Fully experience and appreciate the most memorable spots on your next adventure.
The world’s top tourist attractions by the number of visitors have a lot in common: they are typically in urban centers (Union Station, Washington, D.C.), free of charge (Central Park, New York) and have broad cultural appeal (Buckingham Palace, London.) In contrast, this selection of top attractions honors local heritage and cultural landmarks at major destinations that have captured the world’s imagination and inspired travelers to circle the globe for architectural marvels and must-see destinations.
Great Pyramid of Giza: Giza, Egypt
The last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World standing, the Pyramids of Giza draw thousands of visitors every year. At the site of Cairo’s most popular attraction, travelers will find three primary pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Cheops, which rises 479 feet from a 754-foot square base. Scientists still don’t understand how the ancient Egyptians were able to move, carve and erect more than 2 million stone blocks, each weighing from 2 to 60 tons. Located on the Giza Plateau, you can tour the trio of royal tombs and see the Sphinx. The passages within the pyramids are tight, but you’ll be able to see the masonry work with your own eyes. While the Solar Barque Museum on the back side of Khufu’s pyramid features a boat that was built for the Pharaoh and was excavated in 1985. Get there early to purchase entry tickets or book a tour
. For a hotel with pyramid views, consider the Marriott Hotel Mena House, with three restaurants, outdoor pool and full-service spa.
[See more of Cairo: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Eiffel Tower: Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower can be appreciated at a distance by all Paris visitors, but for a unique experience consider booking a tour
. Completed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle after two years of construction, it has 1,665 steps to the top and elevators to two observation levels. Computer programmed beacons, which can be seen from up to 50 miles away, complement the tower’s 20,000 lightbulbs as part of a thrilling, hourly night show. To enjoy Paris with a view, visit the Champagne Bar at The Top for an unforgettable glass of bubbly, or have a chef-prepared meal at Madame Brasserie. Paris is home to some of the world’s best hotels, but for a room with an Eiffel Tower view, consider the traveler-approved Shangri-La Hotel, Paris.
[See more of Paris: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Hollywood Sign: Los Angeles, California
The Hollywood sign, which debuted as Hollywoodland in 1923 to advertise a real estate development, was rebuilt in 1978 to mark the iconic industry that makes Los Angeles a company town, even today. For the best selfies, park along North Beachwood Drive off Franklin Avenue and look up Beachwood Canyon, or get nostalgic at Griffith Park Observatory. Hiking to the iconic sign is a popular activity, with three trail options: Mount Hollywood, Cahuenga Peak and Brush Canyon. Or, you may want to book a tour
for a guided experience. To enjoy views of the sign without leaving your hotel, consider Loews Hollywood with an iconic location steps from The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theater.
[See more of Los Angeles: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Berlin Wall Memorial’s East Side Gallery: Berlin, Germany
Graffitied segments of the Berlin Wall that separated the former socialist country of East Germany from democratic West Berlin are enshrined around the world. In Berlin, however, one of the few monuments to the Cold War is the Berlin Wall Memorial, featuring a gallery of 101 panels totaling around 4,300 feet. They were painted by artists in 1990 to commemorate the Wall’s fall and preserve a segment from destruction by urban development. To learn more about the history, impact and significance of the Berlin Wall, consider a tour
. Stop by the Chapel of Reconciliation (Kapelle der Versohnung) where services in German are held every Tuesday to Friday at noon to remember those who lost their lives trying to cross to the west, and visit the museum across from the memorial site to learn more about life in the area prior to 1989. The traveler-favorite Hotel Adlon Kempinsky has views of Brandenburg Gate, a Michelin-starred restaurant, spa and central location for exploring the city.
[See more of Berlin: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain
La Sagrada Familia is one of the world’s most famous cathedrals and its undulating lines, abstract stained glass and dripping stone towers are the work of visionary architect Antoni Gaudí, whose ornate private commissions and playful Parc Güell are also top attractions in Barcelona. Construction of La Sagrada Familia, began in the late 1870s and was supervised by Gaudí for 43 years until his death in 1926 (he is buried in the crypt). The cathedral was expected to be completed in 2026 but has been delayed due to the pandemic. This popular UNESCO-listed site can be very busy; consider booking a tour
to skip the lines. While visiting, explore the Catalonian capital city’s vibrant culture and museums, and plan a stay at the top-rated Cotton House Hotel or the Mandarin Oriental.
[See more of Barcelona: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Grand Palace: Bangkok, Thailand
Formerly a palace for Kings Rama I through Rama V, and home to Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, today’s ceremonial royal complex is a top attraction in Bangkok. Allow at least half a day to admire the ornate carvings, gilded teak woodwork, tiles and classic architecture of the palace’s three courtyards, and see the temple interior. Visitors to the Grand Palace must dress appropriately with both shoulders and knees covered, and are asked to wear black or white out of respect for the late King Rama IX, who died in 2016. For a personalized experience, book a customized tour
of the palace and Bangkok’s must-sees, including the Temple of the Reclining Buddha across the street. The Siam, a traveler-endorsed hotel, has two restaurants, a marina and a full-service spa.
[See more of Bangkok: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Mount Fuji: Shizuoka, Japan
Often capped with snow, Mount Fuji’s gently sloping volcano is Japan’s definition of perfection. Revered by locals, the 12,388-foot summit is open to hikers in certain seasons. Most visitors opt for a sighting, either from Tokyo’s sky-high observation decks or a passing bullet train heading to Osaka. For a closer view, visit the Fuji Five Lakes region for its hot springs or to begin your hike of Mount Fuji. Views from here are best in the early morning or late afternoon, between November and May. Meanwhile, skiers may want to visit during the winter months. For one-of-a-kind views, go to Oshino Hakkai, which is a series of eight ponds fed by the mountain’s underground reservoir amid wooden bridges and rambling walkways in the Mount Fuji World Heritage Site.
Tower of London: London, England
The nearly 1,000-year-old Tower of London fortress has served as a royal palace, prison, armory, execution chamber and treasury, safeguarding the 24,000 gems that make up the famous Crown Jewels, still worn by the Queen on special occasions. Tours of this London attraction are led by the colorfully costumed Beefeaters who thrill kids. Buy tickets online or book a tour
in advance to avoid long waits; save with a three-palace Royal Pass if you’re into nobility.
[See more of London: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
The Strip: Las Vegas, Nevada
Neuschwanstein Castle: Bavaria, Germany
The hilltop Schloss Neuschwanstein was home to young King Ludwig II of Bavaria. King Ludwig II ascended to the throne full of dreams of his kingdom only to lose his power to the Prussians and retreat to his fantasy palaces; he became so isolated from society he was declared insane in 1886. The lavish, white fairytale palace welcomes more than 1.4 million curious visitors annually and is said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. This top-rated tourist attraction can be very busy, so save some time and book a daytrip
from Munich. While in Bavaria, you can stay at The Charles Hotel − a traveler favorite – as well as visit one of the city’s famous biergartens, the English Garden and BMW Welt, or go on daytrips to the Alps, Dachau Concentration Camp and Salzburg.
[See more of Munich: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Ubud: Bali, Indonesia
Topping many bucket lists, the Indonesian island of Bali is a Hindu enclave that has welcomed Westerners for more than a century, hosting New Age and traditional cultures alongside a beachfront party scene. Already the epicenter of yoga, Pan Asian foodie cuisine and elaborate family ceremonies, Ubud (a hilltop inland village surrounded by Instagram-worthy rice fields) was made even more popular by the book and film “Eat, Pray, Love.” Here you can take a guided tour
through the Monkey Forest, visit the Water Temple and swing on a jungle swing. Book a stay at the top-rated Capella Ubud for its two restaurants, spa, outdoor pool and setting among the tropical foliage.
[See more of Bali: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Burj Khalifa: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While all United Arab Emirates countries boast architectural superlatives, the tallest of the futuristic towers – and the tallest building in the world – is Burj Khalifa, whose 160 stories are housed within a slender, silver and glass, 2,716.5-foot-tall frame. Even though you can see it from anywhere in Dubai, to experience the 148th-floor Observation Deck without lines, and feel the breeze whooshing past the partial glass barriers, is a bucket list adventure many think warrants the sky-high admission fee. You can also see the iconic building from the water on a jet ski tour
, from the air on a helicopter tour
or from within by booking a stay at the Armani Hotel Dubai.
[See more of Dubai: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Statue of Liberty: New York, New York
Officially known as “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” the copper Lady Liberty was gifted by France as a symbol of friendship and dedicated in 1886. Conserved by the National Park Service, it can be easily seen from the free Staten Island Ferry. Travelers should note that to tour the museum at its base or climb the 377-step spiral staircase into the crown, you must book ahead with Statue Cruises or select from a variety of guided tour options
. If you want to wake up to views of Lady Liberty, spend the night in New York City at The Wagner at The Battery, a traveler favorite with exceptional views near Wall Street.
[See more of New York City: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
The crown of the Statue of Liberty was closed at the time of publication, check the website for updates.
Oriental Pearl TV Tower: Shanghai, China
Opened in 1994, Shanghai’s favorite vintage tower design – 11 red and gold spheres pierced by a silver column supporting a glass elevator – was inspired by a Chinese poem describing “large and small pearls dropping on a plate of jade.” Located in Pudong, the top sphere of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower holds the tallest observation deck with a glass overlook; other spheres have views over the Huangpu River toward the classic Bund, a revolving restaurant and the interesting Shanghai Municipal History Museum at its base. The highly rated Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai has four restaurants, an indoor pool and a full-service spa and is located less than a half-mile away.
[See more of Shanghai: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Colosseum: Rome, Italy
Now the remains of an enormous, carved marble ellipse, the Colosseum was commissioned in A.D. 72 by Emperor Vespasian as an amphitheater to entertain the masses. The structure features four levels pierced by 80 arched entrances, which allowed 55,000 spectators to quickly take seats to watch all-day games between wild animals, slaves and criminals. The local guides in gladiator costumes hanging around today will tell you how the ground was once soaked in blood and that Christians, indeed, were thrown to lions here. You can take in the view of this iconic landmark from many of the rooms and the restaurant at the Palazzo Manfredi, a traveler favorite thanks to its location in the heart of ancient Rome.
[See more of Rome: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
The Matterhorn: Zermatt, Switzerland
The jagged, 14,692-foot Matterhorn peak resembles a flint ax head above the posh resort area of Zermatt. The Matterhorn is higher than most of the peaks in the Alps near the Italian border and its fine snow conditions and grooming attract skiers and snowboarders in winter, and sightseers year-round who want to ride the funicular. On a visit here, you can experience the charm of the car-free Alpine village at one of the best hotels in Zermatt, go on a horse-drawn carriage ride, eat fondue and explore the shops.
Blue Mosque: Istanbul, Turkey
Although Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar attracts millions of visitors, the city’s most authentic must-see is Sultanahmet Camii, the Blue Mosque built for Sultan Ahmet I in the 17th century. In addition to the stunning blue-glazed tiles that decorate the dome and walls, look for layers of prayer rugs from the Muslim world and Sultan Ahmet’s tomb. Dress modestly (long slacks for men, head coverings for women), remove shoes and respect the prayer times when it closes briefly for non-Muslims. While in Istanbul, combine a tour
of this famous mosque with a visit to the Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace. Of the best hotels in Istanbul, the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is highly regarded for its location close to top attractions and its rooftop lounge, spacious rooms and spa.
[See more of Istanbul: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit ]
Victoria Harbour: Hong Kong
Hong Kong may be most famous for the busy waterway separating the island’s glittering skyscrapers from the commercial mainland at Kowloon. The most spectacular views of the city are from the water, whether seen on a cheap Star Ferry connecting Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui, a traditional Chinese junk, on a guided cruise
or during the world’s largest light and sound show, at 8 p.m. nightly, when skyscrapers erupt into seasonally themed lighting effects synchronized to music. For a room with stellar harbor views, check in to The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, which boasts four restaurants, a nightclub, an indoor pool and a full-service spa.
[See more of Hong Kong: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Due to health ordinances, tours were suspended at the time of publication, check the website for updates.
Library of Celsus: Ephesus, Turkey
The Library of Celsus commemorating the Roman governor Julius Celsus Polemaeanus was commissioned by his son and begun in A.D. 110. Originally two stories tall with a central reading room and three tiers of decorative niches holding life-size statues, it was reconstructed from ruins by archeologists during the 1970s. The excellent replicas and stunning facade restoration make it among the top excursions for cruise ship visitors to the ancient port of Ephesus.
Times Square: New York, New York
With 50 million visitors annually, Manhattan’s monument to billboards, Broadway and buskers is a must. It all began at Long Acre Square when New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs built his paper’s office tower in an area benefitting from the recent arrival of electric lighting and the subway. Times Tower opened in 1904. Shortly after, former Mayor McClellan renamed the square after the paper, and it’s still used for the New Year’s celebration they pioneered. To learn more about the history of Times Square, consider a guided walking tour. Or, consider one of the best hotels in Times Square to stay in the heart of this iconic area.
Buckingham Palace: London, England
Followers of “The Crown” and royal weddings know the British love their monarchy, although Buckingham Palace, the royal residence since 1837, only opened for public visits in 1993. Greater as a symbol of power than as a mansion, it nonetheless fronts 354 feet of prime real estate between Green and St. James parks. The palace has 775 rooms, including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 78 bathrooms and 188 bedrooms for staff. Book far ahead for State Rooms tours, or book a Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle daytrip
for a royal experience. To stay nearby, consider some of the best hotels near Buckingham Palace.
Leaning Tower of Pisa: Pisa, Italy
The 197-foot bell tower rose at Campo dei Miracoli between the 12th and 14th centuries to accompany a Romanesque cathedral and baptistery. Although it began tilting immediately, Pisa’s eight-story marble structure, ringed with arches and 207 support columns, was considered an engineering feat. Following centuries of effort to right it, the Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened in 2001 after three years of placing weights on the tower and removing soil from the bottom. The foundation succeeded in reducing the tilt. Snap an obligatory selfie, walk up nearly 300 steps to the top or linger at one of the top hotels nearby.
Forbidden City: Beijing, China
This former royal compound is more than a half-mile long. Home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties between 1420 and 1925, Forbidden City (also known as the Imperial Palace) is a Beijing heritage site, not a museum of antiquities. Laid out according to Confucian ideals, its men-only outer court comprises more than 90 palaces, while the family-centric inner court was devoted to imperial residences and ceremonial halls. For an in-depth experience, book a guided walking tour
to learn about the history, architecture and significance of this landmark.
[See more of Beijing: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Rosetta Stone, British Museum: London, England
This large carved stone slab covered in text dominates Room 4 at the British Museum because of its crucial role in uncovering ancient history. It was actually a decree about King Ptolemy V meant for public display. It has the same text inscribed in three ancient languages: hieroglyphics, demotic and ancient Greek. Because scholars could read the latter, the stone became the key to deciphering hieroglyphics and has become synonymous with the solution to any riddle.
Disneyland Resort: Anaheim, California
Opened on July 17, 1955, Disneyland helped to launch a theme park industry that has been emulated around the world. Within two years, more than 4.5 million people were visiting Disneyland, cementing Walt and Roy Disney’s model of building a fairy tale place to please guests who were a happy audience for story-based thrill rides, costumed characters and themed souvenirs. Today, with new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge rides and attractions, plus new themes and characters, the resort continues to draw visitors from around the world. The top-rated Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel give travelers the chance to spend the night amid the magic.
[See more of Anaheim-Disneyland: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Tulum is one of Mexico’s top destinations, known for its Riviera Maya beaches, its proximity to the Caribbean Sea and its UNESCO-designated Mayan ruins. Just 80 miles south of Cancun, it’s as tranquil and laid-back as that city is bustling, yet it also has plenty of boutique hotels and restaurants. The picturesque archaeological site – several white limestone temples and carvings highlighted against blue sea and sky – dates to the sixth century and is very well-preserved. You can stay in Tulum, or base yourself at one of the top hotels in Cancun, such as Le Blanc Spa Resort, then book a daytrip
to Tulum Archaeological Site or the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
[See more of Tulum: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Gyeongbokgung Palace: Seoul, South Korea
Although the Lotte World theme park attracts more visitors, the classical architecture and gardens of the Joseon Dynasty royal residence make it a window into Korea’s past. Opened in 1395, when Seoul became the country’s new capital, the palace was destroyed in the 16th-century Japanese invasion, then rebuilt on a nearly 100-acre compound. It’s open daily except for Tuesday; try to catch the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony at Gwanghwamun Gate or the occasional evening tour to see it after dusk. Combine a guided visit to the Gyeongbokgung Palace with a market tour, check out the National Folk Museum of Korea and consider staying at the top-rated Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul, with three restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and a bar/lounge.
[See more of Seoul: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Walt Disney World Resort: Orlando, Florida
Orlando welcomed 75 million visitors in 2019 and, by some estimates, nearly 21 million of them went to the Magic Kingdom. Home to Mickey Mouse, beloved Disney film characters and the iconic Cinderella Castle, it’s the centerpiece of a 40-square-mile park comprising Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, two water parks, trains, more than 25 hotels and the dreams of millions worldwide.
[See more of Walt Disney World Resort: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Iguazu Falls: Brazil and Argentina
Argentina and Brazil share World Heritage national parks conserving spectacular waterfalls that feed the Iguazu River. Multiple cataracts, extending more than 8,800 feet from a height of 262 feet, generate a vast spray of water in a unique subtropical rainforest habitat. Stay in either country’s tourist town, boat or bus in and carry your passport to cross the border. Guided daytrips
often include pickup and drop-off from Puerto Iguazú hotels. Plus, look for rainbows, 2,000 plant species and animals, including tapirs, anteaters, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caimans.
The smallest country in the world, the Holy See is the center of Roman Catholicism, home to the Pope, beautiful gardens and 11 museums, some dating to medieval times. Book advanced tickets
to meet the Pope or skip the line to admire Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling. Or, queue for free entry to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the Vatican’s colorful Swiss Guards, priceless religious art and the balcony where the Pope addresses the faithful. The traveler-approved Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel showcases a hilltop setting with sweeping views of Rome and Vatican City, plus a rooftop Michelin-starred restaurant, an expansive art collection, a spa and several pools.
Sydney Opera House: Sydney, Australia
An architectural wonder when it was designed by Jørn Utzon in the mid-1950s, the billowing “sails” of Sydney’s waterfront hall have defined the city to the world ever since. Visitors can tour several performance spaces inside and out, join dawn exercise classes on the steps, hear world-class symphonies, watch light shows and capture its elegant lines through a lens. For an in-depth experience book a guided tour
to see the Opera House from the water on a harbor cruise or schedule a timed ticket to visitor favorites such as the Taronga Zoo and Australian National Maritime Museum. If you want to relax, book a stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney where you can enjoy panoramic views of the harbor from the rooftop pool, take afternoon tea in The Living Room or have dinner in The Dining Room.
[See more of Sydney: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Mount Everest: Nepal and Tibet
Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay claimed the first ascent in 1953, more than 7,600 people have summited Mount Everest – the highest peak on Earth at 29,035 feet – and nearly 300 have died trying. Still considered the pinnacle of human achievement, the risk-averse peak bagger or non-climber can get up close to the summit on a flightseeing tour from Kathmandu.
Petra is referred to as the “Rose-Red City” and, at dawn especially, the pink-cut rock remains are a remarkable sight. Daylong visits begin at the Siq, a half-mile gorge lined with horse carriages heading to the vast complex. Wonder turns to astonishment at the first view of Al-Khazneh, a royal tomb carved by the Nabataeans 2,000 years ago. Although most structures have fallen, the remaining façades and amphitheater testify to the sophistication of early Arab settlers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 144 miles south of Amman and 78 miles northwest of Aqaba, with bus service available. If you want to stay nearby, the Petra Marriott Hotel and Movenpick Resort Petra offer highly rated accommodations with dining, spas and more.
Mona Lisa: Paris, France
While spectators are captivated by Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile and gaze that follows you around the gallery, Renaissance master artist Leonardo da Vinci also painted the horizon behind her at eye level to draw viewers in. The priceless oil on wood portrait was kept by King Francois I, King Louis XIV and Napoleon before the French government declared her a public treasure; today, she has her own fan mailbox at the Louvre. If you want to save some time, consider booking a guided tour
to skip the lines.
Terra Cotta Warriors: Xi’an, China
Since they were first discovered by farmers in 1974, the life-size, terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang has become the defining attraction of Xi’an, a historic northwestern city boasting pagodas, towers and fortification walls from several eras. Although the huge Qin mausoleum site, located about an hour outside of town, requires decades more excavation, more than 2,000 perfectly restored chariots, horses and individual warriors now stand in proud formation, guarding the passage of China’s first emperor from life to death. Xi’an offers a variety of hotels, including the Hilton Xi’an and Grand Mercure Hotel Xian On Renmin Square.
Borobudur Temple: Java, Indonesia
The largest Buddhist temple compound in the world rose on a Central Java hilltop during the 8th and 9th centuries. Like a 3D mandala or a representation of the cosmos, it has a pyramidal stone base with five concentric square terraces, topped by three circular platforms and a domed stupa. The setting, monumental scale and eye-pleasing symmetry quietly complement thousands of carved reliefs and Buddha statues. Circle each terrace clockwise, like the sun, to walk the path toward enlightenment. What’s more, you can also visit the nearby Omah Pring wildlife area and the Samudra Raksa Ship Museum.
Mount Kilimanjaro: Tanzania
Africa’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet is one of Tanzania’s top attractions and one of the few great mountains that can be summited without too many technical skills or climbing equipment. Several guide companies run six-day round-trip hikes that allow trekkers to acclimatize to the altitude. The drier January to March season is colder but quieter than the more crowded summer months. For accommodations, Babylon Lodge is located within the national park and Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge is situated 13 miles from the park.
Jemaa el-Fna: Marrakech, Morocco
Known as the crossroads at the crossroads of the world, this bustling marketplace houses orange juice stalls under sun umbrellas, horse-drawn carriages and wizened snake charmers. After dark at Jemaa el-Fna, the smoke of grilling meat swirls around fluorescent-lit food stands while dancers and fortune tellers entertain the crowds. You’ll cross this square in the heart of Marrakech’s old medina whether you shop in the souk, pause for mint tea or explore the old mosques and madrassas. Book a private tour
for an insider’s experience, and spend the night at Le Jardins De La Koutoubia, which houses four restaurants, a spa and a pool.
[See more of Marrakech: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Christ the Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Erected by a multinational team of engineers from 1922 to 1931, this art deco statue of Christ with arms outstretched watches over Brazil – and the world’s Christians – from the peak of Corcovado Mountain. At nearly two-thirds the size of the Statue of Liberty, the white soapstone and concrete work designed by Paul Landowski can be seen for miles and was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. What’s more, while in Rio de Janeiro you can explore the Jardim Botanico, Tijuca National Park, Ipanema Beach or book a guided tour
to experience the city’s top sites. For an iconic stay, consider the Belmond Copacabana Palace on the famed beach with three restaurants and a full-service spa.
[See more of Rio de Janeiro: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Great Wall of China: China
Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of the Great Wall in 221 B.C. to protect China’s first feudal empire from the Huns to the north. Stretching across more than 5,500 miles from east to west, the Great Wall offers multiple vantage points and opportunities for exploration. Skip the restored and crowded section at Badaling and join a tour to Jinshanling or Jiankou to hike between towers and turrets, the ever-snaking wall in view, and imagine the clatter of chariot hooves beneath your feet. You can also base yourself in Beijing and book a daytrip
to the Great Wall and Ming Tombs.
Taj Mahal: Agra, India
Most travelers put the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a remarkable monument to love, on their bucket list and for good reason. The almost translucent, 240-foot-tall mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, is made of intricately carved white marble inlaid with semiprecious stones and gems. Commissioned in 1632, it represents 22 years of labor by 20,000 workers, yet is just one of many stunning Mughal monuments in Agra. In addition to the Taj Mahal, explore the Agra Fort and the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri. For a luxurious stay amid reflection pools and pavilions, The Oberoi Amarvilas has unrestricted views of the Taj Mahal.
[See more of Agra: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Meiji Shrine: Tokyo, Japan
Meiji Shrine is one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions, with 30 million visitors each year. This Shinto shrine embodies the people’s gratitude to Emperor Meiji and his consort, who modernized Japanese society and government in the early 20th century. In addition to seeing the torii gate, teak buildings and public prayer wall, travelers are welcome to participate in traditional prayer rituals. One hundred thousand trees donated to the surrounding Yoyogi Park make this a tranquil spot in Shibuya. In addition to the Meiji Shrine, you’ll want to visit the Imperial Palace, Tokyo National Museum and the iconic Tokyo Tower. The highly regarded Grand Hyatt Tokyo makes an ideal base for exploring with seven restaurants, a pastry boutique, an indoor swimming pool and a spa.
[See more of Tokyo: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Table Mountain: Cape Town, South Africa
This flat, eye-catching plateau is a sky-high recreational area that has attracted 24 million visitors since the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway opened in 1929. While the cars rising to 3,600 feet rotate to show off picturesque Cape Town, the mountain’s rich biodiversity – 1,470 species of plants and myriad forest animals in a relatively small area – is the top attraction. What’s more, you can experience vineyards, go whale watching (seasonally), visit Nelson Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island and explore the city’s vibrant nightlife. Enjoy resort amenities framed by views of Table Mountain at the One&Only Cape Town with fine dining, a rooftop lounge, a spa and various personalized experiences.
[See more of Cape Town: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Niagara Falls: New York and Ontario, Canada
Niagara Falls welcomes an estimated 22 million annual visitors to see its 6 million cubic feet of water per second tumbling over the rocky U.S.-Canada border. While Canada’s thundering Horseshoe Falls are the widest, New York’s stunning American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are seen from a more natural environment. Bring passports to cross the Rainbow Bridge and see both, and don’t miss any under-the-falls experiences. For a unique perspective, book a boat tour
to see the falls from the water.
[See more of Niagara Falls: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Zócalo: Mexico City, Mexico
Angkor Archaeological Park: Siem Reap, Cambodia
The 12th-century stone Hindu temple or wat, built by King Suryavarman II is the largest religious structure in the world. An architectural marvel surrounded by jungle and smaller shrines, Angkor Wat is laid out as a mandala, or plan of the universe, with courtyards on three levels. Famously covered in beautifully preserved Hindu carvings, you’ll see Lord Vishnu, religious tales and thousands of dancing apsaras, alluring celestial maidens with their feet turned out. Skip the line on your trip and purchase a one-, three- or seven-day pass
for the archaeological park in advance. To stay nearby, the Jaya House River Park receives rave reviews for its staff, riverside location, food and cleanliness.
Galápagos Islands: Ecuador
Isolated in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off Ecuador where three ocean currents meet, these volcanic islands boast biodiversity that inspired scientist Charles Darwin to write “On the Origin of Species” after a visit in 1835. Plan a trip to the Galápagos Islands soon on specially licensed boat tours, before the warming ocean threatens the islands’ coral reefs and unique species of boobies, turtles, sharks and more. The Finch Bay Eco Hotel provides guests with complimentary airport transportation and Wi-Fi, along with a beachfront location, a restaurant and a pool.
[See more Galápagos Islands: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit ]
Tokyo Disney Resort: Urayasu, Japan
Around 17 million annual visitors to Tokyo Disneyland and nearly 13 million annual visitors to Tokyo DisneySea make both attractions among the world’s most successful theme parks. Super fans say that Disneyland has the traditionally favorite characters and rides, while DisneySea focuses more on attractions themed to recent movies. Be sure to visit both, noting the ways in which Disney incorporates elements of Asian culture to make the themes, cuisine and souvenirs more engaging for locals. The traveler-favorite Tokyo Disneyland Hotel has a seasonal outdoor pool and children’s pool, two restaurants and laundry facilities.
Acropolis: Athens, Greece
Like icing on the cake of ancient treasures, the Acropolis – literally “highest point” of Athens – is a must-see. Fifth-century B.C. marble masterworks include the 228-foot-long Parthenon, decorated with friezes seen at the on-site museum; Athena Nike temple; colonnaded Propylaea gateway; and the Erechtheum, whose portico is held up by caryatids, sculpted svelte women. Go early before the heat and crowds build to appreciate the Golden Age of a civilization that defined the Western world. To combine your visit to the Acropolis with a trip to the new Acropolis Museum, consider skipping the line by booking a guided tour
. Enjoy views of the Acropolis while having breakfast or swimming in the pool at the popular Hotel Grande Bretagne.
[See more of Athens: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco, California
Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel, connecting San Francisco to Marin County. Featuring art deco detailing, the towers extend 746 feet toward the sky and more than 100 feet beneath the bay. It attracts more than 10 million visitors a year, and you can drive, walk or bike across the 1.7-mile-long structure. Visit the welcome center to learn about the history and special exhibits. If you’d like to see the bridge from a different view, take a sunset catamaran cruise
or enjoy the view from your room at the Argonaut Hotel.
[See more of San Francisco: Things to Do | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
Navy Pier: Chicago, Illinois
Offering picture-perfect skyline views and entertainment for all ages, the Navy Pier in Chicago extends out onto Lake Michigan. You can ride the iconic Ferris Wheel or the carousel, play mini-golf, dine at one of the restaurants or board a cruise to see it all from the lake. There are plenty of great spots for a selfie. While you’re in the Windy City, be sure to venture around town to check out iconic attractions like the Shedd Aquarium, shop along The Magnificent Mile, catch a ballgame at Wrigley Field and take a photo in front of the Bean in Millennium Park. For views of the lake, city and Navy Pier, consider a stay at The Peninsula Chicago, a top-rated hotel with afternoon tea in The Lobby restaurant, a spa and a Cantonese restaurant.
[See more of Chicago: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos ]
You might also be interested in: