There is no doubt the world is comprised of amazing, astounding countries. The majority of these countries and islands would attract millions of tourists every year who visit to marvel at both natural and manmade landmarks within their borders. While every country on the planet has its own gem, some countries are “blessed” more than others in terms of attractions, or maybe some countries market their tourism vigorously than others. Either way, travel data indicates that certain countries are visited more compared to others, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Based on that information, we have compiled the list of the most visited countries in the world. We have had the pleasure of visiting a number of these countries; therefore, we will include our personal experiences as well.
10 most visited countries in the world
1 France | 90 million tourists
In 2019, around 90 million tourists visited France. This figure accounts for more than 10% of the total global tourist market in terms of incoming visitors, thus making it the most visited country in the world.
Thus is no fluke though, as France has been topping the list of the top tourist destination in the world for years now with fascinating French Landmarks like Tower Eiffel, or the Louvre biggest Museum in the world
Having visited the country, it is no surprise that it is the most visited country. France is simply one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, if not the most beautiful. Paris, its capital, is one of the most visited cities in the world, while the southern coasts are also tourist hotspots all year-round.
France also has plenty to offer culture lovers and food lovers. French food is simple and delicious.
The country has a variety of sea, sun, and mountains that even French people would shun traveling abroad and instead travel within their own country.
Another reason why France appeals to millions of visitors could be its coincidental geographical location. When you look at the number of tourists visiting the country, the majority of them come from within Europe. This is because it is quite easy to access France from most European countries by train, road, or air, and also located at the intersections between Southern and Northern Europe. The Alps prevents easy access to South and North Europe, so many tourists usually end up staying in France rather than going around the natural barrier.
The Louvre, which is the biggest museum in the world, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Millau Viaduct, Mont Blanc, and Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, are just a few of the landmarks that draw visitors to France.
Read Facts about Eifel Tower and Landmarks in France here.
2 Spain | 83 million
Located in Southwestern Europe, Spain receives an average of 83 million visitors every year, making it the second most visited country on the planet. Its Mediterranean shoreline is one area that draws a lot of visitors compared to other parts of the country.
The Kingdom of Spain has a total of 47 UNESCO world heritage sites, amazing Spanish Landmarks as well as numerous golden beaches both on the Mediterranean and Atlantic, beautiful cities, and numerous festivals throughout the year, that attract people from all corners of the globe.
Spain’s gastronomy, which is considered 100 percent Mediterranean, is also one of the reasons the country lures in millions of tourists. The Spanish have a distinct taste for excellent cuisine, particularly in the major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia, where you will find numerous restaurants adorned with the esteemed Michelin Star.
Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain and one of the most visited in the world. The city is synonymous with some authentic architecture and urban museums where you can find some of the oldest structures in the country’s history well-preserved.
Spain is also a country with leisure and entertainment options practically everywhere you turn. Destinations like the Canary Islands and Ibiza are famous worldwide and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every month.
Spain has the highest number of mountains and Alps in Europe; thus, it is also an excellent destination for winter sports. There numerous first-class ski resorts across the country including La Masella, La Molina, and the Pyrenees.
Segrada Familia is the most visited landmark in the city of Barcelona, but there are plenty of things to do across Spain.
3 The United States |79.26 million visitors
The United States is a vast country with a huge population. It is like 50 countries in one actually, since each country-size state has its unique attractions. Everyone dreams of visiting the US not only for vacation but to relocate there for good.
It has everything in terms of landscape, architecture, culture, and climate.
Of the 50 states, California is the most visited and one of the richest states in the US. According to data, New York City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Washington, Anaheim, Chicago, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Anaheim are among the most visited cities in the US.
Covering approximately 3.79 million square miles, it is practically impossible to explore the whole of the United States.
In terms of natural wonders, we recommend visiting the Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks. The country is also not short of breathtaking road trips.
The Freedom Trail in Boston is also one of the top tourist attractions in the United States. The 2.5-mile red-brick path goes through 16 historic landmarks including the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill. This is a must-visit for those looking to learn about the history of America.
4 China | 63 million visitors
China has is tied with Italy as countries with the most number of UNESCO world heritage sites with 55. It is not hard to see how more than 60 million people visit China every year, with its ancient cities, beautiful landscapes, and amazing cuisine.
Speaking of landscapes, China has diverse land, with the desert in the west, grassland in the north, the ocean in the east, mountains in the south, and plain in the center.
Great mountains such as Mount Emei, Yellow Mountain, Mount Huashan, and Everest compete for the attention of tourists. They are great destinations for climbers, hikers, and stunning views. Calm rivers with amazing sceneries like the Yangtze River and Li River are also tourist magnate and best for cruising. To top it all, there are also attractive lakes such as West Lake and Qinghai Lake, which offers places for serenity and nature photos.
China has a very long history and rich culture that attracts people from across the globe. In fact, the country is usually referred to as Four Ancient Civilizations. It has a history of more than 5000 years, which can be learned by taking historical and cultural tours. Generally, historical and cultural spots and attractions in China can be grouped into ancient towns, water towns, and gigantic structures.
Ancient towns that tend to draw tourists include Lijiang Ancient Town, Pingyao Ancient City, Wuzhen Ancient Town, Dali Ancient Town, Xitang Ancient Town, and many others and they are places where you can find old buildings and courtyard houses. Water towns, on the other hand, were built along rivers and they include Tongli Water Town, Zhouzhuang Water Town as well as Zhujiajiao Water Town. For gigantic structures, we have the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Mogao Grottoes, Terracotta Warriors, and Temple of Heaven.
China is also a budget-friendly destination in terms of accommodation and transportation, thanks to its modern infrastructure.
Last but not least, one of the first things people think of when visiting China is the food. Chinese food is known worldwide, and chances are you might have already tested it somewhere else outside China.
5 Italy | 62 million visitors
Italy is one of the most blessed countries in the world in terms of natural beauty and iconic landmarks. It has a record 55 World Heritage sites, which is joint highest with China. Italy’s attractions are centred on its historic cities including Venice, Rome, Naples, and Milan.
Generally, food, history, wine, lakes, ancient monoliths, mountains, and beaches are what attract visitors to Italy. Every region in Italy is unique and has its own sets of attractions and cuisine.
The Roman ruins are some of the most visited sites in Italy. Most of them are found in the city of Rome; the most visited city and capital of Italy. But it is not just in Rome, as medieval cities such as Sicily, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Naples, and Venice all have collections of cultural heritage. The most common Roman ruins in Italy include the Pantheon, Colosseum, and Forum, all of which are located in Rome; and ancient city ruins such as Pompeii in Naples and Herculaneum.
Italian cities are also lovely among the reasons why tourists flock to Italy. Cities in Italy are some of the oldest in the world, which Rome being more than 2,700 years old. Tourists enjoy visiting cities such as Naples, Turin, Genoa, Florence, Palermo, Venice, Milan, Livorno, Cagliari, and Sienna, among others, for a cultural experience.
Besides the cities, villages in Italy are equally tantalizing. But if you are time-bound, you can easily miss these real gems of Italy. There is no denying that cities in Italy are worth every penny, but for tranquillity, villages are equally must-visit. Tuscany is perhaps the most famous and classic of all regions.
Italy is also a treasure trove for natural lakes. In the northern parts of the country, you will find the famous lakes Como, Garda, and Maggiore. The largest lake in Italy is Trasimeno, which is also worth a visit.
What about the islands? Italy has over 450 islands that tourists like visiting, large and small, including river, sea, and lake islands.
Lastly, Italian cuisine is also one of the reasons people love visiting the country. I mean, it is where pizza was invented. Each region has its own distinct cuisine, including pizzas in Naples, Pasta and spaghetti in Tuscan, meat-based dishes in Lombardy, and Mediterranean flavor on the island of Sicily. Cuisine in Italy changes with the region, but they all maintain the same Italian character.
6 Turkey | 51.9 million visitors
Last year (2019), Turkey attracted a record number of visitors with more than 51 million tourists. This is a unique country in many ways.
For starters, it is one of the only two countries that are situated in Europe and Asia, the other one being Russia. Just like its geographical location, Turkey is a country of many facets – massive cosmopolitan cities, small charming villages, ancient empire ruins, clear waters, and tall mountains.
Turkey’s history of human civilization dates back 25,000 years and has seen empires such as the Hittites, Hellens, Byzantines, Romans, Ottomans, and Seljuks rise and fall, leaving behind plenty of historical sites.
Turkey is known for its beautiful beaches that tourists love visiting. Cities such as Antalya, Fethiye, and Izmir are known for having some of the most stunning beaches in the country, with a spectrum ranging from secluded coves to vibrant beach parties.
Turkish baths are also one of the items you will find on most travelers’ bucket lists. The hamam experience is a favorite among visitors in Turkey.
Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise across the river that separates Europe and Asia is also one of the most touristy things to do in Istanbul, as is a hot air balloon flight I Cappadocia.
7 Mexico | 49.6 million visitors
Mexico is in the top 10 list of the most visited countries in the world with 49.6 million visitors every year. Most of its visitors come from the United States, which is not surprising since the two countries share a border.
Mexicans are known for being very hospitable and friendly and are always willing to help. It doesn’t matter if you speak Spanish or not; you will feel right at home in Mexico.
For some reason, Tequila tastes better in Mexico than in any other place! The traditional booze heritage is adopted worldwide, and you can find mezcal, pulque, Jose Cuervo, and Corona at any party around the world.
It is also no secret that Mexico is also one of the most affordable tourist destinations, and even though prices are quite steep in touristy areas such as Baja California and Cancun, you will still get bang for your peso.
Mexican beaches are also among the best in the world!
8 Germany | 39 million visitors
Germany is known for its touristy cities and medieval castles. There is a charming blend of old world and modernity in this Western European country.
Unlike many of the countries on this list, Germany attracts most of its tourists through its year-round festivals including Christmas markets and beer festivals. But it is the Oktoberfest that accounts for a large percentage of the 39 million annual visitors.
It is also rich in historical attractions, with more than 42 UNESCO world heritage sites. The capital Berlin is known for its slice of German history with the infamous Berlin Wall as well as the arch of Unter den Linden and a park called Tiergarten.
Tourists also seem to enjoy how it usually gets dark in Germany during winter.
Some of the best things to do in Germany include a tour of the Munich old town, taking the Berlin Wall bike tour, going for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, attending crazy Oktoberfest, and visiting Rhine Valley.
9 Thailand | 38 million visitors
For many years, Thailand has been among the most visited countries in the world. There are plenty of reasons why people love this exotic destination, including its tranquil beaches, incredible cuisine, magnificent temples and landscapes, traditional and archaeological landmarks, and colorful history.
According to records, however, most visitors to Thailand are attracted by its pristine beaches. The country is known all around the world for its paradisiacal islands with beautiful golden and silver beaches. Towns like Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Krabi, Phi Phi Island, and Phuket have world-class beaches that are usually crowded by foreigners.
Thai food is also a tourist magnet, and most of them can be sampled from the street stalls or family-own restaurants.
There are over 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand, each with a unique character. There are also thousands of Buddha statues, some that are in sleeping posture, others standing posture, while others are meditating.
Thailand also has a distinct variety of wildlife. Visitors can go whale watching in Koh Tao, visit Khao Sok National Park, or spend time with elephants at Elephant Hills.
10 The United Kingdom | 37.9 million visitors
Despite the ongoing Brexit, the United Kingdom is still revered by tourists from within Europe and across the world. Most people, however, rarely go beyond its iconic capital of London, even though the UK having plenty to offer on its shores and beyond the cosmopolitan areas.
The United Kingdom has an extensive and enthralling history. There are loads of historic landmarks and buildings that tourists like to visit, including Alfred’s Tower, Abbotsbury Abbey, Antony House, and Amberley Castle, among others. Additionally, there are lots of world-class museums and galleries that offer knowledge in different areas of the kingdom.
The Scenery in the UK is also among the best in the world. That is one of the reasons many people like to visit the country on holiday every year. From the undulating hills of Wales to the Scottish highlands, every corner is a breathtaking landscape in that United Kingdom.
11 Japan | 31.9 million visitors
Receiving more than 31 million visitors each year, Japan is among the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. It offers a variety of distinct experiences that are hard to experience anywhere in the world. The culture in Japan is a mixture of Western modernity and Eastern traditions and is one of the oldest human civilizations.
The first thing you will notice about Japan is its natural beauty. Going beyond the modern cities, you will learn that the country is among the best natural landscapes in the world, with snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, and colorful foliage during winter.
Japan is also a shopper’s dream. The capital of Tokyo and other major cities around the country have world-class malls and shopping centers in addition to traditional markets.
There are also some beautiful ancient temples and Zen gardens to be explored.
12 Malaysia | 23.6 million visitors
Malaysia receives 23.6 annual visitors. The country is super-easy to explore, and many tourists find its diverse culture and rich history irresistible. Malaysia is a country with lots of natural attractions and numerous World Heritage sites such as Gunung Gading National Park, Batu Caves, and Malacca Christ Church.
As a tropical country, Malaysia experiences summer 365 days a year, making it an alternative haven to the bleak and cold European and North American winter days.
Another reason people love Malaysia is the fact that it is highly accessible from any of the Southeast Asian countries, especially Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. Also, traveling within and outside the country is cheap and easy.
13 The United Arabs Emirates | 21 million visitors
The UAE is one of the most visited countries in the Middle East attracting 21 million visitors every year, with Dubai accounting for more than half of that number.
Visitors can also visit all the seven Emirates in the UAE. Though many people usually visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are five other city-states worth your time.
- Emirates of Dubai
- Emirates of Abu Dhabi
- Emirate of Ajman: the smallest of the seven Emirates
- Emirate of Fujairah: located on the eastern edge of the country
- Emirate of Sharjah: the only Emirate along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
- Emirate of Ra’s al Khaymah: located on the northern edge of the country
- Emirate of Umm al-Quwain: it is the least populous city-state of the seven emirates.
After visiting all the seven city-states, you will realize that UAE has a lot more to offer than the imposing skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, and posh shopping malls of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The Most Visited Country in the World
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