We’ve combined input from traveler reviews and photos, data from the millions of travelers who visit Viator.com each year, plus data on which attractions around the world generated the most bookings, in order to crown the World’s Top 25 Attractions!
#25. Hoover Dam
An architectural wonder that permanently altered the southwestern United States, Hoover Dam stretches across Black Canyon and above the mighty Colorado River. The architecture itself is stunning, adorned as it is with attractive Art Deco elements. Best of all, though, is its breathtaking views of Lake Mead, Colorado River, and the surrounding canyons and valleys. One of the largest dams in America, Hoover Dam is a must-see Vegas attraction, and an easy day trip from the city–a drive that takes you through some of the area’s most dramatic scenery. Essential!
#24. Blue Mountains
The beautiful Blue Mountains make for an idyllic day trip from the hustle and bustle of downtown Sydney. The area is rich with amazing scenery, from rugged sandstone outcrops and cavernous valleys of gum trees to charming mountain hamlets and cascading waterfalls. The area offers outdoor pursuits, leisurely shopping, luxury accommodations, and scenic drives. You’ll need a couple of days to get the most of this spectacular area.
A tiny village west of Paris, Giverny was the home of painter Claude Monet, who fell in love with the town through a train window. He moved here in 1883 and began painting the countryside. After 1890, however, he started transforming the gardens of his house and began his famous waterlily paintings. Today, you can soak up his inspiration with a tour of his restored home and gardens. For art lovers, especially of you’ve seen his stunning paintings at the Orsay, Orangerie, or Marmottan museums in Paris, Giverny is a must-see.
#22. Ground Zero
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. To commemorate this historic event was the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located on the World Trade Center site, or Ground Zero. The memorial is comprised of twin reflecting pools, featuring two enormous waterfalls in the footprints of the original twin towers; the names of the people who died are inscribed on bronze panels on the edge of the pools. The rest of the plaza features more than 150 swamp white oak trees. The Memorial Museum is scheduled to open in 2012.
#21. Statue of Liberty
An American architectural icon, “Lady Liberty” proudly stands on Liberty Island, guarding the entrance to New York Harbor. The 305-feet (93m) statue was a given to the United States from France to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the young country’s independence. Once on the island, you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum, where you can you can see the original torch and an explanatory exhibit before taking a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty on the 10th floor. The National Park Service offers informative tours, which also include a stop at Ellis Island. Don’t miss these top NYC attractions!
#20. Uffizi Gallery
Filled with a the most important collection of Florentine art, the Uffizi Gallery, or Galleria degli Uffizi, is housed in a Renaissance palace built for Cosimo de’ Medici by Vasari in 1560. The collection traces the rich history of Florentine art, from its 11th-century beginnings to Botticelli and the flowering of Renaissance art. Among the highlights are are The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, da Vinci’s Annunciation, Titian’s languid Venus of Urbino, and Michelangelo’s technicolor portrait of the holy family.
#19. Mont Saint Michel
Rising from the flat white sands, the slender towers and sky-scraping turrets of the abbey of Mont Saint Michel are one of the most iconic images of northern France. Connected to the mainland by an old causeway, the abbey sits atop a small island encircled by stout ramparts and battlements. The surrounding bay is famous for its extreme tides, the difference of which can reach up to 50 feet (15 m) between high and low tide.
#18. Yosemite National Park
Naturalist John Muir, who first discovered Yosemite Valley, called it a “temple of nature”. Indeed, this Taj Mahal of national parks packs is acres of awe-inspiring beauty. You’ll feel your heart move by the park’s unrivaled splendors such as the majestic profile of Half Dome, the valley floors draped in lavender lupine, and Tuolumne Grove, where towering Sequoias surround you. Hiking and biking trails abound, leading you through the subalpine wilderness past cascading waterfalls and gemstone lakes. This is unrivaled beauty at its finest.
#17. Kennedy Space Center
You don’t have to be a space junkie to enjoy NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the only spot in the United States from which humans have been hurled into space. The plethora of hands-on exhibits, IMAX movies, and sheer magnitude of the shuttles will surely impress the most passive fan. Budding astronauts can take a high-fidelity ride on the Shuttle Launch Simulator, or marvel at full-size Titan rockets and the 363 ft (110 m) Apollo Saturn 1B rocket. Shuttle tours and the Astronaut Memorial round out the attractions.
One of the world’s greatest art museums—if not the greatest—the Louvre contains a rich collection of art from the fruits of human civilization from antiquity to Renaissance and 19th-century French masterpieces. Famous works include the Seated Scribe, the Jewels of Rameses II, Michelangelo’s Slaves, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and works by Raphael, Botticelli, and Titian among many, many, many others.
#15. Palace of Versailles
A 45-minute trip from central Paris stands the opulent palace of Chateau de Versailles (Palace of Versailles). King Louis XIV transformed his father’s hunting lodge into the most sumptuous and decadent castle in Europe, including regal gardens designed to create a French Eden and give the grounds a bucolic feel. It was the seat of French government from 1682 to 1789 and, after 1830, it became the Museum of the History of France. Highlights include the Hall of Mirrors to the King’s Grand Chambers and the extensive formal gardens to Marie-Antoinette’s famous estate.
#14. London Eye
Spectacular views of London’s most famous landmarks unfold from the London Eye, the fourth tallest structure in London. Passengers are carried in 32 sealed, glass-sided pods that fit a total of 800 people, and revolve on a huge Ferris wheel. A complete revolution takes a half-hour. Along the way you’ll see such sites as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s, and the River Thames itself. On a clear day you can see as far as Windsor Castle. And the slow speed of the rotation means there’s plenty of time to see everything and take lots of photos.
#13. Keukenhof Gardens
At Amsterdam’s Keukenhof Gardens, nature’s talents are combined with artificial precision to create a wonder of landscaping, where millions of tulips, along with narcissi and daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells, and many others blossom perfectly in place and exactly on time. The gardens are the world’s largest, and come springtime, some 800,000 flower-lovers wonder the winding paths through wooded gardens, past shady ponds and brooks, immersed in a vibrant blaze of color. It’s a spectacular sight.
#12. Da Vinci’s Last Supper (Il Cenacolo)
Art lovers on the da Vinci trail, readers of Dan Brown following The Da Vinci Code route, and visitors seeking a glimpse of one of the world’s most iconic paintings come to Milan’s Il Cenacolo Vinciano to see Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper, or Il Cenacolo. The famous wall painting, which depicts the moment when Jesus predicts that one of his Apostles will betray him, covers the wall of the refectory next to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, on the western outskirts of central Milan.
#11. Mt Fuji
From the top of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain at 12,388 feet tall (3,776 meters), you can see breathtaking 360-degree views of Lake Ashinko, the Hakone mountains, and the Owakudani Valley. Climbing to the mountain peak is an unforgettable experience, and more than one million people hike to the top each year. The best time to climb Mount Fuji is from July to August, when the weather is the mildest and there is the least amount of snow on the mountain. Named after Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi, Mount Fuji is a holy mountain; at its peak is a Shinto Shrine dedicated to the goddess Sengen-Sama.
One of America’s most iconic sites, Alcatraz is often associated with Chicago crime boss Al “Scarface” Capone, who was imprisoned here in the 1930s. In fact, many A-list criminals passed through this former maximum-security penitentiary, including dapper kidnapper George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Morton Sobell, the military contractor found guilty of Soviet espionage along with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But a visit to this National Park is more than just seeing the inside of an old prison. See some of San Francisco‘s top attractions on a scenic ferry ride on the bay, and take in the breathtaking panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and Angel Island; the Ellis Island of the West.
One of the world’s greatest mysteries, Stonehenge is a massive circle of standing stones and earthworks in the middle of a green field in Wiltshire, built around 3,500 years ago. Stonehenge is Britain’s most important ancient monument, and since 1986, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite the rush of traffic that passes by it, Stonehenge still manages to retain its magic and mystery. The town of Salisbury, 8 miles south, is home to the beautiful medieval Salisbury Cathedral, which holds the famous Magna Carta.
#8. Grand Canyon Skywalk
Overlooking the breathtaking vistas of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon’s West Rim, the the Grand Canyon Skywalk is a glass-bottom “U”-shaped open-air bridge. A walk across the Skywalk— the world’s highest man-made structure—is an exhilarating experience, as your suspended 4,000 feet (1,219 m) above the canyon floor. But what you get is 720-degree views on all sides, enabling you to absorb the magnificence of the Grand Canyon itself, one of the most remarkable natural settings in the United States.
#7. Neuschwanstein Castle
The inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular castles in Europe. The fairytale charm of Neuschwanstein Castle is also felt from the idyllic scenery of the Bavarian Alps. During the winter, some of the best views of the snow-capped mountains can be seen from the palace grounds. Commissioned as the private refuge for Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle holds many stunning highlights including the throne room, which is magnificently appointed with frescos of angels.
#6. Empire State Building
The iconic Empire State Building defines “skyscraper”. Indeed, from 1931 to 1977, the 102-story Art Deco-styled structure was the world’s tallest building. After admiring the glistening Art Deco mosaics in the lobby, ride the elevator to the 86th or 102nd floors for astonishing 360-degree views of the city and surrounding states. At night, the stepped Art Deco pinnacle is floodlit with holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year—green for St Patricks Day, red and pink for Valentine’s Day, red and green for Christmas and so on.
One of the world’s best known ancient sites, Rome’s Colosseum was where the Roman emperors liked to watch gladiators stage to-the-death battles as well as to hunt and kill wild animals. The Colosseum was built in 80 AD and is pretty amazing for complex and advanced architecture, not to mention it has held up pretty well since. The tiered seating, corridors and the underground rooms where the animals and gladiators awaited their fate are still intact. The Colosseum is the model for all modern-day stadiums; the only difference being today’s teams survive their games.
#4. Buckingham Palace
Since 1837, Buckingham Palace has been the Queen’s official residence. Today, Queen Elizabeth II holds her most important parties, gives out her annual awards, and meets and greets important people from other countries. Most of the year Buckingham Palace is closed to the public, and you can only gaze through the gates at the imposing facade and the balcony from which Charles and Diana waved when they married and where William and Kate famously shared two kisses. In summer, when the Queen heads on holiday to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, you can wander through 19 lavishly furnished staterooms including the Throne Room and part of the gardens (the largest private gardens in London). The front, or eastern entrance, is where the Changing of the Guard happens.
#3. Moulin Rouge
During late 19th-century Paris, France was experiencing a joyful renaissance of sorts, a period that came to be called Belle Epoque. A century was coming to an end, creativity was blooming, France was not at war, and people were filled with the joys of life. What better time to launch a dance-hall of beautiful showgirls? Hence, the opening of the Moulin Rouge in 1889. Inside the world-famous cabaret venue, aristocrats came to mingle with the riffraff and women of easy virtue. There was a huge dance floor, mirrors everywhere, and an atmosphere of total euphoria. There were even donkeys for the ladies with an adventurous spirit. Today there are no donkeys, but the euphoria continues.
The popes were among the first royalty to open their vast art collections to the public. Today you can see the Vatican‘s incredible collection while touring the so-called “Vatican Museums”, a huge complex of galleries and museums showcasing paintings, sculptures, frescoes, tapestries and classical antiquities including Roman, Greek and Egyptian. There are, of course, also collections of religious art, papal portraits and, less obviously, carriages and automobiles. Any visit to the Vatican should also include the famous Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms. Leave plenty of time for winding your way through the museums and the narrow connecting corridors and staircases.
#1. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) in Paris was once the world’s tallest structure, towering skyward at 1,050 feet (320 m), until usurped by Manhattan’s Chrysler Building. Built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower was almost torn down 20 years later, when it proved an ideal platform for the antennas needed for the new science of radiotelegraphy. Today, the highlight of a visit are the views over Paris. When you’re done peering upward through the girders, three levels are open to the public.