40 Best Travel Destinations in the World According to Flight Centre Customers

17 May 2022

In this blog we take a look at what makes a country worth visiting and what our customers rate as top travel/holiday destinations. With the Covid-19 pandemic still very much upon us, we answer some of the following questions and advise where you can get up-to-date information.

  1. What makes a place a top holiday destination?
  2. What are the top holiday destinations voted by Flight Centre customers?
  3. Which countries are open to South African visitors?

An often-asked question among seasoned (and not so seasoned) travellers is “which is the best place to travel?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer because what constitutes “best” is entirely subjective: what is best for one person can easily be the pits for someone else. And “best” should certainly not be confused with “most visited” or “most popular”.  

However, judging by the votes of visitors to these places, there certainly are destinations that do stand head and shoulders above the pack and richly deserve their title of “TOP”.

What is the criteria for bestowing a “top destination” accolade on a particular destination? Is it time to visit France and enjoy the breath-taking views of Paris from atop the Eiffel tower; or take in the sprawl of UK’s capital from the London Eye; or enjoy a sharp intake of breath when visiting Rome’s Colosseum?

Would you rather spend time lazing and tanning on the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar or the Hawaiian Islands; or scuba diving and snorkelling in the pristine, azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef; or what about wrapping up warmly to view the Northern Lights from a guest lodge in Iceland?

Perhaps it’s the chance to experience the adrenaline pumping thrill and fun of “dune/wadi bashing” in 4x4s or quad bikes over Saharan desert sands; or taking a more leisurely approach by exploring ancient cities or the historical wonders of Egypt and its pyramids?

How about soaking your tired and stressed-out body in the reinvigorating hot springs of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland; or soaking up the ambience and laid-back lifestyle of islands like Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, Bora Bora or the thousands of islands comprising the Raja Ampat Regency archipelago.

You could spoil yourself by staying in luxurious hotels and resorts; or, for the more rough-and-ready traveller, hiking on foot with a rucksack strapped to your back through untouched landscapes may appeal more; as may the thrill of seeing Africa’s abundant and varied game in the wild while on safari in Southern Africa; or floating above the Serengeti in a hot air balloon.


Our planet's abundant waterfalls like the Plitvice Lakes, Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and the Kuang Si Falls offer special treats for visitors. On a more cultural level, world-renowned art galleries such as the Louvre in Paris and museums and other historical sites such as Petra is your bag.

Take in the vibes of world-class cities and what they have to offer, or else immerse yourself in some of the numerous UNESCO world heritage sites. As a foodie, you could take a gastronomic tour of various cultures, savouring their contributions to the international food scene.

What has also to be taken into consideration is when to holiday in a certain place. Whether you choose to visit in high or low tourist season, the cost factor becomes important. Are you happy jostling among throngs of people taking in the sights of ancient Egypt or do you prefer the relative quiet of the sands of that country’s Red Sea coast?The weather and climate play important roles because these can turn the delight of a skiing holiday in Austria into a disappointment if the weather gets suddenly warmer than expected and the snow disappears.

Another example is that some seaside resorts in Zanzibar are subject to massive influxes of seaweed at certain times of the year which completely ruins any ideas of swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.

So, there is no clear criterion for ranking a particular destination as being better than any other. At Flight Centre, we fully understand this and will pull out all the stops to make sure that you can visit your own personal “top destination”. Flight Centre turns 40 this year – and because we’re in a celebratory mood – we’ve figured that’s as good a place as any to start our countdown.

We also have a wealth of YouTube videos available within our YouTube channel to whet your appetite further.

According to data collected by World Development Indicators, the top tourist destinations in the world are low- to middle-income countries. 

The top countries with the largest number of overnight visitors are China, Malaysia, and Thailand, while countries in the East Asia and Pacific region are among the top-visited by tourist arrivals and tourist receipts. Europe and Central Asia is the second most popular tourist region (Turkey), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (Mexico), Middle East and North Africa (Egypt), Sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa), and South Asia (India).

China has remained the top tourist destination among low- and middle-income countries since it overtook Mexico in 1996. While Mexico’s tourism numbers have dwindled significantly since, the list of top 10 countries across various incomes for tourist arrivals still includes three low- and middle-income countries: China, Turkey, and Malaysia.

In purely alphabetical and by country order, according to Flight Centre customers, the 40 best/top travel destinations in the world are as follows:

  1. Australia (Gold Coast)

The Gold Coast is awesome because it’s warm, there’s heaps to do, and you've got the choice between the hustle and bustle of Surfers Paradise or the remoteness of the hinterland. You can shop up a storm, relax on the beach or surf some of the best waves in Australia! Oh, and did we mention the theme parks?! Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet'n'Wild, WhiteWater World and more – pretty much the best family holiday you can dream of!

  1. Australia (Melbourne)

Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia where you simply can’t get bored. There is always something going on in Melbourne with tons of festivals to celebrate just about everything! Melbourne is known for its fashion, art, music, food, film, kid's events and multicultural festivals!

  1. Australia (Sydney)

It's got stunning scenic views, fantastic food, the beach, AND the city within a manageable radius. Sydney is made up of a multicultural population from all over the world and boasts great weather year-round – what more could you ask for? If you haven't already visited this Australian city, we highly recommend putting it on your list ASAP.

  1. Bahamas

Why visit the Bahamas, you may ask? Well, there's warm weather, natural beauty, great shopping deals and a wide range of activities. South African’s visit the Bahamas to enjoy the thrills and comforts of the big all-inclusive resorts with their on-site activities.

  1. Bali

The beaches and bustle of Bali are again luring South Africans in! Dramatic volcanoes, a colourful culture, towering temples and stunning flower-displays at every turn… these are some of the sights to behold in Bali. The Balinese are famed for their generosity and warmth, while Bali itself offers beaches, lush tropical gardens, shopping experiences and an exciting nightlife to ensure any traveller walks away feeling fulfilled.

  1. Botswana

Known for being Africa’s ultimate glamping and safari destination, there are countless reasons why a trip to Botswana deserves a place on every traveller’s bucket list. Did you know that up to 17% of the country is devoted to national parks and safari game reserves?

  1. Brazil

With its rich culture, unique cuisine, flamboyant carnivals, magnificent waterfalls and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, all you have to do is choose the perfect type of experience for you and be amazed by the wonders of Brazil.

  1. Croatia

Croatia has become the latest buzz word on the tongues of travellers and tourists around the world. It is where you will find a wonderful climate, with over 2,500 hours of sun per year, beautiful cultural cities, picturesque ports, stunning nature and hundreds of islands. It has beautiful beaches and loads of exciting outdoor activities for the whole family.

  1. Egypt

Thousands of years of history are at a visitor’s fingertips in the magical land of Egypt.  As a tourist in this historic country, one is literally spoilt for choice. Its imposing Pharaonic temples, spectacular pyramids and sand-covered tombs are something special to behold while a visit to the world-famous Cairo Egyptian Museum will dazzle you as you feast your eyes on the glittering finds displayed there.

  1. France (Paris)

Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and is packed with things to do, from checking out the Louvre (the most-visited museum in the world), to strolling along the banks of the Seine (or chugging down the river in a sightseeing Bateaux Mouche), gazing in awe at Notre Dame Cathedral and climbing up the Eiffel Tower, to visiting the latest art exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, the former impressive Beaux-Arts railway station.

  1. Germany (Berlin, Munich)

Capital cities don’t get more open and welcoming than Berlin. Embracing diversity is a way of life in a city that celebrates its thriving LGBTI communities with a host of speciality bars, clubs and the Schwules Museum promoting tolerance and inclusiveness. Culture and grand architecture abound in this vibrant metropolis. Meanwhile, Munich holds a special place in the hearts of beer lovers for having invented the biergarten. The Bavarian capital offers a taste of old-world Europe from stately architecture to picturesque, forested surrounds full of hiking trails. Neuschwanstein Castle on the outskirts provides a spectacular blend of both.

  1. Greece (Athens)

From its ancient heart around the Acropolis to swanky inner-city districts such as Kolonaki, a visit to Athens lays bare the span of Western civilisation. The city’s streets are open museums of the art and architecture of countless eras: classical Greece and Rome, the Byzantine age and the Ottoman conquest.  The tumultuous history of the birthplace of democracy and modern philosophy serves as a stark reminder of Europe’s unending quest for peace and stability. But never fear, you can quickly restore your holiday spirit just as the ancients did, and head for the Greek islands.

  1. Hong Kong

With more skyscrapers and multimillionaires than New York, the Hong Kong skyline is impressive.  Long a financial hub at the foot of an enterprising China, the city oozes confidence, wealth and all the trappings of a hyper-modern city. Hong Kong’s outlying hinterland reveals many ironies – particularly the 34-metre bronze Buddha that invites onlookers to free themselves of material desire as it sits sedately beside Po Lin Monastery.

  1. Ireland (Dublin)

Interestingly, while around 27% of Ireland lives in its capital, only 10% of the nation’s pubs are found there – and that’s a pre-pandemic statistic. So, while sipping a pint of Guinness in a Dublin pub might have bucket list appeal, don’t miss out on everything else this vibrant city has to offer – from its cosmopolitan cafes, restaurants and bars to its historic sites along the ancient Dublin trail. All served up with traditional Irish craic of course.

  1. Italy (Rome)

Italy’s ancient capital, Rome, is full of history, culture and food. Travel back in time with a visit to the Colosseum, one of the largest amphitheatres ever built, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Within Rome, you’ll also find the world’s smallest city, the Vatican, blessed with the Sistine Chapel and its harmonious Renaissance architecture.

  1. Jamaica

As one of the most diverse places in the world, visiting Jamaica is a fascinating learning experience. The island of rhythm and sway is also the island of adventure. The country is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, has eye-widening natural sites including waterfalls and lagoons, and produces one of the rarest coffees in the world. Not to mention a flavour destination, from jerk to patties to world-famous ice cream, Jamaica is a foodie's paradise.

  1. Malaysia

Malaysia is an incredibly diverse country. It also has a very large landmass made up of massive cities, beautiful beaches and lush rain forests. There is so much to keep you busy and too much to learn about the history, the different cultures and the people. When planning a holiday to Malaysia, you know you cannot fit it all in. You have to pick and choose. And, in the end, if you choose to spend some time in the duty-free- tropical paradise of Langkawi, you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Maldives

The Maldives is an immensely popular holiday destination amongst sun worshippers and those in search of shimmering aqua waters, soft, golden sands, and an idyllic romantic atmosphere. You’re bound to have the time of your life whether you are jetting off to enjoy an intimate getaway for two, or heading to this tropical paradise on a memorable family vacation. The dreamy islands have long been a Flight Centre bestseller.

  1. Mauritius

Sandy beaches, coral reefs and craggy peaks that brush the sky give Mauritius that dreamy quality so eagerly anticipated in a tropical vacation spot. And for an island no more than 50km in length, Mauritius has plenty going on. From skydiving to street markets, zip-lining to swimming with dolphins, boutique hotels to mountain biking, a holiday in Mauritius comes in many flavours.

  1. Mexico (Cancun)

Visiting the Caribbean usually conjures up visions of the islands of Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados for example, but have you ever given thought to one of the jewels of the Caribbean on the North American coastline, situated in Mexico?  Well, Cancún might hold some surprises for you and could be well worth considering visiting! This city is world-famous for its stunning turquoise coloured sea waters, white sandy beaches, numerous and varied resorts and vibrant nightlife.

  1. Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Both Amsterdam and The Hague have the honour of being the capital of the Netherlands. It’s a complicated relationship, but the ever-resourceful Dutch make it work.  So, while the serious business of legislation and governance is left to The Hague, Amsterdam has the fun job of being the nation’s cultural capital and home to its eclectic food and art scene. Its quirky museums are a highlight. What to visit first: the Cheese Museum?  the Museum of Bags and Purses? or De Kattenkabinet (the Cat Cabinet)?

  1. Réunion

Réunion is a hiker's paradise with over 1000km of well-marked trails and horse riders, mountain bikers, surfers and divers are well-catered for too. Réunion's mixed cultural makeup also makes it fascinating to visit. And let’s not forgot the beautiful beaches and aquatic wonderlands.

  1. Seychelles

From rare birds to naughty plants, underwater post offices and tiny frogs, Seychelles has quite a few attractions and experiences that will make you sit up and take notice. Spruce up your ‘boasting’ book and add some of these once-in-a-lifetime sights to your bucket list.

  1. Singapore

Visiting the Lion City off the southern tip of Malaysia generally isn't cheap. But the food is – you can even devour the world's cheapest Michelin-starred dish in an unassuming hawker centre. Singapore is notoriously clean and orderly. Watch out for strictly enforced laws against spitting, jaywalking and connecting to someone else's Wi-Fi!

  1. South Africa (Cape Town)

Deciding what to see in Cape Town can leave you scratching your head. Brimming with a wealth of diverse experiences, tastes and attractions, there's no way visitors to the Mother City could be stuck for things to do. Instead, the tricky decision is deciding what you want to squeeze into your visit!

  1. South Africa (Pilanesberg)

There's no doubt about it. We love a good bush break. And with some of Africa's greatest wildlife experiences literally on our doorstep, there's no better place to 'safari' than in the Pilanesberg. Apart from just enjoying game drives, a sundowner G&T and that catchup around the boma, there are many truly bucket list experiences that we can enjoy in our local game reserves. International visitors fly for hours to see what we have a short domestic flight or two-hour drive away.

  1. Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)

In this land of party lovers, you’d have to be hiding under a giant ladrillo not to be caught up in the revelry of a Spanish festival. From the La Merce festival in Barcelona to honour the city’s patron saint, to Madrid’s summertime San Cayetano festivities, plus throwing tomatoes at La Tomatina, or a wine fight at the Haro Wine Festival, Spain is a sea of celebration.

  1. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a traveller’s dream. Thanks to the short distances between attractions, travellers can see anything from timeless ruins and endless beaches to markets and natural wonders, allowing tourists to see and do more in a shorter period of time than in most countries. Sri Lanka is also home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and boasts legendary temples and colonial fortresses. Due to its diverse landscape, there’s also the pleasure of having a beach holiday or a rainforest adventure, depending on your mood.

  1. Switzerland

Donkey trekking isn’t something you’d normally associate with this iconic alpine enclave of neutrality, watchmaking and chocolate.  But in an age of eco-tourism and authentic experiences, learning “donkey knowledge” and taking the kids bare-back along winding trails in places such as the mountainous Toggenburg region is a fantastic way to experience Switzerland. You'll also make friends with some of the most good-natured creatures on the planet.

  1. Tahiti

The major island of French Polynesia offers some of the most stunning overwater bungalows in the Pacific, pristine beaches and some of the world’s best surf at Teahupoo on the southern tip of the island (pro level though so if you’re a beginner, stay clear).

  1. Tanzania

Tanzania is Africa's visual masterpiece. It is a country of natural splendour, charming ancient towns, incredible wildlife, beautiful beaches, archaeological sites and geological wonders. Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, rises from lush, grassy plains and towers over the land. Everything is on offer. From hot soups on an icy rock face to chilled drinks on tropical sands, or desolate extremes to teeming wildlife on open plains. Once-in-a-lifetime moments that can be caught in incredible photo opportunities.

  1. Thailand (Phuket)

Thailand’s largest island is a beach-goer's paradise famous for its bluffy, steep islets, sandy beaches and party atmosphere. The southern beaches of Phuket are often crowded, so if you like a bit of tranquillity with your siestas on the sand, head for the northern end.

  1. Turkey

Turkey provides you a unique meeting point between Asia and Europe. For centuries, cultures of both continents have found a way of living and thriving in this land of myriad experiences. From the sandy beaches of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast, to the ski fields of Anatolia and the mosques, churches and thriving street food and art scene of Istanbul, Turkey has a lot going on.

  1. United Arab Emirates (Dubai)

Voted a top destination for 2022, Dubai began life as a small fishing village on the shore of the Arabian Gulf before blossoming into a global financial hub of luxurious hotels, high-end shopping, and the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa at 828m). Dubai is an oasis of light and nightlife where desert meets the sea, mosques meet malls and cultures from all over the world greet and mingle.

  1. United Kingdom (London)

Big Ben, the Royal Family, fancy restaurants, huge parks, a bustling big-city vibe and so much more – there’s a whole lot to love about London. The perfect mix of old and new, London has something for everyone. Discover the brutal history of the Tower of London and take a walk along the vibrant South Bank. Admire the views of the city’s iconic skyline from Greenwich Park and be sure to ride a double-decker bus while you’re there. If you love art galleries - from the National Gallery to the Tate Modern - you will be in art heaven!

  1. USA (Las Vegas)

There are many reasons why one should visit Las Vegas. Known as the ultimate playground, the city is colourful and vibrant, making it an ideal destination for various travellers looking to explore its entertainment, cuisine, and nightlife scene.

  1. USA (Los Angeles)

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, offering myriad attractions and activities: movie studios, the Sunset Strip, Venice Beach, landmark museums, world-famous theme parks, wineries, breweries, outdoor activities, exciting nightlife, and much more


  1. USA (New York)

New York needs no introduction but since we’re writing a list of must-visit places in the world, we couldn’t leave it off! You simply must go to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square to make sure you populate your Instagram with the correct type of content. Once you’ve done that, add a few Broadway shows on top, some shopping at Macy’s on the side and sprinkle with a generous melange of museums – from the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), The Guggenheim and everything in between – and voilà, you have the perfect recipe for a successful New York trip!

  1. USA(Miami)

Miami is a popular tourist destination and a modern city in South Florida. It has spectacular white beaches, crystal blue waters, cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, impressive shopping, and excellent dining opportunities. It’s also a gateway to the Florida Keys, which is another popular destination in South Florida.

  1. Zimbabwe

Apart from being attractive in terms of its wildlife, national parks, and nature, Zimbabwe is home to one of the friendliest people in Africa. A lot of visitors give excellent reviews to Zimbabweans and their highly positive attitude toward tourists. Today, the economy and social system in Zimbabwe is recovering, prompting many travellers to ask if it’s worth making the trip and whether the country is safe and well-stocked again. The answer is a clear: ‘YES!' If you haven’t seen The Victoria Falls in action, now is the time.

Furthermore, the great  news is that despite the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, most of the countries on the above websites and the above list of 40 countries are now open to South African visitors though some have put certain measures in place that you have to abide by, like proof of vaccination or a period of isolation etc.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you visit our  Flight Centre Help Centre and Business Insider article  to find out more and to get the latest updates as the situation varies considerably depending on the circumstances prevailing at the time.

We trust that this article has given you all the information you are looking for. However, now that we have whetted your appetite to take a holiday in foreign climes, we finish off this article by giving you a bonus by highlighting Flight Centre’s current promotions! Click here for a showcase of our best holiday travel deals

So, what is stopping you? 

Begin planning your next holiday today and contact one of our expert travel consultants who will bend over backwards to help you decide which is your top holiday destination!