Whether you’re a leisure vacationer, travel blogger, or a company involved in the travel industry, researching the world’s most-visited cities will benefit you immensely. You can view your Top Destinations and Famous Cities lists and gain insight into what experiences people are looking for and where they find them.
A MasterCard study produced the Global Destination Cities Index (pdf). It ranks cities based on total international overnight visitors and cross-border spending. By understanding international travel patterns and studying how it affects a city’s economy, the index can also predict visitor growth in the coming year.
MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index
The review ranks Bangkok as the most visited city in the world, with around 22 million international tourists. A more detailed study revealed visitor patterns such as an average stay of 4.7 nights and an average spend of $173 per day.
The famous Bali also ranked 19th with 8.26 million international tourists. Its diverse regions and moody aesthetic are proving popular with social media users; search Bali on Instagram and you’ll be inundated with stunning photos.
Paris is a reliable holiday destination, continuing to tie for second place with Bangkok and London. This underscores how tourists seek out cities that offer business opportunities, diverse attractions and unique cultures. Paris is expected to receive a similar number of 19.1 million international tourists in the coming year.
The different points of glamour in these cities prove that people no longer just follow trends, but set them by finding a fit.
Top tourist destinations are those that offer variety in terms of attractions and environments. This is also a confirmed trend that we are noticing among the most visited countries in the world.
From slow romance to fast-paced chic, the world’s most visited cities have their own unique rhythms and colors.
I haven’t been anywhere but it’s on my list.
Susan Sontag – one of my favorite travel quotes.
1. Bangkok – 22.78 million tourists
Country: Thailand | Total International Visitors: 22.78 million | Last Year Rank: 1
Bangkok is the most visited city in the world (as of 2019)
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the most visited city in the world, thanks to a whopping 22 million international tourists!
Surrounding the city of Bangkok with the hustle and bustle of tut-tuts and constant activity, exploring without a map always leads to interesting discoveries.
Enjoy the usual urban comforts of a large shopping mall and modern spaces before turning to its collection of golden temples and shrines. Follow your nose to Bangkok’s countless street markets full of spicy, sour, sweet and savory flavors, then take a boat ride to their floating market.
At night, Chinatown and Sukhumi Road reveal a vibrant nightlife with a cosmopolitan and cultural vibe. Forget about enjoying an exciting day trip away from this busy city!
But to find out how to stay safe in Bangkok before you go, I also recommend checking out one of the following travel guides. They are all excellent and worth reading.
2. Paris – 19.1 million tourists
Paris is the second most visited city in the world
Paris is the second most visited city in the world and the most visited city in Europe!
Paris will grab your attention with its classic architecture, arched Parisian bridges and elegant boulevards.
Cruise along the Seine for a quick tour of the city’s historic monuments, or visit the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and more in various neighborhoods.
As a full-fledged art and fashion capital, visitors cannot fail to visit the collections of the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. Atmospheric bookstores, antique shops and flea markets have left their mark alongside Art Nouveau department stores such as Galleries Lafayette.
To immerse yourself in this beautiful city from the comfort of your sofa, choose any of the photo albums below. They all contain stunning photos that are sure to surprise and delight you!
3. London – 19.09 million visitors
London is clearly one of the most popular cities in the world! London’s Gothic architecture is matched with a splash of innovation such as The Shard, Tate Modern and the Hanging Gardens to provide a grand historic district.
You’ll be captivated by bistros and the entire West End, and be impressed by London’s contemporary art, theatre and literature.
The city greets you in the form of green park beauty and urban sprawl that will take you on an amazing historical journey.
Be sure to read our guide to all things London is famous for.
4. Dubai – 15.93 million tourists
Dubai rises from the desert in futuristic splendor.
High-rise buildings dominate the skyline, with large shopping malls and stylish office towers.
City life is defined by lazy shopping, performance venues, peaceful places of worship and beautiful rooftop terraces.
On the edge is the beach, and nature contrasts with the man-made aquarium and botanical garden.
Of course, you can sign up for a desert tour, experience a camel ride, or fly down the dunes on a quad.
5. Singapore – 14.67 million tourists
Green and innovative, Singapore is a city designed with the future in mind.
Jump from attraction to attraction with its efficient transportation system, from neighborhoods in Little India to Chinatown.
From hawker centers to street markets to fine dining restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice with multi-national cuisine – Singapore is a must-see for foodies.
When you’re not busy eating, you’ll bask in the Orchard Road luxury shopping mall or explore the famous Botanic Gardens.
6. Kuala Lumpur – 13.79 million tourists
Open up your senses and absorb the energy of Kuala Lumpur!
Thanks to the multicultural mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, the city has mosques and temples that stand out from gleaming skyscrapers.
This celebration of history and modernity is also reflected in the contrasting high-fashion malls and vibrant street markets.
Spend your holiday hunting for designer brands, finding the best hawker stalls, and getting the best of both worlds.
7. New York – 13.6 million tourists
New York, or the city of dreams!
Follow the city’s grid-like design and find private art galleries and the world-famous Met, MoMA and Guggenheim on the streets. Independent bookstores, brightly lit Chinatowns, upscale boutiques and trendy cafes lead to grand office buildings and a massive Central Park.
Enjoy a sumptuous show on Broadway or dine at rooftop restaurants and bistros. New York is a metropolis that excites you.
8. Istanbul – 13.4 million tourists
Istanbul is a treasure trove of history and its strategic location has seen many ruling empires.
Dating back to the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, and finally the Ottomans, the city is adorned with Byzantine churches and royal mosques.
In recent decades, the skyline has seen sharp peaks as galleries, museums and tall office buildings have grown alongside older buildings.
Tourists also praised Istanbul for its culinary diversity, which combines Asian and European flavors. But local kebabs and mezze are preferred.
9. Tokyo – 12.93 million tourists
If there is a city in the future, it is Tokyo!
Clean streets, chromed skyscrapers, and ever-moving crowds keep Tokyo running 24/7.
Smart electronics and convenient technology set an incredibly high standard of living.
Amid the neon signs and flashy urban sprawl, however, are pockets of greenness and spirit; Tokyo remembers its past fondly. Visit the Edo-style streets and peaceful Meiji Shrine of Yane-mae.
To experience Tokyo, check out hip cafés and daring boutiques, and look for underground restaurants, lazy neighborhoods, and hidden shrines.
10. Antalya – 12.41 million tourists
Set off to stunning Antalya, a trendy city on the Turkish Riviera.
Combining the Mediterranean coastline with the well-preserved old town of Maleic, Antalya is a romantic getaway.
Stroll around the city, look for beautifully restored Ottoman houses, and stop by the port.
With the breath of the sea, explore Sunna and Inanchirakkaleci Museum or Antalya Museum and walk along the memory trail.
11. Seoul – 11.25 million tourists
Seoul Temple, South Korea
Seoul is constantly escalating with new trends – in fact, it’s a popular holiday destination.
The city is a youth-centric hub that attracts K-pop fans and fashion gurus with its promise of cultural events, idol viewing and shopping.
But don’t just spend time browsing the shops and grabbing a late-night snack; Seoul has plenty of monuments to see.
Visit the palace of the traditional Handbook and delve into the outdated market for another piece of the puzzle
12. Osaka – 10.14 million tourists
If fast-paced Tokyo isn’t your thing, head to hospitable, sunny Osaka.
Osaka, the gateway to Kyoto and Kobe, is a cultural hub that is both a heritage site and a commercial pleasure.
Vibrant Dotonbori is never empty, with restaurants ranging from okonomiyaki to standing ramen stalls.
Adjacent Shinsaibashi is a few kilometers of boutiques, bookstores and sweet shops; malls are concentrated in Umea.
Osaka Castle and Tennoji are two of the many historic buildings, and Universal Studios Japan is a full-day distraction!
13. Mecca – 10 million tourists
The highly symbolic Mecca is the main pilgrimage destination for all Muslims.
As the city where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born, Mecca is a religious center with the holy Kaaba at its heart – the holiest city in Islam.
Only Muslims are allowed into this desert valley city dating back to the 7th century.
Visitors (millions every year) will find Mecca to be well-developed, with modern architecture centered around religious hotspots; by contrast, cozy dwellings sit on rocky hills to reflect its traditional nature.
14. Phuket – 9.89 million tourists
Phuket is a beach bliss and a karst island, including two national parks and too many islands to explore.
The range of beaches is spectacular, from part of the center of Paton to luxurious Suring and Au Bang Thao. Meanwhile, stunning coral reefs invite scuba divers and snorkeling groups to explore the sparkling waters of the Similan Islands.
You can also kayak into the lagoon of Au Phang-Nga and meander around the limestone karst.
Phuket Town also offers museums, cooking classes, Chinese shrines and wildlife sanctuaries to keep things fresh.
15. Pitaya – 9.44 million tourists
If you want the heat, head to touristy Pitaya for endless beach fun and a party-themed central area.
Of course, there are also Thailand’s amazing temples and shrines, but Pitaya is known for its seaside resorts.
Sign up for a busy city tour before settling down along the coast for more sun and relaxation. It’s a city that embraces a hedonistic attitude to the max.