The United States is one of the most visited countries in the world by international tourists — but where do Americans choose to go when they travel abroad? Recent data gathered by the International Trade Administration reveals where travelers from the U.S. visited the most during the first half of 2023. This data was collected through the Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT). By far, the most visited region was Europe (38.7 percent of American travelers), followed by the Caribbean (20.2 percent) and Asia (17.3 percent). Here is a closer look at which countries Americans enjoyed exploring during 2023.
Over 5 percent of American travelers visited Spain in 2023, making it the fifth most visited country. With stunning beaches on the Mediterranean coast, ample skiing and hiking through the Pyrenees Mountains, and lively city centers, this diverse country appeals to many travelers. But one of Spain’s most visited sites is not found in its capital city, Madrid, or even in the bustling coastal city of Barcelona — it’s located in the southern mountain town of Granada. Every year, three million visitors trek to see the Alhambra, a magnificent hilltop fortress dating back to the 13th century.
The most visited region of Spain in 2022 was Catalonia, the capital of which is Barcelona. Famous sights in this city, such as the Sagrada Família Catholic church and the overlook at Park Güell, give Catalonia its well-earned spot. After a long day of exploring, head to one of Spain’s many bars and nightclubs — this country has the most bars per capita in Europe.
4. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the only location in the Caribbean to land in the top five destinations for Americans (although Jamaica came in at number six). As the second-largest country in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic boasts 1,000 miles of stunning coastline. Unsurprisingly, beachgoing is the most popular activity here, and Punta Cana is the go-to coastal destination; nearly 70 percent of Dominican Republic tourists vacation here. It is located on the vibrant Coconut Coast on the eastern edge of the island, where all-inclusive resorts line the white sand beaches.
There is plenty to do both on and off the beaches. The country’s capital city, Santo Domingo, is popular with history enthusiasts for its colonial city center, while all around the country, outdoor adventure can be found at national parks, from waterfall hikes and wildlife viewing to swimming in hidden cenotes and ziplining.
Overflowing with world-renowned wine, delicious food, and beautiful architecture, France is the most visited country in the world (for travelers of all nationalities) — nearly 80 million tourists vacationed here in 2022. It is also the third most visited country for U.S. travelers.
So where are all these travelers headed? Some go south to the Mediterranean Sea, where towns like Cannes and Saint-Tropez epitomize the luxury of the French Riviera. Of course, the capital city of Paris is a tourism mainstay (around seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower annually). Still, plenty of travelers take to the countryside to visit one of the many French wine regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, and Champagne. For those who love fine dining, add France to your vacation wishlist; it has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
Italy has something for everyone, which might be why so many Americans visit. It was recently ranked as having the best food in the world by the U.S. News & World Report and has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country. With so much to do (and eat), it’s easy to see why a trip to Italy is so appealing, but deciding which region of Italy to visit is a task in itself.
Northern Italy boasts the rugged scenery of the Alps around Lake Como, the romantic coastal city of Venice, and fashion-forward Milan. Central Italy is home to Tuscany and some of the finest architecture and museums in the world in Florence and Rome, where the Colosseum is among the top five most visited monuments in the world (with nearly 8 million annual visitors). If none of that is appealing, a relaxing beach vacation under the southern Italian sun might be for you; try the Amalfi Coast or Sicily.
1. United Kingdom
A whopping 10% of Americans traveling internationally in 2023 went to the United Kingdom, making it the most sought-after international destination for U.S. tourists. Airports around the U.S. offer direct flights to the U.K.’s capital city, London, making travel across the pond easier than ever. London is also home to some of the country’s most visited attractions, including the Natural History Museum (4.7 million visitors annually) and the Tower of London (two million visitors annually). With Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and an influx of international cuisine, shopping experiences, and museums, many visitors do not need to leave London.
If you do decide to leave London, the U.K. has much more to offer. Aside from England, the U.K. also includes Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, which had a 71 percent increase in American tourists between 2022 and 2023. History and nature lovers enjoy Scotland for its rugged wilderness in the Scottish Highlands, centuries-old castles, charming cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and an array of holiday festivals.