Top 10 Holiday Destinations in The World - World Travel Guide

Looking for holiday ideas? Here our editors – The Sunday Times travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers – reveal their top 10 holiday destinations.
These are the most popular destinations with our readers, along with our own personal recommendations. We also have the latest Government data on the numbers of UK visitors travelling abroad.
If you are travelling with children, see the Top 10 family destinations. You can also search holiday ideas for couples.
If you know when you plan to travel and are looking for ideas of where to go, see Best Time to Visit and select a month.
    1. 1. Spain

Spain has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers, and it remains the UK’s number one holiday destination. In particular, the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca are perennial big-hitters, along with Canary Islands such as Tenerife and the beautiful lesser-known La Gomera and La Palma. Other great beach destinations on the mainland include the Costa de la Luz and Catalonia.
Northern Spain is overlooked by most tourists, even though it combines magnificent empty beaches with rolling countryside, mountains, medieval towns and buzzing cities. It’s authentic, great value and the food is superb.
There’s a lot more to Spain than beaches. There are great walking holidays along with wine and gastronomy breaks and cycling. The rise of low-cost airlines has made it easy to enjoy city breaks in the likes of Palma and Seville – both of which are rich in culture.
Find more holiday ideas in Spain, plus the hottest regions of Spain and an extensive guide to the best family holidays in Spain.

Holiday destinations in France

    1. 2. France

The relationship between the British and French has had its ups and downs over the years, but our love of all things French shows no sign of abating. From the Channel ports to the islands of the Mediterranean, Francophiles are never short of new destinations to discover.
Among our favourite holidays in France are the beaches of Corsica and Ile de Ré or you could go cycling in the French countryside. If you’re looking for an excuse to crack open a few bottles, relax and watch the countryside roll by on a luxury hotel barge with gourmet meals, fine wines and excursions all included. Destinations include Burgundy, Provence and Gascony.
There are few better ways to enjoy the French countryside than in your own villa with private pool – our favourite spots include the Dordogne, Provence and the Côte d’Azur.
In the French Alps you can ski on a budget, or with the family, and the mountains also make a great destination in summer. You can rent a French chateau and even in winter you’ll find long days of sunshine on the Cote d’Azur, where you can enjoy the timeless beauty of Nice.
Find more holiday ideas in France, or see our editors’ tips on the best family holiday destinations in France.
Greece holiday destinationsLuxury villas with private poolSheer luxury
    1. 3. Greece

Holidays in Greece are all about simplicity. Despite the recent economic crisis, it is the whitewashed villas, the friendly tavernas, the hot sun and blue seas that keep us coming back year after year. Even Greek food is a masterpiece of simplicity, both traditional and healthy.
It is the islands that attract the most visitors. Corfu’s villas never lose their appeal. If you’re looking for the quintessential small Greek island, we recommend Paxos, which has no airport and is a great place for lazy days, boat trips and lovely villas.
If you fancy being more active, the Lakitira Beach resort on Kos, just off the Turkish coast, offers a wide array of watersports.
Crete is the largest and arguably the most interesting of the islands. Steer away from the tacky resorts and stay at one of these stylish houses or family villas available for rent.
Find more holiday locations in Greece and the hottest Greek islands.
    1. 4. USA

America is the most popular long-haul destination for British holidaymakers and it’s not hard to see why. The USA has an impressive diversity of landscapes, iconic cultural sights, friendly people and great food.
New York is an obvious starting point, a 24/7 hit of street-level thrills and high culture. You can arrive on a Transatlantic cruise, combine the Big Apple with Las Vegas, or escape the city to the more tranquil Upstate New York.
New England is charming. Whether you opt for a classic 2-week fly-drive, a coach tour or big road trip, you’ll see a lot without covering too many miles. Most trips start and finish in Boston and include a visit to Cape Cod, the classic American seaside resort.
Other highlights of the East coast include Niagara Falls and Washington D.C.. You can drive across Virginia, retrace the Civil War route, or visit DC, Philly and New York on a single trip.
The Mid West is the heartland of America. Las Vegas is the popular highlight, easily combined with the Grand Canyon on a fly-drive. A great way to explore the US is to rent a motorhome.
The West is a great region for road trips: you could tour the great National Parks or take a trip down Route 66.
America’s cultural impact on the 20th Century can be celebrated on a Music & Movies Trail. Adventurers can camp in the Northern Rockies or stay on a working ranch. Love beaches? Florida is easy to reach from the UK: Orlando is the big draw, but you could also kick back on the great beaches in Fort Lauderdale.
For more ideas, see our sister site, 101 USA holidays. Also find the best time of year to visit America.
Surfing in DevonRent a log cabin in Cornwall
    1. 5. Great Britain

No list of holiday destinations for UK travellers would be complete without mentioning our own great country: not just England, but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The UK’s most popular tourist destinations include London, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, East Anglia and Scotland.
In the English countryside you can rent a Downton Abbey-style historic house sleeping 6 – 60 people. Perfect for birthdays or anniversaries.
In Scotland you could rent an apartment in Edinburgh, stay in a picturesque cottage, take a whisky tour, ride a steam train on the West Highland Line or take a tour of Mull to see minke whales, otters, seals and porpoises.
Explore more UK holiday destinations.
Bustling waterwaysItaly holiday ideas
    1. 6. Italy

Ancient culture, great beaches, fantastic food and charming people – it’s no surprise that so many of us decide to holiday in Italy. Our editors consistently rate it is one of the best summer holiday destinations in Europe.
For a taste of la dolce vita, head to the wonderful cities of Rome, Florence and Venice – for an extra dash of old-school glamour, you can even travel to Venice on the Orient-Express. For a relaxing stay in the countryside or close to a beach, rent a villa with private pool.
Umbria is a beautiful region of Italy, boasting medieval market towns, wonderful vineyards and great works of the Renaissance – and is largely untouched by tourists. Beach lovers will be blown away by the 500 miles of coastline in Puglia in the south, not to mention the traditional architecture and terrific food and wine. Tuscany is deservedly popular but you can still escape the crowds by renting a villa.
The Italian Lakes attracted some of the first package tourists from the UK and they continue to be popular for their beautiful setting, mountain views and great transport links for visiting local sights.
The lesser-known area of Le Marche offers everything you would expect from Italy – great beaches, historic palaces and galleries stuffed with masterpieces. The island of Sicily combines historical sites with a gorgeous coastline, while Sardinia has the country’s best beaches, and the Amalfi Coast is a fantastic base from which to visit Sorrento, Capri, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii.
More about holiday destinations in Italy.
Gorgeous beachesThe Dubrovnik skyline
    1. 7. Croatia

The pristine coastline of Croatia is among the most beautiful in the world – and one of the least spoilt in Europe. It’s also good value compared to other Mediterranean countries.
Either stay in one of the beautiful resorts that dot the coastline, or head out to one of the many stunning islands that lay off the coast. The island of Hvar is a real stunner, easily reached by ferry from Split.
The historic city of Dubrovnik has been beautifully restored in recent years. Originally built by the Venetians, the Pearl of the Adriatic has great food and is a wonderful base from which to take the ferry to surrounding islands.
Also, take a look at neighbouring Montenegro which very good value. Though tiny – half the size of Wales – it is one of Europe’s fastest growing holiday destinations. Many visitors flying into Dubrovnik and take the half-hour drive across the border. See an overview of the best places to stay.
Romantic sunsets
    1. 8. Thailand

Thailand, the Land of Smiles, continues its meteoric rise from backpackers’ haven to mainstream holiday favourite. The appeal is obvious: beautiful countryside and beaches, great food, friendly people and low prices. But Thailand also has a fascinating unique cultural heritage, enfused by Buddhist ideals. And Bangkok, the capital, fizzes with energy.
It’s the islands that attract the most attention, however, with Phuket bringing in most visitors. Most of its hotels are world class. Not far away, in the Gulf of Siam, the idyllic island of Koh Samui has some delightful small luxury hotels, and its neighbour Koh Phangan is on the up.
If you want more than beaches, see these tailor-made holiday ideas, including trips designed for foodies and families and the chance to kayak at sunset and explore Khao Sok National Park.
Boats anchored at a bay in the Turkish Mediterranean. Wide angle composition.Stylish villas and small hotelsMahal Villas_3
    1. 9. Turkey

In terms of price, Turkey has benefited from its exclusion from the Eurozone. Although it suffers from inflation and isn’t as cheap it was 20 years ago, it still compares favourably to its western neighbours. And the food is superb.
With its endless Aegean coastline, Turkey has some of Europe’s finest beaches, many of which remain relatively unspoilt. And you’re rarely far from a magnificent Roman ruin or majestic mosque. You can also explore the coastline of Turkey on a gulet cruise.
See our full guide to the best places to holiday in Turkey.
Pyramids of Giza in the morning lightLuxury Nile cruisesTutankamun
    1. 10. Egypt

It’s difficult to know where to start with the historic treasures that Egypt boasts, but a great way to explore them is on a Nile Cruise. Float in luxury between the temples of Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and the great dam at Aswan. The capital Cairo is home to the Egyptian Museum where you can see King Tutankhamen’s solid gold death mask, and just outside the city are the Pyramids and Sphinx.
For a more laid-back experience head to the sparkling waters of the Red Sea resorts which offer some of the world’s best snorkeling along with luxurious, good-value hotels.
Check the latest Foreign Office advice on travel to Egypt.
Need more inspiration? Try out fun holiday quiz. Just answer 10 simple questions and we’ll give you personalised recommendations.
The Taj MahalIncredible waterfallsW Resort & Spa

Just outside the top 10…

With so many great places to visit around the world, how could we possibly restrict ourselves to just ten? There are many great countries that didn’t quite make the list, which we just have to mention…
The Arabian Gulf is a fast-growing destination served by many excellent airlines and offering guaranteed winter sun. The glittering city of Dubai is a proven winner and many people are discovering its neighbour Abu Dhabi which has some astonishing beachfront hotels. For an intense hit of culture and adventure, drive over the border into the Sultanate of Oman.
The growth of the Maldives shows no sign of slowing. With each resort on a private island, it’s obviously a great destination for honeymoons, but is also becoming known for family holidays.
Although it doesn’t rank amongst the most popular holiday destinations, it’s impossible to ignore India for its sheer sensory overload, astonishing diversity, natural beauty and cultural wealth. You could tour the beguiling southern state of Kerala, or see tigers on a wildlife holiday in one of the many national parks. Find more tailor-made journeys in India with TransIndus.
Canada has stunning scenery. We’re huge fans of the Rockies where you can jump on board one of the world’s great trains, the Rocky Mountaineer. It’s not just railways – you can take a wildlife tour, a fly-drive or a cruise. In the east, head to the vibrant cosmopolitan city of Montréal.
We couldn’t ignore Australia which you can explore by fly-drive, escorted coach tour, or rail. Want to see all the best bits? Splash out on this Absolutely Luxury trip to Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Island, Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef – or try this budget alternative.
Neighbouring New Zealand has some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes from a nature cruise in Milford Sound to a classic wine trail in Marlborough. By far the most popular holiday option is a fly-drive itinerary. This three-week Unique New Zealand tour will tick a lot of boxes.
South America is a part of the world that many Brits don’t know at all, yet it’s rich in culture, beaches, adventure, has fantastic food and wine, great places to stay, vibrant cities and pristine wilderness. See our guide to the best holiday destinations in South America.
See more unusual holiday ideas, and our pick of the best summer honeymoon destinations.
Awe-inspiringStresa, Lake MaggioreThe Coliseum

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