World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

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A Family Travel Blog

The Best Countries to Visit (Our 20 Favorite Countries Ranked)

By Eric Stoen on May 13, 2020 • Last Updated July 7, 2024 This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure here .

Rating Every Country We’ve Traveled To

During the COVID-19 shutdown we were at home and looking for ways to stay entertained, so I asked my wife and kids to rate every country they’ve been to from 1 to 10. I added in my votes and ranked every country that had at least two votes. The goal: come up with a list of the best countries to visit, at least from our experience.

Everyone could vote based on any criteria. In general the ratings were consistent from person to person, but there were some definite outliers – places where one person remembered things differently than the others. In a family of five, you can’t always keep everyone happy. We had some fun discussions when people disagreed!

Our Top 20 Countries (the 20 Best Countries to Visit)

In order to give you family travel ideas, here are our top 20 countries to travel to. Keep in mind that at the time we created this list our girls were 10 and 14 and our son was 12, and they had been to 62 countries. We split our travels between cities and nature and add in frequent cultural activities and cooking classes. We don’t go to a lot of museums or concentrate on history. Likewise we don’t spend full days at the beach or shopping.

Five continents are represented in our top 20. Australia came in at number 21, and our top African country is the Seychelles at 29.

Note that I’m including the average score after every destination.

20. The Netherlands (7.3)

Favorite countries - Netherlands - Keukenhof Gardens outside Amsterdam

Favorite Places: Amsterdam, the Keukenhof Gardens and the tulip fields throughout the country in the spring.

Relevant Blog Posts: None. Amsterdam is usually a 1-2 day layover for us, although even 8-hour layovers allow you to get a good feel for the city. We love Amsterdam but I’ve never written about it.

19. Chile (7.4)

Patagonia with kids - Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park

Favorite Places: Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and Easter Island. Santiago is fun for a day or two as well.

Relevant Blog Posts: Spring Break in Patagonia | Chile’s Atacama Desert with Kids | Easter Island with a 6-Year-Old

15 (tie). Antarctica (7.5)

Antarctica with Kids: Kayaking in Antarctica

Favorite Places: Antarctica isn’t, strictly speaking, a country, but it’s an amazing place to visit with or without kids. We’ve taken our kids at 8 and 12 and loved everything about it.

Relevant Blog Posts: Antarctica with an 8-Year-Old ; Adventures By Disney Antarctica: A Magical Expedition ; An Antarctica Packing List

15 (tie). Indonesia (7.5)

Bali with Kids - Swinging!

Favorite Places: Indonesia is mainly about Bali for us, since my daughters love the island, but Borobudur is amazing as well. We want to keep exploring.

Relevant Blog Posts: Bali with Kids | How to Visit Borobudur

15 (tie). Norway (7.5)

Disney port excursions - Running around Bergen (literally)

Favorite Places: We love Oslo and Bergen, especially in the summer, and the Norway in a Nutshell tour is a great way to travel between them. The fjords are gorgeous as well, and Tromsø in the arctic circle is a good way to experience the midnight sun.

Relevant Blog Post: Oslo with Kids . Most of my Norwegian travels were pre-kids and I haven’t written about them.

15 (tie). Sweden (7.5)

Sweden with kids - Loved the reflections

Favorite Places: Stockholm and Gothenburg are both great cities to explore for a few days, but we love the coastal towns and the forests of Central Sweden.

Relevant Blog Posts: Exploring the Magical Forests of Central Sweden | The Icebug Xperience West Coast Trail

14. Turkey (7.6)

Best counties to visit - Turkey - Overlooking Cappadocia

Favorite Places: Istanbul and Cappadocia. And we loved our day on a gulet near Bodrum.

Relevant Blog Posts: Istanbul with Kids | An Amazing Trip to Cappadocia with Kids | Bodrum with Kids

13. Switzerland (7.7)

Lake Lugano at sunrise

Favorite Places: My wife and I have traveled all over Switzerland pre-marriage and loved all of the small towns – places like Interlaken, Crans-Montana and Luzern – and I recently hiked and biked from Engelberg to Interlaken. With the kids we’ve only explored Zurich on layovers and Lake Lugano on a day trip from Como. Definitely one of the best countries to visit – we just need to plan more Swiss trips with the kids.

Relevant Blog Post: Hiking in Switzerland: Engelberg to Interlaken

12. The Maldives (7.8)

Six Senses Laamu

Favorite Places: Six Senses Laamu in the Laamu Atoll.

Relevant Blog Posts: Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives: Our New Favorite Resort Anywhere | A Return to Paradise

11. Canada (7.9)

Winnipeg Manitoba - Loved watching these two playing/wrestling from below

Favorite Places: Vancouver, Banff and Winnipeg and the surrounding areas. Victoria on Vancouver Island is fun as well.

Relevant Blog Post: Manitoba, Canada with Kids . All of our other Canada trips were before I started writing about our travels.

10. Croatia (8.0)

Best family holidays Europe - Croatia - Plitvice Lakes National Park is stunning!

Favorite Places: Zagreb and Plitvice National Park. We still need to get to Krka National Park and Dubrovnik.

Relevant Blog Posts: Croatia With Kids: Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes

9. Brazil (8.3)

Amazon Rain Forest with Kids - Mirante do Gavião

Favorite Places: The Amazon Rainforest and the Rio Negro. Manaus is worth a day or two as well. We haven’t been to Rio yet.

Relevant Blog Posts: The Amazon Rainforest with Kids: A Magical (Unplugged) Expedition

7 (tie). Laos (8.5)

Best countries to visit - Laos - At the top of Phousi Mountain in Luang Prabang, Laos

Favorite Places: We’ve only been to Luang Prabang and loved it. We need to explore the rest of the country.

Relevant Blog Post: Asia with Kids: A Crazy Three-Week, Six-Country Itinerary

7 (tie). Japan (8.5)

Kyoto with kids - At Kongoji Temple

Favorite Places: Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima Island and Hiroshima

Relevant Blog Posts: Kyoto to Hiroshima, a 10-Day Journey | 10 Places Not to Miss in Tokyo | Tokyo with Kids Made Easy | Kyoto with Kids | Hokkaido: Adventure in Northern Japan

6. Portugal (8.7)

Best countries to visit - Portugal - Cascais

Favorite Places: Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra. Still haven’t visited Porto or the Douro Valley.

Relevant Blog Posts: None. Definitely one of the best countries to travel to, but our trips have largely been focused around weddings.

5. New Zealand (8.8)

Favorite countries - Driving around New Zealand's South Island

Favorite Places: The South Island. We’ve explored it far more than the North Island, even though we’ve visited Auckland several times.

Relevant Blog Posts: None. We need to go back and see more, and I’ll write about it next time!

3 (tie). Faroe Islands (9.0)

Faroe Islands - Oda making sure my son didn't plummet to his death

Favorite Places: Torshavn, Tjørnuvik, Saksun, Gjógv, Mykines

Relevant Blog Post: An Amazing Week in the Faroe Islands (with Kids)

3 (tie). France (9.0)

Paris on a Budget - At the Louvre

Favorite Places: Paris, Provence

Relevant Blog Posts: The Best Things to Do in Paris with Kids | Tips for Visiting Paris on a Budget | 10 Tips for a Perfect Family Vacation in Paris

2. Italy (9.1)

Val di Fassa - Photographing from the hiking viewpoint

Favorite Places: Florence, the Dolomites, Venice, Cortona, Cinque Terre, Rome, Lake Como, Ravenna, San Gimignano

Relevant Blog Posts: Florence with Kids: What to Do and Where to Stay | Our Favorite Restaurants in Florence | How to Visit Cinque Terre | Positano Italy (and the Amalfi Coast) | Why You Should Never Do a Day Trip to Florence or Rome | A Week in Florence without Kids | A Perfect Trip to Florence with Kids | Venice in High Season with Kids | Italy Unplugged: A Week in Emilia Romagna | Hiking the Via Francigena Through Tuscany | Kid-Friendly Adventure in Trentino’s Stunning Val di Fassa | Adventures with Kids in the Dolomites: Trentino’s Val di Fiemme | Two Weeks on Lake Como with Kids | A Villa in Tuscany for a Month

1. Greece (9.8)

Paros Greece - Another evening in Naoussa

Favorite Places: Naxos, Paros, Santorini (or pretty much any Greek island in the summer, unless it sees a lot of cruise ships)

Relevant Blog Posts: Naxos Greece: Our Favorite Island | Three Weeks on the Greek Island of Naxos with Kids | A Day Trip from Naxos to Santorini | Paros Greece with Kids

The Best Countries to Visit: Your Turn

What are the best countries to visit from your family’s experience? Do you agree/disagree with our ranking? Would love to hear your thoughts on the best countries to travel to in the comments below.

And I should note that a lot of people are finding this post when Googling “coolest countries to visit”. So I did a separate post on the coolest countries .

Travel Insurance and Credit Cards

We never used to travel with travel health coverage, or even trip cancellation insurance, but we regretted that when my wife broke her knee traveling recently. I write about it here . I highly recommend purchasing insurance – either on an annual basis if you travel a lot, or for individual trips. We went with G1G based on price and what they offer.

And if you don’t have a credit card that earns you miles/points with every purchase, get one! We’ve traveled to a lot of the countries above for free by redeeming miles for tickets. My favorite cards right now are HERE . I highly recommend getting one without foreign transaction fees .

The Best Countries to Visit pin

More from Travel Babbo

Where to Travel with Your Kids at Every Age

May 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

This is such an inspiring list! I can’t wait to do some rankings with the kids. Our plans to spend a month in Greece this summer (inspired by your article on Naxos) have been derailed, but seeing it as number one on your list validates our decision to reschedule it as our long trip next summer.

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May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

Our June Naxos plans fell through, but we’re still optimistic about August – if they’ll let Americans in and if the airlines are flying, we’ll be there.

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May 16, 2020 at 12:01 am

You have been to some amazing places. Interesting that Europe has scored so highly with all the family.

May 18, 2020 at 8:00 am

We’ve traveled to Europe the most, so maybe there’s a sense of familiarity and comfort, especially for the kids? If I was doing my own ranking there are a lot of non-European countries that would be in the top 20, including Ecuador, India and Tanzania.

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November 15, 2020 at 9:06 am

Ecuador is the only country my kids have traveled to and we loved it!

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May 17, 2020 at 5:38 pm

No. 1. Jordan. We all had a magnificent time there. Small Country so easy to see everything but every day was something different and a different period of history.

2. Grand Cayman. 7 mile beach is just gorgeous. Easy to get to and clean and friendly.

We had a disaster of a trip to Italy but I’d go back to Venice in a heartbeat.

May 18, 2020 at 7:57 am

I’ve only spent one day in Jordan, in Petra, but it’s at the top of my list to return to.

We haven’t been to Grand Cayman, simply because the Caribbean can be a hassle to reach from California. It’s easier to get to Fiji than Grand Cayman. But I’ll add it to our list!

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May 22, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Great list, and so many places I need to visit! I’ll add the Czech Republic, in particular Prague, to the discussion. I love Prague for all of its magical architecture and the ability to walk everywhere. And, so many great little outdoor cafes either right in the center of town or along the canal.

May 22, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Thanks Megan! The Czech Republic actually finished towards the bottom of our list, but for the kids at least that was based solely on one August visit when Prague was very crowded. I think they would like it better if we were to return in the spring or fall. It’s an amazing city, just not fun with too many people. And I want to explore a lot more of the country as well.

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May 23, 2020 at 4:58 pm

I absolutely love reading your blogs and post. Thank you. Though my kids are older now, we did go ‘round the world’ with them, with partners and a grandson in 2018. Tokyo to Porto then a week on a small (36 passengers) boat from Dubrovnik to Split, on to BC in Canada then a relax in Santa Monica before home. Every place held something special and was so different to the next. I would say the highlight for us all was Canada- we stayed in a small town called Smithers and the the younger ones did extreme mountain bike riding, fishing, hiking, shooting at the gun range and drives to nearby First Nation sites. Unbelievable. I loved it so much I went back in 2019 and did 5 weeks Canada/Alaska which was out of this world.

May 25, 2020 at 1:04 pm

Thanks Joanne! Your trip sounds amazing – a lot of our favorite places. We still haven’t been to Porto though. And we would love to explore Canada more. I’ll add Smithers to our list.

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May 29, 2020 at 3:54 am

Great places.

How wonderful for the children. We are slow budget family travellers and often find ourselves saying that we want our kids to have places to discover on their own. Travelling as a family is truly wonderful and we love it. Maybe it will be the highlight of our lives as parents. Yet, as they get older we find ourselves thinking more of solo or exchange trips for them alone that doesn’t include us plus trips for just the two of us that don’t include them. Like much of parenting it is a tough call…

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June 20, 2020 at 12:31 am

Pretty amazed that Greece beat out Italy (and by a large margin) given your love of Florence. What happened to Spain?

June 20, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Spain is roughly halfway down our list. The kids have only been 3 times, and only for a day or two each time.

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September 5, 2020 at 10:03 am

You have missed cape Town as other interesting place to visit.

September 6, 2020 at 7:30 pm

1) I love Cape Town. 2) Cape Town is not a country. 3) We have not taken our kids to South Africa so it was not included in our voting.

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June 1, 2023 at 12:13 pm

So far, South Africa, Israel and Switzerland have been my favs. Israel is so impactful, obviously, for different reasons. Costa Rica is pretty nice. The U.S. is up there if you think in terms of Kawaii, Hawaii and parts of CA, OR, WA. Austria was great. England was was as well. France nice, but overall, I would put South Africa at the top of the list of all the places we have visited.

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November 28, 2020 at 9:26 am

Pointers for Switzerland travel from US for perhaps one full week in the country? Note: We are rather healthy but in our late 60’s. Love your blog and robust sense of adventure and open minds regarding diverse cultures!

November 29, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Hi Scott. I asked my friend Kate in Zurich for suggestions, since she knows Switzerland far better than I do.

Her thoughts: For a week in Switzerland I would suggest taking the train as it’s so easy, safe, and convenient. Plus, you get to see the Swiss landscapes the whole time. Spend a day exploring old town Zürich, the next day take the train to Luzern and explore it overnight. The rest of the week take the train to Lauterbrunnen and spend a few days exploring the beautiful hiking and waterfalls, sleeping in either Wengen, Grindelwald, or Mürren. If there’s extra time, visit Rhinefalls and the cute historic town of Stein am Rhine.

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December 4, 2020 at 9:28 am

Have you visited mexico? Was expecting mexico on the list…..I’ve never been there though

December 4, 2020 at 9:43 am

Mexico was halfway down our list. We love San Miguel de Allende, I’m a huge fan of Mexico City, and my wife has a lot of family history in Mexico. But we’ve spent too much time in touristy, less-interesting areas like Los Cabos, Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We need to explore more of real Mexico.

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June 1, 2021 at 7:25 am

You should visit Oaxaca and Chiapas…..amazing places

June 1, 2021 at 7:58 am

Of course! On our list.

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January 27, 2021 at 4:27 pm

I’ve enjoyed perusing your lists! Since the majority of us aren’t doing much travel these days, our travel group likes to reminisce about our past travel adventures. You’ve done a country list and city list. Next up, consider a favorite experience/activity while traveling. Here’s our top 10 experiences: 1) Safari in the Serengeti & Ngorogoro Crater 2) Antarctica cruise 3) Amazon River cruise and live aboard 4) Diving and snorkeling in Palawan, Philippines 5) Live aboard and diving on the Great Barrier Reef 6) Great White Shark cage diving in Cape Town 7) Visiting Skellig Michael Island in Ireland 8) Southern Alps plane tour in New Zealand 9) Ziplining in Costa Rica 10) Spending the night in a treehouse in Sri Lanka

I would love to hear what you and your family’s top experiences have been. Gives others great ideas for future travel too.

Aloha, Bonnie

January 27, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Bonnie! I did a post back in 2016 with our favorite activities ( ) but it could definitely be time to update that with more recent things. I was thinking about having the kids rate hotels too.

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May 24, 2021 at 12:21 pm

I have a soon to be 7yo & 2yo, we are trying to decide on where to go next year as a little family holiday and I am determined to take us somewhere that is more than just playing by the pool and beach. This list has given me more destinations to add to the TTT list. I am stuck between Croatia and Naxos in Greece to start off with as they both look amazing!

May 24, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Great! Both Croatia and Greece would make excellent destinations. Naxos will definitely have more beach/pool time, Croatia would be a little more culture and nature.

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May 24, 2021 at 6:47 pm

My first thought is, will you adopt me. WOW your kids are lucky and I am sure so well educated. I was happy to see Portugal on your list. A kinda unknown, great value hidden treasure of Europe. And I gotta say, I love the southern coast of Spain. Your list was really fun to read and some never entered my mind and to be honest, one I have to look up as I have no idea where it is. I am excited to see what is coming from you and your family as being retired, it is time to get back to traveling. If you could note somewhere how the traveling would be for senior single female it would be great. Many years ago, I traveled to Isreal and Greece alone (not a senior back then), but I loved it.

May 25, 2021 at 9:40 am

Thanks Tracy! I’m glad you’re inspired! And I definitely need to explore southern Spain more.

I am unable to write about travel from a senior single female perspective as I am none of those, and I only blog from personal experience. There are so many good travel blogs though – if you search around you should be able to find someone who matches you and your travel style perfectly.

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June 5, 2021 at 9:03 am

I vote for this location as NUMBER ONE ! ! Without a doubt ……

The Amalfi coast in Italy ! ! ! the most beautiful… people, hotels, food views, …… on and on ! ! !

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June 16, 2021 at 8:44 am

Great list! Just a note, it’s Vancouver Island in Canada, not Victoria Island 🙂

June 16, 2021 at 10:37 am

Thank you so much! Change made!

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July 23, 2021 at 9:36 am

Nice Post Eric! I am afraid to travel alone and you travel with kids. Hats off to you. Maybe some day I will also travel like you. Great Post Man.

Please visit India some day.

July 23, 2021 at 9:41 am

I have visited India many times, both with and without kids. One of my favorite countries!

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February 7, 2022 at 8:44 am

Taiwan is definitely the best. I bet the only reason it’s not here is because they didn’t go. I recommend it!

February 7, 2022 at 9:13 am

We’ve been to Taiwan – you could have done a search for Taiwan on this website, or gone to my About Me page , to verify that. It finished roughly halfway down our rankings. Would love to return.

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March 3, 2022 at 8:49 am

Love this list. Having traveled and lived abroad we are excited to return to travel overseas soon with our 9-year old daughter. Having lived in Estonia for four years, I highly recommend it. Very found memories of the people, land and sauna culture as well as the best intact historic city IMHO in Europe without the crowds. Even more memorable at Christmas time as the best uncrowded Christmas market we’ve been to. (birthplace of the Christmas tree as well as Riga, Latvia’s claim to fame). Thanks for your blog.

March 3, 2022 at 12:03 pm

I love Estonia! I’ve traveled around Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania several times, but before the kids were born. Would love to take them.

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August 21, 2022 at 10:29 pm

Great list. Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Turkey are my favorites in Europe. Jordan and Israel were also fascinating.

Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico and Ecuador in the Americas.

Botswana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in Africa.

Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Palau and Japan in Asia/Oceania.

Still high on bucket list: New Zealand, Morocco, Egypt, Portugal, Croatia and Peru. So many places. So little time.

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November 7, 2022 at 9:34 pm

“Sad that a beautiful country like INDIA is not in the list” . Especially when Taj Mahal is in seven wonders of world. Rajasthan mighty forts and rich culture. Gold beaches of Goa . Keralas back waters and greenery, Tibet and Kashmir mountains . Thousands of years old temples in Tamilnadu.

November 8, 2022 at 9:44 am

This is a very strange comment. Have you not looked through my website? Have you seen all of the India photos I’ve posted to Instagram? This specific post is based on family voting, and only one of my kids has been to India. But India, and Rajasthan in particular, is one of my favorite places in the world and I have said that many, many times.

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The 40 Most Beautiful Countries in the World


Every country in the world has something to offer, from local cuisine to groundbreaking architecture . But actually ranking the most beautiful countries in the world? That's a bit trickier (eye of the beholder, and what not). That’s why we let the World Economic Forum do much of the work for us: Every year, the foundation releases their Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report , a survey that ranks the world’s countries based on various factors, from safety to life expectancy—and yes, even natural resources. 

The latter takes into consideration details like total animal species, the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites , and the amount of protected ecosystems—and 2022’s results are as stunning as ever. We pulled the top 30 countries from the all-encompassing “natural resources” section of the WEF’s report , and then polled Traveler editors for their personal picks (consider them bonus entries, if you will) to put together this list of the world’s most beautiful countries. Get ready to swoon.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.


Australia ’s natural beauty is unrivaled—from the Great Barrier Reef to the wild isolation of the Outback, to the winelands of Victoria. Witnessing the majesty of Uluru should be on every traveler’s bucket list, whether viewed from above by helicopter or from a distance at ground level during the technicolor sunset. Another must-see? Tasmania . The island state’s mountain wilderness and pristine coastline are remarkably beautiful.

Cabo San Lucas Memorial Day Getaways

Home to 67 national parks, more than 5,000 miles of coastline, and landscapes ranging from deserts to snow-capped volcanoes, Mexico ranks high on this list for a reason. The state of Oaxaca lays claim to wild, crowd-free beaches and Hierve el Agua, a set of natural rock formations and mineral springs. Down in the southern state of Chiapas, the Sumidero Canyon astounds with 3,000-foot cliff walls, caves, and waterfalls. Mexico also takes great lengths to protect its wildlife: the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve northwest of Mexico City welcomes millions of butterflies every autumn, while the whale sanctuary in El Vizcaino is an important reproduction site for grey and blue whales .

The Amazon

There is no shortage of grandeur in Brazil , whether you’re standing below the horseshoe-shaped falls of Iguazu, kayaking through the incomparable Amazon, or looking out from the peak of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro . Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago off the northeast coast, features some of the best beaches in the country . Lençóis Maranhenses National Park boasts blindingly white sand dunes juxtaposed against turquoise lagoons. Then there’s the biodiversity—the greatest on the planet, to be exact. It’s not uncommon to spot jaguars, spider monkeys, piranhas, giant water lilies, and mangroves (among several other million species).

Antelope Canyon

The United States of America

You could spend a lifetime exploring the sites of America, all as beautiful as they are diverse. Hawaii’s vertical Na'Pali Coast is easily one of the most beautiful coastlines on the planet. Denali National Park in Alaska is worth braving the extreme low temperatures. And perhaps you’ve heard of a charming little tourist destination known as the Grand Canyon ?


China has 56 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its borders—the second-most of any country in the world (after Italy, which has 58). Here you’ll find otherworldly landscapes like the Zhangye National Geopark, whose striped, technicolor mountains are basically Mother Nature’s answer to Photoshop. You can also see skyscraper-like sandstone pillars at Wulingyuan Scenic Area, endless fields of yellow rapeseed plants in Luoping County, and multicolored lakes in the Jiuzhaigou Valley—and that’s just for starters.


Home to Himalayan peaks and Indian Ocean beaches, India’s terrain can only be described as breathtaking. Kerala is easily one of the most country’s most beautiful states, with elephants and tigers, lush lagoon networks, and tea plantations. There are incredible stretches of sand even outside of Kerala, like Marina Beach in unsung Tamil Nadu, or Chandipur Beach in Orissa, where tides recede nearly three miles out to sea. The Valley of Flowers National Park is spectacular, as hundred of species of alpine flowers carpet the western Himalayas in chromatic glory.


Oh, Canada. The world’s second-biggest country has almost too much spectacular scenery to single out favorites. But if we had to pick, we’d start with the remote Torngat Mountains National Park, a land of polar bears and caribou, glaciers and fjords, and a stretch of mountains you’re not likely to ever forget. Truly all of the country’s 48 national parks are worth a visit, from Alberta’s serene Banff to Yukon’s extreme Kluane.

Raja Ampat Indonesia

One of the crown jewels of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has some of the best islands in the world . First up is the spiritual, sun-kissed paradise that is Bali . It is crowded, yes; but you can still find enclaves of quiet in places like the central region of Tabanan, with its waterfalls, butterfly parks, and UNESCO-protected rice fields. Located off the coast of West Papua, the Raja Ampat Islands are a scuba diver’s dream with blue channels and biodiverse reefs. And don’t forget about the relatively crowd-free island of Flores , complete with white sand beaches and steep green hills.


France is the stuff fairytales are made of, with fields of lavender and castles at every turn. The country’s coastline beckons travelers from all over the world, whether it’s to the beaches of Biarritz, white cliffs of Normandy, or any one of the glitzy towns along the French Riviera . For some truly untouched nature, make a beeline for the island of Corsica; if it’s ski slopes you’re after, head west to Mont Blanc.


Colombia ’s incredible landscape deserves to be recognized, and not just because it contains parts of the Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountain range. Tayrona National Park is one of the most picturesque places in South America, with beaches dotted with coconut palms and rainforests sitting nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. The ochre desert meets the aquamarine sea at Cabo de la Vela, a unique cape surrounded by rocky cliffs—it’s hard to get to, sure, but absolutely worth it.


Aside from its world-class beaches (like Playa de Las Catedrales in Galicia, pictured), Spain is home to 16 national parks, including five in the Canary and Balearic Islands. Doñana National Park is home to five threatened bird species, plus scenic marshes and sand dunes. Teide National Park has the tallest mountain in the country (Mount Teide) and third tallest volcanic structure in the world (Pico Viejo).


Japan is at once serene and exhilarating, ancient and unexpected. The subtropical Ogasawara Islands offer pristine beaches, exceptional snorkeling and whale watching, and forests packed with 195 endangered bird species. Solitary Mount Fuji is the country's most iconic landmark, rising above villages and reflecting on lakes’ surfaces. Even the cities here are bursting with natural beauty: see Kyoto ’s scattering of cherry blossoms and Arashiyama bamboo forest, or the calm, grassy parks of Tokyo .

South Africa Warm Places to Visit in December

South Africa

South Africa is one of the best safari destinations in Africa, offering easy access to the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) at places like Kruger National Park. Looking for penguins? Boulders Beach is just an hour’s drive south from Cape Town. If you can believe it, the landscapes here are even more diverse than the wildlife, from wildflower-filled Namaqualand to the soaring Drakensberg Mountains to the Blyde River Canyon. Even in urban Cape Town , you need only look up to see iconic Table Mountain and Lion’s Head .


The number of foreign visitors to Thailand has doubled in the past ten years, and it’s easy to understand why. There are literally hundreds of islands offering something for every type of traveler, whether it’s the lush jungles of Ko Kut or the crystal-clear diving waters of Ko Tao. To catch sight of wild elephants and tigers, dramatic waterfalls, and some of the world’s oldest rainforests, venture inland to the wondrous Khao Sok National Park.

Val d'Orcia Tuscany Italy

Few parts of the world can claim so intense a range of natural beauty as Italy, from craggy peaks and verdant hills to coasts of jaw-dropping beauty. There’s nothing quite like driving through the winding, cyprus-lined roads of Tuscany , past rolling green hills and golden fields dotted with sunflowers. The Dolomites are some of the most beautiful mountains you’ll find anywhere, too; San Pellegrino Pass is one of its best spots for rock climbing, skiing, and, well, just being in awe.


Tanzania is a biodiverse wonderland, but its main draw is undoubtedly the Serengeti—especially if you can visit between January and March to witness the Great Migration . And don’t forget about Mount Kilimanjaro, rising like a magnificent mirage over the vast plains. Another deservedly popular spot is the Ngorongoro Crater, a vast and thriving volcanic caldera known as Africa’s Garden of Eden (assuming the garden had flamingos and zebras). Tanzania also has some 800 miles of Indian Ocean-facing coastline, with the white sand beaches and sapphire waters of Zanzibar generating the most tourism buzz.


Machu Picchu ’s panoramic views and mysterious stone walls are worth a plane ticket to Peru alone, but the country has more to offer than just Incan ruins. The Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, is known for its terraced agriculture and epic birdwatching (find everything from flamingos to giant hummingbirds here). The Paracas Natural Reserve (an easy day trip from Lima) is another ecologically rich area, where Humboldt penguins waddle freely on red sand beaches.


Argentina is one of the most awe-inspiring countries in the world, and not just because of its legendary tango performances. This nation is indeed a natural wonderland—just look at Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, comprised of jagged mountains, picturesque lakes, and massive glaciers . The northwestern part of the country contains some of the Andes and a lot of vicuñas (relatives of the llama). On the Argentina-Brazil border, Iguazú Falls—a collection of 200 falls reaching heights of 200 feet—is easily one of the most stunning sites in South America.

Angel Falls

Venezuela is truly a land of superlatives. It has the world’s highest waterfall, for starters; and the 3,212-foot cascades of Angel Falls (that’s 19 times taller than Niagara ), located in the lush Canaima National Park, are by far the country’s most popular attraction. Mount Roraima also dazzles, with vertical cliffs stretching all the way through the clouds. The archipelago of Los Roques has white sand beaches, mangrove swamps, and spectacular reefs and underwater life.

Galpagos Islands Ecuador

It’s almost unbelievable how biodiverse Ecuador is. The country is a smidge smaller than Nevada, but encompasses pieces of the Amazon, Andes, and Pacific Coast, as well as the entire Galápagos archipelago. We’d argue that the Galápagos Islands are reason enough for Ecuador to land on this ranking, filled with volcanoes, lakes, beaches, and more animal species than we have room to cover here.

Cameron Highlands Malaysia

Split by the South China Sea, Malaysia is like two countries in one—Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo—with islands thrown in as an added bonus. You’ll find a variety of diverse landscapes throughout this Southeast Asian nation. The Langkawi archipelago has pristine beaches, coral reefs, and lush mountains (plus that famous Sky Bridge you’ve definitely seen pictures of). The Cameron Highlands in Pahang are home to stunning tea plantations and butterfly farms. Hoping to spot some wildlife? The Kinabatangan River winds for 348 miles through the state of Sabah, providing habitats for saltwater crocodiles, Bornean orangutans, pygmy elephants, and more.

Countries With Incentives for Retirees Coron Busuanga island Palawan province Philippines


There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and they easily number among the most beautiful in the world. The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan encompasses mangrove forests, one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, and an underground river. The Chocolate Hills of Bohol Island consist of an estimated 1,776 grass-covered domes that are mysteriously uniform in shape. The rice terraces of both Banaue and the Philippine Cordilleras provide panoramic views of every shade of green imaginable.

Costa Rica

It’s easy to sink into the pura vida (pure life) when you’re surrounded by misty waterfalls , deserted beaches, and protected jungles. In fact, more than a quarter of Costa Rica enjoys some form of environmental protection. Cocos Island National Park, the only island in the eastern Pacific with a rainforest, is a world-class diving destination replete with hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. La Amistad National Park is another uniquely diverse site, with cloud forests, glacial valleys, and a rare tropical alpine grassland (say that five times fast). It’s also home to Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica.

Most Beautiful Places in the World Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City draw tons of tourists every year, but Vietnam is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts (or anyone who simply enjoys a pretty landscape). Ha Long Bay, located in northeast Vietnam , is beloved for its blue waters and spread of limestone islands—all occupied by tropical trees and wildlife. In the northeast, Hà Giang has breathtaking mountain scenery criss-crossed with steep rice terraces and hiking trails. On the southern coast, Ninh Van Bay has great snorkeling and diving . And you can always hop on a quick flight and spend a few days on Phú Quốc, a jungle-draped island off Vietnam’s southwestern coast.

Best Places to Travel in March Panama

We named Panama one of the best places to visit in 2022 , thanks to its biodiverse jungles, sprawling beaches, and relative lack of crowds compared to neighboring Costa Rica. The Caribbean-facing province of Bocas del Toro is a one-stop shop for both gorgeous beaches and active wildlife—for a truly memorable experience, take a nighttime snorkeling trip through bioluminescent waters right off the coast. A straight shot south from Bocas del Toro, the Pacific Ocean-facing province Chiriquí offers an equally beautiful, but wholly different slice of nature. Here you can hike through cloud forests, swim beneath roaring waterfalls, and witness the panoramic sunrise from the summit of Volcán Barú.


There are plenty of reasons to head to Kenya , and we’re not just talking about its bevy of resorts and safari camps . The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley is the ultimate place for wildlife spotting , with cheetahs, giraffes, black rhinos, and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. Mount Kenya is the second highest peak (after Kilimanjaro) and one of the most impressive landscapes in Africa, with glacial lakes and forested slopes.

New Zealand World's Happiest Countries

New Zealand

New Zealand is no stranger to breathtaking landscapes, with towering mountains, turquoise lakes, and more than 9,000 miles of windswept shores . Just look towards the resplendent fields of pink and purple lupins at Lake Tekapo; or Milford Sound, a mountainous fjord where you can live out all of your Lord of the Rings fantasies. The splendor also extends below the surface to the Waitomo glowworm caves—leave it to New Zealand to make even worms look beautiful.


Landlocked Bolivia is often overshadowed by its neighboring countries, but this South American nation has a staggering amount of natural beauty. The country’s claim to fame is Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat which becomes a giant sky-reflecting mirror during the wet season. Just north of the Chilean border in the shadow of the Andes, Laguna Colorada is a salt lake known for its blood-red waters. And while we’re on the subject of lakes, we’d be remiss not to mention Lake Titicaca—it’s the highest navigable lake in the world (12,500 feet above sea level) and features sparkling blue water, snow-capped mountains, and floating villages.

Isle of Skye Scotland

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, which explains why its natural sites are so beautifully diverse. In England, be sure to visit the rugged beaches of Cornwall and dazzling bodies of water in the Lake District. Wales is all about epic mountain ranges, namely Brecon Beacons and its surrounding hiking trails. Scotland’s lochs, highlands, and Isle of Skye number among the most beautiful places on the planet. And Northern Ireland has several unique sites to its name, including the Giant’s Causeway and Dark Hedges.

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Poised between the Balkans and central Europe, Croatia is a land of limestone caves, undulating fields, and white pebble beaches. The country’s most famous waters are found inland at the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a system of waterfalls, caves, and 16 terraced lakes that cover the entire blue-green color spectrum. The Adriatic Sea coast is truly unrivaled, speckled with more than 1,000 islands surrounded by impossibly clear water. The Dinaric Alps provide even more sublime views and help contribute to Croatia’s overall landscape—the craggy peaks and caverns near the coast transition to rolling farmland in the northeast Hrvatsko Zagorje region.

Most Beautiful Places in Iceland Vatnajokull

Situated just outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland has emerged as one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations. Travelers flock to the island nation by the millions to bear witness awe-inspiring vistas, from towering volcanoes to gushing waterfalls and expansive underground ice caves. Jökulsárlón, the deepest glacial lake in the country, is famous for its floating blue icebergs and gatherings of seals. Down in Vik, the black sands and basalt columns of Reynisfjara Beach are just begging to be photographed.

The Azores Portugal

After soaking up all that Lisbon has to offer, venture outside of Portugal’s capital city to really experience how stunning the country is. The Algarve region is ideal for road trips , where you can pull over and appreciate some seriously gorgeous beaches lines with steep cliffs (we recommend Praia da Marinha ). The Douro River is another must-visit spot, thanks to spectacular views created by the steeply terraced vineyards at the river’s edge—similar to those found in the Moselle in Germany or the LaVaux vineyards in Switzerland. And don’t forget about the Azores , an Atlantic island chain of nine volcanic islands overflowing with hedges of blue hydrangeas .

Torres del Paine National Park Chile

Chile occupies some of the most pristine landscapes on our planet: the moonlike dunes of Valle de la Luna; the swirling, cerulean surfaces of the Marble Caves; the gurgling geysers of El Tatio. But when you think of Chile, you most likely think of Torres del Paine . The national park is like a microcosm of all the things that make Patagonia such a spectacular place: sky-high mountains, blue icebergs, and mythical lakes galore.

Sossusvlei Namib Naukluft National Park Deadvlei

When it comes to sheer natural beauty, few countries in Africa come close to Namibia . The Namib Desert is the country’s shining star, from the otherworldly landscapes of the Skeleton Coast , to the shifting dunes of the Namib Sand Sea, to the eerie, sun-blackened trees of Deadvlei. The Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, is a granite massif that glows when the sun sets (Brandberg means “Fire Mountain” in Afrikaans). And this is a coastal country, so you better believe there are beaches—namely the stunning Fish River Canyon (the largest canyon in Africa) or the rivers and wetlands in the Caprivi Strip.


Greece may be best known for the the architecture of Athens and coastal scenes of Santorini (if we had a dollar for every Oia snapshot on our Instagram feed…), but there’s a lot more to the country than its immediate associations. Each of the 6,000+ islands and islets offer swoon-worthy vistas, from the cliff-lined beaches of Zakynthos to the epic sunrises in Mykonos. Not a beach bum? Pay a visit to Epirus , the mountainous, forest-filled region in northwestern Greece.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of our favorite travel destinations —a country complete with rambling temple ruins, leafy tea plantations, and wide, golden beaches. Animal lovers should take particular note, as the country has tons of options for wildlife viewing. Both Udawalawe National Park and Gal Oya National Park contain hundreds of elephants , while Yala National Park is home to the world’s highest concentration of leopards. And tea lovers, this advice is for you: Base yourself at Thota­lagala, a seven-suite hotel near Dambatenne, the world’s most famous tea estate, planted in 1890 by Sir Thomas Lipton (yes, that Lipton).


Norway is the land of glaciers, mountains, the Northern Lights, and fjords—so many fjords . The UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord in southwestern Norway are among the most scenic anywhere, with steep rock walls and dense forests. For something a little more unique (and daring), there’s Trolltunga at Hardangerfjord. This protruding rock sits about 2,300 feet above Lake Ringedalsvatnet and provides some of the most spectacular panoramic views in the country. And don’t forget about the Lofoten Islands , sitting pretty off the country’s northwestern coast.


Turkey’s landscapes are varied, breathtaking, and even a tad peculiar. Most of the best vistas are found in Asian Anatolia, like the fairy chimneys and rock pillars of Cappadocia , or the craggy peaks and alpine pastures of the Kaçkar Mountains. In the Aegean region, the frozen waterfalls and stacked pools of Pamukkale ensure you'll never be satisfied with your hotel’s infinity pool again. The Turquoise Coast (or Turkish Riviera) is another prime location, especially if perfect beaches, mountain views, and a Mediterranean climate are what you’re looking for.


In Nepal, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and breathtaking landscapes go hand in hand. Home to eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains (including Mount Everest , the highest point on earth), the country is famous among hikers and adventure seekers. The Gokyo Lakes comprise the world’s highest freshwater lake system, where vibrant, glacier-fed waters are surrounded by snowy peaks. Chitwan National Park is home to rare populations of rhinoceros and Bengal tigers, while Sagarmatha National Park is the place to see snow leopards and red pandas.

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland


Tucked away in the Alps, Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world, no matter when you’re visiting. Come wintertime though, it becomes a veritable wonderland , with powdery ski slopes and frozen lakes galore. For the best vantage point of the country’s natural beauty, stay in the village of Zermatt, a ski town so pristine that people actually buy bottles of air from the surrounding mountains (including Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn mountain). Not a fan of skiing? A summer visit to Switzerland is always a good idea, where Lake Geneva’s picturesque banks and Zurich's badi (natural swimming pools along the lakes and rivers) are waiting to host your next family vacation .

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