10 Most Visited Countries in the World

most visited countries in the world

Tourism is a major industry in many parts of the world and it’s changing many people’s life — for the better. In some of the most visited countries in the world, the tourism industry plays an enormous part and supports a big population. Thankfully, worldwide tourism is on the rise, according to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The total number of international tourist arrivals in the world has increased from 674 million in the year 2000 to 940 million in 2010 to 1,235 million in 2017.

Every year, the UNWTO compiles a list of the most visited countries according to the number of international tourist arrivals for every country. European destinations like France, Spain and Italy are still leading the list, while Thailand and Mexico are continuing to climb up the list. The most surprising entry in the list is probably Turkey. I’ve been there a few times myself, but have never found it packed with tourists, which is definitely a good thing.

Here are the top 10 most visited countries as compiled by WTO in 2017, listed in descending order. I have also included some useful info like best places to visit and best hotels in each destination for you to plan your own trip!

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Most Visited Countries in the World

10. Turkey: 30 million visitors

Spanning across Europe and Asia, Turkey is famed for its distinctive cultures, age-old traditions and varied landscapes. These range from the unique cotton travertines of Pamukkale to the whimsical valleys of Cappadocia. 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. Its biggest city, Istanbul, is the crowd-puller, attracting travelers around the world with its blend of East-meets-West and old-meets-new. Expect futuristic skyscrapers alongside traditional mosques and boutique hotels next to street food stands.

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most visited countries world

9. Thailand: 32.6 million visitors

Thailand’s influence in the tourism sphere has always been high, and it continues to rank as the most popular country to visit in Southeast Asia. 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 beneath the surface, Thailand has layers of history and intriguing Buddhist traditions for the culture vultures out there.

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An Intimate Elephant Encounter at Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

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most visited countries - thailand

8. Mexico: 35.0 million visitors

Mexico has climbed up two places as well, pushing Russia out of the 10 most visited countries list. The number of visitors to Mexico alone is higher than the total number of visitors in the entire Caribbean (25.2 million). I imagine most of these numbers come from the Yucatan Peninsula, an extremely popular holiday destination lined with gorgeous beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, lush rainforests and vibrant nightlife.

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most visited countries world - Rivera Maya

7. Germany: 35.6 million visitors

On UNWTO’s ranking of world tourism expenditure, Germany comes in at number one – it looks like all these money spent on boosting its tourism is well worth it. 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. Munich’s Oktoberfest itself accounts for a big percentage of the annual visitors, while Berlin and Frankfurt attract mainly European city lovers.

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most visited countries world

6. United Kingdom: 35.8 million visitors

Although its numbers are a far cry to that of Italy, the United Kingdom climbed up two places this year surprisingly — despite the results of Brexit. Most people have ventured 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. Let’s not forget that London is a miniature world, it’s where global cultures converge and where headquarters of almost every international company is located. We spent a year living in the UK and loved the international vibes that London has to offer.

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most visited countries world

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5. Italy: 52.4 million visitors

From the romantic canals of Venice to the history-rich piazzas of Rome and pebbled beaches in the Amalfi Coast, Italy’s attractions are so many you’ll be spoiled for choice. The country provides a diverse travel experience – you can go from the 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. We’ve been to Italy many times, the first time more than 10 years ago. I remember how awestruck I was by the magical streets of Rome and Florence.

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most visited countries world - italy

4. China: 59.3 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. A large number of companies has moved their production chains to China, so have banks and big-name franchise stores.

At the same time, China is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination, with its ancient cities, historical sites and good food veering for the tourist limelight. Even in the crowded capital city of Beijing, there are lots of secret corners with local flair and cultural heritage. We loved our time traveling the rural parts of China, experiencing things like farming in Yangshuo, climbing up the world’s tallest Buddha statue and  hiking Mount Emei.

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A Story On Rice Planting in Yangshuo, China

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most visited countries in the world - China

3. Spain: 75.6 million visitors

Ask any European if they’ve been to Spain and probably 9 out of 10 would say yes. In 2017, Spain experienced the biggest increase in international arrivals (amongst the 10 most visited countries) as compared to the previous year. Every summer, Costa del Sol and many of the Balearic islands are flooded with German, British and Dutch tourists.

But the country is a lot more than just pretty beaches – there are lots of historical sites to see and rich culture to be experienced in the capital city of Madrid, the vibrant hip metropolis of Barcelona and traditional towns in Andalusia and Castilla la Mancha. 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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 most visited countries in the world - Granada, Spain

2. United States: 75.6 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! 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.

According to records, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco are the most visited cities in the U.S. We rather prefer the national parks – some of our favorite parks being Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park.

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The Rooftop of Maui — Haleakala Volcano Crater

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most visited countries world - usa

1. France: 82.6 million visitors

It’s really no surprise that France has topped the charts over and over again, with Paris being the most sought after city in the travel world. Whether you’re traveling to visit the famous Musée du Louvre or Eiffel Tower in Paris, or going wine-tasting in Bordeaux and castle-hopping in the Loire Valley, France has plenty to offer for the curious traveler.

As a European country, France is also relatively compact and distances are short. It’s easy to travel from one region to the next on budget car rentals and go from city sight-seeing to relaxing on the beach within a short time frame. 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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most visited countries - France

*Source: UNWTO Tourism Highlights – 2017 Edition


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Read more: 10 Least Visited Countries in the World

By |2018-06-06T09:31:45+00:00September 28th, 2017|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Izy Berry October 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    So happy to see that France is on top of the list! I absolutely love France and would love to live there again in the future

  2. Nellie Huang November 9, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Yeh Spain draws in huge amounts of tourists from around Europe.

  3. Nain sahab April 14, 2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Love France and visit again in the future

  4. shweta April 16, 2018 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Very happy with the list. Would love to explore all the locations too.

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