Updated on September 30th, 2016
Happy World Tourism Day, 2016!
Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. World Tourism Day is celebrated “to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in his address to the world on the occasion, said: “On this World Tourism Day, let us recognise that all people can and should be able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.”
Let’s explore 40 dreamy travel destinations this year
Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods. The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands, is home to numerous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. Click here.
Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples. Shinkansen bullet trains connect the main islands of Kyushu (with Okinawa’s subtropical beaches), Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and Hokkaido (famous for skiing). Tokyo, the capital, is known for skyscrapers, shopping and pop culture. Visit here.
3. Any of the national parks, USA
The United States has 59 protected areas known as national parks that are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Know more.
Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. Koror Island is home to the former capital, also called Koror, and is the islands’ commercial center. Larger Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, plus mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast. In its north, ancient basalt monoliths known as Badrulchau lie in grassy fields surrounded by palm trees. Click here.
Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Its landscape is marked by wide beaches as well as dense, sprawling forests. Latvia’s capital is Riga, home to notable wooden and art nouveau architecture, a vast Central Market and a medieval Old Town with St. Peter’s Church. Riga’s museums include the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, showcasing local crafts, food and music. Click here.
Australia is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland. The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert wilderness called the Outback, and unique animal species like kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses. Visit here.
Poland is an eastern European country on the Baltic Sea known for its medieval architecture and Jewish heritage. In the city of Kraków, 14th-century Wawel Castle rises above the medieval old town, home to Cloth Hall, a Renaissance trading post in Rynek Glówny (market square). Nearby is the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial, and vast Wieliczka Salt Mine, with underground halls and tunnels. Know more.
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Uruguay is a South American country known for its verdant interior and beach-lined coast. The capital, Montevideo, revolves around Plaza Independencia, once home to a Spanish citadel. It leads to Ciudad Vieja (Old City), with art deco buildings, colonial homes and Mercado del Puerto, an old port market with many steakhouses. La Rambla, a waterfront promenade, passes fish stalls, piers and parks. Click here.
Greenland is a massive island and autonomous Danish territory between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Much of its land surface is covered in ice. Most of its small population lives along the ice-free, fjord-lined coast, particularly in the southwest. Its northerly position, largely above the Arctic Circle, results in natural phenomena such as summer’s midnight sun and winter’s Northern Lights. Read more
Fiji, a country in the South Pacific, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It’s famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture. The Fiji Museum, in the Victorian-era Thurston Gardens, has ethnographic exhibits. Click here.
11. The American Southwest
The Southwestern United States is a region of the United States which includes Arizona, the western portion of New Mexico, bordered on the east by the Llano Estacado, southern Colorado and Utah below the 39th parallel, the “horn” of Texas below New Mexico, the southernmost triangle of Nevada, and the most southeastern portion of California, which encompasses the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Visit here.
Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia with a population of 26.4 million. It is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official language. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and largest city. Know more.
Tasmania, an isolated island state off Australia’s south coast, is known for its vast, rugged wilderness areas, largely protected within parks and reserves. On the Tasman Peninsula, the 19th-century Port Arthur penal settlement is now an open-air museum. In Hobart, the port capital, Salamanca Place’s Georgian warehouses now house galleries and boutiques. Its Museum of Old and New Art has a contemporary edge. Click here.
Cuba is a Caribbean island nation under communist rule. It has sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields, which play a part in the production of the country’s legendary cigars. The capital, Havana, is lined with pastel houses, 1950s-era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture in the 16th-century core, Old Havana. Salsa music plays in the dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana. Click here.
Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. Its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture: salt cod and grilled sardines are national dishes, the Algarve’s beaches are a major destination and much of the nation’s architecture dates to the 1500s–1800s, when Portugal had a powerful maritime empire. Visit this link to to know more.
16. Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a Nicaraguan city on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. It’s home to multiple Spanish colonial landmarks that have survived repeated pirate invasions. The city’s main plaza, Central Park, is dominated by the colorful, neoclassical facade of the Cathedral of Granada, originally dating to 1583. The Centro Cultural Convento San Francisco nearby is famed for its displays of pre-Columbian statues. Read more.
Mongolia, a nation bordered by China and Russia, is known for vast, rugged expanses and nomadic culture. Its capital, Ulaanbaatar, centers around Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) Square, named for the notorious founder of the 13th- and 14th-century Mongol Empire. Also in Ulaanbaatar are the National Museum of Mongolia, displaying historic and ethnographic artifacts, and the restored 1830 Gandantegchinlen Monastery. Click here.
18. East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. To know more click here.
19. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas, a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, is known for its beaches, water-based activities and nightlife. Playa El Médano is Cabo’s main beach, with outdoor restaurants and numerous bars. Past the marina is Land’s End promontory, site of Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) and El Arco, a natural archway in the seacliffs. Visit here.
The Republic of Ireland occupies most of the island of Ireland, off the coast of England and Wales. Its capital, Dublin, is the birthplace of writers like Oscar Wilde, and home of Guinness beer. The 9th-century Book of Kells and other illustrated manuscripts are on show in Dublin’s Trinity College Library. Dubbed the “Emerald Isle” for its lush landscape, the country is dotted with castles like medieval Cahir Castle. Click here.
21. Guadalajara, Mexico
Guadalajara is a city in western Mexico. It’s known for tequila and mariachi music, both born in Jalisco, the state of which Guadalajara is the capital. Guadalajara’s historic center is dotted with colonial plazas and landmarks such as the neoclassical Teatro Degollado and a cathedral with twin gold spires. The Palacio del Gobierno houses famous murals by painter José Clemente Orozco. Know more.
22. Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. Click here.
Iran is an Islamic republic on the Persian Gulf with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire. Extensive marble ruins mark Persepolis, the empire’s capital founded by Darius I in the 6th century B.C. The modern capital, Tehran, is home to opulent Golestan Palace, seat of the Qajar Dynasty (1794–1925), plus modern landmarks such as the 435m-high Milad Tower. Know more.
24. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famed for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and for Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with cable cars to its summit. The city is also known for its sprawling favelas . Its raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest. Click here.
25. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand, sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. Renowned for adventure sports, it’s also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards and historic mining towns. There’s bungee jumping off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge and jet-boating on the Shotover and Dart rivers. In winter, there’s skiing on the slopes of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Visit here.
26. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It’s home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks. Read more.
27. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is a city on the island of Honshu. It’s famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district. Click to know more.
28. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan, officially the Province of Palawan, is an island province of the Philippines that is located in the Mimaropa region. It is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. Visit here.
29. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state in the northern part of the island of Borneo. Often referred to as KK, it’s a coastal city partly surrounded by rainforest. It’s known for its bustling markets, modern boardwalk, beaches and waterfront Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. It is also a gateway to Kinabalu National Park, the home of 4,095m-high Mount Kinabalu. Read more.
30. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, on China’s central coast, is the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub. Its heart is the Bund, a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings. Across the Huangpu River rises the Pudong district’s futuristic skyline, including 632m Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with distinctive pink spheres. Sprawling Yu Garden has traditional pavilions, towers and ponds. Click here.
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31. Pakse, Laos: river crossing
Pakse or Pakxe is the capital and most populous city in the southern province of Champasak, making it the second most populous city in Laos. Located at the confluence of the Xe Don and Mekong Rivers, it has a population of about 88,000. Read more.
32. Amilla Fushi, Maldives
The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. The capital, Malé, has a busy fish market, restaurants and shops on the main road, Majeedhee Magu, and 17th-century Hukuru Miskiy (also known as Friday Mosque) made of carved white coral. Visit here.
33. Misfah, Oman
Oman, a nation on the Arabian Peninsula, has terrain encompassing desert, riverbed oases and long coastlines on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. Wahiba Sands is a region of dunes inhabited by Bedouins. The port capital, Muscat, is home to the massive, contemporary Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and the old waterfront Muttrah quarter, with a labyrinthine souk and busy fish market. Read more.
34. Doha, Qatar
Doha, capital of the peninsular Persian Gulf country Qatar, is a modern city on Doha Bay. Ringing its downtown waterfront are numerous parks and the Corniche Promenade. On a man-made island, the I.M. Pei–designed Museum of Islamic Art houses an extensive collection from across the Muslim world. At Souq Waqif, a traditional market, vendors offer goods like clothing, crafts and spices. Click here.
35. Dubai, UAE
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks. Know more.
36. Giza, Egypt
Giza, is the third-largest city in Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the Nile, some 5.1 km southwest of central Cairo. Along with Cairo Governorate, Shubra El-Kheima, Helwan, 6th October City and Obour, the five form Greater Cairo metropolis. Visit here.
37. Maasai Mara, Kenya
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya; contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Mara Region, Tanzania. Read more.
38. Piran, Slovenia
Piran is a town in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the three major towns of Slovenian Istria. The town has much medieval architecture, with narrow streets and compact houses. Read more.
39. Mt Pilatus, Switzerland
Mount Pilatus is a mountain overlooking Lucerne in central Switzerland. It is composed of several summits of which the highest is named Tomlishorn. Another summit named Esel lies just over the railway station. To know more.
40. Devon, UK
Devon is a county in southwest England. It encompasses sandy beaches, fossil cliffs, medieval towns and moorland national parks. The English Riviera is a series of picturesque, south-coast harbour towns including Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. The South West Coast Path follows the coastline, taking in the towering cliffs of the northern Exmoor Coast and rock formations on the fossil-rich southern Jurassic Coast. Click here.