The most popular holiday destinations in the world

James McCay

Jul 12, 2023

It’s a great big world out there, and if you’re itching for a holiday you might have a particular destination calling your name.

There is so much to see. Whether you’re in need of a big adventure, a relaxing getaway or a trip to make some memories, it’s never been easier to travel – but which destinations are the most popular?

To find out which countries are the most popular locales for a vacation, the travel insurance experts at Compare the Market have analysed Google search data for almost every country on the planet (178 different nations) to see which countries are the most popular.

Here are the results.

Top three most desired countries to visit for a holiday


Preferred by

91 countries


Preferred by

16 countries


Preferred by

12 countries

USA: The most popular holiday destination for 91 countries

It was almost no contest as America raced ahead of the pack, with 91 different countries saying it was their preferred destination for a vacation. This is over half of all 178 countries we analysed.

The ‘land of the free’ has a lot to offer for many different travellers. It has big bustling cities, wide open spaces, a diverse range of beautiful landscapes and sites of historical and cultural significance. Due to its size and history, each major city and each state has its own unique culture to experience, and travellers can enjoy a smorgasbord of cuisine influenced by food from across the globe.

France: The most popular holiday destination for 16 countries

France was the second-most popular country for people searching for a holiday destination, with 16 different nations saying it was their number one choice. Given how France is famous for its food, art, history and architecture, it’s easy to see why France is popular in over a dozen countries.

The European nation is also home to Paris, ‘the City of Light’, home to iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower and considered one of the most romantic destinations for couples to visit in the world.

Japan: The most popular holiday destination for 12 countries

The third-most popular travel destination is Japan, with 12 countries nominating it as their favourite place for a vacation. Japan has a unique culture and lots of things to do and see, offering the high-tech hubbub of massive modern cities to the quiet reflective spaces of ancient temples, castles and picturesque gardens – and that’s to say nothing of the famous (and delicious) Japanese food to experience.

It was interesting to see that the top three countries were each from a different continent. The rest of the popular destinations are listed in the table below.

The world’s most desired travel destinations

RankTop destinationsFavourite in ‘#’ countries
4South Africa9

View the full results here.

The most popular destinations for Australians who compared travel insurance

As a travel insurance comparison website, Compare the Market is able to look at the most popular destinations for Australians who were comparing travel insurance for their holiday on our service.

From 27 April 2022 to 1 May 2023, the top international destination was Bali, which has long been popular with Australians wanting a getaway. Bali was followed by the UK, Italy, the USA, and ‘all of Europe’, a catchall for those planning to visit multiple European countries in one journey.

Proximity plays a big part in destination popularity for holidaymakers

While some of the more popular countries like the USA and Japan were popular for travellers in countries all over the world, many nations were popular with neighbours, or countries in a specific area.

For example, all but one of the countries that had France as their top pick were in Africa (the exception being France’s neighbour Monaco). Most of these nations speak French, which means they would have an easier time navigating and conversing with French locals if they went on holiday there.

South Africa was very popular among neighbouring and nearby countries, so tourists visiting South Africa from these nations will have lesser travel costs than if they journeyed further abroad. Likewise, the Caribbean country Barbados (which tied with Türkiye for sixth place) was the number one destination for other Caribbean nations.

Following the same trend, India was popular with counties in the Persian Gulf, such as Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. While not exactly neighbours, India isn’t too far away in comparison to other popular destinations.

How your travel destination affects travel insurance

The destination you travel to has an impact on how much you might pay for travel insurance, and whether or not you’ll be able to get cover at all. Compare the Market’s General Manager of General Insurance, Adrian Taylor, explains.

“When Australians go to compare and/or buy travel insurance with us, they need to list every country they wish to visit on their journey,” Taylor begins. “Travel insurers typically group and categorise destinations together, based on a variety of factors such as distance from Australia, flight costs, estimated medical expenses and other risk factors.”

“For example, medical costs are very expensive in the USA, so the States can have a different cost for travel insurance than another country for the same length of stay. Other countries might be riskier due to specific dangers or a higher rate of claims for incidents, so travel insurers will charge a higher premium.”

“Insurers likely won’t provide cover if you plan a trip to a nation with an active “do not travel” warning from the Australian Government. If you already had cover when a travel warning occurs and you cancel your trip, that can be covered, but not if one is already in place when you buy travel insurance,” Taylor explains.

“It’s vital to read the Policy Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details on what will and won’t be covered before you buy.”


To find out which nation was the most popular for each of the 178 countries we analysed, we used Google Ads Keyword Planner. We focused on using five search terms for 50 specific nations and ran the numbers for 178 countries. Those search terms were:

  • [country] holiday
  • [country] vacation
  • travel to [country]
  • holiday in [country]
  • vacation in [country]

The results for these each terms were added up for each of the 50 countries we focused on to find the most popular destination out that pool of 50 for each of the 178 countries we examined. Instances where a country searched for itself were removed from the results.

All search terms and keyword research was carried out in English, because results in native languages were inconsistent. Additionally, searches for the country Türkiye used the old English spelling ‘Turkey’, as it had higher search volume. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America used the country’s acronym (UAE, UK and USA respectively) as the acronyms had higher search volume.