The task of selecting the ideal vacation destination can be daunting given the multitude of captivating places across the globe. To aid in this decision-making process, U.S. News has compiled a list of the best places to visit worldwide. This list is based on a combination of expert opinions, reader preferences, current trends, and evaluations of factors such as sights, cultures, scenic beauty, food options, and more. You can use these recommendations to create your own travel bucket list, and don’t forget to cast your vote to help us develop next year’s list. (Please note: Before traveling, check the CDC and the U.S. Department of State for any relevant alerts. It is also recommended to have international travel insurance.)
South Island, New Zealand
#1 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The South Island of New Zealand is replete with magnificent vistas that are sure to take your breath away, ranging from stunning fjords to dramatic mountains. In this region, you can marvel at the mountain ranges of Fiordland National Park, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by hiking along trails or taking a boat ride on Milford Sound. By nightfall, take a trip to the Mount John Observatory at the University of Canterbury to stargaze at the celestial wonders above. If you’re seeking a thrill, venture to Queenstown (a favored destination for bungee jumpers), savor the delectable sauvignon blanc wine in Marlborough, or explore Franz Josef and Fox Glacier – the most accessible glaciers in New Zealand – located on the island’s west coast.
#2 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The enchanting City of Light is a magnetic draw for visitors hailing from all corners of the world who come to witness legendary landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe. However, what truly captures the hearts of travelers are the city’s charming cafes, lively markets, chic shopping districts, and intangible je ne sais quoi. Lose yourself in a maze of picturesque cobblestone streets or grab a croissant and unwind by the Seine for hours on end. For a quick day trip, make your way about 15 miles southwest of the city center to the Palace of Versailles, where guided and self-guided tours of the estate are available.
#3 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Maui, Hawaii offers a distinct tropical getaway, where you can embark on a drive along the scenic Road to Hana, witness breathtaking views of the island’s verdant coastline from a helicopter, snorkel with sea turtles, or simply unwind on white or black sand beaches. The island’s unique charm is further highlighted by a visit to Haleakala National Park, where one of the largest dormant volcanic craters in the world is located. Immerse yourself in local culture by attending a luau and indulging in Hawaiian delicacies such as poi, poke, and mahimahi.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
#4 in World’s Best Places to Visit
While small in size, this French Polynesian island is overflowing with captivating tropical beauty. With picturesque beaches, verdant jungles, and opulent resorts, visitors are sure to be enamored by the island’s allure. Take in the breathtaking sights of the island’s extinct volcano, Mount Otemanu, which offers a perfect photo opportunity or a challenging hiking expedition. Bora Bora’s amicable locals can also guide you on an off-road excursion to the island’s most magnificent destinations. For a peaceful respite, visit Matira Beach and soak in the crystalline waters and soft white sands. Although a trip to Bora Bora can be quite costly, most travelers attest that the experience is worth every penny.
#5 in World’s Best Places to Visit
If you’re yearning for a getaway spent luxuriating in an opulent overwater bungalow, plan a trip to the largest island in French Polynesia. But beyond the extravagant resorts, Tahiti offers a diverse range of attractions, including black and golden sand beaches, a lively capital city, and excellent snorkeling and surfing spots. For those seeking cultural immersion, the island’s ancient temples and traditional indoor markets are must-sees. To cut down on costs, consider renting a vacation property as there are plenty of charming bungalows and stylish condos available on the island.
#6 in World’s Best Places to Visit
London is a unique metropolis that offers an abundance of things to see and do. The diverse neighborhoods, featuring a mix of historical monuments and contemporary sights, can easily fill your itinerary for days. For first-time visitors, make sure to hit the must-see attractions such as the Tower of London, the Tate Modern art gallery, Buckingham Palace, Borough Market, and the British Museum. And after a busy day of sightseeing, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea or stop by a local pub. Although the warmer months are the best time to visit London, keep in mind that this is also peak season, resulting in crowds and higher prices.
#7 in World’s Best Places to Visit
During your visit to the Eternal City, make sure to visit the iconic attractions like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon, which should be on your must-see list. To explore more treasures, take a short trip to Vatican City and discover St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. If you want to avoid the crowds, take a twilight stroll through the charming streets of Trastevere or indulge in the local delicacies like pizza and gelato at Mercato Centrale Roma. Before departing, make sure to explore some of Rome’s hidden gems such as lesser-known museums, art galleries, and boutiques.
Turks & Caicos
#8 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The Turks and Caicos Islands, a group of approximately 100 islands and cays situated north of the Dominican Republic, are a popular destination for honeymooners due to their stunning natural beauty. With over 350 miles of vibrant coral reef, crystal-clear waters, and glistening white sand, the islands offer a picture-perfect view. Grace Bay Beach is a must-see, but visitors can also enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, and horseback riding along the coastline for a more adventurous experience.
#9 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Visiting Japan’s dynamic metropolis is an adventure in its own right. Tokyo, known for its lively streets and dazzling lights, exudes an electric vibe and offers a plethora of attractions to explore. Food enthusiasts will not be disappointed by the city’s mouth-watering sushi and satisfying ramen. Thrill-seekers and aspiring photographers alike will enjoy the sweeping views from the top of the Tokyo Skytree. Fashion lovers will find a haven of high-end designer goods in Ginza. And for those interested in history, Tokyo boasts ancient temples and shrines that are centuries old.
#10 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Reaching this remote and idyllic paradise in the Arabian and Laccadive Seas may not be easy or affordable, but it’s worth the effort. Comprised of over 1,000 islands, this South Asian destination offers thatched-roof bungalows perched above the turquoise sea, creating a romantic and serene atmosphere. Spend your days indulging in beach activities, spa treatments, or underwater adventures like snorkeling and scuba diving. If you’re craving a change of scenery, visit the capital city of Malé, where you can explore historic mosques and lively open-air markets.
#11 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Phuket, situated in southern Thailand, is a perfect destination for those who want to travel on a budget. Spa treatments, boat tours, and accommodations come at affordable prices. The island’s scenic beauty includes the spectacular limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay and stunning white-sand beaches, such as Freedom Beach and Bangtao Beach. Tourists should also visit Wat Chalong Temple and the Big Buddha, two popular attractions. Phuket’s vibrant nightlife scene provides an array of entertainment options after sunset.
#12 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Barcelona is a stunning Spanish city that offers a visual feast for visitors. In the Barri Gòtic, you can take a walk through medieval architecture, while the Basilica de la Sagrada Família is a must-see attraction for those who enjoy intricate designs. Another highlight is the whimsical creations of Antoni Gaudí in Park Güell. On a sunny day, head to Barceloneta beach or the Parc de la Ciutadella for some outdoor fun, before exploring the bustling restaurants and bars along Las Ramblas at night. To catch a breathtaking view of Barcelona, make your way up to Mount Tibidabo or the Bunkers del Carmel.
Glacier National Park
#13 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Snow-capped peaks and azure lakes are just two reasons why Glacier National Park is one of America’s most striking parks. There are more than 700 miles of hiking trails in this Montana park, plus 13 designated areas for camping. In the winter, travelers can enjoy snowshoeing and skiing, while during the summer vacationers can go swimming and whitewater rafting, among other popular activities. For those who’d rather admire their surroundings from their car, a scenic drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road can’t be missed.
#14 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Banff, a town in Alberta, offers an exciting vacation experience throughout the year with its acclaimed restaurants, breweries, boutiques, and art galleries. Tourists can enjoy activities such as hiking, relaxing in hot springs, and boating on scenic lakes. Banff is also strategically located within the Canadian Rockies, making it convenient for visitors to access Banff National Park, home to some of the world’s most stunning landscapes. Within the park, tourists can take in the panoramic views of the Bow Valley from the Banff Gondola or while skiing at any of the park’s three ski resorts.
Grand Canyon National Park
#15 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The Grand Canyon, which spans roughly 277 miles in length, 18 miles in width, and a mile in depth, offers a plethora of outdoor activities for visitors of all types, from those on a quick day trip to adrenaline-seeking adventurers. Take a hike along the park’s famous Rim and Bright Angel trails for awe-inspiring views, go on a whitewater rafting excursion down the Colorado River to cool off, or take a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of Arizona’s stunning landscapes. And for the most daring of adventurers, skydiving excursions above the canyon are also available.
#16 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Costa Rica, a Central American paradise, offers a diverse range of landscapes including volcanic mountains, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and expansive shorelines. Visitors can enjoy the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, trek along the Arenal Volcano and discover rare wildlife in the remote Tortuguero National Park. For thrill-seekers, there’s the option of swimming near the country’s waterfalls or zip-lining through its lush rainforests. Be sure to visit during the dry season from mid-December to April to make the most of your experience.
#17 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Tranquil temples and picturesque beaches are the main attractions of this verdant Indonesian haven. And when we say verdant, we mean it – it’s best to avoid the region’s famously damp wet season by scheduling your trip between April and October. Add some variety to your beach holiday with a trip to the village of Kintamani, where you can witness a towering (and active) volcano, as well as a large lake. If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, rent a scooter and zip around the island, or try one of Bali’s many swings to fly above rice terraces and jungles.
New York City
#18 in World’s Best Places to Visit
There’s never a shortage of urban adventures in New York City. Take a stroll through the expansive Central Park, explore the art exhibits at the Met, watch a Broadway show or indulge in shopping at stylish boutiques in SoHo. After the sun goes down, enjoy the stunning views of Manhattan’s shimmering skyscrapers from the Empire State Building or a trendy rooftop bar. With countless restaurant options, foodies will have a field day in the Big Apple. And if you want to taste a bit of everything, why not join a food tour?
#19 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Visiting the “Lost City of the Incas” is a demanding but transformative journey (once you adjust to the altitude). While the rigorous four-day hike along the Inca Trail may be challenging, past visitors say that reaching the Peruvian site at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. Alternatively, you can take a PeruRail train to the mountain base for an easier ascent to the top.
#20 in World’s Best Places to Visit
In addition to iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney offers much more. This city in Australia has a warm and sunny climate that is perfect for unwinding or surfing on internationally renowned beaches like Coogee, Bondi, and Manly. Sydney is also known for hosting a variety of seasonal events, such as concerts and food festivals. For a comprehensive understanding of the city’s history and culture, be sure to visit museums like the Hyde Park Barracks and the Australian Museum during your stay.
#21 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Dubai, situated on the Persian Gulf, offers a multitude of experiences for visitors. Marvel at the world-renowned architectural wonders like the Burj Khalifa, enjoy indoor skiing at Ski Dubai, or shop at the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. But Dubai also has a rich cultural heritage, showcased in areas like the Bastakiya Quarter and the traditional Gold and Spice souks. Take a break from the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and relax on one of its sandy beaches, including Jumeirah Public Beach, Sunset Beach or Al Mamzar Beach Park.
#22 in World’s Best Places to Visit
This Caribbean getaway is a perfect mix of luxury and adventure, attracting both romantics and thrill-seekers. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you can bask in the sun on the island’s pristine beaches, such as Reduit Beach or Anse Chastanet. But if you crave excitement, you can challenge yourself by climbing the Pitons or ziplining through the rainforest in Chassin. Although the peak tourist season runs from December to April, which can be pricier, you can still enjoy great weather and reduced accommodation rates if you visit between May and June.
Great Barrier Reef
#23 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, boasts breathtaking scenery. With over 600 islands and more than 1,500 fish species, this Australian attraction offers plenty of opportunities for diving and snorkeling along Queensland’s coast. For a quieter experience, head to the Whitsunday Islands. Don’t forget to take a flightseeing tour to admire the reef from above.
#24 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Florence is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The city boasts an impressive collection of world-renowned landmarks, including the Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo, and Piazza della Signoria. For those interested in art, Florence’s art-focused museums such as the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze and the Uffizi Gallery are a must-see. In addition to exploring the city’s architecture and art, visitors can indulge in authentic Tuscan cuisine and wine at the many charming cafes, gelato shops, and restaurants throughout Florence. A stroll across the Ponte Vecchio bridge leads to the famous Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, where visitors can enjoy the stunning views, fountains, and meticulously landscaped green spaces.
#25 in World’s Best Places to Visit
This Greek island is often recommended as one of the best honeymoon destinations, with its stunning sunsets, charming pastel villages, and picturesque beaches. For history enthusiasts, Santorini offers fascinating archaeological sites such as Ancient Thira and Ancient Akrotiri. Wine lovers can indulge in central Santorini’s wine tours, while adventurous travelers can hike along the caldera’s rim before enjoying a delicious meal in scenic Amoudi Bay. Alternatively, take a leisurely boat ride to the nearby island of Thirassia for a relaxing day trip.
Yellowstone National Park
#26 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Yellowstone National Park, spread across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, is considered a must-visit destination for Americans, offering awe-inspiring views of nature’s wonders. Don’t miss the vibrant Grand Prismatic Spring, the reliable Old Faithful geyser, or the opportunity to observe bison in the Lamar and Hayden valleys. Relax with a picnic by the serene Yellowstone Lake or choose to spend a night under the stars at one of the park’s 12 campgrounds to immerse yourself in nature.
Yosemite National Park
#27 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Every year, countless tourists journey to California’s Yosemite National Park to marvel at the stunning natural wonders such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Admire the panoramic views from Glacier Point and Tunnel View overlooks. To avoid the crowds looking for the perfect photo opportunity, hit the hiking trails early in the day. Those who are keen to learn more about the park’s history and culture can visit educational centers like the Yosemite Museum and the Indian Village of the Ahwahnee. For a budget-friendly experience, consider camping in the park (just make sure to book your spot well ahead of time).
Rio de Janeiro
#28 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Rio de Janeiro is a must-visit destination thanks to its iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and its stunning beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema. The city is also renowned for its lively samba music scene, which can be enjoyed in the Lapa neighborhood or after wandering the charming cobblestone streets of Santa Teresa. If you’re looking to experience the world-famous Carnival, plan your trip for February, but be prepared for higher flight and hotel prices during this popular event.
#29 in World’s Best Places to Visit
The Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly one of the world’s most breathtaking destinations. This region situated on the southern coast of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula comprises 13 charming towns carved into seaside cliffs. In addition to the picturesque fishing villages, there are luxurious hotels and resorts as well as a variety of delicious Italian cuisine and wine, ranging from rustic to gourmet. Take a boat trip to the nearby island of Capri to enjoy a scenic and peaceful day trip, where you can marvel at natural wonders such as the Blue Grotto and the Augustus Gardens.
#30 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is considered the largest waterfall on the planet. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa, visitors can witness the stunning falls from Knife Edge Bridge or Livingstone Island. For the more adventurous, helicopter tours and whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River offer breathtaking views. The daring can also take a dip in Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool right on the edge of the falls.