If you love travelling to new places, you probably already know how difficult it can be to narrow down your travel bucket list. The world is full of wonderful and awe-inspiring places – some at the other end of the world and others closer to home.
The places you want to visit most will likely depend on the type of travelling you enjoy. That could be adventure holidays, wildlife-themed trips, urban breaks, or holidays where you can marvel at the beauty of nature.
So, if you’re thinking about your ultimate travel bucket list, we’re here to (hopefully) inspire you.
With that said, here are 11 travel bucket list ideas from all over the world. And if you’re looking to book your next adventure, you might want to browse our top travel deals – suitable for a range of budgets.
1. Visit the Grand Canyon
As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, it won’t come as a surprise that a visit to the Grand Canyon is on this list.
Arizona’s most famous attraction draws five million visitors each year, and the sheer size and immense beauty of this vast canyon may quite literally leave you speechless. The dramatic beauty of the Grand Canyon is impossible to convey through photos or video, which is why it’s such a wonderful place to visit in person.
Standing on the edge of the sandstone canyon as the shadowy abyss falls away beneath you is both magical and unnerving. And spending the day here, watching the colours change as the sun moves across the sky, is truly unforgettable.
At an estimated two billion years old (around half the age of Planet Earth itself!) a visit to the Grand Canyon won’t only fascinate those interested in history and geology, but it’s perfect for adventure lovers too. Aside from hiking the many paths that weave through the canyon, you can whitewater raft along the Colorado River, or even take a helicopter ride over the jutting ochre peaks.
Experience the dramatic beauty of the Grand Canyon
2. See the Big Five in Kenya
Kenya is one of those countries that’s unusually evocative…
Just the name conjures up images of vast savannahs dotted with herds of animals, majestic snow-capped mountains, and palm-fringed beaches that back onto the Indian Ocean. This really is one of Africa’s last great wildernesses.
For many people, it’s the wildlife that first comes to mind, and Kenya remains one of the best places in the world to go on a safari and lock eyes with the Big Five.
Seeing lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And you’ll have a good chance of spotting giraffes, hippos, cheetahs, and all kinds of monkeys and exotic birds too.
Kenya is also home to some of the world’s most compelling cultures and people. You can learn about the histories of the Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Swahili, and Kikuyu people, and their struggles to survive in an increasingly modernised world.
And, if you want to relax, you can head to the coast, where the white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and shimmering waters look like they belong in the Caribbean.
Save 60% on a Kenyan wilderness getaway
3. Step back in time in Havana, Cuba
If you’re looking for a Caribbean holiday with a difference, heading to Cuba should definitely be on your bucket list.
This is a strange, intoxicating, and wonderful country with a serious retro flair. In the capital, Havana, the vintage Cadillacs, clock-stopped colonial architecture, Art-Deco streets, and thumping salsa that drifts from cabaret clubs will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.
Havana is one of the most fascinating and exciting cities you can imagine. Raw, tropical, vibrant, and energetic, it hums with an energy and spirit that pervades the entire Cuban culture. It’s a city of juxtaposition, where grand colonial squares sit beside crumbling buildings, classic cars blast out the latest reggaeton beats, and the smiles of friendly locals belie the country’s strict reputation.
Exploring the rest of Cuba is just as memorable too…
Outside of Havana, there are plenty of snow-white beaches with crystal-clear blue waters. In the country’s colourful towns, there are characterful bars where you can sip delicious mojitos with the cigar-smoking locals; and further off the beaten track, you can hike through jungles and along flamingo-filled lagoons.
Many amenities in Cuba are basic, but this is a rustic Caribbean break like no other.
Experience the unique energy of Cuba
4. See elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is one of those countries that has something for absolutely everyone. It has beautiful beaches, exciting cities, friendly people, glorious weather, fascinating history, and mouthwatering food.
However, this is also a country that is impossible to sum up in a few paragraphs because it’s so diverse – from the north of the country to the south, and of course, the many islands.
One of the most magical places to go is the mountainous north, where you can see and meet Thai elephants. Whether you choose to visit a sanctuary or try to spot these huge animals in their natural habitat is up to you, but it’ll certainly be an unforgettable experience.
The countryside around the city of Chiang Mai is the best place to see elephants, and luckily for foodies, it’s a gastronomic paradise.
There are countless food markets, cafes, and restaurants, where you can feast on the best Thai food in the country. If you’d like to be able to recreate these dishes at home, Chiang Mai is also home to many excellent cooking schools where you can hone your skills.
This friendly city is packed with culture and history too, and whether you want to visit temples or museums, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Enjoy a Thai adventure
5. Marvel at the Northern Lights
Unsurprisingly, seeing the Northern Lights is a popular travel bucket list idea. This natural light display isn’t only mesmerising, but it’s also as elusive as it is mysterious, which only adds to its appeal.
There can never be a guarantee of witnessing the aurora borealis, yet if you do, seeing these emerald green lights dance and glimmer across the sky is something you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.
The best place to see these magical lights is Norway, followed by Iceland – though you can also see them in Sweden, Finland, Alaska, and Canada’s far north. October through to March is usually the best time to catch the lights, but because there’s no guarantee of seeing them, you should make sure you visit the Arctic country that fascinates you the most.
If you’re into wildlife and adventure, you might like to head to Iceland, where you can spot the Arctic Fox, mink, rabbits, reindeer, and occasionally even polar bears, all while visiting ice-capped volcanoes and bubbling geysers.
Or, if you have your heart set on seeing the lights, but also fancy hiking over valleys and mountains, and cruising across dazzling fjords, then Norway is a great choice.
Witness the magic of the Northern Lights
6. Go on an Antarctic expedition
If you’re drawn to true remoteness, pristine wildernesses, and places that feel so different from anywhere else in the world, then you might have already dreamed of a trip to the Antarctic.
One of the world’s last genuine frontiers, this is a land of vast ice shelves, untouched mountains, and glittering icebergs. It’s made only from snow, ice, water, and rock.
But of course, reaching such a remote place isn’t easy, and most visitors wind up cruising to the Antarctic. This means that, as well as enjoying the etheral views on your journey, you’ll also have plenty of time to learn about the Antarctic landscape and wildlife from your experienced team, and to understand how and why this land has escaped human influence.
Once you reach Antarctica, there’s plenty to do. You can go kayaking or paddle boarding in the icy waters, trek up craggy mountains, and even camp on the ice fields.
Then there’s the wildlife, which is just as magical. You can spot enormous whales, seals, and emperor penguins, and watch albatrosses and petrels circle the waters.
Grand, inspiring, and harshly beautiful, this is a place like no other.
7. Drive California’s Pacific Coast Highway
For many people, a road trip is at the top of their travel bucket list, and there are several destinations across the world that are perfect for a driving holiday. But one of the most popular – and most beautiful and diverse – is California’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
If you’ve always wanted to explore California and see the best of the Golden State, this is the best way to do it! Running for over 600 miles, this stunning scenic road takes you along California’s rugged coastline, from San Francisco in the north to San Diego in the south.
You’ll drive past sprawling cities like Los Angeles, laidback surfing resorts, upmarket towns, sweeping golden beaches, and some of the best golf courses in the world. You can even enjoy whale watching off the coast as you drive!
While driving the PCH takes 10 hours if you don’t stop, the whole point of this trip is to take your time and see the most beautiful places in California.
Aside from immersing yourself in Hollywood glitz and glamour, you can detour to Yosemite National Park to admire the giant sequoias and soaring cliffs; or drive to Napa Valley, where you can go wine tasting and gaze at views of idyllic vineyards.
To see some highlights of this road trip, check out the one-minute video below from friend of Rest Less and founder of travelguruTV, Cathy Bartrop.
Start your journey in San Francisco
8. Dive into the Great Barrier Reef
Australia is known for many things: Uluru, kangaroos, gorgeous beaches, laidback locals, and surfing, to name just five!
Though, one of the things it’s most famous for is being the home of the Great Barrier Reef, which is located off the northeastern coast of Queensland. As the biggest structure ever built by living creatures, it’s so huge that it can even be seen from space — yet the most spectacular views of this reef are from much closer up.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places in the world to dive because this 344,000 square kilometres underwater kingdom teems with life and colour. The reef comprises over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, so if you’re dreaming of combining diving with island hopping, this is the place to go.
Even if you’re not into diving, visiting this special part of Australia will never be a disappointment.
You can visit Fraser Island, with its sugary white sand beaches and soaring sand dunes, go on whale and dolphin watching cruises in the deep blue waters, and snorkel off the many beaches of Great Keppel Island. Plus, you can kick back and just enjoy the sun, sea, and sand this country is famous for.
9. Hike along the Causeway Coast
You don’t have to head to the other end of the Earth to tick some incredible places off your bucket list. Northern Ireland is home to the beautiful Causeway Coast, which is a long stretch of beaches, cliffs, and sand dunes on the northern coast of County Antrim.
If you’re into history, myths, and legends – as well as gorgeous natural beauty and wildlife – it might be the place for you.
Hikers will be in their element here as these coastal trails weave their way past many of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Trek over windswept cliffs and along secluded beaches, taking your time to stop off at historic ruins – like the 13th-century Dunluce Castle. Or, steel your nerves to climb over the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
This part of Northern Ireland is home to the phenomenal Giant’s Causeway, a jagged promontory of 40,000 basalt columns that lead out to sea. Legend has it that giants once used the causeway to trek over to Scotland, and even today it has a unique sense of mystery about it.
And of course, if you’re into whiskey, the Causeway Coast is home to some of the best distilleries in the world.
Tick the Giant’s Causeway off your bucket list
10. Visit Angkor Wat and the Mekong Delta
The magic and beauty of Cambodia’s ancient Angkor temples are legendary.
While the Angkor Archaeological Park is home to 72 spectacular temples, the most iconic is Angkor Wat – which is the largest religious monument in the world. Decorated with elaborate sculptures and towers, it’s also one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of The World.
Visiting this stunning part of Cambodia won’t only allow you to witness a famous once-in-a-lifetime sight – the sun rising over the looming temples – it’ll also allow you to see many other mystical ruins. Explore the jungle-shrouded Ta Prohm, the ornate carvings of Banteay Srei, and the serene atmosphere of Ta Nei, all while learning about Khmer history and life.
But that’s not all you can do on this type of trip…
The vast Mekong River snakes its way through Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and into China, and after the hustle and bustle of Angkor, you can enjoy the sense of peace you’ll find on this shimmering river.
Here, in this unique part of the world, you can admire emerald rice fields, drifting houseboats, cone-hatted farmers, and floating markets.
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11. See Mount Everest and the Himalayas
If you’re an adventure lover drawn to soaring, mystical mountains, there’s a good chance you’ve always dreamed of visiting Nepal and seeing Mount Everest up close.
As the tallest mountain in the world, Everest’s might and beauty are iconic, and seeing the jagged, looming peak in real life will take your breath away. Though, the reality is that most of us aren’t in a position to climb Everest, because not only does it cost between £24,000 and £120,000, but it’s also extraordinarily dangerous.
That said, the good news is that this part of Nepal is the heartland of the Himalayas, so there are many other safer, yet spectacular, treks you can do along peaks and valleys – many of which offer breathtaking views of Everest itself.
There’s also much more to Nepal than the Himalayas. Home to fascinating wildlife including rhinos, crocodiles, and rare birds, this part of the world is also a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. Plus, the traditional villages scattered over Annapurna foothills are equally fascinating for culture lovers.
While there’s plenty of adventure to be found here, you’ll also find a unique sense of spirituality too.
Get 50% off a Nepalese adventure
Whether you’ve always dreamed of admiring the desolate, remote beauty of Antarctica, seeing animals like lions and elephants in Kenya, or driving along a classic California highway, the opportunities for adventure and exploration in our wonderful world are endless.
The beauty of travel is that it’s so personal, and your bucket list trips can be tailored to your own interests and personality.
For more ideas and inspiration, head over to the travel section of our website where you’ll find everything from European travel experiences to long-haul travel adventures.
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Have you ticked any of these experiences off your travel bucket list? Or do you have your own ideas for your dream trip or perfect holiday? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.