Australians' favourite destination: Traveller readers name their top 10 destination of the decade

To mark Traveller's 10th anniversary, we invited you, our readers, to share with us your pick for the destination of the decade. We received an overwhelming response, with a diverse range of countries from the perennial favourites through to far less common destinations (even North Korea got a vote).

Surprisingly, despite the vast number of Australians who take holidays in Asia every year, only one Asian country made the top 10 – and it wasn't Indonesia or Thailand.

So what came in at No. 1 as your pick as Destination of the Decade?

Italy. Despite being a tourist mecca for decades, Italy remains the favourite for Traveller readers.

"From north to south, all along it's magnificent length, Italy has a wonderful mixture of history, landscape, culture, food and people," says reader Bill Pennington of Avalon Beach, NSW, echoing many other readers' sentiments about this beautiful country.

"Italy never fails to relax me, inspire me, satisfy me musically, artistically, historically and gastronomically," says Ben Adamson, of Woolloomooloo. "Yet it leaves me wanting to return for more."

H9F1KA Atrani on Amalfi coast, Campania, Italy readers-destination-decade

Atrani on Amalfi coast, Campania, Italy. Photo: Alamy

In second place was Japan, a destination that has surged in popularity for Australians in recent years, assisted by cheaper flights and the ease of travelling in this fascinating country.

"Fabulous food, and beautiful landscapes and fascinating culture make this a fantastic destination in all seasons," said Vicki Copping from Oatley.

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"It has the past; it is the future," said Isaac Wong of Gordon. "Rich in history and culture, Japan oozes hospitality and offers efficiency that is the benchmark for the rest of the world to catch up to."

You voted the world's most popular tourist destination, France, into third place. Despite having had a rough time in recent years, with several terrorist attacks creating concern for visitors, France remains a major drawcard for Traveller readers. Most readers cited "the people" as one of the highlights of the country, busting the myth that the French are rude to visitors.

"France exudes cultural grandeur, charming villages from Loire Valley to verdant Provence, classy outdoor cafes, Bordeaux, Champagne, Mont St Michel, chateaux and panoramic Chamonix valley," said Abe Ninan of Brisbane.

Mont Saint Michel,  Normandy, France.

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France. Photo: Alamy

But not all readers chose an international destination as their pick for Destination of the Decade – the improvement in Australia's domestic tourism offerings over the past 10 years saw our home country named at No. 4 on the list.

"I have travelled to a lot of countries around the globe, but for range of sights, adventure and things to do, nothing beats Australia," said Kerry Warner of Concord West.

Janelle Thompson of Mooloolaba in Queensland agreed: "Australia is such a diverse country – the outback is stunning, our coastline rivals the best beaches worldwide and our multicultural cities offer amazing food and cultural experiences."

Another long-term favourite rounded out the top five: the United Kingdom. So often the first place Australians go on their first big overseas trip, the UK's history, culture and endless variety keeps us coming back year after year.

"There are myriad amazing things to see and do, it's family friendly, there's the ease of transportation, the beautiful scenery and the Brits are super-friendly," said Claire Farrer of Warrnambool.

Coming in at No. 6 was a surprise entry – Iceland. Perhaps it was the economic downturn that saw this famously expensive country become more affordable and attractive, or perhaps it has been Iceland's starring role as a location for the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Either way, this cold island on the other side of the world is a hot spot for our readers.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Sudhurland, Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Sudhurland, Iceland. Photo: Alamy

"Fascinating scenery, great fresh food, wonderful people and it is so easy to explore the island," said Stephen Darlington of Bathurst, whose comment represented the views of many Iceland fans. "It's a must do."

Tied for sixth place was the United States. Despite talk of a "Trump slump" affecting tourism, a strong Australian dollar, competitive air fares and a US industry that has finally recognised the value of Australian tourists has seen the number of travellers to the US increased dramatically over the past 10 years.

While plenty of readers cited America's cities, ease of transport and friendliness among their reasons, the country's national parks also got plenty of praise.

Hoodoos and mesas from Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah USA.

Hoodoos and mesas from Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah USA. Photo: Alamy

"The US offers outstanding natural beauty, ranging from the jagged peaks of Glacier National Park to the amazing colours of Bryce Canyon, to the granite peaks of Yosemite," said Greg Wood of Armidale.

Meanwhile, Josh Neufeld of Waterloo was able to sum up America's appeal for many readers in just four words: "New York City, baby!"

At No. 7 in your top 10 was Spain and one particular attribute came up again and again in your responses: The food.

"From the architecture to tapas, the dry summer and, of course, sangria, Spain is a vibrant, welcoming country," said Elizabeth Hajzler, of West Footscray.

Canada came equal ninth in the top 10. One of the world's biggest countries, renowned for it's friendly, polite locals and breathtaking scenery, Canada has always been popular with Australians, but increasingly so in recent years.

For Maggie Grounds of Mount Waverley, it was Canada's majestic mountains that stood out.

"We've travelled extensively overseas in the last 10 years and took a trip to the Canadian Rockies this year. While we knew it would be good, it has turned out to be a true trip of a lifetime."

Our neighbour and the No. 1 international destination for Australian residents, few would be surprised to see New Zealand make our top 10 in equal ninth place. The friendly locals were a highlight, but so was the diversity of the country in such a compact size.

"See New Zealand and you've seen the world – scenery, rainforests, deserts, all sorts of watery places, snow-capped mountains, food, wine and people," said Jillian Graham of Forster.

AUSTRALIANS VOTE: THE TOP 10 DESTINATIONS

1. Italy

2. Japan

3. France

4. Australia

5. United Kingdom

6. Iceland (tie)

6. United States (tie)

8. Spain

9. Canada (tie)

9. New Zealand (tie)

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