As we plan our travels for life after COVID don’t you think it’s time to do something epic? Well, we have put together the ultimate travel bucket list to spark your imagination.
Dave and I made a dream list of our travel bucket list travels way back in 2006. And we fulfilled every travel adventure we ever dreamed of. Now we want to help your dreams come true and share the best bucket list travels that we’ve ever done. These are 52 destinations that you need to do at least once in your lifetime. We’ve got one idea for every week of the year!
Travel Bucket List Ideas
So, let’s look at the most mind-blowing beautiful places in the world. Oh, by the way, these are bucket list travels that we’ve done ourselves. It’s not a Google search like so many things on the internet these days.
There was something magical about staying right in the heart of Iguazú National Park at the Belmont Hotel Das Cataratas. Having this natural wonder all to ourselves in the early morning was like a fairytale. We walked from our hotel to the long platform leading to the center of the massive cascade surrounded by thundering waters.
For a bucket list experience, this was spectacular. Be sure to take a helicopter tour over the falls and hop on a jet boat to get soaked. They seriously put the boat right underneath the waterall. If there is one item on your travel bucket list. This should be it!
- Read more about Iguazu Falls
We thought we had seen the beauty of Italy when visiting the Cinque Terre, but the Amalfi Coast is the Cinque Terre on steroids. The beautiful coastal towns along the Gulf of Salerno took our breath away at every turn. Rent a car and drive this famous highway that clings to the side of sea cliffs. There is nothing more romantic than driving the towns of Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, and Sorrento. Make sure to splurge on a room overlooking the terraced buildings of Positano and its beach.
- Is Amalfi Coast on your Bucket list?
Staying in an over the water bungalow in Bora Bora or Tahiti is on everyone’s travel bucket list. But we did this in The Maldives and I cannot think of a place that is more beautiful in the world. The turquoise waters surrounded our bungalow complete with a glass floor so we could watch the fish swim by was surperb. I don’t think I have seen such white sand beaches anywhere on earth.
- For more Maldives information
By the time we made it to Petra Jordan, we had seen a lot of famous ancient cities with our own eyes. We expected to like it, but we didn’t expect to be wowed by it. Boy were we wrong! Petra is in a league unto itself. The hidden city of Petra is located within a 1.2 km rock passage reaching 80 meters into the air. Once you arrive at The Petra Treasury you are treated to an awe-inspiring scene. A massive building complete with columns is carved into the stone.
- Watch our visit to Petra on YouTube
There is nothing more magical than an African Safari. We’ve been lucky to go on Safari in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana. And trust me, it never gets old. Seeing the majestic lion stalk its prey and watching a herd of elephants walking through the African savanna is a scene that is forever etched into our brains. There is something special about visiting Africa. As the saying goes “I left my heart in Africa” and every time we leave the continent we feel the same way.
Churchill Polar Bears
Speaking of safaris, have you ever thought of a safari in Canada? I don’t think there was anything more awe-inspiring than seeing polar bears in the wild. It is even more of a bucket list ticket to be able to walk with polar bears. Going up to the arctic tundra in summer is not only unique, but it is also a chance to see polar bears in a different environment than in snow. We visited the Polar Bears twice with Churchill Wild. Once in the winter and once in the summer.
- See all about our experiences in Churchill
We had seen Santorini in the yogurt ads for years and dreamed of one day visiting. Once we arrived, we understood why it has been featured in so many commercials. When we looked over the cliffs of the caldera, the views didn’t seem real. Whitewashed buildings with blue domes lined the high cliffs of the caldera. Staying in a cave hotel overlooking the Aegean Sea was the ultimate dream.
Kayak and Camp in Antarctica
If you haven’t noticed on our blog, a lot of our bucket list adventures have been in cold regions. And Antarctica truly tops the list. We were lucky enough to visit Antarctica with Quark Expeditions where we fulfilled every travel dream. From camping on Antarctica to kayaking around icebergs, Antarctica was an adventure lover’s travel dream.
Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp
Staying in the cold weather for a moment, the ultimate bucket list adventure is to trek to Everest Base Camp. When we can all travel again, this is something anyone can do regardless of climbing skills Follow the footsteps of Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa to see the Khumbu Ice Fall, Everest Base Camp, The Tengboche Monastery and Mighty Mount Everest herself. Secure the ultimate bragging rights among your friends and trek to Everest. Our friend Dipendra at SimRik Real Nepal Treks is waiting for you.
- Read all about this bucket list adventure
Nearly everyone is familiar with the famous scene of balloons soaring through the air above fairy chimneys. Turkey’s Cappadocia really does feel like a fairytale. This had been our bucket list since seeing dozens of balloons in the air on Instagram nearly a decade ago. A morning hot air balloon ride fulfills the ultimate travel dream list.
- Check out more of Cappadocia – The ultimate bucket list destination
Himalayas of Bhutan
Bhutan is the happiest country in the world and you can’t help but fall in love with the people and landscape when you visit this bucket list destination. Trekking through the Himalayas is an incredible journey but hiking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in the Paro Valley is what draws people to the country. This iconic scene doesn’t disappoint.
- If this is on your bucket list, read more here
Great Wall of China
We have visited the Great Wall of China twice. And it lives up to everything we ever expected. Looking at this marvel of engineering truly did inspire wonder and awe. No wonder it is listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. We loved visiting both the Mutianyu and Badaling Great Wall, they were equally beautiful yet very different experiences.
- Read all about our visit to the Great Walls
Speaking of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is another beautiful destination to add to your bucket lists. Hiking the Inca Trail is on many people’s adventure bucket list, but even seeing this extraordinary Inca City will take your breath away. Literally. Located in the Andes Mountains at 2,430 meters/7,972 feet in elevations, it is a wonder to see.
Great Barrier Reef
The UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Australia is the largest coral reef in the world. It tops many a traveler’s bucket list. Even if scuba diving or snorkeling isn’t your thing, it is a must visit. There are many ways to see the Great Barrier Reef. You can take a helicopter ride over the reef or even take a boat out to a platform in the middle of the sea to let you swim, snorkel and sunbathe in the middle of this beautiful piece of ocean.
Pyramids of Giza
We had always wanted to see the Great Pyramids of Giza with our own eyes. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we first spotted them they seemed surreal. They cut through the haze of Cairo standing the desert looking like a mirage. We have had the privilege of visiting them twice and can say that for a fun way to explore them, hire a camel to take you through the pyramid complex to feel like a true Bedouin.
Gobi Desert of Mongolia
We are always fascinated by deserts, but there was something truly unique and spectacular about Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. It is filled with life. From the herds of Bactrian camels (two-humped camels) to the nomadic people of Mongolia moving their Ghers from camp to camp that was always something to see. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Ecuador that have their very own ecosystem. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most biodiverse of destinations on earth. AND 97% of the Galapagos is a national park. The top draw to the Galapagos is to see its endemic species that are unique to the islands. From the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos penguin, the wildlife experiences.
If there is one mountain to climb in your lifetime it is Mount Kilimanjaro, The Roof of Africa. Kilimanjaro National park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing the highest point in Africa. The six to seven-day climb is part of the seven summits and is a spectacular bucket list vacation. So don’t wait to start planning your climp up the highest freestanding mountain on earth.
A visit to Myanmar is a trip we’ll never forget. Bagan was the highlight of our travels through the country. Taking an early morning ferry along the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, we emerged at the most extraordinary complex of temples we had ever seen. Built-in 1057 and covering 16 square miles Bagan houses 2200 pagodas. It looks like a massive forest of temples that you must see with your own eyes.
See the Northern Lights
Have you ever wanted to witness the dazzling display of the Aurora Borealis? Once you see the Northern Lights dancing in the night sky, it doesn’t seem real at first. Are your eyes playing tricks on you? Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. We didn’t have good luck there but have witnessed them several times in Canada and in Greenland.
For scuba divers’ the Cenotes of Mexico are a top bucket list diving adventure. But you can tour many cenotes without diving. The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has several adventures where you can rappel, snorkel, and paddle through Cenotes. But it was the Rio Secreto Cenote that was truly extraordinary.
The city of Rome is like no other. It is packed with ancient ruins and none as famous as the Colloseum. We had the good fortune of staying directly across the street from the Colloseum with a view of the amphitheatre from our room. You think that you know everything about the Colloseum, but nothing can prepare you for seeing it for the first time.
Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities on earth and Christ the Redeemer stands proudly over the city keeping watch. Seeing “Christo Redentor” standing with arms outstretched at the top of Corcovado Mountain is on many bucket list travelers list. You can see it by hiking up the mountain, taking the train, or a scenic bus ride but nothing compares to flying around it by helicopter.
Ha Long Bay
Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. 1600 towering limestone islands reach up from the emerald waters of Halong Bay. What makes the bay even more picturesque are the junk boats that take tourists to explore the many islands and caves.
Have Champagne on the Eiffel Tower
Paris is the city of love and we never tire of seeing the Eiffel Tower. Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the city of lights is such a romantic scene, but you must go up the Eiffel Tower. And did you know you can have a glass of champagne? Celebrate a milestone, get engaged or just enjoy a toast as you take in the Parisian skyline.
Helicopter Tour of Victoria Falls
We happen to live one hour away from Niagara Falls in Canada and we do love that city and the iconic Canadian cascade. But, Victoria Falls in Zambia is truly out of this world. The Falls That Thunder is located in the center of Mosi Oa Tunya National Park and is the largest waterfall in the world. The setting is completely different than Niagara Falls as it is surrounded by jungle. At a Whopping 1.7 km wide (1 mile) it is massive, and the way to take in the scope of Victoria Falls is to get up in the air.
Soak in the Blue Lagoon
Sure, the Blue Lagoon of Iceland is overcrowded these days, but no trip to “The Land of Fire and Ice” would be complete without stopping to soak in its healing waters. It tops many a traveler’s bucket list, especially after National Geographic named it one of the top 25 Natural Wonders of the World.
Explore the Canals of Venice
We truly fell in love with Venice. Staying in the city for four days allowed us to get off the beaten path to explore more of the quiet corners of the floating city. Not bucket-list travels would be complete without adding Venice to your list. While a gondola tops many bucket lists, it was the private taxi tour that we found to be far more romantic. Riding through the Grand Canal in style viewing scenery made us feel like movie stars.
Spy the Sun Stream at Antelope Canyon
It is one of the most recognizable caves in the world. But where is it? Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona and once a day a gorgeous waterfall of light seeps through tiny openings lighting up the layers of sandstone in this famous slot canyon.
Hike Through Meteora
Santorini may be the luxury escape of Greece, but the Monasteries of Meteora are the wonders of Greece. Sitting at the top of massive rock monoliths reaching up to 500 meters (1500 feet) from the valley floor, ancient monasteries dot the landscape. Dating back to the 9th century, the Meteora Monasteries can be visited today by hiking to the top, walking across bridges, or simply taking in the view from one of the many lookouts.
A visit to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland will make you believe in giants. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Northern Ireland’s most famous attractions and tops many a travel bucket list. To see the perfectly arranged basalt pillars leading out to sea makes you believe that a giant built a causeway to Scotland rather than a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
We didn’t know if we’d be in awe of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, but seeing it in person did indeed live up to the hype. Pisa alone is worth visiting. This picturesque city located on the Arno River is filled with history dating back to the 14th century.
Stand in the Center of Times Square
Standing in the center of Times Square in New York fills you with energy and excitement. New York is certainly one of the most exciting cities in the world, and while Times Square is filled with tourists, its with good reason. You feel as if you are in the center of the universe as massive LED screens surround the entire square.
Go to the Top of the Burj Khalifa
It’s the tallest building in the world sitting amongst several other massive skyscrapers. Dubai is out of this world. With each impressive structure built, there are four more in the works. Going to the top of the Burj Khalifa to see the most impressive skyline on earth is the definitive bucket list item.
Go Sandboarding in Huacachina
I never expected sand dunes in Peru to be so massive. When we booked a bus ticket to Huacachina in Peru, we thought we’d be sitting in a tiny oasis, but instead, we were surrounded by the largest sand dunes we’ve ever seen. The way to explore them is to take a dune buggy tour or to hop on a sand board and glide down them. You’ll be covered in sand, but what a hoot and it is something you must try at least once in your life.
Cross Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
Until you’ve seen Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo with your own eyes, it’s difficult to comprehend the amount of people that take this crossing every few minutes each day. A quarter million people cross this intersection each day. The best way to see this bucket list item is to go to the top of Magnet’s Mag 7 from the glassed in viewing area.
The Taj Mahal may top everyone’s bucket list, but we found the Golden Temple of Amritsar to be a more athentic experience. Don’t get me wrong, the Taj Mahal is a wonder to see, but the Golden Temple is a beautiful display that is still a working temple. Join one hundred thousand pilgrims each day as they pay their respects to Sikkhism’s most holy site.
Road trip to the Grand Canyon
I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from the Grand Canyon, but during our road trip through California and Arizona we popped into the Grand Canyon and I was taken aback by its beauty and sheer size. The Grand Canyon is on everyone’s American travel bucket list and it is spectacular. The Colorado River cuts through the 466 km long (277 mile) canyon of the Colorado Plateau and let me tell you, a pop in won’t do it justice. you must get out and explore the beauty of America’s natural wonder.
The mighty Amazon River is the largest river by water volume in the world and it is the land of legends. It still feels as if much of the Amazon River Basin has yet to be explored. When you set out on a river cruise through the Amazon, you can almost feel what it was like to be an early exploring cutting their way through the largest jungle on earth.
Marvel at the Glaciers of Greenland
Glaciers are melting fast on this planet and nowhere on earth is it more prevalent than in Greenland. Visit the world’s most active calving glacier in Illulisat and sail through a see of floating skyscrapers of ice. Icebergs dwarfed our ship as we explored the west coast of Greenland on this truly magnificent bucket list adventure.
Swim with Whale Sharks
There is something truly magical about swimming with whale sharks. While it might be a frenzy of tourists beaming with excitement below is calm and quiet. To see these gentle giants glide effortlessly through the sea is the ultimate bucket list travel experience.
Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
Okay, we cannot forget to include going into the centre of Horseshoe Falls in Niagara, Ontario. We have always taken this bucket list adventure for granted because we live so close to Niagara Falls, but when you go on the Maid of the Mist, it truly is a spectacular scene. Feel the power of one of the world’s largest waterfalls as you sit at the bottom of the plunging waters. It is so powerful that everyone gets a rain poncho to wear on the boat. If you make your way to Canada, don’t miss seeing Niagara Falls.
And these are our most amazing bucket list travels on earth. We’ve been lucky to be able to see and do all of these bucket list adventures in our lifetime. As I went through this list, I cannot believe that we have experienced each and everyone of these. It all started by creating a dream list a decade ago, and now we have acheived travels beyond our wildest imagination. We can’t wait to add more when we can travel again. So start planning now, because there is a lot of living to do after COVID.