Once again MasterCard has published its yearly study, the Global Destination Cities Index, which takes a look at the world's connectivity through air travel. Included is this list of top-ranked destination cities determined by international overnight visitors. Perhaps some of these destinations will be on your list for 2016?
20. Los Angeles, USA
Starting with the 2nd largest city in the U.S. and 5.2 million visitors in 2015, Los Angeles is known for its great weather and the center of the entertainment industry. The city is packed with culture, having more museums per capita than any other city in the world.
19. Prague, Czech Republic
Described as the political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe, Prague is the largest city and capital of the Czech Republic. The city played an important role in European history and is packed with historic landmarks from as far back as the Romanesque era.
18. Vienna, Austria
About 5.81 million visitors flocked to Vienna in 2015 to see cultural attractions such as the Schönbrunn Palace or see a show in the Burgtheater. The city is a hub of the arts – theatre, opera, classical music and fine arts – and hosts many major international organizations such as the United Nations.
17. Shanghai, China
The highest populated city in China has been a huge tourist destination for its many landmarks such as the City God Temple, Yu Garden, and many museums. Shanghai is a huge financial district labeled as the “showpiece” of China’s booming economy, but its famous Lujiazui skyline and ancient history makes this city one of the top destinations of 2015.
16. Taipei, Chinese Taipei
With 6.55 million visitors in 2015, tourism makes up a huge part Taipei’s economy. This global city is home to temples, museums, hot springs, many night markets, and Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building until 2010. There is an endless supply of activities from shopping in the Shilin Night Market to celebrating the Lunar New Year at the Lantern Festival.
15. Milan, Italy
You can’t mention Milan without saying it is a major world fashion and design capital. There you can find the famous Milan Cathedral, world-renowned restaurants, and an endless supply of museums and art galleries (including the home of The Last Supper). This city is the main industrial, commercial, and financial center of Italy and a must-see destination when in Europe.
14. Rome, Italy
As Italy’s most populated and largest city, Rome’s history goes back further more than 2,500 years. This city contains endless treasures including archaeological finds, art and architecture, delicious cuisine, culture, and religious history. Tourists flourish to this archaeological hub to discover famous landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Vatican City, or ancient catacombs.
13. Amsterdam, Netherlands
With small beginnings as a fishing village in the 12th century, Amsterdam has grown to attract 7.44 million in 2015. Its historic canals, countless museums, and infamous red-light district and coffee shops (that sell more potent things than coffee) keep tourists coming back year after year.
12. Barcelona, Spain
Set on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula and wedged between a mountain range, two rivers, and Mediterranean sea, Barcelona is a pleasant place to visit during most of the year. Visitors flock to the city to experience its charming traditions, sporting events, famous parks, art museums, the #1 beach in the world according to National Geographic, and Gaudi’s masterpiece – the Sagrada Familia.
11. Tokyo, Japan
As the world’s most populous metropolitan area, Tokyo is great for the tourists that love the constant hustle of a big city. Ranked as #1 “Best Overall Experience” by TripAdvisor’s World City Survey, Tokyo attracted 8.08 million visitors in 2015. This city has everything to offer from museums, festivals, history, great public transportation, to internationally acclaimed cuisine.
10. Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR) China
Described as the perfect blend between the eastern and western cultures, Hong Kong’s cultural fusion can be seen in its food, traditions, buildings, and more. The city is known for its harbor views, night markets, modern architecture, and religious and historic attractions. Hong Kong also describes itself as an entertainment hub, dominating and popularizing the martial arts film genre, and adopting sports as a major part of its culture.
9. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul attracted 10.35 million visitors in 2015 and is a rising global city. The city area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and its history stretches back more than 2,000 years. Seoul has so much to offer from museums, religious monuments, to world-renowned food. It was rewarded the title of City of Design by UNESCO, and has world impacts with its technological advancements and music scene.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is a city packed with historic monuments, busy street markets, mega shopping malls, and modern sky scrapers. Its Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s tallest twin buildings, is a symbol of the city’s futuristic developments, but is contrasted with the vibrant mosques and temples of its multicultural inhabitants. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia and is the financial, economic, and cultural center of Malaysia.
7. Singapore, Singapore
Dining and shopping are said to be the national pastimes of this country, many visitors going solely for food-based tourism. The diversity of the city is reflected in its cuisine, and Singaporeans believe their religious and racial harmony is a crucial part of their country’s success. It is a very young , diverse, and growing country which has a big role in forming its modern identity.
6. New York, USA
As the most populous city in the United States and global power house, New York has significant world impact in finance, media, art, fashion, technology, education, and entertainment. Described as the cultural and financial capital of the world, the city attracted 12.27 visitors in 2015.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Named the European Capital of Culture in 2010, Istanbul has one of the fastest growing metropolitan economies in the world. It is a city full of history from its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture to its numerous markets, such as the Grand Bazaar. It is also known for its Turkish cuisine and historic seafood restaurants. As Istanbul transitions into the modern world, building skyscrapers and new transportation projects, they still cherish the culture established since its founding in 660 BC.
4. Dubai, UAE
Known for its skyscrapers and expensive cost of living, Dubai always chooses to go big. The city is home to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (the largest mall in the world), and Burj Al Arab (the world’s only seven star hotel). Tourists mainly come for shopping, but the city also has other ancient and modern attractions.
3. Paris, France
Everyone knows that Paris is bursting with European culture. About 16.06 million people went to the city in 2015 to see sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and much more. It has been a hub of art, attracting tourists for its paintings, sculptures, theatre, music, fashion, and cinema. Paris has been known for its restaurants and haute cuisine, which has had a major role in shaping the culinary world.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Named “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure for four consecutive years, Bangkok is loved by tourists and attracted 18.24 million of them in 2015. The city’s variety of attractions appeal to all types of visitors, from major Buddhist temples like Wat Phra Kaew to its famous red light district called Patpong. Bangkok’s huge shopping centers, festivals, and famous cuisine keep both domestic and international visitors coming back.
1. London, United Kingdom
And the #1 Most Visited City of 2015 with 18.82 million international visitors is London! It is a leading global city with major influence in arts, education, media, fashion, music, research, and finance. With more than 300 languages spoken in the Greater London area, the city is full of diversity and different cultures. London has become a world cultural capital with four World Heritage Sites, rich history reaching back to ancient times, hosting of major sporting events such as the Olympics, and much more. The city offers so many attractions for visitors to enjoy including the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
To view the complete Global Destination Cities Index click here.
Top 20 Most Visited Cities of 2015
Posted on December 30, 2015