The Most Visited Cities in the World

| © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Marcelina Morfin

In June of this year, the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index was released, revealing the ten most visited cities around the world. While most of the cities on the list are in Asia, North America and Europe are also represented. In no particular order, here are the ten cities people are traveling to the most.

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While London and Bangkok have been going back and forth between the number one and number two spot, Dubai will likely take over the by 2020, according to a 2014 article in the Telegraph. Currently sitting in the number four spot, Dubai is expected to receive 14.26 million visitors this year, and these visitors will spend approximately $11.7 billion. Offering visitors a wide range of activities from shopping — visit the Mall of Emirates where there is an indoor ski slope — to outdoor adventures to historic sites, it is easy to see why people flock to this Middle Eastern city.


England’s vibrant capital, London, will draw close to 18.82 million people this year, making it the number one most visited city in the world. It’s not surprising that so many people want to visit, as it has so much to offer. From the incredible art scene — from ancient to Old Masters to contemporary — to the delicious eats, the history, and the green spaces, visitors will never be bored. While it may one of the most expensive cities, there are still numerous things to do and see if you’re on a budget — most museums are free. It’s estimated that visitors will spend approximately $20.2 billion in London this year.

New York

According to the index’s estimate, 12.27 million people will be making their way to New York City this year, bringing with them approximately $17.4 billion. The Big Apple is one of the most popular destinations — the number one destination in the United States and North America — due to the fact that there are numerous attractions. For the art lover, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, or Neue Galerie, or take in show on Broadway. For the foodie, the possibilities are endless, from local eats to international treats. There are also beautiful parks, incredible architecture, and so much more.


With a rich history, numerous fascinating attractions, exquisite art, and incredible food, it should come as no surprise that the City of Light is one of the top destinations in the world. Paris will see roughly 16.06 million people visit in 2015 — number three in the world. Whether visiting the Louvre, buying a crêpe, relaxing in the garden of the Musée Rodin, or feasting upon a delicious meal at Le Meurice, visitors will spend about $16.6 million in Paris in 2015. Trying to stick to a budget? There are also many budget-friendly things to do, including just strolling along the streets, taking in all the scenic beauty Paris has to offer.


Number two on the MasterCard index list, Bangkok can expect to see approximately 18.24 million visitors in 2015. The total revenue that these tourists are expected to bring in is about $12.4 billion, growing at a faster pace than any other city on the list — about an 11.8 % increase. Bangkok is diverse in its attractions from, shopping to food to historic sites, making it a popular choice for those with varying interests. The kind people and value for money the city offers are other reasons why millions of people flock to this beautiful destination each year. Read The Culture Trip’s guide to discover a few things to do when visiting Bangkok.

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Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul, Turkey, sits right in the middle of the list of the most visited destinations. Expecting to welcome a little over 12 million people, the city of Istanbul is an attractive destination for travelers looking for historic sites, such as the Hagia Sophia, Tokapi Palace, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (or ‘Blue Mosque,’ as it is popularly known). One of the oldest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar is also one of the largest, with over 4,000 shops, selling jewelry, carpets, spices, and more, making it the place to go to for unique gifts.

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Even though Singapore was number four on the list in 2014, and is now is number seven, the amount of visitors heading to the city-state located off of southern Malaysia is increasing, with an expected 11.88 million people in 2015. The area attracts many Westerners, as it is a great place from which to explore other areas of Asia — English is also one of the official languages. Exciting attractions are also plentiful, with choices such as the Gardens By The Bay – a beautiful, verdant area with Supertree structures –, China Town, and Little India and Arab Street. For the fashion inclined, a visit to Orchard Road, with all its shopping centers, is an absolute must.


While the number of visitors (10.35 million) place it on the lower end of the list, the money spent by visitors is quite high and very close to the cities at the top of MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index. Spending approximately $14.7 billion, people travel to Seoul, South Korea, because of the cultural experiences available to them. From tasty, authentic food to royal palaces — the Gyeongbokgung Palace from the Joseon dynasty is one must-visit — to incredible shopping in places like Dongdaemun Market or the traditional Namdaemun Market, there is something for every visitor.

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Kuala Lumpur

While most of the cities on this list see visitors from all around the world, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, sees more tourists from the Southeast Asia area and Australia. Malaysia’s capital has seen a bit of growth when it comes to visitors — about 11.12 million in 2015 — keeping it in the top ten. Some of the top things to do and see in Kuala Lumpur include visiting the Petronas Twin Towers – which features a park and shopping – the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, and Petaling Street, where visitors will find a host of food vendors and shopping.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a popular destination for tourists, because although it is part of China, it has its own set of laws. This allows many people to visit without applying for a visa, making it an attractive choice for those looking to experience Chinese culture. Another reason millions visit each year is because there is so much to do, from dining in incredible restaurants and grabbing tasty street food to strolling around markets and exploring outdoor spaces. For 2015, it is estimated that 8.66 million people will visit Hong Kong and spend approximately $7.4 billion.

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