Among the world’s many interesting destinations, a number of countries constantly rank at the top of the must-visit lists for a number of reasons. Whether for a cultural hotspot or a unique nature reserve, the following countries attract the most visitors every year.
As of 2019, the World Tourism Organisation had France as the top country, with 89 million visitors having come to see its sights.
Let’s have a look at the most visited countries in the world and their top attractions!
List of World’s Most Visited Countries
Not only is France a cultural attraction for its art and museums, but it is also a very vast country with diverse landscapes, coastlines worth exploring, and something for pretty much any visitor.
Of course, Paris is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in the world, with millions of tourists coming to see the Tour Eiffel, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Beyond that, Paris attracts with its multiple other museums and art galleries, with its culinary destinations, and with its many sporting events centered around the city of light (such as the Tour de France which finishes on the famous Champs-Elysées every year, The Six Nations Rugby Tournament, and many more). This makes France the most visited country in the world with 89 million visotors every year.
Beyond Paris, however, France has top skiing destinations in the resorts in the Alps, which are also very crowded in the summer when hikers and runners come to explore the gorgeous mountain paths, alongside climbers, mountain bikers, kayakers etc.
The coast is also a massive attraction, France offering the beautiful riviera with places such as Nice and Cannes taking the fancy of those looking to spot celebrities or just to catch some sun.
And let’s not go into the other city destinations such as Lyon, Bordeaux or Marseille, the chateaux in the Loire Valley, the gorges of Cevennes National Park, the Volvic volcanic region, the Pyrenees on the Spanish border… No wonder so many people visit France, given how much there is to see and do!
Tourism contributes nearly 11% to Spain’s GDP and is a major sector for employment in this country, which in 2018 tied for second-most visited country with the USA.
Like France, Spain presents an excellent combination of cultural and outdoor adventure destinations, as well as a great place to visit for sporting events and for beach holidays. Spain’s great weather and beautiful beaches attract millions of tourists to its Mediterranean coast, but it also includes the Canary Islands which offer a wondefrul sunny destination all year round. For museums and art galleries, the main cities of Madrid and Barcelona are unmatched, as are some smaller gems such as Bilbao, a world-renowned centre for modern art.
Food is also a big driver of tourism in Spain. Its northern region is particularly famous for food lovers, with San Sebastian attracting huge numbers of food tourists with its fancy restaurants every year. Finally, popular festivals like the Carnival or the running of bulls in Pamplona are also major tourist magnets.
3. United States of America
The US receives anywhere between 80 and 83 million visitors every year, making it one of the countries with the most visitors. There are massive global attractions drawing the crowds, such as New York City for popular culture and shopping, or Las Vegas for the overall entertainment opportunities.
Beyond the big cities, the US national parks are unique and iconic. Visitors flock to Yellowstone and Yosemite to be in awe of the natural beauty. What is special about the US destinations is their accessibility to all ages and skill levels: you can drive through the national parks and enjoy fantastic views even if you cannot hike or climb to more remote parts of them.
Diversity is also key to why the US attracts so many visitors: from the nature destinations to beaches of Hawaii or artsy cities like Seattle, it has something for everyone. Movie lovers can revisit iconic sets from their favourite films on the Atlantic coast or in the Big Apple, or you can go skiing and climbing in some of the best resorts.
The multitude of exciting destinations in China make it the fourth most visited country in the world with 63 million visitors.
Beyond the Great Wall of China, the Three Gorges, the Forbidden City and the Five Sacred Mountains, China is a great destination of leisure cruises and culinary tours too. Moreover, Hong Kong which is now part of China is also a huge tourist attraction with its combination of city-state high-tech appeal next to the lush green mountains.
Another European powerhouse when it comes to tourism is Italy. In fact, Italy is on so many bucket lists – from art lovers to alpinists, skiers and riviera loungers alike.
The top attractions are the art and architecture havens of Rome and Florence, followed by Milan, where you can feast your eyes on the most gorgeous art collections and learn about Roman history through to the Renaissance and today. Places like Venice and Verona are laden with romanticism and attract millions of couples every year. Then, tourists can go on wine and food tours in Tuscany – a region that’s been made popular by so many films and references in popular culture.
For the beach lovers, the Mediterranean coast surrounding Italy is an unending source of wonderful destinations, with the Amalfi coast being the best known.
The north of Italy has the mountainous landscape drawing in hikers, runners, and skiers, while the south exhibits a multitude of unique destinations too, drawn from history and cultural heritage. Italy consistently tops the must-see destinations of all publications, and for good reason.
We end our list of most visited countries with Turkey. For sun lovers looking for good value for money, Turkey is an excellent beach-side destination. Apart from its Mediterranean resorts, Turkey also attracts with its blend of culture and civilizations, and nowhere else is this as intriguing as in Istanbul. Turkey has c. 46 million visitors every year.
There you have it – the most visited countries in the world are tourist magnets indeed, where culture and leisure combine to offer fantastic holidays.
I hope that this article on most visited countries was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!