The 10 most-visited cities of 2015

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By Christina Lavingia, Graphiq

At the end of the year, two things tend to happen: We look forward to the year ahead, with all of its potential, and evaluate the year that's coming to a close. Perhaps your nostalgia harkens back to memories made with friends, quality time with family, big changes in your life or a much-needed vacation that expanded your perspective and gave you an experience you'll never forget.

FindTheHome wanted to see which cities were the most popular travel destinations of 2015. To do this, we looked at the 2015 MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, which ranked the 132 most visited cities by international overnight travelers* around the world. The report is released in June and projects to year close.

We provide a look at the top 10 below, along with data regarding the number of international tourists, growth in visitors over 2014, money spent** by tourists in each location in 2015 and top attractions via TripAdvisor.

While London, Bangkok and Paris received the most international overnight tourists in 2015, visitors spent the most money in London, New York and Paris.

* An overnight visitor is defined as person who is traveling on a nonstop direct flight to her destination and is not a resident of the destination country. A visitor may make more than one trip, and each trip counts as a new visit. A person on the return leg home does not count as a visitor.

** Money spent is defined as the estimated total amount that visitors spend in the destination city and excludes air ticket expenditure.

1. London, United Kingdom

Number of Visitors in 2015: 18.8 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 6%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $20.2 billion

From the majesty of Buckingham Palace to the glamour of the Crown Jewels and the Globe Theater, history is still very much alive in London. Admire the architecture of the British Parliament building and Big Ben from the London Eye, take a river cruise on the Thames and visit the darker parts of London's past at the Tower of London.

See more London attractions on TripAdvisor.

2. Bangkok, Thailand

Number of Visitors in 2015: 18.2 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 8%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $12.4 billion

The Grand Palace and Wat Prakeaw embody the architecture and design elements you envision when you think of Thailand. The Wat Arun is one of the most recognizable structures in Southeast Asia, and the city's Chinatown Market, Soi Rambuttri, and Soi Cowboy (red-light district) introduce tourists to cultural elements of Bangkok today.

TripAdvisor offers more ideas of things to do in Bangkok.

3. Paris, France

Number of Visitors in 2015: 16.1 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 3.2%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $16.6 billion

The City of Love, Paris packs many beautiful and rich landmarks in a relatively small cityscape. Visit The Louvre to see some of the most prized works of art in the world (including the Mona Lisa), Versailles to admire one of the most ostentatious palaces ever built and cruise your way down the Seine for a view of the city skyline and urban life. A trip up the Eiffel Tower is necessary for those who aren't afraid of heights.

This is, of course, the short list of things to see in Paris. TripAdvisor offers more details here.

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Number of Visitors in 2015: 14.3 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 8%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $11.7 billion

This out-of-this-world city is grandiose beyond measure. The Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic buildings in the Middle East, sitting on its own small island and standing at 56 stories tall (not including the three floors below ground). Those who love to shop will never tire of the Dubai Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in the world based on total area.

See more Dubai attractions on TripAdvisor.

5. Istanbul, Turkey

Number of Visitors in 2015: 12.6 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 11.4%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $9.4 billion

The Sultanahmet District provides an inspiring venue for exploring Istanbul's architecture, history and culture. In this district, visitors will see the Suleymaniye Mosque, a famous site of worship. Those interested in Turkey's monarchical past can visit the Topkapi Palace and learn more about the city's Byzantine-era history at the Kariye Museum.

Click here to see more Istanbul dining and attraction options on TripAdvisor

6. New York, United States

Number of Visitors in 2015: 12.3 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 3.5%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $17.4 billion

Boasting one of the most iconic skylines in film and international pop culture, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center Memorial, Empire State Building, Broadway, and Times Square offer a vibrant mix of attractions for all ages. While that might appear to be the highlight reel at first, Washington Square Park, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art also provide visitors with elements of the true "New York experience," as do its plentiful dining options and Harlem's jazz and blues music scene.

TripAdvisor has a list of must-sees in New York.

7. Singapore

Number of Visitors in 2015: 11.9 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 3%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $14.7 billion

This city is a prime tourist location for botanists or those who appreciate nature. Between the floating Gardens by the Bay, the National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, and Cloud Forest, the country's lush climate and vegetation are on full display. The Singapore Flyer is the second-largest observation wheel in the world, equipped with 28 air-conditioned capsules that can accommodate 28 passengers each.

Consult TripAdvisor's list of things to do in Singapore for more inspiration.

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Number of Visitors in 2015: 11.1 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 5.6%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $12 billion

This Malaysian city offers a lot of architectural monuments to visit, including the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the Petronas Twin Towers and the Bukit Bintang Walkway. Visiting these monuments will give you breathtaking views of the cityscape below. The Perdana Botanical Garden, the Thean Hou Temple and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple provide geographic and historic context for any visitor.

Visit TripAdvisor for a more comprehensive list of sights to see in Kuala Lumpur.

9. Seoul, South Korea

Number of Visitors in 2015: 10.4 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 5.2%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $15.2 billion

Seoul is a major cultural hub, offering a rich history and innovative spirit. The Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukhansan National Park are two of the most cherished places to visit, while the Hangang Park waterfront and N. Seoul Tower are great for leisurely downtime and far-reaching views, respectively. Visit a neighborhood of traditional Korean homes at Bukchon and enjoy Seoul's unique nightlife at any one of its numerous nightclubs.

Consider TripAdvisor's list of things to see in Seoul for more vacation inspiration.

10. Hong Kong

Number of Visitors in 2015: 8.7 million
Percentage Increase in Visitors (2014-2015): 3.5%
Amount Spent by Visitors in 2015: $7.4 billion

Rounding out the most popular travel destinations of 2015 is Hong Kong. This major metro is home to a number of cultural attractions and phenomena like the Big Buddha, the Victoria Harbour, the Nan Lian Garden, Lantau Island, Victoria Peak and Po Lin Monastery. Seek a more traditional experience with a visit to Ngong Ping Village, Sai Kung and the Chi Lin Nunnery or see Hong Kong's take on Disneyland and its prized Ocean Park.

Click here to see more Hong Kong attractions.

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