It is hard to restrict this selection of travel bucket list ideas to just 50. Our world is truly magnificent and we each occupy just a tiny fragment of it. Travel is a privilege and one of our greatest treasures, and we all should have a travel bucket list. It broadens our minds and feeds our souls, and who wouldn’t want to experience something wondrous or incredibly beautiful, whether made by man or Mother Nature? Here’s 50 amazing travel bucket list ideas.
Peru’s lost city of the Incas is a magical, captivating place. Built in the 15th century for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti, it lay hidden beneath jungle and mountain mist for five centuries. To catch a glimpse of this stunning collection of temples and palaces as the sun rises is a spiritual experience that deserves the No.1 spot in anyone’s travel bucket list ideas.
Water is the prime attraction when you visit the Galapagos Islands. Located 600 miles west of Ecuador, it's one of the ultimate travel destinations and should be in your bucket list if snorkeling is your passion. Nowhere else can an underwater dip give you a chance to catch a glimpse of a penguin, dance with a sea lion and have a close encounter with marine iguana. It's equally suitable for surfing, biking, fishing, kayaking and horseback riding.
There’s nothing that dictates that travel bucket list ideas have to be spectacular or exotic. Sometimes, the idea of luxury translates to serenity and beauty. The Finger Lakes region in New York is where the lush greenery and rolling hills will take you in a different world. Not only this, you will find nearly a dozen lakes, 1,063 waterfalls, and loads of national and state parks, all packed into a picturesque stretch of west-central New York. It should be there on your bucket list also because this region offers an array of warm-weather diversions from hiking to sailing, and swimming to seemingly endless rounds of golf.
The lure of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, is timeless. In the Arctic Circle, above 60 degrees latitude, the most extraordinarily colorful sunset, in the most inhospitable place on earth, is created as particles in space are sucked into the earth’s magnetic field. Best experienced around the spring and autumn equinoxes, the Northern Lights are a dazzling, dizzying addition to a bucket list.
Alaska is the absolute last wilderness frontier that has been left virtually unexplored and the state that gave us Sarah Palin! Visit Denali National Park with its wildlife and scenic mountains, including Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in the US. Its breathtaking beauty of rugged snowy mountains, forest upon forest of pine trees hugging the lower slopes of these ranges and the complete isolation and loneliness except for wolves, black bears and the odd trapper, leaves the mind boggling.
Hawaii is a dream location that inspires plenty of travel bucket list ideas. Kona is on Big Island, the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Visit Volcano National Park for an awe-inspiring day in the Visitors Centre, before exploring the area around the active volcano with a guide. Within a square mile area you’ll be walking in lunar landscape or dense tropical vegetation where you could imagine Tyrannosaurus Rex coming for you. Take a 2 hour drive up a dormant volcano to the top, where the world's largest planetariums are sited.
Dolphins are fabulous creatures and feature on many a traveler’s bucket list. There are quite a few places to swim with dolphins but why not do it on a sun-kissed island in crystal clear warm waters? Bimini is one of the favorite places for anyone who wishes to experience the magic of these endearing creatures in their own world.
Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring over 400 feet above the level of the water. Climbing the bridge is the ultimate test for adrenalin-seekers, taking over three hours to climb from the bottom right up to the top. At the top, you get one of the most spectacular views of incredible Sydney Harbour – something to definitely see while you have the chance!
Stonehenge is not just for those interested in history; if you love culture, beauty and England, then visiting Stonehenge definitely needs to be on your travel wish list. The arrangement of stones is owned by the English Crown, located north of Salisbury in Wiltshire. A summer’s afternoon walking up to the stones is definitely an experience that you don’t want to miss. Even though the visitor experience has been somewhat sanitized, it remains an incredible feat of human endeavor to be admired.
In recent years, Costa Rica has been at the forefront of green vacations and has plenty to offer the eco-traveler, but whether you’re environmentally conscious or not, there are few adventures to compare with a trip through the canopy (the upper-most layer) of a tropical rain forest. Watch in awe as howler monkeys sweep through the trees and a mass of colorful birdlife goes about their daily business. If you’re game enough, take the zipline option.
A visit to the Grand Canyon National Park in the USA state of Arizona is a must for travelers from all nations. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the canyon was carved by the Colorado River. The Canyon is renowned for its size and for the beauty of the many colors of the rock strata that are exposed in the canyon walls. The Grand Canyon is one of the places to see before you die because it puts you and nature in their proper perspectives.
Every adventurer should attend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Apart from the stunning natural beauty of the city, the world-renowned street party and festival is a sure-fire good time. Apart from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, no other party holds such worldwide cachet. This is a bucket list destination for anyone who appreciates music, dancing, and the world’s biggest “block party.”
The Taj Mahal in India is a marble monument erected by Shah Jahan in memoriam of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal. The building, with all the semi precious stones set in it, changes color as the sun sets, and with the gorgeous serene gardens is a great place for romantics to visit. Originally, the Shah was to build a matching monument in black marble for his own entombment but sadly, this never happened.
Las Vegas is one of those places that must be seen to be believed. Set out in the desert on the western side of the US, this city is a monument to everything glitzy and glamorous. Gambling is its chief pastime but there are shows with world famous artists and the free entertainment, in front of all the casinos, and the general ambience that is both exciting and different - a great place to put on anyone’s travel bucket list for sure.
With an amazing cityscape, Table Mountain and the potential to encounter wildlife up close and personal in their natural habitat, Cape Town in South Africa is a definite contender on the top travel destinations. A trip to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserves is a great way to discover the amazing wildlife and beautiful landscape on offer. A must see visit to Blaauwberg Beach to see the magical views of the mountain and to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are sure to provide you with stunning scenery and some much needed relaxation time.
For the ultimate in luxury destinations, the Maldives wins the wow factor hands down. The Islands offer a picture perfect postcard - white sands, crystal blue waters and luscious palm trees. A spa resort is highly recommended to achieve the best imaginable relaxation and feeling of escapism. Snorkeling is a great way to discover and explore the coral reefs and beautiful clear waters. The ocean sunset is pure magic and provides a perfect setting for a romantic, isolated getaway.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, a visit to Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand is a priority for your travel bucket list. Here you can tour the movie sets used for The Shire in the movie trilogy. Have refreshments at The Green Dragon Inn, which is open to tourists, and from The Shires Store you can pick up some souvenirs to take away.
If you want to stay in a hotel that is completely different from the norm, try the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi which is made completely from ice and snow. From here you can see the Northern Lights, take a dog sled tour or a guided snowmobile safari. This destination could knock a few things off your ultimate travel wish list.
Located off the coast of Tanzania in the clear blue Indian Ocean is Zanzibar. Made up of two large islands and many tiny ones, Zanzibar is often called The Spice Islands, due to its abundance of cinnamon, nutmeg and saffron. Zanzibar is an ideal bucket list destination – it’s off the beaten track, guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows and is outstandingly beautiful. Miles of pure white beaches and crystal seas surround the islands. Coral reefs and secret coves are waiting to be explored. Luxurious boutique hotels and spas offer accommodation to suit this little slice of paradise.
Known as “The Smoke That Thunders,” Victoria Falls is the magnificent waterfall that spans the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. As one of the largest waterfalls in the world, it is an awesome spectacle, with the spray being visible for miles around. While visiting the falls, you can also tick off another couple of bucket list favorites. The bridge that runs between Zimbabwe and Zambia has a bungee jumping station on it, and you can also white water raft in the wild Zambezi River below. With the Victoria Falls Game Park on the doorstep, ticking off seeing the Big Five is also possible.
This incredible and gorgeous landscape littered with surreal outcrops of rugged limestone islands should be on the very top of any traveler’s bucket list, and there are so many reasons why, they are virtually impossible to list. The ethereal, mysterious and breathtaking surroundings, the sensational history, the incredible culture and the true testament to what must be the finest of Mother Nature’s offerings should not be missed.
Vastly underrated, almost entirely unexplored and gloriously untouched, Myanmar (aka Burma) is an effervescent delight with an untapped glory of natural treasures, incredible historical gems and astounding scenery. To travel to a place that has stood almost completely still in time, and to have a chance to experience first-hand the unknown delights surrounded by evidence of a chaotic, humbling and turbulent past would be a once in a life time travel opportunity indeed.
Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake in the world and is located in Siberia, just north of the Mongolian border. In an increasingly modernizing world, the lake is an example of pristine wilderness that has largely been untouched by man. Its isolation and location within the taiga also make it a refuge for unique wildlife. For a nature lover, few destinations can match Lake Baikal in terms of sheer beauty and there is perhaps no better place in the world to experience such an open and vast wilderness.
Whilst the Florida Keys themselves throw up some great travel bucket list ideas, it’s the journey that makes this list. The drive across the overseas highway (US Route 1) must be the ultimate road trip. Imagine being on a road with miles and miles of the open ocean of the Gulf of Mexico on either side (and below!).
Located between Finland and Sweden, the Torne Valley is a place where the sun shines on a magnificent and surreal landscape during the whole night in summer. Winter has a beauty all its own, especially when nature puts on a display with the Northern Lights. Wintertime is also the time to visit the Kiruna Snow Festival, held in one of the main towns of the valley.
At the foot of the statue of Jose Francisco de San Martin Matorras on Lima’s Plaza San Martin stands one of the world’s most charming statues, that of Madre Patria. A representation of liberty, she has a fierce, determined face, flowing robes and … a tiny llama on her head. She was supposed to wear a votive flame, in Spanish a llama, but during the commissioning of the statue, the instructions got lost in translation. The result is one of the best examples of the power of words.
When we say that something is very far away, we say that it’s from here to Timbuktu, so it seems only fair to make it one of the bucket list destinations. This dusty town can indeed seem to be in the middle of nowhere. However, its location on the edge of the Sahara made it an important centre for trade. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is steeped in history and is the subject of several legends. It’s a magnificent place to visit. Its ancient mosques and the thousands of scholarly works known as the Timbuktu Manuscripts, dating from medieval times, bear testimony to the fact that Africa had a rich tradition of learning long before European colonization.
With so many amazing destinations in the US, it really is a difficult choice for a traveler’s bucket list, but the nation’s capital is a strong contender. Playing host to some of America's most significant and notable attractions, including the Lincoln Memorial, the iconic Smithsonian Institution and a remarkable collection of museums and national monuments, you can see the entire history of the USA in one city.
This is one of the trips to be undertaken just for the joy of traveling. Connecting the city of Jining in China with Ulan-Ude in Siberian Russia, the train will take you through multiple time zones and Russia, Mongolia and China. The scenery is vast and diverse; deserts, rolling dusty plains, impressive mountains and also, skirting the world’s largest freshwater lake. You’ll pass Soviet-era industrial cities, nomadic yurt camps and tiny villages perched on the edges of dark forests.
The emerald Isle is full of myths and legend, and the Blarney Stone is one of the most evident and accessible. Built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, in County Cork, the stone is a slab of blue limestone. According to legend, anyone who kisses the stone will be rewarded with the ‘gift of the gab’ – the skill of eloquence and flattery. Bear in mind you have to be suspended upside down to kiss the stone! You can tour the picturesque castle and grounds, and as you’re not far from Cork, visit that marvelous place too.
Pamukkale has to be seen to believed – it looks like it is made from cotton wool. In fact, the name translates as Cotton Castle. The natural hot springs on the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis are a wonder to behold and an experience to soothe those aching bones and weary souls.
It’s rare that something is ever better than in the place it was invented. Although it is disputed, it’s generally thought that the first karaoke machine was invented by Diasuke Inoue in Kobe in 1971 (although there’s a parallel claim from Singapore). It is, however, completely synonymous with Japan, so for the true Karaoke experience it must be a bar in downtown Kobe.
Turn off the cell phone, ignore your emails and find a simpler way of life. There are people who get by with an iPod or a television and live happily off the land. At Campi Ya Kanzi in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya, you can bunk down with the Masai, join them on their early morning treks into the cloud forest, pound some maize for bread and just enjoy the feeling of being alive and free.
The lure of the Brazilian rainforest is undeniable but if you’re not a fan of hiking, it can be somewhat daunting. You can, however, enjoy the majesty of the forest and spot some of the amazing wildlife on a cruise down the majestic Amazon River. Look out for the elusive pink river dolphins, hear the howler monkeys and watch the jewel-bright macaws as they glide on the wind.
Most people would expect to see surfing to appear in travel bucket lists with destinations such as Hawaii and Australia, however, for somewhere off the beaten surf track, head to Sumba Island in Indonesia. This is one of those tucked away places where time seems to have stood still and where the islanders still live life like their ancestors. As well as having some gorgeous beaches (Nihawatu in particular), Sumba has some fascinating rituals; visit in February and March to see the Pasola War Ceremonies.
Whether you choose to venture out on foot, bike or on horseback, America’s first National Park has an abundance of sights and activities. The rolling hills, mountains and volcanoes, the famous geyser Old Faithful, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife showcase nature at its very best.
Whether you choose to stay in Israel or Jordan, the experience of a swim in the Dead Sea is like nothing else. The place with the lowest elevation on earth, the sea is packed with beneficial minerals and healthy black mud. Surrounded by lovely scenery, the hotels here tend to be top end luxury with every vacation amenity you can imagine.
There is many a travel wish list that includes an African Safari, and many of them refer to Kenya or that Disneyland of game reserves, the Kruger National Park in South Africa. If however, you want something less commercial and equally, if not more, beautiful, Limpopo National Park offers a fabulous opportunity to see the so called big 5 game animals: lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard.
There are many cities in Asia where riding a scooter is one hell of an experience. Scooter riders in India and Sri Lanka literally take their life in their hands as they zip in and out of traffic, but nowhere else is quite like Ho Chi Minh City. It seems at times there are more scooters than people and often you’ll see a whole family and a pile of luggage perched precariously on a single scooter. Riding a scooter here is fun, cheap and very hairy!
Some travel bucket list destinations are a shoe-in. One of these is the spectacle of watching the sun come up over the great pyramids at Giza. No picture can ever prepare for the majesty of these huge monumental structures, especially when you consider how long ago they were built. Add to the adventure by heading out to the site on a dawn camel ride.
The summit of Mount Everest is unattainable for the vast majority of us, but it is possible to get within 8,000 feet of the peak that is the world’s highest. The base camps in Tibet have to be among the most frequently listed places to see before you die, and no wonder; the landscape is beyond breathtaking.
Bucket list destinations shouldn’t just be about wondrous places; there should also be an interest in understanding different cultures, especially those that have been suppressed or endangered. Taos in New Mexico has a strong Pueblo Native American heritage and is well preserved in this vibrant and rather boho place. It’s also a fabulous base for some wonderful outdoor adventures, including night skiing in the winter. There’s some great art too.
The Big Apple is undeniably packed with sights, attractions and brilliant things to do. It can be somewhat overwhelming but the views are something that just simply need to be experienced – and as much and as many as possible. While the scene from the top of the Empire State Building is wondrous, one of the best ways to cram as many of the sights in is on the Circle Line Ferry. As it circumnavigates Manhattan Island, you pass under marvelous bridges, pass Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and of course, the magnificent NYC skyline.
The great rock sitting in a plain in the Australian outback is a place of huge significance and mysticism to the Aboriginal people. It may be somewhat commercialized these days, and some would even say sanitized, and you can’t climb other than on the tourist path, but the sight remains as enthralling as ever. Find a pew and just watch as the rock changes color throughout the day.
Food is very often at the heart of a trip and it’s a lot of fun if you can get involved in sourcing your meal. Truffles are one of our most elusive (and expensive) ingredients. Although found in various places around Europe, a truffle hunt in the Motovun Forest of Croatia is a marvelous experience. Sitting in the heart of the exquisite Istrian peninsula, make your base in the hilltop town of Motovun and set out with on a quest for the black gold with expert (and licensed) truffle hunters.
Whale watching is another of the bucket list favorites, and I have chosen New Zealand, because well, you don’t really need to find an excuse to visit this magical country. The Land of the Long White Cloud has a number of lovely destinations with excellent whale watching trips, but Kaikoura is widely accepted as being one of the best.
Forget the Gondola ride – it’s expensive, oversold and not as impressive as you might imagine (save it for a moonlit night or Valentine’s Day). The best way to see the splendid sights of Venice is on foot – well, it is the world’s only pedestrian city. The streets are narrow and full of interest and it’s easy to pass between the various districts by vaporetti (water bus).
Of all the poignant monuments and memorials around the world, perhaps nothing else comes close to Yad Vashem. This is Israel’s monument to the memory of the Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust. Enough said!
We choose a trip because there’s something we want to do or something we want to see. And, sometimes, it’s a case of simply because they are there. The ‘they’ in the case of Easter Island are the stone statue heads that all face out to sea. Many have hypothesized as to their relevance but the mystery remains. Mystical Easter Island is definitely one of the ultimate travel destinations, and the fact that the island is a stunner is an added bonus.
Is Rome the world’s greatest tourist city? Very possibly! Why? Because it has the most amazing collection of treasures. And, it spans millennia. The antiquities never fail to amaze – who can really believe that the Colosseum was built 2000 years ago and is still standing, but there are also glorious examples of architecture through the ages in its villas and piazzas and in iconic sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. It also brims with religious architecture, art, music and sport and of course, fabulous Italian food.
I hope this selection of travel bucket list ideas has given you food for thought and motivation to satisfy your wanderlust. Is your top choice among them? All additional ideas are most welcome so please do share.
Please rate this article