from short trips to traveling the world
& living abroad

from short trips to traveling the world & living abroad

“If you could only pick one destination, what would be your absolute favorite must visit destination anywhere in the world?”

That is what I asked a number of seasoned travelers to create a list of unique, once in a lifetime destinations.

And this is the result: 14 incredible places all over the world you should try to visit at least once in your life!

Read all about these bucket list destinations below or first check out this video of the top 10


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14 Ultimate Bucket List Destinations

1. Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece - Bucket list destination

By: Romy from

“Meteora is an incredible phenomenon. A landscape where the wonders of nature and man meet.

Rock formations form this landscape and monasteries were built on top of them. Monks had to climb the rocks to reach them as there were no stairs then.

Even when you’re there it is hard to believe this place is real. It’s a wonderful place to visit for several reasons. It has an incredibly rich history. Once there were a whopping 24 monasteries sitting on top of these impressive rock formations. Only 6 of them are left standing, but they are well worth visiting. I would take 2 days to see them all instead of rushing to see everything in one day.

The entrance fee for the monasteries is only 3 euro per person so there’s no reason not to go and see them all! What makes It even more appealing to go is that it is not overrun by tourists yet. That the area is really cheap and easy to do on a budget is just the cherry on top!”

Also read: 5 Hidden Gems You Should Visit in Greece

2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands - an ultimate bucket list destination

By: Carly from

“I think everyone will agree this is an ultimate bucket list destination!

The Galapagos Islands have always held an air of mystery for me. They were the Islands made famous by Charles Darwin, his finches, and the tortoises!

When I went here, so much was a surprise. The Galapagos are fascinating because nothing is native to it! The islands are made solely by the volcanoes, and all the flora and fauna just ended up there by air or sea by accident!

Because of this interesting fact, the animals that ended up there are mostly birds and reptiles. I don’t think I saw a single mammal! What’s even more crazy is to be on an island that boasts both flamingos and penguins! The landscape was more barren than I had anticipated, but when you realize it’s made from cooled lava, it’s really amazing it has any plants at all! If you love animals, nature, and exotic places, it’s for you!”

3. Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan - an ultimate bucket list destination

By: Katherine from

“Kyrgyzstan is a nature-lover’s paradise, and is one of our favorite travel destinations. We trekked for two days to Song Kul Lake during our visit through beautiful grassy hills and nomadic yurt camps. One of the highlights of our trip was staying for a few nights in a family’s yurt (traditional tent).

Every night the family would light a cow dung fire in our small yurt stove to keep us warm during the chilly nights. We loved getting to know our host family through hilarious sign language and some very limited Russian. We felt like family despite the communication barriers. They even let us loose on the steppe with their horses for a day!

A really memorable experience that we highly recommend and an absolute bucket list destination.”

4. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Rwanda - an ultimate bucket list destination

By: Nina from

“Rwanda is my top pick among favorite destinations for several reasons. Small in size which makes it an easy country for first time (solo) travelers in Africa, but its has all:  a rich culture, ever green nature, riviera on Lake Kivu…

But the main attraction is Volcanoes National Park near Musanze, former Rughengeri, known for gorilla trekking.

The park is known for sustainable and responsible tourism practices, with strict rules about how many people can visit per day, which comes with a price tag of 700 USD and probably makes it the most expensive hour in Africa.  

An hour in the depths of tropical forest surrounded by volcanoes, seeing gorilla family at their daily routine, which is often times eating bamboo and silly but also very human like interactions between the gorillas.

Along with the fact that there are only around 800 gorillas left in the world, it feels like a big privilege to encounter all this in person!”

Also read: The Best Time to See Gorillas in Africa

5. Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phu Quoc: a bucket list destination

By: Melissa from

“Phu Quoc is the ideal beach holiday. Located south of Cambodia, Phu Quoc is best accessed via a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

Most of the accommodation is found along Long Beach where you can stay in a basic bungalow right by the beach.

Wake up late, stroll down to breakfast on the beach and then spend the rest of the day lazying in a beach chair or cooling off in the calm, shallow water. For lunch head to one of the beach cafes, and then have a massage right on the beach.

Towards the end of the day find a trendy beach bar, grab a cocktail and sit back and watch one of the most gorgeous sunsets you have ever seen.

Check out other popular beaches such as Sao Bai and Ong Lang Beach. These beaches are accessible by hiring a taxi or better yet hire a motorbike for some real adventure! Ride down dirt roads and explore amazing little villages, getting a glimpse into Vietnamese island life.

There are numerous massive resorts currently being built on Phu Quoc, so it won’t be a sleepy little beach destination for long – Therefore, get there as soon as you can!”

Also Read: What Not to Miss in Da Nang, Vietnam

6. Hawaii, USA

hawaii - a bucket list destination

By: Justine from

“If you spend your days dreaming about turquoise waters, white, sandy beaches and dramatic landscapes then Hawaii is one of the best places you can visit.

I had envisioned all of these things when planning my trip to this beautiful country but I also found so much more!

Having traveled around two of the Hawaiian islands – O’ahu and The Big Island, I was able to spend relaxing moments on the beach and snorkeling in the warm water but adventure also found me. We hiked through volcanic craters, watched active volcanoes erupt, gazed at the stars from 9,000 ft up Mauna Kea mountain and explored tranquil Buddhist temples.

Hawaii offers something special for the beach babe, the adventurer and the romantic, so if you ever have the chance to explore this mesmerizing place then I urge you to do it! I hope to find myself back on these islands so “a hui hou” (until we meet again) Hawaii…”

7. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Maasai Mara Kenya - an ultimate bucket list destination

By: Ella from

“Africa is a continent that we probably don’t explore enough of. Visiting Africa for the first time, I knew that going on a safari was a must for me. And since I was going to Kenya in particular, I knew that I had to do a safari in the Maasai Mara National Park.

This park is the epitome of a quintessential African wildlife reserve and is home to a variety of impressive wildlife. The Maasai Mara National Park is perhaps most famous for The Great Migration, when hundreds of thousands of animals flock to and from there each year.

This safari is still one of my favorite travel memories and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

Being so close to the wild animals in their natural habitat was exhilarating, mesmerizing and humbling and has left me in awe ever since. My safari experience at the Maasai Mara National Park has me even more convinced that nature and animals are amazing and should be respected.

If you are looking for unique bucket list adventures, going on a safari in the Maasai Mara National Park and having a go at spotting the Big Five, is an experience I highly recommend!”

Also Read: The 3 Best Things to Experience on a Safari in Africa

8. Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam - a bucket list destination

By: Heesun from

“The warm waters of the beach entice you in for another dip, the perfect sand inviting you to take off your shoes and relax.

You stand in line to eat some banh mi, the third time you’ve been there in 2 days because it’s just THAT good and because Anthony Bourdain said so.

The kayak beckons you inside, as you paddle on the Thu Bon River, sweat glistening on your brow as you take in the nearby thatched roofs.

You chug a bottle of water, because it’s Vietnam and let’s be real, it’s humid.

You visit one of the countless tailors and dress stalls and decide to purchase one because you’re on vacation and it’s awesome in that it’s a souvenir that you can wear. Treat yourself.

As you go to bed, with the “No noise, no durian, no prostitutes” sign above your door, you smile, knowing that even though you’re a foreigner here in Hoi An, Vietnam, it’s starting to feel a little bit more like home.”

9. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Torres del Paine - a bucket list destination

By: Julianna from

“Torres del Paine should be on every adventure traveler and outdoor lover’s bucket list.

Nestled in Chilean Patagonia, it’s brimming with breathtaking sceneries for you to explore on two feet. I traveled to Torres del Paine last year to hike the W Trek (so called because the route is in the shape of a W) and it was one of the most memorable hikes I’ve undertaken in my life.

The variety of scenery is impressive – icy blue lakes change to craggy mountains and then to scrub-filled savannahs in the course of a few miles. Each day’s trek is completely different to the day before, so every day you wake up with the excitement of what you’ll see next.

A trip to the Torres del Paine takes some organization – you can choose to camp (and carry your camping kit with you) or stay in the low-key refugios along the way. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to book in advance and ensure you know what you need to bring with you.

That said, it’s well worth the effort – as the Torres’ increasing popularity shows. Just don’t forget your camera!”

Also Read: Interview With an Expat About Life in Santiago, Chile

10. Queenstown and the Southern Lakes, New Zealand

Queenstown - a bucket list destination

By: Emily from

“Queenstown has exactly the kind of breath-taking scenery one expects to find on New Zealand’s South Island. The town sits at the edge of a sparkling lake, flanked by rows of craggy mountains as far as the eye can see.

But a town needs more than just jaw-dropping scenery to stand out in New Zealand’s parade of non-stop beauty.

Luckily, Queenstown’s got plenty more to offer. There’s an activity there for pretty much anyone – whether you’re into heart-racing bungy jumps, hitting the ski slopes, or barbecuing on the beach. You can dance the night away or relax with a glass of local wine; you can climb a mountain or ride the Skyline Gondola to the top. Either way, the views are spectacular.

Of course, you might find Queenstown too busy or touristy. That’s when you hop in a rental car and head to mellow Wanaka, quiet and rugged Glenorchy, or quaint little Arrowtown.

Beauty is literally around every corner in the Southern Lakes, and the drive itself is worth any journey.”

Also Read: 11 Things to Know Before Traveling to New Zealand and this Itinerary for 7-10 Days in New Zealand’s North Island

11. Stromboli, Italy

Stromboli - a bucket list destination

By: Nam from

“Watching the red hot magma erupt from a volcano crater at a distance in the dark was one of the most surreal experience I had ever had.

While some volcano eruptions are dangerous, others are mild enough that you can see it for yourself in close(ish) proximity and Stromboli Island, part of the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, Italy is one of those locations.

We hiked up the sandy, steep mountainside in the cool evening air, reaching one of the craters just as the sun was setting, revealing a glorious view. We all settled in a comfortable spot, our eyes fixated on the crater, waiting for an eruption.

That night we witnessed no less than five eruptions before descending in the dark with only our head torches. I had originally been skeptical about the experience, but the scene of the eruptions have now been forever etched in my mind and is therefore my top bucket list adventure!”

12. Thailand

thailand - a bucket list destination

By: Hannah & Adam from

“If I could pick one place in the world I think you have to visit it would hands down be Thailand.

Not only is the Thai food amazing, it tastes even better when you are on an island with your toes in the sand looking out at the turquoise waters. Everyone should go on a Thailand island hopping adventure once in their lifetime.

My first visit was on my Thailand honeymoon in 2012 and I have since gotten 26 Thailand stamps in my passport!

Thailand is super budget-friendly and it’s easy to spend less than $50 a day and still have an epic trip. I always suggest starting a trip to Thailand with 3 days in Bangkok then head down to the islands before making your way up north to Chiang Mai for some nature & culture.

But, no matter where you go in Thailand you’ll have a great time!”

Also Read: Things to Know About Traveling to Thailand as a Woman

13. Brooklyn, USA

Brooklyn - a bucket list destination

By: Katie from

“Just across the river from the bright lights of Manhattan lies my favorite place in the world, Brooklyn. Set away from the tourist trap of the big city, Brooklyn is the perfect place to take in the ‘real New York’.

Packed full of independent cafes, restaurants, and bars offering some of the best food you’ll ever find, you’re never far from a hidden gem. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and you’ll be sure to encounter more locals than tourists.

The up-and-coming neighborhood of Williamsburg, with its outdoor food extravaganza Smorgasburg, is not to be missed, as well as a trip to the funfair at Coney Island.

New York is one of the most magical cities on Earth and Brooklyn really makes it feel like a home (and the view isn’t half bad either).”

Also read: An Insider’s Guide to Things to do in NYC on a Budget

14. Antibes, France

Antibes, France - a bucket list destination

By: Darcy from

“My absolute favorite place in the world is Antibes, France.

The French Riviera has so much to offer, from food to art to celebrity sightings, and Antibes is my favorite town in this sun-soaked region. While a French friend once told me that only old ladies like Antibes, I couldn’t be happier there. (Perhaps this makes me an old lady.)

At once small enough to feel cozy and large enough to walk around for hours. With the history of the old town mixed with the more modern section of town, Antibes feels balanced. It’s easy to see why Picasso was inspired there, and why he had his studio there, which you can now visit as a museum.

This is not a place where you gobble up all the sightseeing you can, but where you linger at the table before you meander to the beach. See for yourself sometime – I’ll be the old lady in the chair next to you.”

Also Read: What to See & Do in Montpellier, France

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The ULTIMATE Bucket List: 14 Once in a Lifetime Destinations

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.