Editor’s note: This story is part of the Road Trips special section.
Beaches and historical sites are fan favorites for travelers.
But they weren’t all created equal.
There are a few destinations that are the most visited, the places that everyone wants to see and check off their bucket list. On the other hand, if you want to avoid the crowds, cross these top 10 most visited cities by international tourists off your itinerary.
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Information was obtained through the Euromonitor International, which tracks annual destination cities by international visitors.
10. Istanbul, Turkey
It’s all in the history.
Hagia Sophia, formerly a Greek Orthodox Christian church, is a museum that features rich historical importance due to its architecture and size. It was built in the same location three times and is one of many sites in Istanbul that draw tourists for its long-lasting cultural significance.
There are also dozens of restaurants, like Constantine’s Ark, that hit the spot for tourists.
About 11.8 million people visit Istanbul a year.
9. New York City
The Big Apple is an obvious choice on this list.
It is also the only United States city to make the top 10 for international visitors.
New York City is known for its gargantuan skyscrapers, sleepless nights and endless activities. It’s home to Wall Street, the New York Yankees and the Statue of Liberty.
Domestic and international tourists alike pack themselves on the streets of the city for events like the New Year’s Eve celebration. The city is so well known and frequented by outsiders that tourism is a $61 billion industry, according to Reuters.
About 12.2 million international visitors try to make it to The City That Never Sleeps for a few nights a year.
8. Shenzhen, China
This may be a surprise for this list as most people may have not heard of this city.
Shenzhen, however, is the closest place to stay and tour. It is also a few miles away from Hong Kong — we’ll get to that bustling town much, much later.
Theme parks like Splendid China and Window of the World, which show replicas of the world’s most famous sites, are man-made features of the city. Get a little outside of town, however, and there are natural beauties like Wutong Mountain and Shenzhen Mangrove Nature Reserve.
About 13.1 million international visitors tour Shenzhen annually.
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Like to shop?
The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping centers of the world.
Dubai is also home to majestic site-seeing opportunities with luxury hotels like Burj Al Arab, which oversees Dubai, Jumeirah Beach, Wild Wadi Waterpark and the Persian Gulf.
If a tourist isn’t interested in the city’s historic district and opportunities to relax, they might be thrill seekers that visit Ski Dubai, an indoor winter wonderland.
Dubai is host to 13.2 million international visitors a year.
6. Macau, China
Some people spell it Macao.
And it gets a ton of visitors.
Macau, a little peninsula with big attractions, is similar to Hong Kong as an autonomous territory that plays by its own rules, separate from the rest of China. It is known for two cultures — Portugese and Chinese.
It is affectionately called the “Las Vegas of China” due its prominent casinos. The city, when people aren’t gambling away their spending money, is also a hot spot for iconic sites like Ruins of St. Paul’s and A-Ma Temple.
Macau gets 14.9 million international visitors a year.
5. Paris, France
There may be a surprise of two in the top 5, but this isn’t one.
The architectural beauty and significance of Paris is unprecedented. The French even gave New York City the Eiffel Tower, designed and built by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel.
Recognize Gustave’s last name, anyone?
Paris is as much known for its unforgettable sites like Notre Dame de Paris as it is for cutting edge fashion and food.
About 15 million foreigners tour Paris each year.
4. Bangkok, Thailand
The capital of Thailand has a little bit of everything.
World-famous temples include Golden Buddha and Wat Phra Kaew. And when you get outside of Bangkok’s historic icons you are met with shopping centers, the Dusit Zoo and pristine parks.
About 16.2 million international visitors tour Dubai annually.
There are five Asian cities that are the most visited by foreigners every year, more than any other continent.
Singapore is the fourth to make the list.
It is also more well-known for its wildlife than any other city on the list. It has the Night Safari, a nocturnal animal zoo, Jurong Bird Park, a wildlife preserve, The Underwater World for marine life and the 64-acre Singapore Zoo.
Singapore is also home to an island resort called Sentosa, which is where people go to for Universal Studios Singapore, and it also features centuries-old food markets and churches.
About 17 million international visitors stay in Singapore a year.
2. London, England
Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London were built here. England’s capital is also the site for The British Museum, Westminster Abbey and Hyde Park. You can also go to London’s National Gallery and the two Tate galleries, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, which hold famous art collections.
It’s all here in the city of London.
Historic venues aside, it is also the home of the London Eye, a 443-foot tall observational wheel that was built to celebrate the year 2000. Futbol is also a big thing there.
About 17.4 million international tourists visit London a year.
1. Hong Kong, China
Told you we’d get to Hong Kong.
And it legitimately has everything.
Tian Tan Buddha, Man Mo Temple and the Hong Kong Museum of Art highlight some the region’s most iconic treasures. There are also theme parks, water parks, entertainment centers and restaurant venues.
Victoria Peak, home to major shopping centers and Peak Tower, is an 1,800 foot mountain that offers a view of the city. It also boasts some of the most expensive property in the world. The value of homes reaches about $100 million.
Hong Kong easily sits a top the list, drawing 27.7 million international visitors a year.