Globalization and the internet mean that people will venture outside their backyards more, exploring different cities around the world and sharing their experiences with friends, family, and even strangers online. People in the modern-day, especially millennials, prefer buying experiences rather than buying things, and the growing culture of flexible work schedules are allowing them to do just that.
In 2017, Americans spent about $135 billion on tourism, and many of the most popular cities for tourists rely on the booming industry to support their economies. The influx of international visitors has also forced countries to address issues of overcrowding or crumbling infrastructure in their most popular cities, and it is fostering new relations and alliances between countries looking to exchange visitors.
Using data from Euromonitor International’s 2019 Top 100 City Destinations report, Stacker compiled a list of 100 top city destinations in the world. Each city is ranked by its Euromonitor rank, and the slides display the number of arrivals for both 2018 and 2019. According to the report, an arrival is defined as a tourist from another country visiting the city for at least 24 hours but less than 12 months. Travelers who visited a city more than once and those who visited several cities during one trip are included in the final arrival numbers.
It’s interesting to note that 75% of the cities on the list are located in either Asia or Europe, with Asia claiming 43 of the top 100 cities. The abundance of cultural experiences in each country and the competitive prices make the continent appealing for travel bloggers and people looking to combine work with leisure.
Whether you’re looking to sunbathe at the nicest beaches, try the most exotic and tastiest food, walk through a town’s complex history, or go museum-hopping, this list is a great place to plan your next getaway.
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- 2019 arrivals: 2.68 million (19.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.24 million (25.7% change from 2017 to 2018)
Also known as Bengaluru, this Southern Indian city is considered the tech capital of the country for its lucrative IT industry. This helps make Bangalore one of the most developed cities in India. However, these developments are mainly located in the outer suburbs of the city, as the center of Bangalore is still reminiscent of the British rule of India from 1858 to 1947.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.39 million (5.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.26 million (6.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
This scenic region of Thailand boasts some 200 islands off the coast of the mainland—perfect for a day of island-hopping between the different beautiful beaches and fishing towns. Krabi itself offers visitors the chance to explore the limestone cliffs, sea caves, historic Thai temples, white sandy beaches, and the multitude of markets in the area.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.33 million (2.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.28 million (1.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
The home of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and the iconic and vibrant Carnival festival, this South American gem offers visitors a multitude of activities that can appeal to any tourist. Visit the Maracanã, the largest soccer stadium in Brazil. Explore the blue waters of the Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. Take a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain for the best views of Rio, and finally, end your days by experiencing Brazil’s iconic nightlife.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.41 million (3.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.34 million (7.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
The largest of the Dodecanese Islands is a must-see destination for visitors who are looking to relax and take a trip to the past. Construction of the Old Town of Rhodes started in 407 B.C., and the medieval walls, cobblestoned streets, and the restored Palace of the Grand Master will transport you to the 14th century. Medieval and historical themes are also present throughout the rest of the island and seamlessly combine with modern attractions and amenities to bring you a well-rounded vacation.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.49 million (6.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.34 million (4.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Porto is yet another city that combines the old, the new, and beautiful beaches. The Ribeira district, which overlooks the magnificent Douro River, is filled with stunning 18th-century architecture, craft stores, ornate churches, and quaint food spots. Before you leave Porto, be sure to try Port wine, a dessert-like fortified wine that Portugal is known for.
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- 2019 arrivals: 2.28 million (-3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.35 million (-3.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
Jeju Island is known as the “Hawaii of South Korea,” with a myriad of volcanoes, hiking trails, waterfalls, and vibrant flora. Jeju also has a rather dark history, as tens of thousands of people died when pro-communist rebels clashed with the government during the 1940s and 1950s. Visitors can take a Dark Tour, which educates people about grim times in Jeju’s history.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.57 million (6.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.4 million (7.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
The beautiful capital of the United Arab Emirates has grown into a modern and developed metropolis, thanks to the city’s vast oil reserves. Abu Dhabi offers visitors a taste of luxury while also paying homage to the region’s rich history and Islamic religion. Explore the beautiful deserts and oasis of the region, visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest and most architecturally impressive mosque in the country, have a taste of authentic Arabian coffee, go sailing on one of Abu Dhabi’s waterfronts, and get your hands and arms painted by famed Henna artists to experience this magnificent city to the fullest.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.53 million (3.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.44 million (20.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
For travelers wanting to experience the tastiest ramen, sushi, and fresh seafood, they should make a plan to visit Fukuoka. The city is located on Kyushu Island and is actually two cities combined—Fukuoka and Hakata, and it is a must-see destination during any season of the year. Check out the rich flavors and textiles of the city’s stores and markets. If you’re visiting in the spring, be sure to visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine to see 6,000 plum trees blossom all around you, and pay a visit to the Kyushu National History Museum that’s on the grounds of the shrine and explains the history of the famous scholar Michizane Sugawara.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.58 million (4.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.47 million (6% change from 2017 to 2018)
A sunny, buzzing cultural hub in southeast France, there is no end to activities that people can do in Nice. Located along the French Riviera, Nice is a city of terracotta roofs, excellent dining, beautiful public and private beaches, and museums perfect for history, music, and art buffs. Be sure to check out Lascaris Palace if you're looking to see a fine collection of musical instruments and their history enclosed within an architecturally grandeur palace. Be sure to end your day watching the sunset from Castle Hill, the highest point in Nice that used to house a former military citadel, but is now a must-visit the get the best view of all of Nice.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.85 million (14.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.49 million (11.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Located less than an hour away from Singapore by boat, Batam is a quaint hub of fishing villages on stilts and spas. Visitors can enjoy partaking in a variety of water sports, such as scuba diving and water skiing. Lovers of land sports can enjoy one of the seven golf ranges that Batam is known for. Finally, travelers who are looking to have a more relaxed vacation can soak up the sun on Nongsa Beach, try traditional Indonesian dishes available at the many seafood dining spots, and visit Barelang Bridge, which connects Batam with two fellow islands, Rempang and Galang.
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- 2019 arrivals: 2.88 million (15% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.51 million (25% change from 2017 to 2018)
Da Nang is a gem for visitors to travel to, as it still offers a plethora of sights and activities for tourists but can be overlooked as it sits between the famous cities of Hanoi to the north and Ho Chi Minh City to the south. Three of the most famous attractions on a typical Da Nang tour are all elevated: Ba Na Hills (containing the iconic Golden Bridge lifted by giant stone hands), Marble Mountains (hills made of limestone and marble and containing several Buddhist shrines), and Son Tra Mountain (translated to Monkey Mountain and named after the rare monkeys that live there).
- 2019 arrivals: 2.76 million (9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.54 million (8% change from 2017 to 2018)
The capital of Peru has been pretty underrated compared to some other notable spots in the South American country. “ The City of Kings” is the perfect blend of history, nature, nightlife, and culture, however. Be sure to stop by the Miraflores district, an upscale neighborhood in Lima, where you can go paragliding over the Peruvian coast, enjoy a bike ride overlooking the Pacific Ocean, party all night in one of the many Miraflores clubs and bars, and explore the different food and shop vendors among the many protected stray cats in Kennedy Park.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.72 million (4.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.60 million (5.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
There is no shortage of things to do in Sweden’s capital city, which marries the past and the future together seamlessly. A great example of this is the island of Gamla Stan, where Stockholm was first founded. While you’re exploring, be sure to take a “fika” break—a Swedish tradition that encourages relaxing and socializing with friends and colleagues over some coffee and treats before getting back to the hustle and grind of everyday life.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.73 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.64 million (5.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
In recent years, Frankfurt has started to shed its moniker as “the gateway to Europe” and is becoming known as more than just a layover stop on the way to other major destinations. Visit the old town of Römerberg during the holidays to experience its massive Christmas market. Take a trip to the restored Goethe House, where famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. Finally, climb up the Main Tower high rise to see Frankfurt’s skyline and the Main River, which have been likened to New York’s Manhattan cityscape and waterfront.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.78 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.68 million (10.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Chiba, located just under 25 miles from Tokyo, offers something for the whole family. Not only are there two Disney parks and Japan’s longest stretch of beach (Kujukuri Beach), but the historic town of Sawara, located along a canal called Little Edo, holds festivals twice a year to celebrate famous Japanese warrior heroes.
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- 2019 arrivals: 2.77 million (3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.69 million (5.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Buenos Aires is a place like no other—the birthplace of the sensual tango dance takes the best of both Europe and Latin America to bring travelers a unique food, dance, nightlife, and architecture experience. Attractions include the historically famous Café Tortoni, which has been open since 1858, and the expansive Recoleta cemetery, where Argentina’s rich, famous, and politically important are buried, and free guided tours are available twice a week. Following a late-night dinner that should include steak and wine—Buenos Aires’ most popular commodities—stay out until the next morning dancing the night away at one of the city’s many boliches.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.92 million (7.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.72 million (37.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
This province, along the Aegean Sea, is known for its many ruins and outdoor activities. Take a boat to Gemiler Island, featuring Byzantine-era remnants of churches and tombs. Check out what’s left of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which finished construction in 350 B.C. Finally, check out Kayaköy, a ghost town since 1923 that still has evidence of a time when Muslims and Christians used to live there in harmony.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.83 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.73 million (3.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Visiting the capital city of Poland is like taking a trip through the city’s tumultuous history, as it had gone through many occupations and destructions, most notably in 1944, when Adolf Hitler ordered the city to be leveled completely after the Warsaw Uprising. Since then, however, Warsaw has been rebuilt and restored, but it still pays homage to its difficult history. Learn about the history of the Uprising and the sacrifice of the Polish resistance at the Warsaw Uprising, with admission free on Sundays. Visit the POLIN museum, which documents the history of the Jewish community in Poland dating back to the 13th century. Honor the fallen Polish soldiers of World War I and watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, active since 1925.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.87 million (41.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.74 million (46.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
Hurghada is literally a getaway made for tourists—the fishing village has been turned into a resort and has developed rapidly in the past few years. Hurghada is situated between the majestic Red Sea and the Eastern Desert. For water activities, there are many dive sites that are perfected for both novices and adept divers to view different fish, coral reefs, shipwrecks, or all three. If you wish to explore the desert, you can take a quad bike tour throughout the desert, enjoy a camel ride along the beach or to the nearby Bedouin settlements, and get a bus ride to visit Cairo, Egypt’s capital.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.85 million (4.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.74 million (1.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
The capital of America’s beloved island chain combines work, play, a sad history, and exotic culture. The most notable spot to visit has to be the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, remembering the battleship that was bombed on December 7, 1941. For visitors looking to explore the best of Hawaii—according to locals—they should hike to the summit of the iconic Diamond Head crater, visit the nature reserve at Kaena Point and see the giant Hawaiian monk seals native to the area (and are sadly endangered), and check out the hula dancing show happening three times a week in Kuhio Beach at sunset.
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- 2019 arrivals: 2.98 million (8.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.75 million (10.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Guilin is one of the most popular destinations in southern China because of its natural wonders. Known for its iconic karsts—jagged hills made of limestone—fans of the Star Wars franchise might recognize that Guilin was used as a backdrop in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” to depict the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk. A popular tourist attraction is taking a cruise along the beautiful Li River, which will offer visitors a view of the karsts, various fishing villages, rice paddies, limestone caves, and bamboo fields.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.98 million (7.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.78 million (7.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Tel Aviv is a hip, colorful, and modern city that stands out among the more historic, older cities and towns that Israel is typically known for. On the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the west, Tel Aviv is a hub for art, technology, innovation, and wild nightlife. Tel Aviv is also known for being one of the more LGBTQ+-friendly and progressive cities in the Middle East, with a quarter of its population being part of the community, and hosts a massive Pride parade each year that attracts tourists from all around the world to come to see.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.93 million (4.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.80 million (5% change from 2017 to 2018)
The largest region of New Zealand is also conveniently compact—tourists can get to most major attractions within half an hour of wherever they are. One of these major attractions is the Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand, where visitors can not only enjoy an observation deck but also base jump off a platform near the top of the tower. Even though the city of Auckland is a thriving urban destination, the islands and dormant volcanoes of the region are really what it’s known for.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.54 million (26.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.81 million (24.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
There is no shortage of outdoor activities to do in Cebu and all the islands that surround it. You can come for the spectacular crystal-blue waters of Cebu’s many beaches and swim with the fishes, but be sure to take your hiking shoes and swimsuits to the many forests on the island. Cebu is known for its many waterfalls, both popular and hidden, that are perfect for either cliff jumping or just relaxing with your friends after a trek that could sometimes be long and involve climbing with ropes.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.13 million (10.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.83 million (10.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
The City of Joy, as it’s often called, shows only one side of this city’s complicated and colonial history. Named Calcutta until 2001, the city was founded by the British East India Company and served as the capital of the British India empire for nearly 140 years. In recent years, however, the large city has started overcoming poverty and population congestion and adopting its own identity to become the artistic and intellectual capital of India.
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- 2019 arrivals: 3.02 million (6.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.84 million (6.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
Luxury meets medieval times and religion in this major city of Morocco, where visitors can enjoy the beautiful gardens, contemporary architecture, and exotic food and spices at the local souqs, or markets. The most notable attraction is Marrakech’s medina, a twisting maze of small stalls, snake charmers, hagglers, Moroccan hammams (steam rooms), and artisanal crafts all enclosed within fortified walls. Located nearby is Djemaa El Fna, a famous city square known for hosting performers of all kinds—acrobats, storytellers, musical artists, and comedians.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.91 million (2.1% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.85 million (1.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
Fans of “Schindler’s List” would be interested in exploring some locations where filming for Steven Spielberg’s legendary motion picture was filmed, such as the Pilsudski Bridge, Oskar Schindler’s real factory at 4 Lipowa Street, and Saint Mary's Basilica. If you want to explore a cool location outside the city, a popular destination is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The salt deposits found here have been around for over 13 million years and were the pride and joy of Polish kings. Artists have found inspiration for their craft here, and there are occasional concerts performed in the mine.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.30 million (14.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.89 million (5.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
The city center of Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs can offer visitors a cool, hipster-like experience, quickly noticeable just by walking down its graffitied cobblestone streets or through its many flea markets. Melbourne takes two things seriously: coffee and sports. Melbourne has thousands of cafes offering the best quality of coffee created in many unique ways—Americans may recognize the now-popular flat white, which has Aussie origins. As for sport, Melbourne is known for cricket, Australian rules football, horse racing, and tennis, just to name a few. The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground sports stadium is a very popular destination, especially when the Australian Rules Football League season starts.
- 2019 arrivals: 2.99 million (3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 2.90 million (0% change from 2017 to 2018)
This Northern California city resting on a peninsula is cool not just in weather, but in culture. San Francisco is known for the historical gold rush, the tech industry, the fishing community at Fisherman’s Wharf, the largest Chinatown in America, the crooked and winding hilly streets, the San Francisco Giants, the former federal prison at Alcatraz, cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and earthquakes.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.19 million (3.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.07 million (3.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Hop on a bike if you want to explore the best of what the Danish capital has to offer—Copenhagen’s push for greener and healthier living has made it easier to travel on two wheels to any destination within the city’s charming and colorful buildings. Perhaps Copenhagen’s most interesting attraction that captures its essence is CopenHill, offering visitors the chance to ski, hike, relax, and eat on an artificial slope built atop a waste-to-energy power plant.
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- 2019 arrivals: 3.26 million (1.9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.20 million (2.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Despite being one of the largest cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai can be a peaceful and relaxing getaway for visitors not looking to go anywhere hectic. With hundreds of temples, travelers can discover their spirituality and even chat with Buddhist monks. Animal lovers will be happy to know that both the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai offer visitors the chance to hang out with elephants up close, but put the humane treatment and preservation of elephants first.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.40 million (5.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.21 million (7.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
This British Columbian gem is a must-see when visiting the United States’ neighbor to the north. With the Pacific Ocean, multiple large parks and forests, and three major mountains all easily accessible, visitors can hike, jog, climb, play, and explore to their hearts’ content. Vancouver has also played a large role in both film and television—the city has provided the setting for productions such as the “Twilight” saga, the “Deadpool” movies, “Elf,” “Night at the Museum,” “Riverdale,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Bates Motel,” just to name a few.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.32 million (2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.26 million (2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
This port city, connecting neighboring Macau and Hong Kong with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge—the longest sea bridge in the world—has become both an important city for both China’s economy and its environment. Promoting manufacturing, technology, eco-agriculture, and research, Zhuhai has expanded rapidly to become one of China’s most important cities for development. If tourists are looking for a thrilling getaway, they should check out the world’s largest ocean theme park called the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, or the new Lionsgate Entertainment World vertical theme park, which combines a VR experience with some of Lionsgate’s famous films.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.34 million (1.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.29 million (3% change from 2017 to 2018)
If you’re looking to experience more of the traditional side of Japan, Kyoto is your place to go. Comprising 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto (a religion originating in Japan) shrines, it’s not unusual to come across someone praying, meditating, or just strolling through the many beautiful Zen gardens within these spiritual structures. Get the full Kyoto experience by checking out the work of local artisans in the Gion district and by choosing to stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.03 million (-10% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.37 million (7.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Archaeology fans and those interested in learning about the ancient people who occupied the Greek islands several centuries ago would enjoy taking a trip to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. The most popular destination is Knossos, a well-preserved and restored Minoan palace whose history could be traced back to 2700–1500 B.C. Another grand sight to see is the Koules Fortress, built by the Venetians during the 16th century, which contains two floors, 26 rooms, and impressively thick walls. Climbing to the top of the fortress offers impressive views of the island and the occasional performance.
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- 2019 arrivals: 3.71 million (7.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.44 million (7.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Known as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang Island is a beautiful mix of cultures, especially Chinese, Malay, and Indian. It’s also worth visiting the city’s capital, Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its centuries-old history of trade, cultural exchanges, and British colonial influence. The colorful town is split into different quarters, including one called Little India and a business district. Popular tourist destinations are the exquisite Blue Mansion hotel and the historic Fort Cornwallis, the largest fort in Malaysia and named after the former governor-general of India, Charles Cornwallis.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.59 million (2.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.50 million (-2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Dammam’s popularity and history are intertwined with the popularity and history of crude oil. Three years after drilling began on the city’s wells in 1935, diggers finally struck gold, as Dammam Well No. 7 produced enough oil to be exported commercially, and thus began a financially significant partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The capital city of the Eastern Province shows signs of its ties to other countries, most notably through Ithra, or the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. Founder Saudi Aramco’s cosmopolitan destination features a library, a cinema, multiple museums and galleries, and even an idea lab.
- 2019 arrivals: 3.64 million (2.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.54 million (0.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
As tourism to Portugal surges, especially from the United States, the colorful and architecturally stunning capital city of the southern European country, has plenty to offer for visitors. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes when wandering around Lisbon, as the city is built over seven hills, and navigating its steep and winding roads is not for the faint of heart (despite the beautiful views). A unique and fun way to get around is the city’s tram network. The most popular tram route, and one of the longest, is the E28. The 28 trams date back to the 1930s, as their slick designs are the only trams that can navigate through the narrowest Lisbon streets.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.03 million (5.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.82 million (4.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Visitors to Hungary’s capital city don’t have to go far to fall for the city’s charms. Fans of art and culture are drawn to Budapest’s numerous architectural styles—baroque, neo-gothic, art nouveau, just to name a few—and the Hungarian State Opera House, which is open for tours daily, even as its 19th-century building is going through renovations. Budapest is also a great place to relax, as being home to over 100 thermal springs means there are many spas and bathhouses, each building a mini-vacation itself. Visitors should also visit the famous Budapest Pinball Museum (called the Flippermúzeum) and have a night out in one or more of the ruin bars, located in the Jewish Quarter, to complete their trip.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.47 million (13.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.93 million (11.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Jerusalem has become not just an important religious site for Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, but also a key historical and political center. Despite recent conflicts surrounding the area, most notably between Israel and Palestine, the city brims with hope, culture, and spirituality. The Old City of Jerusalem allows visitors from all over the world to walk from the Western Wall (the holiest site for Jews) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus was believed to be crucified and then resurrected) to the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock (where Muhammad was believed to ascend to heaven and the third-holiest site for Muslims). For those who are staying for a longer amount of time, it is worth to take day trips to the salty Dead Sea, the lowest point in the world, and Yad Vashem, Israel’s largest Holocaust memorial and museum. Yad Vashem attempts to explain the tragic events leading up to the Holocaust, provide real-life accounts and artifacts from those who survived and those who didn’t, and attempt to record and remember as many names of victims as possible.
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- 2019 arrivals: 4.28 million (8.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 3.94 million (14.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Beer, waffles, chocolate, comics are just a few of the reasons you should visit Brussels. Even though Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also the headquarters of the European Union and European Parliament, visitors can enjoy a whimsical and relaxed trip around this city. It’s worth taking a beer tour through the best and oldest pubs and breweries in town, or follow along the comic book route and try to find as many street art comics as you can. Finally, in between looking at the fine palaces, cathedrals, and historical museums that appear all over this city, make sure to take a moment to gawk at the Manneken Pis, a fountain that features a little statue of a boy “peeing” (sometimes in costume) and is one of the top tourist spots in Brussels.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.46 million (11.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.00 million (11% change from 2017 to 2018)
Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great to westernize the Russian empire, St. Petersburg is now Russia’s second-largest city and the country’s cultural capital. “Piter” is both an important port city and also draws comparisons to Venice for its Neva River canal system. The vast Hermitage Museum is a must-see for travelers. The museum boasts a collection that was started in 1764 by Catherine the Great and now contains over 3 million works of art and artifacts. Visitors are also encouraged to spend an evening watching a performance of opera or ballet at the iconic Mariinsky Theatre.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.07 million (1.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4 million (2% change from 2017 to 2018)
One of the oldest cities on this list and outliving many dynasties, Beijing has preserved its extensive history while also constantly growing and innovating. Just in September 2019, Beijing’s new Daxing International Airport opened, becoming the world’s largest airport terminal. Even travelers unfamiliar with China know about its Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square, but these destinations are still breathtaking when seen in person. Another site to see would be a typical Beijing hutong—crisscrossing lanes and alleys built when the Ming and Qing dynasties were in power. These ancient hutongs are at risk of being replaced by modern-era cities and buildings, but they are the best way to glance into a traditional Beijing citizen’s life. Visitors must also make it a priority to try Beijing’s world-famous Peking duck, a historic Chinese dish that is older than many cities.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.70 million (16.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.03 million (12.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Indonesia’s soon-to-be-former capital shows both the pros and cons of being a metropolis and the financial hub of a country. With a population of over 10 million people just in the city alone, Jakarta is overcrowded, and traffic congestion is normal. With the population growth and the climate crisis, Jakarta has begun to sink into the Java Sea, and natural disasters like floods have become more common, affecting more and more people. Indonesia’s government is now pushing to move its capital to a part of Borneo, as announced in April 2019, to save Jakarta and work on sustaining the city for many years to come. Despite the hardships Jakarta is facing, the city is still a multi-faceted depiction of its complex history, having only become Indonesia’s capital in 1949 after the country gained independence from the Dutch in 1945. Both Asian and European influences are noticeable as one walks through the city, from shopping centers to theme parks to distinct museums to the Monas Tower monument, a symbol of Indonesian sovereignty.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.21 million (3.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.07 million (6.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Munich is ideal for anyone who loves exquisite palaces, historic cathedrals, and great-tasting beer. In fact, Munich’s main event every year is Oktoberfest, a two-week beer festival (the largest in the world), attracting millions of visitors between late September and early October. Another fun but unexpected activity for the landlocked capital of Bavaria is river surfing on the waves of the man-made Eisbach river, which is done by thrill-seekers year-round and attracts many spectators.
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- 2019 arrivals: 4.44 million (8.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.09 million (3.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Sydney is a great place to visit for those looking to have a more laid-back vacation. The stunning Sydney Opera House is an architectural feat, and there is a myriad of performances happening each week. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, nicknamed the coat hanger, is also an important landmark, with different tours helping visitors climb this bridge and see the best views of the harbor. If you’re looking to take a day trip, the Blue Mountains or Hunter Valley is the way to go. The Blue Mountains offer amazing hiking trails, and it’s worth going up to the peak of these rock formations during sunset. The vineyards of Hunter Valley, located north of Sydney, are perfect for wine lovers, and one can even enjoy a glass of wine while traveling in a hot-air balloon over the region.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.21 million (2.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.12 million (1.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
In the past couple of decades, Johannesburg has gone through a revival, and the large city is creating its own identity post-apartheid. To learn more about this recent dark period of South Africa’s history, and the 20th-century events that led up to it, visitors should check out the Apartheid Museum and visit former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s home. Mandela lived here after his release from prison in 1990, and the house is now a museum that honors Mandela, who died in 2013, and his family.
- 2019 arrivals: 4.74 million (5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.51 million (5.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Unlike many cities on this list, Toronto’s charm lies in the fact that it’s a major city—the most populous city in Canada, to be exact. It is also the most diverse city, with half of the population being born outside of Canada. Famous destinations include the CN Tower, offering several vantage points of the surrounding city. Additionally, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must-see for fans of the winter sport, as it houses the actual Stanley Cup and has been inducting hockey legends for nearly 75 years.
- 2019 arrivals: 5.13 million (9.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 4.69 million (9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Seeing Vietnam’s capital city is seeing the city’s unique history, from its first inhabitants over 1,000 years ago to its recovery after the Vietnam War. Ha Noi still shows symbols of past occupation by France and China. It’s worth checking out the Old Quarter, a busy district of narrow streets that combines both the old and the new. For first-time visitors to Ha Noi, they might be daunted by all of the sights, sounds, and smells coming from various street food carts, small shops, and motorbike taxis around, but this is truly the heart of Vietnam.
- 2019 arrivals: 5.13 million (1.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.06 million (2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
This Tuscan gem shows what Italy is all about, as Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is home to famous artwork and architecture, not to mention amazing food and gelato. One of the masterpieces is the Florence Cathedral or Duomo. With building that finished in 1436 (and some exterior parts added in the 19th century), the Duomo is a massive and constantly evolving work of art, usually noticed by its white, pink, and green marble facade, its 44 stained glass windows, and its massive red-tiled cupola, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Other amazing artwork can be found in the Uffizi Palace and Gallery, which hosts an impressive collection of Renaissance artwork, including pieces from Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raphael, and Michaelangelo.
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- 2019 arrivals: 5.46 million (4.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.21 million (4.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
The capital of Ireland is another place that has beautiful, centuries-old cathedrals, castles, and museums; however, the way to really get into the culture of Dublin is to follow the books and the booze. Channel your inner James Joyce or Oscar Wilde by exploring the numerous quaint bookstores and libraries that Dublin has to offer. Check out Marsh’s Library if you want to see Ireland’s first public library (opened in 1707), or the Trinity College Library, which is the largest library in the country and contains the ancient Book of Kells. Learn more about Ireland’s history by booking tours and drinks at the Guinness Storehouse Factory, the Old Jameson Distillery, and the Irish Whiskey Museum, or chat with one of the locals at one of the many unique and vintage bars in Dublin.
- 2019 arrivals: 5.45 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.27 million (-2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Riyadh takes the fifth spot in the top 10 list of places to visit in the Middle East and Africa, according to Euromonitor International. The name of the Saudi capital comes from a word that means gardens or meadows, which is quite fitting, as the bustling metropolis seems to have sprung out of the surrounding desert land like a flower in just a few decades. Riyadh is still relatively conservative and religious—something that tourists should keep in mind and respect—but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been working to make its capital a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers alike. To view the city from up high and experience fine dining, visitors can make a reservation at The Globe, located near the top of the Al Faisaliah skyscraper. The restaurant is housed in a massive golden, glass sphere and provides the most stunning 360-degree views of Riyadh, especially at sunset.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.25 million (18% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.29 million (22% change from 2017 to 2018)
Ha Long is known almost exclusively for its bay, for better or for worse. The bay is a large conglomeration of limestone cliffs and jungle islets scattered throughout bright waters. Visitors come from all over the world to take cruises through the bay, go rock climbing on the cliffs, and hike throughout Cát Bà Island. As much as Ha Long Bay has become a worldly destination, the former small fishing villages that are located there have had trouble keeping up with the constant flow of tourists and safety concerns and having to preserve their beautiful natural landscapes from garbage and overcrowdedness.
- 2019 arrivals: 5.60 million (2.9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.44 million (3.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Madrid is a lively city with an energetic population that has adapted this old city as its own. Walking down the street, it’s not hard to see buildings from the 16th century, during the peak of the Spanish Empire, or even earlier. Soccer fans would enjoy a tour around Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the home of the world-famous and prolific Real Madrid team. If you’re looking to get away from the crowded city squares, check out the park El Retiro. It’s a great place to relax, go for a jog, rent a bike, or go for a boat ride on the park’s lake in the summer, or even admire Madrid’s oldest tree (Ahuehuete, which has been alive since 1630).
- 2019 arrivals: 5.59 million (1.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.50 million (3.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
Venice is truly a place like no other. The city lies upon 118 small islands, and they are all linked together by canals or bridges, which means the way to get around is either by walking or taking a boat. The city’s structure also poses unique problems for it, as its delicate foundation has caused the land to start sinking slowly. Additionally, high tides and strong winds cause the canals to flood almost every year, and November 2019 saw Venice have some of the worst floodings in more than 50 years, costing the city over $1 billion in damaged infrastructure. However, it’s worth paying a visit to Venice, as long as you’re respectful of the shrinking population of Venetians who actually live there year-round. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica, located on St. Mark’s Square and dedicated to the patron saint of Venice, to see a beautiful 12th-century cathedral. Take a water taxi to some of the smaller islands within the city’s network to observe the making of items like glass, gondolas, leather, and lace. Finally, gondola rides can be pricey and overrated, but they can still offer amazing, romantic views of Venice (especially its lesser-known canals), and are a rare experience.
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- 2019 arrivals: 5.97 million (8.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.51 million (14.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
As big as Russia has been through its imperial, then communist, then modern authoritarian reign, Moscow has always been the heart of it and its main city. Walking through the center of the over-800-year-old city, you can see remnants of Soviet Union rule or the importance of the Russian Orthodox religion to the people. Russian art and culture are not lacking here either, as people browse through the many art museums and galleries every day, and flock to the Bolshoi Theatre for a ballet or opera performance. Moscow is known for the neighboring Kremlin and Red Square. The Moscow Kremlin is the most important political building in Russia, as both tsars and presidents have led their country from here, and only some rooms are open to the touring public. The cobblestoned Red Square, meanwhile, attracts visitors from all around the world, especially since it contains the colorful and patterned St. Basil’s Cathedral within it, Russia’s most well-known landmark. Concerts, parades, and other events are often held in this space.
- 2019 arrivals: 5.73 million (3.1% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.55 million (5.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Orlando is theme park central, with Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and LEGOLAND all family-friendly favorites, among many other smaller parks. But Orlando doesn’t just offer the magic of Disney and Harry Potter—there is plenty of fine dining, wonderful spas, cool museums, and relaxing parks to explore if you’re just trying to enjoy the Florida sunshine. Check out the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex if you want to pretend to be an astronaut or travel out to Revolution Off Road to engage in some ATV or dune buggy racing through muddy roads.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.30 million (10% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.73 million (19.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Athens has seen tremendous growth in tourism over the past few years, despite the city being one of the oldest on this list. Greece’s capital offers visitors the chance to see some historical landmarks that they have only seen in their school textbooks and is unique in terms of it has lived through nearly every form of government and various styles of architecture throughout its long history. Be sure to visit the Acropolis, Athens’ most famous destination, a fortified hill that holds most of its iconic landmarks (Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, the Theater of Dionysus, just to name a few). The nearby Acropolis Museum houses the different artifacts recovered from the hill and is also a must-visit, and the other ruins of temples speckled through Athens. Finally, take a break from history by visiting the neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psyrri, bustling hubs of fantastic food, shopping, and street art.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.81 million (18.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.75 million (31.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
2020 and the new decade offer hope for Cairo—and the entirety of Egypt—after years of uncertainty. After the political unrest of the past decade, Egypt has struggled to bring back its tourism industry, update its infrastructure, and marry its ancient history with the innovation of the future. The Grand Egyptian Museum, opening later this year, should help achieve all of those goals. The expansive museum will be located just 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles) from the famous Pyramids of Giza and will aim to chronicle the entire history of Egypt.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.2 million (4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 5.96 million (5.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Berlin is a resilient city, as its residents work to overcome the German capital’s tumultuous history from the last century. The East Side Gallery is an example of this, as a former portion of the Berlin Wall that has now turned into a street art collection of murals and political drawings. Closer to the famous Brandenburg Gate lie 2,711 concrete slabs that make up the Holocaust Memorial, which encourages visitors to process their thoughts and emotions in their own way.
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- 2019 arrivals: 6.15 million (1.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.04 million (0% change from 2017 to 2018)
Cancún is not only the most-visited city in Mexico but also the most visited city in Latin America and the #5 most-visited city in the Americas, according to the Euromonitor report. The popularity mainly comes from Cancun’s reputation as having beautiful beachside resorts and a hype nightlife, but there is more to this Yucatán Peninsula gem. There are several Mayan ruins, such as San Miguelito and El Rey, and a museum called the Museo Maya de Cancún, displaying many artifacts from this ancient people. Additionally, there are many water sports and activities that visitors should check out in the daytime, such as snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and kiteboarding.
- 2019 arrivals: 7.56 million (18.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.38 million (20.7% change from 2017 to 2018)
Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City,” gets its nickname from the color seen on many of its buildings. The most majestic of these buildings is the five-story Hawa Mahal, originally built as part of the City Palace so that royal ladies can watch over the happenings of the city without being seen themselves. The palace has numerous windows, which allowed the wind to pass through when the windows were opened, and the Hawa Mahal is sometimes referred to as the wind palace for this reason. The City Palace is also a notable pink building itself, containing numerous courtyards, galleries, ancient architectural styles, and displays of different royal weaponry and clothing.
- 2019 arrivals: 7.23 million (13% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.40 million (14.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
Johor Bahru has been undergoing transformations, from a washed-out town located near the border with Singapore to a popular tourist destination and a bustling cultural hub. Attractions include a Hello Kitty World, Legoland, beautiful temples and mosques, and numerous cafes for the whole family to enjoy. A romantic idea could be visiting the Firefly Valley Leisure Park in Kota Tinggi, where people could see row out to see thousands of fireflies juxtaposed against a night sky full of stars.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.63 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.41 million (3.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Vienna was the home of great musical minds such as Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, and Franz Schubert, and they helped bring attention to this old European city. The baroque streetscapes, holding various imperial palaces, are remnants of the Habsburg royal dynasty. Additionally, the exquisite wine culture and casual but essential coffee house culture are already enough to attract visitors. Don’t forget to try a slice of Sachertorte, a chocolate-iced chocolate sponge cake with layers of apricot jam in between, which is very popular in and native to Vienna itself.
- 2019 arrivals: 7.93 million (23.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.42 million (26.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is known as the gateway to and soul of southern India. The Tamil Nadu region entertains visitors with a multitude of artistic and religious buildings, as well as authentic cuisine that is solely unique to the region. Before you plan a visit to Chennai, you should check the climate at the time, as Chennai has been battling different natural disasters the past several years, most recently water scarcity.
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- 2019 arrivals: 6.6 million (1.9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.48 million (2.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Milan might be known as a modern metropolis and the high-end fashion capital of Italy, but the former capital of the Western Roman Empire is several thousand years old. Just like in Florence, one of the prettiest buildings is a cathedral, the Duomo di Milano. The third-largest cathedral in the world took over 500 years to be completed. However, those who want to check out the commercial life of Milan should visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world (built in the mid-19th century), and with architecture that reflects the marble, mosaic, and glass style of Milan’s other buildings.
- 2019 arrivals: 6.64 million (0.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.59 million (-1.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
It can seem like Vegas—also known as Sin City—is mainly known for its Strip, home to various casinos such as Caesars Palace and Aria. However, this popular Nevada city can provide an epic getaway for the entire family, with its iconic hotels, spas, faux popular world attractions, and the chance to try out the world’s most luxurious cars. Don’t be surprised if you run into a celebrity singer or chef—artists like Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera have had performance residencies there, and food connoisseurs such as Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, and Gordon Ramsay own property there.
- 2019 arrivals: 7.02 million (4.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 6.71 million (6.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
The sunny capital of the Catalonia region, Barcelona is still the most popular tourist destination in Spain. There are so many activities to do in this city and places to explore. A single short trip may not be enough. Be sure to take some time and visit all of architect Antoni Gaudí’s buildings, including the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, and the Park Güell. All of these architectural feats are unique and show the range of Gaudí’s style, as well as influence the work of more contemporary architects and designers.
- 2019 arrivals: 8.58 million (19.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 7.19 million (15.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
As the capital of Bali, it should come as little surprise that Denpasar has seen increasing numbers of tourists over the past few years, as the tourist resorts on Bali become prime vacation spots. While most visitors head out of Denpasar and toward the tropical paradises of Ubud or Seminyak, the capital city is home to the fascinating Bali Museum, the 10th-century Pura Blanjong Temple, authentic Indonesian cuisine, and several shopping malls.
- 2019 arrivals: 8.21 million (14% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 7.2 million (15.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
What was once the romantic city of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, is now a vibrant urban city, filled with both ancient temples and modern skyscrapers. This city features French colonial landmarks, such as Vietnam’s own Notre Dame Cathedral, mixed with ancient Vietnamese traditions and places, such as the bustling Bến Thành Market. The moving War Remnants Museum is a must-visit, as it tells the story of the Vietnam War from the natives’ point of view, a view which many visitors rarely hear about.
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- 2019 arrivals: 7.75 million (3.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 7.48 million (4% change from 2017 to 2018)
China’s largest city is a modern, buzzing financial hub, but also retains its colonial heritage. The metropolis’ location on the Huangpu River offers visitors a chance to see The Bund, Shanghai’s impressive cityscape by the waterfront. The 1,614-foot World Financial Center is comparable to the skyscrapers popping up all over New York City and is used for a multitude of purposes, including sightseeing, financial operations, fine cuisine, and a hotel.
- 2019 arrivals: 7.73 million (3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 7.50 million (4.7% change from 2017 to 2018)
This City of Angels is attractive due to its mild weather, buzzy nightlife, laid-back vibe, and its trademark Santa Monica and Venice beaches. From luxury shoppers who frequent Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills to hikers attempting to take the winding hikes to the famous Hollywood sign or the Griffith Observatory, everyone can find something to do in LA. Just watch out for people dressed up as your favorite superheroes—they will often go up to tourists and try to score an extra buck or two, and Hollywood can seem very hectic and intimidating for that reason.
- 2019 arrivals: 9 million (14.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 7.86 million (19% change from 2017 to 2018)
Osaka used to be overlooked as visitors flocked to the more well-known city of Tokyo; however, that is slowly starting to change. Osaka is a vibrant, modern city that is filled with lights, nature, and lots of great cuisines. Osaka Castle, built in the 1500s by a former feudal lord and one of the most important landmarks in the city, is surrounded by sakura, cherry blossom trees that burst open every spring. Additionally, Osaka is known as “Japan’s kitchen,” due to its unique dishes, the number of Michelin-starred restaurants, and amazing street food carts.
- 2019 arrivals: 8.34 million (2.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.12 million (4.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Vibrant Miami has maintained its second-place rank in terms of most arrivals in America, although it dropped a few positions in the overall ranking. The Florida city attracts tourists through its stunning beaches, vibrant arts district (including the Art Basel art fair, which happens in December and brings in large crowds annually), and distinct Cuban influence (most notably in the neighborhood Little Havana and its main street, Calle Ocho.)
- 2019 arrivals: 10.13 million (24.4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.14 million (22.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
Agra has seen rapid increases in tourism over the last decade due to more relaxed visa requirements. This city is the place to go if you’re curious about architecture from the Mughal Empire era, a dynasty that ruled over India for over two centuries. In addition to the world-famous Taj Mahal being located here, the city is home to two more UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River, and the red sandstone buildings of Fatehpur Sikri town nearby.
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- 2019 arrivals: 8.84 million (5.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.35 million (6.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
The Dutch capital has become a fan-favorite due to its charming canals, colorful townhouses, and numerous bike paths. Must-visit sites are the Anne Frank House, where visitors can see the annex that Frank wrote his diary in, as well as get more information about what life in hiding was like. Additionally, the Van Gogh Museum gives tourists a look into the life of 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh, who was little known during his actual lifetime but is now one of the most influential artists in history.
- 2019 arrivals: 9.11 million (8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.43 million (10.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Seoul combines aspects of the South Korean culture that don’t seem to mesh at first—futuristic, neon city streets, mountain temples and shrines, ornamental palaces, and a booming Korean pop and clothing scene. Changdeokgung, built in 1405 and used well into the 20th century, is the most popular of the palaces, surrounded by beautiful secret gardens.
- 2019 arrivals: 8.82 million (3.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.55 million (-2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Medina is the other holy city in Saudi Arabia, besides Mecca, where prophet Muhammad lived and fought after his exile from Mecca. The Prophet’s Mosque is at the heart of this city, and it’s one of the largest mosques in the world. The hotels, shops, and restaurants around the mosque give this ancient city its pulse. Take note that only Muslims can visit the mosque and the center of Medina.
- 2019 arrivals: 9.15 million (2.3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 8.95 million (1.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
The Czech capital draws in around 9 million visitors each year. With a bohemian appeal and fairytale charms, Prague attracts tourists who want to explore its trademark Prague Castle (the home of many former Czech rulers and presidents), enjoying a famous Czech beer, or pivot, and explore the colorful and whimsical streets of the Old Town and the Golden Lane.
- 2019 arrivals: 9.01 million (0% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 9 million (0% change from 2017 to 2018)
Founded in 214 B.C., Guangzhou is a thriving port city that’s been urbanizing and populating tremendously lately but has not seen a large increase in tourists in the past three years. The airport, public transportation, and air quality have all improved significantly over the last two decades, drawing visitors in to see architecture by stars such as Zaha Hadid and take a cruise on the historic 1,243-mile Pearl River.
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- 2019 arrivals: 9.83 million (2.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 9.57 million (-2.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Mecca is the holy city of Islam, drawing millions of people for the annual hajj, a five-day religious pilgrimage that each Muslim must take at least once in their lives. Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad. The Kaaba, a shrine located in the middle of the Great Mosque of Mecca, is the most sacred spot in Mecca, and Muslims face toward it when praying.
- 2019 arrivals: 9.98 million (4% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 9.6 million (3.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
The capital of Taiwan is notably known for a 1,669-foot landmark called Taipei 101, resembling a bamboo stalk, and with a high-speed elevator that takes visitors only 37 seconds to get to the 89th-floor observation deck. Another exciting thing to do in Taipei is going shrimp fishing, where you can directly catch your own food from small man-made pools.
- 2019 arrivals: 9.95 million (3.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 9.61 million (5.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
This eastern Thai city, located about 2 hours away from Thailand’s capital Bangkok, is known for beaches and resort hotels, the Las Vegas of Thailand. What was once a sleepy fishing village is now home to a lively nightlife scene and overcrowded streets. Paying homage to Thailand’s culture, Wat Khao Phra Bat is also a popular sight, home to a 59-foot tall golden Buddha.
- 2019 arrivals: 10.44 million (4.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 9.99 million (4.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
The bright lights of always-bustling Tokyo bring in around 10 million visitors each year, making the capital the most popular city in Japan. Among the many popular attractions in Tokyo, the Kabuki-za is the main theater for the Japanese dance of kabuki, an elaborate performance with dramatic sets, outfits, and makeup. With the Olympic Games happening this summer, 2020 should be another successful year for tourism and for the expansion of this city.
- 2019 arrivals: 10.32 million (2.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 10.07 million (5.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
The Italian capital is the fifth most-visited city in Europe and the origin of the great Roman Empire. In addition, vibrant street life and decadent cuisine, the Eternal City is home to nearly 3,000 years of world-class art and architecture. Among the oldest of the famous Roman buildings, there is the Colosseum (built between 70-80 AD), the Pantheon (completed in 118 AD), and the Arch of Constantine (built in 315 A.D.).
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- 2019 arrivals: 10.97 million (3.9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 10.55 million (4.4% change from 2017 to 2018)
Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, the western Thai island is home to white-sand beaches and luxurious beach resorts, as well as great diving and rainforest adventures. Just like other cities in Thailand, there are plenty of temples (such as the Wat Chalong), markets, and zoos or animal sanctuaries. Visit the Old Town at Phuket for a unique mix of Chinese and Portuguese influences, or check out the Simon Cabaret Show, going on for nearly 30 years, a show of live music and comedy performed by transgender performers.
- 2019 arrivals: 12.44 million (17.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 10.59 million (17.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Formerly known as Bombay, the largest city in India is chaotic, but home to fashionable people, financial activity, rich cuisine, and lots and lots of people. With easier visa requirements and a world-class airport facility, the Bollywood capital is likely to increase and expand its tourism industry. Even though Mumbai is the financial sector of India, more than half of the population lives in slums. Exploring the largest of these slums, Dharavi, is shocking and humbling, especially considering that the most expensive home in the world is also located in Mumbai.
- 2019 arrivals: 12.32 million (1% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 12.2 million (1.1% change from 2017 to 2018)
Shenzhen, the closest Chinese city to Hong Kong, is also one of the country’s wealthiest. Shenzhen’s rise to prominence started in 1979 when China designated the sleepy border town as the country’s first special economic zone. What this city lacks in history, it makes up for in innovation and culture. The Splendid China-Folk Culture Villages is a miniature park with replicas of many famous attractions in China that gives visitors an easy glance into the country’s long history. Meanwhile, the Window of the World offers replicas of famous attractions from around the world, from Egypt to Greece to Paris to India.
- 2019 arrivals: 13.33 million (7.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 12.44 million (31.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
This Turkish resort town has grown in annual arrivals since 2017 but has stayed relatively in the same spot on the list. With stunning beaches at every turn, the Düden Waterfalls (with stunning limestone karst springs surrounding them), and the Köprülü Canyon (a spectacular canyon perfect for trout fishing and whitewater rafting), the Mediterranean gem is a perfect family getaway.
- 2019 arrivals: 15.2 million (20.2% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 12.65 million (24.5% change from 2017 to 2018)
Delhi has been moving up in ranks within the past few years. The capital has seen a growth in its tourism industry due to focusing on health and wellness, with a growing number of yoga retreats and Ayurveda practices, in addition to providing continued luxury services for visitors. The 17th-century Old Delhi neighborhood, the former capital of the Mughal Empire, is home to the Red Fort, a Mughal political and cultural hub, and the Jama Masjid mosque, one of the largest mosques in India.
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- 2019 arrivals: 14.72 million (9.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 13.43 million (25.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
Due to the improved security situation in Turkey after a couple of turmoiled years, international tourism has grown for three of the country’s cities, pushing Istanbul into the top 10. Most of Turkey’s visitors come from Eastern Europe but have also been attracting the attention of travelers from the Middle East, especially since the opening of the Istanbul Airport in 2018. The Grand Bazaar is the place to go for a unique Turkish shopping experience. The bazaar has been around since 1461, so it can be considered the world’s oldest mall. Take a day to explore the hidden alleys of the bazaar and haggle your way through the over 4,000 small businesses.
- 2019 arrivals: 14.07 million (4.8% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 13.43 million (4.6% change from 2017 to 2018)
Kuala Lumpur has been seeing an increase in arrivals by about 600-800 thousand people each year since 2017 and features a mixture of British colonial and Asian architecture. The Malaysian capital’s skyline has a magnificent sight, with the Petronas Twin Towers shining over the city. Other impressive skyscrapers include the Maybank Tower, a collection of various money and coins, and the Kuala Lumpur Tower, which has a beautiful observation deck.
- 2019 arrivals: 14.01 million (3% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 13.6 million (3.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
New York City remains the top city destination in the western hemisphere, attracting around 14 million visitors each year. Euromonitor reports that the concrete jungle aims to attract 67 million annual visitor arrivals by 2021, and while recent policies proposed by President Donald Trump hint at growing challenges to access this port city, the Statue of Liberty is still a welcoming figure to every visitor, new or old, that crosses the city’s borders. New York City is also working to improve visitors’ experiences by updating all of its airports, as well as giving its infamous subway system some much-needed upgrades. While Manhattan may be the heart of the “Big Apple,” and is known around the world as a financial, cultural, and diverse center, the island’s four surrounding boroughs each have their own distinct personalities and attractions. For example, Queens is known for being the most diverse in the entire world, according to different languages spoken throughout the borough, with at least 160 different lexicons being used every day.
- 2019 arrivals: 16.33 million (2.6% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 15.92 million (0.8% change from 2017 to 2018)
This oasis in the desert is home to some of the world’s best hotels and shopping, as well as increasingly good dining and cultural options. These are just some factors that make Dubai the most popular destination to travel to in Africa and in the Middle East. Check out Ski Dubai, the world’s first indoor ski slope, open year-round in the city’s warm climate. Additionally, the gold and spice souks are large bazaars that sell what one expects—precious jewelry and pungent spices. Of course, the city’s also home to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, at 2,722 feet above the city.
- 2019 arrivals: 19.09 million (8.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 17.56 million (10.9% change from 2017 to 2018)
Even travelers who have never been to the City of Lights have heard about the city’s many landmarks and attractions, such as the unmistakable Eiffel Tower, the beautiful and gigantic Musée du Louvre (the most-visited museum in the world), the Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Notre-Dame and Parisians faced a crisis in April 2019, when the iconic cathedral burst into flames and lost its wooden roof and spire. People all over the world raised money in support, and this famous landmark is now closed for renovations.
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- 2019 arrivals: 19.76 million (6.5% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 18.55 million (5.3% change from 2017 to 2018)
China, India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, and Germany are just some of Singapore’s partners that helped boost its tourism industry. Singapore continues to see many tourists, thanks to its strong tourism strategy and increased focus on working closely with partners across the travel sector. Singapore has also built strong partnerships with tourism boards, travel agencies, and tech companies to help keep this nation on everyone’s minds. Singapore is also the most expensive city in the world, but it’s worth it to go visit beautiful attractions such as the Kampong Glam historic district, the Gardens by the Bay, and the Night Safari park.
- 2019 arrivals: 20.64 million (9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 18.93 million (9.2% change from 2017 to 2018)
The tagline “Wow, Macau!” is often used to describe this administrative region of China. Macau has no shortage of activities, featuring the world’s largest water show (House of Dancing Water), the tallest bungee jump (Macau Tower), and Macau’s famous Senado Square, its mosaic floors invoking the styles of Portugal. Additionally, fans of card games and high risks should try playing in one of the casinos that are well known to the Macau region—gambling and playing roulette here are less lighthearted fun and more serious.
- 2019 arrivals: 19.56 million (1.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 19.23 million (-3% change from 2017 to 2018)
Because of the uncertainty that has surrounded Brexit and potential tight visa restrictions, London is expected to lose popularity among European Union residents, despite its unwavering tourism success, according to the Euromonitor report. Due to Paris’ and London’s relatively close proximity as cities and travel alliances, the French city encourages travelers to visit its British counterpart or book trips that cover both cities. Taking the bronze medal on this list is London, which is one of the oldest, most well-known cities, and is Britain's cultural, economic, and transportation hub.
- 2019 arrivals: 25.85 million (6.9% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 24.18 million (7.7% change from 2017 to 2018)
Bangkok is actually known by locals as Krung Thep, short for Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (the city’s official full name). The Thai capital is yet another old city that is learning how to blend its past and its future—preserving magnificent temples and palaces, while also building edgier skyscrapers.
- 2019 arrivals: 26.72 million (-8.7% change from 2018 to 2019)
- 2018 arrivals: 29.26 million (5% change from 2017 to 2018)
Hong Kong stayed at the top of the list for another year in a row, and that should continue to be the trend, despite a small decrease in travelers, most likely because of the anti-government protests that have happened throughout 2019. Even though tensions between Hong Kong and mainland China are still tense, Hong Kong’s tourism industry is still improved by the territory’s proximity to the massive country, with over 50% of its 2018 arrivals coming from the mainland. While the city has been traditionally known for its vibrant shopping centers, especially the Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong has been focusing on showing off its natural beauty and culture, for when city life just gets too hectic. Visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches, numerous nature reserves, and hiking trails, and they might even get to glimpse Hong Kong’s famous but rare pink dolphins.
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