There are so many life-changing places in the world to visit. Some are magical, some are ancient, and some are just downright gorgeous. All will have you wistfully dreaming about them before you arrive. After you visit them, they become a part of you, forming lifelong memories and altering the way you see the world.
Our Top 10 Bucket List Destinations
Italy is a country rich with history, art, and one of the world’s best cuisines. Throw in gorgeous vistas, epic hiking, wine, quaint villages, and coastal towns. From Florence to Venice to the Amalfi Coast to the Dolomites, there is something here for everyone.
Read more: 15 of the Best Places to Visit in Italy
Machu Picchu is magical…a remote, crumbling city perched atop a mountain in the Andes, built by an ancient civilization. This is one of the few places we have visited that we would describe as mystical. Machu Picchu is accessible to everyone, whether you want to hike the four day Inca Trail or arrive by a scenic train ride.
Read more: Magical and Mystical Machu Picchu
An African Safari is an epic adventure and there are so many ways to do it. From luxury safaris in Kenya and Botswana, to budget self-drive safaris in South Africa and Namibia, to camping out in the wilderness in Tanzania, going to the zoo will never be the same again.
Read more: On Safari in Chobe National Park, Botswana
The South Island of New Zealand
It is no secret that we are huge fans of New Zealand. If you are a fan of spectacular scenery, cruising the fiords, scenic car rides, wine tasting, paragliding, bungy jumping, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, and any other adventure sport you can imagine, the South Island of New Zealand will be your playground. Around every corner is another stunning view…this is truly an amazing place.
Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, offers an abundance of fabulous temples. Delve into a different world, as the Japanese are some of the friendliest, most interesting people we met while traveling. Kyoto is a great place to visit in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming and later in autumn, when the Japanese maples turn yellow, orange, and red. While you are here, dine on sushi, drink sake, and try to find the elusive geisha. This is a city full of surprises, cultural experiences, and delicious food.
Read more: Kyoto, Japan in Photos
A land of thousands of temples…coming here is almost like stepping back into time. The landscape is dotted with thousands of Hindu and Buddhist temples, almost 1,000 years old. Explore them by bicycle, on foot, or get a bird’s eye view from a hot air balloon. From the top of a temple, this is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset.
Read more: A Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan, Myanmar
The world’s tallest mountains…what more can we say? The Himalayas can be visited from Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and Tibet. They are accessible by foot, helicopter, yak, car, and airplane, making it possible for people of all ages to stand among these mountains. They are truly breathtaking, in more ways than one. We trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, one of our top travel experiences, ever.
Read more: Everest Base Camp Trek in 18 Amazing Photos
Siem Reap, Cambodia
If temples and ruins are your thing, this is the place to go. Most people think only of Angkor Wat when thinking about Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is just the beginning; like Bagan, the area around Siem Reap is home to hundreds of temples.
At Bayon, 216 giant carved smiling faces of Jayavarman VII stare down at you. At Ta Prohm, gigantic trees spread their roots over ancient, crumbling walls. Siem Reap is a great place for kids, as they can explore these temples, feeling like they are Indiana Jones. Plus, the town of Siem Reap has so much to offer in the way of great, cheap restaurants and bars…temple hopping in the morning and bar hopping in the evening. Siem Reap may be getting overcrowded and “over-touristy,” see it now before it changes too much.
Read more: Temple Overload in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, and Sydney are all great but Tasmania is phenomenal. Hobart, the largest city on Tasmania, is a harbor town offering great food and accommodations. With a car, you can explore Bruny Island and slurp down some of the world’s best oysters. Drive the other direction and you will find great hiking trails, abandoned penitentiaries (one that is supposedly haunted), and wildlife galore. This is the last habitat for the endangered Tasmanian Devil, so visiting a sanctuary is a must-do. Tasmania may be a small island, but there is plenty to do here to fill two to three weeks of your time.
Read more: Wild and Wet Tasmania
The Great American Road Trip
Here’s one still on our bucket list…but hopefully not for long. There is so much to see across the contiguous 48 states and what better way to explore this country than by car. Traveling from coast to coast, visiting the highlights of the United States along the way, what a cool adventure.
Post updated October 2017.
So, what’s on your bucket list? Do you think we missed something? We’d love to know what you think!