Tom’s Top Destinations

I have so many favourite places in the world. I’ve been travelling for so long I have a long list of places I would love to return to. I could mention numerous city breaks, ocean vacation spots or adventure travel destinations. Some of my personal favourites are France, Portugal and New Zealand. I also had a great time in Australia and recommend Costa Rica to everyone I meet.

But not everyone wants to hear my views. Is there a way to democratically say which are the most popular travel destinations in the world? In fact there is. We can look at the data taken by search engines to determine exactly what people are searching for. The following article compiled by search engine Bing names the most searched for travel destinations.

This article first appeared on the Mashable website. Read the full article here:

10 Most-Searched Travel Destinations Around the World

Ortaköy Mosque, along the Bosphorus, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Ortaköy Mosque, along the Bosphorus, in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Darwinek. Creative Commons.

The allure of travel is novelty — in culture and history, or in cuisine and even shopping. While some globetrotters have a favorite destination to which they frequently return, becoming something of a seasonal local, most often travel is used to visit a location for the first time.

Naturally, there’s no better way to plan a trip than by scouring blogs and articles for tips and perhaps a lesser-known recommendation on sites to see — gone is the day of printed travel guides. The travel industry is estimated to be $300 billion in the U.S. alone, which means people are visiting a lot of places — but as always, some locations are more popular than others. Search data from Bing reveals the places people in the U.S. desire to visit.

Many of the top travel destinations are beach getaways, with Caribbean islands making several cameos on the list. One might imagine the Seychelles serves as the island-of-choice for those in Asia or Africa (or a substitute for anyone who’s already seen what the Caribbean has to offer). Of course, classic European mainstays Rome and London are favorites, as well.

The full list of global travel destinations most-searched by people in the U.S. is below.

1. Hawaii

It’s not surprising to see Hawaii in the top spot — the islands are tourist-friendly with everything from nightlife to hiking to surfing. The Honolulu marathon is in December and Ironman in October, drawing athletes to the islands, but for hobbyists the island have kayaking, hiking and other water sports to offer.

2. Bahamas

The most popular of Caribbean destinations, the Bahamas include about 2,000 islands, including San Salvador, where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492. Junkanoo is a local celebration not to be missed — there are costumes, cowbells and conch-shell horns — and parades take place on Boxing Day and on New Year’s Day.

3. London

London was the top choice of European destinations, perhaps due in part to hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. Spring and Fall offer the best weather, but London is magical during the Christmas and New Year’s season with lots of celebrations going on — it depends on whether your plans include museums and operas, or enjoying London’s parks and visiting historic sites.

4. Istanbul

On the edge of both Europe and Asia, Istanbul’s urban locale is a melting pot, featuring world-class shopping, restaurants, landmarks and nightlife. The Hagia Sofia is a favorite — it was the world’s largest cathedral for almost a thousand years, and is now a museum.

5. Puerto Rico

A U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is easily accessible for US citizens as it doesn’t require a passport. Some call it “the beach of the Northeast” because of the plethora of tourists who come down to catch some sun. The busy season runs from November through April.

6. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular destination for both surf and yoga retreats. The busy season coincides with winter in the U.S. and Canada, and is also Costa Rica’s dry season, making its beaches more hospitable. Expect to see lots of families traveling together over winter or spring breaks.

7. Rome

Rome is most heavy with tourists during Lent and Easter, due to the Easter Sunday mass is held in St. Peter’s Square, the many churches and museums, and August, which is when most locals are out of town on their own vacations. Summer, when the temperature reaches the high 80s, is the perfect excuse for a dish of gelato.

8. Jamaica

Jamaica is both a wedding and honeymoon destination, and for good reason. There are great beaches but also a deep culture and of course, great reggae. It’s been said that Thanksgiving weekend is the best time to visit Jamaica, as it’s the tail end of hurricane season, but just shy of on-season pricing.

9. Seychelles

With hot and humid weather, life moves slowly in the Seychelles. Popular dishes on the islands include creole, coconuts and curries, and a local beer is the light and refreshing Seybrew. There are a number of locations for snorkeling — tropical fish, sea turtles and eagle rays are a few attractions — or opt for a glass-bottom boat tour if you’d like to stay dry.

10. Bali

Bali was the favorite in Asia and is home to world-class surfing and diving. Black sand beaches, active volcanos and beachside resorts all draw tourists throughout the year. The Hindu influence on culture is apparent in the many festivals throughout the year, including Galungan (occurs every 220 days) and the Hindu New Year (in March or April).

Other notable destinations that also ranked high in searches on Bing included include Johannesburg, the favorite in Africa, as well as Sydney, Australia and Salvador, Brazil.

The data comes from Bing’s 2013 search data. Spam and repeat queries have been filtered to build a database that reflects the most compelling search trends of 2013.

This is an awesome list of international travel destinations. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to at least four of these. I really must visit Istanbul soon! Where would you like to visit more than anyone else in the world? Let us know – we may even feature it in a future blog post.