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. 

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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.”

The Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022

By CNT Editors

Goa India

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

Read the complete set of Gold List winners   here .

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

Cholula Puebla Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

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

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

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

Alentejo Vicente Coast

Alentejo, Portugal

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

Svalbard Norway

Svalbard, Norway

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

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Goa India

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

Plettenberg Bay South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

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

Scottsdale Arizona

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

Tuscany Val Graziosa

Val Graziosa, Italy

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

Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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

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The World’s Greatest Places of 2021

100 extraordinary destinations to explore

top tourist spot in the world

Accra, Ghana

A hub for creativity and culture.

An iceberg along the Antarctic Peninsula

A rare sight at the South Pole

People walk on the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge '516 Arouca', now open for local residents in Arouca, Portugal, April 29, 2021.

Arouca, Portugal

Bridging the gap.

Silversea's new cruise ship Silver Moon.

A cruising renaissance

An exterior view of the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok.

Perpetual motion

Pulteney Bridge crosses the River Avon in Bath, England.

Leaning into literary roots

The Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

Action-packed metropolis

Valley Stream, a remote private residence in Belize.

Striking a delicate balance

Located amongst dunes at the heart of Kisawa Sanctuary, Kisawa's Natural Wellness Center and Gym offers guests individual rituals rooted in the natural elements of Air, Fire, Water, Wind and Earth.

Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Supercharged eco-luxury.

Terminal 1 at the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, where artist Pae White's “The Magic Carpet” hangs on the ceiling.

Readying for visitors

A room at the new Montage Big Sky.

Big Sky, Montana

The great wide open.

A sailing yacht off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey.

Bodrum, Turkey

Riviera on the rise.

Ai Weiwei's  Descending Light  (2007), on view at the El Museo Helga de Alvear in Cáceres, Spain.

Cáceres, Spain

A multitude of cultural riches.

A restaurant at The St. Regis Cairo.

New vantages on unique treasures

Jason deCaires Taylor's underwater sculptures at the Underwater Eco-Museum in the Bay of Cannes

Cannes, France

Sea and be seen.

A Manica sugarbush in Chimanimani National Park, Mozambique.

Chimanimani National Park, Mozambique

Doubling down on conservation.

In Christchurch, placemaking social enterprise Gap Filler and developer Fletcher Living partnered to make the #Chchswing (2019), designed by F3: a perfect square format Instagram frame, as well as a place of social and physical activity.

Christchurch, New Zealand

Rebuilding from rubble.

A view of the Coimbra University courtyard, with the Mondego river in the background.

Coimbra, Portugal

Fresh claims to fame.

Nayara Tented Camp in Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.

Committed to conservation

An interior train view of Rocky Mountaineer's Rockies to the Red Rocks train route, which is a two-day trip through the landscapes between Moab, Utah and Denver.

Rocky Mountain high

One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia.

Desaru Coast, Malaysia

A beach escape.

The Sustainability Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Bringing the world together

The North Ronaldsay Mutton dish served at The Glenturret's Lalique restaurant.

A refined reopening

A view of Kalsoy, an island in the north-east of the Faroe Islands of Denmark

Faroe Islands, Denmark

Worth the journey.

Home of The Arts precinct in Gold Coast, Australia.

Gold Coast, Australia

Surfers’ playground.

One of the iconic trams of Gothenburg in Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden

Four centuries and counting.

Greenwich Design District, pictured mid-construction in May 2021.

Design District, London

An affordable artistic incubator.

The view overlooking Woburn Bay at The Point at Petite Calivigny.

Luxury on the water

Woljeonggyo Bridge in Gyeongju, South Korea.

Gyeongju, South Korea

Historic gem.

Street food scene in Hanoi.

Renewed life in the Old Quarter

licja Kwade's  Big Be-Hide  (2019), on view at the Helsinki Biennial 2021: The Same Sea, 12 June ? 26 September 2021

Giving old spaces new purpose

The One Bite Pho at chef Peter Cuong Franklin's restaurant, Anan, in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City

Tastes of vietnam.

An onsen-style soaking tub at the Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel.

Hokkaido, Japan

Northern exposure.

Red snapper ceviche at Musaafer in Houston.

Lone Star stunner

Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

Hudson Valley, New York

Brick by brick.

The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks District in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Bottle service.

A hiker in Volcanos National Park on Hawaii Island

Island of Hawaii

Volcanoes and vistas.

Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory and UNESCO World Heritage site, in Jaipur, India.

Jaipur, India

Astronomical haven.

Jasper National Park in Canada.

Jasper, Alberta

Canada’s cabin capital.

Posada LUZ, a boutique resort in José Ignacio, Uruguay.

José Ignacio, Uruguay

Relaxed getaway.

A wild elephant on the road in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, Nov. 22, 2019. Tourist trails helped push elephants to their deaths in Thailand's oldest nature preserve, but the coronavirus lockdown is allowing them to roam freely again.

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

Leave no trace.

The Kruger Shalati hotel—in which guests can stay in renovated train cars that are perched on a bridge—in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park, South Africa

On the wild side.

Eva Mont—Shutterstock

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Artisanal escape.

On the waterfront in La Paz, Mexico.

La Paz, Mexico

Laid-back vibes at the seaside.

Mongolian men and women pray and make offerings at an Ovoo near the Lake Khovsgol Ice Festival in Khatgal, Mongolia.

Lake Khovsgol, Mongolia

Untold depths.

View of the Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Solar-powered exploration.

Part of the underground tunnel during a tour of the Boring Co. Convention Center Loop in Las Vegas, Nevada, in April 2021.

Excess and innovation

Jade Spring Park in Lijiang

Lijiang, China

A launch point for adventure.

Rooftop tents at The Fuzzy Log in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

A culinary capital.

DaVinci's artwork projected in a room at the Château du Clos Lucé museum.

Loire Valley, France

Chez leonardo.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles

Hollywood’s next act.

The Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid.

Safeguarding tradition

Tavaru restaurant and wine cellar at Velaa Private Island in the Maldives.

An ever changing archipelago

A view of the new hotel Oberoi Marrakech

Marrakech, Morocco

A place of beauty.

A view of the lobby at Central Station Hotel in Memphis.

Expanding on a legacy

A vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina.

Mendoza, Argentina

Serving culinary excellence outdoors.

The Four Seasons in Calistoga in Napa Valley, Calif.

Napa Valley, California

Restoring wine country.

A suite at the Six Senses Shaharut in the Negev Desert in Israel.

Negev Desert, Israel

Desert cultivation.

Batture Bistro + Bar at the One11 Hotel in New Orleans.

New Orleans

Big easy does it.

Kayakers under the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia

Active nature.

Little Island, which floats over the Hudson River near West 13th Street in Hudson River Park, on the site of an old pier in New York, May 11, 2021. Mega-mogul Barry Diller's $260 million, 2.4-acre pet project and civic mitzvah is the architectural equivalent of a kitchen sink sundae, with a little bit of everything. ()

New York City

Back in business.

Shree Morjai Temple in Morjim, North Goa.

North Goa, India

Dressed up on the coast.

The guided storytelling experience at Manea Footprints of Kupe, a cultural attraction in Northland, New Zealand.

Northland, New Zealand

Legendary experiences.

A view of Nuuk, Greenland

Nuuk, Greenland

Pioneering capital.

The new H.C. Andersen House Museum in Odense, Denmark.

Odense, Denmark

Fairy-tale city.

The Baobab Treehouse at Xigera Lodge in Botswana.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

An oasis in the wetlands.

Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World near Orlando.

The magic continues

Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

Osaka, Japan

Exterior view of the new MUNCH museum in Oslo, which opens to the public October 22, 2021.

Munch to do

The Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection museum in Paris.

The royal treatment

River guides take a group out into the Patagonia National Park in Chile.

Patagonia National Park, Chile

Sustainable investments.

Jaume Plensa's  Nuria,  (2017) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Artistic growth.

The New World Phu Quoc Resort in Vietnam.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Idyllic paradise.

Part of the Mexican Design Fair at Casa Naila on the coast in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Rising design destination.

The Cotopaxi volcano, which is located outside of Quito.

Quito, Ecuador

Heritage hub.

Aerial view of Reykjavik, Iceland.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Abuzz with openings.

Opuntia Café in Santa Fe, N.M.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Monument to the southwest.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

A rare pilgrimage.

The Floating Music Hub in the bay of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, Cape Verde.

São Vicente, Cape Verde

Music in the air.

Sunset on Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

The growing gulf coast scene.

The Electric Moon Skytop Lounge + The Moon Deck at the Plant Riverside District in Savannah, Ga.

Savannah, Georgia

Revitalized riverfronts.

Canlis restaurant in Seattle.

Visions of the future

People swim on the Maasin River on Siargao in the Philippines.

Siargao, Philippines

A suite at Verdura Resort

Sicily, Italy

History by the seaside.

Angkor Wat, a common excursion for visitors to nearby Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Wildlife and wonders.

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore hotel on the grounds of the Laguna National Golf & Country Club.

Superlative city-state

The Fagaras Mountains are a section of the Southern Carpathian Mountains in Romania.

Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania

Returning to nature.

A pedestrian walkway at City Foundry STL in St. Louis.

A reinvigorated downtown

The Exchange building in Darling Square in Sydney.

Harborside stunners

Exterior of the Taipei Performing Arts Center, designed by David Gianotten and Rem Koolhaas of OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture)

Culture and quiet

Mount Denali and adjacent snow-capped mountains as seen from Talkeetna, Alaska.

Talkeetna, Alaska

Mountain majesties.

Lahemaa National Park in Estonia is connected to the new long-distance Forest Trail, which links Tallinn, Estonia to neighboring Latvia and Lithuania.

Tallinn, Estonia

Cruising and perusing.

The  HARDCORE  room, by the artist magma, at BnA_WALL hotel in Tokyo

Gearing up for the Games

The Sense Experience Resort in Tuscany, Italy.

Tuscany, Italy

Uffizi on tour.

Incahuasi island, Uyuni salt-flat in Bolivia

Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Salt-flat homestays.

The Doge's Palace (left) and the Column of San Marco (right) in Venice.

Venice, Italy

Future-proofing an icon.

Part of the Rosewood Little Dix Bay resort in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Respite and renewal.

The Dana Biosphere Reserve in Jordan.

Wadi Dana, Jordan

Eyes in the sky.

A gallery at Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art center in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Reveling in art.

The work of Franz Gertsch on view in the permanent collection at Kunsthaus Zu?rich art museum.

Culture you can bank on

Audience editors: Samantha Cooney, Annabel Gutterman, Soo Jin Kim, Kat Moon and Kimberly Tal

Copy editors: Helen Eisenbach, Mark Hokoda, Anny Kim, Megan Rutherford, Sarah Rutledge, Jennifer Schiavone 

Designers: Jennifer Panzer and Jennifer Prandato

Digital producers: Paulina Cachero and Nadia Suleman

Editors: Jennifer Duggan, Merrill Fabry, Brekke Fletcher, Dan Macsai, Cate Matthews, Brittany Robins, Lily Rothman, and Karl Vick

Photo editors: Kim Bubello and Thea Traff

Reporter-researchers:   Leslie Dickstein, Mariah Espada, Alejandro de la Garza, Nik Popli, Madeline Roache, and Simmone Shah 

Video editor: Erica Solano

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The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2022

From far-flung destinations to hometown favorites, 2022 is the year to get back out there and turn your dream trips into reality.

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

Planning new adventures as a new year approaches is always a thrill, but finding the best places to visit in 2022 is unique. After two years of border closures, cruise cancellations, and travel restrictions galore , 2022 is the year we hope to get back out there, uninhibited (albeit vaccinated and COVID tested ), return to our favorite destinations, and cross new ones off our lists.

Though the hospitality industry was hit hard by the pandemic, many properties used the forced downtime to renovate rooms, add new amenities, and expand outdoor spaces to offer even more once guests return. 2022 is when many travelers will venture further from home, and even overseas, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, finally reaping the benefits of these valiant efforts.

Although COVID variants remain, regulations are still evolving, and precautions must still be taken, many of the destinations we chose for 2022 offer what we believe travelers are looking for in a post-pandemic world, from hotels with private accommodations to destinations teeming with fresh-air activities . Others, like Las Vegas, are for those who are ready and raring to make up for all the social time they missed — with a few splashy headliners, including Adele and the Raiders, thrown in for good measure.

As cruising makes its comeback , we included unforgettable places to see by water, from Antarctica to the Nile, and as hard-hit destinations like Italy and Asia recover, we found the buzziest reasons to return. Of course we didn't forget about all the stateside gems we got to know while domestic travel was surging, from Alaska and California to Florida and Michigan.

Our 2022 list, organized alphabetically, doesn't hold back, with aspirational trips as far away as India, Mozambique, Qatar, and even space — but we're also including hometown favorites, like Walt Disney World and its new Star Wars hotel ; the wellness retreats of beautiful Sedona; and the simple pleasures of small-town, farm-to-table living in Franklin, Tennessee. Because no matter what type of trip you've been dreaming of, we want to help you turn 2022 into the year you get back out there and make it a reality.

— Edited by Nina Ruggiero and Scott Bay

1. Abruzzo, Italy

Stretching from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea on the peninsula's southeastern side, Abruzzo, Italy has long been one of the country's most overlooked destinations despite its unspoiled villages, picturesque Trabocchi Coast, and stunning natural escapes. Over the past few years, however, it has gone from a sleepy underdog to an ambitious harbinger of slow travel, sustainable gastronomy, and conscious hospitality. Villa Corallo , a 19th-century mansion near Civitella del Tronto was transformed into a five-star hotel in 2019. Dimore Montane , an eco-lodge opened in 2020 in Majella National Park, marries glamping with environmentally-friendly facilities with a zero waste policy. Meanwhile, restaurants like Bottega Culinaria in San Vito Chietino and Materia Prima in Castel di Sangro are redefining the region as one of Italy's most exciting food hotspots for their innovative and sustainable takes on local produce and traditional dishes (in case Niko Romito's three-Michelin-starred Reale wasn't enough). And completing construction this Spring is Via Verde dei Trabocchi: a cycling and pedestrian path along the Adriatic sea that's being built on a disused railway route. — Marianna Cerini

With many international borders closed over the last two years, many eager U.S. travelers' eyes turned to Alaska. The vast state, famous for its towering, snow-capped peaks, pristine wilderness, massive national parks, and colorful locals, made for a dynamic destination with no passport required. But as borders reopen, interest in the 49th state is showing no signs of slowing down. Alaska's tourism board said early forecasts are projecting that more than 1.57 million cruise ship passengers could visit southeast Alaska in summer 2022. That's an 18% jump from 2019, the previous record year. Many perennial favorite cruise lines , like Holland America, will be returning to full strength after a non-existent 2020 and abbreviated 2021. Others, like Windstar Cruises, UnCruise, and Hurtigruten are rolling out fresh itineraries or are launching new ships. On dry land, Alaska is set to see myriad new offerings and events. In Juneau, the Sealaska Heritage Institute will open their Arts Campus (where visitors will be able to learn about Alaska Native art and culture) and will host Celebration , one of the largest gatherings of Indigenous peoples. In Anchorage, Fur Rendezvous , Alaska's oldest and largest winter festival, will be back from Feb. 25 to March 6 (which also happens to be peak aurora season ). The event hosts activities like the Running of the Reindeer and the Outhouse Races, before culminating with the 50th running of the iconic Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race . — Bailey Berg

3. Anguilla

This easy-going Caribbean gem is simpler than ever to get to with American Airlines launching the first-ever nonstop, direct flight from Miami on Dec. 11. Private charter flights by Tradewind Aviation have also resumed service to the island. And the just-opened Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club has a fleet of jets to ferry guests from key U.S. cities. The sprawling luxury resort will include a few restaurants overseen by chef Abram Bissell, formerly of Eleven Madison Park, The NoMad, and The Modern. Quintessence , a boutique luxury resort with perks like butler service and a 4:1 staff-to-guest ratio, is opening a more affordable annex of suites called Quinn that will debut in 2022 (along with a Champagne cellar tasting room and Art Bar). New Restaurant Uchu at Belmond Cap Juluca is taking inspiration from Belmond's collection of properties in Peru. Named after the Quechuan word for spice, the menu will feature contemporary Peruvian cuisine inspired by three of the country's regions: the coast, the jungle, and the highlands. — Scott Bay

4. Antarctica

The pandemic shutdown created a compelling reason to visit Antarctica in 2022: See how the whales, seals, and penguins react after nearly two years without seeing humans. New polar-class expedition ships and new ways to get to the White Continent are reasons to pack your boots too. Viking Expeditions will be in Antarctica for the first time in 2022 with new, twin 378-passenger expedition ships. Ponant's new 270-passenger Le Commandant Charcot introduces eco-friendlier sailing, as the first hybrid-electric ship fueled by liquified natural gas (rather than heavy fuel). Quark Expeditions' long-awaited 199-passenger Ultramarine delivers exciting heli-hiking adventures via two eight-seat twin-engine helicopters. Hit a craps table in between icy exploration on the luxurious new all-suite 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor . Silversea Cruises' posh, 144-passenger, all-suite Silver Explorer returns with a debut travel option: Skip the notorious (for rough water) Drake Passage and catch a private flight directly from Chile to Antarctica to board the ship. — Fran Golden

American travelers have long loved the Bahamas for its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and sunshine just about 50 miles off the coast of Florida, but there are even more reasons to visit the island nation in 2022. Baha Mar on the Island of New Providence has a brand new water park equipped with everything from a lazy river to a surf simulator, and day passes are available for purchase to those who aren't resort guests. For more rest and relaxation, journey to the outer islands of the Bahamas. While charter flights will get you exactly where you need to go, Crystal Cruises is offering a Bahamas-centric cruise that brings guests to some of the quieter and more remote islands. On its mid-July cruise, guests will embark and disembark from Nassau and then be whisked away via "6-star" service to the islands of Bimini, Great Exuma, San Salvador, and Long Island. Beyond the beach, don't forget to indulge in some local food and culture. The Island archipelago is famous for its conch, stew fish, and rock lobster. From late April through early May, Carnival is celebrated in Nassau and back after a pandemic hiatus. Keep an eye out for the famous sound and dance of the junkanoo. — Jamie Aranoff

6. Barbados

Whether you want a relaxing all-inclusive stay or a vibrant vacation filled with dining and nightlife, Barbados has you covered. Nowhere is that more evident than the pedestrian-friendly South Coast, which is teeming with new resorts and restaurants. The O2 Beach Club & Spa is an all-inclusive resort set on the white sands of Dover Beach, with three pools, six dining options, seven bars, and the Acqua spa, featuring the only hammam treatment room on the island. It joins other luxurious South Coast hotels, including Sandals and Sea Breeze Beach House . If you can pull yourself away from the resort pools, head along the coast to Worthing Square Food Garden, an outdoor food hall with 20 vendors serving dishes from around the Caribbean. Or stroll down the mile-long boardwalk for easy access to ocean-front food and drinks at local favorites like Champers, Salt Café, Tiki Bar, and Chill Café & Bar. — Kevin Gray

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

A favorite of adventure travelers for its rainforests and divers who explore the Great Blue Hole and expansive barrier reef, Belize offers an abundance of casual spots and a handful of luxe resorts. The latest arrival is Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection Hotel , in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, opened mid-2021 with plans to add to its already extensive guest room, suite, and oceanfront villa accommodations. Major airlines are also recognizing the destination's potential with nonstop flights and convenient connections from most U.S. cities. In addition to United and Delta's nonstop flights from Houston and Atlanta, respectively, Alaska Airlines added nonstop service from Los Angeles and Seattle to Belize City in November, and Frontier Airlines will start weekly nonstop flights from Denver and Orlando. — Patricia Doherty

8. Budapest, Hungary

Very few places in the world capture both old-world charm and elegant modernity like Hungary's capital city, and Budapest's latest 130-room luxury hotel, Matild Palace , is a shining example. The neo-baroque palace-turned-hotel, which opened last summer in the city's District V, is a UNESCO-protected site that once housed the city's royalty. The hotel is now home to Wolfgang Punk's famed restaurant, Spago , the first of its kind in central Europe. It also hosts the Duchess bar — a rooftop "liquor library" that mixes craft cocktails using local wines and pálinka, Hungarian fruit brandy, which can be enjoyed alongside panoramic views of the Danube river. Surrounded by 22 wine regions, Budapest is a city for oenophiles. Enjoy a glass of Kékfrankos or Kadarka in the Castle District's newly opened wine bar, Takler Borbár Buda , founded by one of the country's renowned winemaking families. Don't leave the city without visiting Marlou , a biodynamic wine bar near the Hungarian State Opera, and Portobello , an unassuming coffee and natural wine bar around the corner from Matild Palace. — Stephanie Andrews

9. Burgundy, France

The region of Burgundy is known for — you guessed it — its Burgundy wine, but French wine isn't the only reason Burgundy is a must-visit in 2022. In the spring, the region's capital city of Dijon will welcome the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin (International City of Gastronomy and Wine), an expansive complex with a cooking school, a new hotel, a handful of restaurants, and a wine cellar with over 250 by-the-glass offerings. The new project is perfectly situated at the starting point of Burgundy's famed wine route — Route des Grands Crus — which runs from Dijon to Santenay and produces some of the country's most well-regarded wines, including pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. — Evie Carrick

10. British Virgin Islands

Within the Caribbean, the 60 islands that comprise the British Virgin Islands have long held the reputation of luxury draped in relaxation. And now it's doubling down on that brand of island spirit with Richard Branson's second private island, the 125-acre Moskito Island that opened in October and sits right across from his first BVI paradise, Necker Island (which received a serious upgrade when it reopened last year after a two-year closure). The new destination will eventually have 10 private estates that can be rented through Virgin Limited Edition , but among the ones already available are Point Estate, starting at $17,500 a night, and Oasis Estate for $19,000. But Moskito isn't the only shiny new reason to visit BVI. Proving the area's resilience following the devastation after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Saba Rock , the private island long known for its diving, went through a complete reconstruction before reopening in October; the Bitter End Yacht Club reopened in December with BVI's first over-the-water bungalows; and Oil Nut Bay will expand in early 2022 with new villas, a watersports center, and spa. Also on tap for 2022, the solar-powered White Bay Villas and new hilltop suites at Long Bay Beach Resort . And with the Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival returning in the spring of 2022 after being canceled for two years, BVI is proving it's truly back and stronger than ever. — Rachel Chang

11. Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

You're likely to glimpse Europe's pro athlete and yachting crowds at Marriott's four hotels on the Costa Smeralda, the glitzy Italian destination known for its Caribbean-like beaches and luxury resorts. Its glamorous Hotel Cala di Volpe has gradually been unveiling room renovations alongside new dining options, including its Harrods Suite, with a roof terrace and sea-facing plunge pool, and BeefBar 's first Italian outpost. The entire area is one big " Billionaire Experience ," but Formula One and entertainment mogul Flavio Briatore snagged the term for his new dining and nightlife venue in designer shopping destination Porto Cervo. For more of a low-key, family-friendly escape, the Baglioni Resort Sardinia opened an hour south in San Teodoro in June, overlooking the stunning Tavolara Marine Reserve . — Nina Ruggiero

12. Crete, Greece

The Greek Islands have long been a perennial favorite vacation destination for discerning travelers, and Crete, the largest of the 227 islands in the archipelago, deserves a spot atop your must-see list. Yes, it's a place where you can find the white-washed buildings and blue roofs you've lusted after on Instagram for years, and a spot where you can dive into the cerulean blue waters of the Mediterranean at every turn. And of course you can dig deep into both history and mythology as humans have lived on the island since the 7th millennium B.C ., not to mention the fact that Crete is the birthplace of Zeus . It's little surprise then, with all this beauty and history, that Crete continues to harbor a rich creative community, mostly centered in the neighborhood of Chania. There, visitors can peruse works in museums like the Mediterranean Architecture Center , or seek out unique pieces in galleries like the Municipal Art Gallery or the Redd Gallery . To visit Crete, hop aboard a sailing with Silversea , which takes guests to Crete and several other stellar islands, or book a stay at the Blue Palace Elounda, a Luxury Collection Resort , named one of the Top 10 Greece Resort Hotels in Travel + Leisure 's World's Best Awards, 2021. — Stacey Leasca

13. Walt Disney World

The " World's Most Magical Celebration " — Walt Disney World's 18-month-long 50th anniversary event that kicked off on Oct. 1 — continues through 2022 with enchanting touches and highly anticipated ride and hotel openings. Star Wars : Galactic Starcruiser will begin offering its immersive, two-night adventures in a galaxy far, far away on March 1. The interactive, choose-your-own-adventure experience will have guests wielding lightsabers, sleeping on the ship, brushing shoulders with Star Wars characters, eating intergalactic cuisine, and maybe even going on a secret mission, making this a truly unique experience that you can't find anywhere else in the world. Other 2022 openings include the Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rewind indoor coaster at Epcot, slated for summer. — Elizabeth Rhodes

14. Doha, Qatar

As we ask ourselves what cities of the future should look like, we naturally look around for examples. Places like Shanghai, Tokyo, and New York City seem to fit the description on paper, but I'd argue that no city better encapsulates that definition than Doha, the capital of Qatar. There is so much to discover — from East-West/West-East , a series of four steel monoliths created by sculptor Richard Serra to the Museum of Islamic Art , the massive 560,000-square-foot gallery. Eat at Syrian comfort food spot Damasca One, Em Sherif a rooftop spot that serves up authentic regional dishes, and the lively corner restaurant Nourlaya Contemporary for Sri Lankan cuisine. Stay at the Mandarin Oriental Doha or Banyan Tree Doha . (Read Robinson's full dispatch on Doha in the July 2021 edition of Travel + Leisure) — Whitney Robinson

15. Edinburgh, Scotland

The Auld Reekie is buzzing with new energy. The highly anticipated Hotel W , designed by Jestico and Whiles in conjunction with Allan Murray Architects, is opening next winter. And several other hotels have recently opened in and around the city — Marine North Berwick , the Market Street hotel , Rusacks St. Andrews , and ship-turned-luxury-hotel Fingal . Gleneagles Townhouse , a first-ever city outpost from the famed Gleneagles estate, is opening in the spring. St James Quarter, a developing area of the city, and where Hotel W is being built, is opening next year with 85 shops, 30 restaurants, and a cinema. New in whisky is the September christening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street . And promising to shake up the scotch scene in the capital city is Leith Distillery , opening in the summer. — Scott Bay

16. Finger Lakes, New York

The Finger Lakes have bolstered their wellness and culinary offerings in recent years, carving out a name for themselves in the luxury travel realm. Inns of Aurora , comprising five historic mansions, debuted a holistic wellness facility in 2021 — set on 350 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake, complete with hydrotherapy pools, meditation areas, and a farm fresh cafe. Forty miles west of Cayuga, The Lakehouse on Canandaigua — situated on, yes, Canandaigua Lake — recently unveiled the Willowbrook Spa, which boasts lakeside barrel sauna sessions among other innovative treatments. Sandwiched between Cayuga and Canandaigua lakes is Seneca Lake, home to the largest of the Finger Lakes wine trails (this might be riesling country, but don't knock the lighter-bodied reds till you try 'em) and foodie draws like the 14-seat F.L.X. Table . Travelers visiting in the coming year will also see the Finger Lakes festival roster return in full force, including Rochester's Lilac Festival in May and International Jazz Festival in July, as well as attractions for the historically inclined road tripper, like Cayuga County's celebration of Harriet Tubman's birth through a number of walking tours and activations rolled out through 2022. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

17. Franklin, Tennessee

Despite its count of more than 80,000 year-round residents, the very walkable Franklin firmly grasps onto its small-town charms , starting with a quintessentially quaint downtown chock-full of shops and restaurants finding shelter in brick storefronts lining the sidewalks. The uninitiated might know this place for its past — Civil War museums, battleground sites, and historical markers telling the stories of a slave market, race riots, and Black soldiers in the U.S. Colored Troop division of the army all offer points of education and reflection. But the southern city has many modern-day draws as well — for starters, an exciting food and drink scene that includes the Tennessee Whiskey Trail and Arrington Vineyards , the largest winery in the region. Musical events and venues abound, too: The Pilgrimage Music Festival is one of the biggest in the state, and the 7,500-seat FirstBank Amphitheater , newly opened inside a former rock quarry, has welcomed the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Santana to its stage. There's also Leiper's Fork , a quirky-cool enclave filled with antique shops and art galleries. Even more brand-new to the scene is Southall , a 325-acre farm and inn with 62 rooms and suites and 16 cottages opening this June. The lush setting amid rolling hills makes active adventures (hiking, biking, kayaking), wellness pursuits (a spa, meditation, yoga, and two outdoor pools), and nourishing food (the restaurant uses ingredients grown, raised, and foraged on the property) easy to find. All of this and more lie just a short, 30-minute drive from bustling Nashville, making it tempting to tack onto a visit to the capital city. — Alisha Prakash

18. Galápagos Islands

The world's largest marine biosphere reserve will expand more than 20,000 square miles next year thanks to a recent presidential decree . The conservation measure seeks to combat illegal fishing by offering increased protection to the thousands of species that populate the archipelago's waters as well as a migration corridor stretching up to Costa Rica used by sharks, whales and other sea life. Come January, travelers can cruise this UNESCO-protected region on new nine-day adventures from Hurtigruten Expeditions and outfitter Metropolitan Touring aboard the 90-guest carbon-neutral MS Santa Cruz II. For a more intimate experience, passengers can book Aqua Expeditions ' seven-suite 164-foot superyacht, Aqua Mare, when it debuts in May. At the end of the year, eco-enthusiasts can sail to lesser-explored islands to spot giant tortoises, sea lions, flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and marine iguanas on Quasar Expeditions ' new sustainable yacht — the 18-passenger M/Y Conservation featuring biodegradable amenities, renewable energy and a carbon-neutral footprint. Those with timid sea legs should check into the locally owned and run Montemar in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. — Nora Walsh

19. Greater Palm Springs, California

Greater Palm Springs is kicking its signature self-care into high gear in the coming year. Taking a cue from its sister property, Sensei Lanai , the new Sensei Porcupine Creek is converting a 230-acre private estate into a luxury wellness experience in Rancho Mirage in 2022. In Palm Springs proper, Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza will celebrate Indigenous art and history alongside the new Spa at Séc-he , where visitors will soak in approximately 12,000-year-old hot springs. Nearby, Fleur Noire Hotel just opened its adults-only casitas and bungalows, with a speakeasy Champagne bar to follow. Unexpectedly, the desert has a budding surf scene — the former Wet 'n Wild waterpark is becoming Palm Springs Surf Club , with a state-of-the-art wave pool, spa, restaurant, and bar; DSRT Surf is set to open a 5.5-acre wave lagoon in Palm Desert; and Kelly Slater himself is bringing a green energy–powered wave basin to Coral Mountain , a proposed new wellness resort with a hotel and residences, set to open in La Quinta by 2023 pending city approvals. And for entertainment outside the splash zone, the $250-million Coachella Valley Arena will host hockey, concerts, and more live events by the end of the year. — Nina Ruggiero

20. Greenville, South Carolina

Once in the shadow of Charleston and Asheville, Greenville has emerged in recent years as a go-to destination in its own right — and it keeps giving travelers more reasons to visit. In 2022, the city of just over 70,000 people will welcome a luxury boutique hotel, unveil a new public gathering place, and build on its well-earned reputation as a culinary and craft beer hotspot. The long-awaited, 187-room Grand Bohemian hotel is expected to open its doors this spring, complete with a two-story restaurant and bar, art gallery, and spa. The 60-acre Unity Park will feature plenty of greenspace, an observation tower, baseball fields, playgrounds, and walking and biking trails. And recently opened restaurants, including French Laundry alum Drew Erickson's Camp , Urban Wren, Coral, and an outpost of Nashville's famous Prince's Hot Chicken located inside Yee-Haw Brewing will ensure you're well-fed while in town. — Kevin Gray

21. Ilha Caldeira, Mozambique

While South Africa and Uganda grab headlines for African wildlife, Mozambique has been quietly making strides protecting 17 percent of its land — including beaches, coral reefs, and islands — showcasing its dedication to its natural beauty both on land and underwater. Ever since the country's 16-year civil war ended in 1992, the southeastern African nation has been aiming to build back in the right ways. Case in point: the private island of Ilha Caldeira, less than seven miles off the coast as part of the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago, located within the marine-protected area with 20 percent of the country's intact living coral. It's here that the eco-luxury Banyan Tree resort chain has developed one of its most ambitious projects yet, a five-star property — accessible by jetty or helicopter — with 40 private pool villas that will be completely solar powered. Add to that a fish market restaurant with a 270-degree ocean view, the brand's trademark Banyan Tree Spa, and world-class diving, all in a too-pristine-to-believe beach setting, and this island escape is sure to draw attention away from its Indian Ocean neighbors when it opens at the end of 2022. — Rachel Chang

22. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Those wary of traveling internationally in 2022 will find solace in Jackson Hole, a mountain town with endless open space (Wyoming is the least populated state in the U.S.) and plenty to do. In the winter, life revolves around Jackson Hole Mountain Resort , home to some of the nation's best skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, plan your trip around the Jackson Hole Food & Wine Summer Festival (June 23-25) or head to the nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. For easy access to the mountain town, travelers can hop on one of Aero's high-end, seasonal flights and stay at The Cloudveil off the Town Square or the Caldera House at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. — Evie Carrick

23. Kafue National Park, Zambia

Straddling three regions of Zambia, Kafue National Park is the largest (and oldest) in the country, measuring 8,648 miles. In the wildlife-rich Busanga plains — located in the secluded northern side of the park — spend the night at newly opened Chisa Busanga Camp in their bird's nest shaped rooms. Enjoy a silent safari, thanks to e-cruisers or an e-bike safari provided by the property. See wildlife from above with a hot air balloon safari from Shumba Camp or Busanga Bush Camp . Other accommodation offerings in the park include riverfront Ila Safari Lodge and Mukambi Safari Lodge . Both properties offer fishing, walking safaris, boat cruises, and have Instagram worthy pools (perfect for a soak and the traditional safari sundowner: a gin and tonic). — Mazuba Kapambwe

24. Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas, Lithuania has a lofty New Year's resolution. After a century of wars, Soviet rule, and, since the 1990s, independence, this UNESCO Creative City of Design is ready to cultivate a new identity — and it's doing so as one of two European Capitals of Culture for 2022 (alongside Novi Sad, Serbia). The festivities commence in January, with thousands of concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and events throughout the year to celebrate Kaunas' history while cementing its path forward . Also this year, Kaunas will welcome the highly anticipated $30 million Science Island, Lithuania's first national science and innovation center designed by UK firm Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). By May, the city's former Magnus Hotel will reopen with sparkly new digs and a posh rooftop under the ibis Styles umbrella . This lively city is also a main stop on the recently unveiled 1,330-mile Forest Trail across the Baltics. And, a host of just-announced Ryanair flight routes, including Madrid to Kaunas, will make visiting this capital of culture a breeze. — Stephanie Vermillion

25. Kyushu, Japan

Kyushu may be less than two hours from Tokyo by plane, but it feels far from Honshū's well-beaten tourist circuit. The southwesternmost Japanese main island is still largely unexplored, providing those willing to venture off the beaten path with a much different Japan than the one they'll find in its cities. As a warm, subtropical island, Kyushu is home to long, golden beaches and some of Japan's best snorkeling and scuba diving. Inland, the country's most active volcano, Mt. Aso, feeds the island's myriad natural hot springs — many of which offer sea views. And while the island has accommodations that include both hot spring resorts and luxury beachfront villas , nothing tops a stay at Hirado Castle , which was recently restored and renovated to welcome visitors overnight . — Evie Carrick

26. Lanai, Hawaii

Wellness opportunities and cultural awareness are showcased along with luxury at Lanai's two Four Seasons resorts. At Sensei Lāna'i, A Four Seasons Resort , guests can now choose the Discover Sensei Experience , offering the ability to enjoy the retreat's amenities without joining the more comprehensive programs. New "Optimal Wellbeing" programs focus on improving performance in tennis and golf along with overall wellness. Four Seasons Resort Lanai is adding an observatory as part of "Love Lanai," featuring cultural experiences designed to share the island's rich heritage. The observatory program will center around the history of Pacific voyaging, native traditions, and astronomy. — Patricia Doherty

27. Las Vegas, Nevada

Never bet against the house: The pandemic may have put a damper on Las Vegas, but the ever-on-the-move city is back in a big way for 2022. A massive new development on the Strip, Resorts World Las Vegas, opened in June, has three distinct Hilton properties under one enormous roof, not to mention more than 40 restaurants and bars, plus pools (plural), and a handful of $15,000-a-night villas . Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the Cromwell , and downtown's Circa Resort & Casino are also giving visitors fresh options on where to stay. The city's pro sports teams — also now plural — are drawing in fans. And off-Strip "immersive experiences," like the Omega Mart by Meow Wolf and the Illuminarium, both at Area15 , are lending an additional layer of things to do beyond the expected. Not that there's anything wrong with splashing out on dinner and a show after the past two years. Live acts — like Adele's just-announced residency at The Colosseum — are once again hot tickets, as is a table at chic new supper club Delilah , at the Wynn Las Vegas. Some things, thankfully, never change. — Paul Brady

28. Louisville, Kentucky

Your cowboy boots were made for walking the streets of Louisville. Nicknamed "The Bourbon City," an official gateway to Kentucky's bourbon trail, the city is expanding its bourbon footprint in 2022. In October, the Urban Bourbon Trail welcomed the first and only African American–owned distillery in the state, Brough Brothers . Meanwhile, its trailmate, Angel's Envy , will wrap its $8.2-million expansion project complete with a new event space and five tasting rooms in the spring. The city is most well known for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby every spring at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack, and the Downs will open the first installment of its multi-year expansion plan, the Homestretch Club , just in time for the 2022 Derby. There, attendees will be able to enjoy the race with an all-new trackside lounge experience. — Hannah Streck

29. Malaysia

Malaysia is home to a beautiful medley of cultures (Chinese, Indian, and Malay) and a diverse smattering of terrain: bustling cities with towering buildings, verdant rain forests with incredible wildlife, and idyllic islands with dreamy beaches. But all of this and more has been closed to the world for much of the pandemic. Now that the island of Langkawi is open via a travel bubble, with the rest of the country expected to follow suit in 2022, travelers can once again experience Malaysia's many gifts. Langkawi, a beach lover's paradise, blends unspoiled nature (UNESCO-listed Kilim Karst Geoforest Park ) and unparalleled luxury ( Four Seasons Resort , Datai Langkawi ), while cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur draws visitors with its gleaming Petronas Towers, delicious hawker food stalls, and shopping. Then there's Borneo, complete with wildlife-packed jungles and a rich Indigenous culture, as well as Desaru Coast, a 3,900-acre area that's home to coveted resorts like the One&Only Desaru Coast , a tropical oasis that opened in early September 2020 (the brand's first in Asia). — Alisha Prakash

30. Maldives

The Maldives' 1,000+ islands sit in the Indian Ocean like a string of turquoise pearls. The tropical nirvana has 166 accommodation options, including the new Joali Being nature retreat, which leads guests on a transformative wellness journey. Alila Kothaifaru Maldives debuts in February with 80 beach and overwater villas on the Raa Atoll. Coming to the same atoll in May, also with 80 luxury villas, is Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa on a massive lagoon primed for snorkeling. The ever-innovative Soneva Fushi has a new experience that includes zip-lining to a six-course meal 30 feet about the sand. Along with Soneva Jani, they've debuted Soneva Soul , a new spa complex melding ancient and modern techniques. Other vacation favorites are unveiling new digs like the sleek, contemporary renovation of Naladhu Private Island and the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island , debuting in February. — Katie Lockhart

31. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is considered one of the sailing capitals of the world. It is home to the largest fleet of America's Cup 12 Meter yachts , most of which are available for charter. In May, the coastal town is welcoming a Sailing Museum that is sure to solidify that title. Over the past few years, a slew of hotel openings have closed a much-needed gap for luxury accommodations, including Hammett's Hotel , Brenton Hotel , and The Wayfinder Hotel . The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection is debuting the property's highly anticipated transformation conceived by Dallas-based design collective Swoon — the lobby, dining room, and shared areas are now complete with guest rooms finishing early next year. Renowned beverage executive Maxwell Britten has joined the team as chief cocktail curator alongside an amazing chef who cooks up a selection of elevated pub-inspired dishes. And don't miss Giusto , at Hammett's Hotel, which serves up excellent Italian with a Rhode Island twist. — Scott Bay

32. Nile Cruise, Egypt

There is no trip that will convert you to a life of river cruising quite like a sail down (well, technically, up) the Nile. In fact, the world's first river cruises sailed in Egypt, a country designed around the central waterway, where it makes sense that the Nile would act as your home base. A typical Egyptian river cruise sets sail from Cairo to Luxor and then Aswan, with the occasional stop to visit an island temple along the way — complete with sights like the Pyramids, Valley of Kings and Queens, Nefertari's tomb, and the Temple of Kom Ombo. In 2022, there's more than one new river cruise to choose from, between Uniworld's newly launched S.S. Sphinx and AmaWaterways' Amadahlia , both of which sailed their inaugural voyages in fall 2021. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

In late 2021, Panama launched a tourism platform along with the coolest tagline in travel: " Live for More ." With a booming coffee scene and a renewed focus on its culture, history, and biodiversity , the Central American nation is ready for its moment in the spotlight. It's an attractive place for those looking to get out of resort mode and into a world open for exploration and adventure. Immersive environmental experiences abound here, including trekking through the rainforest on its suspended hanging bridges and walking to the top of the Volcán Barú, an active volcano with both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean views from the top. There is also abundant opportunity to learn from Panama's seven Indigenous communities, each of whom offer their own personalized experiences and are happy to share their craftsmanship and traditions. Panama offers plenty of luxury, too. In its capital city, check into the American Trade Hotel , centrally located in Panama's Casco Viejo district, a historic neighborhood which happens to also be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. — Stacey Leasca

34. Phuket, Thailand

Before the pandemic, Phuket was beautiful but crowded, full of beach bars and tourists chasing all-nighters. It's still full of energy and surrounded by the same pristine sea glass–colored water, but its luxurious side is finally getting the attention it deserves, from its high-end coffee shops to its cocktail bars. Hide from the world in paradise with a stay in one of the private pool residences at Trisara , featuring kitchens, a private chef, butler service, and breathtaking views over the sea, as well as access to the resort's PRU restaurant , which has earned both a Michelin star and a Michelin green star. Or book a stay at the brand-new V Villas Phuket , which offers a curated selection of 19 private-pool, 1-, 3-, and 4-bedroom villas. Later, party the night away in Phuket Old Town with inventive cocktails at Club No. 43 (think: rum with grilled pineapple juice and espuma), or settle in for a great dinner and a night of daring performances at the Junkyard Theatre , which just launched a weekly Saturday night show. — Alison Fox

35. Pico, Portugal

The islands of the Azores — a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean some 900 miles west of Lisbon — are more popular than ever, and for 2022, travelers will want to fix their eyes firmly on the second-largest isle: Pico, an alluring, otherworldly locale covered with black, volcanic rocks. Conquering Portugal's highest peak, the cloud-shrouded, 7,713-foot-high Mount Pico, used to be the island's main draw, but a recent uptick in hospitality infrastructure has allowed for more opportunity to partake of Pico's most important agricultural output: wine. Renowned Portuguese winemaker Antonio Maçanita just opened a new winery that comes with bookable design-forward apartments adjacent to the island's unique vineyards. On Pico, grapes are planted on volcanic terroir that are then protected from Atlantic winds with rock walls. Maçanita's ​​ Azores Wine Company 's mineral, sometimes slightly salty wines could be the perfect celebratory drink after a grueling hike.The crashing waves around Pico are beginning to seduce surfers, too. And there are also ample opportunities to watch for marine life thanks to 20 species of dolphins and whales (including humpbacks and orcas) that can be spotted in these waters. But if you'd rather eat what's in the water: Try lapas, a local shellfish delicacy best served grilled with butter and garlic and finished with a squeeze of lemon. Thankfully, getting to experience all of this has never been easier: Starting July 1, United Airlines will for the first time connect Newark to the island of São Miguel (the Azores' largest island), and from there, it's a quick hop over to Pico. Or you could always get there via direct flights from Lisbon or Porto with Tap Air Portugal's stopover program. — Chadner Navarro

36. Quebec, Canada

After over a year of tight pandemic restrictions, Canada reopened to American tourists in 2021, so now might finally be time to plan that trip to the Great White North, starting with the province of Quebec. From the charming, French-influenced cities of Montreal and Quebec City to the region's snow-capped mountains, there's something new to explore every season. In December 2021, the first Club Med mountain resort in Canada, Club Med Quebec Charlevoix , opened, offering all-inclusive ski vacations just a short flight from several major U.S. cities. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a foliage-packed autumn cruise from New York to Montreal in October. No matter what time of year you visit, Le Capitole Hotel in Quebec City and Humaniti Hotel Montreal are top picks for places to stay in the major cities. — Elizabeth Rhodes

37. Queensland, Australia

Australia's highly anticipated international border reopening will be well worth the wait, especially as more travelers seek nuanced cultural experiences and sustainable stays. The northeastern state has long been the gateway for visits to the rightly beloved Great Barrier Reef, and beginning in 2022, visitors can learn about conservation efforts and the ecosystem directly from the area's Traditional Land Owners and Indigenous guides during day trips from Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel . Aboriginal elders and Traditional Land Owners are also working with local operator Gudjuda Tours on a daylong excursion to tag and rescue one of the reef's most beloved creatures: sea turtles. Those who want to take a more extended trip to the Whitsunday Islands can look to Elysian Retreat , recently certified as the area's first fully solar-powered resort, or its carbon-negative sister property Pumpkin Island . Back on the mainland, within the verdant Daintree Rainforest UNESCO World Heritage Site, eco-luxury hideaway Silky Oaks Lodge will finally welcome guests back after its $15-million overhaul. — Sarah Bruning

38. Santa Ynez Valley, California

Two hours from L.A., the Santa Ynez Valley is rural, unassuming, and coming into its own. The region has grown grapes for decades and has even made a Hollywood cameo in the movie Sideways. The arrival of newer tasting rooms, restaurants, and hotels in recent years has firmly put the area on oenophiles' and travelers' radars. Start with a private olive oil tasting at Global Gardens and hard cider at Tin City Cider in Los Olivos. Follow with pizza pies at Full of Life Flatbread and vino at nearby female-owned A Tribute to Grace and Casa Dumetz . Detour to Firestone Walker 's outpost in Buellton for a few limited edition craft brews and finish with dishes such as roasted tomato and fennel risotto at the Ballard Inn's Gathering Table . Though it's technically just beyond the boundaries of the valley in Lompoc, The Hilt Estate , is too good to miss. And once it opens this year as an Auberge property, The Inn at Mattei's Tavern will make for the perfect base from which to explore it all. — Tanvi Chheda

39. São Paulo, Brazil

Known for its dynamic combination of luxury, design, and fashion influence, São Paulo is an international metropolitan hub of arts and culture. It's the largest city in South America, hosting an array of entertainment opportunities such as fabulous hotels, decadent restaurants, high-class museums, and iconic mid-century architecture. With airlines including American adding flights throughout Brazil in 2022 and a flourishing hospitality renaissance throughout the city, São Paulo is well prepared for its anticipated influx of new travelers. A must-visit destination for 2022 is the Rosewood São Paulo , located in the heart of São Paulo's Cidade Matarazzo and housed in a historic landmark building. Here, visitors will encounter 200-plus luxurious guest rooms, suites, and residences, plus six restaurants and bars and two pools. — Molly O'Brien

40. Savannah, Georgia

This coastal Georgia city is rightly famous for its atmospheric, moss-draped streets and squares, not to mention its hundreds of years of history. But lately Savannah has been boosted by creativity and innovation outside the sometimes frozen-in-amber Old Town, which means now is a particularly compelling time to visit. Make home base the brand-new Thompson Savannah , a slick 13-story tower with interiors by Studio 11 Design that anchors the still-developing Eastern Wharf neighborhood. Phase one of the 54-acre development, which aims to turn a once-industrial waterfront into a contemporary mixed-use destination, includes hundreds of apartments, fitness trails, access to the Savannah River, and multiple bars and restaurants, including Fleeting , a seasonally driven spot inside the Thompson. At the same time, Savannah's other major waterfront destination has also come into its own. The Plant Riverside District, a stone's throw from Old Town, marked its official grand opening in November 2021, putting a bow on a bustling JW Marriott hotel , countless restaurants and bars, and multiple live performance venues all along a rebuilt waterfront. Not that all the action is along the river: The ever-evolving Starland District, a short drive from Johnson Square, has its share of hangouts including Starland Yard , a food truck park that's also home to the excellent Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana ; Two Tides Brewing Company , which pours hazy ales and delicious sours in a super-cool taproom; and Troupial , a Venezuelan cafe. You'll also want to pack Wildsam Savannah , a newly released field guide that helps visitors understand the layers of history (and the contemporary politics) that are fueling the latest renaissance in Savannah. — Paul Brady

41. Seattle, Washington

Few places offer both an urban and a natural escape in one destination — and the Emerald City might be one of the best. The city center is world-class with top hotel accommodations ( Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and Thompson Seattle ), locally focused fine dining, and countless cultural sites. Then, just minutes away from all of that is some of the most stunning outdoor recreation out there. Adding to the city's luster is the newly opened Lotte Hotel Seattle . The 189-room tower is bringing high design and refined service to the area. Charlotte , the hotel's restaurant on the 18th floor, serves up an inventive menu that is sure to become an all-time favorite dining experience. The landmark Fairmont Olympic Hotel recently completed a $25-million historic restoration of its public spaces, quickly becoming one of the most Instagrammable spots in town. Plus, its buzzy new culinary showpiece will debut in the months to come. Before leaving Seattle, don't miss a meal at celebrated pasta specialist Brian Clevenger's new restaurant, Autumn . — Scott Bay

42. Sedona, Arizona

Makito Umekita/Travel + Leisure

With tourism already surging thanks to the Instagram fame of attractions like Devil's Bridge, Sedona garnered even more of a following during the pandemic among cooped-up city dwellers enthralled by the destination's red rocks and energy vortexes. In 2022, set your sights on North America's first landscape hotel, Ambiente , home to 40 standalone accommodations (called "atriums"), most with private rooftop decks perfect for stargazing. Opening in May, the sustainability-focused retreat will offer on-site trailhead access — further immersing guests in the Sedona landscape while combating traffic along the city's main highway — and reactivate an ancient waterway to populate a stream running throughout the hotel. Experience Sedona's culinary clout right on property at Ambiente's restaurant, Forty1, housed in a refurbished airstream, or venture next door to Mariposa , the city's must-visit restaurant by chef Lisa Dahl, who pioneered fine dining in this town. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

43. Singapore

Singapore reopened to vaccinated American travelers in October 2021 with the introduction of the country's Vaccinated Travel Lane . Travelers can fly from the U.S. on Singapore Airlines' vaccine-mandatory flights ; the World's Best airline 26 years running launched Vaccinated Travel Lane flights this fall, and United Airlines plans to follow suit by January 2022. Even in the early stages of reopening to foreign travelers, the city-state is already unveiling new culinary ventures. Recently, chef Julien Royer, behind three-Michelin-star Odette, opened Claudine , and Raffles Singapore unveiled Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse, while Marina Bay Sands plans to debut chef Tetsuya Wakuda's second restaurant within the hotel in the new year. Of course, there's just as much flavor to be found at Singapore's famed hawker centers, now on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. As tourists return to Singapore, new cultural attractions follow — from the return of Singapore Art Week, beginning Jan. 14, to the recent unveiling of SkyHelix Sentosa , an open-air ride towering 300 feet above sea level, for anyone still in need of thrills after a 17-hour flight over the Pacific. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

44. Southwest Michigan

Beaches with ocean-like views were once the main draw to Michigan's southwest coast, but new high-style accommodations and hyper-local experiences are giving us more reasons to go. Where to stay with so many options? Consider the cool new motel-turned-boutique Lake Shore Resort in Saugatuck; The Fields glamping retreat with new spa tents in South Haven; the revamped, modern Harbor Grand Hotel in New Buffalo; or anywhere along the coast with high-touch Bluefish Vacation Rentals , which has killer lakefront homes now stocked with handmade local goods. Hop on the new pedestrian/bike trail in Union Pier, and definitely shop two new woman-owned standouts: the beautifully curated Haven and Ariane Prewitt's AP Cottage, scheduled to open this spring. Women are showing off the culinary scene, too, with everything from a special saison ale — winner of the 2021 Great American Beer Festival — at woman-owned Waypost Brewing Co. , to new herb-inspired cocktails at James Beard-winning chef Melissa Corey's Penny Royal Café & Provisions , to James Beard nominee Abra Beherns' Granor Farm , where dinners return this year in a new glass-enclosed barn. — Nina Kokotas Hahn

45. St. Moritz, Switzerland

If you're on the hunt for glitz, glamour, and powder for days, look no further than St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Alpine ski town has long been considered the birthplace of winter vacationing. Tourists first flocked to the mountain town in 1864 , when hotelier Johannes Badrutt took a few British travelers to the community, promising them bluebird days all winter. It wasn't long until others learned about this hidden winter oasis. Skiers and winter sports enthusiasts flocked to the mountain, which has now hosted the Winter Olympic Games not once, but twice. It's an ideal place for ski bunnies too, thanks to its luxury shopping, and its numerous Michelin-starred restaurants . This winter, head to St. Moritz for its fantastic events like White Surf (Feb. 6, 13, and 20, 2022), an international horse race that takes place across the frozen Lake St. Moritz, and the Snow Polo World Cup (Jan. 28-30, 2022), which happens to be the world's only high-goal tournament on snow. Book a stay at the Badrutt's Palace Hotel , which officially reopened on Dec. 3 for the 2021/2022 season and offers guests the chance to try their hand at high-octane winter sports like skijöring, snowkiting, tobogganing, and even private helicopter tours to the peaks of Piz Bernina and Piz Palü. — Stacey Leasca

46. St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida

The beaches of St. Petersburg and nearby Clearwater are consistently ranked among the best in the U.S. and even the world , but there's more to this destination than white sand, pristine waters, and 361 days of sunshine per year. St. Pete/Clearwater offers more than 30 museums and galleries featuring world-renowned artists like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, as well as the largest collection of Salvador Dalí's work outside of Spain. One could say brewing the perfect beer is also an artform that St. Pete/Clearwater has mastered, with its trail of 35+ locally owned craft breweries. Playfully nicknamed the " Gulp Coast ," complete your experience with a digital passport that tracks your beer-sampling progress. These year-round offerings mean you can visit any time, but head over in June 2022 to revel in the 20th anniversary of St. Pete Pride , the largest Pride event in Florida, hosting events for everyone from friends and families to couples and solo travelers. — Jessica Poitevien

47. Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos is one of Mexico's pueblo mágicos, or "magic towns," and locals are working to retain its history and culture while embracing the steady stream of travelers who have begun venturing an hour north of Cabo San Lucas to discover its charm. The area saw a handful of new boutique resorts pop up in 2021 that provide luxury amenities while keeping the rugged land and local flora the centerpiece. Wellness-focused Paradero describes itself as a "landscaping project" that just so happens to have luxurious suites, and El Perdido , an all-villa resort less than five miles south, provides all-terrain vehicles so visitors can get to Los Cerritos beach, the local surf break of choice. Oceanfront Rancho Pescadero 's multimillion-dollar transformation will be complete in the spring. Bookings for its oceanfront villas and penthouse rooms — some with private rooftops and plunge pools — open in January. Todos Santos has fully embraced farm-to-table dining, with Javier Plascencia's orchard-adjacent Jazamango leading the way, and Santa Terra , a cosmopolitan oyster bar meets arts and entertainment venue concept, is in the process of adding multiple bars and restaurants, plus a glamping site and amphitheater, according to its developer, "without chopping down a single tree." — Nina Ruggiero

48. Udaipur, India

After an extremely challenging 20-month closure, India reopened to vaccinated travelers on Nov. 15, 2021. Those looking toward South Asia in the new year, perhaps to see the Taj Mahal in Agra or hit the Goan beaches, should make sure Udaipur is on the itinerary. The city of lakes in southern Rajasthan is thought of as the most romantic Indian destination (even called the "Venice of the East") — but it's not just for honeymooners. From the vibrance of Hathi Pol bazaar and Shilpgram , an artisanal compound on the outskirts of the city with a festival set to return on Jan. 22, to the serenity of Lake Pichola, the artificial lake made in the 14th century, Udaipur is a city where you can fully immerse in Rajasthani culture. A hub of Indian luxury, Udaipur is now home to the country's first Raffles hotel, which opened in October. This private island hotel on Udai Sagar Lake is accessible only by boat — something of a trademark for the over-the-top hotels of Udaipur. Meant to be a flagship hotel in the Raffles portfolio, complete with brand staples (think: bars, both Long and Writers), 101 lavish suites, Rasoi cooking school, and lakeside open-air restaurant Belvedere Point. — Maya Kachroo-Levine

49. Wales, United Kingdom

The only path in the world to follow the whole of a country's coastline, the Wales Coastal Path celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022. Walking its 870 miles would take three months, but its most spectacular stretches can be seen in one visit — and in style. St David's in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, is Britain's smallest city with a mere population of 1,600 and is home to a Medieval cathedral , a luxury hotel inside Roch Castle , some excellent pubs, and the upscale St David's Gin & Kitchen . Hiking paths with unbeatable coastal vistas are within easy reach (try the St David's Head loop ) and pass neolithic tombs and hillforts. — Jamie Carter

50. Yucatán, Mexico

Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán, has emerged as one of Mexico's most popular cities thanks to its lively restaurant scene, a busy calendar of cultural events, and a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Increasingly, however, travelers are venturing beyond the city to explore the state's unspoiled nature reserves, ancient Maya sites, and sprawling haciendas — a number now converted into hotels. Among the destinations that are drawing travelers to Yucatán are El Cuyo, a quiet beach town that was long a closely guarded secret of windsurfers. Now visitors can also enjoy gourmet Mexican fare at the El Chile Gordo restaurant and boho-chic lodgings at the new Casa Mate . In Espita, a charming colonial town near Valladolid, is the Casona los Cedros hotel which opened in summer 2021. Sisal, a historic port in the western part of the state, has attracted new interest since being named a Pueblo Mágico at the end of 2020. A new highway completed in April now connects Sisal to Hunucmá (and then beyond to Mérida) making it easier for beachcombers to visit, and perhaps spend the night at the cool Club de Patos . — John Newton

51. Bonus: Space

This was a monumental year for human spaceflight — not only did NASA and SpaceX achieve a regular cadence of astronaut launches for the first time since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, but space tourism has also lifted off in a major way, making space a top destination to visit in 2022. And it's a realistic trip, too, so long as you have the budget for it. Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic succeeded in taking passengers to space on short suborbital hops this year, and each company plans to ramp up those flights in 2022 — Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 bookings. The price for a quick jaunt to space? A few hundred thousand dollars . If you have an even bigger budget (say, a couple hundred million dollars), you could charter your own orbital flight in a SpaceX Dragon Capsule, as did entrepreneur Jared Issacman with his Inspiration4 mission in September. There are also tourism trips to the International Space Station in the works; Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa launches on his multi-day journey in December, courtesy of space travel agency Space Adventures and Russia's Roscosmos space agency, which plans to take even more " citizen space explorers " to the orbiting laboratory in the near future. Of course, not everyone has pockets deep enough to cover space travel, but more affordable journeys are on the horizon. Startup Space Perspective plans to launch high-altitude balloon rides to the edge of space in 2024 , for the relatively low price of $125,000. Potential dealbreaker, though — the balloons don't actually reach space, maxing out at 100,000 feet in altitude, while space is considered to begin somewhere between 264,000 feet (50 miles) and 327,360 feet ​​(62 miles). But hey, at least there's a bar on board. — Stefanie Waldek

50 Best Vacation Spots & Places To Visit In The World

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: June 24, 2019  - Last updated: October 17, 2023

Best Vacation Spots

There’s no shortage of amazing, awe-inspiring, fascinating locations to visit in this world that we live in.

With 195 countries to choose from, each with their own rich cultures and special attractions, it can be tricky to decide which one to take a trip to.

The secret lies in simply picking one, then working your way through them all!

Table of Contents

1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the undisputed best vacation spots for anyone who wants the opportunity to glimpse one of the most incredible marvels of nature.

The reef spans across 2,300 kilometers and is so huge that it can actually be spotted from outer space!

Tourists will be able to enjoy the amazing sights of unique marine animals and plants, interacting with each other in perfect harmony.

You can dive or snorkel in the area to really get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna.

2. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Creative Travel Projects / Shutterstock

The Plitvice Lakes can be found on Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast, just lingering on the border between Zadar and the nation’s capital, Zagreb.

These lakes consist of 16 bodies of water that are all joined together by a variety of cascading waterfalls and fascinating bridges, flanked by age-old emerald forests that hold wildlife aplenty: birds, wolves, bears, and more!

Enjoy walks in one of the top travel destinations in the country across a variety of paths, both natural and man-made, and explore the wide expanse between the lowest altitude lakes of 280 meters and the highest 1,000 meters above it.

You can even take a ferry to travel between them!

3. Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

YURY TARANIK / Shutterstock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous vacation spots in the world, and with good reason!

It’s one of the world’s Seven Wonders and it serves as a symbol of true, never-ending love.

This mausoleum is, contrary to popular belief, not a palace – but the final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal, built by her husband for her.

This architectural success is a prime example of the finest in Mughal architecture, with four completely identical sides over its 240-foot height.

Its appearance shifts ever so slightly throughout the day with the sunlight, and you can see its reflection ripple in its huge pool beneath.

Plus, stroll through the large garden outside for even more beautiful magnificence!

4. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

Lukas Bischoff Photograph / Shutterstock

Few people consider these African nations as among the best countries to visit, but those people are missing out!

Victoria Falls is one of the earth’s largest waterfalls, reaching a majestic 355 feet in height and spanning across an entire mile.

Its rush of falling water is the biggest of its kind, with the shocking speed of 550,000 cubic meters per minute.

On top of that, Victoria Falls is among the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, and its mist that shrouds the area can be seen from 50 kilometers away, creating a rainbow!

It is also responsible for the constant, non-stop rainfall experienced by the rainforest around River Zambezi.

5. Grand Canyon National Park, USA

Grand Canyon National Park

Wisanu Boonrawd / Shutterstock

If you like traveling at all, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of the best places to visit.

It is rich in history thanks to its layered red rock bands that are a testament to millions upon millions of years of change and development in its geology.

There are countless spots that offer breathtaking views of the park.

Lipan Point is arguably the most popular, with its stunning vista of the Colorado River and the canyon all in one, but the Yavapai Observation Station and Mather Point, among others, are just as worthy of a visit.

6. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Martin Valigursky / Shutterstock

Bora Bora is an island paradise isolated from much of the world, in the middle of the South Pacific ocean.

It is one of the world’s most famous go-to honeymoon locations. It hosts a dormant volcano, which is encircled by thick, gorgeous green.

This is the perfect spot to just kick it back and relax. It’s romantic and close to nature, yet is extravagant in its elegance.

You’ll want for nothing in this heaven-like spot.

7. Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

tenkl / Shutterstock

Petra is an awe-inspiring archaeological site that holds so much history and breathtaking majesty that it is easily one of the best vacation spots in the world.

This ancient city hails from the 5th century BC and is a world heritage site that boasts countless amazing structures made from cut rock.

Petra houses temples, altars, tombs, and all manners of buildings, and its location between the Red and Dead Seas makes it all the more mysterious.

Beautifully decorated sights wait to be seen!

8. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove of Kyoto, Japan

Joshua Davenport / Shutterstock

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is among the best places to travel in the already attraction-packed nation of Japan.

Located along Kyoto’s outskirts, this grove is packed with countless bamboo trees, all growing to amazing heights that have to be seen to be believed.

Plus, this grove is a treat for all your senses.

Not only is it a gorgeous sight to see, but it has also been named among the top 100 Soundscapes of Japan by the country’s Ministry of Environment.

This means you can bask in the melancholic rustling of leaves and creaking of wood, alongside just seeing the endless mass of bamboo.

9. Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge, England

Abdoabdalla / Shutterstock

Stonehenge is such a mysterious location, which is why it is one of the best places to visit in the world.

Heavy rocks sit in a semi-organized pile in the middle of a valley, balanced on each other.

It’s unknown who exactly put them there, what they were for, or even how they all were brought to that spot and arranged.

A guided tour will show you around the area, and you’ll be impressed with how much beauty such a simple-looking landmark can hold.

If you’re there at the right time, you can even watch as the sunset casts a bittersweet glow over the pillars.

10. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Oleg Voronische / Shutterstock

Amalfi Coast is a fantastic getaway for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for some calm relaxation, you’re itching for some fresh seafood, or you desire something more adventurous, Amalfi Coast is one of the best vacation spots you can hope for.

13 towns along the cliffside provide hiking trails and a sense of warm civilization, while beaches provide the white expanses of sand perfect for a picturesque lounge.

Look over from a luxury hotel and marvel at the view – wide cliffs, green trees, and the deep blue sea.

11. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Machu Picchu may have been famous for a long time, but it’s one of the more recently discovered old archaeological ruins, and it’s definitely one of the top best places to travel in the world.

These Incan ruins are full of mystery and intrigue, making them a stunner for historians and those who study them.

The ruins contain plenty of interesting spots, including the famed Temple of the Sun, and the view from the peak of these ruins is more than worth the trip all on its own.

You can also take a hike along the trails left behind to witness even more of the stunning Incan heritage on display.

12. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA

Beautiful Niagara Falls

TRphotos / Shutterstock

The Niagara Falls , positioned on the border between America and Canada, is a once-in-a-lifetime type of trip that you won’t regret.

There are two ranges, each located on either side of the border, and both are equally cool places to check out.

The Falls have a natural whirlpool along the base, and a boat ride is available for those who want to even more fully explore the waterways.

If you go in the evening, you’ll be treated to a spectacle of the rushing water illuminated in vibrant hues.

Planning a visit to Toronto? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Toronto !

13. Cappadocia, Turkey

Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia

Ozerov Alexander / Shutterstock

Cappadocia is likely one of the most intriguing vacation spots in the world.

This is because of its fascinating, unique, and borderline bizarre natural structures known as fairy chimneys.

These are geological formations made from rock, shaped in cones, that form in a variety of sizes as volcanic ash solidifies.

On top of this interesting phenomenon, Cappadocia also hosts underground structures of all kinds that served as homes, stores, and cities all the way in the 4th century.

You can even spot some Byzantine art in monasteries.

14. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Yevhenii Chulovskyi / Shutterstock

You may feel like Neuschwanstein Castle looks familiar.

That’s because the famed Cinderella’s Castle building, located in Disney World, is heavily inspired by and modeled after this incredible, opulent palace.

This magnificent structure is built on top of a mountain, and its Bavarian construction is a wonder to behold.

It’s no wonder that it’s one of the top vacation spots in the country.

15. Marble Caves, Argentina/Chile

Marble Caves of Patagonia, Chile

Nektarstock / Shutterstock

The Marble Caves are among the best places to visit if you are a fan of unreal sights that you can barely believe exist.

These caves are found on the border of Chile and Argentina, on the General Carrera Lake, and they are formed through tunnels and caverns that hold some of the most important and beautiful marble depositions the world has to offer.

You’ll be able to see the marble reflected in the vivid water beneath, changing in appearance with the tide and as the seasons turn.

There’s nothing quite like being there in person to witness the superb caves in motion.

16. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

EyesTravelling / Shutterstock

The Cliffs of Moher span 14 kilometers across County Clare, Ireland, and it’s a prime location for untamed, natural beauty.

They’re such an iconic location thanks to their roles in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets and The Princess Bride, where they served as a fantastical location for the perfect scenes.

Whether you’re going for the novelty of visiting a famous movie set or to see the raw allure of the west coast of Ireland, you’re sure to find the Cliffs Moher to be one of the best places to vacation.

17. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

Olga Kot Photo / Shutterstock

The Salar de Uyuni makes for an unusual trip, but it’s still one of the best vacations you might ever go on.

High up in the Andes mountains, this salt flat boasts a range of 4,086 square miles, which makes it the largest on the planet.

Standing on top of the sparkling salt that shines white in the sun, often providing a bright reflection that makes the expanse of land look like a giant mirror.

Plus, you can see all the strange and unique formations of rock there, and the islands around that sprout lots of cacti.

18. Blue Lagoon, Iceland

 Blue Lagoon geothermal spa

Puripat Lertpunyaroj / Shutterstock

If you’re a sucker for a good soak in a hot spring, the Blue Lagoon is one of the best places to travel.

It’s a one-of-a-kind geothermal spa that sits right in the middle of a rather intimidating lava field.

It might sound frightening, but when you see it, you’ll know why it’s such a great place to take a trip to.

It may be a man-made lagoon, but it is home to silent, still white waters, and a lava flow nearby leads to nice, warm water that makes for a wonderful treat for your body.

It’s full of minerals, silica, and other components that will enrich your body and even help some skin conditions.

19. Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

emperorcosar / Shutterstock

The Torres Del Paine National Park is located in the southernmost region of the Andes, and it is full of diverse natural sights to enjoy.

These sights range from wide rivers to emerald forests, from deep lakes to tall mountains, and from cobalt icebergs to golden pampas.

You can explore on foot with a good hike, or head to specific landmarks, such as the French Valley, the granite towers, or Los Cuernos, among others.

There’s so much to see and do, making this park one of the most fun places to go on vacation.

20. Socotra, Yemen

Socotra Island, Yemen

Michail_Vorobyev / Shutterstock

Socotra is one of those unusual places that is more bizarre than normal, but that just makes it one of the best vacation spots for nature-lovers.

It is an archipelago that hosts countless towering dragon’s blood trees, which fan upwards like an umbrella or a giant, branch-filled mushroom.

There is a grand total of 825 rare species of flora on the island of Socotra, and a good third of them can only be seen in this small locale.

Once you’ve had your fill of oddities, you can head to the Shouab beach for some relaxation, too!

21. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

kavram / Shutterstock

The Okavango Delta is one of those travel destinations that have to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

The river delta winds in and out of gorgeous greenery and spans a whopping 49 million acres.

On either side, you’ll be able to spot incredibly diverse wildlife, ranging from predators like cheetahs to herd mammals like elephants, zebras, rhinos, and buffalos.

The best time to visit is likely during Botswana’s winter, which is when the delta floods and leads to lower grasses and much more teeming wildlife.

22. The Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock

The Colosseum is easily one of the world’s top travel destinations.

Known originally as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it originally served as an arena for entertainment through gladiator fights and other similar events.

Now, in modern times, actors continue to roam around the large structure, dressed in gladiator attire and ready for pictures.

Though some areas have become damaged over time, much of this glorious success in architecture remains standing strong, and there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to explore within.

23. Moraine Lake, Canada

Sunrise over Moraine Lake

Rowan Sims Photography / Shutterstock

Moraine Lake is often referred to as the earth’s most stunning and picturesque lake.

It sits within the Banff National Park , where it is nestled in a valley between ten hill and mountain peaks.

The deep, bright turquoise waves gently lap across the rippling lake, and a mineral-rich content allows for a truly brilliant and vibrant hue.

Is that all you can do here? Of course not!

Head here to enjoy one of the best vacation spots in the world – over a hundred scenic hiking trails, countless lodges, and great canoeing opportunities await.

24. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

avenue of the baobabs in Madagascar

The Avenue of the Baobabs, like the name suggests, is home to incredible baobabs that reach up into the sky at 100-foot heights.

Each of these ancient trees appears surreal and almost alien-like in aesthetic as if they leaped right out of the pages of The Little Prince, where they are so whimsically featured.

The Avenue of the Baobabs sits on a rural island in Madagascar, which also hosts unique wildlife, including lemurs that stare at you with wide, big eyes, and some of the largest moth species on the planet.

You wouldn’t think Madagascar is one of the best countries to visit, but with unique traits like that, how can you resist?

25. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro and clouds line at sunset

PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa, and, amazingly, it isn’t connected to a mountain range of any kind.

It hits 19,000 feet in height and is surrounded by flat expanses, so it truly stands out and serves as a noticeable and breathtaking landmark.

This stratovolcano is among the best places to visit for mountain-climbing enthusiasts and nature-lovers alike.

Even if you’re new to mountain climbing and have never done so before, you can still scale this beauty – no technical skill is needed!

26. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

Vaclav Sebek / Shutterstock

The Raja Ampat Islands aren’t just a few specific places – they span 1,500 different small islands that take up 29,000 square miles of ocean, and each one is biodiverse and highly unique.

If you’re up for resplendent nature to feast your eyes on, these islands will be among the best vacations you’ll ever take.

Much of the land’s aesthetic is almost prehistoric, with palm trees growing out of cliffs, lava peaks surrounded and enrobed by delightful jungles, and misty canyons all ready to be explored.

27. Northern Lake Baikal, Russia

Northern Lake Baikal, Russia

Anton Petrus / Shutterstock

Northern Lake Baikal is an extremely large freshwater lake – the biggest on the planet!

If you visit when temperatures are at great lows, you’ll be in for an aesthetically pleasing treat.

Ice sheets form over the top of the water, glowing turquoise and seafoam in the light.

This lake is truly splendid in all its beauty, and it’s really not a surprise that it’s among the best vacation spots in the world.

If you like lakes and can’t resist some ethereal beauty, this is the place for you!

28. Reed Flute Caves, China

Reed Flute Caves in Guilin ,China

TDway / Shutterstock

China’s Reed Flute Caves are among the nation’s best places to travel.

The cave system runs for about 240 meters and it has been open for public viewing for more than a thousand years!

As such, it’s rich in history, intrigue, and fascination.

In modern times, pillars and other cave formations are highlighted by the installation and use of bright colorful lights, which fill the caves with exquisite beauty.

It’s the perfect meshing of worlds between the old and the new, and it’s sure to be a trip you won’t forget!

29. Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Sergey_Bogomyako / Shutterstock

We already know that Norway is easily in the top best places to visit in the world if you want to see grand, dazzling fjords of all kinds.

But of all those hundreds of fjords to visit, Geiranger Fjord is probably the most incredible.

It spans 15 kilometers in length and its coasts are completely inhabitable.

The fjord can be visited by ferry, through kayaking, or by passing through Trollstigen road.

Each option will reward you with a fantastic view of waterfalls and verticals mountains on all sides, leading up to steep cliffs that beg to be climbed on and ziplined off of.

30. Sossusvlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia

evenfh / Shutterstock

Sossusvlei is undeniably one of the best vacation spots in Nambia.

It is a clay and salt pan located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

It is characterized by red dunes that roll, rising and falling, across a wide expanse of land.

They form as a result of the rare rain that reaches the usually dry desert land.

Some flora and fauna linger around this area, having adapted to the rough conditions, but it’s when moisture seeps its way into the environment that it truly flourishes.

A lake forms in Sossusvlei, coaxing thousands of birds to the location in an impressive spectacle.

31. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Sean Heatley / Shutterstock

If you love history and archaeology, Angkor Wat is one of the best places to travel in the world.

Across 400 square kilometers, this temple of the Hindu faith was built in the 12th century under the Khmer Empire and took a whopping 35 years to complete.

Today, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it doesn’t just host the staggering ancient wonders of the temple, but also other attractions for tourists, and plenty of jungle-trekking to get there.

Make sure you’re all geared up early and you just may catch the sunrise!

32. Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan

Darvaza (Derweze) gas crater

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

The Darvaza gas crater, popularly also termed as the Door to Hell, is one of those cool places that you just can’t miss.

Located in the Karakum Desert, it is thusly named because it is a giant pool of crimson lava that gives off huge waves of steamy heat.

Essentially, this crater was formed by the collapse of natural gas field into some caverns below, where it was then, remarkably, deliberately put on fire in order to keep its methane gas content from escaping to the outside.

33. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Iguazu falls

sharptoyou / Shutterstock

The Iguazu Falls isn’t just one single waterfall – it’s a collection of multiple small ones spanning across 3 kilometers, each one cascading down onto the next with raw power and energy that is spectacular to behold.

This shocking spectacle alone easily makes this location rank among the top vacation spots in the world.

This marvelous modern natural wonder sits on the border between Argentina and Brazil, within a larger national park that holds plenty of majesty and whimsy on its own in its rainforests.

Enjoy the sensational magic of the Iguazu Falls and take a trip through the forest beneath after to spot some interesting wildlife!

34. Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Simon Dannhauer / Shutterstock

Tikal can be found within the thick rainforest of Tikal National Park , and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The ruins are archaeological wonders that speak of ancient Mayan culture, and it was once a teeming city occupied between the 6th century BC and the 10th century AD.

Within Tikal, you can find temples and shrines, residences, palaces, and fancy courts and plazas, making this site among the top vacation spots for history lovers.

It also contains six pyramids and numerous stone monuments numbering close to 200.

35. The Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

Globe Guide Media Inc / Shutterstock

The Great Blue Hole may be an odd name to find among the best places to visit, but this sinkhole isn’t just any old lake!

It measures 407 feet in depth and spans across 980 feet in width, and it’s so large that you can spot it beautifully from above.

Divers love to take a dip in this old submarine haunt, and its dark indigo and navy depths just beg to be explored.

If you love water getaways and have an adventurous streak, you’ll love checking out what lies beneath!

36. Zhangye Danxia, China

Zhangye Danxia, China

M. Scheja / Shutterstock

At first glance, Zhangye Danxia looks like it may be photoshopped.

But it’s all natural, and that’s why these Rainbow Mountains are one of the best places to vacation for unique and breathtaking sights.

These mountains make up a geopark and have multicolored stripes, showing off vibrant shades of yellow, red, green, and more.

Trace minerals, erosion, and years of weathering have led to this astonishing phenomenon, made up of mineral deposits and red sandstone that have sat here for over 20 million years.

The place looks like it came right out of a storybook!

37. Vatnajokull Ice Caves, Iceland

By Albert Russ

Albert Russ / Shutterstock

The Vatnajokull Ice Caves are deadly when the ice melts in the spring and summer, but come winter, it’s a tourist’s paradise.

A huge network of caverns, tunnels, and caves appear surreal and breathtaking, reflected in bright teal and cerulean thanks to air bubbles, icebergs, and other factors.

Plus, let’s not forget about the Vatnajokull glacier, which spans 5,500 square miles and is the biggest glacier that the country has to offer.

All in all, this spot is perfect for a wonderful, fantastic vacation full of truly glorious photo opportunities.

Unfortunately, global warming has caused many of these caves to become threatened, so a trip here would be one of the best vacations to plan quickly before it’s too late!

38. Antelope Canyon, USA

Antelope Canyon on a sunny day

canadastock / Shutterstock

This geological phenomenon is located on Navajo territory and it is a slot canyon that boasts the privilege of being the most photographed of its kind universally.

The upper canyon area is more popular and offers a fantastic view of the curving, wavy walls of sandstone, while the lower canyon area boasts a more up-close-and-personal interaction with the magnolias colors it boasts.

Antelope Canyon is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US thanks to the amazing appearance it offers.

It’s amazing to think that all these fascinating shades of sandstone, in orange, yellow, pink, and red, occurred naturally!

39. Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

ZM_Photo / Shutterstock

Lake Bled looks like it came out of a medieval movie featuring brave knights and feisty dragons.

That’s what makes it so compelling among places to go on vacation.

The lake is a deep forest green with a small island nestled in its center, holding a tall ancient castle and an equally rustic church.

You can row around the peaceful, calm waters of the lake or explore its central island.

It’s a truly romantic and gorgeous place that seems to be lost in time.

40. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Nomad on camel near pyramids

givaga / Shutterstock

Most people would consider the world-famous Pyramids of Giza to be among the best vacation spots that the world has to offer.

Among them are the gigantic Pyramid of Cheops, the intriguing Pyramid of Chephren, and, of course, the towering Sphinx that gazes over the land with watchful eyes.

Experience the wonders of ancient Egypt within these pyramids, where you will see sarcophagi, passages, statues, and structures all worthy of exploration.

It’s no wonder that these iconic structures are so renowned!

41. Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji with cherry blossom

Aeypix / Shutterstock

For the mountaineers, Mount Fuji is one of the best places to travel in the world.

It scales 12,388 feet in height and its beauty is worthy of any storybook cover.

Hike at the right time, and you’ll be able to get the summit without the hassle of the overwhelming snow.

Better yet, the area also hosts Lake Kawaguchiko, which is flanked by cherry blossoms that send soft pink petals drifting to the ground magically.

It is also backed by the view of the incredible mountain in all its glory.

42. Kuang Si Falls, Laos

Kuang Si Falls, Laos

WeStudio / Shutterstock

The Kuang Si Falls is known to be among the top travel destinations for backpackers.

Located very close to bustling city Luang Prabang, these waterfalls rush downwards in amazingly clear azure streams, falling through three tiers.

You can jump right into the water beneath the falls or, if you prefer, hike around the area to uncover more serene nature-filled spots that are perfect for a little exploring.

43. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

zhu difeng / Shutterstock

We can’t talk about the greatest vacation spots in the world without mentioning The Great Wall of China .

It covers thousands of miles and sits on top of a mountain, allowing tourists who walk along it to glimpse breathtaking views as far as the eye can see.

This man-made marvel is so extensively huge that it’s difficult to imagine how it could have been built.

Its rich history and incredible structure make it well worth the visit, even though it’s impossible to walk all the way across it in one trip!

44. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Greg Brave / Shutterstock

If you like nature and culture all in one, New Zealand is one of the best countries to visit.

Case in point: the Fiordland National Park .

This park holds 14 fjords that, according to Maori legends, were all carved by a giant stonemason with an adze.

It’s not too difficult to believe that myth when you take a look at the deep, dipping valleys, though most experts believe it’s more likely that the fjords were created by glaciers over a hundred thousand years.

Waterfalls cascade over fjords and down from giant mountains of granite, and some fauna species in this park are found only there and nowhere else.

45. Boracay, Philippines

Boracay, Philippines

R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock

Boracay is among the best places to visit for a relaxing beach trip and some fun in the sun.

It’s one of the world’s favorite vacation islands, and its beauty is stunning in its simplicity.

Plus, there’s lots of good food to enjoy, and the people are lovely and friendly.

It’s a little difficult to get to these islands today, as only a limited number of tourists are allowed inside on a daily basis due to overcrowding from how popular the island has gotten.

However, if you plan in advance , you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing bask in the sun on sandy beaches and wet shores.

46. Ik Kil Cenote, Mexico

Ik Kil Cenote, Mexico

Fotos593 / Shutterstock

Ik Kil Cenote is a natural pit that formed when a cave collapsed back in ancient times.

Back then, it was used by Mayans for ritual practices and also for relaxation.

Today, it’s among the greatest places to travel thanks to its gorgeous sapphire water that is crystal clear down to its depths, making it one of the greatest natural pools that earth has to offer.

Across the limestone wall, a ladder allows for easy pool access, and it’s a fantastic spot for divers and swimmers alike.

When you’re done, you can continue looking around the area for even more great spots to visit.

Planning a vacation to Cancun, Mexico? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Cancun !

47. The Pitons, St. Lucia

The Pitons, St. Lucia

PlusONE / Shutterstock

The Pitons are a pair of volcanic plugs that go by the names Petit Piton (the smaller one) and Gros Piton (the larger one).

Their peaks are striking in appearance and make for incredible landmarks.

You can hike up the mountains or simply enjoy the view by resting and relaxing in Sugar Beach, which offers prime viewing of one of the best vacation spots in the world.

Either way, the dramatic and distinguished mountain spires simply cannot be denied!

48. Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Nadeem Mushtaq Jass / Shutterstock

Neelum Valley is one of the best places to travel for a more peaceful, calming experience.

Its valley, shaped somewhat like a bow, can be found at a 2000-foot altitude in the country’s Azad Kashmir.

Within the gorgeous valley flows the sublime Neelum river, and above it, the dignified mountain peaks capped by snow.

Surrounding this valley are rolling, tumbling hills rich in greenery and waterfalls for even more exploration.

49. Batu Caves, Malaysia

Batu Caves, Malaysia

Photography by KO / Shutterstock

Malaysia isn’t always thought of when you consider the best places to visit in the world, but this old temple cave (alongside other attractions) makes it worth the journey.

In 1859, Batu Caves was first discovered on the top of a limestone hill.

Within its depths are a large number of smaller caves joined with three big ones.

Today, this cave serves as a Hindu temple and houses many shrines, and it can only be accessed by climbing 272 steps.

At its front, a giant, elegant golden statue of Lord Murugan stands, overseeing the area with a calm gaze.

50. Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

Pamukkale Thermal Pools

THANAN / Shutterstock

The Pamukkale Thermal Pools are undoubtedly one of the best vacation spots in the nation.

Completely natural in structure, these pools are layered over one another thanks to mineral formations and travertines.

True to its name, which translates to “cotton castle”, these pools look like regally floating clouds.

The waters of these 17 hot springs in the area are rich in minerals, allowing for relaxation and skin-healing properties.

It’s basically a large natural spa that looks like an ethereal masterpiece.

Start Planning Your Dream Vacation

The world is full of rich natural and man-made wonders, whether they are resplendent in history and culture, packed with dazzling nature, or mind-blowing in their uniqueness and splendor.

These 50 places all around the planet are just begging to be explored, so what are you waiting for?

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Best of the Best Destinations 2024

Best of the Best Destinations

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

The Travelers’ Choice Awards Best of the Best title celebrates the highest level of excellence in travel. It’s awarded to those who receive a high volume of above-and-beyond reviews and opinions from the Tripadvisor community over a 12-month period. Out of our 8 million listings, fewer than 1% achieve this milestone.


Dominican Republic

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen


New York City


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.

The best hotels in Rome, from art-filled palazzos to upscale hostels

Maresa Manara , CN Traveller

The best Covent Garden restaurants

Sarah James

The best Sunday roasts in London

Anita Bhagwandas , CN Traveller

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.


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.

28 Top Cities in the World to Visit

Written by Meagan Drillinger and Anietra Hamper Updated May 3, 2023

The excitement of travel is all about discovering new destinations, and with so many incredible places to visit, it is hard to narrow down your options. You can spend a lifetime visiting the greatest cities in the world and still not see them all, but as a starting point, you can get familiar with the upper echelon of city environments that set the bar for the rest of the world.

Rome skyline

The best cities to visit are often home to some of the world's most iconic sites and are found around the globe, from Asia and Europe to the Middle East and the Americas. For travelers hoping to find inspiration for their next trip, here is a list of some of the top cities in the world to visit.

1. Paris, France

2. new york city, usa, 3. london, england, 4. bangkok, thailand, 5. hong kong, china, 6. dubai, united arab emirates, 7. singapore, 8. rome, italy, 9. macau, china, 10. istanbul, turkey, 11. kuala lumpur, malaysia, 12. delhi, india, 13. tokyo, japan, 14. antalya, turkey, 15. mexico city, mexico, 16. porto, portugal, 17. san francisco, usa, 18. beijing, china, 19. los angeles, usa, 20. chicago, usa, 21. barcelona, spain, 22. abu dhabi, united arab emirates, 23. amsterdam, netherlands, 24. madrid, spain, 25. sydney, australia, 26. san miguel de allende, mexico, 27. lisbon, portugal, 28. vienna, austria, map of cities in the world to visit.

View over Paris

Paris, France remains one of the most loved cities to visit in the world because it is an iconic destination for grand life events, like milestone vacations, engagements, celebrations, and honeymoons. It is also an easy place to visit for quick getaways, with regular flight schedules and tours available.

Many travelers enjoy Paris for the art and go to see the galleries and museums , like the Louvre Museum and the Musee d'Orsay. Some travelers go to Paris because it is a bucket list destination for many people. They want to see the Eiffel Tower , the Notre Dame Cathedral , and the Arc de Triomphe in person.

Paris is notoriously a city of romance, so many marriage proposals happen frequently in Paris, and honeymooners enjoy vacationing with a romantic cruise down the Seine River.

The time of year you visit may determine some of your activities, but even in winter, there are plenty of things to do in Paris .

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Paris

Central Park in New York City

There are so many elements that make New York City one of the best cities in the world. The city and the Statue of Liberty that travelers see as they arrive is symbolic of the culture and freedom that America stands for. The Big Apple is the financial hub of the United States, with Wall Street and international businesses.

Most people visit New York City just to be a part of the city scene. It is where people go to make dreams come true, with experiences like seeing a Broadway show, watching the famous ball drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square, and taking part as a spectator watching the elaborate floats go by in the Thanksgiving Day parade.

The parks in New York City have their own draw. From the many attractions in Central Park to winter ice skating in Bryant Park, you can spend several days in the quiet natural retreats located throughout the concrete jungle.

New York City is where things happen, and travelers enjoy having a taste of that excitement. It's another one of those great bucket list destinations that you can visit at any time of year , even winter in NYC is fun.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City
  • Top-Rated Museums in New York City

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge in London

There is never a lack of intrigue or interest in London as a destination which is makes it one of the most touristic cities in the world. The Royal intrigue is one of its main draws, as thousands of tourists descend on Buckingham Palace to get a brush with the British monarchy.

Millions of tourists visit London each year and tour the top attractions , like the Tower of London , Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral. Part of what makes London such a treat to visit is its public transport system, which makes it easy to get from one place to another without a car. With so much to see, it is easy to stay mobile in London to visit popular landmarks in a single day, like the Tower Bridge and the Skydeck at The Shard 800 feet above the city.

It is also possible to see many of London's top attractions on foot, with several great walking routes that take you through popular parks, landmarks, and neighborhoods.

Speaking of neighborhoods, London is revered for its diverse districts and famous markets , like the Borough Market , operating since the 13 th century, and the Camden Market , with small stalls selling food and local goods.

Wat Arun temple at dusk in Bangkok

The bustling city of Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the top tourist cities in the world, with nearly 26 million visitors a year. The city is usually the first stopping point for anyone touring through Thailand.

Bangkok has an exciting mix of packed subways; huge skyscrapers; temples ; historic architecture; lavish gardens; palaces like the Grand Palace ; and almost nightly sporting events, like kickboxing, that draw thousands of fans.

Spend time on the beaches near Bangkok for a mix of the city scene and a tropical ocean escape.

Bangkok has a lively atmosphere, even during the daylight hours. Travelers on a budget can find cheap entertainment, shopping bargains, and low-cost accommodations, especially in the area of Khao San Road.

Travelers with unlimited budgets can find everything on the opposite end of the spectrum, from luxury hotels to extravagant shopping at high-end stores at the Siam Paragon Mall.

The city is also popular for more traditional experiences, like the floating markets and Thai massage parlors where you can get an hour of relaxation for less than $10 dollars.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the most famous cities in the world. It is a convenient holiday destination, and its shopping, especially for bargains, is unmatched.

Hong Kong is one of the most popular cities in the world, but it is also one of the most expensive places to travel if you plan to stay in the heart of the city. If you stay just beyond the main tourist areas in places like Jordan or Kowloon, you can find slightly less expensive accommodations.

Some of the other reasons travelers flock to Hong Kong include an easy public transportation system, so there is no need to drive; massive theme parks; 24-hour dining; the world's largest skyscrapers; bargain shopping for high-end goods; and beaches and mountains that are quickly accessed just outside the city. You can even find beautiful hiking trails in Hong Kong .

Hong Kong also offers unusual finds that are just plain interesting, like a 24-karat solid gold toilet inside a Hong Kong jewelry company and a beautiful tunnel of pink flowers located inside the Un Chau Estate public housing complex.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hong Kong

Camels on Jumeirah beach in Dubai

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is synonymous with luxury lifestyles. While Dubai is a large global business center, people enjoy vacationing among the rich and the attractions that cater to them. Dubai is home to the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and it's where tourists find some other attractions that are among the largest in the world, like the shopping malls and aquarium.

Dubai's grandiose fantasy atmosphere is what travelers want to experience. From over-the-top luxury hotels and resorts to the urban green space like the Dubai Miracle Garden, the sights, sounds, colors, and other sensory experiences in Dubai are unlike any other destination.

Dubai's nightlife and world-famous beaches also draw visitors, who come to enjoy kicking back among the natural and man-made beauty of this extravagant city.

Singapore skyline and marina at sunset

The small Asian country of Singapore attracts travelers year-round, and its popularity is growing. The island of Singapore has a stunning blend of historic culture with old buildings nestled in among large skyscrapers. There is a charm between the old and the new in the way that small neighborhood shopping districts exist between the mega luxury shopping malls that Singapore is known for.

The beauty of Singapore is another reason people visit. The Supertrees in the vertical gardens and the artistic green displays in Gardens by the Bay have a wow factor as they light up the city. Singapore is known for its vast amount of green space, with urban gardens like the Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Orchid Garden, and the Cloud Forest.

Besides a visually beautiful location and so many things to do, Singapore is a clean and safe city, which gives it high appeal for travelers. It has the best of both worlds, from city life to beaches and posh resorts, which is why it ranks consistently as a top destination for travelers.

The Colosseum at sunset in Rome

Rome is one of those destinations that sits on many travelers' must-see someday lists. The culture of Rome and its historic architecture are its main draws. The Colosseum , Pantheon , Trevi fountain, and the Vatican usually top the list of things vacationers want to check off their list.

Besides the famous cultural sites , visitors head to Rome for its famous homemade Italian food, from fried artichokes to homemade pasta. Tourists like to try authentic Italian cuisine and feel like a local. The monuments and artwork throughout Rome are also a draw for visitors who want to step inside some of the oldest museums in the world.

Make your base here and enjoy day trips from Rome to surrounding towns or out the nearby beaches .

  • Read More: Top-Rated Museums and Palaces in Rome

Macau skyline at night

Macau in southern China has become one of the most visited cities in the world, especially among the rich. There are several reasons for this: First, because Macau has become a thriving investment metropolis, the people traveling for business are also spending time in the city, connecting with the locals and enjoying the more pleasure-filled side of things like shopping, sightseeing, and sports car racing.

The other reason Macau is popular is because of its culture. Its small footprint of nearly 12 square miles is a multicultural mecca, with a blend of Asian natives and European influences in the people, shops, and local food. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town is a prime example and is just one of the many beautiful places to photograph in the region.

Macau is also famous for its beautiful beaches and urban gardens like Casa Garden and Sun Yat Sen Park.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Macau

Istanbul, Turkey

One of the most famous cities in the world is Istanbul, Turkey, so it makes sense that people want to visit. The city is filled with historic mosques and palaces surrounded by cafés, shops, and chic hotels. The relaxed vibe in Istanbul attracts a crowd that enjoys afternoons hanging out and sipping tea or uncovering a vintage find at a local thrift store.

Visitors enjoy uncovering the historic and modern mix in local neighborhoods. The historic Sultanahmet District and the touristic Istiklal Caddesi area are two examples. Istanbul is also popular because of its elegant scenery. The artistic architecture of the homes along the Bosphorus Strait is one of the most picturesque sites in Turkey.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Istanbul
  • Best Places for Shopping in Istanbul
  • Best Beaches near Istanbul
  • Best Parks in Istanbul
  • Top Day Trips from Istanbul

Kuala Lumpur

The capital city of Malaysia , Kuala Lumpur welcomes millions of visitors a year. It is a city with museums and ties to its culture in places like the Old Market Square, yet it is balanced by the edgy architecture of the Petronas Twin Towers and mega shopping malls. The city is always "on," so you can find a nightlife scene any time of the day as you take in meeting the locals, dining, and watching sporting events.

The appeal of Kuala Lumpur is in part because of its ultra-modern city but also for the natural beauty that surrounds it. There are popular attractions that highlight the wildlife of the region, from the Aquaria aquarium and the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park to the KL Butterfly Park. There are also many elaborate urban parks throughout the city and around the River of Life waterfront.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Tomb of Safdarjung in New Delhi, India

India is such a big country and is so popular with tourists that several of its main cities are among the most visited cities in the world, including Delhi. One of the reasons Delhi is popular is because it is close to a number of other top experiences in India , so it is a convenient base.

Delhi has many religious landmarks that attract tourists, like the Swaminarayan Akshardham and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Delhi is known for its markets, selling inexpensive wares and street food, where tourists enjoy finding nice bargains.

Delhi is only a few hours from Agra , where vacationers can take a day trip to see the Taj Mahal.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Delhi & New Delhi

Temple Gate in Tokyo

The metropolis of Tokyo in Japan is one of the most exciting cities in the world, which is why millions of tourists go there every year. What makes Japan so popular is the whirlwind of eye-popping attractions , from ancient temples and Anime to the Tokyo Skytree broadcast tower.

Tokyo has the world's most famous and biggest fish markets, and exquisite and artful sushi. Japanese culture is colorful and playful, and that is reflected in Tokyo's parks, museums, and malls. Tourists are attracted to the opportunity to learn more about traditional Japanese culture with experiences like trying on kimonos.

Japan's fantastic interconnected train system makes it easy to base yourself in Tokyo and make day trips to other places like Mount Fuji and Tokyo Disneyland.

Duden Waterfall in Antalya

The Mediterranean Sea sitting against the backdrop of beautiful Antalya, Turkey makes it a desired vacation spot for travelers. From the beautiful sandy beaches and warm weather to the waterfalls, cliffs, and sunsets, it is a perfect vacation.

Lara and Konyaalti beaches are the most popular and are easily identified by the many luxury resorts that line the coast. History buffs visit Antalya to explore the ruins of the Aspendos , an ancient city dating back to AD 16. The town is a mix of mosques, ruins, cafés, and an old town square where locals congregate.

  • Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Antalya
  • From Istanbul to Antalya: Best Ways to Get There

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Mexico City has risen in the ranks over the years to be recognized as one of the greatest cosmopolitan capitals in the world. If you want culture, cuisine, the arts, architecture, history, and glamorous hotels, Mexico City checks every single box.

Mexico's capital has been the political and cultural center of its universe since the pre-Columbian days, back when it was called Tenochtitlan and was the main city of the Aztec Empire. Today Mexico City is built upon the strata of time, showcasing everything from archaeological ruins to ornate Spanish architecture and the glamorous design of the 21st century.

From the incredible time capsule that is the Centro Historico to the cultural institutions, like Palacio de Bellas Artes, to the hip, bohemian streets of the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods, Mexico City has something to offer everyone.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Mexico City

Porto, Portugal

Sliced by the winding Douro River, Porto, Portugal is one of the most beautiful European cities. Colorful buildings and red-tiled roofs rise up over the hills from the river's edge. Porto is as charming as it is historic, seeming to spring from the pages of a fairy tale.

The gorgeous jewel of a city is just as cosmopolitan as it is historic. It is known for its decadent food; cobblestone back alleys; and the gritty river shipping culture, which has been part of Porto's history for centuries.

Street art is one of the biggest draws to Porto, from the hand-painted tiles to the murals splashed across the ancient walls. You can see how art has made its way into Porto's 21st century, as well, with a visit to the Museu de Arte Contemporanea.

Porto is also characterized by its lavish churches, clanging bell towers, and beautiful vantage points all over the city.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Porto

View of Coit Tower and San Francisco at night

Always eclectic, offbeat, and drenched in culture, San Francisco, California never disappoints. Steeped in history, from Wild West gold rushes to counter-culture revolutions and the tech industry, San Francisco has always been a hotbed of activity since its inception.

It's also a haven for foodies. Some of the best restaurants in California can be found right here in the capital of the Bay Area, including a good selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants . It's also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, surrounded by the bay, the Pacific Ocean, and redwood forests. Enjoy San Francisco's beaches and nearby hiking trails . The city itself is an adventure, with its 48 hills that are accessible via historic cable cars.

Peppered with parks and green space and always blanketed in fog, and lined with pastel-colored Victorian buildings, San Francisco is one of the most unique cities in the United States, if not the world.

  • Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Francisco
  • San Francisco Walk Tour: Top Sights
  • 1-Day, 2-Day & 3-Day San Francisco Itineraries

The Forbidden City, Beijing

For nearly 1,000 years, Beijing has been the capital city of China and has seen the rise and fall of three of China's dynasties. It is a city that is packed with centuries of history, yet is still one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in the entire world.

Step back in time inside The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, learn the sad truths in Tiananmen Square, and wander the zigzagging alleys of the historic Hutong neighborhoods. As you walk around, you will realize why these areas of Beijing are some of the best places to visit in China because of their cultural significance. These historic sites sit alongside luxury shopping malls, thriving night markets, world-class museums, theater, and music venues.

You'll also find some of Asia's finest hotels within Beijing, from five-star international brands to boutique, design-forward hotels. If you are looking to get to Shanghai, just hop on the bullet train and take off at warp speed for another one of China's cultural capitals.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Beijing

Downtown Los Angeles

What makes Los Angeles one of the best cities in the world to visit is that you are getting so many different experiences in one. Los Angeles is big. It's very, very big, actually, and its many neighborhoods are as diverse as the people who live in and visit Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is about natural beauty, with massive mountains that roll down to the Pacific Ocean. It is also about creative beauty, with world-class performing arts, the film industry, museums, street art, culinary arts, design, and culture. A stroll down any street in Los Angeles reveals a veritable Tower of Babel for language, from Spanish and Korean to Armenian and Arabic.

This is a city where you can eat $2 tacos on one corner and a Michelin-starred meal on the next. It has some of the sleekest modern homes in America, a movie theater shaped like a Chinese palace, and a concert hall designed by Frank Gehry.

Go rollerblading in Venice Beach, hike in Runyon Canyon, or practice Pilates at one of the dozens of high-end studios all around town. Los Angeles is a playground for the rich, the famous, and literally everyone else, but despite all of this, there are still plenty of free things to do and an endless supply of people-watching opportunities.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles
  • Best Beaches in Los Angeles

Chicago skyline at night

One of the largest cities in America, Chicago can often be overlooked for the flashier, glitzier cities like New York or Los Angeles . But this midwestern capital packs a punch all on its own, from trendy restaurants and live music to museums, glamorous hotels, and lakefront living.

The Windy City will, quite literally, blow you away. High-rise skyscrapers on the shores of Lake Michigan make for some robust gusts of wind throughout the year. But figuratively speaking, your mind will be blown in Chicago, from the world-renowned Art Institute to the sky-high Willis Tower.

Dining is dizzying in Chicago, whether it is down-home hot dogs or five-star cuts of steak. Festivals are rocking year-round in Chicago, from blues music to the world-famous Market Days. And, of course, let's not forget about the stunning hotels and landmarks that line the Magnificent Mile.

Read More: Best Tourist Attractions to Visit in Chicago

Barcelona, Spain

Beaches, buildings, and boats. That's what Barcelona is all about. From the stunning Mediterranean beaches to the architectural marvels of Antoni Gaudi to the yacht culture, Barcelona lives and breathes by the sea. Add to that fantastic gastronomy, art, history, and hotels and it's easy to see why Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world to visit.

Did you know that Barcelona's history dates back more than 2,000 years? That means you'll find Roman-style architecture alongside Gothic structures and Renaissance cathedrals, all the way up to the world-famous architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi. In fact, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Barcelona .

Barcelona is one of the main cities of Spain's Catalonia region and, as such, is the capital of Catalan cuisine. But you can find all of Spain's regional delicacies here, from Basque and Galician to Andalusian and beyond.

Aerial view of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the counterpart to the towering skyscrapers and glitzy lifestyle of Dubai. Sure, it has its own Louvre, but the focus in Abu Dhabi is to embrace the local lifestyle and culture and put a spotlight on the unique heritage of the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi is where Islamic architecture reigns supreme, from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the museum Qasr Al Hosn. Of course, the 21st century comes through loud and clear in Abu Dhabi architecture, as well, in the forms of Etihad Towers and the Yai Viceroy, among others.

Much like Dubai, no expense is spared in Abu Dhabi. Just look at the luxury hotels on Saadiyat Island or the Formula One track at the Yai Marina Circuit. There is even a Ferrari World and a Warner Bros World for the kids. But nature is also a big part of life in Abu Dhabi, from the Mangrove National Park to the gorgeous beaches on Hudayriat Island.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is one of the most easily accessible cities in the world, with flights from most of the major gateways in North America and Europe. But far beyond easy access, it is what Amsterdam has to offer travelers that makes it one of the best cities in the world to visit.

Amsterdam is simply stunning, with a maze of canals, bike-friendly streets, and cobblestone alleys, world-renowned museums, historic architecture, shops, cafés, and great restaurants.

Amsterdam is color. Come spring, the city explodes with every shade of the rainbow from the many flower stalls selling the iconic bouquets of Dutch tulips. Even the once-dreary industrial shipping and dock areas have transformed into boutique shops, hotels, and galleries.

While spring is one of the best times to visit Amsterdam, the festive nature of the city makes visiting in the winter months a unique and fun experience, too, not to mention the cheaper airfare and lodging rates.

And then there is Amsterdam's cultural scene. The museums in this city are next level, from The Van Gogh Museum to the iconic Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, and more. Locals and visitors alike get by in Amsterdam on two wheels, or on the water, whether it's a bike path or a canal cruise.

Read More: Top-Rated Places to Visit in Amsterdam

Madrid, Spain

Spain has so many fantastic cities to explore, but none is quite as compelling as the capital, Madrid. A combination of history and culture, art and design, cuisine and entertainment, Madrid is the embodiment of everything people love about a fantastic European city.

Centuries of history came together to make the Madrid we know today. From its royal roots to the Moorish influence, the years of the revolution, and the cosmopolitan and technological advances of the 21st century, the layers of Madrid are varied and deep.

It's no wonder this is a city that inspired the great works of Goya and Picasso, Balenciaga, Almodovar, and beyond. Visit the world-renowned Museo del Prado or marvel at the fantastic Baroque and Belle Epoque architecture all over the city.

When it comes to hotels, dining, and entertainment, Madrid is beyond elegant, refined, and impeccably designed. Wander through the centuries down its historic streets and step right into the modern-day restaurants and cafés for an experience that withstands the test of time.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Madrid

Panorama of Sydney harbour and bridge, New South Wales, Australia

With its spectacular harborside perch, stunning beaches , and cosmopolitan (yet decidedly laid-back) flair, Sydney is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. Residents and visitors alike take pleasure as much in a fine meal as they do in a beachfront hike.

Locals here live and die by the water, whether it's a sunset cruise or a casual waterfront lunch. Culture and design are excellent here. Just look at the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney is about electricity and excitement, but also about being best equipped to ride the perfect wave.

From the shores of Bondi Beach to the glamor of George Street, you can fit in just about anywhere in Sydney. It's also one of the jumping-off points from which to explore the tropical, beachy Gold Coast all the way up to Brisbane .

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Sydney: Best Areas & Hotels

Read More: Best Tourist Attractions in Sydney

Colorful buildings in San Miguel de Allende

There's a reason that San Miguel de Allende is voted the best city in the world by top international travel magazines. It is a veritable outdoor museum, splashed with bright colors and veined with cobblestone streets.

Add to that some of the best boutique hotels in Mexico, fabulous restaurants, museums, outdoor entertainment, and so many things to see and do in the surrounding region , that it will be difficult to deny San Miguel de Allende's inherent beauty and charm.

At the center of the city is the glimmering pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel — the Neo-Gothic church that serves as a beacon at the center of the city. This is the heart of the action, where you'll find a wide plaza with small shops, and streets that branch off in every direction flanked with cafés, boutique stores, and small galleries.

San Miguel de Allende is an artist's paradise, saturated with gorgeous vistas, and spectacular architecture.

Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is truly a masterpiece — and a hidden one, at that. One of the most under-the-radar Western European capitals, Lisbon is laid out like a painting, complete with red-tiled roofs, brightly colored waterfront buildings, cable cars, and medieval architecture.

But Lisbon is very much a 21st-century city, as well, with trendy cafés and restaurants, boutique hotels, entertainment, and impressive museums like the National Tile Museum. Built on seven hillsides, Lisbon overlooks the cityscape, as well as the Rio Tejo where it feeds out to the Atlantic Ocean. Picture cobblestone streets, ancient structures, and the peaks of cathedrals snooping out over the clouds.

One of the most popular neighborhoods, the Bairro Alto, is where the heart of Lisbon pulses. We're talking about cozy restaurants, boutiques, hot spots, and waterfront promenades.

Lisbon calls as much to the appreciators of European antiquities as it does to the fierce-hearted night owls and the effervescent youth. It is a city for all ages and one that has managed to bubble beneath the surface for so long.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lisbon
  • 1-Day, 2-Day & 3-Day Lisbon Itineraries

The Hofburg Palace in Vienna at night

If you like Paris, you'll love Vienna. Though the cities are decidedly different, their elegance, history, glamor, and charm are remarkably simpatico. They both live with remnants of an opulent past, decadent architecture, bejeweled fabrics, and imperial lavishness. Today Vienna is known for its art, coffeehouses, dining, and design.

For centuries, Vienna was the seat of the Habsburg monarchy. Six hundred years of imperial richness was set at the heart of Hofburg Palace . Today the architecture of Vienna still tells the story of its opulent past. Remnants of the past centuries are still present today, from the Spanish Riding School to the Vienna Boys' Choir.

Still, Vienna is a city that has embraced the 21st century. Boutique hotels, fine dining, live music, outdoor festivals, and more all tell the story of a creative and energetic youthful generation that is setting the nation firmly in the present.

Vienna is the city to appreciate the Old Masters of art and walk in the footsteps of Beethoven and Mahler, all the while sampling cutting-edge gastronomy and dancing the night away until the sun comes up.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Vienna

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More Places to Visit around the World: If you are interested in some of the other top experiences in destinations around the world review our articles on the top World Heritage Sites and the best tropical vacations around the globe. If you are planning a special getaway, you will want to read about the most romantic places in the world or the best places to get married and have an unforgettable honeymoon.

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Reflection of the Mont Saint Michel Bretagne France

The 30 most beautiful places in the world, according to travellers who’ve seen them all

From rainbow-coloured hills to thundering waterfalls and pretty cities, these destinations are some of the most beautiful you’ll find on earth

Grace Beard

Choosing the world’s most beautiful places is no easy task. After all, how can you compare a thundering waterfall to a lantern-lit city? Or a rainbow-coloured hill to a gleaming white mosque? The good news is that the planet isn’t held to the same rigid beauty standards as humans are. Whether it’s a tiny island, an entire country or a Buddhist temple, anything goes on our list of the most beautiful places on earth. Spanning every continent, you’ll find some of the usual suspects (what’s a list of beautiful places without Bolivia’s salt flats, after all?) alongside some of the world’s lesser-known beauty spots – all chosen by our network of globetrotting travel writers, who've personally experienced the beauty of every place on this list IRL. 

Grace Beard   is Time Out’s deputy travel editor, based in London. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our   editorial guidelines   and check out our latest   travel guides   written by local experts. RECOMMENDED: 🗺 The world's most underrated travel destinations 🧭 The best places to travel solo 🏝 The best beaches in the world

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The world’s most beautiful places

Kotor Bay, Montenegro

1.  Kotor Bay, Montenegro

In Montenegro, the Adriatic Sea slaloms through narrow passages in the steep Dinaric Alps to form the Bay of Kotor. Here, squeezed between water and rock is the triangular, medieval Old Town of Kotor, with its gravity-defying fortress zigzagging up the steep cliffs above. Although it’s possible to climb the fortress steps from town, I prefer to wander the winding shepherd’s trail on the fortress’ northern flank. It’s here, amid the ruins of a deserted, roadless village, that you can munch on homemade sheep’s cheese and rye bread at the last inhabited farmhouse, overlooking the bay’s glassy, obsidian water.

2.  Iceland

You’ll be hard-pushed to find a place with more spectacular natural beauty than Iceland . Its volcanoes, hot springs, lava fields and glaciers have earned it the moniker ‘the land of fire and ice’ – and while the island country’s natural attractions are certainly a sight to behold, Iceland’s towns and cities offer a unique beauty of their own. The capital city of Reykjavik is culturally modern and historically important, with architectural highlights including the nature-inspired Hallgrimskirkja church and Harpa Concert Hall with stunning portside views of Mount Esja. The Westfjords and Austurland regions are dotted with picturesque villages like  Ísafjörður , a fishing town surrounded by dramatic mountains, and the artistic Seydisfjordur with its public art and welcoming community.

3.  Erg Chebbi, Morocco

Morocco is home to some of the world’s most beautiful deserts, and Erg Chebbi is the most evocative stretch of Sahara sand imaginable. Beyond the town of Merzouga, the Erg Chebbi dunes are a spectacular vision of shape-shifting golden sands that rise up to 300 metres tall and span over 28km in the heart of the Sahara. In the fading light, I trekked out across the desert by camel and spent a night under the stars here in the company of the Berber people. The next morning, I woke early to climb the nearest dune and witnessed a sunrise that will stay with me forever. Seeing the day break over the sloping sands of the Erg Chebbi is as extraordinarily scenic as it gets.

4.  Mont-Saint-Michel, France

My first ever trip abroad was a school trip to Brittany, and the first stop on the ferry remains one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen: Normandy’s fairytale island of Mont-Saint-Michel. I’ve been back many times since. I’ve climbed precipitously to the needlepoint of that medieval abbey spire, been guided through the surrounding bay’s miles of quicksand, and slept under ancient beams in a rampart room to watch tides race in at sunrise. What I’ve learned is that, unlike many landmarks, the reality of Le Mont’s fairytale pyramid trumps any photo. No Instagram shot can truly capture the vast misty mirror of sand with one lone fortified pilgrimage site at its heart. It’s like a giant frame for the world’s greatest architectural image.

5.  Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

On approach, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque looms like a white mirage, minarets gleaming, an otherworldly edifice of beauty that could easily pass for Jasmine’s Palace in Aladdin. Inside, the numbers are heady: the mosque boasts the world's single-largest carpet, the world’s third-largest chandelier and acres of pure white Carrara stone. It’s hard to describe the sense of serene peace within, calm and cool even in the melting midday heat. Arrive at opening or closing time to witness the sky’s violet hue reflecting off the marble at night – surely one of the world’s most extraordinary sights.

6.  Ella, Sri Lanka

Located in the stunning Hill Country of Sri Lanka , the town of Ella feels like it’s a world away from the surf beaches and bustling cities that have made this country such a popular tourist destination over the years. Ella is a relaxing outdoor-lover’s playground, surrounded by lush greenery, tea plantations and rolling hills. Dozens of hiking trails crisscross the region, including ones that traverse the iconic Nine Arches Bridge – a key sight that makes Sri Lanka’s Kandy–Ella train journey one of the most beautiful rail trips in the world . There is nothing better than returning from a hike and relaxing in one of the town’s many bohemian-style cafes with a cold drink and a delicious bowl of curry.

7.  Highlands, Scotland

The majestic mountains, verdant valleys, and lupine lochs of Scotland ’s Highlands are known worldwide for their magic, mystery, and beauty. Many of the most scenic parts of this wild region can only be reached by foot, so this summer, I set out on the country’s oldest and first official long-distance trail, the West Highland Way , with Wilderness Scotland. Over seven days, we hiked 96 miles through wildflower-studded fields and dense forests, stopping overnight in tiny towns, like the quaint lochside village of Kinlochleven. We walked along the banks of Loch Lomond, the largest expanse of fresh water in the UK, climbed the so-called ‘Devil’s Staircase’ trail, and took in views of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. I learned that knowing the Highlands is knowing Scotland.

8.  Zhangye National Geopark, China

Stripes of crimson, gold, and mossy green paint the hillside. Passing clouds play with the hues, like an artist touching up a masterpiece. Can such vibrant colours be real? Standing on the viewing platform, I had to lift my sunglasses to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Located in Zhangye National Geopark, the Rainbow Mountains are one of China ’s many beautiful surprises. This stunning technicolour landmass was formed over millions of years by shifting tectonic plates and weather, causing red sandstone and various minerals to mix together.

9.  Storms River, South Africa

Driving the forested Garden Route through Western Cape hints at the beauty to come at Storms River, a large river winding between mountains in South Africa ’s Tsitsikamma National Park. Arriving at the coast is absolutely breathtaking: enormous waves crash against the rocks, sending spray into the air, where the sun causes rainbow rays to reflect through the droplets. The long suspension bridge crossing the river is a highlight, with spectacular views up the river gorge or out to sea. Once you’ve taken in the sight of the river and the coastal forest, head out on the famous Otter Trail, which will lead you to the park’s magnificent waterfall.

New Forest, England

10.  New Forest, England

There aren’t many places where you’ll be startled by a pony or donkey stepping into the road, but that’s the anachronistic beauty of the New Forest in the south of England. This ancient woodland was given its name by William the Conqueror more than 900 years ago. If you choose to visit in the autumn, when the heath is purple with heather, you may find pigs guzzling acorns on the forest floor (they’re sent to protect the delicate stomachs of the 5,000 free-roaming ponies). Perhaps that’s where the famous Pig restaurant and hotel got its name – do pop in for pork scratchings and a pint.

11.  Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Towards the Antarctic Peninsula’s tip is mountain-rimmed Paradise Bay, where I cruised past icebergs pristine white on top and electric blue beneath. Disembarking, I felt the solitude of being one of only a few thousand humans on the entire continent, outnumbered by many millions of penguins. The stark landscape is enlivened by these hopping-shuffling-diving birds and large lumps of loafing seals. Nearby, on one unforgettable evening, I watched a pod of orcas hunt their dinner, a wild moment in this dreamlike place at the end of the world.

12.  Altiplano, Bolivia

Bolivia is a place of technicolour lakes, seemingly endless jagged mountains and immense salt flats. Hauling into the back of a weatherworn 4x4, I spent four days careening over the Andean plateau and following flocks of low-flying flamingos to the Altiplano’s highlights. Laguna Verde, a perwinkle lagoon backed by a perfectly conical mountain peak. The pink waters of Laguna Colorada, fading purple in the shifting sun. And the Altiplano’s biggest draw: Salar de Uyuni. The cracked white salt flats are lightly flooded in the winter months, forming a perfect mirror of the sky.

Hoi An, Vietnam

13.  Hoi An, Vietnam

Silk lanterns sway outside rows of golden-hued shophouses in this ancient river town. Located on Vietnam ’s central coast, life in Hoi An moves like molasses – slow and sweet. When I lived in this dreamy little community, I spent mornings sipping coconut coffee in cafes and afternoons biking through swaying rice paddies past grazing buffalo. Now, I spend a few months a year here, watching lantern-lit boats glode along the Thu Bon river, cycling through Old Town before the evening crowds gather, and lounging on one of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches.

14.  Milford Sound, New Zealand

The most famous of New Zealand ’s fiords, Milford Sound is a marvel of nature within the spectacular Fiordland National Park, on the west coast of the South Island. Enjoy the blissful sound of silence as you cruise the inky waters, where sights include the towering mist-draped mountains, frothing waterfalls tumbling into the cliff faces and fur seals soaking up the sun. The history of this famous site stretches back hundreds of millions of years, and many ice ages later, the beauty of Milford Sound remains as timeless as ever.

15.  Jaipur, India

Jaipur, otherwise known as the Pink City for its rosy-coloured buildings, is a creative hub at the heart of India ’s Rajasthan state. As well as being known for a rt forms such as block printing and blue pottery, the city is characterised by  its royal past – but the real beauty of Jaipur exists outside of the palaces. Walk through the terracotta pink gates of the Old City and you'll see colour everywhere, from spices and fruits to tiny stalls selling quilts and carpets. If you want to get the full experience of life in Jaipur, visit a bazaar for some street shopping. Walk through the stalls, stop for chai and enjoy the chaos.

16.  Hormuz Island, Iran

When I stepped onto this teardrop-shaped island off Iran’s coast, witnessing the sun descending on the horizon and the salt dome come alive in a breathtaking symphony of reds, yellows and oranges – courtesy of over 70 minerals found here – I felt I was witnessing the fullness of life and nature’s artistry. This little-known ‘rainbow island’ is a land of shimmering salt caves and crimson-hued beaches, where a ruby-red mountain casts an other-worldly crimson glow over the shoreline and waves. The red soil here, called gelack, is used in local cuisine as a spice in sauces and curries. Where else in the world can you find soil so beautiful it’s good enough to eat?

17.  Puglia, Italy

Facing the sparkling ocean on Italy 's wild Adriatic coast, Puglia is a masterpiece of scenery that's often overlooked in favour of Italy's more Instafamous destinations. Thanks to the region’s slow pace of life, it’s perfect for cycling. I’ve done so several times, crisscrossing streets that haven't changed in centuries, taking in landscapes carpeted with olive groves and admiring the unique beauty of Puglian architecture. The cone-roofed traditional Trulli houses of Alberobello – a Unesco World Heritage Site – are the most well-known of Puglia's sights, but don't miss Lecce's baroque churches, the clifftop town of Polignano a Mare or quaint, medieval Monopoli.

18.  Victoria Falls, Africa

Straddling the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is known to be the world’s largest waterfall. Immense curtains of water stretch along the edge of Victoria Falls National Park –home to giraffe, zebra, baboons, and other wildlife – and spill over cliff faces into the whirling pools of the Zambezi River. The first time I visited, standing at the edge of a dense jungle atop a flat rock table and gazing down into the abyss, I was swallowed by spirals of mist, rising from the bellowing falls and raining back down on me. It’s easy to see how Victoria Falls earned its name in the Kololo language: Mosi-oa-Tunya , meaning ‘The Smoke That Thunders’.

19.  Kinkaku-ji, Japan

Nestled in the green hills of northeast Kyoto , the Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji glistens in gold leaf. Originally built in 1397, this gilded Buddhist shrine sits among bonsai-style pines, Japanese red maples, and mossy stones. Countless photos have been snapped of the Golden Pavilion and surrounding nature reflected on the mirrored pond, but be warned: it isn’t quite as tranquil as it looks, being one of the most popular sites in Kyoto. Step away from the money shot and explore the wider complex and garden to get away from the crowds. The gentle path beckons you through landscapes beautiful in every season, whether covered in cherry blossoms or thick snow, and is graced by incense, bell chimes, and enchanting temple vistas.

20.  South Water Caye, Belize

I’ve had my share of pinch-me travel moments, but South Water Caye is the only place I’ve looked out the window while brushing my teeth and watched an eagle ray glide through water the colour of a Bombay Sapphire bottle. This dreamy island, a short boat ride away from the coast of Belize , is full of screen-saver-worthy sights; the highlight being the untouched barrier reef full of vibrant corals. It’s a place where the only sounds are lapping waves melting into sugar-white shores and palm tree fronds softly clicking in the Caribbean breeze. In one word: paradise.

21.  Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

When I arrived at Danakil Depression, after two days of travel across sweeping swathes of sand and dry, cracked earth, I had to blink twice to make sure the landscape wasn’t a mirage. Geometric white salt flats glimmered beneath the afternoon sun and coral-like formations in rich shades of ochre and ruby rose among molten pools of bubbling green-yellow sulfur. Supposedly the hottest place on earth, the Danakil Depression in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia is formed by the slow ripping apart of tectonic plates, creating a surreal realm of lava lakes, colourful hot springs, and towering salt formations.

Big Sur, USA

22.  Big Sur, USA

The majestic Santa Lucia mountains meet the Pacific Ocean along California ’s central coast to create the rugged and breathtaking natural beauty of Big Sur. Drive California’s winding Highway 1 along the coast and spend time in Big Sur, meandering through towering trees, along creeks, up mountain ridges, and onto windswept bluffs overlooking the ocean. The fresh air smells of salty ocean, earthy bay laurel and redwoods, and the sight of the waves and the sunlight dancing through the fog is mesmerizing. Keep an eye out for spouts from migrating gray whales and sea otters bobbing out on the water.

Maria Island National Park, Tasmania

23.  Maria Island National Park, Tasmania

A small island off the coast of a big island (off the coast off an even bigger island) Tasmania ’s Maria Island National Park is a rare pocket of raw, unbridled beauty. The island known by Aboriginal people as wukaluwikiwayna was once a convict settlement, but today it’s the domain of Australian native wildlife. While hiking, I saw wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and a massive tiger snake in just one hour. Then there’s the honeycomb-coloured cliffs and white-sand beaches with barely a soul in sight. Wondrous wildlife encounters by day, and superior stargazing after dark, Maria Island is the greatest show on earth, day and night.

24.  Registan Square, Uzbekistan

It was one of the most mesmerizing sights we’d laid our eyes on. A vast square flanked by three monumental structures that are as grand as they are intricate, as overwhelming as they are welcoming. We were at Registan Square, the ancient beating heart of Samarkand, the quintessential Silk Road city in present-day Uzbekistan. Registan’s three fifteenth- to seventeenth-century madrasahs are a spectacle of arched gateways, glimmering domes, and tall minarets, decorated with geometric patterns in bricks, tiles, and mosaics. And just when you think it couldn’t get more majestic, come dusk, the monuments are lit up in all their glory.

25.  Choquequirao, Peru

Arriving at Choquequirao, an ancient Inca city perched high above Peru ’s Apurímac River, is both visually and physically exhilarating. The Choquequirao Trail is challenging, but it made the moment I reached those sweeping canyon and mountain views more rewarding. Known as Machu Picchu’s sister site – but with markedly less visitors – Choquequirao is a sprawling archaeological site high on the canyon rim with about 80 percent still covered by dense cloud forest. The name means ‘ Cradle of Gold’ in Quechua, though the gold is long gone. Walking through the ruins, I was in awe of a civilisation that built with such intricate stonework and chose such a remote and spectacular location.

26.  Lord Howe Island, Australia

Northeast of Sydney , this World Heritage-listed speck in the Tasman Sea was described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable’. Lord Howe Island is a croissant-shaped island that cradles a turquoise lagoon, framed by mountains, white sand beaches (I got married here on one!), and fringed by the world’s southernmost coral reef. Just 11km long by 2km wide, Lord Howe is recognised for its volcanic provenance, reef, and incredible biodiversity. Across this tiny stretch of land, you’ll find 241 plant species, 207 bird species and 90 types of coral. Visitor numbers are capped to protect this paradise, so nature reigns supreme here.

27.  Red Rocks Amphipheatre, USA

A 20-minute drive from downtown Denver you’ll find one of the most aesthetically (and acoustically) blessed outdoor concert venues on the planet. Joining 9000-or-so other concertgoers, I was utterly dumbstruck when I entered Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the first time. Flanked by rocks the colour of deep rust, this high-altitude venue’s beauty is matched by the all-round good vibes and fresh mountain air that this corner of Colorado is known for. Having hosted the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong, Red Rocks Amphitheater is as spectacular as concert venues get.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

28.  Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

At first sight of Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina , I was overwhelmed. From a boardwalk overlooking milky-green Lake Argentino, scattered with chunks of ice, I gazed at the immense stretch of whiteness disappearing into the horizon, hemmed by dark, foreboding mountain peaks. Jagged spires, split by ice fissures revealing a sudden pop of blue, top the glacier’s 70-metre-high vertical wall, while its base is layered with multiple hues, from a light powder blue to deep turquoise. It’s not just the sight of the glacier that’s astounding, but also the sound. Crackling and rumbling noises echoed in the valley, particularly intense when ice calved off, sending waves across the lake's surface. Just stunning!

29.  Savannah, USA

This elegant coastal city in Georgia , one of the oldest cities in the US , stole my heart the very first time I visited. It’s easy to lose yourself in the city’s history, natural splendour and famous southern charm as you wander along its cobbled streets and through its 22 squares. You’ll walk under the shade of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss and past grand, pastel-hued mansions. From Forsyth Park, with its Parisian-inspired fountain, to the lively Broughton Street, where you'll find an eclectic mix of shops and dining, Savannah is truly magnetic. 

Lapland, Finland

30.  Lapland, Finland

Lying above the Arctic Circle is Lapland, Finland ’s northernmost region. I spent five days in Finnish Lapland during the winter season and was lucky enough to catch the enchanting dance of the Northern Lights in the night sky. The area is home to nature-loving people, such as at HaliPuu , who engage in unique pastimes like arctic cocooning and tree hugging competitions. In the summer, you can hike to your heart’s content in the Midnight Sun, but it’s in winter the region comes into its own. Immerse yourself in winter traditions such as ice water swimming, relaxing in a Finnish sauna and dog sledding through the snowy wilderness.

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  • Kate Boardman has visited 54 countries around the world and lived in 10, including the US.
  • She's enjoyed spots like France and Bali but says people should visit underrated places like Oman.
  • In Guatemala, she climbed an active volcano, and in Ecuador, she swam with hammerhead sharks.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kate Boardman , a 36-year-old former teacher and current content creator from Massachusetts who has lived and traveled all over the world. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I first lived abroad when I was 15, when I participated in an exchange program in Germany. I lived there for a year, attending school and staying with a host family.

That was my first exposure to living overseas and truly immersing myself in other cultures. From there, the travel bug hit me hard. It inspired me to study international business in France while I was at university, and future trips after that.

I've been to 54 countries and lived in 10, including the US. The sense of freedom and self-growth that comes from traveling is unbeatable. I also love being able to see the world in a different way.

The most popular destinations are popular for a reason.

Everyone talks about Paris, London , Bali — all travel destinations that are super popular, in part thanks to social media.

I visited Bali in early 2012 and saw it expand firsthand. There was a lot of construction — with many beach clubs being built — and it became overcrowded by foreigners. It's led to locals being priced out of their homes.

I also think spots like Cancun are super overrated; there are way cooler places to visit in Mexico. Many tourists spend a week in an all-inclusive resort and think that's fun — but that couldn't be more unattractive to me.

Obviously, there's still beauty in places that are oversaturated and famous. But I think that there's an excitement that comes from experiencing places that are off the beaten track.

It's often in those places that you can have the most surprising experiences.

I was treated like family in Iran

I would say my favorite country that I have visited is Iran. I went in 2018 and was there for 10 days.

Normally, when I'm traveling, I backpack alone and stay in hostels as a solo traveler. However, in Iran, if you're American, Canadian, or from the UK, in order to get permission to enter the country, you need a set itinerary and a licensed travel guide.

It was a very coordinated trip and a bit more challenging to visit, but it was so rewarding because I was welcomed with the warmest hospitality.

One of the unique aspects of this trip was how close my guide and I became. He went above and beyond, inviting me over to his family's house for dinner, where I got to meet and hang out with his friends and family. It was truly special.

Because I had a guide, everything was kind of set for me in Iran. He arranged different accommodations, including a road trip through the country, where we stayed in various cities at different guesthouses.

It only cost me around $1,000.

The nature and landscape of Iran are absolutely beautiful and amazing. The sights, attractions, and history are mind-blowing. You've got these gorgeous mosaics everywhere. All of the architecture had my jaw dropping in awe while walking around.

The food is also delicious, and the markets are incredible, each filled with gorgeous textiles, jewelry, turquoise, and rugs.

I would totally visit there again. I hope the political situation changes because that would definitely be one of my group trip destinations. I think it's just incredible.

Georgia took me by surprise

Georgia is just one of those countries that's not on a lot of people's radar. And then they go there and they're like, 'Whoa, that's awesome. Why didn't I know about this before?'

I knew very little about Georgia before I visited in 2018. I spent only five days in the country, but I was completely blown away.

I stayed in Tbilisi, which is the capital city. It's a really beautiful, trendy, and artsy kind of city. It has amazing wine and incredible food.

Probably one of my favorite things about the trip is that I stayed in this hostel called Fabrika . It was an old Soviet Union sewing factory that they turned into a super cool, industrial, hipster hostel.

In Tbilisi, I also went on a pub crawl throughout the Old Town, which featured a bunch of underground cellars and bunkers that have been turned into trendy nightclubs and bars.

During my time in the country, I took a trip out to the countryside to an area called Kazbegi, which is absolutely stunning. There were gorgeous and breathtaking mountains, hills, and massive churches.

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In the city, I also had a Turkish bath, which is a big thing in Georgia. I got a full scrub down.

Guatemala has something for everyone

When most people from the US think about going to Central America, they're focused on Mexico or Costa Rica. Guatemala seems to be a place that kind of gets overlooked.

But life is great in Guatemala.

You've got beautiful weather all year round, the jungle, rainforests, and the Caribbean's white sand beaches, while the Pacific side has its black sand beaches. It's got a little bit of everything.

I first lived in Guatemala in 2021, where I worked as a teacher at an international school. They provided housing in Guatemala City. However, after I finished working for them, I moved to a beach town on the Pacific coast and lived there for about six months.

I've traveled there on other occasions too, staying for periods of four or five months.

The typical salary for a Guatemalan is about $500 a month, with a good salary being $1,000. I would say that $2,000 a month is more than enough to live there extremely comfortably.

There are a lot of digital nomads moving there, especially to Antigua — an old colonial town with a lot of charm, cobblestone streets, and painted buildings.

There's just so much to do in Guatemala; it's so magical.

The biggest must do is hiking the active volcano called Acatenango . Sometimes, you can see it erupting right from its base camp. There's not many places in the world where you can experience that.

Another good place to visit is El Paredon, a super up-and-coming hippie surf town. The surfing is great, and you've got these black volcanic sand beaches. It's just a really laid-back place.

Lake Atitlan is also an incredible spot. It's surrounded by volcanoes and several Mayan villages, each with its own personality and vibe.

Oman's deserts are magical

Oman is in the Middle East, bordering the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. I've been there three times between 2016 and 2018.

The country is culturally rich, and the capital city, Muscat, is really beautiful. It has old traditional marketplaces and gorgeous architecture — the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is definitely worth checking out.

The deserts there are incredible, so doing a desert trip is a must. I camped out in the desert with the locals, rode camels, and drove Jeeps over the sand dunes.

Having tea and watching the sunset in the desert was magical too.

Oman also has wadis, which are basically big canyons in the middle of the desert with swimming holes. There, you'll find bright turquoise water contrasting with the orange rock.

The country's islands are also beautiful and incredible for snorkeling. They look like you'd be in the Caribbean, but you're in the Middle East.

The Galapagos Islands are truly like nowhere else in the world

I visited Ecuador last year for about six weeks. I was leading a gap year program with a group of high school students. We split our time between the Galapagos Islands and the mainland, which consisted of cities and the Amazon.

Because Ecuador has incredibly unique biodiversity that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world, The Galapagos Islands are an absolute must. I've never seen such incredible wildlife in my life; so many species exist only on those islands.

While visiting The Galapagos, my group went snorkeling with 50 to 100 hammerhead and Blacktip sharks. We also swam with sea lions and saw giant tortoises.

Another amazing aspect of Ecuador is learning about the Inca culture. My group did a homestay and lived with a family for about 10 days and learned about their way of life.

We experienced how connected they are with Mother Earth, whom they refer to as Pachamama, and learned about their traditional medicine: They grow their own food and seek out plant medicine when they're sick, rather than relying on processed foods.

Learning about and sharing their way of life was truly special.

I want to show people how to travel the world

There are many beliefs people have about different countries and cultures, sometimes considering them too dangerous, expensive, or unattainable.

I want to inspire more people to explore, step out of their comfort zones, and experience more of the world. I am hosting group trips with the goal of bringing people to these countries and showing them why they are so life-changing.

Watch: From Nepal to Kosovo, here's how countries are celebrating Pride

top tourist spot in the world

  • Main content

Florida is home to theme parks, sharks, alligators, beaches, but it made ‘most boring’ list

top tourist spot in the world

Florida is boring?!

The Sunshine State is home to Disney World and Universal Studios and has hundreds of miles of beaches. We have the oldest city in the U.S. in our backyard and some of the richest people in the world .

To keep life interesting, we even have sharks and alligators .

Apparently, that's not enough.

According to a study by Solitaired , Florida is the fifth most boring state in the United States , based on an analysis of 66.7 million Google reviews of 3,290 popular tourist attractions around the world. The analysis was made to determine what locations were the least interesting.

Here's what the study discovered.

Takeaways from study on Top 100 most boring tourist sites around the world

According to Solitaired , key takeaways include:

  • Branson Scenic Railway in Branson, Missouri, is the most boring attraction in the world.
  • Museums comprise 33% of the Top 100 most boring attractions.
  • Four LEGOLAND Discovery Centers are in the Top 25 most boring attractions worldwide.
  • Georgia is the most boring state, with many attractions and extensive reviews indicating boredom.
  • The U.S., Canada and Australia hold the top three spots for countries with the most boring tourist attractions. And yes, U.S. was No. 1.

Top 'most boring' tourist attractions in Florida

Here are the Florida locations ranked among the most boring tourist attractions around the world. The "boredom score" is on a scale from zero to five.

  • No. 7: Museum of Science & Technology, Tampa. Score: 3.10
  • No. 19: Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami. Score: 2.40
  • No. 21: Jungle Island, Miami. Score: 2.40
  • No. 22: Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Universal Orlando theme park. Score: 2.40
  • No. 23: Miami Seaquarium, Miami. Score: 2.30
  • No. 35: Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando. Score: 2.20
  • No. 46: Ripley's Believe It or Not! St. Augustine. Score: 2.10
  • No. 56: WonderWorks, Orlando. Score: 2.0
  • No. 100: Glazer Children's Museum, Tampa. Score: 1.80

Top 10 states with highest boredom score

"We ranked states based on how often attractions were called boring in reviews compared to the total number of attractions with any reviews labeling them boring in that state," Solitaired said. "By this metric, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Tennessee are the nation's top three boring states."

The "boredom score" is on a scale from zero to five.

  • Georgia: 21 boring attractions. Boredom score: 5.0
  • Massachusetts: 4 boring attractions. Boredom score: 4.1
  • Tennessee: 49 boring attractions. Boredom score: 4.1
  • Missouri: 33 boring attractions. Boredom score: 3.9
  • Florida : 104 boring attractions. Boredom score: 3.5
  • Texas: 72 boring attractions. Boredom score: 2.8
  • California: 99 boring attractions. Boredom score: 2.7
  • Nevada: 33 boring attractions. Boredom score: 2.5
  • Minnesota: 7 boring attractions. Boredom score: 2.4
  • Illinois: 23 boring attractions. Boredom score: 2.3

How did Florida rank as 5th most boring state in US?

"With its 104 boring attractions, Florida might seem like the boredom capital at first glance ," Solitaired said.

"Yet, it only ranks as the fifth most boring state because each attraction garners very few yawns from visitors. Despite many attractions being labeled boring by reviewers, this sentiment is such a minority that Florida only pans out as the fifth most boring state."

Top 10 most boring tourist attractions in the US

  • Branson Scenic Railway: Branson Missouri. Boredom score: 5.0
  • lluminarium Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia. Boredom score: 4.5
  • Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Boredom score: 3.70
  • Salem Witch Museum: Salem, Massachusetts. Boredom score: 3.40
  • LEGO Discovery Center Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia. Boredom score: 3.40
  • Adler Planetarium: Chicago, Illinois. Boredom score: 3.30
  • Museum of Science & Industry: Tampa. Boredom score: 3.10
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth: Dallas, Texas. Boredom score: 2.90
  • Museum of Ice Cream: New York City. Boredom score: 2.50
  • The Shepherd of the Hills: Branson, Missouri. Boredom score: 2.50

➤ Want more? Here's the most boring tourist attraction in every state

Around the world: 8 of Top 10 boring tourist attractions in US

Eight of the Top 10 most boring tourist attractions are in the U.S., according to the Solitaired analysis:

  • Museum of Science & Industry: Tampa . Boredom score: 3.10
  • Shrek's Adventure London. London, England. Boredom score: 2.90
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto. Vaughan, Canada. Boredom score: 2.80

➤ More boring content: The most boring tourist attraction in every country

Methodology used by Solitaired in ranking attractions

Solitaired, an online gaming platform that creates classic games — like Solitaire — with a focus on improving mental acuity, memory and processing speed.  

In March 2024, Solitaired "analyzed 66.7 million Google reviews of 3,290 popular tourist attractions worldwide , spanning 384 cities across 71 countries.

"We focused our analysis on keyword mentions indicative of a bored tourist. Those keywords were "boring," "bored," "bore," "boredom," "tiresome," "dull," "drab," "lackluster," "lifeless," "mediocre," and "tedious.

"We ranked the attractions by the frequency with which tourists mentioned boredom-related keywords, comparing the mentions to the total reviews for each spot."

Attractions with fewer than 2,000 total reviews were removed.

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Top 100 biggest tourist traps worldwide

Glen Luke Flanagan

Robin Saks Frankel

Robin Saks Frankel

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Updated 7:25 p.m. UTC Nov. 21, 2023

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Featured Image

Allika, Getty Images

When you’re planning the perfect vacation, you don’t want to spend your time or money on a tourist trap that disappoints. To help you avoid a case of destination letdown, we turned to the treasure trove of data found in online reviews that can help savvy travelers make the most of their vacation planning.

In July 2023, we analyzed 23.2 million Google reviews of the 500 most popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in six continents. For each attraction, we asked a simple question: How frequently do the reviews mention the terms “tourist trap,” “overrated” or “expensive”?

We compared attractions to one another by measuring the relative frequency of these mentions, dividing the number of mentions in each case by the total number of reviews for that attraction. We break down our findings, so you are armed with the information you need before planning to visit a popular tourist destination, and offer tips on how to travel in a way that’s good for your wanderlust and your wallet.

Key findings

  • The Four Corners Monument (in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) is the No. 1 tourist trap in the world, according to our analysis.
  • The Blue Lagoon in Iceland and Penang Hill in Malaysia are the top tourist traps in Europe and Asia.
  • The Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia had 397,905 reviews on Google, as of our analysis, and not a single one mentioned “tourist trap.”
  • The California Academy of Sciences, Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the South Carolina Aquarium are the most overpriced attractions in the United States.
  • Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, is the most overrated tourist attraction in the world.

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Top 100 tourist traps worldwide

With the distinction of being the only place where four states meet — Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah — the Four Corners Monument sounds pretty cool. It’s also 30 miles from the closest gas station, so it might appeal to travelers seeking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. However, this attraction also topped our list in terms of the percentage of disgruntled reviews. Of 10,839 reviews analyzed, 139 flagged this spot as a tourist trap.

Meanwhile, Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin got the most mentions of “tourist trap” in the reviews we analyzed of any tourist attraction in the world, with 400 out 76,269 reviews flagging it as one. This spot is a popular stop for travelers because of its historical significance as a border crossing during the Cold War, when the city was split in half between West Germany and East Germany.

Top 25 tourist traps in the U.S.

Eight of the top 10 tourist traps in the world, as determined by our analysis, are in the U.S. Three of the top tourist traps involve paranormal phenomena — witches, ghosts and UFOs.

Those spots are the Salem Witch Museum in Massachusetts, Calico Ghost Town in California and the International UFO Museum and Research Center in New Mexico. Each location had a number of reviews mentioning "tourist trap," so it seems some visitors left feeling disenchanted.

Most overpriced attractions worldwide

The U.S. is home to the third most overpriced attraction in the world, according to our analysis of reviews mentioning the word “expensive,” with spots in Iceland and Canada taking first and second places. Coming in at most overpriced is the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, with prices starting at $67 per person but nearly doubling during peak times. This is followed by the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver where tickets are $69.95 per person when you purchase them at the ticket window. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco comes in third for an entry fee that makes consumers grumble at $49.75 for an adult ticket during a peak visiting time.

It seems that Americans feel aquariums are overpriced in general, with aquariums in South Carolina, Maryland, California and Georgia making the top 50 in our list.

California has seven of the top 25 most overpriced attractions, with Tennessee coming in next with three spots in the top 25 — including Elvis Presley’s Graceland, at No. 5 in the world.

Most overrated attractions worldwide

Unless you just really love doughnuts, one spot you might want to skip on your next vacation is Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon. At least, you might want to skip it if you care about reviews, because our analysis found it to be the most overrated attraction in the world.

Rounding out the top five most overrated attractions are the following:

  • The Little Mermaid in Denmark.
  • The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Japan.
  • The Manneken Pis sculpture fountain in Belgium.
  • The Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.

Tips on how to avoid tourist traps

Get recommendations from your travel card concierge.

Your travel card may provide access to a concierge which can help with travel research, planning and booking. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express (terms apply, rates & fees ) is a luxury travel card (as evidenced by its $695 annual fee) with a slew of perks and protections, including a highly regarded concierge service. Contact your concierge early on in your vacation planning and tell them you want to go off the beaten path and enjoy unique experiences rather than known tourist traps.

Consider where your rewards can take you

It’s no secret that credit card rewards can help you see the world. But are you getting the most out of your stash? Let’s consider an example using American Airlines miles.

As of the time of this writing, a flight from New York to Honolulu and back at the end of October 2023 might run you anywhere from about 53,000 AAdvantage miles to well over 100,000 AAdvantage miles. By contrast, if you were to fly from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico and back in the same time period, you might find deals in the ballpark of 24,000 or 31,000 miles. While many variables impact the exact cost, being flexible with your vacation options can save you substantially.

Plus, when opting for destinations with less sticker shock, you can still find activities and sites that are every bit as amazing as you'd find in a pricier locale. Continuing our example from above, if Hawaii's stunning rainforests initially attracted you to Honolulu, consider that Puerto Rico is home to El Yunque National Forest — the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.

If you’ve piled up the points on a card that earns transferable rewards, rather than one that’s specific to a certain airline or hotel chain , you can do even more shopping around. Compare the cost of booking award travel on the loyalty transfer partners your card offers before you commit, because the number of points or miles required can vary dramatically between different airlines.

Plus, savvy travelers know that travel credit cards sometimes offer deals, such as double value when transferring points from your card to a specific airline partner. For instance, the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® offered a deal on Aug. 1, 2023 where cardholders with Bilt Silver Status could get double the number of Virgin Red points for their Bilt points when transferring their rewards to the airline. Keeping a sharp eye out for deals like this could help your earnings take you farther than you’d normally go.

Finally, great deals on award travel aren’t just for people willing to pay an annual fee for luxury cards, either. See our list of best travel cards with no annual fee for budget-friendly options.

If you’re going abroad, it’s best to use a credit card without foreign currency surcharges. Check out our picks for the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees .

Follow a trusted travel newsletter

What better way to avoid tourist traps than by getting curated recommendations from a trusted source? By getting a travel newsletter in your email inbox, you can make note throughout the year of enticing destinations and enriching activities, and plan your next vacation accordingly.

For example, people with an Amex Platinum or the invite-only American Express Centurion Black Card * The information for the American Express Centurion Black Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. can receive the Departures newsletter, which the issuer describes as a “lifestyle resource”. Examples of the content you can expect, based on a recent issue of Departures, include "7 Hotels Worth Planning Your Whole Trip Around" with recommendations for stays in Paris, New York City and more, and "How I Escaped City Life and Moved My Family to a Mexican Surf Town".

All information about American Express Centurion Black Card has been collected independently by Blueprint.

In short, smart travel recommendations are just a few clicks away — and can help you craft the dream vacation while avoiding tourist traps that might not leave you feeling fully satisfied.

Seek out lodging that isn’t part of a mega-chain hotel collection

If you have a travel rewards credit card , check if it grants you special access to a hotel collection. For example, Capital One announced the Lifestyle Collection in mid-2024, designed to be exclusively available via Capital One Travel for people with specific Capital One cards .

The Lifestyle Collection is a list of curated boutique hotels allowing guests to stay in popular destinations but avoid the crush of an overcrowded megahotel lobby.  While your choice of lodging won’t necessarily prevent you stopping by a tourist trap, finding a great stay can make it easier for you to have a wide selection of possible vacation activities.

If picking the right credit card has you overwhelmed, we’ve got you . Here are our picks for the best credit cards for every type of person.


In July 2023, we analyzed 23.2 million Google reviews of 500 popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in six continents.

We focused our analysis on mentions of certain keywords that indicate a common negative sentiment among visitors. Those keywords are: “tourist trap”, “expensive”, and “overrated”.

It’s true that a few uses of these keywords do not fit in a negative context (e.g. “It’s kind of a tourist trap but we loved it!”). Based on our analysis, these positive instances of usage were not frequent enough to be statistically significant, and in any case, they are consistent enough across attractions to cancel each other out.

We began with a list of 1,600 tourist attractions for consideration, before narrowing to our final 500. We removed from this list, with only a few exceptions, all national parks, state parks, lakes, and mountains. We also removed sports stadiums. The list was further reduced based on the total number of reviews submitted for each attraction.

All reviews analyzed were written in English.

For rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please visit this page .

*The information for the American Express Centurion Black Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Glen Luke Flanagan

Glen Luke Flanagan is a deputy editor on the USA TODAY Blueprint credit cards team. Prior to joining Blueprint, he served as a deputy editor on the credit cards team at Forbes Advisor, and covered credit cards, credit scoring and related topics as a senior writer at LendingTree. He’s passionate about helping people understand personal finance so they can make the best decisions possible for their wallet. Glen holds a master's degree in technical and professional communication from East Carolina University and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Radford University.

Robin Saks Frankel is a credit cards lead editor at USA TODAY Blueprint. Previously, she was a credit cards and personal finance deputy editor for Forbes Advisor. She has also covered credit cards and related content for other national web publications including NerdWallet, Bankrate and HerMoney. She's been featured as a personal finance expert in outlets including CNBC, Business Insider, CBS Marketplace, NASDAQ's Trade Talks and has appeared on or contributed to The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio, ABC Radio, NPR, International Business Times and NBC, ABC and CBS TV affiliates nationwide. She holds an M.S. in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University. Follow her on Twitter at @robinsaks.

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top tourist spot in the world

The 12 Most Dangerous Places in the World

Dangerous places to avoid when traveling.

T he world is a fascinating place, and you may want to see all of it ! But before venturing out there, you should be aware of certain risks. While you’re probably not planning to take a trip to an active war zone, some appealing—and popular—tourist spots carry more risks than others and actually rank among the most dangerous countries in the world. Even some vacation hot spots you may think are perfectly safe may have hidden reasons for you to reconsider your plans.

So before you book that flight, see if your destination made our list of dangerous destinations, based on recent reports by the U.S. State Department, the Global Peace Index and International SOS’s Travel Risk Map. Read on to find out what the most dangerous places in the world are, how we calculated the risks and the best places to travel instead.

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What is the most dangerous country in the world?

It’s hard to quantify the most dangerous country in the world, because there are so many factors to consider. But these places generally include non-tourist destinations that even the most intrepid travelers would probably avoid right now. According to the Global Peace Index’s 2023 list of the 10 most dangerous countries in the world, starting from the most dangerous, they are: Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Congo, Russia, Ukraine, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. This tracks with the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories, in which 19 countries, including the above, earned the highest risk of Level 4, with a “Do Not Travel” warning. (Others include North Korea, Iran, Somalia and Haiti.)

But there are other, more attractive countries that are still rated a Travel Advisory of Level 2, 3 or even 4, which we’ll get into below.

How we determined the most dangerous places in the world

We used several studies and research organizations to compile our list, including the Global Peace Index (GPI), which uses 23 metrics to come up with its numbers across three areas: societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization. The U.S. Travel Advisories are likewise based on similar factors. In addition, we considered the Travel Risk Map from health and security firm International SOS, which measures medical and security risks separately for each country.

It’s also important to consider risks for certain groups, including LGBTQ people and solo female travelers , who might face more specific threats in countries that may be otherwise safe. In addition, American tourists might stand out more in non-Western countries and be more of a target. But keep the risks of really bad things happening in perspective, because the chances of being a victim are likely small. Although reliable research is lacking on firm statistics for the number of tourist deaths and crime reports from Americans abroad, the CDC says the cause of the most common international fatalities is the same as at home: traffic accidents.

With that in mind, here’s our list of the most dangerous places in the world.

The land of the pyramids holds an incredible appeal for history and culture lovers—but unfortunately, at a Level 3, it’s one of the most dangerous countries in the world, due to threats of terrorism and a restrictive political atmosphere. Plus, according to Gobbels, sexual violence and cultural expectations for women make it extremely problematic, for both locals and visitors. If you’re traveling there anyway, go with a trusted tour operator. Gobbels also suggests knowing the emergency number—122—and learning how to say “stop” and “help” in Arabic. Carrying a whistle isn’t a bad idea either.

Where to go instead: Morocco

For an alternative North African adventure with less risk, consider Morocco. From snowy mountains to deserts and beaches, the country has a wide variety of natural landscapes and cultural treasures. Check out the medinas (old cities) of Marrakech, Tangier, Casablanca and the “blue city” of Chefchaouen, one of the most colorful cities in the world . Add in the sumptuous cuisine and delicious teas, and Morocco is a safer, but no less interesting, choice.

Mexico’s travel safety came into question last year when a spate of incidents involving tourists, gang shootings, organized crime and kidnappings prompted the State Department to issue new warnings, dividing up levels by Mexican state. Now, tourists need to take into account their specific destination in the country—and the beach resort town of Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast isn’t exactly the party destination it once was. With a Level 4 travel advisory for its state of Guerrero, it’s in the same category as places like Iran, Syria and North Korea. Why is it so dangerous? It’s deemed one of the most violent cities in Mexico, with dozens of gangs operating in the open.

Where to go instead: Merida, Mexico

Plenty of Mexico is still safe, including most of the Yucatán peninsula, with destinations like Cancún and the Riviera Maya at a Level 2. But the safest area of the country is the Gulf of Mexico side of the Yucatán. The lovely city of Merida, listed at No. 30 of the 300 safest cities in the world by business publication CEOWorld, is a top spot to see here, with gorgeous Spanish architecture, Mayan ruins, and nearby beaches and cenotes for swimming.

Most of the Middle East

The Middle East, which comprises a multitude of countries often front and center in the news, has historically been a sacred place for many religions, a cultural and archaeological treasure, and a place of ongoing, centuries-old unrest. Considered among the holiest places in the world, the Middle East still attracts plenty of travelers, but the State Department warns against it. Many Middle Eastern countries are at a Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”) or 4 because of the risks of violence for visitors. If you do decide to go, Gobbels suggests enrolling with Smart Traveler , which allows U.S. embassies and consulates to contact you and provide aid in case of a violent incident.

Where to go instead: Jordan

That said, there are a few countries in the Middle East that have been stable and safe places to visit in recent years, including Jordan. This country contains some very cool natural and historical sites, including the Dead Sea and the ancient site of Petra, one of the world’s greatest lost cities . There are a few off-limits areas, such as the borders with Iraq and Syria, as well as the Syrian refugee camps, but on the whole, the country is safe, open to tourism and well worth visiting.

Violent crime continues to be a major problem in Brazil’s cities, with armed robbery and assault—particularly during big celebrations like Carnival—in addition to gang activity and organized crime. If you go, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and diligent with your safety, warns Gobbels. “Crime is rampant in the cities, and you need to be especially careful if you travel anywhere outside the main tourist areas,” he says. In addition, your health could be in danger: If you’re heading to the beach, even the famed sands of Ipanema, water pollution is a definite concern, although recent cleanup efforts have reduced the chances of exposure to a viral or bacterial infection.

Where to go instead: Argentina

At a Level 1 (except the city of Rosario, which is a Level 2 due to crime), Argentina ranks well on the Global Peace Index and International SOS’s security-risk map. In addition to stunning natural landscapes, including Patagonia, Argentina boasts one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Buenos Aires, a sophisticated cultural metropolis with amazing architecture and a great food scene. Although there are no beaches within the city, there are gorgeous stretches of sand a few hours down the coast.

Compared to some other African countries, Madagascar has a considerably lower crime rate—but it’s also one of the poorest countries, despite its wealth of natural beauty, beaches and endemic animal species. Robberies and muggings are common in crowded areas, like airports and street markets. Elections often result in political protests, which can turn violent. And there’s a growing trend of violent highway robberies, including car theft, on major national roads in the south and west. Because of this, the State Department advises not traveling between cities after dark, and to be aware when stuck in traffic.

Where to go instead: Mauritius

This tiny island 700 miles east of Madagascar in the middle of the Indian Ocean is also gorgeous, but with a much stronger tourism industry and lesser safety concerns as a Level 1 country. Although both countries are at risk of cyclones, Mauritius has a much better infrastructure to handle them. With white-sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling and diving, mountainous rainforests and waterfalls to explore, as well as lots of wildlife to spot, the country makes for an exciting, yet safer, adventure vacation .

The Philippines

With more than 7,000 islands, most of the Philippines is fairly safe, with stunning beaches, crystal-clear water and palm-tree-fringed shorelines. But it’s best to avoid the southern part of the country, mostly due to the increased number of kidnappings, according to Gobbels. On the island of Mindanao (Level 3, with Marawi City at Level 4) and the Sulu Archipelago (Level 4), you might come in contact with Islamic terrorist groups known for kidnap-for-ransom, bombings and other violent activities. Even far away in the capital city of Manila, pickpocketing and violent crime are on the rise.

Gobbels adds that it’s often better to walk than drive, since accidents are common in the country and emergency response services are limited. He suggests spending extra on hotels in safer areas: “Yes, you might try to score the best resort deal, but the more expensive hotels usually have better security as well, so in this case, go for the nicer properties.”

Where to go instead: Malaysia

This destination in Southeast Asia offers pristine beaches , a rich rainforest and amazing wildlife, from leopards to orangutans. At a Level 1 (except for the northeast section of the island of Borneo, which is a Level 2), the country is safer and has a lower crime rate, while still offering unbelievable scenery and rich, multicultural heritage and historical sites. In addition, the bustling capital city of Kuala Lumpur offers everything from skyscrapers to savory street food.

Currently, this Central American country just south of Mexico gets a Level 3 travel advisory, with some areas at a Level 4. Criminal activity, drug trafficking, carjacking and armed robbery are just a few of the reasons Guatemala landed on our list of the most dangerous countries in the world. Violent crime—including murder—is also common, thanks in part to the numerous gangs in cities and along the borders. If you do decide to go, make sure to invest in a hotel that not only has a doorman but a dedicated professional security staff. And when you explore, always go with a security member from the Guatemalan Tourism Institute. It’s also best to avoid walking or driving at night, using public ATMs and displaying any signs of wealth, such as wearing watches or jewelry.

In addition, you’ll want to avoid swimming along the Pacific coast due to strong currents and undertows, and because the country lacks sufficient emergency response if you need help.

Where to go instead: Costa Rica

With an established tourism industry, stable political climate, adequate medical facilities and infrastructure, and the most peaceful GPI rating in Central America, Costa Rica has long been a good choice for tourists. See protected, lush rainforests, diverse wildlife including monkeys and jaguars, volcanoes and waterfalls, and visit top snorkeling and surfing sites in this adventure lover’s paradise.

While plenty of people dream of setting their sights on the churches and castles of St. Petersburg, the State Department advises giving the entire country a hard pass. Right now, it may be the most dangerous place in the world for Americans. War with Ukraine, arbitrary enforcement of laws, limited ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist you, and the potential for government security officials to target American citizens for wrongful detainment, harassment and extortion have earned Russia a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning. U.S. citizens are instructed to depart “immediately,” and even U.S. credit and debit cards won’t work in the country. Unfortunately, the colorful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral will have to wait.

Where to go instead: Bulgaria

This fellow Slavic nation shares some cultural similarities with Russia, while enjoying a much safer Level 1 and more peaceful GPI rating. The Eastern European country may be a little bit under the radar as a tourist destination, but that just means it’s also cheaper. In addition to churches and castles, you’ll find outdoor adventure in the mountains and countryside, and calm beaches on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline. Visit in March for Baba Marta Day, one of the best spring celebrations around the world .

You may be surprised to see Iceland here, as the country is generally one of the safest on earth when it comes to violent crime. So why is it on our list? In December 2023, volcanic eruptions began in Fagradalsfjall, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the southwest, about 20 miles from the capital of Reykjavik. In March 2024, the fourth eruption in as many months began. Although official word from this land of ice and fire is that the majority of the country is operating normally, it should give tourists some pause—especially as one of the biggest attractions of the country, the famed Blue Lagoon, has been closed due to the volcanic activity. If you go, get travel insurance, and don’t take any chances as a “volcano tourist.” That could definitely kill you.

Where to go instead: Finland

Equally safe when it comes to crime, this fellow Nordic country doesn’t currently have any natural dangers to consider. Viewing the northern lights in Lapland is an experience high on any traveler’s bucket list, especially from a glass-domed igloo that lets you spend the night under the magical sky. Plus, you can view the traditional architecture of old wooden churches and villages, take in a sauna, see real reindeer and enjoy the landscape of forests, lakes and snow.

Here’s another bucket-list trip many travelers dream of: going on an African safari. Besides the general risk of getting eaten by a lion (very small, by the way), Kenya may be the country with the most amount of risk, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest and kidnapping, with some parts of the country at a Level 4. You definitely should not travel to areas near the border with Somalia and some parts of Turkana county in the northwest; and be cautious in some parts of central Kenya and certain neighborhoods of the capital, Nairobi. Violent crime, including armed carjacking, home invasion and kidnapping, can occur, with local police and emergency medical services often unable to respond effectively.

Where to go instead: Zambia

With a fairly stable government, Zambia is one of the only safari destinations currently at a Level 1, which makes it the safest. This country also flies a bit under the radar when it comes to tourism, which means its beauty is unspoiled. In addition, for the really adventurous, the country is known for walking safaris (with highly experienced guides, of course). Plus, Zambia offers the added opportunity to visit Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The laid-back, welcoming culture of this popular Caribbean destination seems to be at odds with its high crime rate, so its status as a Level 3 country recently caused a stir among travelers. Common violent crimes in Jamaica include sexual assault, which the State Department notes occurs even at all-inclusive resorts, as well as armed robbery and murder—and local authorities don’t always respond effectively. Certain parts of the island, including in the capital of Kingston and areas of the popular resort town of Montego Bay, have even earned a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning. Plus, hospitals and medical care are often not up to par, so travelers insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, is encouraged.

Where to go instead: St. Lucia

The Caribbean is full of spectacular islands that rate a Level 1, but our pick is St. Lucia for incredible mountain scenery and lush tropical forests that’s similar to Jamaica’s. Both islands also offer all-inclusive resorts, if you like to make things easy on your trip, and smaller boutique properties as well. In addition to beautiful beaches, St. Lucia rates as one of the best Caribbean islands for great hiking—if you’re ambitious, you could even tackle Gros Piton, the climbable peak of the iconic twin Pitons mountains.

China has amazing food, history, sites and culture, and little violent crime—but right now, it’s unfortunately at a Level 3. Why? Due to its authoritarian government, the risks of being wrongfully detained, or even not allowed to leave the country (called an “exit ban”), and the arbitrary enforcement of laws have been increasing. Americans, including those of Chinese descent, should think twice before embarking on a trip to China, including the “special administrative regions” of Hong Kong and Macau. In addition, the ongoing air-pollution issue, specifically in Beijing, has prompted recent air-quality alerts.

Where to go instead: South Korea

South Korean culture is definitely enjoying an uptick in popularity. Think: K-Pop, Netflix’s Squid Game, Korean cinema Oscar faves Parasite and Past Lives —and who can resist Korean barbecue? Visit the Level 1 land where it all came from with a trip to this Asian country. In addition to enjoying its high-tech, modern culture, you can visit traditional temples and historic palaces, hike jaw-dropping mountains and relax under cherry trees. Safe, stable, welcoming of tourists and easy to get around thanks to a top-notch public transportation system, South Korea is well worth visiting.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Tigar.

Why trust us

At  Reader’s Digest , we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this story on the most dangerous countries in the world, we relied on reputable primary sources, including government and professional organizations and academic institutions as well as our writers’ personal experience where appropriate . We verify all facts and data, back them with credible sourcing, and revisit them over time to ensure they  remain   accurate  and up to date. Read more about our  team , our  contributors  and our  editorial policies .

  • John Gobbels, vice president and chief operating officer for international emergency service Medjet
  • Institute for Economics and Peace: Vision of Humanity : “Global Peace Index”
  • U.S. Department of State : “Travel Advisories”
  • Tourism Management : “Killed while traveling – Trends in tourism-related mortality, injuries, and leading causes of tourist deaths from published English news reports, 2000–2017 (1H)”
  • U.S. Department of State : “Safety and Security Messaging”
  • International SOS : “Travel Risk Map”
  • U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico : “Travel Alert: Spring Break 2023”
  • CEO World : “Revealed: Safest Cities in the World, 2024”
  • Visit Iceland : “Volcanic Iceland: Volcanic Eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula”
  • CDC : “Traveler’s Health: African Safaris: CDC Yellow Book 2024”

12 Most Dangerous Places In The World Ft Gettyimages 1505710892

Money latest: Gameboys, Sindy dolls, designer shoes, 1950s furniture - the items in your attic that could be worth a small fortune

Gumtree's most popular items include rare stamps, Gameboys and Pokemon cards. Read this and all the latest consumer and personal finance news below, plus leave a comment or submit a consumer dispute or money problem in the box.

Monday 29 April 2024 19:46, UK

  • Three of UK's biggest lenders up mortgage rates
  • Annual mortgage repayments have increased by up to 70% since 2021
  • Higher food prices and shortages warning - as new Brexit checks begin this week
  • People on disability benefits could receive vouchers rather than cash

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  • Gameboys, Sindy dolls, designer shoes, 1950s furniture: The items in your attic that could be worth a small fortune
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Strikes at Heathrow Airport are taking place over the next few weeks, with the first one already under way.

Staff at the UK's biggest airport are set to walk out during the early bank holiday in May, with their union warning planes could be "delayed, disrupted and grounded".

Click here to find out when all the strikes are, what disruption is expected and which airlines are affected...

The average price paid for comprehensive motor insurance rose 1% in the first quarter of the year, according to industry data indicating an easing in the steep rises seen last year.

The latest tracker issued by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) showed a 1% increase on the previous three months to £635.

That was despite the average claim paid rising 8% to reach a record of £4,800, the body said.

The ABI said the disparity showed that its members were "absorbing" additional costs and not passing them on.

Nevertheless, the average policy was still 33%, or £157, higher between January and March compared to the same period last year.

Read the full story here ...

Getir , the grocery delivery app, has abandoned a European expansion that is set to result in the loss of around 1,500 jobs in the UK.

Sky News had previously revealed that the Turkey-based company, which means "to bring" in Turkish, had  successfully raised money from investors to fund its withdrawals  from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

It had already departed other countries including Italy and Spain.

The exits were prompted by growing losses linked to the company's rapid expansion.

Waitrose is launching an exclusive range of products with popular chef Yotam Ottolenghi today. 

The Israeli-British chef is famous for his Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-inspired food, and has worked with the supermarket to release products including a pasta sauce, spice blend and shawarma marinade. 

It is the first time Ottolenghi has partnered with a supermarket in such a way. 

The full range will be available in Waitrose shops, and from today, while a selection of products will be available from the supermarket on Deliveroo and Uber Eats. 

An introductory 20% off offer is being launched until 18 June. 

The range includes: 

  • Ottolenghi Miso Pesto 165g (£4)
  • Ottolenghi Kalamata Olive & Harissa Sauce  350g (£4.50)
  • Ottolenghi Pomegranate, Rose & Preserved Lemon Harissa 170g (£5)
  • Ottolenghi Green Harissa 170g (£5)
  • Ottolenghi Aleppo & Other Chillies Blend (£3.95)
  • Ottolenghi Sweet & Smokey Blend (£3.95)
  • Ottolenghi Citrus & Spice Blend (£3.95)
  • Ottolenghi Red Chilli Sauce (£4.50)
  • Ottolenghi Shawarma Marinade (£4)

Ottolenghi said he had "always been super eager to get our flavours onto people's dinner plates nationwide, not just in London, without having to cook it from scratch every single time". 

He added: "I hate to admit it but the pasta sauce already features heavily in my home kitchen, when no one is looking."

The cost of bread, biscuits and beer could increase this year due to the impact of the unusually wet autumn and winter on UK harvests.

Research suggests that production of wheat, oats, barley and oilseed rape could drop by four million tonnes (17.5%) compared with 2023.

The wet weather has resulted in lower levels of planting, while flooding and storms over winter caused farmers more losses.

The predictions come just as the rate of price increases on many food items begins to slow as inflation falls.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) analysed forecasts from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHBD) and government yield data.

It found a "real risk" of beer, biscuits and bread becoming more expensive if the poor harvest increases costs for producers, according to its lead analyst Tom Lancaster.

Beer prices could be affected because the wet weather is still disrupting the planting of spring crops such as barley, the ECIU said.

And potatoes might also see a price hike in the coming months, with growers warning of a major shortage in the autumn due to persistent wet weather.

By Emily Mee , Money team

When I think about the toys of my childhood - my pink Barbie car, my Gameboy Micro, my collection of Pokemon cards - I can't tell you where they went. 

Maybe they were shipped off to a charity shop at some point... Or perhaps they're in the attic? 

While my hot pink Gameboy Micro is lost to the void of time (or a cardboard box somewhere in my mum's house), other versions of it are selling on eBay for £100 or more. 

And there are Pokemon cards selling for anything from a tenner to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. 

It's possible you also have items at home that are a collector's dream. 

Gumtree says its collectables category is already proving to be a "hotbed of activity" this year, with listings up 22% in 2024 so far. 

Its most popular items include rare stamps, coins, war memorabilia and Pokemon cards. 

Spring is often the most popular time for buying and selling collectibles, with demand spiking in March and April. 

We've enlisted the help of TV presenter and collectables expert Tracy Martin to give an idea of what could make you an easy buck. 

Old toys making a 'retro comeback'

Tracy explains that while trends change, vintage toys tend to stand the test of time. 

"Toys are always going to be popular because they tap into nostalgia, our childhood memories," she says, explaining that adults like to buy the toys they used to have. 

Perhaps you were into cars, and you've got some old diecast vehicles from Matchbox, Corgi or Dinky Toys. 

A quick look on toy auction site shows a Corgi Toys "James Bond" Aston Martin estimated to sell for between £600 to £700 - while others are likely to fetch £50 to £60. 

Sindy dolls are also particularly sought after - particularly those from the 1960s - and Barbie dolls from the 1990s too. 

Pokemon cards have seen a "massive surge", Tracy says, with people paying "thousands and thousands of pounds" for good unopened sets. 

She's even seen examples of people paying £16,000 upwards. 

Another up-and-coming market is games consoles, such as Gameboys, vintage consoles and PlayStations, which are making a "retro comeback".

What else could earn you some cash?

Tracy says there's currently a surge in people wanting to buy "mid century" furniture, which is dated to roughly 1945 to 1965 and typically uses clean lines and has a timeless feel. 

Vintage Danish furniture is sought after, particularly tables and chairs with good designer names such as Wegner, Verner Panton and Arne Jacobsen.

Prices range from the low hundreds into the thousands.

People will also look out for vintage framed prints by artists such as Tretchikoff, J.H. Lynch and Shabner - these can range in price from £50 upwards to a few hundred pounds plus. 

Vintage clothes, handbags and shoes can fetch a good price - but you can also invest in modern pieces. 

Tracy suggests looking out for good classic designs with high-end designer names such as Gucci, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. 

Modern designers such as Irregular Choice, Vendula and Lulu Guinness are also collected. 

Collaborations with designers and celebrities can do well as they're often limited edition. 

For example, Tracy says the H&M x Paco Rabanne maxi silver sequin dress retailed at £279.99 last year but now sells for in excess of £600. 

When it comes to shoes, "the quirkier the design the better" - so look out for brands such as Irregular Choice and Joe Browns. 

Converse and Dr Martens collaborations also do well, depending on the design and condition, as well as Adidas and Nike limited edition trainers. 

What's the best way to sell?  

Tracy recommends to always research before selling your items, as they might perform better on different platforms and you can also get an idea of how much they sell for. 

For example, Vinted can be a good place to sell clothes and shoes, while other items might be better suited for sale on Gumtree, eBay or Etsy. 

Tracy's favourite way to sell is through auction - especially if there are specialist sales. 

Vectis is one of the biggest and most popular for toy selling. 

Interests in different periods and items can go up and down, but for the time being vintage pieces from the 1980s and 90s are popular. 

How much you'll be able to get from an item often takes into account its rarity, condition, whether it reflects a period in time, and if it's got a good name behind it. 

You never know - you might be sitting on a treasure trove. 

Annual mortgage repayments have increased by up to 70% since 2021, according to new data from Zoopla .

The biggest impact of rising interest rates has been in southern England where house prices are higher.

Across the South West, South East and East of England, the annual mortgage cost for an average home is £5,000 higher than previously. This rises to £7,500 in London.

But the universal uptick in mortgage costs has been less pronounced in other parts of the UK, with the North East seeing a £2,350 increase.

In a bid to tackle inflation, the Bank of England has raised the base rate from 0.1% in December 2021 to a 16-year high of 5.25% now.

The Zoopla research looked at the average home buyer taking out a 70% loan-to-value mortgage.

This week seems to be starting where last week left off - with three major lenders announcing further hikes in mortgage rates.

Amid uncertainty of the timing of interest rate cuts from the Bank of England  this year, swap rates (which dictate how much it costs lenders to lend) have been rising in recent weeks.

Financial markets currently see two rate cuts by the Bank of England this year.

We've reported on a string of rate bumps from the high street over the last 10 days, and this morning NatWest, Santander and Nationwide moved.

In its second hikes announcement in less than a week, NatWest laid out increases across its full range of residential and buy-to-let fixed deals of up to 0.22%.

Santander, meanwhile, announced increases for both fixed and tracker deals across their residential and buy-to-let products - up to 0.25%.

The same hikes are being imposed for a range of Nationwide deals.

All of these will kick in tomorrow.

Amit Patel, adviser at Trinity Finance, told Newspage it was "not a great start to the week". 

"This is not good news for borrowers," he said.

Where will the base rate go this year?

The majority of the bets, according to LSEG data, are on the first cut coming in August (previously this was June) and the second in December.

This would take Bank rate from the current level of 5.25% to 4.75%.

Disabled people could receive vouchers instead of monthly payments under proposed changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The changes could see people being provided with either one-off grants for specific costs such as home adaptation, or being directed to "alternative means of support" rather than financial support.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is set to announce plans today to overhaul the way disability benefits work.

In a Green Paper due to be published alongside Mr Stride's statement to the Commons, ministers will set out plans to reform Personal Independence Payments (PIP), the main disability benefit, through changes to eligibility criteria and assessments.

The plans also include proposals to "move away from a fixed cash benefit system", meaning people with some conditions, such as depression and anxiety, will no longer receive regular payments but rather get improved access to treatment if their condition does not involve extra costs.

Speaking to Sky News earlier, Mr Stride said: "I want us to have a grown-up, sensible conversation about a benefit called PIP that has not been reviewed in over a decade.

"And I want to ask the question, is it fit for purpose given the world that we're in today, in which mental health issues sadly present more of an issue than they did a decade ago."

By James Sillars , business reporter

A fresh high for the FTSE 100 to start the week.

The index of leading shares in London was 0.5% up at 8,179 in early dealing.

The gains were led by miners and financial stocks.

Dragging on the performance were some consumer-facing brands including JD Sports and Flutter Entertainment.

One other development of note to mention is that stubbornly high oil price.

A barrel of Brent crude is currently trading almost 1% down on the day.

But it remains at $88 a barrel.

The market has been pulled by various forces this month, with hopes of a rebound in demand in China among them.

The latest decline is said to reflect peace talks being held between Israel and Hamas.

A demand for smaller homes has driven growth in UK property prices early in 2024, according to research by Halifax.

Data from the bank's house price index suggests annual property price growth hit 1.9% in February this year - a significant rise from -4.1% just three months prior.

That equates to a rise in prices of £5,318 over the past year.

It follows interest rates stabilising, Halifax says, after a sharp rise over the past two years which squeezed mortgage affordability.

A key driver behind rising prices, Halifax says, has been first-time buyers, who made up 53% of all homes bought with a mortgage in 2023 - the highest proportion since 1995.

And it's smaller homes that have recorded the biggest increases in price growth in the early part of this year - with buyers adjusting their expectations to compensate for higher borrowing costs.

Flats and terraced houses made up 57% of all homes purchased by first-time buyers last year.

This varies by region - for example, in London, flats and terraced homes accounted for 90% of all first-time buyer purchases.

Challenges remain

However, Amanda Bryden, head of Halifax mortgages, said "it's important not to gloss over the challenges" facing the UK housing market, given the "impact of higher interest rates on mortgage affordability" and "continued lack of supply of new homes".

"But scratch beneath the surface and there is a more nuanced story, one which shows that demand for different property types in different parts of the country can vary hugely," she added.

"As interest rates have stabilised and buyers adjust to the new economic reality of owning a home, one way to compensate for higher borrowing costs is to target smaller properties.

"This is especially true among first-time buyers, who have proven to be resilient over recent years, and now account for the largest proportion of homes purchased with a mortgage in almost 30 years."

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26 top things to do in california.

There's something for everyone in the Golden State.

Top Things to Do in California

Looking up through sequoia trees at Redwood National Park.

Getty Images

California is full of beautiful destinations and fun attractions to experience.

California's attractions are so diverse that travelers of all types will have no problem finding things to thrill them. Beaches , lakes , forests, mountains and deserts all sit side by side within the state's borders. Amid its natural wonders, California is also home to several wine regions, luxury hotels and, of course, star-studded Hollywood. With all this and so much more, it may be challenging to figure out how to fit all the state's most important must-sees in one or more trips.

Let this guide assist you in your California vacation planning, whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned pro. From the north to the south and everything in between, these are the top things to do in California.

17-Mile Drive

Lone Cypress, a prominent landmark along the 17 Mile Drive, on a foggy day

California's 17-Mile Drive is a spellbinding and awe-inspiring route that weaves along the most scenic stretch of the Monterey Bay coastline. This must-visit road, winding through the exclusive community of Pebble Beach, takes drivers up into the Del Monte Forest, past palatial mansions and down along picture-perfect craggy beaches and bluffs. Take time to stop at the various lookout points marked along the way, including the famous Lone Cypress.

If you're interested in bedding down in Pebble Beach, consider splurging on a room, or at least stopping for a meal, to behold the stunning scenery that surrounds the properties at Pebble Beach Resorts, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach or The Inn at Spanish Bay . If you are not staying overnight or dining here, expect to pay a vehicle fee to access 17-Mile Drive. Also note that motorcycles are not allowed.


Empty trail by the coastline at Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

This small community in Monterey County is one of the most unique and charming towns in California. Its enchanting coastal location, wooded streets, fairytale-like architecture, and bevy of local shops and restaurants make Carmel-by-the-Sea well worth the detour from the iconic state Route 1. Even if you only have a half-day in Carmel, browse the art galleries, take a walk on the beach and enjoy a meal in one of the quaint restaurants.

Be sure to visit a few of Carmel's beaches, starting with the namesake Carmel Beach, which is located at the end of Ocean Avenue, the town's main drag; pet owners will be pleased to know it's a dog-friendly beach . Carmel River State Beach, which is lesser known and typically not as highly trafficked, connects to the even more secluded Monastery Beach via the Carmel Meadows Trail. As for where to stay, consider treating yourself to one of the town's luxurious accommodations, including traveler-approved L'Auberge Carmel or La Playa Carmel .

[Read: The Top Weekend Getaways From Los Angeles .]

Visit the theme parks

"The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Courtesy of Universal Studios

You are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to theme parks in California. The impressive amount of options will please every type of traveler. Kids will naturally be dazzled by Anaheim's world-famous Disneyland Resort . However, if you're not up for paying Disneyland's notoriously high ticket fees, consider exciting alternatives such as Legoland California . There are Six Flags amusement and water parks near both Los Angeles and San Francisco – perfect for thrill-seekers – and Universal Studios Hollywood is home to the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the new Super Nintendo World.

Due to the popularity of these parks, you'll have no problem finding nearby accommodations. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a top choice among travelers, as is The Garland for those visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. Legoland has two kid-friendly hotels to choose from, though travelers can also opt for a stay at the well-received Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort and Spa , which is located right on the beach and only a short drive to Legoland.

Read: The Top California Theme Parks

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley National Park with a huge waterfall

If you only have time to visit one outdoor destination during your California trip, make it Yosemite . With the national park welcoming more than 3 million visitors per year, Yosemite Valley has been known to stir awe for centuries with its grand granite peaks, magnificent waterfalls and lush evergreen landscapes. There is so much to do in this nearly 750,000-acre park that you'll need several days to take it all in. If you're unsure where to start at this California bucket list destination, know that Glacier Point, Half Dome, Tunnel View and the Mist Trail are considered iconic, can't-miss Yosemite attractions , according to recent travelers.

There are three hotels within Yosemite, including the luxury Ahwahnee hotel. You'll also find cabins, canvas-sided tents, campgrounds and RV campsites spread around the park, as well as several dining options. Be warned that the park does get very crowded during the summer months, so visiting in the offseason is a great idea – especially with Yosemite's picturesque snow-capped peaks. Check for road closures during winter months; tire chains may be required.

Explore the desert

Springtime flowers in desert in California

To properly appreciate California's diverse geological landscape, you'll need to venture beyond the coast and explore the desert. Luckily, two magnificent desert landscapes can be found less than three hours from Los Angeles and San Diego. Joshua Tree National Park , located about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, is an approximately 800,000-acre oasis dotted with the unique Joshua tree, which can only be found in the American Southwest. Meanwhile, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located about 85 miles northeast of San Diego, is California's largest state park and features striking scenery ranging from slot canyons to palm oases.

Both of these parks offer memorable hiking trails and camping options. You'll want to plan a multiday trip to explore either of these vast parks. Traveler favorites in Joshua Tree include the 3-mile out-and-back Ryan Mountain trail and the 1.7-mile Skull Rock loop trail. In Anza-Borrego, visitors enjoyed the 2.6-mile out-and-back Pictograph Trail and the more moderate 2.3-mile Slot loop trail. Due to the desert's extreme summer heat (think: daytime temperatures in the 90s or even 100-plus degrees), it's best to visit during the spring and fall.

See more of Joshua Tree National Park: Things to Do | Photos

Laguna Beach

Aerial view of residences along Laguna Beach

If you're interested in experiencing small-town Southern California, Laguna Beach is the perfect place to start. Conveniently situated between Los Angeles and San Diego, Laguna Beach is located along the coast just off state Route 1. Laguna Beach's picturesque setting is characterized by pristine oceanfront parks and a collection of beautiful beaches wedged between its coastal bluffs. Be sure to visit unique cove beaches, such as Victoria Beach and Crescent Bay Beach, as well as larger shorelines, including traveler-favorite Crystal Cove State Park, which receives praise for its beautiful setting between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar.

Laguna Beach is also home to a bevy of luxurious accommodations , including The Ranch at Laguna Beach and the traveler-approved five-star Montage at Laguna Beach . Once an artists' colony, Laguna Beach is known for its summer art festivals and numerous art galleries. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too, such as mountain biking, skimboarding and hiking. Parking can be hard to find in the summer months and on holiday weekends, but there is a free open-air trolley service that runs along the area's stretch of coastline.

See more of Laguna Beach: Things to Do | Photos

Waves breaking on El Matador beach in Southern California

Located a little more than 30 miles west of Los Angeles, Malibu is often seen as a coastal refuge for the rich and famous. While that impression is certainly true, Malibu is worth a visit for its superb beaches and the exceptional parks a stone's throw away.

Drive up state Highway 1 and make a pit stop at popular shorelines, including Robert H. Memorial State Beach, Zuma Beach and Point Dume State Beach. Nature lovers should also take time to hike some of the many trails at Point Mugu State Park, Topanga State Park or the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. For hikes with spectacular ocean views, hit up the 3-mile Solstice Canyon Loop trail or the challenging 2.7-mile Mugu Peak loop trail. Check for trail closures before heading out.

Due to Malibu's small size and affluence, you won't find many hotels that offer affordable rates, so you might want to bed down in nearby Los Angeles. If you are intent on staying in Malibu, you'll find comfort and luxury at the Malibu Beach Inn , The Surfrider Malibu and Hotel June Malibu. Stop by Malibu Country Mart for high-end shopping and farm-to-table dining, or check out Trancas Country Market for snacks at Vintage Grocers or lunch at Malibu Brewing Company.

Read: The Top Los Angeles Beaches

San Francisco

Trolley cars and street in San Francisco

A visit to California is not complete without a stop in San Francisco . There are several ways the city is a standout, not only in the state but in the entire country. Its scenic bayfront setting, towering hills and the plethora of colorful Victorian homes that line them are a feast for the eyes. On top of all of that, the city is home to world-famous attractions and is widely considered to be one of the best foodie cities in the U.S.

While here, check out all the visitor-favorite sights , including the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown. You can also take advantage of the outdoor spaces that make up the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, such as Land's End, Muir Woods National Monument and more. As for where to stay, you have endless hotel options in San Francisco , including Ritz-Carlton , Four Seasons and St. Regis outposts.

See more of San Francisco: Tours | Photos

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island in the low sun

While in the San Francisco Bay Area, take a tour of the infamous Alcatraz Island , an island that has housed a fort, military prison and penitentiary. Self-guided audio tours are included with your ferry ticket to Alcatraz: Listen to the stories of past inmates as you walk through what was once a maximum-security prison. On the island, you'll also find an exhibition about the 1969 Native American occupation of Alcatraz that took place for 19 months to advocate for Indigenous civil rights.

Alcatraz features amazing views of the San Francisco skyline, historic gardens and a sanctuary for nesting waterbirds. The ferry ride aboard Alcatraz City Cruises takes about 15 minutes. Advance reservations are recommended.

San Diego skyline from the ocean

The state's second-largest city is a great alternative for those who want a big city experience without the intense traffic and smog of neighboring Los Angeles. San Diego is a premier vacation destination thanks to its diverse array of attractions . Here, you have your pick of fantastic beaches , including Pacific Beach and La Jolla Shores.

Other top things to explore include the world-famous San Diego Zoo, museum-heavy Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and traveler-favorite USS Midway Museum, located in a retired aircraft carrier. You'll find plenty of hotels near various points of interest in San Diego, including by the beach, the bay and downtown. For a real treat, consider a stay at the elegant Fairmont Grand Del Mar or the historic Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton .

See more of San Diego: Tours | Photos

Death Valley National Park

Sunrise in Ubehebe Crater at Death Valley National Park, California

This national park is one for the books, breaking records as both one of the hottest places on Earth and the driest land in North America. A visit to Death Valley is not easy; the closest major airport sits nearly two hours away in Las Vegas . Should you decide to make the trek, you'll be rewarded with memorable desert landscapes, including walkable sand dunes and Artists Drive, a 9-mile paved road past colorful hills. There's also the Racetrack, which is home to the famous moving rocks. If you'd like to stay within the park, know that there are a variety of campgrounds and lodging options, including The Oasis at Death Valley.

Waterfall along coast in Big Sur, California

This laid-back remote region located along the central coast of California should be on everybody's bucket list. The beauty of Big Sur is so palpable and restorative that it's become a popular spot for a wellness retreat. You can achieve this with a stay at the famous Esalen Institute, a holistic educational and wellness center, or at the luxurious Alila Ventana Big Sur , where you can book spa treatments and wellness activities. Travelers can also practice mindfulness while taking in all of Big Sur's stunning natural sights .

First-time visitors should stop and admire Bixby Bridge, hike along the coast at Andrew Molera State Park and visit McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You can also check out the inspiring Hawthorne Gallery or browse the Henry Miller Memorial Library before capping off the day by sitting in an Adirondack chair in the river at the Big Sur River Inn or catching a sunset at Pfeiffer Beach, home to the famous Keyhole Arch. Don't miss out on the delectable pastries at Big Sur Bakery. For lunch with a view and artisan souvenirs, Nepenthe is a must.

If Ventana Big Sur is out of your price range for accommodations , consider a stay at the more affordable Glen Oaks Big Sur or the Big Sur Lodge, both of which earn high praise from travelers for their serene woodland settings. Or, pitch a tent at Ventana Campground.

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Los Angeles

Aerial of Los Angeles skyline in California

The City of Angels is a go-to place that deserves a spot on every California itinerary. Aside from being home to Hollywood, Los Angeles also offers an incomparable dining scene; some of California's most famous beaches, including Venice and Santa Monica; world-class art institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the state-of-the-art Getty Center; self-guided hiking options galore; and a variety of other attractions .

There is so much to do that you'd need more than a week to see it all. An easy way to take in the sights is through bus tours: Some tours allow you to skip the line for popular attractions. LA is also filled to the brim with exceptional hotels . Give yourself the celebrity treatment and splurge on a stay at highly rated properties, such as The Beverly Hills Hotel , Hotel Bel-Air or The Peninsula Beverly Hills .

See more of Los Angeles: Tours | Photos

Indulge in wine country

Vineyard in Napa Valley, California

Many are aware of Napa Valley 's reputation as a world-class wine destination , but Napa isn't the state's only wine producing hot spot. Sonoma is considered Napa's more casual sibling, offering more diversity in terms of attractions , including the beaches of Sonoma Coast State Park and the African-style game drives run by Safari West. Travel farther south to experience the Santa Ynez Valley, considered one of the most diverse grape-growers in the country. Meanwhile, Temecula Valley Wine Country, found north of San Diego, has produced hundreds of award-winning wines from its member wineries. With so many wine regions in California, you are likely to be within driving distance of at least one wherever you are in the state.

Behold the giant sequoias and redwoods

Road through Sequoia National Park

Did you know that the Pacific Coast of the U.S. is the only place in the world where giant sequoias and coastal redwoods grow naturally? Visiting these natural wonders is a must-do when in the Golden State. Contrary to popular belief, redwoods and sequoias are not the same tree; they require two separate climates to survive. To see giant sequoias, head into the Sierra Nevada mountain range, such as to Sequoia National Park , where you'll find the world's largest tree measured by volume: General Sherman.

To marvel at giant redwoods, you have your pick of Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park or Humboldt Redwoods State Park (don't miss the Shrine Drive Thru Tree). All these parks sit in northwestern California. These parks offer a variety of camping experiences, such as individual campsites, group sites and trail camps for wilderness backpacking and backcountry camping. Tent camping sites and cabins are available.

Summer views across Lake Tahoe

If you're the kind of traveler who enjoys a lake vacation , know that Lake Tahoe is California's best. Situated in Northern California, Lake Tahoe is so big that is spills into neighboring Nevada. This alpine lake destination is lauded for its spectacular clear blue waters and beautiful mountainous landscape, and it features some of the best skiing in the country .

If you're visiting during winter, enjoy a ride along the slopes of Heavenly Ski Resort and Northstar California Resort. During the summer, soak up the sun with a dip at Kings Beach State Recreation Area or with a hike through one of the many trails that meander around the lake, such as the 4.4-mile out-and-back Emerald Point Trail at Emerald Bay State Park. What's more, there are a bevy of highly rated hotels in the area, including The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe ; The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe; and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino .

See more of Lake Tahoe: Things to Do | Photos

Experience wildflower season

Orange wildflowers across mountain in California

Spring and summer are great times to see an abundance of wildflowers – such as the state flower. Depending on where you go, the California poppy has been known to blanket valleys and hills with its vibrant orange tint. How much of a bloom you see and where varies based on the year's seasonal rainfall. Some of the best places to see wildflowers are in Southern California. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Point Mugu State Park, Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area and Chino Hills State Park are a few of the most popular locations where you can spot pretty flowers.

If your California travels will be concentrated in the north, try North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve or Lake Tahoe, the latter of which is known to feature a spectacular seasonal display of violet and deep blue lupines. Just be sure to respect the landscapes by staying on designated trails, checking to see if dogs are permitted before you bring your furry friend, and visiting only during park hours.

Santa Barbara

Aerial of white buildings in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara enjoys a beautiful location wedged between the coast and the mountains, affording visitors plenty of opportunities for hiking and time at the beach. Can't-miss shorelines include Summerland Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach and Leadbetter Beach. Santa Barbara's alluring Spanish and Mediterranean architecture also makes this destination feel like a true getaway.

Visit the Funk Zone for wine tasting and art, State Street for shopping and dining, and the one-of-a-kind Ganna Walska Lotusland. Hotel options in Santa Barbara are just as dreamy as the setting, with highly rated spots like The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara and El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel . What's more, Santa Barbara sits around 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles (about a two-hour drive), which could make it a convenient addition to your LA itinerary.

See more of Santa Barbara: Things to Do | Photos

Learn to surf at Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier at sunset with dramatic clouds and a surfer

One of the most quintessentially Californian things to do during your trip is learn how to surf . There are several places you can surf up and down the coast, but beginners shouldn't go just anywhere: The best shorelines for novice surfers feature calm waters and knowledgeable lifeguards. Surf City USA (the nickname for Huntington Beach ) fits that bill perfectly, with several surf schools here. Highly rated operators include Corky Carroll's Surf School, Learn2Rip Surfing and Ocean Academy, and Banzai Surf School. After hitting the waves, rest your sore muscles at top-rated beachfront hotels , including the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort or the Pasea Hotel & Spa .

See more of Huntington Beach: Things to Do | Photos

Explore one or more of the national forests

National park in California on a sunny day

Did you know California has the most national forests of any state in the nation? In addition to its famous national parks, California has 18 national forests to its name. If you are vacationing in the southern part of the state, consider a visit to the Cleveland, Angeles, San Bernardino or Los Padres national forests (but check with the U.S. Forest Service before you go to ensure they're not under closure orders caused by fire or storm damage when you visit). These options sit in proximity to vacation hot spots like San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

North of Sacramento, outdoor lovers have their choice of nearly a dozen national forests, including the Mendocino, Six Rivers and Klamath national forests, to name a few. These forest destinations offer beautiful wilderness landscapes, hiking trails and camping options.

Trek along the Lost Coast

The Lost Coast in California on a sunny day

Intrepid travelers looking to experience the untouched landscapes of California should consider a trek along one-of-a-kind Lost Coast. Located less than 40 miles south of Eureka in Northern California, the Lost Coast is an undeveloped stretch of coastline. Unlike Big Sur, which shares similar geography, the Lost Coast is devoid of major roads and can be accessed via a 25-mile-long hiking trail. The trail takes about two to four days to traverse (one way), so you should only attempt this hike if you're an experienced backpacker.

Visitors who make the journey will be treated to peace and quiet, empty beaches and plenty of wildlife, ranging from elk to elephant seals, not to mention striking views of the King Range, a collection of mountains that hug the coastline. Camping is allowed on the coast, but you need to obtain a backcountry permit in order to do so.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore from Chimney Rock trail at sunset

Point Reyes National Seashore gives visitors a glimpse into a wilderness landscape on the Northern California coastline with no development. Conveniently situated less than 40 miles northwest of San Francisco, this national seashore is easier to reach than Big Sur and the Lost Coast.

Here, you'll be treated to breathtaking stretches of coastline, some of which are only accessible by trail, including the popular 9.7-mile round-trip Tomales Point Trail. A visit to Point Reyes will also take you through verdant, wooded landscapes and put you in close contact with wildlife such as elk, bobcats, seals, beavers and much more. You'll find campgrounds on-site for backcountry hike-in and boat-in camping, as well as modest accommodations in nearby towns, including Olema, Point Reyes Station and Inverness.

Griffith Observatory

Aerial view of Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles city skyline at sunset in California

Griffith Observatory sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood and overlooks the Los Angeles basin. Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area, which many rave about. But there's more than just a pretty photo-op here: The observatory hosts fascinating exhibits and features a top-notch planetarium. Recent travelers cited the breathtaking setting as Griffith Observatory's main draw, though the free entry was certainly a bonus. Use of the public telescopes is also free, but you will have to pay a fee for the planetarium shows.

Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign in the distance on Mount Lee, overlooking the Hollywood district of Los Angeles

The iconic Hollywood Sign is located in Griffith Park on Mount Lee. Visitors can hike to this iconic landmark on a few different routes and get sweeping views of LA, but the sign itself is fenced off and is typically guarded. Many visitors say that seeing the sign up close is a must-do.

The sign was originally built in 1923 and read, "Hollywoodland," the name of a real estate development, before the last four letters were removed in 1949. After years of neglect, the dilapidated sign was finally rebuilt in 1978 and has been a universal symbol for the glitz and glamour of the movie industry ever since. In 2023, the sign is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Griffith Park is free and open to the public daily with limited complimentary parking provided throughout the property.

Palm Springs

Golden light over Indian Wells Golf Resort, a desert golf course in Palm Springs, California, with view of the San Bernardino Mountains

If you're looking for a place to unwind, Palm Springs is hard to beat. The Sonoran Desert provides a beautiful backdrop, warm weather and plenty of outdoor activities. In the late fall and early spring, temperatures typically range from the 50s at night to the 80s during the day. If you just want to chill, you can spend the day sipping cocktails poolside or get pampered at a luxurious spa. For travelers seeking an active vacation, other draws to the area include golf, tennis and miles of hiking trails.

A traveler-favorite Palm Springs attraction is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which whisks visitors from the desert floor up 2.5 miles to Mount San Jacinto State Park. When the sun sets, head out to one of the city's hip bars or restaurants for a gourmet meal or craft cocktail, such as Bar Cecil or Mr. Lyons Steakhouse. Make it a weekend away with an overnight stay at a Palm Springs hotel like the new wellness-focused Sensei Porcupine Creek or the modern yet rustic Sparrows Lodge .

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Orange Jellyfish in blue tank at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Located on the central California coast, the Monterey Bay Aquarium draws nearly 2 million visitors per year. This institution houses more than 200 world-class exhibits that highlight the marine habitats of the area, as well as plants and creatures of the deep ocean. Guests can watch sea otters frolicking, witness glowing jellyfish and admire a 28-foot-tall kelp forest.

The aquarium also prides itself on working to protect the Pacific Ocean off California's coast. Its initiatives include reducing plastic pollution in the ocean, promoting sustainable seafood choices and helping rebuild sea otter populations. Past visitors recommend taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Places to Visit in California
  • The Top Romantic Getaways in California
  • The Top Things to Do in Big Bear Lake, California
  • The Top Things to Do in Orange County, California
  • The Top Hot Springs in California

The 13 Best National Parks in California

Parks in California

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    The list also includes specific sites, monuments, and locations, each also worthy of a visit in their own right. For more ideas on where to go and what to see, read our list of the top places to visit in the world. On This Page: 1. Machu Picchu, Peru. 2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona. 3.

  7. 30 Best Travel Destinations in the World, Ranked

    Best Places to Visit in the World. The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time. ... 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.

  8. The Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022

    Svalbard, Norway. Arctic Svalbard —whose capital, Longyearbyen, is the world's northernmost town—is like nowhere else I've been. On the one hand, it's a deep-nature Scandi fantasy of ...

  9. The World's 100 Greatest Places of 2021

    Reporter-researchers: Leslie Dickstein, Mariah Espada, Alejandro de la Garza, Nik Popli, Madeline Roache, and Simmone Shah. Video editor: Erica Solano. Introducing TIME's 2021 list of the World ...

  10. Best Tourist Attractions in the World

    58,770 reviews. The centerpiece of Milan, the Duomo is one of Europe's greatest architectural and cultural landmarks. As Italy's largest church and one of the largest in the world, it took over 600 years to build. Today, the Duomo has a capacity of 40,000 people and is home to the world's second-largest organ.

  11. 55 of the World's Most Beautiful Destinations

    Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia. The world's largest salt flat covers 4,000 square miles of the Bolivian Altiplano. In the dry season, it's an endless white sheet of salt tiles made all the more dazzling ...

  12. 31 must-see places around the world

    Jungle pyramids, Mexico —. Lucky us, the world didn't end in 2012, so we still have time to see the Mayan ruins in Palenque. Tucan Travel. Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland —. Your camera's ...

  13. 50 World's Best Places to Travel in 2022

    Here are the best places to travel right now and in 2022 for summer, spring, winter, or fall vacations. Our list of best vacation spots includes destinations in Hawaii, California, Italy, the UK ...

  14. 50 Best Vacation Spots & Places To Visit In The World

    Lipan Point is arguably the most popular, with its stunning vista of the Colorado River and the canyon all in one, but the Yavapai Observation Station and Mather Point, among others, are just as worthy of a visit. 6. Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Martin Valigursky / Shutterstock.

  15. Top Destinations in the World

    Dubai. Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks. If you're looking for thrills, you can float above the ...

  16. The 60 most beautiful places in the world 2024

    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.

  17. Bucket List Travel: The Top 20 Places In The World

    Some of the best locations to see them include Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and Finland. Sunset over Stonehenge, a bucket list travel spot. getty. 7. Visit Stonehenge In England. Stonehenge ...

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    In fact, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Barcelona. Barcelona is one of the main cities of Spain's Catalonia region and, as such, is the capital of Catalan cuisine. But you can find all of Spain's regional delicacies here, from Basque and Galician to Andalusian and beyond. 22.

  19. 33 Best Places In The World To Visit in 2024

    Here is the list of 33 Best Places In The World To Visit. 1. Paris, France - The City of Lights. 4.7 /5 View 251+ photos. Known For : Eiffel Tower The Louvre Notre Dame. Paris, the enchanting 'City of Lights', captivates with its blend of history, art, and romance.

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    The Golden Gate Bridge — California, USA. The Golden Gate Bridge is an icon of San Francisco and one of the most elegant in the world. Construction of the bridge in 1933 was an engineering marvel as it spans two miles across the Golden Gate, a narrow strait that is the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

  21. The World's 30 Most Beautiful Places

    It's like a giant frame for the world's greatest architectural image. 5. Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi. On approach, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque looms like a white mirage, minarets ...

  22. The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the World

    The 30 Most Famous Landmarks in the World; 30 Top Tourist Attractions in the USA; 30 World's Best Places to Visit; Previous 1/52 Next. If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a ...

  23. The Most Iconic Tourist Attraction in Countries Around the World

    The castle at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Gene Duncan/Disney Parks via Getty Images Disney World is one of the most popular tourist sites in the US with over 17 million visitors every year .

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    Kate Boardman/@wildkat.wanders. Kate Boardman has visited 54 countries around the world and lived in 10, including the US. She's enjoyed spots like France and Bali but says people should visit ...

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    Here are the Florida locations ranked among the most boring tourist attractions around the world. The "boredom score" is on a scale from zero to five. No. 7: Museum of Science & Technology, Tampa ...

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    Eight of the top 10 tourist traps in the world, as determined by our analysis, are in the U.S. ... In July 2023, we analyzed 23.2 million Google reviews of 500 popular tourist attractions in the ...

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    The lovely city of Merida, listed at No. 30 of the 300 safest cities in the world by business publication CEOWorld, is a top spot to see here, with gorgeous Spanish architecture, Mayan ruins, and ...

  28. Ask a question or make a comment

    The cost of bread, biscuits and beer could increase this year due to the impact of the unusually wet autumn and winter on UK harvests. Research suggests that production of wheat, oats, barley and ...

  29. 26 Top Things to Do in California

    Traveler favorites in Joshua Tree include the 3-mile out-and-back Ryan Mountain trail and the 1.7-mile Skull Rock loop trail. In Anza-Borrego, visitors enjoyed the 2.6-mile out-and-back Pictograph ...