July 23, 2024

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8 International Bucket List Destinations For Americans In 2024

9 min read

Table of Contents

Summary

  • 2024 has so far showcased a number of international destinations that Americans love, from European hotspots to Caribbean paradises.
  • Punta Cana and Cancun are both international trending destinations for Americans this year, famous for their all-inclusive resorts, stunning beaches, and historic sites.
  • Across the Atlantic, Barcelona in Spain continues to be a top tourist destination among US travelers, as do Athens in Greece and Rome in Italy.



More Americans will travel internationally in 2024 than ever before. With a strong dollar and the relative positive health of the US economy, this trend is continuing and is unlikely to slow down.

A recent study by Mastercard says a record 15.9 million Americans traveled internationally in Q1 this year. US passenger traffic to overseas countries is now 20% higher than the pre-COVID record. Most people visit countries that welcome American tourists, but some don’t necessarily feel the same warmth towards US citizens.

Each international destination will have nuances and norms that might differ significantly from life in America. It’s crucial for travelers to be well-informed about these differences and be prepared to respect and adapt to them.


For example, it can be exciting to travel alone through South America, but being aware of the local customs and expectations is a responsible and proactive approach to travel. Similarly, Asian cultures vastly differ from American society and travelers must be aware of the various local dos and don’ts while traveling to any Asian country.

Based on the study, this summer will see these as the most popular international bucket-list destinations for Americans in 2024.

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8 Barcelona, Spain

A trendy Mediterranean city with excellent beaches, fantastic year-round weather, world-recognized art, and many Michelin-starred restaurants

The cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona is known for its art and architecture, incomparable beach life, and a hub for fashion and cuisine. Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona was also briefly part of Napoleon’s France.


With such a rich cultural heritage, it is no wonder that Barcelona boasts diverse architectural sites, some of which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Plus, the stunning ancient Roman city of Tarraco is a great day trip from Barcelona and can be visited in the modern town of Tarragona.

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the charm and slower pace of the old town, the avant-garde vibe of more modern neighborhoods, and the fast pace of one of the world’s most visited cities coexist in Barcelona.

Barcelona’s international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, handles over 50 million passengers per year, and the city has a high-speed rail line linking it to France and the rest of Europe.


7 Athens, Greece

Boasts the first Olympic Games of 1896, the most extensive collection of ancient Greek antiquities, and the new Acropolis Museum

At the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire, Athens stood like a beacon of influence and command. Even today, 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, dominate the city.

The Acropolis (admission starts at $15) is a hilltop citadel that now houses an archeological museum (admission starts at $13). It preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry, and other artifacts from Ancient Greece.

A prime coastal urban area in the Mediterranean, Athens is the only European capital with a coastline adorned with Blue Flag beaches. Less than an hour from the Acropolis, people can swim, sail, or surf almost year-round.


With 3,000 years of culture, delicious food, scenic views, and a vibrant city, Athens is one of the most popular destinations for travelers worldwide, including Americans. Today, Athens is not only a tourist hotspot but is also a fantastic place to retire where seniors can spend their golden years.

6 San Juan, Puerto Rico

Home to an eclectic mix of colonial Spanish landmarks and is the perfect base for experiencing the Caribbean island’s beaches, vibrant shopping scene, and cuisine

As the oldest European-founded city in the Americas, San Juan is the capital and beating heart of history and culture in Puerto Rico. It features colorful Spanish colonial buildings and 16th-century landmarks in the cobblestoned Old San Juan, as well as narrow streets with points of interest, restaurants, and shops.


The Castillo San Felipe del Morro (more commonly known as El Morro) and Castillo San Cristóbal are two important citadels built by the Spanish to protect the city by sea and land.

The beachfront areas of Condado Beach, El Escambrón, and Ocean Park Beach are popular tourist destinations that offer everything from swimming and stand-up paddleboarding to jet-skiing, diving, and snorkeling. The city is also a bustling cruise port in the Caribbean that offers visitors world-class attractions.

From its historic fortresses to its coastal views and a never-ending list of things to do, any visit to San Juan is a bucketful of unforgettable experiences. It is not all history and culture in San Juan, though; Plaza las Americas is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, with more than 300 stores and a cineplex offering first-run movies in English and Spanish.


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5 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Boasts a beautiful 20-mile coastline of pristine white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes

The second-most popular tourist destination in Latin America, Punta Cana, is a resort town with 11 Blue-Flag certified beaches in the easternmost region of the Dominican Republic.

Beach-hopping is a bona fide activity on Punta Cana’s coast. Still, there’s plenty of nature to explore, from cenotes to ancient Taino caves, vibrant shopping spots, and busy restaurants.

Here, where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean, all-inclusive resorts and boutique hideaways offer all the whims and comforts of modern beachfront living. Punta Cana is affordable for the most part, but the savvy traveler will figure out ways to stretch that budget even further.


Families can enjoy miniature entertainment centers and water parks for kids, while couples-only enclaves boast dream-like wedding destinations with secluded beachside lodging for romantic stays. The young at heart can dance the evening away at modern nightclubs, while classy evenings under the stars await at marinas and seaside lounges.

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is the most well-connected airport in the Caribbean and Central America. It receives flights from 26 countries and up to two million passengers a year. It is also a cruise ship destination thanks to Marina Cap Cana, welcoming small luxury cruise ships.


4 Rome, Italy

The “Eternal City” brims with ancient history, the wonders of the Vatican, and, of course, its gelato, pizza, and pasta

Italy’s capital is easily one of the most historically significant cities in the world. From the archeological sites of Ancient Rome to the wonderful Baroque palaces and churches, there are layers of history that make sightseeing in Rome utterly fascinating.

In 2019, it was the 14th most visited city in the world, with 8.6 million tourists, and the third most visited city in the European Union, so it comes as no surprise that so many Americans want to visit this global tourist magnet.

With its ancient gladiatorial arena, the Colosseum (admission starts at $36), Rome is a city of historical grandeur. It’s also just a river crossing from Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica (admission starts at $23) and the Sistine Chapel (admission starts at $51), home to Michelangelo’s famous frescos. Also, Rome’s ancient Suburban Baths of Pompeii are a bucket-list stop for anyone visiting Italy.


Foodies, cultural travelers, fans of street art, and history buffs will all find something to see and do in Rome. It is also the world’s 4th most important center for fashion in the world and major designer labels have luxury boutiques all over the city. Rome Fashion Week is a major global showcase.

3 London, United Kingdom

A sprawling 21st-century city with a history stretching back to Roman times that’s at the center of everything iconic: art, culture, nightlife, and many hidden gems

A city filled with history, spellbinding sights, and endless tourist attractions, London is the UK’s economic, transportation, and cultural center and the seat of all things powerful.


London rose to become the world’s financial capital during the British Empire, a status it proudly retains to this day. Its influence extends to many former British colonies, which maintain ties to the UK through the Commonwealth of Nations, headquartered in London.

London has two cities, the City of London and the City of Westminster. At its center are the imposing and colossal tourist attractions like the Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower, and Westminster Abbey, the site of the British monarchy’s coronations.

Tourism is one of London’s prime industries, and in 2015, the city ranked as the most visited in the world, with over 65 million visits. London can be a daunting city with its sheer scale, and following tourist etiquette in London (as per locals) can make any visit more pleasurable, both for residents and visitors.


The Thames River, running through London, is considered one of the world’s cleanest rivers. A cruise on Thames River Sightseeing (tickets start at $17) features live audio commentary, which is a great way to see London from the river.

Clubbing in London is one of the most fascinating nightlife experiences, and some of the best places to go are in the heart of Mayfair and on the streets of Soho.

2 Oranjestad, Aruba

Breathtaking white beaches, wind-fueled watersports, delectable seafood, a constantly evolving street art scene, and bustling nightlife define this fun destination


Aruba’s largest city, Oranjestad, is known for its palm-lined streets and candy-colored buildings. The island’s colonization by the Netherlands shows in Oranjestad’s Dutch colonial architecture, while the colorful buildings are clearly Caribbean.

Its perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, and colorful architecture make it the ideal place for Americans to kick back and relax on any vacation. Large cruise ships pull into its port daily, and hundreds of passengers flood its streets worldwide.

The beaches of Aruba are among the cleanest, widest, and most spectacular in the Caribbean region, and almost all are easily accessible from Oranjestad.

Eagle Beach has been singled out as a top-ranking beach by travelers. Moreover, the mesmerizing Mangel Halto Beach by the unique Spanish Lagoon and Palm Beach, which runs along the high-rise hotel strip, is filled with plenty of action and fun. These are a few of the many gorgeous beaches in Aruba.


As a bustling harbor, Oranjestad has a plethora of international luxury retailers, diverse boutiques, and dazzling jewelry stores. The island’s capital city also offers museums, a butterfly farm, art galleries, golf, historical sites, and a marina.

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1 Cancun, Mexico

Known for its beaches, numerous resorts, and nightlife, Cancun brought 21 million tourists to Mexico in 2023. Cancún was a planned city created in 1970 to foster tourism. With its gorgeous turquoise seas, powdery white-sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs, Cancun is more than just a resort city. It’s a gateway to snorkeling adventures, offering multiple opportunities to explore lagoons, caves, and some of the largest reefs in the world.


The city is also home to Zona Arqueologica El Rey, a famous archaeological site showcasing the ruined temples of the Mayans. Izamal, a vibrant town, is home to three newly opened Mayan ruin sites near Cancun, offering visitors a glimpse of the prehispanic era.

Due to its location and weather, Cancun is one of the few destinations around the world that operates all year round, with clubs open 365 days a year. The PARTY ZONE features the City Club, Coco Bongo, D’CAVE, Mandala Beach Club, and many more world-famous clubs and bars.

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