VACATION IDEAS

Top 10 Most Visited Cities in the World

It wasn't hard to determine which cities Americans travel to most outside of the U.S. The challenge? Narrowing down the must-see sights for first-timers—and veterans.

3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORS
Surfing on Macao Beach The sea may be rougher at Macao Beach, a stretch of golden sand shaded by palm trees to the north, but it's a much calmer and quieter beach than Bavaro. It's better for surfing, too; you can rent gear and take lessons at Macao Surf Camp (two-hour lessons from $60 per person) and afterward reward yourself with fresh grilled fish, fried plantains, and cold El Presidente beer at one of the local beach shacks on the sand.
Canyoning in Cordillera Septentrional Adventurous travelers should head into the Cordillera Septentrional mountains for a chance to rappel down waterfalls into the gorgeous river canyons. (Tour outfitter Iguana Mama runs trips from $195 per person.)
Casa Ponce de Leon Ponce de Leon may be buried in Puerto Rico, but the best museum dedicated to his life is located in his historic house in Santa Domingo (011-809/551-0118, $1.27 to enter).

OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: NH Punta Cana is a colorful and stylish resort on Bavaro Beach with plenty of modern perks like complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV (nh-hotels.com; doubles from $60).

#8 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona beats Madrid for the top city in Spain visited by U.S. travelers, especially 20-somethings on holiday in Europe. It's an arty, youthful city on the sea with a labyrinth of narrow streets and gorgeous plazas, branded by fairy-tale architecture from the quirky godfather of modern Catalonian architecture, Antoni Gaudi.

3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Las Ramblas This wide boulevard slopes through Barcelona from Plaça de Catalunya in the city center all the way to Port Veil on the shore. The tree-shaded sidewalks are lined with shops, cafés, and souvenir kiosks; in the center of the road, street performers entertain the daily parade of tourists.
Barceloneta The seaside neighborhood of Barceloneta is a perfect spot for an afternoon of wandering the quaint channel streets with a view of the ocean through gaps between tenements. Once you find your way to the beach, sit down and enjoy a glass of vino and tapas at Bar Electricitat in the market square.
Parc Güell Set on the outskirts of the city, Barcelona's version of Central Park is a storybook land of strange stone pavilions designed by Gaudi among the green hills and trees. The park trails meander through the 37 wooded acres with mythical mosaic sculptures and curved terraces that look out over the city.

3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORS
El Born This lovely neighborhood of narrow labyrinthine streets is a great spot to hang out with the locals, shop for vintage fashions, and taste the best of Catalonian cuisine at cubby-hole cafés and bars such as Casa Delfin.
Sagrada Familia Love it or hate it, there's no escaping the sight of Gaudi's gargantuan drip-castle cathedral wherever you are in Barcelona. So if you skipped a visit the first time, it's worth a trip to the neighborhood of Exiample for a view of Sagrada Familia up close. It's a playful and profound structure that blends the whimsical curvature of Art Nouveau with the dark angularity of Gothic architecture.
Barri Gotic This historic neighborhood of Gothic monuments reminds visitors of Barcelona's medieval past, before Gaudi put his stamp of eccentric modernity on the city. The wide plazas provide impromptu venues for Dark Ages-themed street performers.

OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Hotel Curious is a friendly boutique hotel near Las Ramblas in central Barcelona (hotelcurious.com; Doubles from $115).

#7 Montego Bay, Jamaica

The all-inclusive resorts on Montego Bay (and a chance to experience Rastafarian culture) make Jamaica one of the top Caribbean destinations for U.S. travelers. "Liming" (otherwise known as relaxing) on the beach is the order of the day and many vacationers don't venture far from their umbrella-shaded lounger. But if you do, there's plenty to explore on this Caribbean island.

3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Liming on Doctor's Cave Beach and Seven Mile Beach Doctor's Cave Beach is the most popular beach in Montego Bay and chances are your hotel will be within flip-flop distance. If you have wheels, Jamaica's most famous stretch of sand, Seven Mile Beach, is a short drive away in Negril. On either beach, be sure to look out for the famous jerk stands and kick back Jamaica-style with spicy grilled chicken and the national beer, Red Stripe.
Montego Bay Marine Park The coral reef from Tropical Beach to Rum Bottle Bay is an underwater nature reserve that's shelter to a wide array of exotic fish and sea anemones… and great snorkeling territory for visitors. Watch out for the Lion Fish, cute but poisonous!
Dunn River Falls Nearby in Ocho Rios, a short adventure into the rain forest will bring you to Dunn River Falls, a 180-foot waterfall that you can climb down, passing from lagoon to lagoon as the river rambles downstream.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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