Monday, July 13, 2015

Most Popular Travel Destinations in the World

TripAdvisor just announced the winners of its 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards for Destinations.

Millions of TripAdvisor users weighed in and voted for their top travel destinations around the world.

Winners were based on millions of TripAdvisor reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants for different cities over a 12-month period.


1. Marrakech, Morocco

The new Travellers' Choice #1 Destination in the world, Marrakech is a magical place, brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques. Exploring the intimate courtyards and snaking alleyways of the historic Medina can easily eat up a day. Find inner peace at the serene Jardin Majorelle or take in the beauty of one of the city’s historic mosques (taking note that you may only step inside if you are Muslim).


2. Siem Reap, Cambodia
When the morning light washes over the overgrown temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, a simple Siem Reap sunrise becomes a profound event. The ancient structures are contained within one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The complex and the 12th century Angkor Thom royal city are considered the main reasons to visit Siem Reap, the #2 Travellers' Choice Destination in the world for 2015. Get a lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village, and a lesson in bargaining at the Angkor Night Market, a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars.


3. Istanbul, Turkey

Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, this year's #3 Travellers' Choice Destination in the World, where breathtaking ancient architecture coexists with modern restaurants and nightlife. The city's mosques, bazaars, and hammams (Turkish baths) could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip. Start with the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), visible from many points of the city. Stroll the Galata Bridge and stop by the Miniaturk Park to see its tiny artifacts. The Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to browse, while the Egyptian Bazaar is a fragrant trove of spices and fruits.


4. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is #4 in the world in this year's Travellers' Choice Destinations Awards. The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside. Once called Thang Long, or "ascending dragon," this centuries-old city hasn't forgotten its past, as attested by sites such as Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards, and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city, which is easily explored by taxi.


5. Prague, Czech Republic 
The bohemian allure and fairytale features of Prague, #5 in the World in this year's Travellers' Choice Destination Awards, make it a perfect destination for beach-weary vacationers who want to immerse themselves in culture. Spend a full day exploring Prazsky hrad (Prague Castle), then refuel over a hearty dinner at a classic Czech tavern. Spend some time wandering the Old Town Square before heading over to gape at The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock. Prague’s best bars are found in cellars, where historic pubs set the scene for a night of traditional tippling.


6. London, United Kingdom

The crown jewels, Buckingham Palace, Camden Market…in London, a perennial Travellers' Choice Award winner, history collides with art, fashion, food, and good British ale. A perfect day is different for everyone: culture aficionados shouldn't miss the Tate Modern and the Royal Opera House. If you love fashion, Oxford Street has shopping galore. For foodies, cream tea at Harrod’s or crispy fish from a proper chippy offers classic London flavour. Music and book buffs will love seeing Abbey Road and the Sherlock Holmes Museum (at 221B Baker Street, of course).


7. Rome, Italy
The Travellers' Choice #7 Destination in the World for 2015, Rome wasn't built in a day--and you'll need much more than a day to take in this timeless city. The city is a real-life collage of piazzas, open-air markets, and astonishing historic sites. Toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, contemplate the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and sample a perfect espresso or gelato before spending an afternoon shopping at the Campo de’Fiori or Via Veneto. Enjoy some of the most memorable meals of your life here, too, from fresh pasta to succulent fried artichokes or a tender oxtail stew.


8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The birthplace of the tango is, like the dance itself, captivating, seductive and bustling with excited energy. Atmospheric old neighbourhoods are rife with romantic restaurants and thumping nightlife, and Buenos Aires' European heritage is evident in its architecture, boulevards and parks. Cafe Tortoni, the city's oldest bar, will transport you back to 1858, and the spectacular Teatro Colon impresses just as it did in 1908. The Travellers' Choice #8 Destination in the World this year, Latin America's shopping capital offers the promise of premium retail therapy along its grand, wide boulevards.


9. Paris, France 
Lingering over pain au chocolat in a sidewalk café, relaxing after a day of strolling along the Seine and marveling at icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe… the perfect Paris experience combines leisure and liveliness with enough time to savor both an exquisite meal and exhibits at the Louvre. Get to know this romantic, rewarding Travellers' Choice Destination: awaken your spirit at Notre Dame, bargain hunt at the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil or for goodies at the Marché Biologique Raspail, then cap it all off with a risqué show at the Moulin Rouge.


10. Cape Town Central, South Africa

Cape Town, #9 on the list of Travellers' Choice Destination World Winners, glistens at the southern tip of the African continent. Picture-perfect views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of "The Mother City." The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travellers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.


11. New York City, New York
You know New York City from film, TV and song. But visit this Travellers' Choice Destination in person—for a weekend or a month—and you'll find a restless, energetic city with culture, sports, history, restaurants and shopping in abundance. Once you've visited well-loved landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can step off the beaten path in thousands of directions: the medieval Cloisters museum in upper Manhattan, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, a tour of pizzerias in Brooklyn... just to name a few.


12. Zermatt, Switzerland
When most people think of Zermatt, they think of one thing: The Matterhorn. This ultimate Swiss icon looms over Zermatt, first drawing visitors here in the 1860s. The village of Zermatt, a Travellers' Choice Destination, is lovely and car-free, with old-fashioned brown chalets and winding alleys. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk everywhere—there are electric vehicles and horse-drawn cabs.) Skiing in the region often lasts through early summer, but when the weather’s warmer, it’s a great time to hike.


13. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona feels a bit surreal – appropriate, since Salvador Dali spent time here and Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí designed several of the city’s buildings. Stepping into Gaudí’s Church of the Sacred Family is a bit like falling through the looking glass - a journey that you can continue with a visit to Park Güell. Sip sangria at a sidewalk café in Las Ramblas while watching flamboyant street performers, then create your own moveable feast in this Travellers' Choice Destination by floating from tapas bar to tapas bar.


14. Goreme, Turkey

A town literally carved into the volcanic rock, Goreme is the gateway to the Goreme National Park, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses spectacular 10th- and 11th-century cave churches. The park itself is known for its chimney rock formations and is very popular with backpackers. This Travellers' Choice Destination is also a great area to sample Turkish cuisine and wine.


15. Ubud, Indonesia
The village cluster of Ubud, a Travellers' Choice Destination, is the ideal place to try a famed Balinese massage and soak up the ambiance of one of Asia’s top spa destinations. Acupressure, reflexology, stretching and aromatherapy star in the island's distinctively firm massage treatments. Ubud is also the vivacious centre of Bali’s arts scene, home to a small treasure trove of museums and galleries. Monkey around at nearby nature reserve Monkey Forest Park, home to hundreds of mischievous long-tailed macaques. Don’t miss the valley of tomb cloisters at Gunung Kawi.


16. Cusco, Peru
Incan majesty and Andean baroque exist side-by-side in Cusco's stone streets, epitomized by the Qoriacancha palace and the church of Santo Domingo flanking the Plaza de Armas. In this Travellers' Choice Destination, a high-altitude melting pot of Amerindian and mestizo culture, you'll find extraordinary textiles, lively summer festivals and archeological wonders.


17. St. Petersburg, Russia
The second largest city in Russia and a Travellers' Choice Destination for 2015, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage. Sprawling across the Neva River delta, St. Petersburg offers enough art, nightlife, fine dining and cultural destinations for many repeat visits.


18. Bangkok, Thailand
Golden palaces, floating markets, majestic porcelain-laid spires…you've never seen a capital city quite like Bangkok, a Travellers' Choice Destination for 2015. Visit Pratunam or Siam Square for premium shopping, then unwind in the European-style gardens of Dusit. Thon Buri is home to the awesome Wat Arun temple, and over in Phra Nakhon, you’ll find the Wat Pho temple of the Reclining Buddha. Savor mango sticky rice at a food stall before taking in the gilded splendor of the Grand Palace.


19. Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and a Travellers' Choice Destination, is surrounded by a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples, shrines, and fascinating villages. Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square’s monuments, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District. Explore shops for exquisite work by local artisans—carpets and paper prints are specialties.


20. Athens, Greece
Thanks to fortunes brought by the 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens has become a city reformed. Spotless parks and streets, an ultra-modern subway, new freeways, an accessible airport and clear signage make the city easily negotiable. Meriting more than a stopover en route to the islands, sophisticated sites in this Travellers' Choice Destination include many pillars of Western history, from the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, as well as treasures in the National Archaeological Museum.


21. Budapest, Hungary
Over 15 million gallons of water bubble daily into Budapest's 118 springs and boreholes. The city of spas offers an astounding array of baths, from the sparkling Gellert Baths to the vast 1913 neo-baroque Szechenyi Spa to Rudas Spa, a dramatic 16th-century Turkish pool with original Ottoman architecture. This Travellers' Choice Destination, called the "Queen of the Danube," is also steeped in history, culture and natural beauty. Get your camera ready for the Roman ruins of the Aquincum Museum, Heroes' Square and Statue Park, and the 300-foot dome of St. Stephen's Basilica.


22. Queenstown, New Zealand
Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Queenstown for heart-pumping sports: kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing. More mild-mannered adventurers can take a quiet cruise through nearby Milford Sound, part of the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area, or sample South Island pinot noir from one of the region's 75 wineries. But for many, the biggest attraction of this Travellers' Choice Award-winning resort town is its role in cinema history: much of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy was filmed in the area.


23. Hong Kong, China
Delectable dim sum, floating islands, and a one-of-a-kind skyline are just some unique features of Hong Kong, a 2015 Travellers' Choice Destination. Get an eyeful of traditional Chinese architecture in Ngong Ping village, or take the tram to the tippity-top of Victoria Peak for unparalleled views. The rocks and gentle hills of Nan Lian Garden will bring you inner peace, as will a calming cup of tea in a Stanley café. Become one with everything at the Chi Lin Nunnery, a serene Buddhist complex.


24. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is a cosmopolitan oasis, a futuristic cityscape that towers over the Arabian Desert. This Travellers' Choice Destination is a city of superlatives, home to the world’s largest dancing fountain; tallest building (Burj Khalifa); only 7-star hotel (the Burj al-Arab); largest artificial islands (the Palm Islands); and largest natural flower garden (the Miracle Garden). Rent a dune buggy for a desert adventure, bargain at the open-air market, or cheer on your favourite humped hoofer at the Camel Race Track.


25. Sydney, Australia
Sydney, a Travellers' Choice Destination, offers plenty of historical and contemporary Australian flavour. The marvelous Sydney Opera House looks like a great origami sailboat, floating peacefully in a harbour. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets of The Rocks and then take in a street performance on the Circular Quay before heading into the Museum of Contemporary Art. The views from the Sydney Tower Eye observatory are epic – use this chance to get to know the layout of the city from high above.


- Credit: TripAdvisor

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