The Most Popular Destinations for First-Time Travel

  • Paris, Barcelona and London are top debut travel cities
  • USA is considered the country with the most exciting people and things to do, while Australia wins for its amazing wildlife and nature
  • City breaks are the number-one way to see the world through first-time eyes, whether alone, as a family or for business (17%)
  • Anticipation is key as over half (54%) of travellers say the journey is the most memorable part of a first trip
  • Almost half (46%) bring a special souvenir back to keep the memory alive

A first-time travel experience can be simultaneously exhilarating and daunting but, the global leader in connecting people with the most incredible places to stay, has questioned over 15,000 people from 20 countries worldwide to bring you the top destinations around the world for first-time travel. Now you can be one step closer to an awesome first time travel adventure, whatever type it may be.

The research uncovered that Paris, Barcelona and London top the list of destinations we travel to for the first time internationally – so it’s clear many of us are culture vultures at heart as these chic cities offer an abundance in arts, fine dining and history. European cities dominate the top 10 destinations for those whose first trips took them overseas, with only Sydney, Australia, making the cut from the rest of the world.

For almost one third (31%), their first travel experience involved going abroad. Those bold, adventurous nations that travelled beyond their own country boundaries for the first time include those from Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, with higher than average figures.

Top 10 destinations for first-time travel (internationally)

Paris, France

Barcelona, Spain

London, UK

Vienna, Austria

Malaga, Spain

Venice, Italy

Rome, Italy

Sydney, Australia

Zurich, Switzerland

Berlin, Germany


While people are hungry to see the world and soak up what other cultures have to offer, the research discovered that for many of us our first travel experience meant going somewhere within our own country (69%). Those in China, Japan, Thailand, Brazil and the USA top the list for domestic first-time travel experiences, higher than the global average.

Whether domestic or international, the research reveals we’re getting younger and younger when we start travelling. The majority of people travel for the first time as a child (64%) but 18-25 year olds are most likely to have travelled for the first time under 10 years of age. Travelling with family was found to be the most common first-time international travel experience, with almost a third (31%) doing so. One in 10 went away for the first time with a partner (14%), or pal (12%), while a more daring 6% of people took the plunge alone.

When it comes to what we want from our first-time travel experiences, culture and gastronomy again feature highly. Our favourite things to discover on our first travels are local foods (54%), local culture (52%), waking up to a new view different from home (34%), the weather (34%) and staying in great accommodation (29%). If it’s excitement you’re after, then head off to the USA for awesome activities, friendly people and a great range of accommodation. Australia was recommended as an exciting destination for wildlife and nature, while France and Italy were among the top rated for scenery, local delicacies and culture.

Most exciting country for….






Local food


Wildlife and nature


Local people


Local culture


Accommodation options


Far-flung locale


Highlighting our tendency to want more of a good thing, over half of travellers (52%) admitted their first-time experience inspired them to return to the destination again. Still, two in three people (64%) say their first-time travel experiences inspired them go outside of their comfort zone, visiting a new and unfamiliar place.

Pepijn Rijvers, Chief Marketing Officer at comments:

“First time travel experiences last us a lifetime, and for many of us those first trips away are within our own country. However, the ease and simplicity of arranging travel today means that there’s a whole world of potential first time travel experiences out there! Whatever first time experience people are looking for couldn’t be easier to use, on any device from anywhere, and our excellent customer service team are available 24/7 365 days of the year to help ease any first time nerves. With over 1.1 million unique properties that have over 23 million bookable rooms, offers the most awesome and diverse range of accommodation as well as plenty of tools and insider guides to help you make the most out of your trip, whether it’s the first of its kind or a favourite revisited.”