Choosing a vacation spot can be tough, but U.S. News has made it easier by compiling a list of top destinations based on expert opinions, reader votes, and current trends. They considered factors like attractions, culture, scenery, and food. Use this list to plan your next trip and vote to help determine next year’s rankings.
Paris, the City of Light, is a popular tourist destination that never fails to captivate visitors with its iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, as well as its unique charm. The city’s timeless beauty is enhanced by its quaint cafes, fashionable shopping districts, and stunning Haussmann architecture. What makes Paris truly special is that every trip or season brings new discoveries, making it a destination that is always worth visiting. To fully experience the ever-changing capital of France, explore the charming cobblestone streets, take a walking tour to uncover its secrets, visit dynamic art exhibits like the Atelier des Lumières, or indulge in the latest culinary offerings at the city’s top restaurants and pastry shops.
2. Bora Bora
Bora Bora, a 12-square-mile French Polynesian island, may be small in size, but it boasts an abundance of tropical beauty. Its picturesque beaches, lush jungles, and luxurious resorts on surrounding islets are sure to captivate any traveler. The island’s extinct volcano, Mount Otemanu, offers a great photo opportunity and a challenging hike, while the friendly locals can guide you to the best sights during an off-road excursion. For a relaxing day, Matira Beach is the perfect spot with its crystal-clear water and postcard-worthy white sand. Although a trip to Bora Bora can be quite expensive, most visitors agree that it’s worth every penny.
Glacier National Park, with its snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and azure lakes, stands out as one of the most remarkable parks in America. This Montana crown jewel boasts an extensive network of over 700 miles of hiking trails, offering ample opportunities for exploration. Additionally, there are 13 designated camping areas, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty. In the winter, travelers can partake in snowshoeing and skiing, while summer vacationers can indulge in activities such as swimming in Lake McDonald and whitewater rafting on the Flathead River. For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, a scenic drive along the renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road is an absolute must.
When exploring the capital city of Italy, be prepared to check off several iconic landmarks from your must-visit list, such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Additionally, travelers have the opportunity to witness Italy’s most esteemed treasures, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, located within Vatican City. To escape the bustling tourist crowds, consider taking a leisurely twilight stroll along the charming cobblestone streets of Trastevere or indulge in local delicacies like pistachio gelato at Mercato Centrale Roma. Before concluding your visit, take the time to explore some of Rome’s lesser-known museums, art galleries, and boutiques, or venture to Janiculum Hill for breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
5. Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps offer a captivating experience throughout the year, with snow-capped peaks, enchanting villages, and blooming meadows. During the winter season, indulge in world-class skiing in renowned destinations like St. Moritz and Zermatt, where you can also relish après-ski fondue and drinks. In contrast, the warmer months beckon you to explore the lush valleys of Swiss National Park or partake in vibrant festivals in Montreux, nestled at the foothills. Irrespective of the season, a visit to the Jungfrau Region is a must, where you can immerse yourself in the charm of mountain villages such as Grindelwald and Mürren, or embark on a memorable journey aboard the Jungfrau Railway to reach Europe’s highest railway station.
Experience the unique charm of Maui, a tropical paradise that offers a plethora of activities to indulge in. Whether you’re cruising along the scenic Road to Hana, admiring the stunning coastline from a helicopter, snorkeling with sea turtles, or simply lounging on the pristine white or black sand beaches, Maui is sure to captivate you. Make sure to visit Haleakala National Park, which houses one of the world’s largest dormant volcanic craters and offers breathtaking sunrises. Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a traditional luau and savoring Hawaiian delicacies like poi, poke, and i’a fish.
7. London, England
London boasts a unique character of its own. Its diverse neighborhoods, featuring a fusion of historical landmarks and contemporary attractions, offer endless possibilities for exploration. For those visiting London for the first time, it is recommended to take a guided tour that covers the must-see destinations such as the Tate Modern, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Borough Market, and the British Museum. Afterward, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea or experience a local pub’s Sunday roast. Once you have ticked off the popular landmarks, take a leisurely stroll through the upscale streets of Mayfair or Chelsea, or appreciate the lush greenery at one of the city’s 3,000 parks.