PORTLAND — Though scenic spots like Mount Katahdin and Acadia National Park draw millions each year yearning to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, millions also travel from across the U.S., Canada, and as far away as Europe to visit Maine’s largest city.

Travel writers recently ranked Portland alongside Boston and Providence as a “much desired” travel destination. The Old Port, with its unique shops, historic buildings, cobblestone streets and delicious eateries, is a favorite among many visitors.

Lynn Tillotson, president and CEO of Portland’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that even during the 2008 economic slump, some 30 million tourists visited Maine. And 8.3 million of them visited the greater Portland and Casco Bay area. More recent statistics will soon be released.

Portland has a lot to offer tourists, she said, with shopping as one of the biggest attractions.

“The cobblestone streets and the ’boutique-y’ kind of shops attract people,” she said. “Portland is authentic. It’s not fabricated with chain stores everywhere. It’s not a cookie cutter city.”

Another big draw, according to Tillotson, are the unique restaurants, which have earned Portland a reputation among “foodies.”

“Dining is a huge part of it,” she said.

Greg Dugal, executive director of the Maine Innkeepers Association and Maine Restaurant Association, reports that $2.25 billion in income was generated from meals sold within the city limits of Portland in 2013.

Eateries like DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant, where guests can feast on fresh seafood, Italian food, or fine cuts of beef while enjoying the sights and sounds of Portland Harbor, provide a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors.

Dugal anticipates a surge in the number of Portland visitors as the result of new hotels opening in the downtown area in the last five years. These hotels include a 179-room Residence Inn by Marriott, a 122-room Hampton Inn, a 131-room Courtyard by Marriott and a 123-room Hyatt Place Hotel, according to a recent story in the Portland Press Herald. Additionally, the renovated historic Eastland Hotel reopened in late 2013 as the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, with 289 rooms and a 110-room boutique hotel in the former Portland Press Herald building is scheduled to open in 2015.

Lodging in Maine generated $765 million in revenue during 2013, with $71 million generated within the city limits of Portland, Dugal said.

David Tamulevich, president and CEO of Portland Regency Hotel & Spa said business has consistently increased for the past 4-5 years. He projects that it will continue to increase.

“Portland’s a great city,” said Tamulevich. “It’s a small city but has everything that a big city can offer. You can walk this whole city, end to end, in less than an hour.”

A general manager at Portland Discovery Sea and Land Tours, Kathy Frappier said 2013 was the business’ best year so far. She projects that Portland is going to “explode” with the new hotels. Currently, about 50,000 people participate in their tours each year. David Pulido of the Portland Lobster Company attributes Portland’s growing tourism trade to the marketing efforts of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the increased press by travel writers.

Hilary Bassett, executive director of Greater Portland Landmarks, said her group experienced a big increase in European tourists, especially from Italy, visiting the Portland Observatory. In addition to the overseas visitors, people from all 50 states and most Canadian provinces visit the observatory, which is the last surviving maritime signal tower in the U.S.