Photo: David A Knight/Shutterstock

52 of the World's Best Tourist Attractions That Actually Live Up To the Hype

Insider Guides Galleries
by Joe Batruny Apr 28, 2014

Did you miss part 1? Click here.
27. Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo: marchello74/Shutterstock

Built from concrete and soapstone, Christ the Redeemer is a 30m statue of Jesus Christ that peers over Rio de Janeiro. Situated at the top of Corcovado mountain, the statue’s armspan is 28 meters.

28. Dead Sea (Jordan Rift Valley)
Ein Bokek, Israel

Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock

The Dead Sea, 9.6 times saltier than the ocean, is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. Herod the Great used the sea as a health resort back in the day.

29. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington DC, USA)

Photo: Tinnaporn Sathapornnanont/Shutterstock

The National Museum of Natural History is open 364 days a year and is free to the public. Its collection contains over 126 million specimens and artifacts.

30. Santorini (Greece)

Photo: Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock

Though surrounded by water, Santorini contains no rivers and water is scarce. This island in the Aegean Sea is most famous for its cliff towns of white buildings and blue roofs.

31. Giant’s Causeway (Country Antrim, Northern Ireland)
Giant's Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Photo: Kanuman/Shutterstock

The most popular tourist attraction in Northern Island, the Giant’s Causeway is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The tallest columns of the formation are 12 meters high.

32. Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)

Photo: S-F/Shutterstock

Plaza Mayor is the central plaza of Madrid. In the past, it has been used for public executions, bullfights, markets, and soccer games.

33. Machu Picchu (Cusco Region, Peru)
machu picchu

Photo: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

A 15th-century Inca site, Machu Picchu was unknown by locals until Hiram Bingham rediscovered the archaelogical site in 1911.

34. Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (Cordoba, Spain)

Photo: kavalenkava/Shutterstock

Originally a mosque, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba was later converted into a Roman Catholic cathedral. It’s one of the most famous examples of Moorish architecture in the world.

35. Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)

Photo: Javen/Shutterstock

The Sydney Opera House hosts over 1,500 events yearly, which are attended by roughly 1.2 million people. Over 7 million people visit the site each year.

36. Great Barrier Reef (Coral Sea, Queensland, Australia)

Photo: I Shafiq/Shutterstock

Located off the east coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system. Easily visible from above, it helps related businesses generate over $3 billion of revenue yearly.

37. Milford Sound (South Island, New Zealand)
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Photo: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock

Considered New Zealand’s most famous tourist attraction, Milford Sound is a fjord that Rudyard Kipling named the “eighth wonder of the world.”

38. Uluru (Northern Territory, Australia)

Photo: Stanislav Fosenbauer/Shutterstock

Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock, is a sandstone formation with a total circumference of 9.4km. The formation appears to change colors at different times of the day and year.

39. Vatican City (Rome, Italy)

Photo: Thoom/Shutterstock

Vatican City is a sovereign state within Rome, which is home to several tourist attractions including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.

40. Hitachi Seaside Park (Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan)
Nemophila, flower field at Hitachi Seaside Park in spring, Japan

Photo: milezaway/Shutterstock

Spanning 190 hectares, this public park in Japan has 4.5 million baby blue-eyes flowers, 1 million daffodils, 170 tulip varieties, and a Ferris wheel.

41. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, USA)

Photo: Lorcel/Shutterstock

Yellowstone delivers it all — grand landscapes, abundant wildlife viewing, and awesome geothermal activity. And it’s probably the only place where free-range buffalo cause traffic jams.

42. Park Güell (Barcelona, Spain)

A failed housing development, Park Güell is now a public garden showcasing Gaudi’s, um, interesting architectural taste (the man was not afraid of color and, apparently, hated right angles). Fun fact: A whole bunch of wild parrots live in the park.

43. The Louvre (Paris, France)

Photo: FrimuFilms/Shutterstock

Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s overwhelming. No, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Louvre. You can’t help but feel you’re experiencing the pinnacle of Western civilization here.

44. Avenue du Baobab (Menabe Region, Madagascar)

Photo: Michail_Vorobyev/Shutterstock

Nowhere on Madagascar is there such a striking concentration of the magnificent and deeply endangered Baobab tree than on the road from Morondava to Belon’i Tsiribihina.

45. Sagano Bamboo Forest (Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan)

Photo: Guitar photographer/Shutterstock

In the touristy yet charming Arashiyama district of Kyoto, several well-known and tidy bamboo groves make for great walking tours or rickshaw rides.

46. Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa)

Always looming, Table Mountain is Cape Town’s signature attraction. Do whatever it takes to get to the summit — cable car, hike, jet pack — to snap an iconic photo of Cape Town.

47. Tsukiji Fish Market (Tokyo, Japan)

Photo: URAIWONS/Shutterstock

Ever seen a 300lb bluefin tuna quartered on an industrial bandsaw? All that and then some at the world’s largest fish market, where a chaotic scene of buyers, sellers, and brokers haggle over a whole bunch of dead fish.

48. Canals of Venice (Venice, Italy)

Photo: Ivo Antonie de Rooij/Shutterstock

You’ll put up with the sometimes unpleasant smell, occasional flooding, inconsistent garbage collection, rude gondoliers, hordes of tourists, and overpriced everything because the canals of Venice simply cannot be beat. Someday you’ll be able to tell your great-grandkids about the mythical city of Venice and its wondrous canals that long ago slipped back into the sea.

49. Koyasan (Japan)

Photo: KrisDurlen/Shutterstock

The spiritual home of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, Koyasan is a perfectly preserved town located on a mountaintop outside Osaka that somehow manages to keep out modern Japan. Visitors can stay at Buddhist temples that double as guesthouses.

50. French Quarter (New Orleans, USA)

Photo: Christian Hinkle/Shutterstock

Get up early to stroll the streets at daybreak before a fresh beignet at Cafe Du Monde, or stay out late drinking Abitas at Lafitte’s — the French Quarter is an amazing experience 24 hours a day. Just remember: Bourbon Street is one of many, so explore them all.

51. Okavango Delta (Botswana)

Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

Every year, 11 cubic kilometers (which is to say a lot) of water floods the inland delta, bringing sweet relief to migratory herds across this arid region…and to predators looking for well-hydrated prey.

52. Blue Lagoon (Grindavík, Iceland)

Photo: rayints/Shutterstock

Less than an hour outside Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich geothermal waters delight bathers and cure psoriasis. Water temperature averages about 100 degrees Fahrenheit after leaving the nearby geothermal plant where it generates clean energy. 

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