May 15, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Most Visited Countries in the World


Where is everyone going for vacation?

International travel took a dip during the 2020-21 global health crisis and although it hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels just yet, we have certainly seen some recovery.

tourists split image

Data and Ranking

We went digging for current statistics on how the global tourism economy has been recovering over the last few years, and which countries rank in the top 10 for most visited destinations in the world. 

Person Pointing On Statistics on Laptopfauxels, Pexels

International Travelers

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, in 2019, about 1.5 billion people traveled internationally. Based on annual trends for the years prior, it was assumed that travel would see a growth of 3-4% in 2020.

But we all know that didn’t happen.

Person Holding World GlobePorapak Apichodilok, Pexels

Tourism During the Pandemic

UN Tourism reported a significant decrease in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 381 million people traveling internationally.

Most of those people were essential workers, or traveled in the short months before the restrictions took hold.

Woman Sitting on LuggageAnna Shvets, Pexels

A Comeback in 2022

Restrictions in some places lasted a full two years, or more. But in 2022, international tourism saw a stronger than expected result, with over 900 million travelers—double those in 2021, but still 37% fewer in 2019.

Photo of People in AirportConnor Danylenko, Pexels

Europe

According to UN Tourism, Europe, the world’s largest destination region, recorded 585 million arrivals in 2022 to reach nearly 80% of pre-pandemic levels (-21% over 2019).

People Walking on the HallwayDaniele Gambero, Pexels

The Middle East

The Middle East enjoyed the strongest relative increase across regions in 2022 with arrivals climbing to 83% of pre-pandemic numbers (-17% versus 2019), UN Tourism reports.

The Thailand Pavilion in DubaiMaram, Pexels

Forecasting

With numbers increasing all over the globe, experts assumed international travel in 2023 would be even better—but still not return to 2019 levels until 2024 or later.

Were they right?

Elderly Woman in Brown Blazer Holding a Notebook while ThinkingPavel Danilyuk, Pexels

Tourism in 2023

According to the first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of the year, international tourism ended 2023 at 88% of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals—making an impressive recovery.

People Taking Pictures during DaytimeTim Gouw, Pexels

Recovery Within Reach

The 2023 numbers almost reached those of 2019, which is a significant increase from the pandemic years, and sets the stage for a full recovery in 2024.

Tourist Couple Crossing a StreetBrian Jiz, Pexels

2023 Tourism Levels: Middle East

The Middle East led recovery in relative terms as the only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels above 2019.

Woman Taking Pictures of RuinsHaley Black, Pexels

2023 Tourism Levels: Africa & Europe

Africa came in close reaching 96% of 2019 levels, with Europe following at 94%, and the Americas reaching 90%.

It’s expected that 2024 will surpass 2019 levels in all regions.

Two Women Wearing Yellow and Purple Headscarf Standing Near A Blue Land RoverDenys Gromov, Pexels

The 10 Most Visited Countries

Now that we know travel will peak once again, where is everyone going?

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s most recent data, these are the 10 most visited countries in the world—using inbound tourism figures from 2022.

Woman In Yellow Outfit Holding A Yellow BinocularsKoolShooters, Pexels

10. Austria

International tourist arrivals: 26.2 million

Austria is known for its rich culture, especially its art and music scene. The Cultural World Heritage Site of Schönbrunn Palace is Austria's most frequently visited tourist attraction.

Schonbrunn Palace GardenEliska Trnavska, Pexels

Vienna, Austria

Vienna stands as one of the top places for tourists all throughout the year, helping double tourism numbers over recent years.

People Walking in Old Town in Viennairenefilms, Pexels

9. Greece

International tourist arrivals: 27.8 million

Greece’s cultural heritage and scenic beauty have earned it a top spot for tourism. With 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and beautiful coastlines, it’s no wonder tourism has far exceeded pre-pandemic figures.

People Exploring Ruins in AthensDenis Zagorodniuc, Pexels

Athens & Santorini

The capital of Greece is not only the most visited place in the country but also one of the most visited places in the world.

Santorini is the most popular Greek island.

Landscape View of Santorini - Greece during Day TimePixabay, Pexels

8. Germany

International tourist arrivals: 28.5 million

Surveys reveal that 75% of tourists choose Germany for the cultural experience, and 59% are attracted to the outdoor landscapes and cities.

The Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, GermanyAlesia Kozik, Pexels

Berlin & Bavaria

Berlin is Germany’s largest and most visited city. However, Bavaria had a whopping 100 million overnight stays in 2019, making it a close second for most popular tourist destination in Germany.

Tourists Standing Near Brandenburg Gate in BerlinAnn Buht, Pexels

7. United Kingdom

International tourist arrivals: 30.7 million

The UK ranks 10th as most popular tourist destinations with over 40.1 million visitors in 2019, pre-pandemic.

The UK is known all over the world for its love of sports and literature, along with its diverse culture and mix of different generations.

Red Telephone Booth - EnglandBurst, Pexels

London, England

London is the capital city of the UK and attracts millions of tourists each year. It is also the largest city of both England and the UK.

Image of London ,UKPixabay, Pexels

6. Mexico

International tourist arrivals: 38.3 million

Mexico consistently ranks among the world’s top tourist destinations, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Not only is Mexico rich in history, culture and natural beauty, but its tropical resorts cater to a diverse range of people from spring breakers to families and seniors.

People in Front of the Building in Mexico.Rafael Guajardo, Pexels

Mexico City

Mexico is filled with popular destinations, but Mexico City—the capital and the largest city of Mexico—is one of the most important cultural and financial centers of the world.

Cancun, Acapulco, and Guadalajara are among other popular cities for tourists.

Acapulco (Mexico) - 2008yosuke, Flickr

5. Italy

International tourist arrivals: 49.8 million

There is no shortage of reasons why Italy remains one of the most popular destinations in the world. From its beloved cuisine to its 58 World Heritage Sites, this enchanting country deserves its spot in the list.

Man Standing in Downtown MilanRiccardo, Pexels

Rome, Italy

Rome, the capital of Italy, is the 3rd most visited city in Europe, and a top visited city worldwide too, thanks to its invaluable artistic and cultural heritage.

The Colosseum, RomePixabay, Pexels

4. Türkiye

International tourist arrivals: 50.5 million

With a surge in culture, spa, and healthcare tourism, Türkiye has been climbing the ranks for several years now, making its way to third in the upcoming 2023 ranks.

Beautiful Brunette Woman Taking Photo on Bridge in IstanbulAhmed ツ, Pexels

Istanbul, Türkiye

Istanbul is one of the most important tourist spots not only in Turkey but also in the world.

In fact, in 2023 it ranked as the most visited city in the entire world with more than 20 million people.

Sultan Ahmet Camii, İstanbul, Türkiye - 2014Gian Cornachini, Pexels

3. United States

International tourist arrivals: 50.9 million

As one of the largest countries in the world, the U.S. boasts an unparalleled diversity of culture and geography, making it a top international tourist destination.

People Across on Intersection in USAVlad Alexandru Popa, Pexels

New York, USA

New York remains America’s most visited city with 7 million visitors annually. In fact, Times Square (in New York) is the most visited tourist site in the entire U.S. as well, with about 50 million visitors annually.

Busy Street at Times Square in New York CityJose Francisco Fernandez Saura, Pexels

2. Spain

International tourist arrivals: 71.7 million

Spain is a popular tourist hotspot for many reasons, including its rich history, vibrant culture and affordability. Visitors rave about the authentic cuisine and traditional festivals.

Casa del Guarda in Park Guell, Barcelona, SpainMehmet Turgut Kirkgoz, Pexels

Madrid, Spain

Madrid was the most visited city destination in Spain in 2022, having welcomed nearly 8.6 million overnight visitors.

Puerta de Alcala in MadridKai Lago, Pexels

1. France

International tourist arrivals: 79.4 million

France takes first place as the most popular tourist destination in the world.

Home of the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris and the exquisite French Riviera, France is also known for its mountains, wineries, famous scenes and dramatic coastlines.

Crowded Street With Cars Along Arc De Triomphe in France.Pixabay, Pexels

Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower is inseparably linked to both France and the city of Paris, and attracted 5.9 million visitors in 2022.

People Dining at Eiffel Tower - ParisLes Anderson lesanderson, Wikimedia Commons


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