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9 of the most visited tourist attractions in the world

Want to join the masses at the year's most popular tourist destinations? Maybe you want to avoid them? Here's how to plan ahead for trips to the world's busiest tourist attractions.

We know times are challenging for travelers. Although we can’t travel to our bucket list destinations now, we can start planning them. If you’re wondering where you should go once travel restrictions are lifted, this list is a great place to start. Keep reading to learn about some of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

9. The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Iceland is no doubt one of the hottest new travel destinations, with interest increasing exponentially over the past few years. The number one destination in Iceland is The Blue Lagoon. In 2017, it had a record number of visitors totaling 1.2 million. The Blue Lagoon is a natural, geothermal spa sunken into a lava field and is known for its mineral-rich healing waters. Families book with care, as children under 2 are not allowed in the pools — children between the ages of 2 and 8 are required to wear arm floaties.

Glassy water and moss covered rocks under a moody sky

8. Machu Picchu, Peru

Tourists are quickly taking note of South America as they look for lesser-known, undiscovered places in the world. Machu Picchu is one of the most recognizable icons of the continent and its tourism numbers reflect it. After receiving over 1 million visitors in 2016, tourism officials decided to cut back on the entrance allowance in efforts to save the precious ruins from crumbling.

Two llamas on a cliff in the foreground, Machu Picchu behind them

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7. Stonehenge, England

The set of historic stone monuments, known as Stonehenge, date from 2000 to 3000 BC. The iconic landmark is one of the most famous sites in the UK, and one of the most visited tourist attractions. Since Stonehenge was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage site in 1986, yearly visitors have skyrocketed to over 1.5 million.

Clouds above the Stonehenge on a sunny day

6. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

You’ve probably seen the photos reflecting the throbs of people huddled beneath the massive, white replica of Christ. The statue — one of the Seven Wonders of the World — is known as Christ the Redeemer and casts its shadow over some 1.8 million visitors per year. The best or worst day to Rio de Janeiro, depending on how you look at it, is Easter Sunday. In recent years, the effigy welcomed a whopping 14,000 people on the date of the religious holiday.

Aerial view of Christ the Redeemer and the city below

5. Acropolis of Athens, Greece

These ancient ruins of Athens dangle above the scenic cliff-side of Greece. Despite ongoing restoration projects, hoards of onlookers continue to flock to the site year after year. The community saw close to 4 million tourists in 2019.

The acropolis in Greece

4. Eiffel Tower, France

Located in the heart of Paris, the most romantic city in the world, the Eiffel Tower has become a universal symbol of travel and a popular tourist destination. A visit to the Eiffel Tower tops many travel lists, and it’s no surprise considering the 7 million visitors who are snapping selfies under the 81-story building.

A couple kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

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3. The Great Wall of China

Considered one of the greatest man-made structures in the world, the Great Wall of China stretches over 13,000 miles. Receiving 10 million tourists every year, it is beneficial to know the best time to visit. Autumn is arguably the prettiest season in which to arrive, but unfortunately, it is still the peak time for tourism. Surprisingly, June is best if you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, especially if you want to visit when it isn’t snowing.

Lush green trees surrounding the Great Wall of China

2. The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

It might be surprising to learn that a desolate desert in the Middle East has now become one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world — unless you consider the number of people who desperately want to see the Great Pyramid of Giza! One of the official Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid is a bucket list destination for many. Built around 2500 B.C., the world-famous tomb is now responsible for a spectacular 14.7 million visitors per year.

View of three small pyramids and three large pyramids behind them

1. Niagara Falls, USA/Canada

And then, we arrive in North America at a tourist destination that’s frequented more than all of the other sites, by over double the visitors. Niagara Falls, located on the border of New York and Ontario, Canada is a massive set of three waterfalls, with an astounding 6 million cubic feet of water gushing over the falls every minute. The site is currently estimated to host 30 million tourists annually, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

Water rushing over the edge at Niagra falls, the most visited tourist attraction in the world

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