Fully experience and appreciate the most memorable spots on your next adventure.

The Great Pyramids of Giza is a top tourist attraction in the world

Great Pyramid of Giza: Giza, Egypt

Eiffel Tower in Paris is a top tourist attraction in the world

Eiffel Tower: Paris, France

The Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles is a top tourist attraction in the world

Hollywood Sign: Los Angeles, California

Berlin Wall in Eastside Gallery, Berlin is a top tourist attraction in the world

Berlin Wall Memorial's East Side Gallery: Berlin, Germany

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a top tourist attraction in the world

La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a top tourist attraction in the world

Grand Palace: Bangkok, Thailand

Mount Fuji in Japan is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Fuji: Shizuoka, Japan

Tower of London is a top tourist attraction in the world

Tower of London: London, England

Las Vegas Strip is a top tourist attraction in the world

The Strip: Las Vegas, Nevada

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is a top tourist attraction in the world

Neuschwanstein Castle: Bavaria, Germany

Ubud in Bali is a top tourist attraction in the world

Ubud: Bali, Indonesia

Most beautiful places in the world

Burj Khalifa: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Statue of Liberty in New York City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Statue of Liberty: New York, New York

The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai is a top tourist attraction in the world

Oriental Pearl TV Tower: Shanghai, China

The Colosseum in Rome is a top tourist attraction in the world

Colosseum: Rome, Italy

The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland is a top tourist attractions in the world

The Matterhorn: Zermatt, Switzerland

Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a top tourist attraction in the world

Blue Mosque: Istanbul, Turkey

Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong is a top tourist attraction in the world

Victoria Harbour: Hong Kong

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Burkey is a top tourist attraction in the world

Library of Celsus: Ephesus, Turkey

Times Square in New York City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Times Square: New York, New York

The world's best tourist attractions

Buckingham Palace: London, England

The leaning tower of Pisa is a top tourist attraction in the world

Leaning Tower of Pisa: Pisa, Italy

The Forbidden City in Beijing is a top tourist attraction in the world

Forbidden City: Beijing, China

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum in London is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum) |

Rosetta Stone, British Museum: London, England

Disneyland in Anaheim, California is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of Disneyland) |

Disneyland Resort: Anaheim, California

Tulum in Mexico is a top tourist attraction in the world

Tulum: Mexico

Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul is a top tourist attraction in the world

Gyeongbokgung Palace: Seoul, South Korea

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of Matt Stroshane & Disneyland) |

Walt Disney World Resort: Orlando, Florida

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina is a top tourist attraction in the world

Iguazu Falls: Brazil and Argentina

The Vatican in Italy is a top tourist attraction in the world

Vatican City

Top tourist attractions in the world

Sydney Opera House: Sydney, Australia

Mount Everest is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Everest: Nepal and Tibet

Petra in Jordan is a top tourist attraction in the world

Petra: Jordan

The Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mona Lisa: Paris, France

The Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, China is a top tourist attraction in the world

Terra Cotta Warriors: Xi'an, China

Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia is a top tourist attraction in the world

Borobudur Temple: Java, Indonesia

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Kilimanjaro: Tanzania

Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, Morocco is a top tourist attraction in the world

Jemaa el-Fna: Marrakech, Morocco

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero in Brazil is a top tourist attraction in the world

Christ the Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Great Wall of China is a top tourist attraction in the world

Great Wall of China: China

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is a top tourist attraction in the world

Taj Mahal: Agra, India

The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is a top tourist attraction in the world

Meiji Shrine: Tokyo, Japan

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is a top tourist attraction in the world

Table Mountain: Cape Town, South Africa

Niagara Falls is a top tourist attraction in the world

Niagara Falls: New York and Ontario, Canada

Zócalo in Mexico City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Zócalo: Mexico City, Mexico

Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia is a top tourist attraction in the world

Angkor Archaeological Park: Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Galapagos Islands are a top tourist attraction in the world

Galápagos Islands: Ecuador

Hong Kong, China - Oct 4, 2016: Unidentified Asian teenage girl with a ponytail hairstyle is taking photo of the Fairytales Sleeping Beauty Castle, at Disneyland Hong Kong. Editorial Used Only.

Tokyo Disney Resort: Urayasu, Japan

Acropolis in Athens, Greece is a top tourist attraction in the world

Acropolis: Athens, Greece

The world's best tourist attractions

Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco, California

The world's best tourist attractions

Navy Pier: Chicago, Illinois

The world's best tourist attractions

You might also be interested in:

  • The World's Best Places to Visit
  • The Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World

The Most Famous Landmarks in the World

  • The Best Tourist Attraction in Every U.S. State
  • Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

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The 60 most beautiful places in the world

By Katharine Sohn

The 60 most beautiful places in the world 2024

Where are the most beautiful places in the world? On a planet home to flamingo-pink lakes in Mexico, plus vast, multi-coloured hills in the USA, green ripples of rice paddies in Indonesia and epic icescapes in Antarctica, it's hard to choose a favourite – but why pick one? From countries all around the world, these are our top 60 most beautiful places to visit.

Scattered along Scotland's west coast this chain of isles is one of the country's most beautiful places to visit. Think...

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Scattered along Scotland 's west coast, this chain of isles is one of the country's most beautiful places to visit. Think shimmering white-sand beaches , sparkling seas and crowd-free hinterlands – it's one of the UK's last remaining secrets, and for good reason.

With endless rows of vines tumbling down hillsides and birds of prey swooping along the riverside at first glance you'd...

Douro Valley, Portugal

With endless rows of vines tumbling down hillsides and birds of prey swooping along the riverside, at first glance you'd think this place was anywhere but Europe. Right in the depths of Portugal , this valley is as romantic as it comes – hike along ridges, taste-test your way through the region's wine and cosy up in some of the country's very best hotels, before waking up and doing it all again.

The most westerly point on mainland Australia is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded before Captain Cook...

Shark Bay, Australia

The most westerly point on mainland Australia is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded before Captain Cook discovered land at Botany Bay, with Dutch explorers touching down here in the 17th century. The area is diverse – there’s a beach made up entirely of tiny white shells, stromatolites on the shore of Hamelin Pool and the salt mine at Useless Loop, which produces the purest grade of salt in the world and is only accessible via four-by-four – or visible from the sky.

A small seaside town in the Ica region of Peru Paracas is where the desert meets the sea. A trip to the area isnt...

Paracas, Peru

A small seaside town in the Ica region of Peru , Paracas is where the desert meets the sea. A trip to the area isn’t complete without a boat ride to Islas Ballestas, the rocky islands off the Pacific coast known for their diverse wildlife including flocks of sea lions and crowds of baby penguins.

The redcliff coastline and pristine whitewashed Moorish villages that dot the southwestern region of Portugal have...

Algarve, Portugal

The red-cliff coastline and pristine whitewashed Moorish villages that dot the south-western region of Portugal have started shifting crowds away from the region’s busier hotspots. It has its own sunny microclimate and affordable places to stay such as Casa Mãe in Lagos make it a great winter-sun option too.

With its striking architecture grand boulevards worldclass art jewelbox patisseries and classic places to stay this is a...

Paris, France

With its striking architecture, grand boulevards, world-class art, jewel-box patisseries and classic places to stay , this is a city that never sleeps. Its unrivalled food scene is best experienced by stumbling upon corner bistros down cobbled streets.

Vietnamese for peace Hòa Bình province is located in the north of the country and is home to hill tribes including the...

Hòa Bình, Vietnam

Vietnamese for peace, Hòa Bình province is located in the north of the country and is home to hill tribes including the Hmong, Muong and Dzao, plus endless rice fields.

Offradar Milos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean without the buzz of Mykonos or Santorini. Moonlike Sarakiniko...

Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, Greece

Off-radar Milos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean without the buzz of Mykonos or Santorini . Moon-like Sarakiniko is made up of mounds of undulating bone-white, wave-like volcanic rock and forms one of the island’s most mesmerising bays.

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The most extreme continent on earth is also the coldest windiest driest and most inhospitable to forms of life. Pristine...

The most extreme continent on earth is also the coldest, windiest, driest and most inhospitable to forms of life. Pristine and practically untouched, no one lives in Antarctica full time, apart from seals, penguins and marine life. It’s as remote as one can get.

Known as the hottest place on earth Death Valley reached a record temperature of 53°C in 2019. Its a vast area of...

Death Valley, California

Known as the hottest place on earth, Death Valley reached a record temperature of 53°C in 2019. It’s a vast area of extremes: with snowy peaks, scorching sands and wildflower meadows, the National Park encompasses a wide range of different landscapes. One of the most popular locations is the multi-hued Artists Palette, a series of eroded hills whose colouring is due to the oxidation of natural metal deposits in the mountains. ‘ Star Wars ’ fans will be keen to see the site that inspired the planet Tatooine.

In summer endless fields of lavender in bloom turn the Provençal landscape purple. At the end of the season when the...

Provence, France

In summer, endless fields of lavender in bloom turn the Provençal landscape purple. At the end of the season, when the crop is harvested, honey, soaps and pastries are made with a fragrant dose of the plant.

Monks at Bayon temple

Bayon, Cambodia

Built in honour of one of Cambodia’s most famous kings, Jayavarman VII, Bayon is a 12th-century state temple that’s a unique architectural feat in the heart of Angkor Thom. Fifty-four gothic towers carved with 216 gargantuan smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara – the bodhisattva of compassion – fill the temple , and the design showcases the shift from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism. With Angkor Wat not far away, Bayon, its off-the-beaten track little sister, is a close second in popularity.

The famous three peaks of the National Park are among Wyomings most recognisable sights the Grand forming the highest...

Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The famous three peaks of the National Park are among Wyoming’s most recognisable sights, the Grand forming the highest point of the range. It’s a hike on many pro adventurers' list, but for newbies looking for an outdoors excursion floating down the Snake River or mountain-biking through the 310,000-acre landscape are viable options, too. Top it off with supper at Snake River Grill in Jackson’s town centre and an overnight stay at the cliff-side Amangani .

The worlds highest waterfall with 3212ft cascades is located in the UNESCOprotected Canaima National Park and was the...

Angel Falls, Venezuela

The world’s highest waterfall, with 3,212ft cascades, is located in the UNESCO-protected Canaima National Park and was the inspiration for the Disney film ‘Up’. The site is only accessible by boat or plane.

A gateway to the East Kyrgyzstan has natural beauty. Unspoilt pine forests rocky ridges and rolling jailoos  are typical...

A gateway to the East, Kyrgyzstan has natural beauty. Unspoilt pine forests, rocky ridges and rolling jailoos (summer pastures) are typical of the country. In the warmer months visitors flock to glacial lakes, while in winter a stay with semi-nomadic shepherds is an experience unlike any other.

The 12500ftlong canal runs straight through the centre and has inspired numerous artists including Canaletto Monet and...

Grand Canal, Venice

The 12,500ft-long canal runs straight through the centre and has inspired numerous artists including Canaletto, Monet and JMW Turner. Flanked by buildings dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries, it’s the grandest waterway in the Floating City .

Hwange has a greater diversity of mammals than any national park in the world and is the largest natural reserve in...

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Hwange has a greater diversity of mammals than any national park in the world and is the largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe . The size of Belgium , it is home to more than 50,000 elephants and 500 species of bird. The wet-season winter months are the best time to see migratory birds or book an off-season safari when the park gets fewer visitors.

A third of Mongolia is covered in desert and while its the 18thlargest country in the world its three million...

A third of Mongolia is covered in desert, and while it’s the 18th-largest country in the world, its three million inhabitants make it the most sparsely populated. Visitors can go local: riding horses, helping to look after livestock and sleeping in a herder's ger – a traditional felt yurt.

This salt lake constitutes the lowest point on the continent. Normally dry due to evaporated water with its saltdeposit...

Lake Eyre, Australia

This salt lake constitutes the lowest point on the continent. Normally dry due to evaporated water, with its salt-deposit haze, the body only fills completely twice every 100 years on average.

Minutes from scooterbuzzing Ubud are artsy lowkey villages vivid green rice paddies lush forests and vast jungles. Bali...

Bali, Indonesia

Minutes from scooter-buzzing Ubud are artsy, low-key villages, vivid green rice paddies, lush forests and vast jungles. Bali is one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands and sees an average temperature of about 30°C year round. Explore by bicycle and then head to one of its many cool beach clubs.

East Sussex England

Seven Sisters Country Park, East Sussex, UK

Britain’s unspoilt south coast is home to one of the country's greatest walking trails and seaside parks, the Seven Sisters. Made up of 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, a winding river valley and flat top grasslands with views of the English Channel, the coastal path begins near Eastbourne, the start of the 100-mile South Downs Way.

On a route made famous by revolutionary Che Guevara who kicked off his motorcycle journey in Buenos Aires head down to...

Atacame Desert, South America

On a route made famous by revolutionary Che Guevara who kicked off his motorcycle journey in Buenos Aires , head down to Chile through the Atacama Desert into the Peruvian Amazon and up to Venezuela. Vast expanses of sandy flats quickly roll into high tops of dunes and gorges leading to plateaus of dusty grass. It’s a trip for explorers, with the Andes standing tall above the Argentine –Chile border, blurring one side into the other. NASA even uses the desert as a testing ground for future Mars missions.

Fujisan the tallest peak in Japan is a sacred mountain and symbol. On a clear day it can be seen from Tokyo but one of...

Mount Fuji, Japan

Fuji-san, the tallest peak in Japan , is a sacred mountain and symbol. On a clear day, it can be seen from Tokyo , but one of the best ways to view the still-active volcano is by taking the shinkansen bullet train from the capital to Osaka (top tip: sit on the right-hand side for the best views). Surrounding areas Hakone (where there are natural hot springs) and Fujigoko are worth visiting during cherry-blossom season.

The largest city in Rajasthan is filled to the brim with buzzing bazaars sacred lakes and gilded royal palaces  the...

Jaipur and the Hawa Mahal Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan

The largest city in Rajasthan is filled to the brim with buzzing bazaars, sacred lakes and gilded royal palaces – the decadent 18th-century royal-owned Rajmahal Palace is a smart hotel. Among the famously rosy-hued buildings of the Pink City, the honeycomb-like Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, is surely the most recognisable of all. The incredible sandstone structure has 953 small exterior windows (called jharokhas ) decorated with intricate lattice work.

The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world and in the middle of its vast Skeleton Coast are endless miles of stone and...

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world, and in the middle of its vast Skeleton Coast are endless miles of stone and sand, dry riverbeds and dunes. Desert-adapted animals here include elephant, giraffe, lion, brown hyaena and Cape fur seals that thrive in the area.

Its a few hours from buzzing Edinburgh not far from the Cairngorms to the start of the eastern Highlands. Stretching...

The Scottish Highlands

It’s a few hours from buzzing Edinburgh , not far from the Cairngorms, to the start of the eastern Highlands. Stretching around Skye, around the North Coast 500 route up to the village of John O' Groats, the region is also home to the tallest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. There’s natural beauty everywhere, from babbling Fairy Pools and big-horned cattle to clear coastal waters and snowy mountain caps.

Meaning cotton castle in Turkish this natural wonder is made up of layers of white travertine terraces of iceblue spa...

Pamukkale, Turkey

Meaning cotton castle in Turkish , this natural wonder is made up of layers of white travertine terraces of ice-blue spa pools. It’s also next to the site of the well-preserved ruins of Hierapolis, the Greek-Roman city established in the 2nd century BC.

Stretching over eight countries  France Switzerland Monaco Italy Liechtenstein Austria Germany and Slovenia  the Alps...

Stretching over eight countries – France , Switzerland , Monaco, Italy , Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia – the Alps are the most extensive mountain range in Europe . It has some of the greatest skiing in the world with popular towns including Chamonix -Mont-Blanc (the highest mountain), Lech , Gstaad and Courchevel .

This archipelago of five islands  Bazaruto the largest Benguerra Magaruque Santa Carolina and the smallest Bangue  was...

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

This archipelago of five islands – Bazaruto, the largest, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and the smallest Bangue – was once part of a peninsula connected to the mainland but now, when the Indian Ocean retreats at low tide, swirls and ripples of white sand become visible. A protected marine park, its waters are rich in manta rays, schools of dolphins, hawksbill turtles and dugongs (cousins of equally curious manatees).

Six turquoise waterholes lie within the salty plains of Ojos del Mar in the Tolar Grande region of Bolivia. Inhabited by...

Ojos del Mar, Bolivia

Six turquoise waterholes lie within the salty plains of Ojos del Mar in the Tolar Grande region of Bolivia . Inhabited by stromatolites (deposits formed by algae) and microorganisms, the water can change slightly in colour, depending on the angle of the sun, from bright blue to seafoam green.

Home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand the AorakiMount Cook National Park part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage...

Mount Cook, New Zealand

Home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand , the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Site on the South Island, is a mountaineer’s dream. More than 40 per cent of the area is covered in glaciers, with the largest and longest named the Tasman Glacier. It was here that Sir Edmund Hillary trained for the first momentous ascent of Mount Everest.

One of the Luberon's most striking hilltop hamlets Gordes stands tall on the edge of the Vaucluse plateau. With views...

Gordes, Provence

One of the Luberon's most striking hilltop hamlets, Gordes stands tall on the edge of the Vaucluse plateau. With views across the surrounding region of Provence , the quintessential medieval town is a must-visit. A stay at Bastide de Gordes , the village’s most glamorous hotel, will make the trip complete.

Easily one of the Canadian Rockies most recognisable landmarks Emerald Lake is located within Yoho National Park in...

Emerald Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Easily one of the Canadian Rockies’ most recognisable landmarks, Emerald Lake is located within Yoho National Park in British Columbia. Backed by the towering mountain peaks of the President Range, in summer the clear glacial water is ideal for canoeing and attempting a quick swim.

The selfgoverned group of 18 volcanic islands makes up this remote archipelago where sheep outnumber humans. Grasslined...

The Faroe Islands

The self-governed group of 18 volcanic islands makes up this remote archipelago where sheep outnumber humans. Grass-lined houses, craggy coastlines and lush waterfalls are all part of the Nordic landscape but there’s a surprising food scene too.

Modern highrise buildings meet period architecture in retro Hong Kong one of the most densely populated cities in the...

Modern high-rise buildings meet period architecture in retro Hong Kong , one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It’s a street-food capital where eating dim sum like a local in an old teahouse is a mandatory experience. For the best views of the harbour, catch a Star Ferry or hike the hills of Ma On Shan, one of the summits that surround the city.

The magical walled Blue City is a tangle of winding medieval streets. The monumental 15thcentury Mehrangarh Fort which...

Jodhpur, India

The magical, walled Blue City is a tangle of winding medieval streets. The monumental 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, which is still run by the royal family and now serves as a museum, looks out over the old city and its mesh of box-shaped buildings, shops and bazaars.

The Navajo name of this slot canyon translates to ‘the place where water runs through rocks and the narrow ravine is an...

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The Navajo name of this slot canyon translates to ‘the place where water runs through rocks’ and the narrow ravine is an American Southwest treasure, filled with ripples of eroded stone formations, and sunlight creating orange filters and bright patterns. The popularity of this spot among keen photographers speaks for itself – this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

This Arctic archipelago about a threehour flight north of Oslo has one of the harshest environments on the planet....

Svalbard, Norway

This Arctic archipelago , about a three-hour flight north of Oslo , has one of the harshest environments on the planet. Nearly two-thirds of it is protected and the islands are made up of bird sanctuaries, nature reserves and national parks where polar bears roam. The Northern Lights can be seen in the winter and in the summer, when the temperature tops out at 6°C, the sun doesn’t go below the horizon.

The forwardthinking capital of Scandi cool appeals to foodies design junkies and a cool young crowd. With its...

Copenhagen, Denmark

The forward-thinking capital of Scandi cool appeals to foodies, design junkies and a cool young crowd. With its ground-breaking food scene , including world-famous Noma (and Noma 2.0 ), it’s a city to be taken seriously. Colourful buildings dot the central Nyhavn port, but it’s worth exploring alternative community Christiania, quirky Vesterbro and hipster Nørrebro, too.

The old town of Lamu on the Indian Ocean island of the same name was established in the 14th century. Now a UNESCO World...

Lamu, Kenya

The old town of Lamu , on the Indian Ocean island of the same name, was established in the 14th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the port city is a mish-mash of cultures – Swahili, Asian, Arabic, European – while along the laid-back coast majestic dhows sail by all day long.

More than 3000 narrow quartzsandstone pillars make up Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in the Hunan...

Wulingyuan, China

More than 3,000 narrow, quartz-sandstone pillars make up Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in the Hunan Province. These natural wonders, many higher than 656ft, are broken up by ravines, gorges, caves and waterfalls. It’s easy to see why the UNESCO World Heritage Site was James Cameron’s inspiration for Avatar .

Home to the worlds tallest trees Redwood National Park north of San Francisco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part...

Redwood National Park, California

Home to the world’s tallest trees, Redwood National Park, north of San Francisco , is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of an International Biosphere Reserve that protects close to half of the planet’s old-growth redwoods – some of which are 370ft high. With more than 200 miles of trail routes, it’s ideal for camping, hiking and riding.

The crumbling façades of this island nation's capital keep bringing in waves of travelling artists rum fanatics and...

Havana, Cuba

The crumbling façades of this island nation's capital keep bringing in waves of travelling artists, rum fanatics and cigar smokers to the city. It’s where Hemingway wrote seven of his books and drank Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio. And with temperatures of 27°C in December, it’s an ideal winter-sun destination.

Considered to be the cultural centre of Japan Kyoto is awash with ancient temples and shrines serene teahouses and...

Kyoto, Japan

Considered to be the cultural centre of Japan, Kyoto is awash with ancient temples and shrines, serene teahouses and sublime gardens. The bright-orange Fushimi-inari, a shinto shrine in the hills, is a visual beauty. Grab an artisan coffee, taken very seriously in the traditional city, and make the two-hour pilgrimage through the shrine's thousands of torii (gates). Other spots worth visiting include Gion, the home of the geishas, the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji and Nishiki market for street food or a traditional kaiseki feast at one of the city's local restaurants.

The kaleidoscopic city may best be known for its market life spice sellers and ancient medinas but its reimagined riads...

Marrakech, Morocco

The kaleidoscopic city may best be known for its market life, spice sellers and ancient medinas, but its reimagined riads, cool independent shops and contemporary art scene are giving it a modern edge. There are lots of places to discover – from Yves Saint Laurent’s restoration of cobalt-blue Jardin Majorelle to the smoky street-food stalls in Jemaa el-Fna.

A quick ferry ride from Naples the island of Ischia  famed for its thermal spas and unshowy local life  is a tumble of...

Ischia, Italy

A quick ferry ride from Naples , the island of Ischia – famed for its thermal spas and unshowy local life – is a tumble of fishing villages and beaches that match Amalfi but without the crowds.

Bondi Icebergs might easily be the most famous pool in the world. The Olympicsize structure has been standing on the...

Bondi Iceburgs, Australia

Bondi Icebergs might easily be the most famous pool in the world. The Olympic-size structure has been standing on the southern end of Bondi Beach for more than 100 years. It’s not heated or chlorinated, but filled with seawater, with the Tasman Sea crashing against its edge.

The Philippines has more than 7000 islands  about 5000 of which are uninhabited  where roughly 175 languages are spoken....

The Philippines

The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands – about 5,000 of which are uninhabited – where roughly 175 languages are spoken. For diving, El Nido is the ideal spot with crystal-clear water and vibrant marine life.

About 20 minutes outside Kyotos city centre is the atmospheric Arashiyama bamboo forest. Arrive at around 7am to avoid...

Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest, Japan

About 20 minutes outside Kyoto’s city centre is the atmospheric Arashiyama bamboo forest. Arrive at around 7am to avoid the crowds and get a chance to see and feel the wood, as well as hear it creaking in the wind. Morning light is just as ethereal, too. Arabica coffee shop is nearby, overlooking Hozugawa River.

The incredible pink lakes here make up part of the protected nature reserve of Ría Lagartos Biosphere on Mexicos Yucatn...

Las Coloradas, Yucatan, Mexico

The incredible pink lakes here make up part of the protected nature reserve of Ría Lagartos Biosphere on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. Red-coloured algae, plankton and brine shrimp that thrive in the waters not only turn the native flamingos pink but help produce 500,000 tons of salt per year.

The Avenue of the Baobabs Madagascar

Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

This is one of Madagascar's most visited natural sites – and for good reason. Aside from the spectacular photo opportunities on offer as the sun casts auburn shades on the trees, travellers come to support local conservation efforts, and spot the unique wildlife that frolics in the overgrowth nearby.

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Blue lagoon, Iceland

One of  Iceland's  most spectacular sites is, surprisingly, man-made. The Blue Lagoon's waters are a byproduct of a nearby geothermal power plant, which passes through turbines and into the lagoon. Natural geological layers account for the water's rich mineral content, which travellers use to their benefit, bathing and smothering themselves in the rich clay.

Eager to spot a waddle of penguins in the wild There's no need to save up for the ultimate excursion to Antarctica ...

Cape Town, South Africa

Eager to spot a waddle of penguins in the wild? There's no need to save up for the ultimate excursion to Antarctica – although that's just as high on many bucket lists. On the shores of some of  South Africa's  most picturesque beaches, the animals mingle in search of a mate – safe from the fearsome great white that circle beneath the waves just metres away.

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon, USA

The Grand Canyon is part of the Colorado River basin and, aside from its beauty, is geologically significant as the waters that pass through here have revealed billions of years worth of rock layers. While it's popular with travelling day-trippers, native Americans still call it home, having first settled in the caves thousands of years ago.

Inside view on IkKil Cenote close to Chichen Itza Mexico

Cenotes, Mexico

Formed by the collapse of eroded limestone,  Mexico's  cenotes harbour secrets and beauty discovered by sunshine-chasers each year. The unique formations were celebrated by the ancient Maya people, and archaeological investigations over the years have found artefacts made from gold, jadeite, shell and more on the sandy depths.

A road poising through the desert of Joshua Tree as sunrise

Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Stone tools and spearheads discovered in Joshua Tree National Park suggest the region was inhabited as long as 8,000 years ago. Modern travellers experience this wilderness in a very different way, checking into luxurious micro-resorts and serviced holiday homes. Think the landscapes are otherworldly by day? Look to the skies at night for an altogether different, and unforgettable, sight.

Maldives

The Maldives

Spoiling retreats of all shapes and sizes litter the sandy banks of the Maldives , an archipelagic state in the Indian Ocean. Between the indulgent wellness resorts and exotic restaurants, the crystal-clear waters offer ample opportunity for snorkelling and diving excursions. Dive into the blue and find yourself in a world of kaleidoscopic colour as fish fizzle in and out of focus.

Peyto Lake in Canada

Peyto Lake, Canada

One of Canada's most beautiful and most-photographed lakes is a pool of cerulean on darker days, while its glacier waters mirror the sky's dappled blue on brighter days. Keen amblers are well rewarded as they reach Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway.

Argent Beach on La Digue Island Seychelles

La Digue, Seychelles

The third most populated island in  the Seychelles , La Digue takes its name from a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited the Seychelles in 1768. Thanks to its otherworldly granite formations, glassy waters and fine sand, Anse Source d'Argent is often regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – a spot travellers fawn over as they venture out from the island's uber-luxurious hotels and resorts.

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone National Park Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Bison, bears, geese, deer – these are just some of the animals that call the oldest national park in the world home. Each change of the seasons beckons new residents out of their homes, as many cosy up during the cold winters and await the first signs of spring. A highlight of the park is the Yellowstone Caldera, a gargantuan crater that was formed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption some 640,000 years ago.

Best of the world: 35 destinations for 2023 and beyond

Watching the sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA

From epic landscapes and cultural reawakenings to conservation initiatives and family favourites, National Geographic Traveller ’s Best of the World list is back with 35 destinations that should be on your radar for 2023. Across five categories — adventure, culture, nature, family and community — our list highlights some of the most exciting and exceptional experiences on the planet, with 25 entries selected by the global editors of National Geographic Traveller  and an additional 10 from the UK edition.

Introducing the categories: 

3. Adventure

4. Community

Skyline of Busan, South Korea at dusk

Skyline of Busan, South Korea at dusk

1. Appian Way, Italy The revival of Europe’s ancient ‘superhighway’ is a pilgrimage route through history

If all roads lead to Rome, this ancient highway built 2,300 years ago was the mother of them all. Stretching for 360 miles from the heart of Italy’s capital to the port of Brindisi on the Adriatic, the Via Appia (nicknamed Regina Viarum — the Queen of Roads) was trod by ordinary citizens, marching soldiers, and glitterati from the Latin poet Horace to the gladiator-tussling Emperor Commodus.

Neglected after Rome’s fall but never forgotten, the road is undergoing a renaissance as the Italian government seeks to retrace, uncover and restore the ancient cobblestones, transforming the Appia into a walkable route for modern travellers. The goal is a pilgrimage through history, with stops at scenic villages and archaeological sites as well as planned overnight accommodation at the end of each day’s journey. 2. Busan, South Korea From craft breweries to Asia’s top film festival, South Korea’s second largest city is fuelling a cultural boom

Cinema is a communal experience in Busan, Korea’s second largest city, which has hosted one of Asia’s most prestigious annual film festivals for nearly three decades. In 2022 the Busan International Film Festival held screenings in 14 neighbourhood venues across this seaport of 3.4 million people.

Before performances, movie lovers can grab a craft beer or coffee — Busan is celebrated for its artisan brewers of both beans and hops — or stroll through Citizens Park, a redeveloped US military base (the city played a strategic role in the Korean War). Opened in 2014, the park is a 133-acre retreat in the middle of downtown, planted with more than one million trees and shrubs, comprising 97 species in all. 

3. Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China  VR technology is generating renewed interest in one of the largest collections of stone statues in the world at this UNESCO World Heritage site dating from the 4th century

Can ancient artistry from the Tang Dynasty thrive in the 21st-century metaverse? The Longmen Grottoes in China’s Henan Province offer a clue. More than 100,000 figures devoted to the Buddhist religion, primarily sculpted between the fifth and eighth centuries AD, are tucked inside countless caves within limestone cliffs rising above the Yi River. In 2021 Henan TV showrunners used the UNESCO World Heritage site as a backdrop for their acrobatic dance programme Longmen King Kong (the title refers to a Buddhist champion, not a large gorilla). The show’s whizz-bang special effects combined with the spectacular statues became a countrywide sensation.

But the use of high tech at the grottoes isn’t just for entertainment. Archaeologists are using 3D printing to reconstruct damaged statuary, and scientists are applying digital scanning to create a 3D map of the site.

4. Egypt King Tut’s new home at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum debuts

The debut of King Tut’s magnificent new home on the 100th anniversary of his discovery — and a string of recent archaeological findings — is reigniting global interest in Egypt. Dramatic and modern, Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)  will be located in Giza at the edge of the Pyramids, “the perfect museum in the perfect setting,” says Fredrik Hiebert, the National Geographic Society’s Archaeologist-in-Residence, who started his career in Egypt and is currently supervising National Geographic ’s virtual, multimedia exhibition Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience.

“It’s like the Egyptians built another pyramid to display all the golden treasures of Tutankhamun, many of which were hidden in the basement of the [old] Cairo Museum,” he says. “It’s going to become a destination museum and will change the way people visit Egypt.”

5. Charleston, South Carolina South Carolina’s largest city addresses a grimmer aspect of its history with the opening of the International African American Museum

A new year shines a light on an old wrong in Charleston. Known for its Low Country cuisine and walkable urbanism, South Carolina’s largest city addresses a grimmer aspect of its history when the International African American Museum opens on 21 January. The building is located on Gadsden’s Wharf and faces Charleston Harbor, where ships brought 100,000 enslaved Africans in chains to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nine galleries tell harrowing tales of the Middle Passage and the horrors of plantation life. But they also uncover stories of the triumph of the enslaved and their enduring cultural contributions, including a section devoted to the Gullah Geechee people who live along the Atlantic coast from the Carolinas to Florida and continue some of the African traditions of their ancestors.

6. Vilnius, Lithuania Lithuania’s capital marks 700 years

The Lithuanian capital will be 700 years old in 2023 and it’s throwing its own year-long party to celebrate. Public events will draw attention to a variety of arts, educational and green initiatives, including an invitation to both visitors and locals to help plant more than 100,000 trees around the city and create an urban forest in its Ozas Park. At the Lithuanian National Museum, a new interactive pavilion depicts the city as it was 200 years ago. Spoiler alert: it looks familiar in many respects, thanks to the many well-preserved gothic and Renaissance buildings found in Vilnius’s Old Town. This historic neighbourhood, with its cobblestoned streets, outdoor cafes and collection of baroque churches, is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval centres in Eastern Europe.

7. Hauts-de-France, France A culinary focus sees the northernmost French region celebrate its heritage and terroir in 2023

Food, glorious food… and drink, too. Haut-de-France is the European Region of Gastronomy for 2023 (a label awarded by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts & Tourism). After feasting on its fresh seafood, craft beers and Flemish recipes, you’ll be in little doubt as to why.

This is France’s northernmost region, bordering Belgium, and it’s a place where ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’ were a way of life long before they became menu buzzwords. Think of Maroilles cheese, fresh endives, Chantilly cream, or finger-lickingly gorgeous gaufres (thin, honeycombed waffles traditionally sold outside churches), just for starters.

Today, the heritage and terroir of Hauts-de-France has been taken to new levels by dynamic young chefs and restaurateurs, and culture vultures can work up an appetite exploring the galleries and markets of Lille, or touring a stunning, little-known coastline.

A herd of wild African elephants gather in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

A herd of wild African elephants gather in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. 

8. Scottish Highlands A rewilding movement to restore the original landscape of the Highlands aims to replant and restore native species as part of a countrywide sustainability initiative

The windswept Scottish Highlands are celebrated for their austere beauty, but the sheep-scoured landscapes are in fact the result of human interference. In ancient times, Scotland’s glens and hills were covered by the great Caledonian Forest. But centuries of logging and overgrazing devastated the ecosystem. Now a move to return the Highlands to its original woodlands, by reintroducing former flora and fauna in a process called ‘rewilding’, is gathering steam — with major strides to come in 2023.

The non-profit organisation Trees for Life is opening a centre in Dundreggan to educate the public on the concept of rewilding. Above Inverness, the 23,000-acre Alladale Wilderness Reserve has already planted nearly a million trees, and the Affric Highlands project will start restoring 500,000 acres stretching from Loch Ness to the west coast in a 30-year initiative. 9. Slovenia A longtime leader in sustainable tourism, Slovenia is now developing green gastrotourism biking routes visiting farms, vineyards, cheesemakers and other food producers

Widely recognised for being a leader in sustainable tourism, Slovenia has already cooked up a number of eco-friendly tours under its seven-year-old, countrywide Green Scheme. Now it's added a new item to the menu: the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route. This 11-day, 10-destination food trail is intended specifically for bicyclists.

“Bikers can reach a lot of remote [countryside] to discover that each [cow] pasture will produce a unique cheese,” says Jan Klovara, one of the trail’s developers. The route spans the country, from the capital, Ljubljana, through the Soča Valley, with its Alpine views, to the cave-studded Karst Plateau, and along the Drava and Sava Rivers.

Cyclists use the Slovenian train system to go point to point and their own pedal power to navigate bike-safe rural roads, before sitting down to dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in cities like Maribor, celebrated for its local and Serbian cuisine. 10. Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA The rugged frontier legend of Texas comes to life in a landscape that’s full of surprises

It’s located in the Lone Star State of legend, yet only 400,000 people visited Big Bend National Park pre-pandemic — nearly 10 times fewer visitors than Yellowstone received, reports Robert Draper, a National Geographic contributing writer. This remote and arid part of west Texas nurtures more cactus species than any other national park, as well as birds such as roadrunners and bright yellow Scott’s orioles, and mammals such as javelina. But encounters with wildlife seem different in the desert. “They remind you that life is at the same time precious and where you least expect to find it,” Draper writes. “Above all, life in the Chihuahuan Desert that comprises Big Bend’s 1,252sq mile expanse is stubborn and easily misunderstood but also impossible to forget.” 11. Azores Award-winning sustainability programmes conserve natural wonders of this volcanic archipelago known for whale-watching and thermal springs

A land born of fire but now engulfed in green, the Azores is working to secure its future. This volcanic island chain in the middle of the Atlantic is an autonomous region of Portugal, located about 1,000 miles off its coast.

With four of its nine islands UNESCO biosphere reserves — and recognised by the World Wildlife Fund as an oasis for 28 whale and dolphin species — the Azores take sustainable tourism seriously. It became the world’s first archipelago to be certified by EarthCheck, an Australia-based international advisory board and green tourism leader that conferred the award in 2019. The Portuguese territory is now focusing on conservation and biodiversity protection, air and water quality, and preservation of Indigenous heritage.

12. Botswana A locally led movement is restoring endangered species, creating wildlife corridors, and developing community-owned tourism projects

The southern African country of Botswana continues to confront a series of threats to its expansive, wildlife-rich national parks and game reserves, ranging from poaching to overtourism. But new anti-poaching efforts, voluntourism and community-based outreach are helping alleviate some of the pressure.

In the Tuli Block, a wilderness on Botswana’s eastern border that holds leopards, brown and spotted hyenas and a large elephant population, rangers are installing advanced technology in the 270sq mile Central Tuli Game Reserve. A Dutch organisation called Smart Parks developed low-power sensors that transmit radio data back to a central station, alerting rangers to poachers and their vehicles or even tracking the movements of animals themselves.

Botswana is also responding to a new generation of visitors. “Since Covid our millennial travellers have become more interested in meaningful human connection,” says National Geographic explorer Koketso ‘Koki’ Mookodi. “Expect to see more craft-based tours and village homestays being planned.”

13. Guyana A new route from British Airways shines a light on one of South America’s smaller nations

Thick Rainforests, sprawling savannahs, magical mountain ranges and epic rivers — Guyana may be one of South America’s smaller nations, but it packs a big punch for nature-lovers, and from March 2023, will be connected by British Airways flights from London Gatwick (via St Lucia).

Go to get truly off-grid. Similar in size to the UK, Guyana is home to fewer than a million people, and river, off-road or air transport are often the only routes into the heart of it all. Natural highlights range from jaguars stalking dense forests to giant anteaters on the savannahs, harpy eagles in the skies and wow-moments like Kaieteur Falls, one of the world’s highest single drop waterfalls (and twice as high as Victoria Falls). The number of eco-tourism experiences and community-run lodges is growing, too. 14. Tanzania Citizen science is playing a part in Tanzania’s new conservation drive

The evolution of sustainable travel is underway in Tanzania. No longer content with staying at environmentally friendly lodges or visiting local community groups, a new generation of travellers is getting hands on with conservation and following scientists into the field thanks to the advent of citizen science travel. 

At the forefront of the trend is Asilia Africa with its pioneering Usangu Expedition Camp, which opened in June 2022 and is set in the lush wetlands of Ruaha National Park. Patrolling the park in safari vehicles powered by molasses, guests play an active role in protecting wildlife by assisting field researchers, planting camera traps and building the park’s photo library of lions, leopards and rare African wild dogs. The citizen science approach has proved so successful that Asilia will replicate the experience at its sister camp, set to open in June 2023, in Nyerere National Park.

Hiking outside Queenstown, New Zealand

Hiking outside Queenstown, New Zealand.

15. New Zealand The country that invented bungee jumping rekindles adventure excitement post-pandemic

The country that brought you bungee jumping is bouncing back from the pandemic. On New Zealand’s South Island, a re-energised Queenstown is again welcoming adventure travellers from all over the world. They come to this lakeside town of some 15,000 for skiing, as well as year-round hiking in the deservedly named Remarkables range. But bicycles should be generating the most excitement. By 2025, the Queenstown Trails Trust aims to complete a network of recreational and commuting bike lanes and paths that will link up workplaces, schools and other urban spaces. The network’s shining star: an 80.7-mile biking route called the Queenstown Trail, one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. Starting on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, the ride pedals east from Queenstown to Gibbston.

16. Choquequirao, Peru An adventurous trek to the remote sister site of Machu Picchu is becoming more accessible

One of the most remote Inca sites in the Peruvian Andes, the ruins of Choquequirao are reserved for the hardy few who put in the effort to reach it. Those who make the trek to the sprawling complex can do so only on foot, zigzagging up and down steep paths for 18 miles to reach its 10,000-foot elevation, suspended between the high Andes and the jungles below.

But change is coming to rock the ‘cradle of gold’, the meaning of Choquequirao in the Quechua language. New infrastructure plans are expected to boost visits to Machu Picchu’s sister city.

Pre-pandemic, Machu Picchu had more than 1.5 million visitors annually, according to Peruvian tourism officials. Choquequirao counted fewer than 9,500. To increase accessibility, the Peruvian government has committed to spending $260 million (£231.12 million) to build a cable car spanning three miles between the town of Kiuñalla and the archaeological site.

17. Utah, USA This popular adventure state is boosting its lesser-trafficked areas to combat overtourism

With five national parks and eight national monuments, Utah is an adventurer’s ultimate playground. But outdoor lovers tend to visit only a small and iconic group of destinations, such as Zion National Park. Now the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation has created an innovative grant programme to help fund new outdoor recreation projects throughout the state, including the Zion National Park Forever Project.

In Zion, known for its dramatic narrow canyons and towering sandstone cliffs, work began in 2022 on a new visitors centre on the park’s east side. The hope: to draw some of Zion’s annual five million visitors away from the crowded main south entrance and popular trails like Angels Landing. In addition to the sustainable visitors centre, plans include 30-plus miles of new mountain biking trails and 40 miles of hiking trails outside the east entrance.

18. Austrian Alps The cross-country Bergsteigerdörfer network of 36 mountaineering villages focuses on local life and culture.

To save a mountain range, it sometimes takes a village. Since 2008 an association of high-altitude hamlets located in Central Europe’s Eastern Alps have banded together to promote their small communities to the world’s adventure travellers interested in mountain hiking, biking and climbing, as well as winter sports like cross-country skiing and ice climbing.

Called the Bergsteigerdörfer, or the ‘Mountaineering Villages’, the network is concentrated primarily in Austria’s western states, including Tyrol and Carinthia, with additional member towns in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. The Bergsteigerdörfer works to protect villages’ culture and traditions while preserving mountain landscapes from overdevelopment. Rejecting large-scale tourist projects like sprawling ski lodges and peak-scaling cable cars, the Bergsteigerdörfer villages, now numbering 36, put greater emphasis on green or sustainable mountain tourism.

19. Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico The ‘Galápagos of Mexico’ protects one of the largest aggregations of sharks and oceanic mantas in the world

Some 300 miles off the southern tip of Baja California Peninsula lies a national park steeped in superlatives. Revillagigedo National Park, a 57,000-square-mile Mexican marine reserve, is North America’s largest fully protected underwater park. It offers sanctuary to the continent’s greatest concentration of tropical marine megafauna, from hammerhead sharks to humpback whales, earning it the nickname ‘the Galápagos of Mexico’. And the waters surrounding its four main islands are fast becoming a mecca for scuba divers.

“The park is one of the few places, if not the only place on the planet, that you can have intimate interaction with giant oceanic mantas,” says marine biologist and underwater filmmaker Erick Higuera. He says the mantas, which can weigh up to 3,600 pounds and attain a wing span of 27ft, seem to like the feel of the divers’ oxygen bubbles on their bellies. The bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the park’s waters also show curiosity toward humans and will often swim up to and investigate divers.

20. Sierra Sur, Oaxaca, Mexico Oaxaca’s epic trail gains in popularity for visitors seeking Indigenous connections

Oaxaca is celebrated for its folk art and vibrant cuisine, but there’s more to be sampled in this subtropical Mexican state than black pottery and moles. Travellers searching for meaningful and respectful cultural exchanges with members of the 16 recognised Indigenous peoples are lacing up their hiking boots to venture into the agrarian heart of the Oaxacan interior on foot.

Growing in popularity is the Copalita Trail, a five-day adventure walk from the state’s southern Sierra Madres to its Pacific coast, stopping to camp, swim, and break bread in Zapotec villages. Because the trail is remote, with few intersecting roads, there is no opportunity to leave it and must be done with a guide. The journey begins in Oaxaca City where a bus brings hikers deep into the mountains. Over the next four days, hikers descend from the slopes past thick pine forests, down through coffee and bamboo plantations and into jungles, before floating down the Copalita River to arrive on the golden sand beaches near Huatulco.

21. Bhutan The reopened Trans-Bhutan Trail traverses 250 miles across the Himalayan kingdom

After using the pandemic downturn to reflect and rebuild, Bhutan officially reopened its borders in September 2022. As a mountainous country vulnerable to climate change, Bhutan is famously committed to sustainable, ‘low volume’ tourism that benefits the local community. The increased Sustainable Development Fee of US$200 (£180) per person, per night will be put to good use funding healthcare and education for Bhutan’s citizens, planting trees, and preserving the country’s cultural heritage.

Enticing pilgrims to the Himalayan kingdom is the 250-mile Trans-Bhutan Trail, which has reopened for the first time in 60 years, allowing hikers and bikers to traverse the length of the country. The track connects previously remote communities, spreading the economic benefits of tourism while sharing entirely new insights into Bhutanese life.

Kayakers explore Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes, Greece

Kayakers explore Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes, Greece

22. Dodecanese Islands, Greece This Greek archipelago balances growing popularity with sustaining its ancient traditions

Off the Turkish coast, the Greek islands of the Dodecanese cast an alluring spell stemming from their rocky beauty and feisty history. A cast of conquerors — Romans, Ottomans and Italians — left their fingerprints on everything from the architecture to the food, but today’s invaders come not for fortune, but for selfies, at such better-known Dodecanese islands as Leros, Patmos or Kos.

But now less trafficked parts of the archipelago like Karpathos, located halfway between Crete and Rhodes, must balance between the economic need for tourism and the environmental stresses caused by it. In this arid, hilly land of milk and honey, many families keep bees and make their own butter and cheese. Karpathos’s lonely white churches, timeworn towns and ancient traditions may draw adventurous visitors fleeing the more crowded Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Santorini, but the island’s water scarcity and lack of recycling capacity pose challenges.

23. Milwaukee, Wisconsin A smaller, less expensive Great Lakes city you shouldn’t miss

Wisconsin’s biggest and liveliest city combines a blue-collar, back-thumping energy with a close-knit creative community that’s turning heads beyond the Great Lakes. (Having a winning NBA team, the Bucks, doesn’t hurt either.)

Like the 450 motorcycles displayed inside its Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee is revving its engines in 2023. Riverside promenades are being built along its three waterways (the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic and Menomonee Rivers), and the buzzy Deer District rises from a former field of vacant lots, with hotels, concert venues and the Bucks arena. Meanwhile traditional neighbourhoods are getting fresh development projects, such as the planned arts and cultural centre in Bronzeville focused on African American art.

24. Alberta, Canada In the Canadian Rockies, Indigenous voices connect travellers to undiscovered histories

Alberta is celebrated for its natural wonders like the Athabasca Glacier and Banff National Park, both high in the Rocky Mountains; its wide-open prairie vistas; and the glass-and-steel modernity of cities like Calgary and Edmonton. But there are different perspectives to consider in this Canadian province, part of a rethinking about how Indigenous stories are told across all of North America.

“[Travellers] who seek us out want to reconnect and refocus,” says Brenda Holder, a Cree/Iroquois guide who leads visitors on walks and workshops in the woods near Sundre, Alberta, to examine the medicinal plants her people rely upon.

Alberta’s Aboriginal sites offer touchstones into the province’s pre-European past. Visitors to Elk Island National Park, located just east of Edmonton, encounter cultural history dating back 8,000 years through guided hikes, hands-on interpretive programmes featuring prehistoric stone tools, and Cree crafting workshops.

25. Laos A new high-speed train is making more of Laos accessible

The Covid pandemic closed the borders of many tourism-dependent countries including Laos. But the Southeast Asian country known for its emerald-green vistas of the Upper Mekong got a boost in domestic travel with the December 2021 inauguration of a Chinese-financed and -constructed bullet train christened the Lane Xang, Laos’ ancient name meaning Kingdom of a Million Elephants. Originating in Kunming, China, the train’s 260-mile route within Laos starts at the border town of Boten and barrels through 75 tunnels and across 167 bridges, before terminating in the capital Vientiane.

The train’s promise: expanding tourism among the Lao themselves, who can now easily explore their country’s multifaceted heritage, including the old imperial capital, Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

26. Ghana The hottest destination for Black heritage travellers in West Africa is also a vibrant creative hub

With Covid restrictions relaxed, many travellers are once again taking up an invitation that Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo had extended pre-pandemic to people with African heritage: to return to this West African country, explore their African roots and connect with its citizens. The journeys, popularised by celebrity travellers such as Danny Glover and Chance the Rapper, were often emotional ones as visitors confronted the physical remnants of the slave trade along Ghana’s coast.

“More than a return, it’s a remembering,” says National Geographic photo editor Melissa Bunni Elian, who journeyed to Ghana last spring. Elian notes that Ghana has a “strong pan-African spirit. You’ll hear afrobeats everywhere, from the taxis to the grocery store, but also reggae, Haitian zouk, American hip-hop.”

27. Nova Scotia, Canada Canada puts a spotlight on its unique Acadian culture

The parishes of southern Louisiana have long been associated with the Acadians, France’s settlers in the New World. But the first Acadia lay further north, centred in Canada’s Atlantic Maritime provinces like Nova Scotia. French immigrants first arrived in the 1630s, only to be routed 120 years later by Britain during the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763). Beginning in 1755, ‘le Grand Dérangement’ (The Great Expulsion) saw Acadians forcibly resettled in British colonies or repatriated to France, and then to Louisiana. Allowed to return to Nova Scotia in 1764, the Acadians have defended and retained their unique culture and French language into this century. The twice-a-decade World Congress of Acadians takes place in 2024 here in the rural municipalities of Clare and Argyle.

28. Aboriginal Australia Greater Aboriginal rights go hand-in-hand with a new wave of Indigenous experiences

This year Australians will cast their vote on whether to enshrine an Aboriginal voice in the country’s constitution. The historic referendum takes place against a backdrop of greater recognition of Aboriginal rights, with vast swathes of land handed back to Traditional Owners, and the country’s first truth-telling commission underway in Victoria.

As the cogs of government churn, a new wave of experiences owned and led by Aboriginal Australians are helping travellers delve deeper into history, culture and cuisine. Found at the end of the Great Ocean Road is Budj Bim Cultural Landscape —newly inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2019 and the first in Australia to be listed for its Aboriginal cultural value — where visitors can explore the world’s oldest eel farms with Gunditjmara guides.

Wax palms in Colombia’s  Cocora Valley

Wax palms in Colombia’s  Cocora Valley.

29. San Francisco An urban trail and a new recreation area with stunning Golden Gate views get top marks from families

In San Francisco, city kids can learn that becoming a trail hiker doesn’t necessarily mean a trip into the wild. The recently completed Crosstown Trail meanders across the city diagonally, from its southeastern corner at Candlestick Point to its northwestern tip at Lands End, winding through gardens, up hills and across urban streets for nearly 17 miles.

Along the way, the trail skirts the Presidio. This 1,491-acre military post turned popular national park offers stunning Golden Gate Bridge views and in July celebrated the opening of the 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Tops. Designed by one of the same firms behind Manhattan’s High Line, the new site is set on top of concrete freeway tunnels and buzzes with a plastic-free nature play space, food trucks and campfire talks.

30. Trinidad and Tobago One of the most important leatherback turtle nesting sites in the world emphasizes the importance of sea turtle conservation programs

Consider that sea turtles survived the dinosaurs, but might not survive this century. Kids eager to help save the turtles — and encounter hundreds of them as well — can head to Trinidad and Tobago. With loggerheads, greens, leatherbacks, hawksbills and olive ridleys (five of the seven species of sea turtles) swimming off its shores, this Caribbean nation is a mecca for turtle tourism.

Nesting sites are found on both islands, with leatherbacks the most numerous — during the nesting season between March to August, an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 turtles mass on the nation’s shores. Trinidad’s Grande Riviere beach, on the island’s north coast, is the densest leatherback nesting ground in the world.

Turtle-watching programmes led by approved guides generate revenue to help save these creatures, which are under assault from climate change, habitat loss and plastic pollution.

31. Colombia The enchanted land of Encanto has birding, Indigenous cultures and alluring coasts and mountains

Colombia’s boisterous birdlife is as colourful and tuneful as Encanto, the hit Disney animated film set in this biodiverse South American country. More than 1,900 different birds (almost 20% of the world's avian species) live here, in places like the Perijá Mountains, making Colombia the richest roost for birdlife on the planet.

Where can families flock with them? The Northern Colombia Birding Trail, for birders both extreme and more casual, explores the country’s range of habitats. Tours with the National Audubon Society use 4X4 vehicles to visit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the planet’s highest coastal mountain range, as well as beach-blessed Tayrona National Park on the Caribbean coast. Visitors can spot species including the crested quetzal, Santa Marta parakeet, and the sickle-winged guan. Colombians and Wayuu Indigenous peoples work along the route as bird guides.

32. Manchester, UK This mecca for football fans is growing as an arts and culture hub

In 2023 Manchester launches a number of attractions to encourage its post-pandemic revival. The year’s centrepiece is the spring opening of the Factory International, a new £186 million downtown cultural space designed by Rem Koolhaas’s architectural firm. Named after the local record label that made hometown bands Joy Division and New Order globally famous, the Factory will become the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival. The city’s biannual, cutting-edge arts jam showcases the best in theatre, opera and music for all ages.

The year also marks the reopening of the reimagined Manchester Museum, which features new galleries focused on Chinese, South Asian and British Asian culture and a specially designed inclusive, family-focused Belonging Gallery that showcases how humans, plants and animals thrive together. Also coming into its own is the National Trust’s new ‘sky park’ on the Castlefield Viaduct, a walkable Victorian-era railroad bridge.

33. Switzerland A precision rail network leads to quaint Alpine towns for chocolate, hiking and skiing

On any given day, Switzerland’s transit network carries 6.6 million riders in a country of only 8.7 million people, tempting families on holiday with some unique trips on its famously punctual trains featuring spectacular mountains, classic cookies and even a Wonka-esque chocolate tour.

The Gotthard Panorama Express begins on a Lucerne steamboat crossing the city’s famous lake before boarding a train in Flüelen for a trip to Switzerland’s Italian-influenced south. A cookie train from Berne to Lucerne stops for a nibble at the Kambly bakery where kids can bake their own cookies and design a biscuit tin to take home. A chocolate train departing from Montreux starts with chocolate croissants and hot chocolate served onboard, stops in Gruyères to explore its medieval old town and world-famous cheese, and winds up in Broc for a tour of the Maison Cailler chocolate factory.

Making it all sweeter is the Swiss Family Card, a rail pass that allows anyone under the age of 16 to ride either free or at a 50% discount.

34. Bath The only double-listed World Heritage Site in the UK is developing new attractions

Bath may be one of the UK’s most visited cities, but it hasn’t been resting on its laurels in recent years. After a £5.5m renovation of its Roman baths in 2011, and becoming a double-inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021 — one of 11 European spa towns — the Bath World Heritage Centre opened in May 2022, featuring interactive exhibits and displays about Bath’s history, Georgian architecture and unique geology.

But the city founded as Aquae Sulis by the Romans is not just about its ancient past. In September, Cleveland Pools, Britain’s oldest lido, reopened after decades of neglect. Situated by the River Avon, the Grade II*-listed outdoor swimming pool dating back to 1815 was restored after an 18-year campaign to restore it.

And the £20 million Bath Abbey Footprint project, which saw a complete restoration of the medieval abbey church, has neared completion with its new Discovery Centre.

35. Wicklow, Ireland A multi-million pound treetop walk is just part of the Irish garden county’s new appeal

Wicklow is Ireland’s ‘garden county’ — similar in size to England’s Cotswolds and crammed with mountain trails for hikers and bikers, stately Palladian mansions, wild waterfalls and an underrated coast. As of this year, it’s also home to Ireland’s tallest slide and an exhilarating new walkway that gently ramps up to immerse visitors in the tree canopy itself.

Beyond the Trees Avondale is a revamped experience at Avondale Forest Park. The fully accessible canopy walk opens up birds’ eye views of an estate with over 100 tree species, while the swirling, 12-storey slide is the centrepiece of a wooden structure shaped like a giant pint of Guinness (the whoops you hear spraying about inside are from adults and kids alike).

Published in the December 2022 issue of   National Geographic Traveller (UK)  

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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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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: 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 Skaros Rock

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

54 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

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.

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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100 Best Places on Earth – The Ultimate Travel Bucket List

Book your individual trip , stress-free with local travel experts

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updated 13.12.2023

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This isn't just a travel bucket list; it's a gateway to experiences so profound and diverse that they promise to reshape your understanding of beauty, culture, and adventure. From the majestic peaks of Patagonia to the hidden alleyways of Kyoto, each destination on this list has been chosen not just for its aesthetic appeal, but for the unique story it tells. Rough Guides, your trusted travel companion, goes beyond the usual tourist trails to bring you authentic, tailor-made experiences that resonate with your personal travel aspirations.

1. Bhutan - a tiny country leading the way in sustainable tourism

  • 2. Discover Tbilisi's reignited cultural scene

3. Ethiopia - the sunken churches of Lalibela

  • 4. Gorges du Verdon - the 'alternative Grand Canyon'

5. Taj Mahal - one of the new Seven Wonders of the World

6. victoria falls - the world’s widest curtain of water.

Hidden in the Himalayas, with all the matchless scenery you’d expect, the tiny country of Bhutan is staggeringly beautiful. Piercing peaks and plunging valleys fold into its borders, where you can climb to mountaintop monasteries, hike through ancient forests and horseback ride over lush green plains, while local guides give a real insight into the country’s living spirituality.

Bhutan has been quietly forging its own path for centuries. Now, it’s leading the way in sustainable tourism. With at least sixty percent forest cover, Bhutan takes environmental conservation seriously. It’s already carbon negative, and while the target to become the world’s first fully organic nation by 2020 has been pushed back, they are still actively working on it.

Preservation is priceless, and travellers to this enchanting nation will leave with a real sense of what a privilege it is to experience Bhutan’s natural, cultural and spiritual riches.

You may have heard of Bhutan’s now-famous compulsory tourist tariff, which sees foreign visitors paying a minimum of $250 per day just to visit. But what you may not know is this includes all accommodation, food, transport and a local guide – and it also grants you access to one of Southeast Asia’s most pristine corners. A tailor-made trip ensures you get to see exactly what you want to see and travel the way you prefer - a specific route, selected hotels, particular activities, it's all possible when you go tailor-made.

Punakha-Dzong-Bhutan-shutterstock_1144214126

Monks in Bhutan

2. Discover Tbilisi's reignited cultural scene

While the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has long lured visionary types to its bohemian neighbourhoods, it’s slipped under the tourist radar for years. That may have something to do with its turbulent recent history: although Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there followed a period of civil war, violence and ethnic tensions.

Over the past decade, however, a new generation has reignited Tbilisi’s cultural scene through a mix of local art galleries, exhibition spaces, music venues, concept stores and creative hubs. A growing crop of industrial- style hotels is springing up across the city, many set in Soviet-era factories and publishing houses. The food scene is thriving, too – innovative chefs have taken the helm in the kitchens of new restaurants, where they reimagine traditional Georgian cuisine with a modern twist. The revolution is underway. Read more about why Georgia is the ultimate adventure destination .

Where to stay

Enjoy a stunning view from the Terrace Boutique Hotel , located a short walk from the Tbilisi funicular.

Discover the wine region on a full-day tour from Tbilisi . Visit beautiful towns, taste plenty of Georgian wine and find out more about the traditional winemaking process.

Tailor-made travel

Planning to visit Georgia for a holiday? Talk to our carefully selected local expert to create and book your perfect trip to Georgia.

tbilisi-georigia-shutterstock_633064421

Tbilisi in Georgia

An enigmatic and utterly beguiling country, Ethiopia has endless intrigue. From its unique, highly sociable cuisine – the basis of which is injera , a spongy sourdough pancake, piled high with piquant curries and stews and shared between friends – to its ancient language and curly Amharic script, there’s very little that’s familiar about this place, and your trip will be all the better for it.

Ethiopia is a largely Orthodox Christian country, and its religious festivals and structures are something to behold. The sunken churches of Lalibela , hand-carved out of the red rock below ground some nine hundred years ago, are an astonishing feat of engineering. Come January, the network of tunnels and staircases that connect all eleven churches fill up with thousands of worshippers dressed in white, celebrating the birth of Christ with a twelve-hour mass.

Exploring Ethiopia with your own guide and at your own pace will help you really discover this fascinating country. A local expert working for a local tour operator can help to plan and book your ideal trip .

lalibela-ethiopia-shutterstock_1385052038

Lalibela in Ethiopia

4. Gorges du Verdon - the 'alternative Grand Canyon'

The breathtaking beauty and majesty of the Gorges du Verdon – also known as the Grand Canyon du Verdon – almost matches that of its American cousin, albeit on a much smaller scale. Peppered with spectacular viewpoints, plunging crevices up to 700m deep, and glorious azure-blue lakes, this area of Provence in France is absolutely irresistible. The river falls from Rougon at the top of the gorge, disappearing into tunnels, decelerating for shallow, languid moments and finally exiting in full, steady flow at the Pont du Galetas at the western end of the canyon. Alongside is the huge artificial Lac de Sainte-Croix, which is great for swimming when the water levels are high.

Moustiers-Ste-Marie is the loveliest village on the fringes of the gorge, occupying a magnificent site near its western end. Set high on a hillside, just out of sight of both canyon and lake, it straddles a plummeting stream that cascades between two golden cliffs. A star slung between them on a chain, originally suspended by a returning Crusader, just adds to its charms.

If you're planning to stay in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the Hotel La Bonne Auberge features a large terrace and garden, as well as a swimming pool in an excellent location in town.

Visit the gorge as well as the lavender fields on a day trip from Nice . Particularly suited for those short on time or without their own transportation, this day tour allows you to discover the area while returning back to Nice the same evening.

If you're thinking of visiting Provence and the Gorges du Verdon – get in touch . Rough Guides has paired with experienced local tour operators in France to offer fully customisable trips, like this from Paris to Provence itinerary .

Gorge of Verdon

Gorges du Verdon in France

Simply the world’s greatest building, Shah Jahan’s monument to love does not disappoint. Volumes have been written on its perfection, and its image adorns countless glossy brochures and guidebooks; nonetheless, the reality never fails to overwhelm all who see it, and few words can do it justice. A workforce of some twenty thousand men from all over Asia completed the Taj Mahal in 1653 after twenty years of toil, and it is undoubtedly the zenith of Mughal architecture in India .

Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore described the Taj Mahal as “a teardrop on the face of eternity”, and though its layout follows a distinctly Islamic theme, representing Paradise, it is above all a monument to romantic love. Shah Jahan built the Taj to enshrine the body of his favourite wife, Arjumand Bann Begum, better known by her official palace title, Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”). The emperor was devastated by her death, and set out to create an unsurpassed monument to her memory – the result is sublime.

There are endless accommodation options in Agra , from where most travellers start their Taj Mahal visit. Our favourites include Tajview IHCL SeleQtions with stunning views and the Grand Imperial - Heritage Hotel .

Planning to explore the Taj Mahal on your own? Get your skip-the-line access tickets to the Taj Mahal beforehand to enjoy a hassle-free visit.

To see the Taj for yourself, drop us a line . Our tailor-made trips service will pair you with a local expert based in India to plan and book a fully customisable tour of India, like this sample itinerary to explore the Golden Triangle .

 The Taj Mahal on the south bank of the Yamuna river, Agra, Uttar Pradesh © Yury Taranik / Shutterstock

Taj Mahal in sunset

Along with Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls – or Mosioa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”) – ranks as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. No matter how many pictures you’ve seen beforehand, nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring sight and deafening sound of the falls. The world’s widest curtain of water crashes down a huge precipice, producing clouds of spray visible from afar, before squeezing into a zigzag of sheer-sided gorges as a torrent of turbulent rapids, carving its way to the Indian Ocean well over 1000km away.

Their dramatic setting on the Zambezi river – on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border – has also made Victoria Falls the undisputed adventure capital of Africa. There’s an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer, from whitewater rafting and bungee jumping to zip-lining and bodyboarding. Less touted are the stunning wildlife-viewing opportunities

Victoria Falls affords: the national parks that line the serene banks of the Upper Zambezi are home to large mammals, such as elephant, lion, buffalo, giraffe and leopard, as well as a variety of antelope and more than 410 bird species.

Read more in our First-timer's Guide to the Victoria Falls .

Ilala Lodge is your best bet if you want to be as close to the Falls as possible. Occupying lovely grounds, the lodge has stylish rooms, a small pool and an excellent restaurant. Best of all, though, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the park’s entrance; from the hotel’s terrace, you can see clouds of spray rising from the Falls.

There are endless opportunities to explore the area: from a guided walking tour over sunset cruises to exploring the local entertainment and food scene .

Victoria Falls waterfall Zambezi river

Victoria Falls

Find more travel inspiration in our book The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth 2020 .

Header image: Yana Zubkova/Shutterstock

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The 10 Best Places to Visit in The World

If you’re looking for some travel inspiration, look no further. The list of top 10 places to visit in the world. From the beaches of Thailand to the snow-capped mountains of Nepal, there is something for everyone on this list.

The listed below are top 10 best places to visit from around the world in 2022-23. These’re breathtaking, these’re jaw dropping, these’re top of the list of places you really must see before you die.

In This Article

The Top 10 Places to Visit in The World:

No matter what your interests are, there’s sure to be a place on this list that speaks to you. So start planning your dream trip today!

10. Palawan Island, Philippines

Palawan Island, Philippines

If you are looking for a breathtaking island destination, look no further than Palawan Island in the Philippines. This island has it all – gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise waters, lush jungle landscapes, and friendly locals. Palawan is the perfect place to relax and soak up the natural beauty of the Philippines.

Palawan Island is the most beautiful island in Philippines and the largest in Palawan province. It’s a slice of heaven, also voted as the most beautiful island in the world several time. The ultimate destination full of incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. Teeming with exotic wildlife, quiet waterfalls and quaint fishing villages, it’s one of the most bio-diverse islands in the Philippines.

What to do must here? According to the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Palawan is the best island destination in Asia region. If you ever came to Palawan, you must visit the Calauit Game Preserve and peaceful wildlife sanctuaries. And also got to El Nido and Coron Island, regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world.

9. Barcelona, Spain

Best Places to Visit in The World

There are many reasons why Barcelona is such a great place to visit. The city is home to some of the best architecture and art in the world, the food is amazing, and the people are incredibly friendly. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

If you’re looking for a city that has it all, Barcelona is the place for you. From world-renowned museums and galleries to stunning beaches and parks, there’s something for everyone in Barcelona.

In addition to Barcelona’s renowned tourist attractions, the city is also home to a vibrant nightlife and a thriving food scene. For those looking to experience all that the city has to offer, here are a few more things to add to your Barcelona itinerary.

Catalan cuisine is some of the best in Spain, and Barcelona is the perfect place to try it. From tapas to traditional paella, there are plenty of delicious dishes to choose from. And of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without trying the city’s renowned sangria.

The nightlife in Barcelona is not to be missed. From lively bars to world-famous nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or simply enjoy a few drinks with friends, you’ll find plenty of options to keep you entertained.

There’s more to Barcelona than just its tourist attractions. With a thriving food and nightlife scene, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, whether you’re looking to explore the city’s culture or simply want to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun, be sure to add Barcelona to your list of must-visit destinations.

See also; 10 most beautiful villages in Europe .

8. London, England

Best Places to Visit in The World

London is not only a beautiful city to visit, but it is also home to a rich history and culture. If you are looking for a place to visit that is full of excitement and intrigue, then London is the perfect destination for you. From the moment you arrive in London, you will be able to feel the energy and vibrancy of the city. There is always something to see and do in London, and you will never be bored.

In addition to its many attractions, London is also a great place to eat and drink. There are countless restaurants and pubs to choose from, and you will be able to find food from all over the world. London is also home to some of the best shopping in the world, so if you are looking for a new wardrobe, you will definitely be able to find it here.

Whether you are looking for a place to sightsee, shop, or just relax, London is the perfect destination for you.

See also; the top 10 tourist attractions in London .

7. Paris, France

Best Places to Visit in The World

From the food, to the history, to the fashion, there is something for everyone in Paris. One of the best things about Paris is that it is so easy to get around. The public transportation system is excellent and there are plenty of taxis and Uber drivers. Even if you don’t speak French, you can still get by because a lot of people in Paris speak English.

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, Paris is the perfect place. The city is full of love and history. You can visit the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or just walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Paris is also a great place for shopping. You can find high-end stores, local markets, and everything in between.

Paris is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a shopping spree, or just a place to enjoy the sights and sounds, Paris is the perfect place for you.

See also; 10 Magical Fairytale-Like Destinations to Visit in Your Lifetime .

6. The island of Maui, USA

The island of Maui, USA

The island of Maui is one of the beat places to visit in the world. Maui is an amazing place to visit for so many reasons. The scenery is stunning, the beaches are beautiful, and the people are friendly and welcoming. But one of the best things about Maui is the food. Maui has some of the best restaurants in the world, serving up delicious Hawaiian cuisine. If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, Maui is the place to be.

There are many attraction in Maui to visit like; Paia Town, Ho’okipa Beach, Windsurfers, Puahokamoa Falls. Other attractions in Maui include Wailua Falls, Haleakala National Park, and the Maui Ocean Center. Maui is a beautiful island with many things to see and do. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventurous hike, Maui has something for everyone.

The island of Maui is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. See also; 10 Alluring Lakeside Cities of the World .

5. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice is considered one of the top 10 best places to visit around the world. It also voted the most beautiful national parks in the world. Just like as Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, famous for glamour around the world.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia is one of the best among the top 10 places to visit in the world. There are many reasons to include Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia on your list of places to see. The beauty of the landscape is unrivalled, and the peace and quiet that surrounds the area is unparalleled. In addition, the park is home to a wealth of plant and animal life, making it a great place for nature enthusiasts. And, of course, the park is also a great place to simply relax and take in the stunning scenery. 

4. Miami Beach, Florida

Miami Beach, Florida top 10 places to visit in the world

Miami Beach is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. In addition to its beaches, Miami Beach is also known for its nightlife. The city is home to a number of nightclubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals.

Miami Beach is not only a great place to visit for its many attractions, but also for its food. The city has a wide variety of restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a five-course meal, you will be able to find it in Miami Beach. In addition to its restaurants, Miami Beach also has a number of great bars and clubs. If you are looking for a place to dance the night away, you will be able to find it in Miami Beach.

Miami Beach- Best things to do at Miami Beach

  • People watch on South Beach- there is always something going on, whether it be a photo shoot, filming, or just people out and about. You can find some interesting people to watch.
  • Take a walk on the beach- the sand and waves are always therapeutic and the views are unbeatable.
  • Visit the tourist spots- there are plenty of things to see and do, from the art deco buildings to people watching on Ocean Drive.
  • Try the food- there are so many different types of food available, from Cuban to seafood. You can find something to suit any taste.
  • Check out the nightlife- whether you want to go clubbing or just have a few drinks, there is something for everyone.

See also; Top 10 Most Romantic Places in the World .

3. Alberta, Canada

top 10 places to visit in the world

From the towering Rocky Mountains to the dynamic cityscape of Calgary, Alberta is a province that has something for everyone. In addition to its stunning natural scenery, Alberta is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, delicious cuisine, and friendly people. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed vacation or a relaxing getaway, Alberta is the perfect destination.

While Alberta is well known for its natural beauty, it is also home to a vibrant culture scene. With its towering peaks, pristine alpine lakes and valleys, dazzling glaciers, and abundant wildlife, it is no wonder that Alberta is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada. However, there is more to this province than meets the eye. Here are five interesting facts about Alberta that you may not know.

  • Alberta is home to more than 600 Indigenous communities.
  • The province is home to the largest number of francophones outside of Quebec.
  • Alberta is Canada’s most populous province without a coastline.
  • The province has the lowest taxes in Canada.
  • Alberta is the world’s leading producer of lentils.

See also; Top 10 best attraction in Canada .

2. U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands top 10 places to visit in the world

U.S. Virgin Islands are second in our list of top 10 places to visit in the world. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer much more than just stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. This group of islands, situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and activities.

Whether you’re looking to relax on a sandy beach, explore a historic plantation, or go hiking in the rainforest, the U.S. Virgin Islands have something for everyone. And with a little help from any online travel agency, you can plan the perfect trip without breaking the bank.

Here are some of the best things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • Visit the St.Croix Heritage Trail
  • Go horseback riding on the beach
  • Visit the Annaberg Sugar Mill
  • Get a bird’s-eye view of St. Thomas from Paradise Point
  • Shop for local arts and crafts
  • Sample the local cuisine
  • Go snorkeling or diving
  • Take a day trip to the British Virgin Islands
  • Relax on one of the many beaches
  • Go hiking in the rainforest

See also; TOP 10 Spectacular Islands in The World .

1. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil border

top 10 places to visit in the world

Iguazu Falls is one of the modern natural wonders of the world . They are located on the Iguazu River on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The falls are amazing and awe-inspiring, and the river is beautiful. The Iguazu Falls are a popular tourist destination, and there are many things to do in the area. There are also many hotels and restaurants, as well as shops and other businesses. The falls are at No. 1 in our list of top 10 places to visit in the world, and there is much to see and do.

See also; Top 10 greatest waterfalls in the world .

The Iguazu Falls certainly are a spectacular site. The main thing that amazes me about them, however, is not their size or power, but the fact that they exist at all. How did they come to be?

The Iguazu Falls are located on the Iguazu River, which forms the border between Argentina and Brazil. The river is a relatively young one, having been formed only about 200 million years ago. Around 150 million years ago, the land that is now Argentina was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Gondwana began to break up around that time, and as it did, the Iguazu River began to flow through the cracks that were forming.

Over time, the river carved out a large canyon, and as the canyon got deeper, the river’s flow increased. Eventually, the river reached a point where it was flowing so fast that the water couldn’t stay in the channel. The water began to spill over the edges of the canyon, and the Iguazu Falls were born.

Top 10 best countries to visit

Now that we have looked at the top 10 countries to visit for tourism, let’s explore some of the reasons why these countries made the list. And what is the best country to visit in 2023.

With its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, Thailand is a beach lover’s paradise . If you’re looking for some action, there’s plenty to be found here as well, from scuba diving and snorkelling to windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Nepal is a country of contrasts, with some of the world’s tallest mountains and deepest valleys . Whether you’re a thrill seeker or a nature lover, Nepal has something to offer. From hikes to Everest Base Camp to rafting trips down the Bhote Koshi River, there’s no shortage of adventure in this country.

With its otherworldly landscapes, Iceland is a photographer’s dream . From the glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon to the Black Sand Beach at Reynisfjara, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore in this country . And if you’re looking for a adrenalin rush, Iceland is also home to some of the world’s best surfing, snowboarding, and skiing.

Morocco is a country of contrasts, with everything from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains. Whether you want to experience the bustling markets of Marrakech or the calm of the Sahara desert, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country.

The Maldives

The Maldives is a tropical paradise , with its turquoise waters and white sand beaches. If you’re looking for a place to relax and rejuvenate, this is the place for you. There are plenty of luxury resorts to choose from, as well as more affordable guesthouses.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with over 800 different languages spoken. This country is a nature lover’s paradise, with rainforests, volcanoes , and pristine beaches . If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination, Papua New Guinea is the place for you.

Peru is a country of many contrasts, with the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains, and the Pacific Ocean all within its borders. Whether you want to trek to Machu Picchu or explore the Amazon jungle , Peru has something to offer.

India is a country of many contrasts, with everything from bustling cities to snow-capped mountains. Whether you want to experience the chaotic streets of Delhi or the tranquillity of the Himalayas, India has something to offer .

Australia is a country of many contrasts, with everything from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains. Whether you want to experience the bustling cities of Sydney and Melbourne or the tranquility of the Great Barrier Reef , Australia has something to offer.

From the bustling city of Vancouver to the majestic Rocky Mountains , Canada is a country of contrasts. Whether you’re a nature lover or a city slicker, Canada has something to offer.

Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a place to adventure, there’s a destination on this list for you. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next trip today!  

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10 places to visit around the world

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in The World in 2021

by Vanessa Budah | 11 5, 2020 | TTC

November 5, 2020 | TTC

by Vanessa Budah

As we start to look forward to what lies ahead with the excitement of travel corridors, travel bubbles and restrictions being lifted –  the optimism is making a come back as we kick start our love for all things wanderlust… so yes, it’s time to start planning a holiday in 2021!

So where to in this ‘new world’? Well I’m glad you asked….

You can be certain that you can book with confidence when thinking about your next flight, cruise, rail or road trip as destinations are taking extra health and safety precautions for the wellbeing of its travelers.

And as people now look to travel with purpose and reconnect with nature, and with some places in the world deemed as a ‘low health risk’, here is a collective view of the best and most beautiful places to visit in the world once border restrictions lift.

1. Croatia: This Baltic beauty is just as popular as the Greek Islands with its celebrity rising even more so thanks to Game of Thrones (think Kings Landing and that walk of shame through the medieval cobbled streets of Dubrovnik).

The idyllic beaches and its day bars, the ancient buildings that form part of its buzzing nightlife, the fresh and hearty cuisine… and the opportunity to charter a boat to island hop along the azure Adriatic coast… are the hallmarks of a perfect holiday.

Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar were once taken over by tourists in peak summer, this may change in 2021, but do consider the lesser popular (but equally picturesque) areas up the coast such as Istria (borders Italy and Slovenia – add these both to the list too! ), or for a point of difference go inland into the national parks such as Plitvice lakes and Krka Waterfalls.

garderer

2. Norway – Scandinavia is seen as a (Covid) low risk destination, but with high impact i.e. filled with exciting experiences and renowned for its spectacular landscapes, charming villages and majestic mountains. The priceless Northern Lights (electrically charged particles from the sun), are a must-see experience to watch the lights sour across the sky above the Arctic Circle.

  And while you’re there, board one of the most incredible rail journeys in the world – the Flåm Railway, which offers a panoramic view of some of the most stunning nature amongst the Norwegian fjords.

Explore Scandinavia for the first time on  Adventure World’s Unique Fjords & Glaciers  trip.

3. Portugal: One of the Mediterranean’s best sun-and-sand destinations dotted with historic cities, world-renowned cuisine and natural landscapes. Something for everyone as it has become an increasingly popular wellness destination to unplug and unwind with some of the world’s best surfing.

  Contiki   is offering new self-care experiences such as its  Portugal City and Surf  adventure. A 2-night ‘Special Stays’ at Noah’s Surf House in Santa Cruise offers experiences including paddle boarding, skateboarding and morning sunrise yoga overlooking the country’s scenic coastline.

10 places to visit around the world

4. Vienna via river: For those that have experienced Europe a few times and looking for a point of difference, consider a river cruise – it’s a unique way to explore Europe as you float past castles and quaint villages onboard a luxury ship (max 130 people), all while relaxing and sipping on wine from the rooftop deck. Think floating 5-star boutique hotel, restaurant, bar and yoga studio promoting ‘ wellness on the water’.

  Waking up to swans outside your window as you roll past misty waters, pure magic. And there is plenty of free time to explore the cities and towns. Vienna to Prague is my pick, sailing along the enchanting Rhine and Danube rivers stopping in the “City of Waltzes” to explore its artistic legacy, imperial palaces and historic treasures.

For your safety and protection – all Uniworld Boutique Collection  ships have its air purified and rendered treated surfaces self-disinfecting in an odor-less, chemical free and sustainable way, decomposing microbes such as bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus family.

10 places to visit around the world

5. Southern Africa: Safari, safari, safari. To feel like you’re part of a David Attenborough documentary is pretty surreal – I had six young lions walk an arm’s reach by my group and then attack a buffalo right before our dumbstruck eyes – only to have the buffalo shake off SIX lions and then run off to warn its herd to steer clear and then beat a tree in with its HEAD to show its dominance against the lions. That kind of ‘live show’ doesn’t happen every day, which is the beauty of a safari – each day and night is different, you can only hope to catch the Big5 (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhino).

Plus add in the staggering Lions Head climb with 360 views of Cape Town, various nature walks and of course the beautiful spirit of the people – your vacation is complete.

Lion World Tours , African Travel and Adventure World Travel tailor make trips throughout Africa to suit your needs, passions and different level of soft adventure.

And opening in December 2020 is Red Carnation Hotel’s Xigera Safari Lodge  set in Botswana’s unspoiled wilderness spanning 15,000 square kilometers in the heart of the Okavango Delta. This ultra-luxurious escape is dedicated to sustainability, with 12 phenomenal suites socially distanced and is 100% solar powered.

The tranquil haven offers Wellness in the Wilderness – soul-soothing, individually customized treatments that re-energize and nurture the body and mind by tapping into the natural healing powers of the peace and tranquility of the bush.

10 places to visit around the world

6. Egypt & Jordan: How fascinating to step back in time to the land of the pharaohs, get lost at Valley of the Kings in Luxor, visit Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx and cruise the mighty river Nile which has many ancient monuments dotted along the edge – the history and stories to be heard is enough to bring out the explorer in anyone, not to mention ALL the mezze plates and hummus.

  Then onto Jordan, also filled with World Heritage Sites and inspiring desert landscapes, Petra, considered a ‘world wonder’ with sites positioned over rocky landscape and an apparent mood that changes with the shifting light of dawn and dusk.

Trafalgar and Insight Vacations offer guided holidays and an opportunity to visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-op, a community of women with a mission of self-empowerment and developing their crafts (stats show some of the highest unemployment rates for women are in the Middle East) – you’re welcomed to visit and join them, learn their way of life and give back to the community #MakeTravelMatter.

10 places to visit around the world

7. South America: Take some time off and be one with nature and wellness – the Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest (staying in eco lodges), Patagonian glaciers, Incan ruins (hike Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world!), Lima as a global gastronomy destination and relax on white-sand beaches.

  For an unpackaged holiday tailored by you, Costsaver , takes you through South America; and now Uniworld Boutique River Cruises sails on the Amazon and includes Peru for a Machu Picchu exploration. Try a state-of-the-art skiff ride on the Yanayacu-Pucate River where you can kayak, canoe and swim in these famous waters with a possible sighting of a pink dolphin.

10 places to visit around the world

8. Canada: A breath of fresh air for many, Canada presents thriving city highlights and plays host to an array of activity including hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, skiing, wildlife and more. Get lost and discover Mother Nature’s bounties from the Rocky Mountains to the waters of Alaska and cover national parks, glaciers and historic villages of Western Canada. But also consider the mountains of Yukon or British Columbia are equally impressive to the Rockies.

Luxury Gold covers a lot of ground with Majesty of the Rockies .

10 places to visit around the world

9. Japan: A mix of Eastern traditions crossed with Western modernity, Japan is one of the oldest civilizations complete with diverse history, majestic temples and boasts 21 UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites; pristine natural scenery such as Mount Fuji and its forested hills, a chance to take a dip in a mineral-rich Onsen hot spring bath heated by geothermal forces which are said to offer ‘rejuvenating powers’; its freshly powdered ski fields in winter, and in spring the blooming of the cherry blossoms which peak in April .

  Food and entertainment are important to Japanese culture, so while on holiday you must sample a range of the many delicious dishes that make up their traditional cuisine (while sipping on sake and singing karaoke, obviously). FYI – Japan is the birthplace of Karaoke and there are around 100,000 karaoke boxes and bars across the country. So find your favorite song and immerse yourself in the culture!

Embrace the timeless tradition and modern spirit of Japan’s iconic sites, to the soothing hot springs of Kotohira, then ponder over world peace in Hiroshima with Trafalgar’s Splendours of Japan .

10 places to visit around the world

10. Australia and New Zealand: Yes I’ve listed two countries as one to fit into the Top 10, BUT they share the same qualities yet are completely unique from each other – incredibly diverse in nature, extraordinary scenery and endemic wildlife, and offer an interesting indigenous culture to be discovered (and they are both deemed incredibly low risk Covid countries).

While Australia is renowned for its picturesque coastlines and white sands, New Zealand is known for its breathtaking mountains and landscape.

Imagine snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef (one of the seven natural Wonders of the World and the biggest single structure made by living organisms), then head north to the Daintree Rainforest for its hikes and sleep in an eco-treehouse, then travel across to Uluru – such a spiritual place that draws you in like a vortex in the most magical way.

New Zealand offers contrast between its North and South islands – a plethora of natural wonders such as the Tasman Glacier made famous by The Lord of the Rings. Take a scenic journey through Fiordland National Park and out to the unmissable Milford Sound.

AAT Kings and Insight Vacations arranges short breaks and guided holidays all throughout these two destinations.

  And that’s a wrap of the Top 10 best places in the world to visit in 2021. Admittedly, we could squeeze in at least another 50 hot spots from popular destinations, to the roads less travelled! There are so many exciting sites, cultural experiences, walks, wildlife yet to be discovered… and so many more memories waiting to be created!

Deciding where to go now? Check this link for the most up-to-date travel restrictions .

10 places to visit around the world

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10 Must-Visit Historical Places Around the World

If you’ll travel far and wide to be awed by a unesco world heritage site, make sure you have these major attractions on your list..

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10 Must-Visit Historical Places Around the World

The 450-foot-tall Great Pyramid at Giza is made of an estimated 2.3 million blocks of stone cut by hand.

Photo by Mustafah Abdulaziz

Certain sites capture the world’s imagination not only because of their beauty and the human ingenuity that they exemplify but also because of the unique window into the past that each enduring location provides. These 10 UNESCO-protected spots, including many of the Seven New Wonders of the World, are among the most sought-after tourist attractions around the globe. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate these choice historical places.

Aerial view of sea of clouds at Machu Picchu

Rainy season is no joke at Machu Picchu—plan accordingly.

Photo by Stock for you/Shutterstock

1. Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Located in the Peruvian Andes at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu cascades down a dramatic mountain spine surrounded by the Sacred Valley’s jagged peaks. Millions of visitors flock to this UNESCO World Heritage site each year to see the terraces and classical dry stone buildings of the citadel. While it is recognized as one of the top World Heritage sites, Machu Picchu had a short lifespan. It was built by the Incas around 1450 but abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest.

How to visit

You can reach Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, by train from Cusco. Inca Rail, PeruRail, and the more luxurious Belmond Hiram Bingham train have daily service between the two destinations; the journey takes over three hours. The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a four-minute walk from the train station and feels like a village with terraced gardens, stone pathways, and guest rooms in adobe casitas. Another way to visit Machu Picchu is to go on a guided hike of the famous Inca Trail, which can be booked through various tour operators in Cusco. (Entry tickets cost approximately $45 for adults and $20 for students and must be purchased in advance for a specific date and time slot .)

Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest religious monuments, with five iconic towers that represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, a sacred mountain in Hindu mythology.

Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest religious monuments, with five iconic towers that represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, a sacred mountain in Hindu mythology.

Photo by Shutterstock

2. Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, Cambodia

With its wide moat and drip sand castle-like towers, Angkor Wat is one of the most scenic World Heritage sites and recognizable religious structures. King Suryavarman II, ruler of Southeast Asia’s former Khmer Empire, directed the construction during the 12th century. The Hindu temple complex, a network of stone temples decorated with intricate carvings of devatas (Hindu deities), is even more impressive when you consider it’s just one of the attractions at the UNESCO-designated Angkor Archaeological Park . Spread across approximately 400 acres in northwestern Cambodia, the complex has many other architecturally significant jungle-intertwined ruins and temples, including a temple featured in Angelina Jolie’s 2001 Tomb Raider film, as well as inhabited villages.

The park entrance is approximately three miles north of the center of Siem Reap and a 10-minute drive from Siem Reap International Airport; many Asian airlines have flights in and out of REP. A convenient way to visit Angkor Wat is to hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around for about $15 a day. There are many affordable hotels in Siem Reap, but book a safari-style tent at the Beige (where even the floating forest pool has views of the World Heritage site) for a slight splurge. (Visitors can buy tickets at the main entrance to the temple. One-day passes cost approximately $37 for adults; entry for children 12 and under is free.)

Petra with camels in front of it

The ancient rock formations of Petra are just one of many historical sites in Jordan.

Courtesy of Visit Jordan

Wadi Musa, Jordan

During its zenith, Petra , Jordan’s most famous archeological site, was a bustling commerce center where citizens traded Arabian incense, Chinese silks, and Indian spices. Nabateans built the ancient city in the country’s southwestern desert in 400 B.C.E. , but it was unknown to the Western world until the 1800s. Accessed via a narrow canyon and with towering temples and tombs carved into pink sandstone cliffs (earning it the name the “Red-Rose City”), it feels otherworldly. Perhaps that’s why Petra’s Treasury stood in for the temple housing the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade .

This UNESCO World Heritage site is located about 150 miles south of Jordan’s capital, Amman. Most visitors access Petra Archaeological Park through Wadi Musa, a nearby town with a handful of luxurious hotel offerings for travelers who make the trip to the rock wall crypts. (One-day tickets for visitors who spend at least a night in Jordan cost approximately $70 for adults; entry for children 12 and under is free.)

The somewhat mysterious Stonehenge monument is located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire in southwest England.

The somewhat mysterious Stonehenge monument is located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire in southwest England.

Photo by M.J. Parker/Shutterstock

4. Stonehenge

Wiltshire, United Kingdom

While experts agree that Stonehenge , a circle of stone megaliths in the English countryside, dates back to 2500 B.C.E., the reason for its creation remains mysterious. Some archaeologists think ancient Britons built it for religious ceremonies, while others believe the structures were used to study the movements of the sun and the moon. Either way, the construction was an engineering feat. (To shape Stonehenge’s megalithic structures, workers hammered wedges of wood into cracks in the stone and then used rope to pull each mass upright.)

Travelers can take a 2.5-hour train ride from London or an hourlong trip from Bath to get to Stonehenge. From the Wiltshire visitor center, a free shuttle bus makes frequent trips to the ruins. (Tickets purchased in advance cost approximately $26 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets purchased onsite cost slightly more.)

The Parthenon was built from limestone and Pentelic marble.

The Parthenon was built from limestone and Pentelic marble.

Photo by Pamela Loreto Perez/Shutterstock

5. The Parthenon

Athens, Greece

Perched atop a rocky outcrop known as Acropolis hill in Athens, this classical and partly intact temple has presided over Greece’s capital city since the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. In 447 B.C.E., the Athenians constructed the Parthenon—dedicated to the goddess Athena—to celebrate their victory over Persian invaders. It has since served as a city treasury, a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and, after the Ottoman conquest, a mosque. At the foot of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum showcases the Parthenon frieze (although some sections are still controversially on display at London’s British Museum), artifacts discovered on Acropolis hill, and even the remains of an ancient neighborhood uncovered during the museum’s construction.

Located in the center of Athens, the Parthenon is easy to visit with metro and city bus stops nearby. The nearest metro stop is Acropoli. Tickets can be purchased online or at the entrance. (During high season, tickets to the Acropolis cost approximately $23 for adults and half that during the winter; entry is roughly $11 for students with ID.)

Many sections of the Great Wall of China were constructed during the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644.

Many sections of the Great Wall of China were constructed during the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644.

Photo by Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock

6. The Great Wall of China

Beijing, China

It took more than 2,500 years to build the Great Wall , China’s most recognizable symbol, which snakes through the northern part of the country for more than 13,000 miles. During the 8th century B.C.E., the Zhou dynasty–era state of Chu began construction on the wall to protect against foreign invaders. Most tourists explore only a section or two of the stone and brick fortification; it would take approximately 177 days of nonstop walking to see the entire wall.

Frequently visited sections of the wall include Mutianyu and Jinshanling. The former is a 90-minute drive from Beijing and an easy day trip; the latter takes twice as long to reach but is one of the wall’s most well-preserved sections and is popular with hikers. (Each section of the wall requires its own entry ticket. The cost is typically around $6 to $8, although prices vary.)

India, Uttar Pradesh, Agra, View of Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built on the banks of the River Yamuna on the orders of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth.

Photo by age fotostock

7. Taj Mahal

Agra, India

The perfectly symmetrical Taj Mahal features a 240-foot-tall central dome and an exterior inlaid with semiprecious stones. Widely considered the most beautiful existing example of Mughal architecture, the white marble mausoleum was erected between 1631 and 1648 after Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered its construction to honor his late wife. (He tapped approximately 20,000 of the best craftsman from Central Asia to complete the project.) Jahan intended to build a second mausoleum for himself, but the building never came to fruition. After he passed away in 1666, the emperor was buried next to his wife. Visitors to this World Heritage site can explore the grounds’ vast garden featuring long reflecting pools of water and a red sandstone gate.

Most people visit the Taj Mahal on a day trip from Delhi. There are many high-speed trains to Agra from Delhi as well as Varanasi and cities across northern India’s Rajasthan state. (Tickets cost approximately $19 for adults; entry for children 15 and younger is free.)

Dutch explorers gave Easter Island its name in 1722 after spotting the landmass on Easter Sunday. The Indigenous name is Rapa Nui.

Dutch explorers gave Easter Island its name in 1722 after spotting the landmass on Easter Sunday. The Indigenous name is Rapa Nui.

Photo by Thomas Griggs/Unsplash

8. Easter Island

Located 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile, this remote island was named by 18th-century Dutch explorers who spotted the landmass on Easter Sunday. It’s famous for its approximately 1,000 mammoth statues, which the Indigenous Polynesian inhabitants created from the 10th through 16th centuries to represent their ancestors. Rapa Nui National Park , which covers half of Easter Island, is the best place to see the carved figures, or moai . There are about 400 moai at the ancient quarry Rano Raraku, including a 70-foot-tall statue that was never raised upright. The most famous site, Tongariki, features 15 moai beside the ocean. Made from a soft volcanic rock called tuff, the monuments are vulnerable to the elements, and archaeologists believe one day they may disappear.

Latam operates two daily flights from Santiago to Hanga Roa, Easter Island’s capital. The trip takes about 5.5 hours. (The entrance fee to Rapa Nui National Park is $80 for adults, $40 for children.)

Camel with pyramids in the background

Egypt’s pyramids are one of the most iconic—and enduring—destinations in the world.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

9. The Pyramids at Giza

Cairo, Egypt

The Pyramids at Giza arose during a construction frenzy from 2550 to 2490 B.C.E. Egyptian pharaohs believed they would become gods in the afterlife, so they filled these elaborate tombs with everything they would need in the next world, including jewelry, furniture, and sculptures of servants. Pharaoh Khufu ordered the building of the first and largest of the three structures, known as the Great Pyramid. His son Pharaoh Khafre built the second pyramid with a necropolis (burial place) that includes the Great Sphinx, a limestone sculpture of a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Pharaoh Menkaure built the third and final temple. Each massive pyramid is part of a larger tomb complex that includes a palace, temples, and other features.

The pyramids are located on the Giza Plateau, about 11 miles southwest of Cairo. There isn’t an easy way to get there using public transportation, so travelers typically take a taxi, use Uber, or hire a car and driver. A few hotels like the posh Marriott Mena House are within walking distance of the pyramids. (Tickets cost approximately $10 per person.)

Chichén Itzá is located in close proximity to two cenotes (deep limestone sinkholes that expose groundwater).

Chichén Itzá is located in close proximity to two cenotes (deep limestone sinkholes that expose groundwater).

Photo by Filip Gielda/Unsplash

10. Chichén Itzá

Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

Chichén Itzá , a complex of pre-Columbian ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, thrived as one of the largest Maya cities from 400 C.E. to the 1400s. It’s thought to have had the most diverse population in the Maya world due to the variety of Mesoamerican architectural styles found on the site. Chichén Itzá’s most famous structures include the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and El Castillo (also known as the Temple of Kukulkan), a step pyramid that towers over one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Chichén Itzá is a three-hour drive from Cancún and about 30 minutes from Valladolid. The 16th-century colonial city has a baroque cathedral and a variety of accommodation options from hotels with cenotes to the Coqui Coqui guesthouse and perfumery. (Tickets to Chichén Itzá can be purchased onsite. Entry costs approximately $26 for adults; entry for children 12 and under is free.)

This article was originally published in May 2019, and was updated in January 2022 with new information.

Hiking among Asheville’s gorgeous landscapes is a popular pastime among travelers and locals alike.

I've written 66 guidebooks for Lonely Planet. Here are the top 10 places I've ever visited.

  • I have written 66 travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet, but some places stand out to me.
  • Havana in Cuba and Abruzzo in Italy are some of my favorite places to explore. 
  • Jasper, Canada, and Skagway, Alaska, are incredible picks in North America. 

Insider Today

My work as a guidebook writer has taken me all over the world, from the war-scarred streets of Angola to the high-spirited parades of Seville during the spring feria.

In the process, I've been robbed, conned, questioned, confounded, and frequently amazed.

Although I've written travel guides for 66 spots around the globe, these 10 places have made a particularly strong impression on me.

Havana remains one of my favorite cities in the world to visit.

10 places to visit around the world

I've visited Havana over 30 times and studied and researched the city for 10 different guidebooks.

It's endlessly entertaining, unique, and complicated. I love the Cuban city for its irrepressible street energy and animated, resilient people.

When first arriving in town, I gravitate to the historic squares and thoroughfares of the Old Town and then head for a lengthy stroll along the Malecón sea drive.

Here, at one of the city's most famous meetup spots, I can get a handle on the city's mood, reacquaint myself with my Cuban friends, and see what's changed since my last visit.

Abruzzo is at the top of my list when it comes to regions in Italy.

10 places to visit around the world

I've researched 18 of Italy's 20 regions for Lonely Planet, but Abruzzo still sits at the top of my list.

The fiercely traditional region of tall, rugged mountains and authentic hilltop villages is in central Italy. It's conveniently close to Rome but less visited by the hordes of tourists making beelines to Florence and Venice.

I particularly like Abruzzo for its impressive network of well-marked hiking trails (one of Italy's understated joys) and intricate jigsaw of wild national parks, home to the rare but majestic Marsican bear.

I have a deep affection for Andalucian culture, and the city of Granada distills it perfectly.

10 places to visit around the world

All the best elements of the region can be found in the southern Spanish city of Granada, from gritty live flamenco shows to atmospheric bathhouses with romantically lit pools encircled by horseshoe arches.

I recommend finding time to stroll the narrow, winding streets of the Albayzín quarter with its dark Moorish teahouses and walled mansions overflowing with jasmine and bougainvillea.

But the highlight of Granada and, arguably, all of Spain is the Alhambra, the elaborate Moorish fortress and palace complex in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

It's worth braving the many queues and crowds for.

Jasper is my favorite of Canada's national parks.

10 places to visit around the world

I live in Canada , and Jasper stands out as my favorite national park in the country.

The Alberta park is centered on a compact, down-to-earth town and has 4,200 square miles of spectacular backcountry that makes it surprisingly easy to access vast, unsullied wilderness.

One minute, you'll be snacking on muffins and coffee in the Other Paw Cafe, and the next, you'll be hiking with bear spray on a trail above Maligne Lake.

I especially recommend taking a scenic mountain-bike ride through the rootsy, rocky Valley of the Five Lakes.

Ibo is one of the more obscure places I have researched and it's also one of the most magical.

10 places to visit around the world

Ibo Island is located way off the beaten track north of Mozambique.

When I last visited the Quirimbas island in 2016, getting there was part of the thrill. I had to take a traditional wooden dhow, a type of Indian Ocean sailing boat.

Once on dry land, I found myself in a lost world of gnarly trees and crumbling semi-abandoned houses and mansions, some of them reborn as tasteful lodges.

The island is a fascinating mix of Swahili, African, Arabic, and Portuguese influences.

Jamaica's Treasure Beach is very laid-back.

10 places to visit around the world

Treasure Beach — the string of beach-shack-style villages on Jamaica's south coast — is so laidback it's practically prostrate.

It's a perfect place to roam carefree along quiet country lanes, help homecoming fishers haul in their daily catch on the sand, and crack open a beer while watching a game of cricket.

I especially love Treasure Beach for its slow-cooked food, including jerk chicken, goat curry, and the quintessential "breakfast of champions" — ackee and saltfish (my all-time favorite).

In my opinion, Jamaican cuisine is second only to Italian in the global pecking order.

Ilha do Mel is a haven off the coast of Brazil.

10 places to visit around the world

Ilha do Mel — "Honey Island" — is a small vehicle-free island off the coast of Southeast Brazil.

It's ideal for surfing, swinging lazily on a hammock with a caipirinha, and casually communing with nature. Most of the island is protected in a state park, and daily visitor numbers are strictly controlled.

My favorite thing to do there is a beach hike to the Fortaleza Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres, a marvelously mildewed historic fort lapped by Atlantic waves.

Skagway, Alaska, is filled with history and scenic views.

10 places to visit around the world

I've long been obsessed with the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, where 100,000 miners headed toward Alaska hoping to find gold.

In Skagway, the event's legacy has been painstakingly preserved.

The town of about 1,000 residents is a popular stop for cruise ships , but the summer crowds don't take away from the wonderfully preserved Gold Rush-era buildings expertly managed by the US National Park Service.

Costumed guides even help bring the town's history to life.

Capurganá is an isolated village in Colombia that's worth journeying to.

10 places to visit around the world

Capurganá is a small, isolated settlement surrounded by jungle in the Darien Gap on the border of Colombia and Panama.

It's physically detached from the rest of the nation, and the only way to get there is via boat across the choppy Gulf of Urabá.

Once docked, you'll be treated to unpaved, traffic-free streets — no cars allowed on Capurganá.

When I last visited Capurganá in 2018, the diving was superb. I also highly recommend hiking amid toucans and howler monkeys along the 3-mile jungle trail to Sapzurro.

Kuélap, Peru, has spectacular ruins.

10 places to visit around the world

Kuélap is a walled settlement located in the mountains of Peru. It was constructed by the Chachapoya people, a sophisticated pre-Inca civilization.

These spectacular hilltop ruins are sometimes referred to as Northern Peru's answer to Machu Picchu . It's higher and older than its southern cousins and set among a dramatic backdrop of clouds.

Since it's located in the country's little-visited Northern Highlands region, I've found it considerably less crowded than other Peruvian ruins.

Even so, cable cars have been installed in recent years to make accessing the ruins much easier.

10 places to visit around the world

  • Main content
  • Best of the World

20 of the coolest travel adventures for 2024

From a horseback safari in Kenya to river rafting in West Virginia, here’s our ranked list of the top travel experiences right now.

This page is a portal.  No, really, it is: Our annual Best of the World feature is a gateway to the streets of Paris , the snowy Caucasus Mountains of Georgia , the ancient rock art of Algeria . To help us engage with places more deeply and meaningfully, we drew on National Geographic’s global community of experts to create the following ranked list of 20 great adventures for 2024. Read on and you’ll discover that this page is also a celebration—of travel’s power to transform us and our connections with one another.

#1: Go on horseback safari in Kenya

A safari in Africa usually conjures an image of mud-spattered 4x4 vehicles bouncing through the bush. But there’s another way to travel: on horseback. 

Although horse safaris originated in Kenya in the 1970s, they’re a perfect fit for today’s growing number of travelers looking for more engaging, sustainable wildlife encounters. At the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy , two stables house thoroughbreds and ex-polo ponies for riders of all skill levels. Visitors can book half-day, full-day, or overnight rides. July through September is the prime time to go.

Since wildlife perceive equines as just another animal, exploring the landscape atop a horse makes for an intimate experience. “To journey on horseback is to break down the walls—meant to protect but also to separate—between oneself and the natural world,” says Nichole Sobecki , a photographer and equestrian who’s ridden in Borana. “Your horse is a translator, responding to the low growl of the lion, the soft scent of a herd of elephants.” A horse’s ears are an advance warning system, she says, helping knowledgeable guides navigate routes.

#2: Run an Olympic marathon in Paris

For the first time, members of the public will be able to run their own marathon during the 2024 Summer Olympics , in Paris, France , just one initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive Games. 

Slated to be held the evening of August 10, between the men’s and women’s official races, the Marathon for All will allow 20,024 qualifying lottery winners on the 26.2-mile route that links Paris and Versailles , a loop beginning at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and passing through nine arrondissements before finishing at Les Invalides on the banks of the Seine. Before or after the big event, learn the route to follow in their tracks. 

#3: Ski tour UNESCO sites in Georgia

Long a means of transportation, exploration, and hunting, skiing is still a way of life in the mountainous republic of Georgia. Now visitors can enjoy some of the nation’s best backcountry skiing in the Caucasus with the help of outfitters such as Svaneti Ski and Georgia Ski Touring . In Svaneti, excursions may lead skiers through panoramic Gvibari Pass or to medieval Ushguli villages, among the highest continuously inhabited in Europe. The best times to experience this are December to April.

#4: Bear watch in Katmai National Park

Alaska ’s Katmai National Park is home to one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world. Far from the crowded viewing platforms of the Brooks Camp Visitor Center, a guided trip along the Katmai coast with outfitters like AK Adventures reveals a different side of the park.

Here, the bears feast on a diversity of foods: sedges, grasses, razor clams, salmon. “For me, seeing a single brown bear in the wild is meaningful because it is a sign that the landscape is healthy enough to support it,” says Alaska photographer Acacia Johnson , a frequent National Geographic contributor.

#5: Hear legendary live music in Kyoto

Guidebooks speak of Kyoto as frozen in time, with hushed temples and meditative gardens. But after hours, Japan ’s former imperial capital reveals a live music scene that can be loud and irreverent. At venues like Jittoku and Field , rock, swing, and even Irish music echo into the night. Whatever you’re into, from jazz to punk, there’s a community to share your jam. “This is what happens in Japan when the mask comes off,” says Kyoto guide Van Milton.

#6: Cruise an epic river in Colombia

About 80 percent of Colombia ’s population lives in the river basin of the Magdalena, which flows for nearly a thousand miles from the Andes to the Caribbean. AmaWaterways’ new cruises on the river—said to be the first by a major cruise operator—take seven-night trips from Cartagena via Mompós to Barranquilla. Stops at colonial towns, performances of vallenato  and cumbia music, and visits to a stilt-house village highlight the region’s culture along this mighty waterway.

#7:  Road trip Route 66 in New Mexico

For nearly a century, Route 66 has beckoned to travelers. A trip along the Mother Road through New Mexico hits timeless landmarks , such as quirky motels and curio shops in and around Tucumcari and symbolic etchings in Petroglyph National Monument . In Gallup—mentioned as one of the places to “get your kicks” in Nat King Cole’s 1946 hit song “Route 66”—you can take in performances featuring Zuni, Lakota, and Diné (Navajo) dancers. 

Some 18 miles of the highway traverse Albuquerque , the longest urban interlude of the route in the United States. And it’s getting a half-million-dollar glow-up with the ongoing restoration of vintage neon signs along Central Avenue. 

While cruising down the brightened strip, stop at the new West Central Route 66 Visitor Center , with its museum and outdoor amphitheater. The center will host events like lowrider car shows, drive-in movies, and artisan markets.

#8: Explore ancient art in Algeria

Algeria is home to Africa’s largest national park, which holds one of the world’s greatest concentrations of ancient rock art. Tassili n’Ajjer National Park is a geologic wonderland of sandstone towers, arches, and sculpted outcrops. But these rock forests are only half the story. 

Neolithic herders and hunter-gatherers carved 15,000 petroglyphs here, including images of elephants, giraffes, and rhinos. These animals are more commonly associated with sub-Saharan Africa—a hint that this arid wilderness was once a grassland crisscrossed by waterways. Five- to seven-day guided tours with Fancy Yellow take in the most spectacular works of Tassili’s art, like the “Crying Cows,” engraved at the base of a stone pinnacle 7,000 years ago. 

Travelers with more time might want to combine a trip to Tassili with a visit to the Algerian Sahara’s other great geologic marvel: the extraordinary mountain range of Ahaggar National Park .

#9: Dive with sharks in Western Australia

Stretching almost 700 miles along the Indian Ocean north of Perth, Western Australia’ s Coral Coast is studded with natural wonders. But Ningaloo Reef is the star. Here, you can dive with giants: Some 300 to 500 whale sharks ,  one of the largest congregations on Earth, gather along the reef each year between March and July. Ethical outfitters ensure divers give the sharks space and avoid feeding them or using flash photography. 

Even more megafauna abound from July to October, when about 40,000 humpback whales migrate along the Coral Coast. You can also commune with more than 10,000 dugongs in Shark Bay or swim with manta rays at Coral Bay. 

#10: Hike a volcano in Panama

A sustainability leader, Panama recently launched its “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project , which seeks to bring outdoor recreation and green tourism to rural communities and protected areas.

First out of the gate is the Ruta de la Caldera , a system of five trails around the extinct Valle de Antón volcano . The treks take in waterfall-speckled landscapes, according to photographer Rose Marie Cromwell , who hiked sections of the Ruta de la Caldera over five days.

“There were some spectacular views on top of the volcanic crater—interesting land formations covered in so much green,” she says.

#11: Catch the eclipse at Niagara Falls

Directly in the path of totality, Niagara Falls will offer views of a total solar eclipse, which won’t occur again in the contiguous U.S. until 2044. For about three and a half minutes, beginning at approximately 3:18 p.m. on April 8, the sky will darken over the thunderous cataract as the moon crosses between Earth and the sun. 

On the U.S. side of the falls , Terrapin Point, Prospect Point, and the Observation Tower will be prime viewing areas (if clouds stay away). From the Canadian side, an excellent vantage point is Table Rock. A side bonus: The sunny-day rainbow that hovers above the falls will become pink. 

#12: Trek a glacier in Chile

In Patagonian Chile ’s Laguna San Rafael National Park , visitors can trek atop the Exploradores Glacier, taking in a panorama of pale blue ice massifs and glacial waterways. Some 17,300 glaciers still cover Patagonia’s ice fields, but rising temperatures are rapidly melting them. Climate scientists say sustainable tourism , such as hikes with outfitters like Turismo Valle Leones , supports local communities and inspires travelers to learn more about how to protect glaciers.

#13: Step back in time on Menorca

Spain ’s Balearic Islands are best known for the jet-set beach destinations of Ibiza and Mallorca . But quiet, less developed Menorca has a unique mother lode: The archipelago’s greatest repository of ancient architecture.

In an area of just 270 square miles, Menorca has a total of 1,574 inventoried archaeological sites , ranging from the foundation blocks of small dwellings to well-preserved village centers that existed long before the Roman Empire. Most striking are the navetas,  megalithic tombs dating back to 1600 B.C.; talayots, watchtowers built from mortarless blocks of limestone; and   taulas,   shrines exclusive to Menorca that evoke Stonehenge pillars. These remnants of the Talayotic Menorcan culture, the first civilization to inhabit the island, have now been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List . 

The open-air monuments are easy to visit; the island’s Me-1 road passes by some of the best-preserved sites, including the settlements of Talatí de Dalt, Naveta des Tudons, and Taula de Torretrencada.

Reenter the 21st century at the new Hauser & Wirth gallery in the picturesque town of Mahón. Housed in repurposed 18th-century hospital buildings, the cultural venue presents contemporary art exhibits and has an outdoor sculpture trail with works by Louise Bourgeois and Joan Miró.

#14: Ride classic rails in Scotland

Exploring Scotland ’s wild, scenic Highlands doesn’t have to mean roughing it. The Royal Scotsman train glides among the moody lochs and dramatic peaks in style. New suites debuting in May 2024 sport interiors that reflect the compelling landscapes through dark woods, wool tweeds , and richly patterned bespoke tartans crafted by Scottish brand Araminta Campbell . After a day spent hiking to waterfalls or playing rounds of golf (a sport inextricably tied to the nation), guests can wind down with a massage at the onboard spa.

Departing Edinburgh ’s Waverley Station, the two- to seven-night rail journeys cross the heart of the Highlands, from Perthshire to Inverness to the rugged west coast. During stops guests can tour castles, stargaze in Cairngorms National Park , sample whisky at revered distilleries, and even take a dip in a loch.

#15: Find authentic flavor in Thailand 

The Isaan region in northeastern Thailand is known for its distinctive cuisine that reflects influences from bordering Laos and Cambodia. “Isaan is a hidden gem of Thailand,” says Weerawat “Num” Triyasenawat, the chef at Samuay & Sons , a Michelin Guide -recommended restaurant in the Isaan city of Udon Thani.

One key ingredient of the region’s delicious food is pla ra, a fermented-fish seasoning that boosts umami flavor. Local dishes include laab  (minced meat salad), traditionally served during celebrations.

#16: Wander tea trails in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is virtually synonymous with tea. The island nation is one of the world’s top producers of tea leaves. British colonists introduced the first bushes about 200 years ago. Now visitors can trace the footsteps of historic planters on the new, nearly 200-mile Pekoe Trail , the country’s first long-distance walking route. 

Starting just outside Kandy, the trail follows the 19th-century tracks upon which workers and horse-drawn carts transported freshly plucked leaves. Hikers pass through hill towns and tea estates and can stop to take a cooking class or savor a cup of aromatic Ceylon tea.

#17: Gallery hop in São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil ’s largest city, is an art lover’s paradise, home to numerous galleries, exhibitions, and street murals. The crowning jewel is the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), which is expanding to showcase more of its 11,000-plus artworks, from pre-Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculptures. Departing from the usual model of exhibiting works on walls, MASP hangs some pieces against clear panels, allowing visitors to view the art from all angles.

#18: Raft the rapids in West Virginia 

Despite its name, West Virginia ’s New River is actually one of the oldest on Earth, perhaps as old as 360 million years. The river falls 750 feet in only 50 miles between sandstone cliffs. It eventually merges with the Gauley River.   Outfitters such as ACE Adventure Resort can arrange whitewater rafting trips here on Class III to V rapids through the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachians. 

#19: Go antiquing in Hudson Valley

The bucolic Hudson Valley is booming, thanks to an influx of New York City residents during the pandemic. But it’s long been a mecca for creatives: Its landscapes inspired America’s first artistic fraternity, the Hudson River School. Antique collectors will be drawn to the hundreds of stores, boutiques, craft shops, and flea markets that sell everything from colonial furniture and rare books to mid-century modern decor. For vintage finds, head to the Antique Warehouse in Hudson, Sister Salvage in Catskill, and Opera House Co. in Athens.

“There’s a common denominator here—the charming historic villages,” says Sarah Gray Miller, owner of Coxsackie antique store UnQuiet . From Stuyvesant to Saugerties, these towns “share a strong commitment to preservation.”

#20: Sleep on the water in British Columbia

The newly reopened Tofino Wilderness Resort , owned by the Ahousaht First Nation, is an idyllic base from which to explore the western coast of British Columbia ’s Vancouver Island. In the heart of Clayoquot Sound, the luxury floating lodge was renovated with lumber cut from timber which fell on-site. Through guided whale-watching trips or visits to the Freedom Cove artists’ sanctuary, the Ahousaht share with guests their philosophy, hishuk ish tsawalk (“everything is one”), celebrating the interconnectedness of people and nature in a land they’ve occupied for thousands of years.

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TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

14 Amazing Places To Visit Around The World

10 places to visit around the world

  • Destinations
  • News and Tips
  • Travel With Confidence

TravelAwaits writers go everywhere. Selecting a favorite destination is like choosing a favorite child. It was hard for our travel experts to pick just one place, but they did their best! From one of the oldest cities in the world to the only sunken caldera in the world, here are our writers’ favorite places they’ve ever traveled.

Ruins of Aulne Abbey in Landelies, Belgium

1. Landelies, Belgium

Award-winning writer Vanessa Chiasson spent just a few brief hours in her favorite travel destination, but “I can still remember how utterly relaxed I felt when I was there,” she says. Fairly close to the city of Charleroi, the village of Landelies, Belgium exists in its own tiny, cozy world. Driving is the easiest way to get there, but Chiasson informs us that the community is served by sporadic train service.

The ruins of Aulne Abbey are the main attraction of this rural spot. “Founded around 637 A.D., the Abbey functioned first as a Benedictine monastery and then as a Cistercian monastery until the late 1700s, when it was burned by the French,” explains Chiasson.

Her perfect afternoon of travel “starts with exploring the ruins and then enjoying beer served in earthenware mugs at the on-site brewery, Val de Sambre. You can grab a second round at one of several eateries in the village,” Chiasson suggests. “I settled on La Guinguette by the simple formula of choosing a spot with a good view of the water. I still dream about the meal I ordered that day — a wheel of cheese, cooked in its own rind so the outside forms a crust and the inside is liquid, served with new boiled potatoes,” she reminisces. “Molten cheese and ancient-abbey beer on a sunny Sunday afternoon? What more do you want!?” remarks Chiasson.

Petra in Jordan

2. Petra, Jordan

The best place blogger and traveler Inka Piegsa-Quischotte has ever traveled is Petra , in Jordan. Piegsa-Quischotte finally managed to visit her dream destination a couple of years ago. After hiring a private car and driver from Amman, Piegsa-Quischotte arrived very early in the morning. No tourist coaches were around, so she walked the narrow cliff-lined passage which opened onto the rose-colored library alone, just as the sun came up. She describes it as “a truly magical sight that no picture can do justice.”

10 places to visit around the world

3. Budapest, Hungary

Kansas City mom Sage Scott had a hard time choosing between Monet’s home and garden in Giverny , the Loire Valley castles , and her first trip to Prague and Buda Castle . The latter was a milestone trip to celebrate a big anniversary. “While I enjoyed strolling across the Charles Bridge, touring the Prague Castle, and snapping photos of the colorful Lennon Wall in Prague, it was Budapest that stole my heart!” Scott exclaims.

“With the stunning Széchenyi Chain Bridge connecting the previously separate towns of hilly Buda and Pest, Budapest is absolutely magical,” says Scott. “The Buda Castle perched high on a hill above the Danube River offers sweeping views of Hungary’s capital city. For one weekend in early September, its lush grounds are transformed into one of the best wine festivals in the world,” she states. Sounds tempting!

“As you explore the streets of Budapest, you’ll be treated to a wide variety of statues, from Ronald Regan to Hungarian Painter Roskovics Ignac,” Scott asserts. She lists the Parliament Building, the Citadella, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion as other can’t-miss sights.

View of Merano from Trauttmansdorff Castle

4. Merano, Italy

Writer, leadership coach, trainer, ex-pat, cook, and paddleboarder Louisa Rogers is also an avid hiker. She calls her favorite place, Merano, “a walker’s paradise.” Just a few miles south of the Austrian border in Italy’s South Tyrol region, this mountainous town lies about an hour and a half from Verona. Known for its spas and art nouveau buildings, Rogers says the town still feels like the spa resort it was back in the 19th century.

Surrounded by Alpine peaks that reach almost 11,000 feet, Merano is nestled in a lush basin. Several of the old hotels, restaurants, and cafes as well as thermal baths dot the banks of the Passirio River. Trails at different elevations all over make the town “sheer candy for walkers,” Rogers attests. “The Summer and Winter Promenades line either side of the river. A longer route is the 2.5-mile Tappeiner Trail, one of the legendary high walks in Europe, which leaves the city center and climbs upward,” she explains. She suggests strolling along the trail, looking down at rooftops, and stopping for a beer or coffee. Named for the popular Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Sissi’s Path is yet another route. It takes visitors to Trauttmansdorff Castle, “whose gardens offer a mix of alpine and Mediterranean vegetation, combined with panoramic views,” Rogers remembers.

Rogers and her husband took the cable car up to the mountains one day to enjoy the views. The hiker admits to feeling spoiled gliding over the treetops, obtaining a 3,000-foot elevation gain without breaking a sweat. At the top, she says they found “miles of moorland and trails — ranging from easy to difficult — with pubs dotting the landscape.”

Cinque Terra

5. Liguria, Italy

Cinque terre.

Arizona-based newspaper reporter and travel writer Cindy Barks has fallen in love with every place she’s ever visited in Italy. However, Barks was wonderfully surprised when she took a two-week European train trip with her son after his college graduation back in 2007. “On the recommendation of a friend, we had decided to make a several-day stop on our way between Switzerland and Rome in the Cinque Terre, a string of five coastal villages in northwestern Italy.”

“This was a few years before the five picturesque cliffside towns would become social media sensations,” Barks points out. The pair wasn’t sure what to expect. “But as soon as we arrived in Monterosso on a warm Saturday evening, we knew we were in a special place,” Barks says. “Everything — from the fragrant pink bougainvillea flowers that bloomed along the winding streets, to the scenic trail that connected the five towns, and the delicious pesto-focused cuisine — made lasting impressions,” she recounts. Cinque Terre remains Barks’ favorite travel destination all these years later.

Penguins in Antartica with a cruise boat in the background

6. Antarctica

Going to Antarctica was a lifelong dream for Sue Davies . The native New Yorker’s dreams were finally realized a few years ago. Davies got to take a cruise and kayak the Southern Ocean for several days. To get there, she flew into Buenos Aires , Argentina then down to Ushuaia, where she hopped on a cruise to Earth’s southernmost continent.

Visiting the seventh continent was an experience that Davies will always treasure. Penguins splashing, a whale circling in the water, and witnessing an iceberg calving in the distance was more than Davies had dreamed. “We got to see penguin chicks,” she gushes, “young ones, fluffy ones, and some not yet hatched.”

Orange, red, and green rooftops of Tallinn, Estonia

7. Tallinn, Estonia

Being a travel writer, Melody Pittman is often asked where her favorite place is. Her answer can vary from state to state, country to country, and is even influenced by the time of year. However, she chooses Tallinn, Estonia above the rest.

If you haven’t ever heard of the capital of Estonia, you’re not alone. Pittman hadn’t either when her Baltic Capitals cruise stopped at the enchanting town. Minutes after walking under the Viru Gate, she was mesmerized by Tallinn’s historic downtown.

“From the charming people and sophisticated stores to restaurants with incredible food and period-clothing clad waitstaff, Tallinn is a magical place,” Pittman proclaims. She was awed by the town’s architecture and beautiful buildings with orangey-red rooftops. The town has “a way of making you feel like you were walking in a storybook fairytale,” Pittman opines. “Still, the juxtaposition of the high-end boutiques against ancient churches, and kiosks with warm, sugary nuts, served by costumed gals that rivaled Disney’s EPCOT staff is fantastic,” she expounds, declaring that “Estonia is an extraordinary place.”

Porch of the Maidens Parthenon in Athens, Greece

8. Athens, Greece

Of all the amazing places authors, entrepreneurs, and world travelers Diana Laskaris and Sue Reddel have been, Athens, Greece tops the list. Considered the birthplace of Western Civilization, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and is filled with historic reminders of ancient society. “Diana’s Greek ancestry got us interested in exploring the entire country,” Reddel remarks.

After flying into Athens, the duo drove from the mountainous mainland towns in the North to the Peloponnese at the southern edge. “The beautiful islands are a dazzling Greek feature as well,” says Laskaris, “But if we have to choose just one spot as best, Athens would be the one.”

With millions of Greeks living and working in Athens, the pair says delicious food is easy to find. They suggest checking out the central market for the freshest produce and other delights. They also advise that one could dedicate an entire day to investigating the capital’s street and graffiti art and would only scratch the surface.

Nearby beaches, music, museums, and culture make this thriving, vibrant metropolis Laskaris and Reddel’s favorite spot. Add the Acropolis with the Parthenon, other architectural remains, the ancient Agora, Monastiraki flea market, national gardens, parks and pavilions, and gorgeous hotels and restaurants, and the two are unable to resist!

Santorini, Greece: White buildings against the Aegean Sea at sunset

9. Santorini, Greece

Pennslyvania-based freelance travel writer, photographer, and foodie Jeanine Consoli’s favorite place she’s ever traveled to is Santorini, Greece . “I’ve been to many islands, but Santorini is stunning,” Consoli raves. “It took my breath away.”

Consoli visited the archipelago of volcanic islands on a family vacation last July, shortly after Greece reopened to tourists. They arrived in Athens before taking a ferry to Mykonos for a few days and then headed on to Santorini. “A driver collected us at the port and expertly maneuvered up winding switchbacks to the top of the land formation that looks like a shrimp. He told us about the volcano that erupted in the 16th century B.C. that shaped Santorini’s rugged, lunar landscape,” Consoli recalls. The historic eruption caused the mouth of the volcano to collapse, forming a large crater called a caldera. The crater sunk under the Aegean Sea, making it the only sunken caldera in the world. Santorini’s villages are perched on the edge of the caldera, offering breathtaking views of the sea.

When they arrived at their cliffside hotel in Fira (one of the principal towns), Consoli and her cohorts couldn’t help but stop and stare as they stood at the top of the rim, admiring the caldera from above. “The Aegean sparkled below, and I had that WOW moment,” she recollects, “breathtaking.”

Ancient Mayan site of Yaxchilan, in the jungle of Chiapas, Mexico

10. Chiapas, Mexico

Phoenix-based freelance travel writer and translator Emese Fromm’s favorite place that she’s ever gotten to explore is the ancient Maya site of Yaxchilan, in the jungle of Chiapas in southern Mexico. Fromm says the beauty of the Yaxchilan “lies in the combination of the ruins of some of the most elaborate ancient Maya structures and the surrounding jungle full of life.” Its jungles, lush farm fields, tall mountains, and rainforests are home to some of the most extraordinary biodiversity in the world. Chiapas is also known for its many cultural groups that delight in keeping their traditions alive.

“Even getting there was an adventure that included driving on narrow roads filled with topes (Mexico’s notorious speed-bumps) through the Lacandon Jungle and a boat ride on the Usumacinta River that separates Mexico from Guatemala,” Fromm relates. Arriving early, she and her family caught the day’s first boat to the ruins. “The only gringos around, we shared the half-hour boat ride with a local Maya lady and her small son,” she remembers.

As the site’s first visitors of the day, Fromm and her family were the only humans around as they walked past the lakeshore and into the jungle to the archaeological site. “Families of howler and spider monkeys, gorgeous birds in the trees, bats, and giant spiders were our only companions,” Fromm tells us. “Having it all for ourselves without other humans around made us feel like a family of explorers.”

Giraffes at the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, Africa

11. Kenya, Africa

Kenya is one of the best places freelance writer Jo-Anne Bowen has ever been. She went on a safari with a quest to photograph the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo.) Of the four parks she visited, she saw the most animals at Masai Mara Game Reserve. Bowen says that the giraffes were some of her favorites. “This photo shows the beauty of nature and animals,” remarks Bowen. She looks forward to going on her next safari, perhaps in South Africa!

Woman holding a lemur in Madagascar

12. Madagascar

“Best place I’ve ever been?” asks Kelly Hayes-Raitt . “ Madagascar !” she exclaims. In the summer of 2019, the international housesitter was doing her thing on the French island of Réunion when she found herself with a couple of weeks to kill before her next gig in London. She was already in the Indian Ocean. What better time to fulfill her lifelong dream of visiting Madagascar?

“As an isolated island off the East Coast of Africa, 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth,” Hayes-Raitt explains. “Although it’s the cherub-faced lemurs that beckon most tourists to this far-flung destination, my highlight was spending the night in a village with no running water or electricity,” she says. “Communicating with the local women provided a welcome challenge: What common references could I find with women who had never seen a movie or read a book and knew almost nothing about the United States? With my guide translating, I asked about their children and their dreams for their daughters. I asked about their impressions of America. They wanted to know how I intend to care for myself as I age, since I have no husband or children. They sincerely invited me to live with them in their village, where I’d be cared for in my senior years,” Hayes-Raitt recalls, who refers to it as a “lovely community.”

Machu Picchu

13. Machu Picchu, Peru

The most magnificent place that Texan travel writer and photographer Janie H. Pace has ever visited is Machu Picchu . She and her husband got to go to Peru on a photo expedition with Great Escape Publishing in May of 2018.

Getting to Machu Picchu, one of the ancient wonders of the world, was quite the journey. Pace and her husband flew 7.5 hours to Lima and 1.5 hours to Cusco before taking a van to Ollantaytambo. The pair then rode a moto-taxi to the train station and hopped on a train to the village of Aguas Calientes.

After dinner at the Full House of Ceviche de Trucha and Alpaca a las Brazas, the two went back to their hotel where they were lulled to sleep by the muffled roar of the Urubamba River.

The next morning, Pace and her husband took the 5:00 a.m. bus up a dozen twists and turns to the entrance gate of the World Heritage Site. Climbing the stone steps took 45 minutes, but was worth it for the panoramic views of the iconic ruins. “I must have stood there an hour, taking pictures, meditating, and letting the overwhelming experience of being there take my breath away,” she says. “What a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list trip. I was there at Machu Picchu!”

Flags, hotels, and Martial Mountains in Ushuaia, Argentina

14. Ushuaia, Argentina

You’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find freelance travel writer and photographer Chris Moore’s favorite place. Known as “Fin Del Mundo,” or “End of The World,” Ushuaia, Argentina long held the superlative as the southernmost city in the world. Chile has since edged it out of that title, now that its Puerto Williams has been upgraded to “city” status.

Located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the resort town of Ushuaia sits on the very bottom tip of South America, making it a popular departure port for many an Antarctic cruise, like the one Davies took. It’s also just a hop, skip, and a jump from the splendor of Patagonia , which Moore describes as a “resilient maritime town that endures cool weather most of the year.”

“Nestled between the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is the feisty, colorful flower that clings onto a harsh escarpment and whose beauty can be glimpsed between swirling snowflakes,” Moore says of the windswept town. “It may be a long way to go for the most perfect pairing of steak and Malbec,” he admits, “but it’s cool to say you have been to the ‘End of The World’…and didn’t fall off.”

Image of Laura Ray

Laura Ray has lived in Atlanta, the Bay Area, SoCal, and Austin. After moving from Texas, she and her husband rambled about the Midwest in a camper for a couple of years before finally settling on 35 acres in their home state of Kentucky. When she isn't clacking around on the keyboard (cat in lap), you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or playing the ukulele. This travel-lover's favorite destinations include Italy, the Greek isles, and Kentucky Lake.

The Frugal Expat

The Frugal Expat

The 15 Most Fun Countries in the World – Where to Go for a Good Time

Posted: October 25, 2023 | Last updated: October 25, 2023

<p>Travel is an exhilarating pursuit, primarily driven by the pursuit of enjoyment. While we often have our preferences and exemplary stories of places to avoid, some destinations stand out as hubs for pure fun and adventure. These captivating countries offer a vibrant tapestry of experiences, from stunning landscapes to cultural immersion. From the jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes to Thailand’s spicy street food and exhilarating activities, these nations beckon wanderers in search of a good time. So, here’s to the thrill-seekers and those pursuing unforgettable memories in the world’s most exciting corners.</p>

Travel is an exhilarating pursuit, primarily driven by the pursuit of enjoyment. While we often have our preferences and exemplary stories of places to avoid, some destinations stand out as hubs for pure fun and adventure. These captivating countries offer a vibrant tapestry of experiences, from stunning landscapes to cultural immersion. From the jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes to Thailand’s spicy street food and exhilarating activities, these nations beckon wanderers in search of a good time. So, here’s to the thrill-seekers and those pursuing unforgettable memories in the world’s most exciting corners.

<p>While Cyprus is often synonymous with tropical beaches, this Mediterranean gem offers far more than seaside resorts and luxurious coastal hotels. Travelers can delve into a rich tapestry of experiences, from sightseeing in the capital, Nicosia, to unraveling history at the Kourion archaeological site. </p><p>Hiking amid the picturesque Troodos mountains or indulging oneself in the island’s culture through its scattered hamlets adds depth to the Cyprus adventure. Surprisingly, this sun-soaked destination also shines in winter, making it a rare and versatile European getaway for those seeking more than just a suntan.</p>

Cyprus, a Mediterranean island with 188 state-recognized landmarks, has long been a critical cultural crossroads. With 32 museums that provide in-depth insights into the area’s rich legacy, this island nation beckons history buffs. Cyprus offers a wide range of experiences beyond its cultural heritage, from its clean, sun-kissed beaches to exhilarating mountain treks for adventurers. 

Championship golf courses are often a delight for golf enthusiasts. Cyprus is a mesmerizing location for individuals seeking history, nature, and leisure because of the island’s abundant attractions, which ensure that tourists enjoy a wide range of things.

<p>Famous for its bicycle-friendly streets and the canals around the city, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is full of beauty, coffee shops, and plenty of cultures get lost. So come to Amsterdam and explore, and make sure to take a trip on the lovely canals before you leave. You can see the Van Gogh Museum, venture over to the Jewish quarter to see where Ann Frank once lived, and enjoy a Stroop waffle. You will love this city. </p>

2. The Netherlands

The Netherlands, renowned for its abundance of museums, art galleries, and performance venues, reigns as the ultimate cultural treasure trove. Rembrandt, van Gogh, and Vermeer are just a few of the famous artists who were born in this country and had a lasting impression on the art world. 

The nation’s major cities are the wonders that display a beautiful fusion of old and new. The Netherlands stands as a top destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a rich blend of culture and creativity because of its imaginative past.

<p>Seeing the world is the dream of many, but living the dream doesn’t always come cheap, unless you’re in tune with the secrets of low-cost and, sometimes, zero-cost travel. If you’re an aspiring globetrotter yearning for the feel of foreign sights and sounds, these travel-for-cheap strategies can help you zoom through the globe at low cost or no cost at all.</p><p><a href="https://thefrugalexpat.com/inspiring-strategies-for-low-cost-and-no-cost-travel/" rel="noreferrer noopener">No Money, No Problem: 12 Inspiring Strategies for Low-Cost and No-Cost Travel</a></p>

3. United Kingdom

A cultural wonder, the United Kingdom offers various activities, from opulent Michelin-starred restaurants and art galleries to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The U.K. has long been a favored destination for travelers from throughout the world, and part of what makes it appealing is its rich history and tradition. 

Outside of the central city, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland offer a wealth of natural and historical beauties just waiting to be discovered. One may fully appreciate the U.K.’s grandeur outside of London by exploring the hidden treasures dotted around this enchanting island nation.

<p>The city is home to the European Union and the Red Cross and a major financial center, which is one of the many reasons this city is so pricey.</p><p>Geneva is also a city that is well known for the Jet d’Eau, which is the tallest water fountain in the world. In addition to its reputation for this landmark, Geneva is known for its abundance of upscale cafes and shopping opportunities. </p><p>But such luxury does not come without a hefty price tag. When considering only travelers’ needs, such as rent, food, and transportation, the typical monthly cost comes to approximately $3,500.</p>

4. Switzerland

Switzerland, nestled in Western Europe, might not be the first to claim the title of “fun,” but it excels in the kingdom of adventure, earning a spot in the U.S. News’ list of the most fun countries. Its towering mountains call out to adventurers, offering summer hiking and thrilling winter ski runs. 

With around 1,500 picturesque lakes, water activities abound, although some glacial-fed ones can be brisk. The country’s breathtaking natural scenery invites everyone to step outside and engage in an array of activities, making 

<p>Argentina, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and natural wonders such as Patagonia, is unique among South American countries. Its vibrant capital, Buenos Aires, is a dynamic worldwide city. </p><p>Despite fluctuating inflation, daily prices vary between $40 and USD 50, thanks to hostels and low-cost or free activities such as museums and hiking. Patagonia’s magnetism, famed for its beautiful landscapes and outstanding walks, enchants adventurers. </p><p>Notably, Iguazu Falls, the world’s greatest waterfall system, attracts nature lovers. Although guided treks cost roughly USD 450, they provide an unmatched, cost-effective experience in this spectacular Argentine tapestry.</p>

5. Argentina

Argentina is a haven for fun lovers with its diverse landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to serene lakes, wild tundra, and vast ice fields, offering an ever-changing backdrop. It’s not just for thrill-seekers; Argentina is fantastic for family travel, with expert guidance from Traveler’s specialists to craft age-appropriate journeys. 

Consider casting a line for fly-fishing in Patagonia, galloping on horseback through estancias, or even taking ski lessons on the private island of Francis Mallmann. In Argentina, every traveler, from thrill-seekers to families, finds a remarkable array of experiences in its stunning, ever-evolving scenery.

credit: depositphotos

6. Thailand

Thailand now attracts tourists of all ages with its eclectic mix of energetic cities, mouthwatering street cuisine, and tranquil historical monuments, transcending its previous image as a sanctuary for gap-year backpackers. Whether you decide to tour the vibrant cities or go on an island-hopping journey among lush, jungle-covered isles, this magical place provides many activities. 

Thailand’s appeal is due to its abundance of activities and its scenic appeal. Thailand is a country full of exciting adventures, from thrilling zip-lining in ancient jungles to sea kayaking in Tarutao National Marine Park and exploring the depths of Pang Mapha’s caverns.

<p>It is a wilderness reserve in South Iceland around the Vatnajokull glacier. The terrain features mountains, glaciers, icy terrain, and geothermal areas for those that like hot springs. It is a magnificent place with breathtaking landscapes.</p>

An obvious tribute to Iceland’s adventure potential is that its unearthly environment, reminiscent of the moon’s surface, originally served as astronaut training grounds. The snow-capped Snaefellsjökull volcano, the same one that inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, welcomes you to explore this land where fire and ice cohabit. Within a single extended weekend, see geysers erupt in the Golden Circle and hike across enormous glaciers. 

Explore the rift that separates two continents at Thingvellir National Park, discover the underground ice caves of Vatnajökull Glacier, and climb behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall to admire its cascading magnificence. 

<p>If you are looking for a place with a great culture and many different environments, look no further than Colombia. It is many different microclimates. You could be near the beaches or go into the mountains. The people are friendly and welcoming, low costs and healthcare is ranked in the top 20. So it is hard to pass up.</p>

8. Columbia

There’s plenty of excitement in Colombia, albeit it wasn’t always risk-free. However, over the past decade, it has progressively evolved into a safer location for traveling outside of urban centers, allowing visitors to enjoy the country’s lush jungles and towering mountains. The cities themselves are pulsating, colorful hives of activity. 

Cities like Bogotá and Cartagena are urban treasures with a vibrant, colorful culture and a buzzing environment. The modern explorer will find a new chapter of exhilarating exploration in Colombia, with its improving safety and vibrant cities.

<p>Chefchaouen is a quiet city located in the Rif mountains of Morocco. This 15th-century blue city attracts tourists from all over to come and visit, walk the streets, and take gorgeous pictures of all the sky-blue painted buildings. To get a great view of the city nearby, you can hike to the Grande Mosquée. </p>

Morocco stands out as one of the world’s best countries, offering an abundance of excitement. This North African nation exudes an enticing, exotic charm that never fails to captivate. Morocco’s allure is undeniable, from the lively and vibrant markets, where aromatic spices fill the air, to the desert camel rides that offer a glimpse into the fascinating Bedouin way of life. 

It’s a fun experience to see the world from a fresh perspective. Morocco provides the perfect lens to do just that, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure and cultural immersion.

<p>Sri Lanka’s restaurants have an unbeatable triumvirate of deliciousness, affordability, and convenience. You can’t go wrong with a meal at a local rice-and-curry joint, and you won’t have to break the bank doing it, either. Even the “short eats,” which are accessible all hours of the day and night and are typically deep-fried treats like spicy tuna patties and lentil-and-prawn cakes, have their charms. </p><p>Doses and crab curries made in the Tamil style can be found in the northernmost cities. This foodie adventure in Sri Lanka will become an insatiable craving for its irresistible delights.</p>

10. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has emerged as a popular tourist destination just over a decade after the horrific civil war ended. It offers a stunning mixture of experiences with its sprawling temple ruins, beautiful tea plantations, and expansive golden shores. 

Wildlife enthusiasts will find enough to enjoy, with several opportunities for animal interactions. Whether looking for waves along the southern coast, the world’s largest leopard concentration in Yala National Park, or a hot air balloon ride over the historic Dambulla rock temples, Sri Lanka has something for everyone.

<p>Shanghai is one of China’s most significant economic centers; it has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, leading to increased demand for housing, resulting in a much higher cost index than other Chinese cities like Beijing or Chengdu. </p><p>The city’s population is around 30 million in 2023 and is expected to increase much more in 2024.</p><p>Even though many ultra-wealthy people’s financial situations have improved over the past year, a recent report states that “the money illusion’ of previous years still lingers” due to the rising cost of the goods and services that comprise our lifestyle index.</p>

China’s appeal extends beyond its modern attractions, making it a fascinating destination for A World to Travel. While Hong Kong Disneyland adds a touch of whimsy, the heart of China lies in its deep-rooted history and traditions. Stepping into this ancient land is like a thrilling journey to the Far East, an experience that electrifies the senses more profoundly than any roller coaster ride. 

China’s charm isn’t just about amusement parks; it’s a profound encounter with a timeless culture, and that’s what truly sets it apart as a fantastic destination.

<p>With its many one-of-a-kind attractions and five-star hotels, Dubai more than lives up to its reputation as the most costly tourist destination. </p><p>The city is home to luxurious hotels like the Burj Al Arab, the only seven-star hotel in the world, where a night in a regular room can cost upwards of $1,500, and the opulent Royal Suite can cost a stunning $20,000.</p><p>Dubai’s thriving nightlife has posh spots like the Cavalli Club and the private Billionaire Mansion, where spending several hundred dollars on a night out partying like a celebrity is easy. </p><p>Its fine dining scene is just as plentiful, with restaurants like Pierchic and Nobu serving exceptional cuisine at $200 per person and more.</p><p>Because of its tax-free status, Dubai is a popular destination for high-end shopping looking to indulge in high-priced items like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton handbags which can cost several thousand dollars at the Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall.</p>

The U.A.E., while not a top scorer for adventure due to its scorching desert landscapes, has firmly secured a place in the top 10 for sheer enjoyment. Travelers consider it as one of the world’s finest destinations. What’s intriguing is that alcohol, prohibited by local culture, is confined to hotel bars and nightclubs. 

This unique setup has turned U.A.E.’s hotels and party hubs, offering a lavish experience deliberately designed to outshine even the glamor of Las Vegas, making it a globally recognized hotspot for those searching for extravagant and unforgettable fun.

<p>Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany is like a living pop-up storybook. Its medieval walls and half-timbered houses are characters in a play that unfolds as you meander through its narrow streets.</p><p>It’s when time decided to slow down and take a stroll. If you listen closely, you might hear the echoes of knights’ footsteps and merchants’ haggles in the air.</p>

13. Germany

Germany is a nation teeming with amusement, animal, and water parks, boasting 620 such attractions. Its vibrant capital, Berlin, stands out as a cultural epicenter, drawing enthusiasts from around the globe. Beyond its urban attraction, Germany is a sought-after European destination for those who enjoy rock climbing, camping, and mountain biking. 

The Waldseilgarten offers an adventurous high-altitude experience, while locals take tree camping to extraordinary heights. Pfronten’s extreme campsite, organized by Waldseilgarten, defines adventure and has carved its place as a unique outdoor haven in Germany.

<p>The Colosseum in Rome is a must-see site and stands as an iconic representation of imperial antiquity. As it was the hub of ancient gladiatorial fights and public shows, it is famous for both its breathtaking architecture and historical significance. Visitors are enthralled by this enormous amphitheater's sheer size and fascinating history.</p> <p>When one enters, he nearly hears the echo of previous crowds, recalling the exciting events that formerly took place inside. The Colosseum is a magnificent window into Rome's colorful past and a symbol of the inventiveness of human civilization.</p>

Italy is a cultural treasure repository, and Rome in particular, offers a plethora of sights to see. The city is a living museum containing innumerable undiscovered gems. Indeed, Italian cuisine is renowned and contributes to the country’s enticement. 

While hundreds of thousands visit the Vatican to see the Pope, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy offers a variety of lesser-known, equally enchanting destinations that promise a deeper and more personal connection to its rich history and beauty.

<p>An unanticipated distinction distinguishes Poland: it has the most national attractions among the countries enumerated. These range from mesmerizing salt mines underground to historically significant town squares. Torun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a delightful surprise even though Warsaw is frequently the primary attraction. </p><p>The Old Town and New Town districts of Torun contain a variety of magnificent public and private buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries. Notably, Copernicus resided in one of these architectural wonders, adding to the town’s attraction as a destination for history and architecture enthusiasts.</p>

An unanticipated distinction distinguishes Poland: it has the most national attractions among the countries enumerated. These range from mesmerizing salt mines underground to historically significant town squares. Torun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a delightful surprise even though Warsaw is frequently the primary attraction. 

The Old Town and New Town districts of Torun contain a variety of magnificent public and private buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries. Notably, Copernicus resided in one of these architectural wonders, adding to the town’s attraction as a destination for history and architecture enthusiasts.

<p>Traveling doesn’t need to break the bank. Traveling can be done free or very cheaply. This is something that is not always explained to people. People are made to believe that travel is expensive. Trust me; I used to think the same way until I discovered travel hacking.</p><p><a href="https://thefrugalexpat.com/travel-hacking/" rel="noreferrer noopener">Travel Hacking 101: 6 Tips Learn to Travel For Free</a></p>

Most Fun Countries

Our exploration of the 15 most fun countries in the world shows that our planet is a vast playground offering a diverse range of experiences for travelers. These destinations, each unique in its own right, are perfect for those seeking a good time and a chance to create lasting memories. So, whether you’re drawn to bustling cities, scenic nature, or historical wonders, these countries are beckoning for your next adventure.

Safe travels! 

<p>Are you dreaming of finding the perfect place to settle down and call home? With so many incredible destinations around the world, it can be challenging to decide where to start your search. From bustling cities to the relaxed countryside, there are countless options to consider. </p><p><a href="https://thefrugalexpat.com/best-places-to-live-in-the-world/" rel="noreferrer noopener">The 10 Best Places to Live in the World – You Won’t Believe Where They Are!</a></p>

The 10 Best Places to Live in the World – You Won’t Believe Where They Are!

Are you dreaming of finding the perfect place to settle down and call home? With so many incredible destinations around the world, it can be challenging to decide where to start your search. From bustling cities to the relaxed countryside, there are countless options to consider. 

credit: depositphotos

These 11 Winter Experiences in Europe Are So Much Fun, You’ll Forget It’s Cold

Whether you’re an enthusiast of winter sports, cozy fireside moments with hot beverages, or the magic of Christmas markets and Northern Lights, our comprehensive list has the perfect European winter destinations for families. Some relish skiing, snowboarding, and crafting snowmen, while others prefer escaping the cold for warmer climates. Regardless of your preference, we’ve got your ideal winter getaway covered.

<p>When it comes to travel, many of us dreams of visiting exotic locales and experiencing the best that the world has to offer. However, not all travel destinations are created equal. Some destinations are simply more expensive than others due to various factors. In this blog post, we’ll look at the most expensive travel destinations in the world. We’ll explore the factors contributing to their high cost and provide tips on saving money on your trip.</p><p><a href="https://thefrugalexpat.com/most-expensive-travel-destinations/" rel="noreferrer noopener">The 10 Most Expensive Travel Destinations in the World</a></p>

The 10 Most Expensive Travel Destinations in the World

When it comes to travel, many of us dreams of visiting exotic locales and experiencing the best that the world has to offer. However, not all travel destinations are created equal. Some destinations are simply more expensive than others due to various factors. In this blog post, we’ll look at the most expensive travel destinations in the world. We’ll explore the factors contributing to their high cost and provide tips on saving money on your trip.

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29 Best Tropical Vacations Around the World

Looking for a warm-weather escape? Here are 29 incredible tropical vacations to consider.

10 places to visit around the world

When a warm-weather getaway is calling, set your sights on the best tropical vacation spots around the world, and aim close to the equator to maximize visions of palm trees, balmy waters, and cute cocktails. From French Polynesia to the Caribbean and beyond, read on for some of the best tropical vacations in the world — whether you're traveling as a couple , with family, or going solo.

Sloths, toucans, and howler monkeys — oh my! Let us count the ways we love a tropical beach vacation in this Central American country that comes with volcanoes, hot springs, and jungle-lined beaches that are as popular with surfers as they are with nesting sea turtles. For a romantic couples retreat, Origins Lodge has villas with sprawling terraces and wood-fired tubs overlooking the volcanic landscapes and Lake Nicaragua. And to vacation with a group, consider booking Cayuga's Pasha , a ten-room beachfront estate on Costa Rica's lush Nicoya Peninsula.

This South Pacific nation is undoubtedly one of the best tropical vacation spots in the world if it's rainbow-colored coral reefs and palm-fringed private islands you're after. Nowhere has the variety of soft corals — in every pastel hue you can imagine — that Fiji offers. Surfers with means beeline it to Tavarua Island Resort to chase epic waves while the honeymoon crowd might opt for a secluded stay at Six Senses Fiji on Malolo Island instead. For stays that appeal as much to couples as families (two words: free childcare), Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort and VOMO Island Fiji take getting away to the next level.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

It's impossible to mention the best tropical beach vacations without giving a nod to the belle of the ball. Bora Bora is French Polynesia's legendary honeymoon destination, where a stay in an overwater bungalow and snorkeling with reef sharks and stingrays is pretty much mandatory. Make it a vacation to remember when you stay at The St. Regis Bora Bora , home to the largest overwater bungalows in all of the South Pacific, overlooking what's arguably the region's most storied lagoon.

Mérida, Mexico

For a city break in a tropical place with lots of natural appeal, head to Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. The city is home to scenic squares, art galleries galore, and tropical temperatures year round. The city is surrounded by ancient Mayan ruins like ​​Dzibilchaltún, where the Maya lived from 300 B.C. until the 16th century Spanish invasions, and cenotes where you can cool off from the heat (especially if you forget any of these essentials ) in crystal-clear waters. Stay in style within a short stroll of the city center at Wayam Mundo Imperial , an art-focused and LEED-certified boutique hotel with a rooftop pool and bar and one of the best restaurants in town, Cuna .

Bali, Indonesia

An affordable tropical vacation is within reach when you venture to Bali , Indonesia's legendary island that appeals as much to budget backpackers as it does the international jet set. Snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, volcano hikes, cultural tours, yoga retreats — is there anything you can't do in Bali? Just make sure you make time to bask in the island's indescribable beauty at a resort someplace stunning — Uluwatu's oceanfront cliffs and the remote north of Bali, around Menjangan Island, are good places to start.

Islands of Hawaii

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

With six visitable islands, Hawaii offers up tropical beach vacation options for every type of traveler. Families love Maui and Oahu, and the latter is also a popular stop for the surf set. Lush and ridden with rainbows and extreme hiking trails, Kauai is a favorite among couples and those in search of eco-adventures. The Big Island (also called Hawaii) has excellent hiking and scuba diving options. And you'll never go wrong with a vacation on Lanai or Molokai, either. Humpback whales migrate through the islands from roughly mid-December to mid-May, and you can spy them from your room at resorts like Mauna Kea Resort on the island of Hawaii and Maui's Ka'anapali Beach Hotel .

Palm Beach, Florida

Along Florida's gold coast, one of the state's best beach vacations awaits in Palm Beach. Stay somewhere iconic and full of Sunshine State history like The Breakers Palm Beach , opt for an oceanfront wellness oasis like Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa , or set your sights on newcomer Amrit Ocean Resort . When you're not enjoying the beautiful blue waters of Palm Beach, it's fun to rent a bike to pedal the 5.5-mile long Palm Beach Lake Trail past historic mansions and streets lined with "security hedges" that keep prying eyes away from their famous residents.

Dominican Republic

Bachata music and rum fuel fun nights in one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the Caribbean. From the beaches of Punta Cana and Cap Cana to the kite-surfing hot spot of Cabarete, the golfing paradise of La Romana, and the inimitable stretches of sand along the spectacular Samaná Peninsula, the Dominican Republic has something for everyone. For an all-inclusive stay that will blow you away with its food and entertainment options — with designated spaces for adults and families, to boot — Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is hard to top.

Ask connoisseurs of white-sand beaches, and they'll surely point to the Maldives for one of the best beach vacations around the world. Some of the planet's most decadent luxury resorts await here on private islands surrounded by interrupted Indian Ocean views, many of which require a seaplane to reach. With so many luxury options in the overwater bungalow category, narrowing down where to stay can be tricky. But for a few epic places to start your search, consider Six Senses Laamu , The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands , and Velaa Private Island .

Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia

French Polynesia's Tuamotu Islands make for a more intrepid spot if you want to explore beyond the popular islands like Moorea and Bora Bora. Hop a flight from Tahiti's capital, Papeete, with Air Tahiti and you can land roughly one hour later on Rangiroa , the second-largest coral atoll in the world. Here, Tahitian black pearls are farmed in crystal-clear waters and the scuba diving is second to none. There are overwater bungalows to stay in on Rangiroa and Tikehau atolls ( Le Tikehau is on its own private island) if that's your scene, as well as less expensive, family-run guest houses in the Tuamotus.

Reggae music, jerked meats, and all-around irie vibes are just a few of the reasons to plan a tropical beach vacation to Jamaica. Opt for an affordable vacation in one of the many small hotels and guest houses lining Seven Mile Beach or the West End in laid-back Negril, or go for something more resort-oriented with a stay at Half Moon or The Tryall Club in Montego Bay. Adventurous travelers can make their way to Port Antonio to swim in tropical coves shaded by towering palms and stay in the rainforest at unique boutique properties like Geejam Hotel . There's even a bioluminescent lagoon near Falmouth where you can swim in water that glows a deep blue hue thanks to single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates.

The Florida Keys

Make your way south of Miami to the archipelago that makes up the Florida Keys. This is as tropical as the mainland U.S. gets, and you'll feel it in the balmy turquoise waters. Many travelers beeline it to Key West for the lively nightlife, but you'd be remiss to overlook great stops along the way, including Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo, the lovely Isla Bella Beach Resort on the island of Marathon, Bahia Honda State Park , and the many wrecks for scuba diving along the Florida Keys Wreck Trek .

Puerto Rico

Art, culture, nightlife, and world-class beaches combine to make Puerto Rico one of the best tropical vacation spots in the world. Of the many adventures to be had in this U.S. territory, there's visiting El Yunque (the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest Service), paddling through Vieques' famous bioluminescent lagoon, and dancing salsa while sipping mojitos at La Factoria in Old San Juan. Stay close to the action at the Fairmont El San Juan or splurge at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve , which fronts a gorgeous stretch of sand west of San Juan.

Once you lay eyes on Grenada's Grand Anse Beach — a golden sweep of sand lapped by waters best described as Robin's egg blue in color — you might be ruined for life. And that's just one of the beaches where you can soak up some of the Caribbean's most laid-back vibes on this stunning spice island famous for growing nutmeg. Stay in style at Silversands Grenada , which claims to have the longest infinity pool in the Caribbean. And couples resort Sandals Grenada has rooms with private infinity pools fronting Pink Gin Beach that set the scene pretty perfectly for a tropical beach vacation to remember.

Dominica's mostly black-sand beaches put a different spin on the typical tropical beach vacation. And most visitors who come to the Caribbean's self-proclaimed "Nature Island" have things like hiking, waterfall hopping, and soaking in geothermal hot springs on their vacation to-do list, too. Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski opened in 2019 and has incredible swimming pools overlooking the beach. And Coulibri Ridge is a new eco-retreat with just 14 studios and duplexes built into the hillside with views of the Caribbean Sea and the neighboring island of Martinique.

The Bahamas

Courtesy of Baha Mar

If you've ever visited the Bahamas, you know the white-and-blue swirl of islands and sea makes for one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the world. Will you go full luxury and sleep aboard the magnificent Loon Yacht that plies these waters in exquisite style, stay in the heart of Nassau's resort action at Baha Mar, or go off the beaten path for a guest house stay at one of the Out Islands, like San Salvador or Bimini? The Bahamas is one of those unique destinations with something for every type of traveler.

What's better than pairing a mainland safari with a beach getaway to the island of Zanzibar, located roughly 22 miles off the coast of Tanzania? Take in the wildlife of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and then head to the island of Zanzibar, known for its world-class beaches and Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The tiny Micronesian nation of Palau is about as physically removed from most places on the planet as you can get. But it's worth trekking here for a tropical vacation in some of the most pristine islands on the planet. Palau is most famous for its limestone Rock Islands and Jellyfish Lake. And scuba divers revere the outer coral reefs and walls here for their abundance of marine life — including sharks, manta rays, and much more — which can easily be experienced on boat trips with Sam's Tours or Fish 'n Fins . One of the very best things you can do in this tropical wonderland is head out into the Rock Islands atop a kayak for a day tour or camping expedition with Paddling Palau .

Los Cabos, Mexico

Who said a desert can't be a tropical vacation? Nobody in Baja California Sur, anyway, where Cabo San Lucas reigns supreme as the most vibrant tropical desert locale on the entire Baja Peninsula. Come for incredible oceanfront golf where you might see migrating whales in the winter as you tee off at epic courses like Quivira Los Cabos . And check out world-class luxury hotels like the adults-only Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort , Grand Solmar Rancho San Lucas Resort & Spa , and boutique stay Acre Baja (with tree houses!). You'll be surprised by the wildlife just offshore in the Cabo San Lucas Marine Reserve, where Dive Ninja Expeditions can put you in the water to snorkel or dive with sea lions and schooling fish.

Cancun, Mexico

Everything from an affordable beach vacation to something entirely luxurious awaits in Cancun, a destination known throughout the world for its turquoise waters and soft beaches with chalk-white sand. Whether you bed down in an affordable Airbnb or vacation rental set back from the beach or stay oceanfront with the family at the all-inclusive Club Med Cancun or an incredible property like Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun , tropical vacation vibes are sure to be in the mix (along with margaritas).

Riviera Maya, Mexico

South of Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula and encompassing coastal spots like Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, Mexico's Riviera Maya is another sure bet for a memorable tropical beach getaway for all types of travelers. Families rave about Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya , where all 280 suites are oceanfront with swim-out pools, and encounters with Sponge Bob and the Paw Patrol pups happen on the regular. For a couples getaway, you'll never go wrong staying just south of there at the luxury all-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Maya , where spa treatments and an incredible wellness water circuit await at the spa and there's a lounge chair with your name on it along the uncrowded beach.

Lamu Archipelago, Kenya

For a beach escape to remember off the coast of Kenya, head to one of coastal East Africa's first Swahili settlements and the incredible islands of Lamu and Manda in the Lamu Archipelago. On the northern tip of Manda Island, Manda Bay Lodge offers a private island stay in palm-thatched bungalows, most of which front the beach. You'll want to venture to Lamu Island across the water, too, to see the towns of Shela and Lamu, with inexpensive guest houses for a more affordable vacation.

Palawan, Philippines

A favorite with budget backpackers and intrepid couples, the Philippines offers an inexpensive tropical beach vacation in Southeast Asia. Palawan's towering limestone mountains that plunge into the turquoise sea make a postcard-worthy backdrop. When you're ready for a splurge, set your sights on the private island resort of Amanpulo in Northern Palawan, where green and hawksbill sea turtles nest on the beach and you can snorkel and scuba dive over pristine reefs just offshore.

The stunning Seychelles conjure images of white-sand beaches backed by fascinating granite boulder formations. Cruise around the archipelago in style aboard a yacht with Variety Cruises on itineraries that depart from Mahe and Praslin. Or stay land-based at Six Senses Zil Pasyon or the Club Med Seychelles Resort , which opened in 2021 within a marine reserve at the heart of the archipelago. And with just 11 villas in the brand's first private-island destination,  North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles  is a good place to offload any Marriott Bonvoy points you might have hanging around for a truly remarkable tropical vacation.

Koh Chang, Thailand

Most of Thailand's roughly 2,000 miles of coastline have the makings for fun in the sun, with easy access to some of the best and cheapest street foods in the world. Perhaps you've heard of Koh Samui and Phuket. But if the lush Thai island of Koh Chang has never registered on your radar, it's worth seeking out for an inexpensive tropical vacation in Southeast Asia. The hilly and verdant island lies in the Gulf of Thailand and is part of Mu Ko Chang National Park. You'll find family-run guesthouses everywhere here for an affordable stay, but even boutique hotels won't break the bank. Spend your extra baht indulging in the delicious local seafood and heading out on eco-tours into the jungle.

Zakynthos, Greece

Your best bet for a tropical-feeling beach vacation in Europe is on Zakynthos, Greece, an Ionian Sea island where the famous Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) can only be reached by boat. While the climate here is Mediterranean, the vegetation skews semi-tropical thanks to ample rainfall that keeps things green. Couples can look forward to an adults-only stay at Lesante Blu , where yachts leave from the resort pier to tour you around the island.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Brazil's best tropical destination — where you can guarantee the waters to be balmy and the air to be silky warm — lies off the country's northern coast in the volcanic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. Mountainous terrain and incredible white-sand beaches pair with some of South America's very best scuba diving right offshore for plenty of vacation adventures. Incredible views of the island's interesting topography overlooking the Bay of Sueste await when you stay at Pousada Maravilha, an eco-luxe property known for its excellent onsite restaurant serving fresh seafood and Brazilian specialties.

Heron Island, Australia

Australia is home to more than 16,000 miles of glorious coastline. But when you want the best tropical vacation spot on the world's smallest continent, head to Heron Island, a tropical island of pristine natural beauty located along the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland. You can snorkel right from the island's protected beaches or take short boat rides to scuba dive on nearby reefs. All of Heron Island's accommodations are keyless, so you don't have to worry about taking along a room key or card while you splash in the sea, go kayaking, or head out on nature walks.

Ibiza, Spain 

Visit Spain's legendary Balearic Island of Ibiza during the summer months, and you're in for one of Europe's top tropical-feeling vacations. The island is famous for its club scene and upscale seaside restaurants that draw the yacht set, but there are incredible natural sights here, too, including Ses Salines Natural Park in the southern stretches of the island. For a peaceful stay, make Ibiza Gran Hotel your base, and make sure to book a coveted table at the hotel's celebrated restaurant,  La Gaia by Óscar Molina , which snagged its first Michelin star in 2021.

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It's the 2024 Lunar New Year! Everything to Know About the Year of Dragon

The Lunar New Year kicks off on Feb. 10 with the Year of the Dragon

10 places to visit around the world

VCG/VCG via Getty

The Lunar New Year is here, and this year it’s all about the Dragon. 

The holiday, also known as Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, officially kicked off on Feb. 10 marking the beginning of countless celebrations worldwide. 

Originating in multiple countries in east Asia, the holiday is filled with rich culture and tradition that centers around the hope for good fortune and prosperity. Each year, the exact date differs as it's based on the cycle of the moon , though it usually falls between Jan. 20 and Feb. 21 on the Gregorian calendar.

Each year also has a corresponding animal from the Chinese zodiac, based on ancient Chinese mythology, and 2024 marks the Year of the Dragon. 

Here's everything to know about the 2024 Lunar New Year.

When is the 2024 Lunar New Year?

Li Peixian/VCG via Getty

The Lunar New Year officially started on Feb. 10. Though celebrations last up to 16 days, only the first seven days are considered a public holiday. The celebration will reach its peak with the annual Lantern Festival.

What is the zodiac animal for the 2024 Lunar New Year?

Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty

The zodiac animal for the 2024 Lunar New Year is the Dragon, the fifth of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac. The last year of the Dragon was in January 2012, which marked the year of the Water Dragon. This year, however, will be the year of the Wood Dragon. 

Were you born during a Dragon year?

Stefanie Keenan/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty; Gregg DeGuire/Variety via Getty; Taylor Hill/Getty

Previous Dragon years occurred in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012. (Though as the Lunar New Year changes each year, you might actually be a different zodiac sign if you were born in January or February.)

Notable celebrities who were born during the Year of the Dragon include Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Shelton, Emma Stone, Rupert Grint, Adele, Rihanna and Millie Bobby Brown. 

What are the personality traits of the Dragon sign?

MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty

People born during the year of the Dragon are said to be naturally charismatic and gifted, often inspiring those around them, per the Old Farmer's Almanac . As a result, they are said to make great leaders because they aren’t afraid to go after what they want. 

Which Dragon element are you?

Chinese zodiacs are based on the Heavenly Stems and Branches system, which coordinates with one of five elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth). 2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon, which previously occurred in 1964. 

Other recent years include 2012’s Water Dragon, 2000’s Metal Dragon, 1988’s Earth Dragon, 1976’s Fire Dragon, 1964’s Wood Dragon and 1952’s Water Dragon. 

What is the horoscope for a Dragon sign in 2024?

Lan Zitao/VCG via Getty

For Dragon signs, Chinese metaphysics consultant Vicki Iskandar tells PEOPLE many changes and opportunities may arise in 2024 as the Grand Duke Jupiter visits your sign. “The year one encounters the animal sign of their birth is usually a life-changing one, and it often coincides with Jupiter's return in one's natal chart,” writes Iskandar in her prediction blog .

Though Iskandar warns of “self-sabotaging behaviors” as the Dragon is afflicted with the “Double Dragon Penalty,” which can cause “self-doubts and self-defeating thoughts and actions” as a result.

Since 2024 is a Dragon return year, Iskandar notes you’ll “have the power to turn your life around for the better” if you stay positive and believe in yourself.

When is the Chinese Lantern Festival?

Getty images

Each year, the end of the Lunar New Year festivities is marked with the Chinese Lantern Festival, taking place on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar (which coincides with the first full moon). This year, it falls on Feb. 24.

The holiday is celebrated differently all over the world, but most festivities include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks.

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