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Top 12 tourist destinations and places to visit

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, reader votes and current trends – and evaluated sights, cultures, scenic beauty, food scenes and more – to compile this list of the world's best places to visit. Use these recommendations to craft your travel bucket list, and cast your vote below to help us determine next year's list. And tell us which place should be included in the list and which place should be removed from the list.

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South Island, New Zealand

#1 in World's Best Places to Visit

New Zealand's South Island brims with majestic landscapes at every turn, from dramatic mountains to fjords to glaciers. Here, you can explore Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Area, or gaze at the starry skies at Mount John Observatory. You can also indulge your inner daredevil in Queenstown, explore two of the most accessible glaciers in the world on the country's west coast or sample delicious food and wine in the Marlborough region.

Paris

#2 in World's Best Places to Visit

Every day, the magnetic City of Light draws visitors from around the globe who come to see iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. But what travelers really fall in love with are the city's quaint cafes, vibrant markets, trendy shopping districts and unmistakable je ne sais quoi charm. Get lost wandering along Paris' cobblestone streets, or grab a croissant and relax on the banks of the Seine for hours.

Bora Bora

#3 in World's Best Places to Visit

What this small island may lack in size it makes up for in sheer tropical beauty. Here, you'll find picturesque beaches, lush jungles and luxurious resorts. The island's dormant volcano, Mount Otemanu, makes for a great photo-op or challenging hike, and the friendly Bora Bora locals can help you catch a glimpse of the island's best sights during an off-road excursion. To relax, head to Matira Beach for crystal-clear water and soft sand. Although a trip to Bora Bora is very expensive, most travelers say it's worth every penny.

Glacier National Park

#4 in World's Best Places to Visit

Snow-capped peaks and azure lakes are just two reasons why Glacier National Park is one of the most-visited parks in the United States. There are more than 700 miles of hiking trails in this Montana park, plus 13 designated areas for camping. In winter, travelers can enjoy snowshoeing and skiing, while summer is when vacationers can go swimming and whitewater rafting, among other popular activities. For those who'd rather admire their surroundings from their car, a scenic drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road can't be missed.

London

#5 in World's Best Places to Visit

London is a world unto itself. The eclectic neighborhoods, which house a blend of historical landmarks and modern-day attractions, can keep you occupied for days. If it's your first time in London, save time for a visit to the Tower of London, Tate Modern, Buckingham Palace or the British Museum before sitting down to a classic afternoon tea. The best time to travel to London is during the warmer months, but be warned that this is also the busiest and most expensive time of year.

Maui

#6 in World's Best Places to Visit

Whether you're driving along the Road to Hana, enjoying a bird's-eye view of the lush coastline from a helicopter, snorkeling with sea turtles or simply relaxing on the island's honey- or black-colored beaches, you'll find that Maui is unlike any other tropical destination. Don't miss a chance to visit Haleakala National Park, which is home to the world's largest dormant volcano. You should also attend a luau for a dose of local culture and a taste of Hawaiian specialties like poi, poke and mahimahi.

Tahiti

#7 in World's Best Places to Visit

Travel to this island – the largest in French Polynesia – if you've been dreaming of a vacation spent lazing in a lavish overwater bungalow. Beyond the posh resorts, Tahiti boasts black sand beaches, a bustling capital and prime snorkeling and surfing conditions. If you're looking for more cultural experiences, check out some of the island's ancient temples or shop at its traditional covered markets. Luxurious five-star resorts abound here, but the easiest (and cheapest) way to experience this paradise is on a cruise.

Tokyo

#8 in World's Best Places to Visit

Simply setting foot in Japan's cosmopolitan capital is an experience within itself. A city known for its bustling streets adorned with flashing neon signs, Tokyo offers visitors a little bit of everything. Foodies won't be let down by the city's fresh sushi and hearty ramen. Budding photographers and adrenaline junkies will love taking in the sweeping panoramas from the top of the Tokyo Skytree. Shopaholics will find plenty of must-have designer products in Ginza. And for history buffs, Tokyo offers centuries-old temples and shrines to explore.

Rome

#9 in World's Best Places to Visit

When you visit the Eternal City, prepare to cross a few must-see attractions – including the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon – off of your bucket list. Additional treasures, such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, can be found in nearby Vatican City. Escape the tourist crowds by taking a twilight stroll along the cobblestone streets of Trastevere, or head to Mercato Centrale Roma to sample local delicacies like gelato and pizza. Before leaving, peruse some of Rome's lesser-known museums, art galleries and boutiques.

Phuket

#10 in World's Best Places to Visit

Located in southern Thailand, Phuket offers something for everyone, especially budget-minded travelers. Everything from accommodations to spa treatments to boat tours come with a low price tag. For stunning scenery, check out the limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay and lounge on Phuket's gorgeous white sand beaches. Other must-sees include Wat Chalong Temple and the Big Buddha. Once the sun sets, take part in the island's lively nightlife scene.

Barcelona

#11 in World's Best Places to Visit

This Spanish city is a feast for the eyes: Visitors can walk past medieval architecture in the Barri Gòtic, snap photos of the intricate Sagrada Família and marvel at Gaudí's whimsical creations in Park Güell. La Barceloneta Beach and the Parc de la Ciutadella are perfect places to pass the time on a sunny day before checking out the restaurants and bars along Las Ramblas, which buzzes at all hours of the night. For travelers who want to see Barcelona from above, a trek up Tibidabo is a must.

Bali

#12 in World's Best Places to Visit

Serene temples and beautiful beaches are the biggest draws to this lush Indonesian paradise. And we do mean lush.

Content created and supplied by: Healthylifegist (via Opera News )

Fiordland National Park New Zealand South Island UNESCO World Heritage Area

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