51 Bucket List Ideas for Travel in 2019
Travel is an awesome way to discover things about yourself and the world at the same time. Whether you want to explore new cities, try local delicacies, uncover untouched destinations or simply relax on some of the world’s most pristine beaches, writing a bucket list is the first step to achieving your dreams.
There are probably already tons of things that you have on a travel bucket list in your mind, but it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Writing them down helps you to make a plan, and you may realise you can tick off a few experiences in one go!
If you’re struggling for inspiration or want some quirky ideas to add to your travel bucket list, read on to discover our favourite cities, monuments, experiences, activities and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Famous-but-worth-it cities around the world
While these big, bad cities won’t be relaxing, off-grid experiences they are certainly popular for a reason. Whether it’s the food, culture, architecture or a combination of all three, these famous cities are some of the best in the world. You can visit them time and time again, enjoying new experiences with every visit, but first, off you should try and visit all of them at least once!
The beauty and charm of Paris is something quite unique, and while there may be many other European capitals that are worth the hype, Paris holds that je ne sais quoi that ensures it stays firmly put on everyone’s bucket list. From classic French boulangeries with the smell of warm croissants wafting onto the streets, to the glistening lights of the Eiffel Tower, it really is a fairytale city. While it may get super busy during summer months and Christmas markets, the off-season allows you to discover the pristine architecture, endless art, and fashion offerings and, of course, delicious French cuisine, without so many crowds.
Visiting ‘The Big Apple’ is often near the top of people’s travel bucket lists, and with Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Broadway and everything to explore in between, it’s not hard to see why. Of course, you’ll want to tick off some of the famous spots, but don’t forget that the beauty of the city often lies in the streets, coffee shops, boutiques and bars that aren’t in the guidebooks. Don some comfy shoes and head out to explore the city on foot to find some hidden gems. You’ll probably need another vacation after visiting the city that never sleeps, but it will have been worth it!
While a culture shock may well be on the cards the first time you visit Tokyo, you’ll probably come to love the neon lights and the pure hustle and bustle of the city. The Japanese capital is at the forefront of technology, and yet the city still manages to maintain many of its traditional values. Nowhere else in the world do skyscrapers sit side-by-side with ancient palaces quite like Tokyo. Visit historic temples, dine on world-class sushi, discover the quirky fashion of the Harajuku girls and find a moment of peace in one of the city’s tranquil Japanese gardens.
Cherry Blossoms in Japan
Whether you want to witness London’s fashion and architecture or simply want to pop to Buckingham Palace to say hi to the Queen, England’s capital certainly has a lot to offer. The buzzing city offers tourists a whole host of activities including world-class museums, historic buildings, top football clubs (definitely not soccer here), awesome shopping, and West End musicals to keep you entertained. Check out the vintage markets, pop-up street food stalls, modern art galleries, and rooftop bars and don’t forget to have a good cup of tea while you’re there!
Cape Town has had a surge of growth over the past decade with many choosing to make this cool South African city their new home. Lying on the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town perfectly merges the buzz of the city (think: museums, galleries, bars, and restaurants) with local natural wonders such as Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope and the penguins of Boulder’s Beach. Plus, this city can be combined with world-class vineyards and African safaris (two of our later bucket list experiences) – winning.
The iconic city of Sydney has long been a favourite for travellers, and no trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Yes, the city is big, busy and expensive, but with Bondi, Coogee and Manly on your doorstep you can step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and onto some of the world’s paradise beaches in less than half an hour. Spend a few days soaking up the culture of the city and maybe treat yourself to a sunset cruise in the harbour or an adrenaline-filled walk across the bridge!
While Singapore may be one of the world’s most expensive cities, it certainly lives up to expectations (and the airport alone is worth a visit!). With the magical futuristic tree-scape of Gardens by the Bay nature park, to a Michelin-starred hawker stall, Singapore offers travellers a diverse city experience. Explore the shopping malls of Orchard Road, visit the island resort of Sentosa and top off your stay with a Singapore Sling at the world-famous Raffles Hotel. Singapore is also a great stopover on the way to Australia and New Zealand.
Often voted as people’s favourite city in the world, Vancouver is a dynamic city that allows you to enjoy both urban activities and outdoor experiences in the stunning natural surroundings. One day you could be discovering the history of the First Nations, dining on world-class cuisine and sipping drinks in cool city bars and the next you could be soaking in hot springs, chilling out at lakeside coves or walking through a sea of lavender in full bloom. The city is also the gateway to Whistler, one of the world’s best ski destinations.
Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital is an explosion of colour, with pink palaces, bustling fruit markets, green spaces and the multi-coloured buildings of La Boca. Known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires has a chic café culture, and there is perhaps nowhere better in the world to enjoy a steak and a local glass of Malbec than in one of the city’s famous steakhouses. When you’re not gorging on local delicacies, explore the stunning gothic La Recoleta Cemetery, watch an opera or ballet at Teatro Colón or learn how to dance the tango with some of the world’s best instructors.
The colourful 17th century buildings that line the waterfront at Nyhavn offer a picture-perfect snapshot of the Danish capital and is where the world-famous author Hans Christian Andersen created many of the stories we know and love today. The best way to explore this city is by bike. Get yourself on two wheels and discover the stunning architecture, gardens, cafes, and culture of Copenhagen. Spotting the statue of The Little Mermaid, getting your heart racing at Tivoli Gardens or Bakken theme parks and eating an open sandwich (smørrebrød) are all absolutely obligatory! If you can, eat at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Noma and take a day trip over to Malmo in Sweden.
Monuments and World Wonders
Many of the following locations grace the lists of world wonders and often top people’s travel bucket lists thanks to the awe they inspire. Whether they are modern, ancient, manmade or natural, these destinations are sure to provide you with a picture to show the grandkids!
The epic length of The Great Wall of China is thought to span over 10,000 miles and is in various states of disrepair. Thankfully, the sections around Beijing are well-kept so we can clearly envision the huge fortification as it once was; with its towers, barracks, fortresses, and rolling pathways. Badaling, Mutianyu and the Juyong Pass are popular sections that retain their structure.
While visiting a mausoleum of a Mughal emperor’s wife may sound a little morbid, when you know it’s the Taj Mahal, you’ll be quick to change your mind. This huge marble building is a stunning piece of architecture that is thought to have taken over 20 years and 20,000 artisans to create. The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is picture perfect from every angle. Get there early to avoid the crowds.
Visiting the breath-taking Grand Canyon is an absolute must for anyone travelling to Arizona, and it can be a great day-trip from Las Vegas. The canyon was carved out by the power of the Colorado River and now spans 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and over a mile deep! You can helicopter over the canyon, kayak through it or fly down to enjoy a champagne picnic deep within the canyon.
15 Best Things to do at the Grand Canyon
our of the Grand Canyon
For anyone with a love of the underwater world, it doesn’t get much better than the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s famous reef is the largest living thing in the world, and the array of colours and species you will see within the coral complex is simply spectacular. And it’s not only fish and coral that are likely to swim by, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and rays all love to hang out here, so you’ll be in good company!
The Inca settlement of Machu Picchu is set high within the Andes Mountains (approx. 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level) and is thought to have been built in the 15th Century. The hike to see this impressive site can be pretty strenuous but it will definitely be worth the effort when you see the sprawling city before you as the sun rises overhead.
The Best Time to go to Machu Picchu
Petra is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World and is a stunning sight to behold. The ancient city carved into the red sandstone cliffs used to be a major crossroads for trade between the East and the West and is now one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. Not only is the site itself impressive but the gorges, cliffs, and passages that lead you there are both mysterious and beautiful at the same time.
The Roman amphitheatre known as the Colosseum offers a quintessential snapshot of Rome and is a must for anyone visiting this gorgeous Italian city. The Colosseum is thought to be the largest amphitheatre ever built, and as you stand in the centre of the amphitheatre (the size of an ant by comparison!), you’ll be able to imagine the epic battles, games, and shows that took place on centre stage.
If you’ve never seen images of the Bolivian salt flats, watch the video now! There is so much fun to be had playing with perspective on these mammoth flats as the white ground seems to sprawl on endlessly. Not only does Salar de Uyuni provide the perfect backdrop for photos but the drive there simply awesome. This is definitely a place you’ll remember for a lifetime!
Chichen Itza is the most well-known Mayan temple complex in Mexico and is home to the huge pyramid known as El Castillo. The whole site spans around 1.9 square miles (5 square kilometres) and hosts a magnificent array of structures. It is important to note, however, that while this may be the biggest complex in Mexico, it is extremely popular with tourists and has been ruined somewhat by hundreds of stalls selling souvenirs. But fear not, there are loads of other temples complexes to give you a feel of former Mayan life. Head to Ek Balam, Tulum, Teotihuacan and Palenque to see a range of sites.
The prehistoric site of Stonehenge in England’s countryside hosts a mysterious ring of standing stones, each standing at over 10ft tall and 7ft wide! Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed sometime between 3000 BC and 2000 BC and that may have been used as a burial ground. The stones are said to have certain solar alignments that make them a popular place for visitors during the summer and winter solstices.
Bucket List Experiences
Once you’ve added some epic cities and world-famous monuments to your travel bucket list, you might want to get more specific. Here we choose some experiences that are exciting, memorable and fun for all the family!
An African safari in one of the continent’s huge nature reserves is certainly a bucket list experience that everyone should try to enjoy. Seeing everything from the famous Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) to smaller species like antelope, birds, and beetles is extremely exciting, and fun and can be enjoyed by everyone no matter your age. Choose an ethical company that ensures that the animals we know and love are protected by ongoing conservation and anti-poaching regulations.
Seeing the ethereal colours of the Northern Lights while standing in the snow in the Arctic Circle is sure to be an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. The dancing colours of the aurora that range from neon green to streaky purple and bold crimson can be seen across Europe and North America (sometimes northern Asia). Add this to your travel bucket list then read our Ultimate Guide to find out more about the Northern Lights.
Greece is blessed with over 200 inhabited islands (and over 6000 in total!) that are just begging to be explored. Each island has its own culture, cuisine and personality so even hopping from one to the next offers a completely different experience. Whether you stick to one chain of islands or hire/buy a boat to explore them all, you’ll be in for a wonderful trip. Relax on sandy, pebble and volcanic beaches, dine on fresh seafood in each island’s harbour and listen to bouzouki players in local tavernas – dreamy!
Rio Carnival has become one of the world’s largest festivals with thousands flocking to the Mardi Gras celebrations each year. Glitter, sequins, and feathers adorn the giant headdresses of the dancers that shimmy through the streets, and you’d be hard pushed not to want to shimmy along with them! Many other countries also have mega carnival festivities such as New Orleans in the US and Sydney in Australia, so find a celebration near you and dance the night away!
Top 10 Mardi Gras Cities in the World
The picture-perfect pastel palette of Japan’s cherry blossom in spring is both iconic and breath-taking and has been the inspiration for many poems, paintings, and designs. The Japanese have cultivated their cherry blossoms for centuries and even have a dedicated past-time “hanami” which literally means “looking at flowers.” Plan your visit in spring and keep an eye on the Cherry Blossom Forecast, so you know exactly where to head to see the best flowers.
When and where to see the cherry Blossoms in Japan
One of the world’s most famous train rides, the Trans-Siberian Railway runs from Moscow in Russia across Siberia and connects with Mongolia, China, and North Korea. The railway line is over 100 years old and is still being added to today. Travel from Moscow to Vladivostok takes 8 days, but most travellers choose to continue the journey through Mongolia and into China. Take in the sprawling landscapes and tiny villages as you travel past and stop off at Lake Baikal in Siberia, the largest freshwater lake in the world (by volume).
The United States has over 50 National Parks that vary from mountain ranges to desert-scapes and everything in between. Yellowstone was the first area to be given NP status and is still one of the most popular National Parks in the country. With varied landscapes, wildlife and activities to be enjoyed, you could visit a different park year after year and never get bored!
The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are a wildlife lover’s dream. This collection of islands is home to a huge array of birds and animals including many endemic species that were studied by Charles Darwin in the 1830s. Look out for seals, sea lions, iguanas, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies and, of course, the ancient Galapagos tortoises that can live to over 100! The best way to explore these islands is by boat so you can get a feel for each island and the wildlife that resides there.
One of the most exciting travel experiences anyone can have is to head off on an adventure without a set plan. Obviously, there may be some restrictions to this or guidelines to follow depending on your circumstances, but if you can arrive at a destination with just a couple of nights’ accommodation booked and play the rest by ear, you’ll probably have the adventure of a lifetime! Even better would be to turn up to the airport with some luggage and get on whichever flight is available!
This bucket list experience can be applied to every trip you take but it one that is vital to remember during your time away. Trying local delicacies can be one of the best (or occasionally worst!) experiences and is certainly a good way to chat to locals and learn about their culture. Whether it’s delicious chocolate truffles in Belgium or fermented herring in Sweden, you’re sure to have an experience to remember!
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If you’ve already decided where you want to visit in the world, you may just want some inspiration for amazing activities to make your trip even more memorable. Read on to find some awesome activities to add to your travel bucket list.
If you’re a wine lover, there is no better experience than visiting a vineyard and sampling the tasty nectar that is produced on site. Seeing the process of winemaking from start to finish helps make the wine tasting even sweeter knowing that love and heart has gone into the creation of the product. Whether you head to Napa Valley, Franschhoek, Mendoza or Marlborough you’re sure to be in for a treat!
There are not many places in the world that have so many epic landscapes within such a small vicinity. New Zealand is blessed with spectacular scenery (and not many people), so you can often enjoy hikes throughout this beautiful country in relative solitude. Simply driving a hundred kilometres down the road can offer a completely different view. From the glaciers of Franz Josef to the peak of Mount Doom (aka Mount Ngauruhoe) and the tranquillity of the Milford Sound, New Zealand is a must for any outdoorsy bucket list.
Surfing is perhaps one of the hardest sports to master, but the thrill when you finally stand up on the board is unlike anything else. Watching pro surfers is truly inspirational and trying time after time to get your board out into the sea and ride a wave back will certainly build character! Plus, you are usually in an amazing coastal location when you’re learning so it can’t be bad!
There are hundreds of volcanoes around the world that offer an insight into the crazy geology of our planet and hiking them is perhaps the best way to uncover the mysteries. Some are simple craters that can be explored within an hour while others involve strenuous hikes, but seeing the steam rise up out of the ground or gaining an epic view from the top of the world will be well worth it! Hike Mt Rinjani in Lombok to see the gorgeous crater lake, Mt Acatenango in Guatemala to see Mt Fuego opposite erupting all night or visit the volcanic crater in Nisyros in Greece for a gentle introduction into the life of a volcano!
Getting back to nature is often a priority for those making travel plans, and there is no better way to do this than camping. Whether you pitch up your tent in the woods or simply camp out under the stars, you’ll reap the benefits of being surrounded by nature; hearing the birds, waking up to the sunrise and hopefully seeing the wave of the Milky Way overhead in the remote dark skies. It is also fun to learn much-forgotten outdoor skills such as foraging, cooking over a fire and orienteering your way through a forest or two.
The 13 Best Places to See the Milky Way
While hot air ballooning can be expensive, it is a truly one-of-a-kind experience, and it gives you a perspective like no other. Floating peacefully above the Earth in a hot air balloon allows you to witness wildlife from above, see landscapes in a new way or watch the sun rise or set from a new angle. Whether you choose a hot air balloon over the Serengeti or simply ride above your local town, this experience will be one you will cherish for a long time.
Just like surfing, skiing and snowboarding can be hard skills to master. However, when you’re surrounded by breath-taking alpine landscapes, it’s easy to be persuaded back up the mountain to try and try again. Even if you don’t like skiing, heading away on a family ski vacation where you can sit in a hot tub, soak up the atmosphere and breathe in fresh alpine air is a worthwhile experience.
Snorkel or Scuba Dive
Snorkelling and scuba diving allow you to step away from the realities of daily life and discover the magical underwater realm which is filled with life, colour, and character. With stunning coral, multi-coloured fish, mammoth mammals, and mysterious shipwrecks there is an endless world to uncover. In today’s world of plastic pollution, it is important to connect with marine life so you can do your bit to protect the wonderful creatures that live throughout our oceans.
12 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins
Tandem skydiving is one way to seriously get your heart racing! From the moment you put on your boiler suit and goggles, to the moment your feet touch down on the ground (and every second in between), your adrenaline will be pumping. Take in the thrill of the freefall with the wind whipping through your hair, followed by the peace and awe-inspiring float back down to Earth. Even those who are afraid of heights can enjoy skydiving as you are at such a height (think: 12-15,000ft) that you can’t fathom the fear and feel safe within the care of the instructor.
This is a bucket list travel experience that can be done absolutely anywhere and with anybody. Taking a road trip can mean different things to different people. Whether you’re heading away with your girlfriends, taking a family vacation or simply looking to ‘find yourself’ while on the road on your own, a road trip can be a super memorable experience. Choose whether you want to hit Route 66, take a drive to the South of France or pack your life into the back of a van and go wherever the road takes you – just make sure you enjoy the thrill and freedom of the ride!
Get off the Beaten Track
If you’re an experienced traveller, perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more ‘out there’ to add to your travel bucket list? Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered too! Here we choose our favourite off-the-beaten-track experiences that allow you to explore remote corners of the world that offer unique landscapes and activities.
Norway’s Lofoten Islands are oft-forgotten but offer travellers wishing to explore this remote Arctic setting a wealth of activities. Stay in the colourful wooden houses, go sea-fishing, kayak between the islands or enjoy bird-watching in the magnificent mountains and deep fjords that make up this spectacular landscape. The Lofoten Islands enjoy two dramatically different seasons from the land of the midnight sun in the summer when the days never end, to the darkness of the depths of winter when Northern Lights viewing is possible.
At the other end of the Earth lies the magic of Antarctica: a world of wildlife, icebergs, islands, and explorers. Reaching the seventh continent is an achievement in itself thanks to the sometimes-treacherous journey across the Drake Passage to reach the calmer waters of the Antarctic archipelago. Once you are there though you’ll have the chance to witness peppy penguins sliding around on ice floes, walk in the footsteps of the world’s greatest explorers, spot endemic species such as the Antarctic petrel and see spectacular icescapes in all shapes and sizes.
The Bocas del Toro islands (map) off the north-eastern coast of Panama are a tropical hub of life just begging to be explored. It will take a range of flights, buses, and boats to get your island of choice, but once you do you are able to take in the verdant surroundings, turquoise waters, white sands and chilled-out way of life. Bocas town is relatively busy (by island standards), but once you head to more remote islands, you’ll truly feel like you’re in paradise.
Many of Croatia’s islands have become popular over the past decade thanks to their stunning beauty, tasty cuisine, and renowned music festivals, but that doesn’t mean that they have been ruined or that there is nothing left to discover. Croatia has over 1000 islands of which less than 50 are inhabited, therefore if you have the opportunity to sail around the islands you will certainly seek out private coves, reefs, and beaches waiting to be explored.
The Atacama Desert plateau in Northern Chile is known to be the driest place on Earth and yet is somehow still teeming with life! The South American grey fox can be seen feasting on insects, lizards, and rodents that are all specially adapted to live in this remote landscape. Stretching over 1000km, the Atacama Desert is both barren and beautiful at the same time. Plus, thanks to the remote location and pure darkness, the stars here are out of this world!
When you think of picture-perfect islands, the image that springs to mind may well be one of the South Pacific. The Pacific Islands are remote, romantic and relatively hard to reach, so you’re likely to be one of very few to have experienced these stunning islands. Whether you choose the backpacker life in Fiji, a glitzy beach break in Bora Bora or want to get further away and enjoy the tranquillity of Aitutaki, Norfolk Island or Palau, there is a South Pacific Island for you! Deserted beaches, surreal landscapes, seriously good diving, and friendly locals all make the South Pacific a must for your bucket list!
The Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye are absolutely breath-taking and have been named one of the 10 Geographical Wonders of the World. If you don’t know what makes the Zhangye Mountains special, think: rolling hills of multi-coloured sandstone that are striped in yellows, reds and even icy blues creating a rainbow as far as the eye can see – just wow! The mountains have recently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and are slowly becoming more and more popular with both local and foreign tourists. However, thanks to the relatively long time it takes to reach the province from popular sites such as Beijing, visiting the mountains can still be a peaceful and enjoyable experience.
As we’ve mentioned Antarctica on our list of off-the-beaten-track destinations, it would be amiss not to talk about the Arctic too! On top of the world, the icy wonderland is home to seals basking on ice floes, walrus herds writhing around on the sand, an array of Arctic birdlife and the mighty King of the Arctic: the polar bear. The best way to reach the remote north is by flying to Longyearbyen in Svalbard (the world’s most northerly town) and heading off on an Arctic adventure by boat. Spending days out here in the midnight sun far away from the worlds of work and WiFi will have you admiring the wonders of nature and the vast untouched vistas that make this one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
The joy of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is hard to match, and this is true of seeing orangutans in the wilds of Borneo. Seeing a flash of burnt orange swinging through the trees as you’re sitting on a boat on the Kinabatangan River or standing in the awe-inspiring landscape of Danum Valley will certainly bring a smile to your face. Unfortunately for orangutans in Borneo, their habitats are being destroyed by human disruption so we as humans need to do as much as we can to protect them and their environment. Travel with a sustainable company to see our furry orange cousins and ensure future generations are able to enjoy this too!
Self-driving through the seemingly-endless landscapes of Namibia is one of the most remote and exciting experiences you can have. The ethereal landscapes may seem empty, yet they are home to nomadic tribes, intermittent waterholes and desert-adapted wildlife that thrives in this location. Not only this, but Namibia also offers a bunch of adrenaline-filled activities and luxury accommodation to boot! From the towering dunes of Sossusvlei to the remote reaches of the Skeleton Coast, Namibia offers a wealth of off-the-beaten-track experiences for every traveller.
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Phew, there we have it – 51 amazing travel bucket list experiences that can, and should, be enjoyed by everyone! Some are simple to achieve just by heading out in your community while others will take a whole load of planning and preparation to accomplish. Let us know which experiences you choose to add to your bucket list and head over to our other blogs for more travel inspiration!
Check out our posts The 51 Best Places to Visit in the USA or maybe 41 Best Places to Visit in Europe
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