The world is swarming with stunning castles that were once inhabited by the rich and famous or royalty. Nowadays, the gates are opened for us tourists, granting us a fascinating peek into a lifestyle we can hardly imagine for ourselves. We put together a list of the top 10 castles worldwide based on visitor count with links to fun activities for each so you can get the royal treatment when you visit!
Sometimes common wisdom is the best kind of wisdom. Each year millions of tourists and curious adventurers line or queue up to see these historic sights. Is popularity a reliable metric for the cultural, historical, or visual worthiness of an attraction? The jury might still be out on that, but one thing is for sure: millions of people are probably on to something.
Here are the top 10 most popular tourist attractions around the world, sorted by annual visitors using data collected by Travel+Leisure. They drew data from various sources – attractions themselves, government agencies, industry reports, or media outlets. Let’s see which is number one!
Perhaps nothing represents New York’s hustle and bustle like its largest transit station. Boasting the most platforms of any train station in the world, its vaulted halls are a tribute to the grand history of rail in 20th century America. It’s not just an attraction, but a meeting and goodbye point full of personal memories and one of New York’s quintessential places, having appeared in dozens of films.
While not the tallest waterfall in the world, it is one of the most powerful. Straddling the international border between Canada and the U.S., the Falls drain Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, pumping out (at peak flow) as much as 225,000 cubic feet or 6,400 m3 of water per second. That’s an aircraft carrier every 14 seconds. Daredevils can zip line past it for stunning views or cruise under the roaring waters on a boat!
Tokyo’s oldest temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in the world. Founded in 628 A.D., its grounds are hectic and full of life. Walk through the stunning “Thunder Gate” and you are marvel at the colorful temple and its five-story tall Pagoda. Though the original temple was destroyed during World War II, the 1958 reconstruction impresses with its deep red color. Most visitors are actually pilgrims, coming to see the supposed golden image of the Mahayana goddess of mercy, Kannon.
The Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Meiji the Great and his wife Empress Shōken. The complex is a place of tranquility in the middle of Tokyo, surrounded by a dense forest of over 100,000 trees. The shrine is relatively unadorned compared to the aforementioned Sensoji Temple. Come on a Sunday morning and you can watch traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies in the courtyard.
The strip is flush with lights, casinos, and insanely expensive hotels. Cruising down the wide boulevard is an activity of scenic delight in and of itself. Catch a choreographed show at the fountains at the Bellagio, or go for a gondola ride at the Venetian. It’s easy to see why most tourists end up staying in one of its many world-class hotels.
Another transportation hub! Originally built to house both the Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio railroads, today it’s Amtrak’s headquarters, the largest rail operator in the U.S. Its a transit point for millions of tourists who can wander through its lofty halls which mix various architectural styles.
New York’s most celebrated park is also its most popular. It’s easy to see why: its massive size and ideal location have secured its place in the Big Apple’s cultural history. It’s also a great place to have fun! From rowboats on The Lake to ice skating at the Wollman Rink during the winter, locals and tourists can always find something to do.
“The Crossroads of the World” definitely draws visitors from all over the globe! The intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, Times Square’s neon lights and gaudy billboards are the face of America’s entertainment industry and the iconic sight for dreamers hoping to “make it big.”
Smack dab in the center of Mexico City is the Zócalo. Formerly known as the “Main Square,” it was originally a ceremonial Aztec site. Now it is one of the largest city squares in the world and a forum for major events, from protests to the Festival de Mexico. On any day you can visit and watch as Aztec dancers jive to the rhythm of their huehuetls dressed in snakeskin loincloths.
Wander into the Grand Bazaar and you might get lost forever. Its labyrinths of shops lure with all kinds of fare including fine hand-painted ceramics, spices from around the world, jewelry and other knickknacks. It’s a bargain hunter free for all, where sellers will fight for every cent. Give haggling a go and you might walk away with quite the steal!
Whether grand in scale or perfectly located for people passing through or looking to get away: each of these attractions has something magical or iconic to offer visitors. How many have to visited and which is your favorite?
Learn more or find activities for your next trip on GetYourGuide!