This surprising city was the world’s most visited in 2024

Think of a busy, tourist-magnet city, and the likes of London, Paris or Bangkok probably spring to mind. But, according to Euromonitor International, not one of those hubs claimed the top spot for most-visited city in 2023.

It was actually Istanbul that saw the most international arrivals last year. Türkiye’s economic and cultural capital welcomed a whopping 20.2 million visitors in 2023, and for 2024 that number’s only really going to rise.

The country recently relaxed its visa requirements for travellers from the US and Canada, and with its wealth of dazzling cultural sites and crossover of Asian and European culture, it’s no wonder the city is so popular.

So much tourism isn’t always a blessing – the Hagia Sophia alone welcomes around 3.5 million people annually, and entry will soon cost visitors €25 (£21.50, $27). However, it is encouraging to see efforts being made to preserve such historic elements of the city.

London claimed second place on the list with 18.8 million, and given the city’s visitor numbers have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, that’s hardly a shock. Dubai came in third place with 16.8 million, and Antalya, another Turkish city, claimed fourth.

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