Top 10 Most Visited Cities in the World
It wasn't hard to determine which cities Americans travel to most outside of the U.S. The challenge? Narrowing down the must-see sights for first-timers—and veterans.
OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: But wait, what about the Montmartre? Well, if you take our advice, you'll be staying in Montmartre at Ermitage Hotel Sacre-Coeur, a 12-room B&B set inside a turn-of-the-century apartment building that's within walking distance to that beautiful white cathedral on the hill, the Sacre-Coeur (ermitagesacrecoeur.fr; doubles from $130).
#3 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Yes, it's a U.S. territory, but Puerto Rico can feel like a world apart. The laidback atmosphere of San Juan with its narrow cobblestone streets and pastel-color houses will make any traveler feel at home, especially after a night in Old San Juan, where young and old drink, play music, and dance to salsa music until the early hours.
3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Nightlife in Old San Juan It can get rowdy late at night in Old San Juan, especially on weekends, when everyone and their uncle mobs the streets for a wandering bar crawl with drinks in hand. But there's no better time to drink up the culture alongside the locals—join in with the locals at bars like Bodega Chic and Nono's and possibly get silly enough to participate in a sing-along in Plaza del Mercado (a.k.a. La Placita).
El Morro This beautiful old citadel fort commands a sweeping view of the Caribbean Sea on the northwest tip of Puerto Rico and has held its own against time and the island's seaborne enemies since the 16th century (entrance $3).
Beaches of Condado The seaside neighborhood of Condado has the most popular beaches in San Juan proper, a stretch of golden-sand shore on the eastern side of the city. Arrive early on the weekends to claim your beach-towel territory against the droves of resort guests and local families.
3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORS
Salsa Dancing at the Nuyorican Café Hidden off an alley inside a former Spanish convent, this tiny nightclub has been an Old San Juan institution for decades, renowned for its jazz music and weekend salsa dancing. A eclectic crowd of locals and tourists brave the crowds on the weekend to test their moves on the dance floor; if the line is too long or too tedious, pop over to Rumba, a newer salsa club down the street.
Catedral de San Juan Bautista The second oldest Cathedral in North America is a rather modest Spanish colonial structure. Inside, you'll find the hallowed chambers of stained glass and statues worthy of worship (and the tomb of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon underneath).
Day trip to Vieques Island In a paradise like Puerto Rico, where do the locals go to vacation? The answer is the castaway island of Vieques, a 45-minute ferry ride from the port of Farajado on the east coast. The main town of Isabella is quiet and pretty, but the real reason for the trip is the pristine beaches on the south coast (be sure to pack a picnic basket… there are few places to eat nearby the beaches).
OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Numero Uno Guesthouse is a darling 15-room inn right by the beach in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (numero1guesthouse.com; doubles from $99).
#2 London, England
London certainly hasn't lost its regal charms in the long march to modernity. And because the city is a gateway for further excursions into Europe, millions of travelers spend at least a day or two visiting the historic sites on the red double-decker lorries, attending theatre performances by Britain's greats, and enjoying a cool English pint (or three) while munching on fish-and-chips at one of the city's famous pubs. Just remember to mind your manners and your wallet: The British pound reigns supreme, at nearly twice the value of the U.S. dollar.
3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Royal Highlights: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Tower of London The throne of the British Empire and the city's most famous historic sites are clustered within a short walk of one another in central London. Commoners can tour Buckingham Palace from July through September (or sneak a peek through the gates any other time of year); just down the road is Westminster Abbey, the iconic Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. A short cab ride along the Thames brings you to the Tower of London (which arguably offers the best tour and a chance to see the Crown Jewels).
West-End Theaters London's West End neighborhood is the Broadway of England, known affectionately as "Theaterland." New London Theatre and Queen's Theatre are two great venues for new plays performed by Britain's greatest thespians, while smaller theaters like the Noel Coward Theatre often showcase well-known plays by British playwrights (like, say, Noel Coward), including new productions of Shakespeare plays.
British Museum It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire, and this museum dedicated to British history is true to that globe-spanning scope, with a collection that ranges from the armor of William the Conqueror to the 19th- and 20th-century colonial history of British ambitions.