28 Best Tourist Destinations in the World

0
Eiffel Tower and Cityscape

Whether you travel out of curiosity or to unwind, the world has thousands of locales. From sandy beaches and national parks to great monuments and ancient cities, it all comes down to where you want to explore.

It’s impossible to say that one location is the best tourist destination in the world. Who’s to say which tourist attractions are the best places to visit? My favorite art galleries might not hold a candle to your favorite hiking trails and vice versa.

That said, we can easily showcase parts of the world-renowned world to draw tourists in from all over the world. So here are some of the top tourist destinations in the world to consider for your next vacation.

TL;DR: Places by Continent

Continent Destination
North America New York
South America Rio de Janeiro
Europe Paris
Asia Angkor Wat
Africa Cape Town
Oceania Great Barrier Reef

Best Tourist Destinations in the World to Visit

1. Paris, France

Exterior of Sacre-Couer Bascilica in Paris
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Popularly known for the Eiffel Tower, the City of Light is a favorite to many. Unsurprisingly, it is also among the world’s best tourist destinations. The magnificent Eiffel Tower is a tourist attraction, making Paris a top-of-mind for romantics. However, that’s not all you get to experience.

There is the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre for the history buffs. Wander along the cobblestone streets of Paris’ city center to find some of the best cuisines and breathtaking art. From beautiful museums, art galleries, and old churches to the natural beauty of trees along the River Seine.

Among the best things to do in Paris is to join the River Seine cruise. You can see some of the city’s most iconic views from the river, including that of Notre-Dame, Ile de la Cité, and even (yes!) the Eiffel Tower.

The city is also famous for shopping, especially brand-name clothes, designer bags, and luxury accessories. The perfect time to visit the city is between June and August, but be mindful that some of the area’s attractions, like Versailles, are not air-conditioned, so they can be quite uncomfortable.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in France

2. London, United Kingdom

Best Tourist Destinations, London, England
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

London is a world-class city; you will never want to leave once you enter this beautiful city. As famed writer Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is all that life can afford in London.”

Thanks, in part, to its famous museums, London is the epitome of a historical archive. From the infamous Tower of London to The Churchill War Rooms, The British Museum, The National Gallery, and Tower Bridge, you can learn much about the United Kingdom and the world.

London is home to the Royal Family residence, the magnificent Buckingham Palace, which you can visit during certain times of the year. Not to mention the nearby West End, known worldwide for its incredible performing arts and theatrical offerings.

London is also known for its eccentric nightlife, thanks to the many pubs and bars along the streets of this lively city. Be sure to enjoy a cuppa, cuisines from all over the world, cute cafes, and picnic sites. There is so much in London beyond the famed bridge and Big Ben — contrary to what Peter Pan had us believe.

3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

A turtle swimming in the Great Barrier Reef with snorkelers swimming above
Aaronejbull87 / Shutterstock

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest and most complex coral reef system, stretching over 1,400 miles from shallow waters to deep oceans.

Given its natural beauty, it’s clear why the reefs are among the world’s best places to visit. It’s located off the east coast of Queensland, Australia, extending into the Pacific Ocean from the north of Cape York to the south of Bundaberg.

Its vast expanse hosts tons of golden beaches, 900 islands, over 2,900 individual reefs, and thousands of incredibly diverse species, hence its complexity. Although the reef faces danger and death from environmental changes, the reef is still a beautiful place to visit.

Besides learning about the ecosystem, scuba diving or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef is an absolute dream. You can see many different kinds of animals and plant life, especially if you can see different areas of the reef system.

On-land attractions in Australia but near the reef include the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas. This place is a treasure to visit.

Although many people prefer visiting this world wonder in the summer, the temperatures are also comfortable during winter — especially if you’re used to cold climates.

See Related: Places to Visit in Switzerland

4. Rome, Italy

Vatican dome of Saint Peter Basilica and Sant'Angelo Bridge, over Tiber river in Rome, Italy
ecstk22 / Shutterstock

The Eternal City is a significant destination for travelers far and wide as it houses several emblematic monuments thanks to the ancient Roman Empire. It is the capital of Italy and the Lazio region.

It is famous for its historic and ancient structures, which makes the city’s view incredibly magical. The city’s various attractions include the Vatican City and the Colosseum, famous for their extensive histories, as well as world-class museums.

The most famous site in the city has to be the Colosseum. Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is rightly one of the most iconic sites in Rome. It has survived several earthquakes, modern pollution, and the fall of the great Roman Empire.

The Pantheon is about 2,000 years old and is among Rome’s best places to visit. To see the beauty of the Pantheon and get the most out of the experience, we recommended joining a guided tour.

Other places include the Galleria Borghese, a haven for art lovers, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Piazza Navona. Buying a combo pass with a guided tour and transport directly through these UNESCO World Heritage Sites is best.

See Related: Family Vacation Ideas

5. New York, New York

Statue of Liberty and skyline of New York City
Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

New York, famously known as the city that never sleeps, is more of an experience than a tourist destination. It is one of the world’s foremost financial, commercial, and cultural centers. It offers world-class art, performing arts, and breathtaking city views, in addition to the lush greenery of Central Park.

Central Park is one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions and caters to New Yorkers. Sprawling all over Manhattan, Central Park serves as a museum, zoo park, concert hall, and picnic site. The 850 acres of space are close to the city’s notable attractions, such as the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For the ultimate art experience, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (also known as The Met) delivers just that. You can see some of the finest art exhibits in the world. The Met’s collection includes iconic works like Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat and Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Although it is a public park, Central Park showcases decorative art from all over the world, including ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Islamic art pieces. To internalize Manhattan’s scenic beauty from a skyscraper, stop by the Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.

Walk down to Chinatown or Little Italy for the ultimate food tour. Or, if you’ve got an eye for designers and the latest fashion trends, Fifth Avenue is your go-to.

The city’s other best tourist attractions include Broadway, the New York Public Library, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Museum of Modern Art.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

6. Cape Town, South Africa

Views from the beach in Cape Town, South Africa
kavram / Shutterstock

Cape Town is one of South Africa’s best places to visit, from wild safaris and penguins to a cable ride over Table Mountain. This port city is the capital of South Africa, with breathtaking views from Table Mountain, which is famed for its flat top.

There is something for everyone in this beautiful city. Whether you want to taste rich wine from the vineyards, visit the national parks, or swim along the Indian Ocean, countless activities keep you busy.

Head up to the Table Mountain cableway to get an aerial view of the beautiful city to get to the top. However, if you can hike, enjoy the many hiking trails, the most famous being Lion’s Head Peak.

If you’d rather spend your day at some gorgeous beaches, there are many in Cape Town. The city has ten international Blue Flag beaches, including Bikini Beach and Clifton. Paired with the warm waters, it is perfect for spending your evening watching the sunsets.

Shop for souvenirs and take in the local history if you’re in town. Dine in the best restaurants, enjoy street foods, and party the night away! Other attractions are the famous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was jailed, and the Apartheid-focused District Six Museum.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

7. Barcelona, Spain

Park Güell Barcelona mosaic bench and architecture
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Although Barcelona is partly known for its Mediterranean landscapes, the city provides an infinite choice of impressive buildings, incredible cuisine, beautiful beaches, and entertaining nightlife to explore.

Antoni Gaudi’s name is all over Barcelona’s monumental buildings, and the most famous is the La Sagrada Familia. It is the tallest church in the world and nothing like any religious structure you’ve seen before, making it one of the best places to visit in Spain during your Barcelona adventure.

It has also never been completed, and work has been nearly continuous since Gaudi began in 1882. It didn’t even open until 2010. The Casa Balto is another of Antoni’s unique creations. Although he didn’t build it from scratch, he renovated it in the 20th century.

Casa Mila is another of Gaudi’s masterpieces that stands out. Although it was designed as a residential building, it is among the many modernist works listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Head down the La Boqueria, a beloved pedestrian market, to wind down. For food shopping, you’ll find anything you need: fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, meat, cheese, and cold beer in the surrounding pubs.

See Related: Incredible Places to Travel Without a Passport

8. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbour in Sydney, Australia
Ira Sokolovskaya / Shutterstock

Sydney is the capital of South Wales and is widely known for its lovely natural harbor with white beaches like Manly and Balmoral. This city is among the best places to visit with its towering modern architecture and iconic skyline.

Sydney has many tourist attractions, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge is among its most famous landmarks. It is among the world’s tallest steel arch bridges you’d want to experience by climbing.

You’ll get amazing pictures of the most iconic landmarks and panoramic views of the beautiful Sydney skyline with the harbor in the distance. Along Sydney Harbor sits the celebrated Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden.

There are ready-to-explore restaurants and shops by the beach too. So, if you’d rather be in the water, get a scenic ferry ride and watch as the sunset colors the sky and the gorgeous Sydney Opera House.

If you want the ultimate experience, visit Sydney during New Year’s Eve or the annual Colorfest in May or June.

See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots in the World

9. Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC at the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial during spring
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The capital city of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., is famous for its well-governed culture, various monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, which honors President Abraham Lincoln, and museums like the National Portrait Gallery.

The nation’s capital is also filled with a fantastic ambiance due to the famous cafes, boutique shops, restaurants, and clubs. You’ll also find the Smithsonian Institution, the country’s first national zoological park, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

While the city is known for having political roots, there are many tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. The White House is among the Neoclassical monuments defining Washington and the city’s top traveling destinations. The White House has housed the Presidents of the United States since the 18th century.

A tour to the White House is possible if arranged through congress members, and foreigners have to contact their embassy in Washington to help organize the tour.

The National Mall is another must-stop location in Washington, D.C. It holds some of the United States’ most important monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

Critical events have been hosted along the National Mall, including civil rights movements and presidential inaugurations.

We recommend joining a monument tour to see Washington’s notable historic attractions. Entrance to the National Mall and most memorials around D.C. are free. There are also many free tours around the National Mall or D.C. at large.

See Related: Most Overrated Tourist Attractions & Destinations

10. Bali, Indonesia

Sunrise over Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a famous Hindu temple on Bratan Lake
Sakdawut Tangtongsap / Shutterstock

Bali means heaven, and this place proves that heaven exists on Earth. Located in Indonesia, this famous island is a bucket list destination for many travelers, thanks to its incredible scenery, cultural significance, and sandy beaches.

Bali will still give you many reasons to fall in love with it, even if you’re not watching the sunset at Kuta Beach. You could always spend time learning the rich history, enjoying world-class dining, or just partying the night away at one of many popular clubs. Find out why this is considered one of the best places to visit in the world.

Visit Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple to learn about the lake and river goddess Dewi Danu. This temple is the most tranquil location on the island. There are different shrines, and each is dedicated to a different god.

Bali’s Treetop Adventure Park is the perfect place to visit if you’re traveling with the kids, as they have activities for kids as young as four. You could also go see the famed Ubud Monkey Forest.

There, you’ll find the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. You can visit with the monkeys but cannot touch them — though they will probably touch you and even steal your stuff.

With a short boat trip, you can dive at Padangbai, where you can see sharks, coral gardens, and turtles. Tanjung Benoa Beach has a variety of watersports, with jetpacking being the most exciting.

11. Hong Kong

Skyline of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the most incredible travel destinations in the world. Multiple islands surround the city (also the name of the country) and have much to offer you as a tourist, from lively art, luxurious resorts, unique shopping locations, and fantastic street food.

A must-do in Hong Kong is to visit The Big Buddha or the Tian Tan Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery. Hong Kong is home to the biggest sitting Buddha, and it takes up to 3.5 hours of hiking six miles to get to the statue.

You can also experience the Hong Kong skyline on the Star Ferry that locals use from Hong Kong and Kowloon. To get different beautiful views, take both the day and night rides.

Don’t forget to visit Hong Kong Disneyland while you’re here! You can go to the park in a day or more. This petite Disney resort is the smallest of all Disneyland resorts worldwide.

Even so, Disney fans will have an absolute blast. If you want to stay on Disney property, the Explorer’s Lodge is so much fun.

The city of Hong Kong bustles with life and different flavors that can be tasted in the local street food, from tea eggs and pineapple buns to everything in between. You can satisfy your hunger pangs at an affordable rate.

See Related: Best Beach Vacation Spots in the World

12. Budapest, Hungary

View of Hungarian Parliament Building
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Budapest is one of the major cities you can’t miss, and it’s one of Europe’s most affordable destinations. If you haven’t been there, it is high time you plan a trip to this marvelous city soon. With an ancient history back to the Stone Age, Budapest combines Roman, neo-Gothic, and Ottoman architecture.

Hungary’s capital city is known primarily for its rich cultural history and for being the world’s spa capital. The city is famous for sites like Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Pearl of Danube.

The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses the remains of historical monuments such as the Roman city of Aquincum and the Gothic castle of Buda. This historic neighborhood is known as the Castle Quarter. Budapest has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Old Town.

Suffice it to say that Budapest is full of exhibition galleries and museums. From The Great Synagogue to the Hungarian National Museum tours, some of which include dinner and wine, there is a lot to see.

Not to mention the tons of free tours that will take you around the city on foot. There is so much to see in Budapest you’ll have difficulty deciding what to do.

13. San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Even though it is geographically small, San Francisco is big in its attractions and exploration. That means you get to see a lot quickly and with minimal effort.

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s trademark. The bridge opened in 1937 and connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. It is believed to be the most photographed bridge in the world and a sight for many travelers.

There are many vistas to take pictures of from the Golden Gate Bridge. However, a walk across the bridge is equally memorable. The bridge stretches for 1.6 miles and has six lanes, a pedestrian footpath, and a cycling path. It transports hundreds of thousands of people across the daily.

Alcatraz Island has been one of San Fran’s most visited tourist attractions since it opened in 1978. Alcatraz is a fascinating place, from a former federal prison to a military base to a significant tourist destination.

Take a 15-minute ferry ride to the island and enjoy a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry. There are also several excellent Alcatraz Island tours available for you to join.

For the ultimate San Francisco experience, take a city tour on the cable car system and visit the Aquarium of the Bay for an unforgettable marine life experience. Or take a short hike up Twin Peaks to view the whole city.

The Walt Disney Family Museum gives you a miniature experience of Disney World, so if you’ve not yet been to Disney World in Orlando, this gives you an idea of the actual image. Or a trip to Disneyland is only a 6.5-hour adventure by car from San Fran.

A day is never enough to experience this awesome city fully. Most people who visit San Francisco have said they’ll need to plan another visit to explore the city further!

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World

14. Florence, Italy

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Florence, Italy, is among the most romantic European gateways and the world’s best tourist places to visit, especially with a significant other. It is actually quite a small city situated in the Tuscan hills and is famous for its contributions during the Renaissance as well as sites like the Duomo.

Also known as Firenze, Florence is world-renowned for good reason. Two of its most important museums are the Museum of the Bargello and the Uffizi Gallery, which both are some of our favorite museums in Europe. The Uffizi is the foremost art museum in the region with its most prominent collection being its ancient sculptures and paintings.

Or if you want to see Michelangelo’s David, you’ll need to head to Accademia Gallery or The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze. But anywhere you go in Florence, you will come head to head with some of the world’s most incredible artworks and architecture.

The atmosphere and the infrastructure will give you the feel of living in the 14th century. It has its romantic ambiance and unmissable Italian cuisine. Visit the city between May and September to enjoy the sights and outstanding Tuscan weather.

15. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia
BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

Bora Bora is a tiny island only six miles long, but it is nonetheless beautiful and one of the best places to visit despite its petite size. It is especially loved for once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list travel destinations like honeymoons.

It is known as the Pearl of the Pacific due to its lush greenery and high-peak dormant volcanoes surrounding the beautiful blue water. Bora Bora is a highly luxurious resort island with beautiful beaches and all the amenities you’d need on the beach or off. Don’t forget to enjoy the gemstone blue water while you’re here.

Apart from the beach, it would be best to explore the Bora Bora city Vaitape and even go hiking to Mount Otemanu, the highest point on the island. Otemanu is one of the island’s extinct volcanic mountains that visitors can climb to a point (not the top) if they so choose.

As one of the islands in Tahiti, it’s no surprise that this island is an absolute stunner. You’ll truly be surrounded by paradise here. So, if you need to relax, Bora Bora is your destination.

16. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan
Kyle Kroeger / Viatravelers

The capital city of one of the world’s most advanced countries, Tokyo is one of the top tourist attractions in Asia. It is primarily famous for its temples, urban parks, museums, and unforgettable sushi. Tokyo’s tallest building, the Tokyo Skytree, is the tallest building in Japan and the world’s tallest freestanding tower.

Tokyo perfectly balances ancient Japan with its historical monuments and the buzzing neon streets that showcase a modern era. Once in the city, you’ll run out of time before running out of activities. Enjoy the great appearance of Mount Fuji from the Tokyo Skytree, visit the Nezu Museum, or take a sightseeing tour around the city.

Even so, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the perfect spot to take you away from the bustling city. With over 100 acres of beautiful landscape and green trees, parting ways with the cityscape is worthwhile to enjoy the national garden.

Pro-tip: Visit during the Japanese cherry blossom season from late March to April. Cherry blossom season easily puta Tokyo even higher among the best places to visit.

Tokyo Disneyland is home to mascots you won’t see anywhere else: Duffy and his friends. Duffy is Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear friend, and there are many characters you’ll only see here. Plus, the rides are some of the most technologically advanced in Disney’s repertoire.

17. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro with Christ Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain
IrenaV / Shutterstock

This Brazilian city is situated at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, famous for its white sand beaches, rainforests, and mountains, not to mention its wonder of the world: the 125-foot-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer, which has come to symbolize Rio de Janeiro.

Some of Rio’s most famous contributions to popular culture include Carnival, samba, and bossa nova. The biggest festival on Earth, Carnival, takes place each year before Lent and has since 1723. The festival takes place over five days, and over two million people will take to the streets of Rio to celebrate.

Many museums throughout the city, including the National Museum of Brazil and the Museum of Fine Arts. After enjoying animals, you can also head to BioPark of Rio, a national zoological park.

Football, or soccer for Americans, is also a huge part of Rio culture. If you’re in the city during the season, be sure to catch a game at Maracaña Stadium for the full experience. You can visit Rio any time of year; it will still be one of the best places on Earth.

See Related: Most Beautiful Beaches in the World

18. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Artists Point
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

Yellowstone National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in the United States. The park is known for its natural wonders of roaring canyons, mountains, snowy peaks, lakes, and beautiful streams, surrounded by lush green forests and huge meadows.

The oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone National Park allows you to experience wild animals in their natural habitats alongside fantastic hiking trails. In that vein, it is advised to take a guided group tour because a guide will take you through the best trails… and there are bears in the area.

Here, you can also find the Grand Prismatic Springs, which happens to be the second-largest hot springs in the world as well as the largest in the U.S. It is no surprise that this natural wonder is Yellowstone’s most photographed and recognized landmark.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, often confused with the Grand Canyon National Park, is also one of the most visited attractions in Yellowstone National Park. It stretches over 24 miles long; some parts are up to 1,200 feet deep. It’s one of our favorite places to visit in Yellowstone since it is incredibly photogenic and showcases the force of the Yellowstone River.

Other things to do in Yellowstone National Park include watching geysers erupt, driving on the Yellowstone Grand Loop Road, or stopping by Old Faithful Inn. Not to mention all the outdoors for hiking, rafting, or camping.

See Related: Best Whitewater Rafting in the World

19. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt

Situated in northern Africa, Cairo is one of the must-visit places for adventure seekers. This ancient desert city is known for its rich history and culture and is among the best tourist spots.

Plus, the pyramids are a stone’s throw away, which, contrary to photographs, still impresses first-time visitors because of their proximity to this bustling city.

The city is crowded with street vendors, livestock, and shops that bring the place to life. Be sure to buy some of the best fabric, incense, handcrafted jewelry, cotton robes, and replica artifacts along Cairo’s corridors.

To relax, you must visit the extremely magnificent and calm Nile River to enjoy a boat ride at sunset. You can also enjoy boat rides with entertainment to glimpse the region’s musical side.

A guided tour of iconic sites like The Egyptian Museum and the Pyramids of Giza, Dahshur, and Saqqara will make this trip more worth it.

20. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is among the most vibrant cities in the world. Known for its canal network and beautiful cultural scenes, it will leave you with an unforgettable experience.

You could start your day by visiting the museums or enjoying the waterfront art, music, and food scene. While there, visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and enjoy Ij-Hallen, Europe’s largest flea market, or the independent shops along Amsterdam’s Nine Streets for retail therapy.

Wind your day up with a canal cruise along with the canal houses and bridge named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That bridge site, Torensluis, is the widest and oldest bridge in the city. 

Amsterdam is well known for its food scene, where you can enjoy cuisines from all over the world with locally brewed beers from the many bars and pubs. Don’t forget to get some stroopwafels, which are originally from the Netherlands.

21. Machu Picchu, Peru

Marnix Foeken / Shutterstock
Marnix Foeken / Shutterstock

Deep in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the lost city of Machu Picchu is the most visited destination in the country. Built around 1450 AD, this incredible artifact of the Incan Empire remains one of the foremost ancient sites in the world, making it an ultimate bucket list spot for those who love history and the great outdoors.

This may be one of the best places to visit, but it’s also among the most difficult. The bravest Machu Picchu travelers must hike along the Inca Trail, which takes four days and three nights to finally reach the ancient city.

Still, if you’re up for the incredible challenge, the best time to visit is June through August. But don’t worry; you don’t have to endure the hike to see the city.

You can take a short train ride from Lima to Aguas Calientes. From there, you can take a bus to the bridge just ahead of the ruins’ box office.

You won’t get the experience of trekking the trail if you take the train, but you’ll have more days to enjoy other parts of Peru. Maybe next time?

22. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon
Elena_Suvorova / Shutterstock

It should come as no surprise that one of the natural wonders of the world made this list of the best places to visit. The Grand Canyon, etched into the Earth, is one of the most visited natural places in the United States.

Not only is it home to hiking adventures into the canyon, but it’s also where you can enjoy whitewater rafting. Thanks to the mighty Colorado River, which runs through parts of the canyon, incredible water activities can be found here.

The canyon is over 277 miles long, so seeing it all on foot is impossible. You can take a helicopter or railway tour to experience more of Grand Canyon National Park. From these starkly different points of view, visitors can see vistas they’d never see on the back of a horse or donkey or by hiking.

The Grand Canyon is only a mile deep, far from Earth’s deepest. It is, however, the longest canyon on Earth. It is one of the places that can be enjoyed by the whole family regardless of age. Several other incredible Arizona natural attractions, such as Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, are nearby.

See Related: Places to Travel Alone in the World

23. Niagara Falls, New York

A view of Niagara Falls with mist floating up around the waterfalls
Christie-Johnston / Shutterstock

Technically, Niagara Falls is the name of a city in Ontario, Canada, as well as New York, and comprises two different waterfalls on the Niagara River. One is in the United States, American Falls, and the other is in Canada, Horseshoe Falls.

Since the waterfalls create so much mist, summer is the best time to visit. Because of the massive water sources, the air feels cooler than it might elsewhere.

Experts believe that the falls are roughly 12,000 years old. They formed when glaciers melted, creating some of the Midwest’s Great Lakes. Visitors love the falls so much because the constant flow of water combined with the height of the falls makes them such a beautiful sight.

Some tours take you down or behind the falls from a safe distance. Whether you take these or the boat tours into the river, you’ll definitely want to bring a raincoat or poncho because you will be getting wet.

Remember that you need your passport if you plan to walk onto the Canadian side from the United States — that wasn’t always the case.

24. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip at nighttime
randy andy / Shutterstock

One of the foremost entertainment destinations on Earth, Las Vegas‘ iconic Strip is known worldwide. The shimmering lights and marquees of Vegas make visitors think of showbiz. There is so much to do in Vegas, which is full of performances, gambling havens, shopping, and eateries.

Seeing the city at night is probably the most familiar thing tourists can do. Like Times Square in New York City, Vegas is defined by its bright lights, mainly from iconic Las Vegas hotels. Not to mention the Bellagio Fountain and other outdoor shows you can see for free each night up and down the Strip.

You can check out the Eiffel Tower Experience at the Paris hotel, see the famous Graceland Wedding Chapel, and meet your fair share of Elvis impersonators all around the city. Don’t forget to go to Downtown Las Vegas or Fremont Street to taste old Vegas.

If you get tired of the panache of Sin City, it’s easy to get out of the city. In a matter of hours, you can be amongst some of the incredible beauty of the desert, like The Grand Canyon or Antelope Canyon.

25. Taj Mahal, India

Pool intron of Taj Mahal
AlexAnton / Shutterstock

A symbol of love known worldwide, the Taj Mahal is believed to be one of the greatest architectural achievements in Indo-Islamic architecture. Building the palace was a feat as it took 20 years, 20,000 workers, and 1,000 elephants to complete.

It was built between 1632 and 1653 and would have cost at least $1 billion to build today with inflation. Emperor Shah Jahan built the palace as a final resting place over the grave of his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.

This iconic landmark is visited by millions of tourists each year. You can visit just the outside as well as the gardens or go inside the mausoleum as well. The entire building is a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal and Emperor Shah Jahan.

Given the significance of this site, it should come as no surprise that there is a dress code in place. Try to wear long sleeves and pants, or women can wear saris, but it’s generally advised not to show your arms, legs, shoulders, or cleavage at the site.

26. Queenstown, New Zealand

The skyline of Queenstown at dusk
Nadly Aizat / Shutterstock

Putting all of New Zealand on this list would be so easy. If you’ve ever been, you know this country is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams in nature’s beauty. That’s probably what Queenstown is best known for. Beside Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains, Queenstown is postcard-perfect.

Naturalists and adventurers will both find their bliss here. Queenstown is home to the world’s first and most famous bungy jump. The Kawarau Bridge Bungy drops visitors off the bridge for 141 feet. You can also enjoy boating and whitewater rapids near here as well.

The best time to visit is during summer in the Southern hemisphere, between December and April. Especially if you plan on spending most of your time here enjoying the outdoors, you’ll want to visit during the warm months.

You cannot visit Queenstown without making the day trip excursion to Fiordland National Park. This three-hour journey sounds intimidating, but you’ll be glad you made the trip.

Not only is it one of the world’s most beautiful places, but Fiordland is also home to some of the best walking and hiking trails in New Zealand — namely the Kepler, Milford, and Routeburn trails. Plus, it’s home to Milford Sound, a fiord Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World.

27. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Temples at Mike Fuchslocher
Mike Fuchslocher / Shutterstock

This ancient temple is one of the most famous places in Cambodia. Its signature lotus-shaped towers are known all over the world even if people don’t know the temple is called Angkor Wat. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Angkor Wat is considered one of the most vital archaeological sites in Asia. It is partly because it contains some of the most significant remains from the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. It is believed to have been built during the 12th century.

While there are many temples in the world, Angkor Wat is special. Namely, it’s special because it was built at the request of Suryavarman II, a king, and serves as his tomb. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, and the walls depict stories from the Ramayana and Suryavarman’s life.

There are no sites like it on Earth. Angkor Wat is a one-of-a-kind location, which is why so many people venture to Cambodia to visit it every year.

28. Orlando, Florida

The Manta Ray Coaster at SeaWorld in Orlando
VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

It may seem like an odd inclusion, but Orlando is one of the most visited places in the United States. That is mostly because it is home to some of the biggest theme parks in the world.

From SeaWorld to Universal Studios and the four theme parks in the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando has so much to do it’s almost dizzying.

And that doesn’t even include ICON Park or Fun Spot parks, either! If you’re not big into theme parks, Disney Springs is a fun spot to get the Disney experience without all the thrills.

Not far from Orlando, you can also pay a visit to Kennedy Space Center. This world-class destination specializes in space exploration and science, making it the perfect stop for space explorers of all ages.

Plus, Orlando has easy access to nearby mangroves and the Everglades. That means a day out in nature is within reach, even from the Most Magical Place on Earth. You’ll need a day to recoup away from Mickey and his pals.

FAQ

What are the top tourist destinations in the world?

Some of the top tourist destinations in the world include London, Paris, Tokyo, New York City, and Sydney. These cities stand out because of their cultural locations, landmarks, museums, and entertainment offerings.

What are some off-the-beaten-path destinations to consider?

Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia and Queenstown in New Zealand are places not often mentioned nearly enough, given their sheer beauty and historical significance. Both are remarkable places to see for vastly different reasons.

How do I decide where to go with limited time and budget?

Your best bet for making the best use of your budget is to consider how much food costs. For the most part, even very expensive cities have some reasonable hostel or low-cost hotel options, but food costs can blow a hole through even the most thorough budget.

As for time, consider how long it will take to commute to the points of interest you want to see. For Machu Picchu, for example, if you plan to hike there, you will spend most of your trip on that hiking excursion.

What are some must-see attractions that shouldn’t be missed?

The Duomo in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, the cherry blossoms and temples in Tokyo, and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney are some of the attractions you will never forget.

Related Resources

Amanda Finn
WRITTEN BY

Amanda Finn

Amanda (she/they) is a Chicago-based queer travel, arts, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about exploring the world. Their work has been featured in Newcity Stage, The Chicago Reader, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, as well as the November 2022 book, "Chicago Like a Local" and other travel journals available on Amazon. Amanda's favorite destinations include Costa Rica, Prague, Dublin, Hong Kong, and every Disney park they've visited.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *