2023 Social Travel Index - Social Media Travel Hotspots
Social media has shaped the way we interact with the world, changing the way we work, shop, and talk to our friends. It’s even changed the way we travel. More and more of us are turning to social media for travel inspiration, scouring hashtags to find the picture-perfect location for our summer holidays or an even bigger adventure.
But which destinations can be crowned the most popular across social platforms? We’ve delved into the data to find out. Looking at the number of TikTok views and Instagram posts for the most visited cities and countries, we’ve also taken a look into Google search trends for holidays to these destinations, and how these have changed over the last three years.
The most popular city destinations
1. London Social travel score: 9.52/10
London takes the top spot as the most popular tourist destination on social media. The UK capital is the most photogenic city, taking the top spot with more than 157 million Instagram posts. It’s also one of the most viewed on TikTok, racking up 70.6 billion views and taking third place for the factor.
2. Paris Social travel score: 9.32/10
The City of Light takes second place, ranking highly thanks to its popularity on Instagram. It takes second place for the factor with over 137 million posts. Paris also ranks in the top five for TikTok views, totalling 66.6 billion views for posts featuring the world’s most romantic city.
3. Barcelona Social travel score: 9.25/10
Taking third place is Barcelona. The city in the northeast of Spain is one of the most popular cities on TikTok, taking second place for the factor with 108 billion views. The Catalan capital is also seeing one of the biggest rises in popularity, taking third place for its 336% increase in searches for holidays to this destination over the last three years!
The most picturesque city destinations
1. London 157,306,319 Instagram posts
With thousands of unique attractions, from architectural marvels steeped in history to lush green spaces perfect for capturing views of the iconic skyline, it’s no surprise that the UK’s capital is the most picturesque city. The Big Smoke takes the top spot when it comes to Instagram posts, totalling more than 157 million.
2. Paris 137,392,387 Instagram posts
Up next is one of the most popular city destinations when it comes to the sheer number of visitors that come to experience the sights and sounds of the world’s most romantic city. Along with its iconic landmarks, the French capital is a haven for foodies too. With more than 70 Michelin-starred restaurants dotted throughout Paris, you don’t have to go far to find some of the world’s best cuisine.
3. Istanbul 122,626,642 Instagram posts
Taking third place as the most picturesque city on Instagram is Istanbul. The City on Seven Hills is home to over 2,500 years of history and culture, offering plenty of opportunities to explore the extraordinary attractions that put this city on the map, from shopping at The Grand Bazaar to taking in the Hagia Sophia. Istanbul has more than 122 million posts on the platform.
The most viewed city destinations on TikTok
1. Dubai 137.7 billion TikTok views
Taking the top spot when it comes to TikTok views is the UAE’s capital, Dubai. This thoroughly modern city boasts one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world, including the architectural marvel of the Burj Khalifa, so it's no surprise it takes the top spot for this factor with more than 137 billion views for the city.
2. Barcelona 108.9 billion TikTok views
Up next is Spain’s second city, with tourists worldwide flocking to soak in its cool Mediterranean atmosphere. Barcelona is a paradise for culture vultures. Once home to world-renowned artists Picasso and Salvador Dali, its art museums showcase some of the best contemporary art in the world. Even its street art scene brings in artists and fans from all around the globe.
3. London 70.6 billion TikTok views
With its reputation as the cultural capital of the UK, it's no surprise that London is one of the most popular cities on TikTok. The city is home to some of the world’s top museums and art galleries and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Tower of London and Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens. London takes third place with 70.6 billion views on the platform.
The city destinations growing in interest
1. Lisbon 500% increase in searches 2020-2023
The Portuguese capital known for its fantastic year-round sunshine, stunning views from the Miradouro da Graça and fascinating history takes the top spot when it comes to gaining interest from potential tourists. Over the last three years, searches for holidays in the city have increased by 500%.
2. Frankfurt 457% increase in searches 2020-2023
Frankfurt is a key cultural centre in Germany, with a rich history and plenty of cultural attractions to offer its visitors, from the Städel Museum to botanical gardens, and even river cruises to experience the city from a whole new perspective. So it's no surprise it's fast becoming a holiday hotspot, with searches for the destination increasing by more than 450% over the last three years.
3. Barcelona 336% increase in searches 2020-2023
Taking third place is Barcelona, rising in popularity as a potential holiday destination by more than 330% since 2020. The Spanish city is perfect for a city break and relaxing on its beaches. Tourists flock year-round to its historic old town and the world-famous Sagrada Familia, a cathedral still under construction after 140 years.
The most popular country destinations
1. Italy Social travel score: 9.09/10
Italy takes the top spot. The Mediterranean country is one of the most popular on Instagram, taking third place for the factor with a total of 159 million posts. It ranks slightly lower for TikTok views, placing just outside of the top five with 94 billion. Despite its high score on social media, searches for Italy, as a holiday destination, don’t break into the top five for the factor, only having a 129% increase over the last three years.
2. Mexico Social travel score: 8.94/10
Up next is Mexico, ranking highly thanks to its high number of TikTok views, racking up more than 342 billion on the platform. The Latin American country also ranks just outside of the top five for its number of Instagram posts with just under 94 million and places ninth for its 112% increase in Google searches over the last three years.
3. Turkey Social travel score: 8.03/10
Taking third place is Turkey scoring relatively high across the board. The country places tenth when it comes to both Instagram posts (159 million) and TikTok views (92 billion). Searches for holidays to the country have risen by 129% over the last three years, landing it in ninth place for the factor and giving it a social travel score of 8.03 out of 10.
The most picturesque countries
1. India 219,306,311 Instagram posts
India takes the top spot as the most picturesque travel destination, with more than 219 million posts dedicated to the country. Home to palm-fringed beaches on its southern coastline and the bustling metropolises of Delhi and Mumbai, India attracts visitors from all around the world, eager to experience its vibrant culture and rich history.
2. Japan 164,300,869 Instagram posts
Next up is Japan, with the Southeast Asian country taking second place thanks to its 164 million Instagram posts. Visitors to Japan can expect breathtaking natural beauty spots like the slopes of Mount Fuji, making it perfect for nature lovers. Its cities are also on the cutting edge of pop culture, with Tokyo’s Harajuku district being a Mecca for fashion lovers.
3.Italy 159,648,551 Instagram posts
Taking third place is Italy. Famed for its reputation as the foodie capital of the world, tourists also flock to the country for its spectacular weather, vibrant culture, and rich history stretching back millennia. Italy has more than 159 million Instagram posts on the platform.
The most viewed countries on TikTok
Mexico 342.8 billion TikTok views
This Latin American nation attracts visitors thanks to its magnificent coastlines. Home to resort destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this destination is perfect for relaxing by the beach. It also offers plenty of opportunities to explore its history too, being home to more than 1200 museums!
2. Argentina 213.5 billion TikTok views
The second Latin American nation on the list, Argentinatakes second place with 213.5 billion TikTok views. The country is famous for its steaks and wine, making it perfect for foodies. Argentina is chock full of natural wonders, with Unesco World Heritage Sites like Los Glaciares National Park and Iguazú Falls.
3. India 132.9 billion TikTok views
Up next is India, home to some of the world’s most impressive landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Qutb Minar. Many travellers choose to explore the country on its famous railways, with highlights including the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which winds through the city’s narrow streets offering plenty of opportunities to soak in the sights and sounds of the country’s vibrant culture.
The countries growing in interest
1. Egypt 260% increase in searches 2020-2023
Steeped in ancient history, from The Great Pyramid of Giza to The Valley of the Kings and countless other world-famous monuments and temples, Egyptoffers travellers plenty of opportunities to explore its many wonders. So it's no surprise it has seen the biggest increase in search volume, with a 260% increase over the last three years.
2. Morocco 251% increase in searches 2020-2023
Taking second place is . Home to bustling markets, breathtaking desert landscapes and charming coastal towns, Morocco offers tourists once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From scenic desert safaris to wild beaches and even ski resorts, the country is becoming increasingly popular for tourists on a budget.
3. Croatia 234% increase in searches 2020-2023
Up next is Croatia, with the southeast European country on the coast of the Mediterranean seeing a 234% increase in holidays to the country over the last three years. Croatia has seen this boom in tourism thanks to its historic sites like Dubrovnik’s city walls being featured as locations in the TV show Game of Thrones. The country is also home to stunning scenery and picturesque towns, making it perfect to explore or simply relax in the sun.
Beginning with a list of the most visited countries and cities taken from World Population Review and Euromonitor respectively, we analysed each one on the following factors. We then gave each city and country a normalised score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.
TikTok views: The total number of TikTok views for posts using the hashtags #[city] and #[country].
Instagram posts: The total number of Instagram posts using the hashtags #[city] and #[country].
Three-year change in Google searches: The increase in searches for: “holiday in [city]” and “holiday in [country]” between April 2019 to March 2020 and April 2021 to March 2022 according to Google’s Keyword Planner
*Social media data was collected on 04/05/2023.
Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.
Ting | About the author
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