Each year, the Tripadvisor community selects the top 25 most popular destinations on the planet. This year’s winner is the British capital of London, considered one of the world’s most cosmopolitan places and host of the XXX Summer Olympics. It is followed by other well known economic capitals, including New York and San Francisco on the American East and West Coast, as well as Paris, Rome and Barcelona in continental Europe. Marrakech leads the way in the northern part of the Africa, and Cape Town in the Southern part of the continent. Istanbul remains a popular destination linking East and West, and Beijing and Shanghai destinations in Asia. Finally Sydney, French Polynesian Bora Bora and American Honolulu are favourite within the vast sea covered continent of Oceania.
- World’s Top Destinations 2012 map
- World’s Top Destinations 2012 list
- World’s Top Destinations 2012 video
World’s Top Destinations 2012 map
The following is full screen interactive map of the World’s Top Destinations 2012 with image slider and HD video. The map includes the best places in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
World’s Top Destinations list
The World’s Top 25 Destinations in 2012 as voted by travellers include:
- London: one of the world’s greatest global cities and second most visited
- New York City: one of the only World’s Alpha ++ Cities
- Rome: considered the birthplaces of western civilization
- Paris: world’s most visited city
- San Francisco: one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations
- Marrakesh: home to one of the world’s largest and busiest squares
- Istanbul: world’s only metropolis situated on two continents
- Barcelona: one of Europe’s more exciting cities
- Angkor Wat: Cambodia’s most well known treasure
- Berlin: capital and largest city of Germany
- Chicago: largest city in the state of Illinois and major international hub
- Florence Cityscape: one of the most beautiful cities in the world
- Buenos Aires: capital and largest city of Argentina
- Sydney: most populous city in Australia and one of the world’s most liveable
- Beijing: China political, cultural, and educational centre
- Prague: one of Easter Europe’s most popular destinations
- Las Vegas: World’s Gambling Capital best known as Sin City
- Bora Bora: one of the world’s most sought after tropical paradises
- Shanghai: China’s largest city
- Honolulu: capital and the most populous city of Hawaii
- Los Angeles: World’s Entertainment Capital
- New Orleans: the most unique city in America
- Cape Town: Africa’s most popular tourist destination.
- Chiang Mai: Northern Thailand most popular destination
- Dublin: capital and largest city of Ireland
London: one of the world’s greatest global cities and second most visited
London is one of the world’s greatest cities hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. It is a vibrant and exciting metropolis packed with a variety of different cultures, influences, world class attractions and entertainment for every budget and lifestyle. It is a really diversified city offering so much to its residents as well as to the millions of tourists coming in every year. From world class museums and galleries such as the British Museum to well known attractions such as the Tower of London and the London Eye, well known shops to exquisite restaurants, passing by a variety of music venues and chic hotels, it has something for everyone.
New York City, United States
New York City: one of the only World’s Alpha ++ Cities
New York is the most populous city in the United States as well as a global metropolis with a significant impact upon international commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education and entertainment (Broadway shows). It is home to the United Nations Headquarters, to the world’s largest stock exchange (New York Stock Exchange), to numerous top rated universities as well as home to well known recognisable sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and Times Square. It is also well known for its diversified communities from the African-American culture in Harlem to the Italian and Asiatic immigrants on the Lower East Side or Greenwich Village. It is often being described as the cultural capital of the world, hosting a variety of museums and art gallery such as the popular Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is located within the world’s largest natural harbours and its skyline is one of the most recognisable in the world. It is especially impressive at night when all the skyscrapers are illuminated.
Rome: considered the birthplaces of western civilization
Rome is Italy’s capital and most populous city. It is located within the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region. Rome’s history spans two and a half thousand years, and was once at the heart of the Roman Empire, one of Western Europe and the Mediterranean region most dominant power for over seven hundred years (from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD). The city is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization, as well as the seat of the Papacy since the 1st century AD. It is today ranked as a beta+ world city and is the most popular tourist attraction in Italy and third within the European Union. It is also considered one of the world’s most successful city brands, both in terms of reputation and assets, with its historic centre listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as being home some of the world’s top 50 most visited tourist destinations such as the Vatican Museums, Trevi Fountain, Roman Curia and the Colosseum.
Paris: world’s most visited city
Paris is not only the capital and biggest city in France but the world’s most visited city, home to a variety of well known attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. It is located on the river Seine at the heart of the Île-de-France region. The city of Paris, within its administrative limits, is largely unchanged since 1860 and has an estimated population of over 2 millions. The metropolitan area however has a population of almost 12 million and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world’s leading business and cultural centres, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Some of its most visited attractins
San Francisco, United States
San Francisco: one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations
San Francisco is one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations, ranked on top position on the most visited cities lists. It is best known for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and its various landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Ferry Building Marketplace, Mission District and Chinatown. It is also considered the financial, cultural, and transportation centre of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.5 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland. It is the most densely settled large city in the state of California and the second-most densely populated large city in the United States after New York City. The city is also a principal banking and finance centre, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions, placing it on the world’s top twenty global financial centres.
Marrakesh: home to one of the world’s largest and busiest squares
Marrakech, known as the “Ochre City”, is the most important former imperial city in Morocco’s history. It is the capital of the mid-south-western economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The city of Marrakech comprises both an old fortified city known as the médina and modern neighbourhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. Marrakech is famous for being home has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the world’s busiest squares. Indeed Djemaa el Fna bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians, and by night food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant. It is the perfect place to lose yourself in the narrow winding streets of the Medina of Marrakech or enjoy the view at one of the districts welcoming rooftop garden.
Istanbul: world’s only metropolis situated on two continents
Istanbul, historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople is today the largest city of Turkey, with a population of over 13 million inhabitants, as well as the country’s cultural, economic and financial capital. The Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet District and its Old Town are a good example of the city’s mix of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Istanbul strategically lies on the Bosphorus strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, within the northwest part of the country. It is the only metropolis situated on two continents, extending both on the European (Thrace) and Asian (Anatolia) sides of the strait. It ranks among the world’s fastest growing metropolitan area. Its historic areas were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985, and it was named a joint European Capital of Culture for 2010 and the European Capital of Sports for 2012.
Barcelona: one of Europe’s more exciting cities
Barcelona is by far one of Europe’s more exciting cities. Located on the north eastern part of Spain and capital of Catalonia it has a lot to offer its visitors, from the continent’s best-preserved Gothic quarters (Barri Gotic) and fascinating Gaudi architecture (Sagrada Familia, Guell Park) to an afternoon in Montserrat or at the beautiful beaches served by multiple underground stations. Barcelona is Spain’s most cosmopolitan city offering a variety of world cuisine including succulent Catalan dishes. The nightlife and music scene is also one of the most vibrant and their football team is known and supported around the world. In short, Barcelona is perhaps the most equipped of all European cities will it be for arts, culture, sport or lifestyle. The unique city of Barcelona is an absolute must when visiting the Costa Dorada.
Berlin: capital and largest city of Germany
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany as well as the country cultural, political, media and science center. It is home to a variety or world class sights including the Pergamon Museum, Gendarmenmarkt and the Berlin Wall. It is Located in north-eastern Germany within the European Plains and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes. Its economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, and convention venues. Berlin also serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport and is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, electronics, traffic engineering, and renewable energy. Berlin is also home to renowned universities, research institutes, orchestras, museums, international film productions and celebrities, as well as host of many sporting events.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Chicago: largest city in the state of Illinois and major international hub
Chicago is the largest city in the state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States after Los Angeles and New York City. It was incorporated as a city in 1837, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. Today, Chicago is a major alpha+ global city and is known as a major international hub for finance, industry, telecommunications and infrastructure, with O’Hare International Airport being the second busiest airport in the world in terms of traffic movements. The city’s notoriety has found expression in numerous forms of popular culture, including novels, plays, movies, songs, various types of journals and the news media. Some of its most visited attractions include the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Millennium Park and the Chicago Architecture Foundation as well as Alinea, one of the finest restaurants in the US.
Florence: one of the most beautiful cities in the world
Florence is often ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with its numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace. It is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany within the province of Florence. It is famous for its history, once being at the heart of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the middle Ages. It is today a major tourist hub part of UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its vast artistic and architectural heritage including the Boboli Gardens, Uffizi Gallery and the Basilica di Santa Croce. The city also remains a great influence in the fields of art, culture, fashion and politics.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires: capital and largest city of Argentina
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city in Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after Greater Sao Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the Río de la Plata estuary, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent. Buenos Aires is a top tourist destination, known for its European style architecture and rich cultural life. It is one of the largest cities in Latin America, with a lot of cultural offerings, and is the point of departure for travelling to the rest of the country. Inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called porteños or people from the port, implying that many of the inhabitants are immigrants in some ways or another. Buenos Aires is a singular, open, and integrating destination that allows the visitor not only to view the city mains attractions such as the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA), Puerto Madero and Palacio Barolo (Palazzo Barolo), but also to have an exceptional urban adventure.
Sydney: most populous city in Australia and one of the world’s most liveable
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales, as well as being classified as an Alpha+ World City. It is located on Australia’s south-east coast off the Tasman Sea and has a metropolitan area of about 4.6 million people. It is considered one of the world’s most liveable cities as well as one of the world’s top fashion capitals. The city was built on the site of the first British colony in Australia (1788) on hills surrounding Port Jackson which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour. It is where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge feature prominently. The hinterland of the metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks and the coastal regions feature many bays, rivers, inlets and beaches including the famous Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. Within the city are many notable parks, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. It has hosted major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games and the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Beijing: China political, cultural, and educational centre
Beijing is the capital of China, second largest city after Shanghai and one of the most populous cities in the world. The metropolis, located in northern China, has been the heart of China’s history for centuries, renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, huge stone walls and gates, art treasures and universities. Beijing is today the country’s political, cultural, and educational centre, as well as home to the headquarters for most of China’s largest state-owned companies. Beijing is a major transportation hub in the national highway, expressway, railway and high-speed rail network. Beijing’s Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic. Some of its most exciting sights include the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague: one of Easter Europe’s most popular destinations
Prague is by far one of the most amazing cities in Easter Europe offering a wonderful architecture and various sites to be discovered within the historic centre part of UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Some of the top attractions the city has to offers include the narrow streets of the old town with at its heart the Old Town Square, the famous Karol Bridge and the magnificent Prague castle located on a hill. Prague is not short of entertainment as well, offering various Opera and Ballet spectacles, a variety of restaurants and bars, where guest can enjoy a delicious meal tasting local specialities and enjoying a variety of Czech beers. Since the fall of Communism, Prague has become one of Europe’s most popular destinations, offering a wide array of culture sights as well as numerous entertainment venues.
Las Vegas, Nevade, United States
Las Vegas: World’s Gambling Capital best known as Sin City
Las Vegas is the most populous city within the state of Nevada and an internationally renowned resort destination for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as the World’s Entertainment Capital, famous for its consolidated casino hotels and associated entertainment. It is also a growing retirement and family city, but remains mostly popular for its adult entertainment and is therefore dubbed as the Sin City. It is famous for its numerous outdoor lighting displays mainly on Fremont Street, the Bellagio Fountains and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Shanghai: China’s largest city
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is located within the Yangtze River Delta in the eastern part of the country. It was once a small fishing and textiles town and only grew in importance in the 19th century, when the European recognized its economic potential with its strategic port location. The city soon flourished as a centre of commerce between east and west but its international influence declined during the second half of the 20th century, until the economic reforms in the 1990s. Shanghai is today an important global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport, as well as being a major financial centre and the busiest container port in the world. It has also become a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Pudong skyline, which is a symbol of the booming economy of mainland China.
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Honolulu: capital and the most populous city of Hawaii
Honolulu is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is a major financial centre of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. The city has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour near the city on December 7, 1941, and as the birthplace of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. Honolulu has a massive skyline with a total of over 470 high rises, which is ranked 4th only behind New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, California, United States
Los Angeles: World’s Entertainment Capital
Los Angeles or the City of Angels is one of the US and the world’s most important business entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, and education centres. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. Los Angeles has been ranked the world’s third richest city and fifth most powerful and influential along with the Greater Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. It is perhaps best known as the World’s Entertainment Capital, being home to Hollywood and a leader in the creation of television and stage production, motion pictures, video games, and recorded music, as well as other popular attractions such as the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory and Venice Canals Walkway.
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
New Orleans: the most unique city in America
New Orleans located in southeastern Louisiana on the bank of the Mississippi River is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state. The city is well known for its distinct French Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage and often referred to as most unique city in America. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music, being the birthplace of jazz and its annual celebrations and festivals such as the famous Mardi Gras.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town: Africa’s most popular tourist destination.
Cape Town is the seat of the National Parliament, the legislative capital and the second-most populous city in South Africa, as well as Africa’s most popular tourist destination. The city is famous for its harbour as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. It is located on the shore of Table Bay and was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company and quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope. It has today become the economic and cultural hub of the region and one of the world’s most multicultural cities.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai: Northern Thailand most popular destination
Chiang Mai is considered the hub of Northern Thailand with over a million people living in the metropolitan area. It is often referred to as the “Rose of the North“, being strategically located on a plain at an elevation of 316 m and surrounded lush countryside and mountains. It is a much greener and quieter alternative to the capital. It is well known for its Elephant Nature Park, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Dublin: capital and largest city of Ireland
Dublin, known as the town of the hurdled ford is the capital and largest city in Ireland. It is located near the midpoint of Ireland’s east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey. It was originally founded as a Viking settlement and evolved into the Kingdom of Dublin and became the island’s principal city following the Norman invasion. The city expanded rapidly from the 17th century, it was briefly the second largest city in the British Empire and the fifth largest in Europe. Following the partition of Ireland in 1922, Dublin became the capital of the Irish Free State and later the Republic of Ireland. It is today a fascinating destination to visit, being a historical and contemporary cultural centre in Ireland, as well as a modern centre of education, the arts, administration, economy and industry. It is well known for its Glasnevin Cemetery, Kilmainham Gaol and St. Stephen’s Green.