The Most Popular Cities In The World To Visit

The contest between cities is highly contentious, as London, Paris and, in recent years, Bangkok all vie for the top spot among tourists.

If you are looking for fun and excitement during your next vacation, you might want to consider adding a few of these top global tourists destinations in your itinerary. This is according to a research that was recently published by the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index.


Back in 2012 and 2013, Bangkok held the top position on the list, and although Bangkok saw its ranking drop slightly in 2015, in 2016 it regained the top spot with 21.47 million travellers passing through it. The city of Bangkok its many culinary delicacies and vibrant nightlife. The city serves as the starting and stopping point for many travellers who have their sights set on Southeast Asia.


In 2015, London held the top position of the world's most visited cities. In 2016, it was second only to Bangkok. London is the largest city and capital of the United Kingdom, home to many world class museums and tourist attractions including the London Eye, London Bridge, the British museum and more. In 2016, 19.88 million tourists paid a visit to London.

Honorable Mentions

Paris, Dubai, and New York took the third, fourth, and fifth positions, with 18.03 million, 15.27 million, and 12.75 million visitors, respectively in 2016. Dubai has constantly moved up the rankings since the launch of the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. It ranked eighth in 2012, climbed to seventh in 2013, fifth in 2014, and fourth in 2015. The future of Dubai looks promising as it prepares itself for the Expo 2020. The Expo is one of numerous event opportunities and other key economic drivers expected to reinforce its position in the world of travel. Prospective tourists to the city is projected to increase 8 percent from last year. When examining the number of international overnight visitors that destination cities attracted per city resident, Dubai emerges as the world’s champion, with 5.7 visitors per resident, an increase of 0.8 percent over the 2014 figure.

Istanbul was ranked as the world's eighth most visited city in 2016. International flights to Istanbul are cheaper when compared to the neighboring cities, so, in conjunction with its convenient geography, the city becomes a perfect starting point for trips across Europe, Asia, or North Africa. The city itself is a spectacle: an exquisite intersection of west and east.

Up and Coming Destination Cities

According to the MasterCard-sponsored study, the cities of Osaka, Japan, Chengdu, China, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates are all cities that grow promising signs of growth in their tourism sectors. This is mostly said to be due to the increased of visits from tourists from neighboring countries. Some particular factors can also be cited for the growth in tourism for some of these cities, such as the re-strengthening of Sri Lanka's tourism industry thanks to rebuilding from a civil war and the increase in international tourists to China.

The Most Popular Cities In The World To Visit

RankCitiesIn millions (2016)
5New York12.75
7Kuala Lumpur12.02
11Hong Kong8.37

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