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The most visited cities of 2017, according to MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, are filled with historical value, buzzing culture, and dramatic architecture. Check out the 30 amazing cities at the top of the list and start planning your next international trip.
Johannesburg, the “city of gold,” attracts international visitors because of its quickly evolving contemporary vibe. The city is filled with restaurants, cafes, wildlife parks, and beautiful gardens, while also being the home of the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill.
Berlin is a city filled with history. Visitors can see the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, the Reichstag, and even go on the Third Reich walking tour. The modern elements of Berlin are just as attractive: The city holds breathtaking architecture, amazing food, and buzzing nightlife.
Toronto’s CN tower is the largest attraction (seriously, towering at 553 meters) the city has. It provides a great bird’s eye view of the city and viewers may even spot Niagara Falls and New York State, if the day is clear enough. Toronto also calls out to major foodies with the Kensington Market, people seeking a new sport with recreational axe throwing, and animal lovers with the Toronto Zoo.
The Gateway of India, pictured here, is the most recognised monument Mumbai has and greets all visitors who are approaching the city by sea. Mumbai is a popular tourist destination because of its massive Bollywood culture, the beautiful Chowpatty Beach, jaw-dropping ancient rock-cut caves, and colourful markets that line the streets.
Munich is filled with great beer, museums, sporting arenas, and architecture. Some major events that the city hosts are Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt (the Christmas Markets). All year round the city offers the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle that is pictured here, the 1972 Olympic Stadium, modern art galleries, band rafting, and Hitler walking tours.
There are countless opportunities to explore the arts in Madrid. They range from museums and galleries that showcase Picasso and Dali, to the dramatic architectural pieces that are found around the entire city. Madrid also holds a nightlife unlike any other city. The streets are filled with late night markets, drinks, and tapas.
Don’t get it wrong, Dublin is the home of the Guinness Storehouse and is known for its beer, but the city has a lot more to offer. Tourists enjoy the spacious parks, gardens, beautiful castles, festivals, live music, and beautiful beaches, while interacting with the very friendly locals.
Chennai is the center of the Tamil film industry, bringing the city a lot of culture, stories, visitors, and a peaceful atmosphere. The city’s biggest attractions are the various temples, St Mary’s church, the Anna Centenary Library, and the lovely beaches. The city also hosts many markets, and a great souvenir to bring back home would be the silk.
Los Angeles is internationally known for its successful film and entertainment industry; Hollywood and Universal Studios are major attractions for anyone with the slightest bit of interest. Just outside of LA is Anaheim, home to Disneyland, the “happiest place on Earth” where Disney characters come alive and provide an unforgettable experience. Outside of this adventure world, Los Angeles also offers unique surf spots, beaches, and all year-round warm sun.
Getting 3200 hours of sunshine each year, Miami is the place to visit if you love great beaches, tropical wetlands filled with rare animals, a major art scene, and buzzing Latin culture. The warm weather puts everyone in a great mood, so people are always out exploring the town, museums, relaxing on the beach or out partying and having a great time.
Prague’s architecture is unique and incomparable to any other place in the world. The streets are lined with Romanesque inspired chapels and grand Gothic cathedrals, and the Vltava River led to the creation of over 30 bridges. People also visit the great cafes, historic gardens, and modern styled shopping malls.
Vienna is consistently voted one of the most liveable cities in the world. It’s home to one of the best orchestras, the Vienna Harmonic, and is the world’s capital of classical music. Vienna’s inner city layout is a must visit. The Ring holds many walkable sites such as the Opera House, Parliament, City Hall, and the Hofburg Palace.
Not only does Shanghai blend modern and ancient China, but it blends Eastern and Western culture. The city holds ancient gardens and temples, while also being known as a sleepless city, with great night life that continues this unique blend. Almost anything is sold in Shanghai, and if you take a visit to Nanjing Road, you can experience a very distinctive shopping culture.
Rome continues to capture the essence of the Roman Empire and the beginning of Western civilisation, which can be seen through the magnificent architecture and religious affiliations. The city is internationally known for sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. The Italian culture shines through in their food, wine, and their continued legacy of festivals and parties.
Taipei combines a beautiful landscape of coastal valleys and forests with a grand collection of Chinese artefacts. This city is filled with historic temples and shrines, the stunning Yangmingshan National Park, and the Beitou Hot Springs. If the timing is correct, tourists can also experience the Lantern Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival.
The city of Osaka is lined with vastly different buildings, ranging from the Osaka Castle to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan to the Twin Towers. Not only is Osaka a thriving commercial centre, holding great markets, food, and atmosphere, but there are opportunities to take a step back and visit the Japanese countryside.
Unlike many cities in Italy, the center of Milan is compact and easy for tourists to hit all the biggest attractions in one day. Milan is not typically known for its art but it does hold Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and a few breathtaking buildings. Some other popular sites are the La Scala Opera House, the Duomo, and the Pinacoteca Brera Art Museum.
Amsterdam almost appears to be a floating city because of the vast network of canals it’s built on, but cycling the back streets is another great way to experience the city. Tourists often visit the world class museums, the floating flower market, and the famed coffee shop culture (wink, wink).
Barcelona has it all: Major sporting events, countless festivals, impressive nightlife, great weather, and miles of beaches. It’s known as the capital of modernism and there are gorgeous architectural pieces that tourists must visit like Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, and La Pedrera.
By combining the Eastern and Western worlds and a very long and fascinating history, Istanbul sits at #11 on the Most Visited Cities list. Today, the city is still filled with remnants from the Byzantine Empire and is covered by dramatic mosques, churches and palaces.
Hong Kong is more than just a paradise for shoppers, it’s a perfect destination for both individuals and families. The city has a skyscraper skyline, the iconic Victoria Harbour, and the Star Ferry. Don’t miss the Big Buddha statue and the rest of the beautiful scenery the city offers.
Kuala Lumpur is not only Asia’s green capital, but it’s a city where many cultures meet. There are varying influences on culture, food and architecture, which can be seen in the massive shopping culture or buildings such as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and the Thean Hou Temple. The city also slows down its pace and hosts many spa retreats and entertaining performance art scenes.
Good luck visiting New York City and finding time to see everything it has to offer. The Big Apple has something for everyone. Whether it’s seeing a show on Broadway, visiting one of the many historical museums, walking in Central Park, or visiting the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, you won’t be disappointed.
Seoul residents pride themselves on family and respect because this is a city built around Confucian principles. There’s no doubt that if you visit Seoul you’ll have incredible Korean barbecue, you will get years ahead on technology trends, and you can appreciate the religious history the city holds from its many temples.
Due to a large earthquake in 1923, Tokyo had to rebuild and is now one of the world’s most modern cities. There’s an insane amount of delicious food options, very fast public transportation, and playful fashion. Don’t forget to check out the breathtaking viewing decks at the Mori Tower, along with the city’s serene temples and gardens.
Singapore is a vibrant city filled with colours and many adventures. The ethnic diversity is fascinating and can be experienced in places like Chinatown and Little India. There are amazing views from the world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, and at the world renowned Marina Bay.
The tallest building in the world, the 830-metre Burj Khalifa, is located in Dubai and holds an observation deck with an impressive aerial view of the city. Water taxis are readily available to cruise along the Dubai Creek, visit old Dubai at the Bastakia district or the man-made islands. Souks, or markets, can be found along the streets giving insight to the city that was built on trade.
Is Paris the city of love or the city of light? You decide! There are many iconic places to visit in Paris, making it #3 on this list, so we’ll mention just a few. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognisable and beautiful sites this city has to offer; the Notre Dame cathedral featuring Gothic-influenced architecture, stained glass windows, and beautiful sculptures is a must-see; and no trip is complete without stopping by to see the Mona Lisa and other famous artworks at the Louvre.
London is a wonderful mix of royalty, art, entertainment and history. Tourists head to Buckingham Palace to witness the Changing of the Guards ceremony and then they’re off to take in the views from the London Eye. The tolling of Big Ben (when not undergoing repairs) is an iconic sound, and the architecture of Parliament buildings is a brilliant sight. Hyde Park contains relaxing open spaces and London contains countless more opportunities for visitors daily.
Bangkok is the largest and most developed city in Thailand. Guided boat tours take tourists to the incredible floating markets that only exist in Southeast Asia. Young visitors head to Khao San Road, which has developed into a famous backpacker area with a carefree attitude. The city incorporates ancient designs and royalty in buildings like the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, which give tourists a taste of the land’s rich history.
Words: Nicole Giangola
All photos: ShutterStock
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