Everyone remembers the first time they traveled and the adventures they had. Whether it’s your first adventure or you’re visiting an exciting destination for the first time, trying and exploring someplace new is always exciting.
Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travelers with the widest selection of awesome places to stay, has conducted global research* which reveals the 10 most popular destinations that people travel to for their first time. Over 15,000 travelers were polled from markets all over the world, but it’s Europe that has come out on top ― with nine out of 10 destinations. Each location offers a variety of dynamic city experiences with something for everyone to explore and enjoy, whatever your preferences or needs.
#1 - Paris, France
Whether it’s a romantic break for two in the city of love or a fun-filled family vacation to Disneyland, Paris has it all. This sleepless and urban capital—fueled by champagne and dreams—is the top destination to surround yourself with the world’s art and culture connoisseurs. Booking.com travelers mostly love the museums, sightseeing, and culture in Paris. Take a picture in front of the 19th-century Eiffel Tower, hear the ringing bells of the iconic gothic church, Notre Dame, or visit the Louvre to soak up some art, culture and history while admiring the vast selection of masterpieces. Stroll through the streets of Paris and sample the exquisite French cuisine, relax with a coffee and your favorite book at one of the many cafes lining the city’s avenues, or browse through the multitude of chic boutiques offering the trendiest of clothes and Parisian fashion.
Where to Stay:
Located in the Auteuil Village in the 16th district of Paris, the Villa du Square Luxury Guest House is a stone’s throw from the iconic Eiffel Tower and Paris’ most glamorous avenue, the Champs Elysees. Guests will love the large private garden perfect for sunny breakfasts and outdoor dining. Many restaurants are nearby and guests of the Villa du Square Luxury Guest House will get a personalized welcome at Le Berger et Les Poissons.
The popular Les Piaules hostel is perfect for travelers on a budget who don’t want to compromise on style or comfort. Guests will love the lively on-site bar, which is a hub for backpackers to meet and swap stories. Plus, there’s a rooftop deck with fantastic views of Paris’ iconic monuments. Dubbed the most Parisian hostel, this fully renovated Art Deco building was recently opened by three young Parisian travelers and offers all of the amenities a backpacker could ever dream of.
#2 - Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is the perfect destination for travelers looking to soak up the wonderful sunny climate while enjoying the lively beach culture. Booking.com travelers endorse Barcelona for architecture, sightseeing and culture. This cosmopolitan city is perfect for beachgoers and art lovers with its eye-catching Spanish architecture, iconic monuments and of course, delicious Spanish cuisine. Don’t miss a visit to the amazing Sagrada Familia and be wowed by the intricate details of the Casa Batllo—both designed by the famous Antoni Gaudí—and go explore the Art Nouveau concert hall, Palau de la Música Catalana with its glorious stained-glass dome.
Where to Stay:
Midtown Apartments presents guests with stylish and modern decor, featuring a seasonal rooftop pool and sun deck. In a great location just a short stroll away from both Paseo de Gracia and central Plaza Catalunya, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby serving local and international cuisine. Travelers will love the many amenities, including smart TVs, living and dining rooms, Bluetooth speakers and fully-equipped kitchens.
Set just off Barcelona’s famous tree-lined Las Ramblas street, the Catalonia Ramblas hotel offers guests a seasonal outdoor pool with a south-facing deck. Unwind at the hotel’s spa with a large selection of massage and beauty treatments, a relaxation area, sauna, steam bath and hot tub. Savor the delicious Mediterranean cuisine at the Pelai restaurant, or sip on a refreshing milkshake or fruity cocktail at the poolside bar.
This capital has a unique allure that’s impossible to define, but Booking.com travelers love all London has to offer including the shopping, sightseeing and museums. From the dizzying wealth of Belgravia to the urban street markets of Camden Town, every neighborhood has its own individual character and charm. London is the perfect destination for travelers looking to check famous landmarks off their bucket list, expand their wardrobes with fabulous vintage to runway designs, or impress clients with a first-class business trip. Explore world-class museums like the National Gallery and the British Museum, take a picture in front of iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, and shop ‘til you drop in the famous Selfridges and Harrods department stores.
Where to Stay:
The Sunborn London is a floating super-yacht hotel featuring a bar and restaurant, and it’s just a short walk from the iconic business area, Canary Wharf. Wake up to views overlooking the Royal Docks along with a fresh continental buffet breakfast every morning, and an à la carte menu for the afternoon and evenings. Socialize with friends and clients at the lounge bar serving a selection of drinks, or relax on the yacht’s sundeck.
The quaint Malt House is a lovely bed and breakfast perfect for travelers in London on a budget. Conveniently located just a short walk from Fulham Broadway underground station, the Malt House features high-quality dining and stylish rooms with private bathrooms. Wake up to daily cooked or continental breakfasts either in the B&B’s on-site restaurant or outside on the pretty deck. Soccer fans will also love the perfect location with Chelsea FC field close by, as well as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
#4 - Vienna, Austria
Whether you’re captivated by art, culture or modern European style, Vienna, offers plenty of options for visitors. Spend your days wandering around the many museums, jump on a tram to Belvedere Palace, or shop on the trendy Graben and Kärntner Strasse. Visit the medieval place of worship, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and explore the public Prater Park and the giant iconic wheel. Booking.com travelers’ top endorsements for this charming city include museums, culture and architecture.
Where to Stay:
Vienna’s oldest hotel, the Hotel König von Ungarn, is right in the city’s center, just 50 yards from the iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Founded in 1746, Hotel König von Ungarn (King of Hungary) first served as the guesthouse of the archbishop and is especially popular with cultural travelers and opera, concert and theater enthusiasts. The glass-covered interior courtyard invites guests to relax in a traditional setting and the Restaurant König von Ungarn serves classic Viennese and Austrian cuisine.
The Grand Ferdinand – Viennese Elegance Reloaded hotel is located right on the Ringstraße Boulevard in the heart of Vienna and features a rooftop pool, three restaurants, and is just a short walk from the City Park and the Vienna State Opera. The Grand Etage Private Saloon is one of three restaurants exclusively for guests, located on the hotel’s rooftop. It’s the perfect spot for alfresco dining and breath taking views of this elegant city.
#5 - Malaga, Spain
Malaga is a great introduction to exploring the beauty of southern Spain, whether you’re looking for that first city trip or a longer vacation. Dubbed the capital of the Costa del Sol, Malaga offers chic boutiques, cool cafes, trendy rooftop bars, and the waterfront’s promenade makes for a relaxing evening stroll – perfect for soaking up the Mediterranean vibes. This vibrant city also has plenty of things to do for culture vultures with over thirty museums, the Alcazaba Fortress, La Manquita Renaissance Cathedral, and the 10thcentury Gibralfaro Castle which stands tall over the coast. Foodies will be in heaven with the Mediterranean food of Mercado Atarazanas which serves fresh produce while plenty of restaurants specialize in traditional Spanish tapas. The top endorsements for Malaga from Booking.com travelers include beaches, food and museums.
Where to Stay:
If it’s your first time to Malaga, you’ll want to be in the heart of the city. Stay in Molina Lario, offering guests a relaxing rooftop terrace and pool with cathedral views – the perfect retreat after a day of culture. The Roman amphitheater, Alcazaba, Malagueta Beach and the Castle of Gibralfaro are all within walking distance.
Or why not try the beautiful Ahro Suites? These quiet apartments are just 12 minutes from the beach in the old town and within walking distance of the cathedral and the main shopping street, Calle Larios. Guests can cook in, dine alfresco on the deck, or make the most of the nearby restaurants serving delicious Mediterranean favorites.
#6 - Venice, Italy
Venice is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway or a place to soak up some of the rich art and history of this beautiful city. Voted #4 for first-time travel, Booking.com travelers love the museums, culture and romance most when visiting Venice. Its waterways tell an epic story of a city founded on merchant trade, and the steady flow of Gondolas and the twinkling lights from the restaurants and bars lining the famous canals all add to the fusion of romance and history. Travelers visiting Venice can’t miss a gondola ride along the Grand Canal going under the Rialto Bridge. The landmark cathedral of St. Mark’s Basilica with gilded domes and the gothic-style palace and museum of Doge’s Palace are also must-sees.
Where to Stay:
Hotel Ai Reali has modern elegant rooms, an on-site restaurant, furnished garden, fitness center, and a luxurious spa. The elegant rooms at the Hotel Ai Reali feature antique Venetian-style hardwood floors, private bathrooms and canal views. A buffet breakfast with sweet and savory foods is provided daily and the restaurant serves a combination of Italian and international cuisine. The city’s iconic gondolas provide a unique mode of transportation to and from the hotel.
Opened in 1908, the Hotel Saturnia & International is an elegant hotel run by the Serandrei family in a perfect location just 200 yards from St. Mark’s Square. Guests can expect a typical extravagant Venetian restaurant and classically styled rooms, with parquet floors and private marble bathrooms. Soak up the sun on the hotel’s deck, featuring unique views across the Venetian rooftops – also the best spot for alfresco dining and a glass of wine.
#7 - Rome, Italy
No matter how many times you visit Rome it can always feel like your first time. There are so many neighborhoods with loads of character, cultural spots, historic landmarks, and new bars and restaurants to explore – the best way to see it all is by foot. In this walkable city you can learn all about the epic history in the ancient ruins of the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and be amazed by the greatness of the Vatican. It can sometimes be hard to find a quiet spot at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, so go early in the morning and watch the world go by, maybe while enjoying your first yummy gelato of the day. It’s not surprising that Booking.com travelers who visit Rome endorse it for history, ancient landmarks and culture!
Where to Stay:
Casa Roma Luxury Apartment features luxury apartments with kitchen facilities in the heart of Rome. The Colosseum and Trevi fountain are just a 10-minute walk away, so for your first time inRome you’ll be in the best place to experience all the city’s highlights. Guests can relax their feet after a day of exploring the city in the apartment’s spa bath.
The Vatica B&B Roma is just half a mile from St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City so you can easily walk to the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. Whether it’s your first time in Rome or you’re back to experience something new, this is the perfect base for exploring the city.
#8 - Sydney, Australia
The beautiful city of Sydney comes in at #8 on the list for first-time travel experiences. Whether you want to relax on sandy white beaches, dine at world-class restaurants, or take in the sights and shop in the vibrant city center – there’s something for everyone. Must-sees for first timers include a trip to the Blue Mountains, Sydney Opera House, and if you’re brave enough – climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For something a little different, try camping on Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour, where you can sleep under the stars and wake up to amazing views. Booking.com travelers endorsed Sydney for sightseeing, harbors and shopping.
Where to Stay:
Guests will feel right at home at the Bondi Beach House Bed & Breakfast with its cozy and quirky charm. It’s perfect for fun in the sun, just minutes from Bondi Beach. After enjoying a delicious breakfast on the sun deck you can relax back in a sun lounger, or try out some surfing at the city’s most famous beach.
For breathtaking views the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is a must, with rooms that look out over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House or Darling Harbour. After a day of sightseeing you can relax in the hotel’s day spa and indoor pool before enjoying some of the delicious cuisines at the award-winning Altitude restaurant.
#9 - Zurich, Switzerland
Previously voted one of the best cities to live, Zurich is a great place for a city trip, and popular for adding onto the beginning or end of a ski trip. Set right where a river and lake meet, this vibrant city has become one of Europe’s trendiest destinations. Exploring by bike is the best way to take in the sights so you can make your way around the winding lanes, churches and along the edge of the scenic river. First time visitors must visit the Kunsthaus Art Gallery, Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, and experience a walking tour of the city which uncovers 2,000 years of living history. Zurich is endorsed by Booking.com travelers for lakes, sightseeing and city walks.
Where to Stay:
A cozy apartment, Historic City Center Apartment by Airhome is the perfect base for exploring the history of Zurich. After a day of sightseeing, guests can relax on the rooftop terrace, which features beautiful views of the city.
Indulge in a little nature and luxury at the Atlantis by Giardino, away from the city and set in the foothills of Uetliberg Mountain. Guests can enjoy international fusion cuisine at the hotel restaurant Hide & Seek, as well as treatments at the Dipiù Spa.
#10 - Berlin, Germany
Rounding off the list for first-time travel destinations we have Berlin at #10. This addictive city has everything—culture, history, food and nightlife—and you can come back time and time again and always experience something new. History is embedded in every corner, as you walk along the remains of the Berlin Wall, marvel at Prussian Palace, and pass through Checkpoint Charlie. This is also a city of arts, culture and buzzing nightlife. You can see international performers on theater and opera stages and take your pick from glamourous clubs or cool underground bars. Boat and park parties are popular in the summer and warehouse raves are happening all year round. Berlin has something for everyone’s taste – a perfect city for newbies and for those who can’t stop coming back. Booking.com travelers endorsed Berlin for its history, museums and sightseeing.
Where to Stay:
Trendsetters will love the Gorki Apartments, housed in an attractive 19th-century building near Rosenthaler Platz located in the edgy district of Mitte, surrounded by bars, cafes, galleries and shops. The apartments combine famous design names with quirky flea-market items and contemporary elements.
Right in the heart of central Berlin the trendy Circus Hostel offers contemporary private dormitories in bright colors, as well as a delicious buffet breakfast. Explore the city the best way possible with bicycle rentals from the hostel!
*Research was conducted by Booking.com from 1/11/17 – 1/30/17, surveying 15,077 travelers across 20 markets worldwide
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