This month, Kiwi.com turns 10 years old. We’ve come a long way in the last decade, and so have our customers. Check out our most booked destinations of all time
Kiwi.com was born in 2012, the innovative brainchild of Oliver Dlouhý and Jozef Képesi, with the virtual interlining (or self-transfer) travel hack at the forefront of the concept. 10 years on, and our workforce is now fittingly international, comprising over 1,000 employees of 66 nationalities around the world, all working together to make travel more accessible to everyone. We haven’t stopped striving to come up with new ways to hack the system, and we’re particularly proud of the Nomad search feature, as well as our Hidden Cities.
But of course, we could never have grown into something so game-changing without the continued support of our customers. The following list is a tribute to them — the 10 most booked destinations over the last decade on Kiwi.com. Will any of them surprise you?
Kicking off with our 10th most booked destination, it’s Madrid. The Spanish capital, located in the heart of the country, is the nation’s political, economic and cultural center, and the second-largest city in the Europan Union. Its characteristic Beaux-Arts architecture makes it a very striking city to explore, which you can do relatively easily on foot. All in all, Madrid is a dynamic and vibrant, yet laid-back place — an apt representation of the Spanish way of life.
Make a pit stop at the magnificent Casa de Campo park — 17 square kilometers of lush urban green space, with cycling and walking trails, a boating lake, and even a theme park. For animal lovers, besides the wildlife living in the park itself, Madrid Zoo and Aquarium is also located on the southern side.
If ever you needed another reason to join the thousands of people who have traveled to Madrid with us, this trendy city catches the sun pretty much all year round and sees very little rainfall. Feast on top tapas and sip summer cocktails on the rooftops until the early hours, without worrying about getting wet or windswept.
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In at number nine, Bangkok is a must for anyone exploring Southeast Asia. It’s an immensely energetic city with a population of 10 million, and so an array of curious sights, sounds and smells engulf you at every corner you turn. The Royal Grand Palace, for instance, is Bangkok’s most visited attraction, and rightly so — with its distinctively ornate, pointed roofs, gold-plated walls and elaborate Buddhist sculptures.
Bangkok is famous for its plethora of bustling markets, such as the night market in Yaowarat — the world’s biggest Chinatown, and the unique floating markets — vendors bobbing in individual boats on the river, selling all sorts of fresh produce, snacks and souvenirs. Street food vendors are also aplenty, cooking up the most delicious and authentic Thai food in existence, for locals and tourists alike.
What also makes Bangkok a top destination is that it’s a very multicultural and otherwise tolerant city. Thailand in general is known for its accepting attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people, with a particular cultural awareness of the concept of gender identity. Regardless of who you are and where you come from, throw yourself into Bangkok’s renownedly amazing nightlife, knowing you’ll be warmly welcomed.
Athens is our eighth most booked destination. The Greek capital is ancient and unique, being the birthplace of democracy and the historical home of the pioneers of mathematics, western philosophy, and all-round societal progress. It’s no wonder that so many travel there to gaze in wonder at its millennia-old ruins.
The pièce de résistance of this ancient metropolis is the Acropolis, a citadel constructed in the 5th century BCE. Its main feature, the Parthenon temple, sits proudly atop a hill in the very center, overlooking the city far and wide.
On the ground below, you’ll find bustling marketplaces, quaint cafés down narrow streets and recreational spots such as bathhouses and theaters — somewhat reminiscent of life in Ancient Greece. Although three million people live in Athens — nearly a third of the Greek population — its air of calm and the laid-back lifestyle of the locals make it a tranquil, relaxing city break.
From one ancient capital to another, in at seven, it’s Rome. The constructional marvels on offer here include the Pantheon, the Forum, of course, the Colosseum — the largest amphitheater in the history of humanity. Indeed, the Ancient Romans didn’t do things by halves.
It’s not just the ruins that make the architecture in Rome so special — wherever you are in the city, there’ll be striking masterpieces in your peripheral vision. There’s the grandiose baroque Trevi Fountain, the 18th-century Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona with its three elaborate fountains, surrounded by the Sant’Agnese in Agone church and Pamphili Palace. Just to name a few…!
When in Rome, lots of people also take the opportunity to visit Vatican City — the world’s smallest official state by area and population, and famously, the home of the Pope. Its main attractions are the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, which are, of course, well worth a look in their own right. But it’s also pretty cool just to be able to say you’ve been to the smallest country on the planet.
This list is quite Europe-heavy, and what better destination to take our sixth most booked spot than a city slap-bang in the middle of the continent — Vienna. Its location and various international transport links mean that it’s pretty easy to reach from wherever you are, to come and see what all the fuss is about.
Cosmopolitan, fashionable and forward-looking, the Austrian capital has consistently been ranked one of the very most livable cities in the world, year on year, by Mercer and the Economist Intelligence Unit. This is, in part, thanks to its accessibility of recreation, low rate of crime, and incredible public transport system.
A hub for arts and culture, Vienna is positively brimming with museums and venues for theater and music. Aside from traditional artistic expression, it’s also a great city for street art. You can spot it all over the place, but check out the demonstratively-named Street Art Passage just off Breite Gasse, and the banks of the Danube Canal for the most intriguing work.
A destination in over 160,000 bookings over the last 10 years, our fifth most popular city is Milan. It’s known worldwide for its elegance, style and culture, and it certainly delivers accordingly. The splendor of Italian architecture isn’t confined to Rome; the Duomo in Milan is equally awe-inspiring, arguably one of the best pieces of architecture in the world, and its central location means that it’s a landmark you simply can’t miss.
As far as style is concerned, the majestic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade houses the most exclusive designer boutiques in the country. It’s worth having an inconspicuous browse, but a more relaxing and affordable pursuit would be to saunter along the canals of Naviglio, stopping as you please for a drink in one of the area’s characterful bars. Lastly, for your culture kick, make sure to get yourself The Milan Pass for entry into all of the city’s best museums.
In fourth, it’s Istanbul — the gateway between Europe and Asia on the Bosporus strait. Another city with an incredibly rich history, in its time, Istanbul has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. Remnants of all four can still be observed today, from the Column of Constantine — part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the Blue Mosque with its mind-blowingly intricate embellishments.
If Istanbul piques your curiosity, one thing you absolutely must do while you’re there is visit the Grand Bazaar. With over 4,000 individual vendors, it’s one of the largest covered markets in the world, specializing in colorful nick-nacks and trinkets such as lanterns, rugs, teapots, ceramics, bags and toys. Dealers are renowned for their friendliness and generally gregarious personalities — you might even get invited for tea after you’ve finished haggling.
The overall zest for life that the Istanbulites have is infectious. Despite being a city that’s seen its fair share of conflict over the last few millennia, today, people of different religions, from different walks of life live peacefully together, treating their guests with utmost hospitality. It’s easy to see why people keep coming.
The second Spanish city on this list, Barcelona takes the bronze medal in our most popular destinations over the last 10 years. It’s one of the most visited cities in Europe, welcoming a staggering seven million tourists on average every year. And with good reason — it boasts spectacular architecture, succulent seafood and general vigor, all a stone’s throw away from the Balearic coastline.
Whether it’s the vibrant mosaic walls of Park Güell, the towering Sagrada Família basilica or the many spots for taking in a panoramic view, Barcelona is a truly Instagrammable city if there ever was one. The sheer beauty of the place keeps our customers coming back, evidently.
But that’s not all the Catalonian capital has to offer. Once the sun starts to set, the partygoers surface. The nightlife hotspots are Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter and El Born. The restaurants, bars and clubs in these areas are various, so you’re bound to find somewhere to match your mood, and are positively thriving from early in the evening.
Ah, Paris. Does it ever get old? Apparently not — the City of Love lives up to its name according to our customers, who have booked more to only one city in the last decade. France is the most visited country in Europe, and 19 million people take a trip to the capital every year for its glamor, sophistication and air of romanticism.
You’ve got all the usual places of interest: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum, the Sacré-Cœur basilica, and the Champs-Élysées marked at either end by the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. For something slower-paced after all the sightseeing that you’ll inevitably do, unwind in one of Paris’s several well-kept green spaces. There’s the historically royal Jardin des Tuileries along the Seine, and there are several beautiful gardens in Le Marais — long the district of the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie, which today, happens also to be a distinguished locale for the LGBTQ+ community. Or, if you’ve got time, check out the neat, expansive grounds of the Palace of Versailles, which is just outside the city.
Having welcomed over 600,000 passengers in the last 10 years, London is officially Kiwi.com’s most popular destination. Sure enough, the British capital is one of the world’s major tourist hotspots, as well as being Europe’s third-largest metropolis, an important air transport hub, and a global economic powerhouse.
London is a modern city that seems to grow exponentially in state-of-the-art buildings and infrastructure, such as the Shard (which opened in 2013 and was, for a brief period, the tallest building in Europe) and the much-anticipated Elizabeth railway line, due to open this year.
Being such an innovative and economically-influential place, it’s not surprising that vacationing in London can be extremely expensive. But this hasn’t seemed to put off our customers. London is an exciting, dynamic, proudly multicultural whirlwind, and of course, if you can afford it, it really is a place where you can do pretty much anything. If you’ve been, you’ll know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, let’s just say that everything you’ve heard about it is true.
So, these were our customers’ ultimate destinations over the last decade. Here’s to the next 10 years of globetrotting, new experiences, and hacking the system. Where will you wind up next?
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