London crowned world's most popular city for fifth time in seven years

London skyline seen from Victoria Tower at sunset.

London has been named the most popular city in the world for the fifth time in seven years in the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index.

The UK capital is projected to receive 18.82 million international visitors in 2015.

Bangkok, with 18.24 million overnight stay visitors expected, was in second place, with Paris third and Dubai fourth.

Bangkok and London have topped the Index throughout its five-year history.

Welcoming the results, London Mayor Boris Johnson told the Independent: "I'm delighted that London has proudly held on to this coveted title, as we celebrate another triumphant and record-breaking year for tourism in the city.

"With London's unrivalled mix of history, culture, culinary gems and cutting-edge creativity, I'm confident that these accolades will keep coming as the capital continues to surprise and excite visitors from all over the world."

MasterCard predicts that nearly 383 million overnight trips will be made by international visitors between the 132 most-visited cities around the world and will spend a total of US$360 billion during their visits.

"This year's study helps us understand just how interconnected the world's cities are the significant role they play in connecting and empowering greater numbers of people than ever before," said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets at MasterCard.

Places you won't believe are in London
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London crowned world's most popular city for fifth time in seven years
This stunning royal park is best known for the 650 Red and Fallow deer that roam the hills and woodland. With ancient trees, plants, animals and butterflies, Richmond Park offers visitors peace in London. The National Nature Reserve has many glorious spots, including the beautiful Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge and King Henry's Mound.
It might look like Holland but Brixton Windmill, also known as Ashby's Mill, is an 1816 windmill in south London and one of 12 that were built in the area. It was a working mill for 50 years before development blocked the wind powering the sails and it was later revived in 1902, but production was again halted in 1934.
One of the most outstanding features of the Horniman Museum, the Grade II listed Coombe Cliff Conservatory was constructed in 1894 to provide shelter and an artificial climate for sensitive plants. The stunning cast iron building features ornate decoration that gives an airy appearance.
Kyoto Garden is a Japanese-style garden, part of 55-acre Holland Park, which was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. The beautiful garden features koi carp and a bridge at the foot of a waterfall. It was created as a 'strolling garden' and is best seen in the spring and autumn.
Visitors to York House can check out the naked female statues, which resemble a water feature fit for an Italian garden. The Naked Ladies adorn a cascade and pool, and were imported from Italy by a fraudulent financier who took his own life when he was convicted in 1904. They depict eight Oceanids and a pair of aquatic horses.
Known as Neasden Temple, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a beautiful Hindu temple that features polished marble surfaces, ornate columns and spectacular vaulted ceilings. As one of the biggest Hindu temples outside India, it is open to visitors of all faiths to enjoy the peaceful space.
The London Wetland Centre is an urban oasis for wildlife and people. It is located just 10 minutes from Hammersmith and allows visitors to stroll among lakes, ponds and gardens for a delightful day out in London. Some of the best wildlife to spot include otters, geese and swans.
Britain's first Buddhist temple is a four-acre monastery with an ornamental lake, a small grove and a flower garden. Buddhapadipa Temple consists of the House where the monks live and a cottage. Visitors can join meditation classes and listen to Dhamma talks and discussions.
The pelicans at St James's Park live near Duck Island and were first introduced in 1644 as a gift from the Russian ambassador. There are currently four Eastern (or Great) White Pelicans in the park and visitors can witness the birds basking on their favourite rocks or being fed fish in the afternoon.
This pretty part of London is a tranquil canal area where you can relax at waterside cafes and pubs. The oasis of leafy calm is just minutes from Paddington, offering a charming place to stroll along the canal or watch the colourful narrowboats.
Artists' haven Eel Pie Island saw hundreds of revellers flock to its shores when the likes of Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and The Who performed at its hotel in the 1960s. Today, the island is home to 120 residents and 26 artist's studios situated in and around a working boatyard. Twice a year, Eel Pie Island opens its doors to visitors to see inside the artist's studios.
One of London's treasures, Eltham Palace was built in the 1300s and was the home of a young Henry VIII. The palace was partially converted into an Art Deco house for 1930s millionaires. The gardens are a delight, featuring London's oldest working bridge, a rose garden, and a series of pools and cascades that run down to the moat.

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London sunsets: Where to get the best views
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London crowned world's most popular city for fifth time in seven years

The soaring skyscrapers here provide a dramatic backdrop for the glowing sky. Watch and admire from the banks of the river or head for Mudchute Farm, where you'll get the full effect.

This wonderfully vast open space on the outskirts of the city, once Henry VIII's favourite hunting ground, rarely gets crowded and is the perfect place to sit in peace and soak up the views in peace (although you might bump into a deer or two).
Although it doesn't face west, the skies from Primmy Hill turn such glorious colours that people flock here on a sunny evening from all over London.

JW Turner's favourite spot to paint was also immortalised by the famous Kinks song, making Waterloo sunsets a 'thing' for culture vultures. It's a great place to take in the views of the city as well as the wonderful skies.

There's no doubt that one of the best sunset spots is from atop this big wheel. Yes, you have to pay, and yes, it's worth it.
The skies seen from Ally Pally offer a glorious colourful display to north Londoners.
Putney is a world away from the hustle and bustle of central London. Sit here and take in the ever-changing reflections with a cocktail in hand. Bliss.
One of the most spectacular views can be seen from the viewing platform at the Shard. Stay a while and watch the city light up before your eyes.
London's oldest enclosed royal park boasts sweeping views of the River Thames and the sprawling city beyond.
London Skyline at night


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