Biggest, Tallest, Fastest: 20 Record-Breaking Travel Destinations
If your travel motto is go big or stay home, you should plan a visit to these record-holding attractions and destinations around the world where size definitely matters.
Come fly away
The first step to most trips is getting there and often that means heading to an airport. Istanbul New Airport, which handled its first flight in October 2018, is being constructed in four phases, according to CNBC, and when it is completed in 2025, it will be the largest airport in the world. Contained within its 18,780 acres are 592,000 square feet of duty-free shopping and a 451-room Yotel hotel with land-side and air-side access. With its current three runways and 15 million square feet of terminal space, it can handle 90 million passengers a year. That’s just shy of the world’s current busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, which according to CNN, currently sees 107 million passengers yearly. Istanbul plans to welcome 200 million customers annually once finished and all of them should know these tips to speed through airport security.
When it took its maiden voyage in 2018, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas, gave new meaning to high seas adventure as it’s 238 feet tall, has 18 decks, and features the 10-story Ultimate Abyss aka the tallest slide on the water. The largest cruise ship is also 1,188 feet long, weighs 228,081 gross registered tons, and can hold 6,680 passengers in 2,759 cabins. It also boasts 24 pools, 22 restaurants and bars, a zip-line, glow-in-the-dark laser tag, water park, mini-golf course, FlowRider surf simulators, and an ice rink, according to CNN.
There is plenty of room at these inns. Currently, the largest hotel in the world by the total number of guest quarters is First World Hotel, a three-star resort in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Its two towers contain 7,351 rooms.
Stateside, the Venetian Resort Las Vegas, which includes The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Venezia Towers in one mighty compound on The Strip, bests the competition with 7,092 suites. It is currently the second-largest hotel in the world. It also offers 2.25 million square feet of convention space and 1 million square feet of retail operations. For a time, its casino was the largest in the world. Vegas is also home to the world’s most expensive hotel room.
Both properties will have to move over to make room on the list if the construction of Abraj Kudai in Saudi Arabia goes as planned, as blueprints call for 10,000 rooms.
Parks and rec
All 400-plus sites that fall under the purview of the National Park Service are worth exploring, but only one can be the biggest. At 13.2 million acres, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is larger than Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined. A day’s drive east of Anchorage, this gigantic piece of America’s backyard marks the junction of three mountain ranges (Chugach, Wrangell, and St. Elias) and contains numerous glaciers, volcanos, rivers, valleys as well as the second-highest peak in the United States, Mount St. Elias. It stands 18,008 feet tall.
Speaking of mountains, the seven tallest U.S. mountains are found in a single state, Alaska. The highest one is Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley after the president), which rises 20,320 feet above sea level and is found in the national park of the same name.
But it can’t maintain the title on the world stage. That honor belongs to the 29,035-foot-tall Mount Everest, which is on the border of Tibet and Nepal. According to the Guardian, approximately 5,000 people have scaled the Everest summit either from the easier Nepalese side pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 or the more technically difficult Tibetan route. But don’t pack your crampons just yet as 300 people have died on its slopes including nine in the very short and crowded 2019 season.
courtesy Whitney Peak Hotel
A safer, and certainly cheaper, bet would be to stick to climbing the world’s tallest artificial rock climbing wall as determined by the Guinness Book Of World Records. Located in Reno, Nevada, at the Whitney Peak Hotel, the wall towers at 164 feet tall and the top provides majestic views of the surrounding city, the famous neon welcome sign, and Sierra Nevada Mountains. If it’s too chilly to scale the building’s exterior, head inside to Basecamp’s 7,000-square-foot competition-level bouldering park. It’s fun for all levels of mountaineers and there’s a separate kids’ room.
The world’s deepest lake is also the largest freshwater lake. Lake Baikal in southern Russia is estimated to be 5,387 feet deep. Its bottom is around 3,893 feet below sea level—and it hasn’t stopped growing. Located on an active continental rift zone, it is widening at a rate of almost one inch per year and as it gets wider, it also becomes deeper.
Crater Lake, a volcanic caldera in southern Oregon that formed around 7,700 years ago, sits in the top spot in terms of the United States, despite being only the ninth-deepest lake in the world with a depth of 1,949 feet. Fun fact: Unlike most naturally occurring lakes, no rivers flow into or out of it. It stays filled with a mix of rainfall, groundwater, and evaporation. Summer visitors can take a boat tour out to Wizard Island, which is actually a small cinder cone in the middle of the lake. If you’re lucky, you’ll see The Old Man, a hemlock log that has been floating upright in the lake for more than 100 years.
Walks to remember
You will most certainly get your steps in if you venture out and complete these long trails. There will be blisters on the Trans Canada Trail, which stretches 14,912 miles from its starting trailhead in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. It is the longest maintained and connected hike on the planet. The Great Western Loop is an arduous way to see nine states, 12 national parks, 75 wilderness areas, and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. All in, it covers 6,875 miles.
Late last year, Chile announced the opening of the 1,740-mile-long trek known as the Route of the Parks of Patagonia. Spanning a third of the South American country, it meanders through 17 national parks from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn and encompasses 11.5 hectares of protected land, according to Travel+Leisure. Dominica is home to the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean. The Waitukubuli National Trail spans the Nature Island for 114 miles and is comprised of 14 segments beginning from Scotts Head in the south to the northern Capuchin.
Take me out to the ball game…
For lots of Americans, summer is synonymous with baseball season. With 56,000 seats for spectators, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is the biggest baseball park in the world, according to WorldAtlas.com. The third oldest MLB stadium (after Fenway and Wrigley) is so big that it was given its own zip code, 90090, in 2009, which registers as Dodgertown, USA. Because of its size, don’t expect a tour of the park to be a short stop. (Pun intended.) A variety of tours are offered throughout the year and highlights include walking on the field, sitting in the dugout, seeing Jackie Robinson’s trophies, and peeking inside the clubhouse.
Come on in, the water’s huge
Nobody likes a crowded pool on a hot summer’s day so these resorts dreamed big when planning their plunges, which means you can move away from splashing toddlers, swim laps in peace, or blow up the largest swan raft on the market and still not float into anyone else’s personal space. It takes weeks to fill the Crystal Lagoons at Citystars Sharm El Sheikh community in Egypt as the Sinai Desert oasis is the largest man-made body of water in the world. The Guinness World Records folks say it covers 23.9 acres, which is almost four acres bigger than the swimming pool at San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, Chile, which happens to have been imagined by the same company. The second-biggest swimming hole holds 66 million gallons and spans the length of 20 Olympic-sized pools. The world’s largest and highest rooftop infinity pool (490 feet long), which gazes out over Singapore from atop the world’s largest public cantilevered platform 57 floors up, is found at SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. While these other pools may not be the largest, they are arguably the most gorgeous hotel pools around the world.