natural wonders: pyramids of Giza

10 most visited countries in the world

Have you dreamed about a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights report, France and Italy are two of the most visited countries in the world. Together with the rest of the top 10, they make up a whopping 43% of overall global tourism. Here’s the complete list of the most visited countries in the world.

1. France          

85 million (annual number of overnight visits in 2013)

The Mona Lisa, Notre Dame and French Riviera – well, of course France tops the list.

most visited countries

2. United States           

70 million

The land of the free and home of the brave has such a vast array of food, terrain and culture, it offers something for everyone… which might explain why everyone goes there.

most visited countries

3. Spain

61 million

Good food, good wine, amazing architecture and the ebullient nature of the natives – just some of the reasons why people flock to Spain (and subsequently get exhausted by the Spaniards… did we mention they’re ebullient?).

most visited countries in the world

4. China

56 million

Arguably one the world’s divisive destinations, China has invested in tourism over the last two decades and is now reaping the benefits. It recently shot up the list and will likely remain there for a long time to come.

most visited countries in the world

5. Italy

48 million

Ah, Rome, the place where legends are born, legacies shorn and gelato makes you believe in heaven. And that’s only the beginning. There’s also charming Verona, iconic Venice and the heartstoppingly stunning Dolomites. If you have to be unoriginal, be unoriginal there.

Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world

6. Turkey          

38 million

Turkey is the only country on the list which neither Peter nor I have seen. We’ve heard they do a really good doner kebab. Oh, and there’s the architecture too I suppose.

7. Germany      

32 million

Germany, that eternal enemy with a history of beating the world into submission through its indefatigable power and force – and that’s just Klose. Here it is once again reminding Britons that it’s better than us.

8. United Kingdom

31 million

We queue really, really well. And we have a lot of umbrellas. I guess people like using umbrellas and learning how to queue. Yay us.

most visited countries in the world

9. Russia

28 million

Well, this is a surprise given its less-than-inviting temperatures. Perhaps it’s the neverending supply of vodka, or maybe it’s because we all know Russians are big softies at heart. Maybe it’s the fact that Russian women have legs up to their ears. Plenty there to warm your cockles.

Russia is one of the most visited countries in the world

10. Thailand

27 million

Thailand – love it or hate it, it’s become a semi-permanent fixture of this list. I visited in 2003 and Peter went seven years later. Alas, it wasn’t quite the enchanting land we had in mind. Still, it manages to attract millions upon millions every year. They must be going for the food and scenery, eh?

most visited countries in the world


(Additional photography: Dreamstime)

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