Last Updated on July 23, 2021 by

Every year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) compiles a report with international tourist arrivals for every country. This is the latest list of the most visited countries in the world, based on their 2020 report.

While travel has come to a halt this past year, the report shows the travel statistics from 2020, during which there was a strong growth in international arrivals. All regions enjoyed an increase in arrivals in 2019, led by the Middle East (+8%). Asia and the Pacific and Europe both saw 4% growth.

Here are the top 10 most visited countries according to UNWTO, listed in descending order. I’ve been to all 10 of the most visited countries and have included my tips on how to visit them. 

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10.United Kingdom: 39 million visitors

The United Kingdom dropped two places this year, perhaps due to the results of Brexit.

Most people rarely venture beyond the cultural capital of London; the UK actually has quite a lot to offer on its shores, beyond the cities. There’s the old-world charm of England, the dramatic landscapes of Scotland and the lesser known coastline of Wales. The Scottish Highlands definitely make for a good road trip, while hiking in the Lake District is one of the best experiences in England

We spent a year living in London and loved the international vibes that London has to offer. For those short of time, you can see quite a lot with just a weekend in London: check out this detailed 3-day London itinerary.

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9. Thailand: 40 million visitors

Thailand’s influence in the tourism sphere has always been high, and it continues to rank as one of the countries with most tourists. 

Home to some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia, Thailand draws in huge crowds of backpackers and travelers from around the globe in search of cheap food, beaches and party atmosphere. 

But Thailand is a lot more than beaches: its temples and palaces are treasure troves of history and culture. Plus food in Thailand is well known throughout the world. Rent a car and head up north — there are plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai, from jungle trekking to white water rafting and hikes to secluded temples.

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8. Germany: 40 million visitors

Many of Germany’s major cities are tourist magnets especially in festive season – drawing in visitors with their Christmas markets, beer festivals and summer events. If you are planning to visit at Christmas, check out this list of the best Christmas markets in Germany.

Munich’s Oktoberfest itself accounts for a big percentage of the annual visitors, while Berlin and Frankfurt attract mainly European city lovers. If you rent a car in Germany, you’ll get to explore the Rhine River, Black Forest and more of its backcountry. Check out our list of best places to visit in Germany.

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7. Mexico: 45 million visitors

Mexico remains at #7 on the most visited countries list. It’s easy to see why Mexico is on this list, considering you can just drive to Mexico from the United States. Check out our 2-week Mexico itinerary!

The number of visitors to Mexico alone is higher than the total number of visitors in the entire Caribbean (25.2 million). Most of these numbers come from the Yucatan Peninsula, an extremely popular destination lined with gorgeous beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, and lush tropical jungles. Check out my long list of things to do in Yucatan.

Mexico City, home to 12 million people, is also an excellent place to visit for history and culture. Major towns like Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are also extremely popular with culture vultures who are interested in the colonial history and Mexican traditions. Food lovers flock to Oaxaca, best known for having Mexico’s best foods.

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6. Turkey: 51 million visitors

Turkey has climbed up two spaces since last year to come in at #6 on this list of the most visited countries in the world. Extremely diverse and packed to the brim with epic tourist sights, Turkey truly makes an outstanding destination for all kinds of travelers.

Spanning across Europe and Asia, Turkey is famed for its distinctive cultures, age-old traditions and varied landscapes. Historically, Turkey was home to distinctive civilizations through the centuries, with impressive Roman ruins and Ottoman architecture to bear witness.

Today, it’s home to many outstanding historical sites and natural attractions: from the unique cotton travertines of Pamukkale to the whimsical valleys of Cappadocia. Its biggest city, Istanbul, is the crowd-puller, attracting travelers around the world with its blend of East-meets-West and old-meets-new. 

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5. Italy: 65 million visitors

Italy’s attractions are world famous: from the romantic canals of Venice to the charming fishing villages of Cinque Terre and the city of caves, Matera. It’s home to the most beautiful places in Europe. The country provides a diverse travel experience – you can drive from the Italian coast to rustic olive groves to dramatic mountains in one day. 

Italy is one of our favorite countries in the world, and it’s obvious we’re not the only ones who have fallen for its charms. As far as tourism trends go, we predict that Italy’s tourism numbers will only keep rising. If you’re looking for Italy trip ideas, check out my Southern Italy itinerary and Cinque Terre travel guide.

We’ve been to Italy many times, the first time more than 15 years ago. And we just keep returning.

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4. China: 66 million visitors

Since it opened its doors to tourism, the number of visitors to China has skyrocketed, largely due to an increase in global business dealings and cultural exchange. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to stop anytime soon. 

It’s easy to see how China has become of the top tourist countries, blessed with hundreds of ancient cities, historical sites and good food. Its iconic landmarks – from the Great Wall of China to the terracotta army in Xi’an – have been gaining in popularity thanks to social media.

Even in the crowded capital city of Beijing, there are lots of secret corners with local flair and cultural heritage. Our two-week China itinerary included farming in Yangshuo, climbing up the world’s tallest Buddha statue and  hiking Mount Emei. It was an epic trip!

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3. United States: 79 million visitors

Stretching from California in the West to New York in the East, the United States of America covers an area of 3.79 million square miles. That’s a whole lot of country to explore! It has been on the top of the most traveled countries list for years.

The U.S. is as diverse as it is huge: with expansive national parks and vibrant cities visited by foreign tourists, local visitors and business travelers alike. For first-time visitors, we recommend doing a road trip, just rent a car and plan your route beforehand!. Be sure to check out our 2-week California itinerary and our Florida road trip.

New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco are the most visited cities in the U.S. But the beauty of America lies in its backcountry. Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks are some of the best national parks in USA.  

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2. Spain: 84 million visitors

With white-washed towns, traditional flamenco tablaos, and centuries-old cathedrals, Spain is easily one of the most visited countries in the world thanks to its historical treasures and culture heritage. In 2018, Spain experienced the biggest increase in international arrivals (amongst the 10 most visited countries) as compared to the previous year.

There’s so much more to Spain than just pretty beaches: visit impressive museums in the capital city of Madrid, admire eclectic architecture and art in vibrant Barcelona, feast on paella in Valencia and fall in love with traditional Granada. Check out our recommended 2-week Spain itinerary.

There are hundreds of reasons why we decided to live in Spain. But you’ll have to visit to find out for yourself!

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1. France: 89 million visitors

It’s no surprise that France has topped the charts over and over again to be the number one tourist destination in the world. With Paris being the most famous city in the world and the southern France coasts a hotspot for tourists from Europe every summer. There’s plenty here for the culture vultures: from the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris to the castles of Loire Valley and wineries in Bordeaux.

My favorite part of France is the Alsace region of France, with its villages of brightly-painted steep-roofed half-timbered houses. The region’s capital, Strasbourg, is a charming hodgepodge of fairy-tale cottages, cobblestoned alleys and gingerbread houses.

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