This Country Has Three Cities Trending For Travel In 2024

In 2024, Japan's tourism rebound shows no signs of slowing down. The country has seen a steady increase in overseas visitors since it fully reopened its borders in October 2022. A year later, in October 2023, it finally rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, with more than 2.5 million visitors entering from abroad. International travelers still have their eye on it for the coming year, too, as it's the only country with more than one city in the top 10 in Skyscanner's U.S. Travel Trend report for 2024.

The report, based on flight and hotel search and booking data, has the cities of Osaka and Tokyo ranked at #3 and #4, respectively. Moreover, the UK version of the list puts Sapporo, the capital of the northern island of Hokkaido, ahead of them both, giving Japan 3 of the top 10 trending cities.

Sapporo was only the second Japanese city to host the Olympics (after Tokyo in 1964). It was the site of the country's first Winter Games in 1972. One competition venue, the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, is still open to visitors as an observation deck and Olympic museum. Today, the city is known for its annual snow festival, which draws more than two million visitors every February with elaborate snow and ice sculptures. It's also known for its miso ramen and fresh seafood. You can drink the city's self-titled beer brand at the Sapporo Beer Garden and watch its famous white chocolate souvenir cookies roll off the assembly line at Shiroi Koibito Park.


Over in Osaka, one of the biggest tourism draws in 2024 will be at Universal Studios Japan, the world's third most-visited theme park. Colloquially known as "USJ," the park is set to expand its version of Super Nintendo World, the first ever built, by 70 percent in the spring. The focus of the expansion is a new Donkey Kong area with a roller coaster called "Mine-Cart Madness." It will give riders the effect of jumping across broken tracks, a novelty that's already begun to influence the development of other Universal parks worldwide. Just as Universal Studios Hollywood imported Super Nintendo World in 2023, Florida's upcoming Epic Universe park has another version on the way with a clone of the same Donkey Kong coaster.

Among other things, Osaka is also hosting the World Expo in 2025, and it still has a commemorative park you can visit from when it last hosted the expo in 1970. The centerpiece is Taro Okamoto's 230-foot Tower of the Sun monument, representing the past, present, and future with three distinct faces. Other well-known city landmarks include Osaka Castle, the Kaiyukan aquarium, and the Glico running man sign in the neon-lit canal district, Dotonbori.

Nicknamed "the nation's kitchen," Osaka remains a mecca for food tourism, too, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu. With the Wide Area Excursion Pass offered by Japan Railways, the city provides convenient, affordable train access to other unmissable tourist destinations in the Kansai region like Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, and Himeji.


In November 2023, Japan's new tallest building, the 1,067-foot Mori JP Tower, opened in the Azabudai Hills complex in Tokyo. The basement of this complex is where the uber-popular digital art museum, teamLab Borderless, formerly located in Odaiba, will reopen in February 2024. It holds the Guinness World Record for the most-visited museum, and when it makes its big comeback, it should be as Instagrammable as ever, based on early media previews.

Not to be outdone by Universal Studios Japan, the Tokyo DisneySea theme park has a major $2.2-billion expansion coming in June 2024. It includes a brand-new port, Fantasy Springs, which will increase the park's overall size by about 20 percent. Included are four new rides spread across three new areas: Frozen Kingdom, Rapunzel's Forest, and Peter Pan's Never Land. Built inside the park bounds, the new Fantasy Springs Hotel also joins the existing Hotel Miracosta as DisneySea's second in-park luxury hotel.

If you can't make it to Osaka or you didn't get enough Wizarding World magic at Universal, another option is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter. This version of the tour opened in June 2023, and it expands on the original one in London with a recreation of the Ministry of Magic movie set, which you won't find anywhere else. As the world's biggest indoor Harry Potter attraction, the tour could easily occupy four hours of your time, but don't worry, you can break for butterbeer around the halfway point.