The World’s must-see travel moments

The World’s Must-See Travel Experiences, According to Google Data


There are so many captivating travel experiences waiting to be explored across the globe. These include international events and festivals, as well as awe-inspiring natural phenomena that promise to etch unforgettable memories into the minds of travellers. We compiled a list of events that occur twice a year, or even less frequently, and looked at which were receiving the most Google searches to uncover the world’s unmissable travel experiences.


The World’s Top Must-See Travel Experiences

When it comes to the world’s most searched-for travel experiences, the top 20 includes a diverse range of festivals, events, natural wonders and national holidays. Some of these amass millions of annual searches, placing them at the top of travel bucket lists, as once-in-a-lifetime encounters.


1. Manhattanhenge – New York City, USA (1,305,760 Annual Global Searches) 

May and July each year 

With over 1.3 million annual Google searches, Manhattanhenge is the most searched-for must-see travel experience overall. Also known as the Manhattan Solstice, this rare event occurs only a few times a year, so travellers are keen to see it. This beautiful sight sees the sunrise and sunset align perfectly between the streets of New York City, giving those who have gathered the perfect sun shot amongst the sky-high buildings of Manhattan.


2. Venice Carnival – Venice, Italy (1,234,400 Annual Global Searches)

Before Lent each year 

With 1.2 million annual searches, the Venice Carnival is a yearly festival attracting visitors from all around the world. Running for two weeks just before Lent, it mainly features captivating masquerade costumes and masks, something that has been a tradition for many years. The celebration also involves numerous balls, light shows and musical performances, making for an unforgettable Italian experience.

3. Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (738,640 Annual Global Searches) 

Before Lent each year 

Another pre-Lent celebration, Brazil’s vibrant Rio Carnival sees millions of people taking to the streets to party. The festival has been running since 1723 and is considered one of the biggest in the world. Its famous parade involves floats and dancers, with several samba schools from Rio de Janeiro offering their best dancers to put on a show for the eager audience. The carnival often looks and feels like one big party through the streets, making it an attractive experience for those hoping to soak up the buzzing atmosphere for themselves.


4. Day of the Dead – Mexico (645,060 Annual Global Searches) 

November each year 

Celebrated across the whole of Mexico, the Day of the Dead (Día de Muerto) usually takes place at the beginning of November. Whilst the event’s name might appear a little ominous, it is meant to be a much more joyous occasion, allowing people to remember the deceased and celebrate their memory. Part of the festivities includes preparing and offering food for the dead to show the living still care for those who are no longer with them.

5. Chelsea Flower Show – London, UK (613,530 Annual Global Searches) 

May each year 

This quintessentially British event attracts all those who are green thumbed as they gather to celebrate beautifully designed gardens and impressive plants. Taking over the London borough of Chelsea, the show is held each year at the end of May and is often attended by many members of the British Royal Family. With an awards ceremony for inspirational flowers, gardens and plants, it’s a great way to gain inspiration if you’re trying to level up your garden at home.


6. Golden Week – Japan (410,230 Annual Global Searches) 

April – May each year 

Visiting Japan during Golden Week can be a beautiful time of year to see some of the country's splendours. As the week usually falls at the beginning of May, just after cherry blossom season, it means the days are a little warmer, and there’s a more laid-back atmosphere with the country entering a week of national holidays. With so many people enjoying time off, there’s plenty to see and do around the country.

7. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, USA (157,140 Annual Global Searches)

 October each year 

This international balloon fiesta has been running since 1972 and sees around 600 balloons take to the sky, putting on an impressive colourful display for the visitors below. From bright and bold to wacky and wonderful-shaped balloons, there is a variety that dances along the skyline. The fiesta itself is free to attend, but for those hoping to get a little closer to the action, rides in balloons can be arranged for a fee.


8. Northern Lights in Lapland – Finland (146,770 Annual Global Searches) 

September – April each year 

The Northern Lights is considered one of the most magical and ethereal natural wonders on the planet. Whilst a clear view is never guaranteed, seeing them in Lapland is a must for any travel-lover. Winter nights give visitors the best chance to soak up the breathtaking sight, so a visit between September and April is recommended.


9. Oktoberfest in Munich – (142,270 Annual Global Searches) ) 

October every year 

Oktoberfest is held in Munich every year and is one the world’s largest beer festivals, attracting millions of visitors from all around the world who descend upon the city from mid-September until early October. Attendees are encouraged to dress in traditional Bavarian clothing of Dirndl’s and Lederhosen to help them get into the spirit of the celebrations.

10. Obon Festival – Japan – (11,590 Annual Global Searches) ) 

August every year 

Also known as ‘Bon Festival’, this annual Japanese holiday commemorates and celebrates deceased ancestors, who are believed to return at this time to visit their living relatives. Beautiful paper lanterns are hung to help guide the spirits home and Obon dances are performed. It’s an extremely touching festival and the masses of lanterns are quite the sight to behold.


Rankings 11 - 20 







Rank 






Experience  






Location 






Annual Global Search Demand (excluding country of origin) 






Time Of Year 






11 





Mardi Gras in New Orleans 





New Orleans, USA 





110,300 





Just before Lent 






12 





Edinburgh Fringe Festival 





Edinburgh, UK 





92,570 





August 






13 





Songkran Water Festival 





Taiwan 





74,260 





April 






14 





Cherry blossoms in Kyoto 





Kyoto, Japan 





47,340 





March - April 






15 





Lantern Festival in Taiwan 





Taiwan 





37,350 





February (end of the Chinese New Year) 






16 





Winterlude 





Canada 





36,430 





February 






17 





Migration of Monarch Butterflies in Mexico 





Mexico 





34,520 





November - March 






18 





Quebec Winter Carnival 





Canada 





28,640 





January / February 






19 





Bun Festival 





Hong Kong 





24,550 





April / May 






20 





Burning Man in Nevada 





USA 





21,700 





August/ September 


The UK’s Must-See Travel Experiences

The UK’s must-see experience is the Day of the Dead in Mexico, usually occurring on the 1st and 2nd of November. Despite its name, it's considered by many to be a celebration of life. The day centres around remembering the deceased and celebrating their memory, and the skeletons featured act as a reminder that death is simply a part of life.


In second place is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, with travellers hoping to gaze upon this fantastic display in the skies. The festival sees thousands flock to New Mexico every October to see one of the most significant balloon events in the world, with colourful, eye-catching balloons of all shapes and sizes taking flight.

Rio Carnival was the third most searched experience in the UK, with the vibrant festival taking to the streets of Rio de Janeiro every year just before Lent. The carnival celebrations have been running in Rio since 1723 and include an incredible display of dancers, costumes and floats. The streets become a party, and the locals dance the night away – with local samba schools showing off their talented dancers to the fascinated spectators.


Making up the top five is the Venice Carnival in fourth place and Manhattanhenge in fifth. The Venice Carnival attracts visitors from all around the world and is known for its elaborate costumes and masks. Manhattanhenge is the impressive sunset and sunrise views that perfectly align with the gaps amongst the towering buildings in NYC, giving admirers the chance to capture a truly iconic picture.








Ranking 






Experience  






Location 






UK Search Demand 






When It Occurs 






1 





Day of the Dead  





Nationwide, Mexico  





99,100  





November 






2 





Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta  





Albuquerque, USA   





68,810  





October 






3 





Rio Carnival  





Rio, Brazil   





58,800  





Just before Lent 






4 





Venice Carnival  





Venice, Italy  





50,300  





Just before Lent 






5 





Manhattanhenge 





New York, USA  





38,630  





May and July 






6 





Golden Week  





Nationwide, Japan  





32,500  





April - May 






7 





Mardi Gras   





New Orleans, USA   





22,300  





Just before Lent 






 8 





Northern Lights in Lapland  





Finland 





21 September – 21 March 





146,770 






9 





Oktoberfest in Munich 





Bavaria, Germany 





21 September – 6 October 





142,270 






10 





Obon Festival 





Nationwide, Japan 





13 – 15 August 





11,590 


Methodology

Fifty of the world's must-see moments were gathered using desk research, with the main requirement being that they occur twice a year or less. Search demand in every language was analysed to obtain a global ranking of the top travel moments. The country of origin's search demand was excluded, e.g., Finland's searches for the Northern Lights were excluded to find out how many people from other countries were searching to go and see them.

If a country had no search data in its native language, English was used instead. Countries that returned no search data were excluded. Where search terms included a location, e.g.,' Holi festival in India', the country of origin's search volume excluded was for purely the event name, e.g., 'Holi festival', to ensure the results were as authentic as possible.  

Data correct as of September 2023.

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