Best Countries for First Time Travelers

If you’re considering traveling abroad for the first time, you might be wondering, “What’s the best country to visit?”

The answer depends on many things, including your interests, budget and how much time you can set aside for your trip.

If you enjoy art museums or appreciate fine wine, consider France or Spain. If you love the outdoors, Iceland, Canada or Australia, all known for their incredible natural splendor, would be great options. And, depending on your budget and timeframe, you might decide on a country that doesn’t require an extremely long, expensive flight.

Whatever your requirements, here are 9 great international travel destinations for first-time travelers to consider: 


When it comes to charm and appeal, Ireland is hard to beat. Stop by one of its storied pubs and you’ll understand why.

Visit County Kerry on the west coast with its beautiful lakes, waterfalls and ruined abbeys, or Galway with incredible views on the Atlantic coast. Take a boat ride to the remote Aran Islands or head to Connemara National Park. If you love music, visit County Clare to hear traditional Irish music.


History abounds here, especially in London, home to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Tower Bridge. London also offers world-class museums, like the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

From London, you can take a day trip to Bath to visit the ancient Roman Baths or head off on a more extended trip to Stonehenge. England is also known for its beautiful countryside, including the Cotswolds and its charming villages and rolling hills, and the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Australia has the world's widest variety of cultures, landscapes and wildlife. Not only is it a country, it’s a continent that also includes Tasmania and a host of smaller islands..

Australia boasts an astounding diversity of wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas. It also has vibrant cities, like Sydney, with its Opera House perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour. Another popular destination is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, stretching 133,000 square miles.


In almost any category, France is at the top, or near the top, of the list of travel destinations. Its capital, Paris, is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. France’s cuisine is second to none, as are the world-class wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay are among the finest museums anywhere. The same is true about the beaches on the French Riviera and the ski slopes of Chamonix Mont Blanc.

There are very few things France doesn’t excel in, which makes it an excellent choice for first-time international travelers.


Spain, with its beautiful cities, stunning architecture, superb cuisine and diverse cultures, is also one of the most popular countries in the world for tourism.

Home to great modernist artists, it has incredible museums showcasing their work, including the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. With hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and stunning islands, Spain is a massive draw for those seeking sun, sea and relaxation. One of the best ways to understand Spain’s unique culture is to attend at least one of its many traditional festivals, such as the Fiesta de San Isidro in Madrid.  


Scotland is a country of stunning landscapes. From beautiful lochs to the Isle of Skye, it offers some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the world. And there are plenty of castles to visit, like Dunrobin Castle in the Northern Highlands.

Scotland is also a bastion of modernist architecture, including the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose buildings are interspersed with the quaint shops and cobbled streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, and within all those square miles, there’s plenty to do and see. Between Newfoundland in the East and the Yukon in the West, there’s a vast diversity of landscapes, people, cities and activities.

Visit Montreal for festivals and world-class museums like the Musée d’Art Contemporain. See the Northern Lights in Banff and Jasper National Parks. Head for Vancouver Island to see orcas, gray whales and humpbacks. And, because you don’t need to fly there, Canada might be one of the most convenient countries to visit for the first time.


Iceland is currently one of the world’s hottest destinations, especially for Americans. It’s just a five-hour flight from Boston and almost everyone speaks English.

Studded with volcanoes, hot springs, lagoons, glaciers and fjords, its landscape is unique. Head for Vatnajokull National Park in the south to see Europe’s largest glacier. The less-traveled North Iceland is also a great destination with majestic waterfalls and canyons. 


The Netherlands is second to none in artistic offerings. The world-class Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam contains over 800 artworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. If you can’t get enough of Van Gogh, visit the Van Gogh Museum, which holds 600 of his paintings and drawings and 200 of his letters. And, since the Netherlands is very flat, biking can be a great way to explore it. With over 21,700 miles of bike paths, getting where you want to go won’t be a problem.

Find the right flights through a travel portal

Finding a flight abroad can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time. Travel portals can be a big help for first-time travelers.

The Citi Travel℠ portal has many filter and sorting options that search and compare flights by price, duration, flight times, connections and even your favorite airline, making it easy to find the right flight. You can book hotels, cars and attractions, too – all in one place. Citi Travel can help take some of the stress out of planning your first international trip, and you can earn ThankYou® Points when you book.

Disclosure: This article is for educational purposes. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and is not a substitute for professional advice. It does not indicate the availability of any Citi® product or service. For advice about your specific circumstances, you should consult a qualified professional.

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