The World's Most Visited Cities in 2015

March 3, 2016

We take a look at the top 10 world's most visitied cities in 2015, and how much their tourism has grown in previous years.

Guessing the world's most visited cities in 2015 should be as easy as riding a bike. But can you name the top ten and in the right order? If like us you have a little difficulty, you better get out your stabilisers.

1. London

Westminster in London at Night

Visitors in 2015: 18.8 million
Visitors in 2014: 17.8 million

At number one on the list, London lays claim to the world's most visited city for the second year running. The world famous attractions such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, synonymous with the country's capital, continue to draw in millions of tourists from around the world. And they don't mind splashing the cash too. It was estimated that London's visitors spent nearly £15 billion in 2015, the highest amount of all the cities on this list.  

2. Bangkok

Skyline of Bangkok

Visitors in 2015: 18.2 million
Visitors in 2014: 16.9 million

Although it's believed that Thailand's capital is positioned so highly on this list because of its attraction as a budget stopover for travellers on their way to Asia and Australia, Bangkok still saw visitors spend just shy of £9 billion here last year. That's a fair amount for a relatively cheap city. There's no doubt that many visitors use it as a jumping-off point for exploring Thailand's islands, but the city has some spectacular sights of its own including the Grand Palace and the nightlife on Khao San Road is infamous. In both 2013 and 2012 it was the only city to top London as the world's most visited.   

3. Paris

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Visitors in 2015: 16.1 million
Visitors in 2014: 15.6 million

Paris takes third spot for the fourth year in succession which is no surprise when your signature landmarks include the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Tourists don't hold back on spending money in Paris either. Out of the top ten most visited cities, only London and New York saw more money spent by visitors in 2015. Famed for its world-class cuisine and considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris is an extremely popular destination for couples. Ooh la la.

4. Dubai

Dubai's Manmade Palm Shores

Visitors in 2015: 14.3 million
Visitors in 2014: 13.2 million

The rise of the Middle East in the last ten years has been huge and Dubai, an extremely popular holiday destination for the wealthy, is the most visited Middle Eastern City. Huge draws include a catalogue of heavily starred luxury hotels and restaurants and innovative architecture such as the Burj Al Arab. The last five years have seen a considerable rise in the number of tourists with just over four million more people heading for Dubai in 2015 than in 2011.    

5. Istanbul

Istanbul's Blue Mosque

Visitors in 2015: 12.6 million
Visitors in 2014: 11.3 million

Of all the cities in the top ten, Istanbul saw the biggest growth since 2014 with just over a 10% increase. It's perhaps a surprise to most people that it makes number five above the likes of New York, although like Bangkok, there is an argument for its position because of the city's cheap flight connections to various surrounding airports. Having said that, travellers still choose to spend at least one night in this city and there are some fantastic cultural attractions as well as a relatively mild climate (which always helps).  

6. New York

New York's Skyline and the Statue of Liberty

Visitors in 2015: 12.3 million
Visitors in 2014: 11.9 million

Always expected to make the world's top ten most visited cities every year, New York comes in at number six for 2015. The Big Apple was at number five in 2014 above Istanbul. With first-class restaurants, shopping and entertainment to go with its emphatic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, it's easy to understand why tourists flock here in their millions. And with so much to do, it's not really surprising that New York saw visitors spend over £12 billion in 2015; only London saw tourists spend more.

7. Singapore

Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore

Visitors in 2015: 11.9 million
Visitors in 2014: 11.5 million

In 2014 Singapore saw a slight decline in visitors compared to the previous year, but numbers were up again in 2015. Singapore's heady mix of modern skyscrapers and natural beauty make it a bucket-list must. Star attractions include Marina Bay, Clarke Quay and Gardens by the Bay. However the fact that it's one of the most expensive cities in Asia (and the world) means that some backpackers and budget holidaymakers have avoided it. One to watch.  

8. Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur Skyline in Malaysia

Visitors in 2015: 11.1 million
Visitors in 2014: 10.5 million

The capital of Malaysia is in at number eight and is a much cheaper alternative to Singapore. Kuala Lumpur has seen a steady increase in visitors coming to experience the beautiful gardens, outstanding Asian cuisine and range of futuristic monuments such as the Petronas Twin Towers. The city saw visitors spend less money here in 2015 than those in Singapore but clocking up around £8.5 billion, its spend level was on a par with Bangkok.

9. Seoul

Seoul Skyline in South Korea

Visitors in 2015: 10.4 million
Visitors in 2014: 9.8 million

An increasingly popular destination for backpackers in Asia, the South Korean capital has seen a huge growth in the number of visitors per annum over the last five years - compare 2011's 6.6 million visitors to 2015's whopping 10.4 million. Today, fame over the city's rich culture and range of eye-catching attractions such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukhansan National Park are spreading fast.

10. Hong Kong

Tram and Hong Kong Skyline

Visitors in 2015: 8.7 million
Visitors in 2014: 8.4 million

Squeezing in at number ten is Hong Kong. From stunning skyscrapers and landmarks to the magic of Hong Kong Disneyland, there's more than enough to see and do here. However, in the last five years Hong Kong hasn't seen much change in its visitors per annum, perhaps as a result of the increasing popularity of other Asian cities such as Bangkok and Seoul. 

*The list above has been put together using data provided by the 2015 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. The list is based on overnight visitors who are determined as people that were not a resident of the country visited and were travelling to that city on a nonstop direct flight.

Ben Leach Ben's longest trip involved 15 months of backpacking around Australia and Southeast Asia, and now he shares his experiences with Travioor from London. Luckily, after spending so long staring at cheesy sunsets, drinking too much Goon and eating his weight in Pad Thai, he can still manage to put a few words together.