With a world full of fascinating destinations, choosing the perfect vacation spot can present a challenge. That's why U.S. News used expert opinions, user votes and current trends to compile this list. We hope these recommendations can help you craft your travel bucket list.
Why go: The world's largest coral reef system boasts incredible scenery, whether you view it underwater, from the air or by boat. Though plenty of diving and snorkeling spots can be found along Queensland's coast, to escape the crowds, take an excursion to Hamilton Island.
Why go: Year after year, the magnetic City of Light draws travelers looking to cross the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame off their bucket lists. But what visitors really fall in love with are the city's quaint cafes, vibrant markets, trendy shopping districts and unmistakable je ne sais quoi charm.
Why go: It's hard not to be enchanted by this paradisiacal destination: Lush jungles extend into sky high volcanoes and sands stretch into upscale resorts. Remember, though, that a trip to this Pacific paradise does not come cheap.
Why go: The historic city of Florence offers plenty of world-famous attractions, including the Duomo, the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Piazza della Signoria. After appreciating the city's Renaissance architecture and art, sample some of the region's delectable Tuscan food and wine.
Why go: Temples, markets and museums are just some of the offerings you'll find in the bustling, tech-centric city of Tokyo. And thanks to the city's abundance of free attractions, you'll be able to visit top spots like Tsukiji Market and the Imperial Palace without breaking the bank.
Why go: Known as the heart of the Inca Empire and the archaeological capital of the Americas, Cusco offers plenty for history and architecture buffs to enjoy. If you're up for a challenging, yet life-changing experience, try hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Why go: London is a world unto itself. The eclectic neighborhoods – which house a blend of historic landmarks and modern-day attractions – can keep you occupied for days. Be sure to visit the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the British Museum during your stay.
Why go: When you visit the Eternal City, prepare to cross a few must-see attractions – the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, to name a few – off your bucket list. Additional treasures like St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel can be found in nearby Vatican City.
Why go: New York City hosts infinite urban adventures: Wander through Central Park, tour the exhibits at the Met, catch a Broadway show or peruse SoHo's stylish boutiques. And at night, admire Manhattan's glittering skyscrapers from the top of the Empire State Building.
Why go: Maui – one of the most beloved of all the Hawaiian Islands – lives up to its superlatives with exotic beaches (like Kaanapali Beach), palatial resorts (like the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea) and lush terrain (as seen in Iao Valley State Park).
Why go: This South African city appeals to adventure seekers and mellow travelers alike. Kick-start your day by climbing Table Mountain. Afterward, sunbathe along Clifton Beach's khaki-colored sands or tour the vineyards of Constantia Valley.
Why go: Though known for its fútbol team, Barcelona boasts much more than athletic talent. The city is a feast for the eyes: Visitors can walk past medieval architecture in the Barri Gòtic and Gaudi's unique creations at Güell Park. Meanwhile, Las Ramblas buzzes at all hours.
Why go: This metropolis offers more than just a dizzying array of landmarks (e.g., the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Sydney boasts a warm, sunny climate ideal for enjoying local beaches like Coogee and Bondi.
Why go: Rio de Janeiro is arguably South America's hottest spot – and not just for its warm weather. The famous Christ the Redeemer statue sits above Copacabana Beach, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a livelier event than Rio's Carnival.
Why go: More than 3,000 square miles of nature's finest canyons, geysers and rocky cliffs are an easy sell for nature enthusiasts. Geothermic wonders like the Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake are not to be missed at this national park.
Why go: Though Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District and coffee shops can still be found in the city, more family-friendly attractions have sprouted up in recent years. Some of Amsterdam's must-see spots include the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and the Verzetsmuseum.
Why go: Hong Kong is worth visiting for its one-of-a-kind cultural fusion. Only here will you find a Disney theme park rubbing elbows with ancient temples. Peruse a street market, ride the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui pier or check out the views from atop Victoria Peak.
Why go: Cairo's high temperatures and ancient charm continue to draw in tourists every year. The Giza Pyramids – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – can be found here, plus historic neighborhoods like Coptic Cairo.
Why go: With a trove of iconic monuments, it's no wonder why our nation's capital is one of America's most-visited cities. Exploring the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution's museums can easily fill several days. And the best part is: So much is free to visit.
Why go: Measuring roughly 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon offers plenty of outdoor activities for adventure junkies. Popular things to do include hiking the Bright Angel and Rim trails and going whitewater rafting on the Colorado River. Read
Why go: If picturesque beaches and warm weather are what you're after, look no further than the British Virgin Islands. For easy access to Smuggler's Cove, Brewers Bay and other top-notch BVI beaches, consider staying on Tortola, the territory's largest island.
Why go: Serene temples and beaches are the biggest draws to this lush paradise. You'll also have plenty of opportunities to interact with monkeys and elephants while exploring Bali. To avoid the region's notorious wet season, consider visiting between April and October.
Why go: Gourmet restaurants, funky boutiques and laid-back vibes are just some of San Fran's charms. A ride on the cable cars and a visit to Alcatraz are musts. And, of course, don't forget to check out the city's crowning architectural achievement – the Golden Gate Bridge.
Why go: Jaw-dropping landscapes make this South American destination a quintessential spot for adventure travelers to visit. While wandering Argentine Patagonia, you'll see everything from picturesque lakes to towering glaciers and mountains.
Why go: Budapest is a sure standout for any trip to Eastern Europe. The city caters to a wide range of traveler types and budgets with its variety of hotels and restaurants. Thermal baths and world-class museums are just some of the attractions you'll find here.