Bucket-List Spots Around the World Every Traveler Should See at Least Once

Lion rock in Hong Kong

CHUNYIP WONG/istockphoto

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Autumn in Paris

Tip-Top Trips

The world is full of unforgettable destinations that offer visitors once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And you never know when they might be closed to tourists or lost forever. French magazine Marianne has reported that no less than the Eiffel Tower badly needs to be closed for repair. Whether they're steeped in a rich history or allow a glimpse of natural wonders, these destinations around the globe are must-see locations you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

Related: The One Thing You Must Do in Every State

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France


France’s capital is a romantic art, fashion, architecture, and gastronomic center. Skip the lines to admire the Eiffel Tower by booking a dinner inside of it, and make sure to catch its glimmering 20,000-light show every five minutes after dusk until 1 a.m., when the golden lights shut off to reveal twinkling lights reminiscent of camera flashes against a dark night sky. Famous artworks line the walls of the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay, while magnificent French Gothic cathedrals dot the city. Eat at Le Relais de l'Entrecôte, famous for its steak-frites served piping hot, and don’t forget to indulge in bakery treats that include baguettes, macarons, and eclairs.

Related: 50 Affordable Vacations to Add to Your Bucket List

Druk Wangyal Chortens and Gangkhar Puensum
Brandon Goh/istockphoto


Mysterious Bhutan may be small, but the attractions it offers are big. The country, which consistently ranks as the happiest in the world, offers attractions like the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which sits 3,000 meters up in the mountains. Views are plentiful here, from Himalayan vistas to glimpses of Gangkhar Puensum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. Tourism has traditionally been limited, as most visitors must get a visa, but exploring the country is easier thanks to the opening of the Trans Bhutan Trail, which can be accessed now for the first time in 60 years. The 250-mile walking and mountain biking route connects 400 cultural sites.

Related: Spectacular Photos of Hard-to-Reach Places

Thingvellir National Park Continental Divide Iceland Þingvellir

Thingvellir National Park

Not only can you walk between two continental plates at Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, but experienced divers also have the chance to experience what it’s like to swim between them. The location is one of the only places in the world with this opportunity, while also offering some of the world’s clearest waters that make diving through the continental plates of North America and Europe all the more unforgettable.

Antelope Canyon In The Middle Of The Afternoon

Antelope Canyon

Arizona’s Antelope Canyon is one of the most-visited and most-photographed canyons in the American Southwest, and with good reason. The water that has flooded through the desert’s sandstone over thousands of years has created surreal curving stone formations that visitors from around the world flock to admire. The best time to visit is in the summer, between late March and early October, when the light beams that cast their colorful hues across the canyon are most visible.

Aerial view of Lençois Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

The Earth is full of magnificent natural wonders, one of which can be found at this national park where visitors can actually swim in the midst of a desert filled with Brazil’s biggest dune field. Thanks to the rain that hits the area from February to May, the dunes in this park transform into clear lagoons. The best time to visit here is between May and September when the lagoons can be enjoyed in their full glory.

Related: Bucket-List Destinations Below the Equator

Clear Lake in Willamette National Forest

Clear Lake

While the world is full of beautiful lakes to admire, one of the most interesting ones in America is located in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. Clear Lake is known for its magnificently clear waters that come from its surrounding mountains, making it known as one of the best freshwater diving locations in America, but what awaits underneath is just as fascinating. The lake is filled with tree trunks that can be seen extending over a hundred feet into the water, thanks to surrounding forests that sank into it over the years. Those who don’t mind cold water temperatures can dive in for incredible underwater views, while kayaking is also available to enjoy the scenery from above.

Related: Beautifully Serene Lakes Around the World

Beautiful landscape in Plitvice Lake, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Croatia’s biggest and oldest national park offers an array of awe-inspiring scenes that range from dense forests to cascading waterfalls, natural dams, and its series of 16 interlinked lakes. The waters that fill this park are known for their clarity — schools of fish can be seen swimming in them — and the way the lakes change hue depending on the lighting throughout the day. The park is home to thousands of plants and more than 100 species of flora and fauna. Boats and buses also allow weary walkers some time off their feet.

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Lower falls of the Yellowstone in summer

Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
There’s so much to see within Yellowstone National Park, including the geyser Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is America’s largest natural hot spring. The spring is famed for its array of colors that vary from greens in the winter to bright orange in the summer. Yellowstone is also home to the world’s tallest active geyser — Steamboat geyser — which can shoot some 300 feet up in the air when it erupts.

Salt lake Uyuni in Bolivia

Salar De Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, stretching thousands of square miles with colored lakes, geysers, surreal rock formations, and pink flamingos that call the area home. Enjoy dips in natural hot springs, four-wheel-drive excursions, and stay in hotels where everything from walls to furnishings are made of salt. During the wet season, from December to April, you can experience mesmerizing reflections of the sky thanks to a thin layer of water that forms over the salt flat.

Related: Stunning Landscapes That Make Earth Look Like Another Planet

Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish Lake

When making a trip to Palau in the South Pacific, visitors won’t want to miss the opportunity to snorkel in Merchercar Island’s Jellyfish Lake, which is noted for its waters filled with jellyfish that do not produce the painful stings normally associated with such creatures, making for a surreal swimming experience. Those wishing to snorkel in the lake will need to go with a tour and purchase an official permit to access the area.

Iguacu Falls

Iguazú Falls

Argentina and Brazil
The Iguazú Falls, located between Argentina and Brazil within the expanse of a lush national park, display the sheer power of nature as one of the world’s most powerful waterfall systems. Made up of a chain of hundreds of waterfalls, the cascading waters are the result of over 100 million years of volcanic activity, with some of its tallest dropping over 80 meters.

Related: The Most Beautiful Views in the World

Azores Sao Miguel Miradouro da Vista do Rei - Sete Cidades - aerial drone view
Enrico Pescantini/istockphoto

The Azores

This archipelago is home to nine different islands, all of which offer their own incredible scenery. Travelers can visit several islands in a trip, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island of Terceira, which is known for its hidden caves and volcanoes. On São Miguel Island, visitors can find awe-inspiring hikes, sulfur pools, and plantation tours.

The McWay waterfall and the bay in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California
Martina Birnbaum/istockphoto

Big Sur­

This roughly 90-mile coastline is home to some of California’s most photographed locations and is noted for its impeccable scenery that includes expanses of redwoods and soaring mountains and cliffs that collide with the bright waters of the Pacific Ocean. Nature abounds here, from the purple sands of Pfeiffer Beach to the monarch butterflies that migrate through popular spots like Andrew Molera State Park in the fall.

Related: Unusual Beaches in America to Visit in Your Lifetime

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Scottish Highlands

A trip to the Scottish highlands offers untouched landscapes with otherworldly scenery that range from secluded beaches dotted with dolphins, seals, and otters to dramatic valleys, soaring cliffsides, and alpine lakes. Some of the world’s most beautiful hikes are here. The area is also home to impeccable whisky and stops like Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in the United Kingdom, where travelers will find everything from distillers and ancient castles to the stargazing at the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world.

Related: See the Stars: Dark Sky Destinations Across America

Cathedral Rock near Sedona


Sedona is considered a premiere wellness destination thanks to its range of magnificent hikes that weave through evergreen forests, clear water creeks, its ancient red rocks the area is famous for, and calming meditation and spa treatments that include the red clay pulled from its natural surroundings. Often referred to as a geological wonderland, Sedona has sights like none other. It has also been ranked as one of the Most Beautiful Places in America by USA Today.   

River Canyon in Wadi Mujib, Jordan


Combine history and natural wonders in Jordan, where you can marvel at the ancient architecture of Petra, famed for its rose-colored stones out of which the city is carved. Take a day trip to the Dead Sea to float in the warm salted waters of the mineral-rich body of water, known to be 10 times saltier than sea water, and make a stop at Wadi Rum, a vast dramatic desert known for its surreal brightly colored sands and soaring sandstones. 

Overlooking Prince William Sound
Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Great Barrier Reef

The world’s largest coral reef system is a popular location for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and sailing. It is known for the vast array of marine life that abound with bright colors to explore underneath its waters. Top activities also include diving in to see the world’s largest green turtle population surround Rain Island and making a visit to Hinchinbrook Island to discover pristine secluded beaches and waterfalls.

Large turtle  at  sea edge on background of tropical landscape

The Galapagos Islands

This group of 19 islands off the coast of Ecuador offers some of the best wildlife encounters the world has to offer. Here, visitors will find unique wildlife species that can’t be found anywhere else, which they can admire while exploring the many stunning beaches and expansive lava fields found across the islands. These islands are where Charles Darwin famously developed his theory of evolution after noticing how each island had a different species of finch adapted to its particular conditions.

Man in Mine Tunnel, Coober Pedy, South Australia, Australia

Coober Pedy

Scratch the surface at this town in Southern Australia, where an entire underground world awaits. Thanks to the hot temperatures of the area, the residents of Coober Pedy have created an array of underground attractions ranging from bars and churches to bookstores and entire hotels. The town is home to an international underground hotel and a large supply of beautiful opals that make for shimmering souvenirs.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. (Torres del Paine National Park)


Enjoy majestic remote and city getaways in Chile, where can’t-miss natural attractions include the swerving Marble Caves that have formed over thousand of years through melting waters from nearby glaciers and the expansive Torres del Paine National Park, noted for its awe-inspiring mountains, vibrant icebergs, and bright turquoise waters. For a unique city stop, head to Valparaiso, where historic funicular elevators lead to magnificent views.

Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cusco, Peru


The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is a popular stop in Peru thanks to its impressive architecture and impeccable scenery on the top of a mountain in the midst of a tropical forest. Peru also is home to mystical wonders like the ancient Nazca Lines dating to 500 B.C. and considered to be the world’s most outstanding group of geoglyphs. Experience a bird’s-eye view of them by taking a flight from the Ica Desert, where you’ll also find the Huacachina oasis — a watering hole located right in the middle of the sand that seems straight out of a mirage.

Related: Unsolved Mysteries of Ancient Ruins Around the World

Enjoying the view.

Cinque Terre


There are many unforgettable destinations in Italy to explore, and one of them is the string of five towns that line Italy’s Ligurian coast to make up the romantic Cinque Terre. The villages here date back centuries and are known for the colorful homes that dot their terraces. You can visit all five of the villages along the ancient footpath systems that weave through Cinque Terre, and enjoy gastronomic delicacies like freshly baked focaccias, local seafood, and lemon goods ranging from limoncello to delectable sorbets.

Dubai Marina
Camel and the pyramids in Giza

Pyramids of Giza

Giza’s Great Pyramid is the only wonder of the ancient world that still survives, standing as an architectural marvel for visitors who come to gaze at its sheer size and precision. The three pyramids, along with the Great Sphinx of Giza and several smaller pyramids and tombs within the area form the Giza Pyramid Complex, which can be best enjoyed in the early morning hours in the fall and spring when you’ll find smaller crowds.

Some customers enjoy an aperitif in a bar in the ancient Trastevere district in Rome
Photo Beto/istockphoto


History awaits in every corner of Italy’s capital, including at the Colosseum where its enormous size is a treat for any history buff. There are many attractions to see here, from the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. After exploring its historic sites, consider a stop at the Hostaria Antica Roma restaurant, which cooks meals from the world’s oldest cookbook.

Young couple in snorkeling mask dive underwater in tropical sea


Hawaii is another U.S. destination that offers otherworldly scenery. Besides its clear waters, the island is also dotted with colorful beaches ranging from black sands and green sands to red. Explore volcanic terrain at stops like Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the Hana Lava Tube along Maui’s Road to Hana, and at Mauna Kea in Hilo, the highest point in the Hawaiian islands. Stay up late during your trip to experience some of the planet’s best stargazing.

Angkor Wat, Bayan Thom

Angkor Wat

Millions of tourists visit the city of Siem Reap every year, thanks to its close proximity to Angkor Wat, which is the world’s largest religious structure. Angkor Wat is composed of dozens of larger and smaller temples that make up its massive area, and while its most popular can be immensely crowded, heading to the temples further down will allow you to enjoy the historical structures tucked away in lush jungles without massive crowds.

The Milford Sound fiord. Fiordland national park, New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand is often touted as an adventure lover’s dream, thanks to attractions that include its bubbling hot springs and mud pools in Rotorua, which is nicknamed the “Sulphur City.” Fiordland National Park, the largest of the country’s national parks, is known for its glacier-carved fjords that cut through its terrain. Make sure to visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where a glowworm species found solely in New Zealand creates sparkling effects across the limestone caves. 

Aerial view of the residential Eixample district of Barcelona, with the Sagrada Familia, Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi
Manel Subirats/istockphoto


Catalonia’s largest city is also the only city to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal for architecture. Walking through Barcelona is like taking a journey through architecture’s history, with its Gothic, Romanesque, and modernist varieties. More than a dozen Antoni Gaudí installations can be seen throughout Barcelona, all of which offer their own intricate beauty. Those in search of nightlife will also find bustling beach parties and festivals that come alive in the summer. 

El Yunque national forest path

El Yunque National Forest

Puerto Rico
No trip to Puerto Rico should be completed without a visit to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in North America and one of the oldest natural reserves in the Western Hemisphere. Wildlife is abundant here, including endemic species like the coqui frogs that sing throughout the evening. The Puerto Rican parrot — one of the 10 most endangered bird species in the world — is also here. Zip line through the park’s lush greenery and enjoy the many stunning waterfalls like Juan Diego, which you can wade into.

Related: Things You Didn't Know About Puerto Rico

Holy Trinity Monastery


Athens is often one of the main locations travelers head to in Greece, but if you’re spending time in the capital, consider setting a few days aside to head to Meteora. Meaning “suspended in the air,” Meteora is known for its six ancient monasteries that sit perched on top of vertical peaks. The unique rock formations surrounding the monasteries make the area a geological wonder to be explored. Avoid the summer months in order to enjoy it amid smaller crowds. Stop at Neromilos for an authentic meal showcasing Meteora’s mushrooms in vast selections and noteworthy trout.

Long view of grape vineyards in Cramant


The bubbly drink we associate with celebrations today can only be called champagne when it comes from the Champagne region of France, which is why it’s no surprise you’ll find an array of vineyards and over 100 wineries to explore here. Grand champagne houses abound where you can see the production and taste the drink. Visiting at the end of summer means you can witness the harvesting season. Besides sparkling wine, visitors will also find the medieval castle of Sedan and local delicacies that include cheeses with champagne-soaked and wood-matured rinds.

Grenoble. The city embankment.

The Alps

The Alps are the largest and highest mountain range in Europe, spanning several European countries. The Swiss portion of it is large, covering some 60% of the entire country and offering dramatic natural scenery that includes vibrant wildflower hues in the warmer months, and some of the world’s best skiing in the winter.  

Oia at sunset



Santorini’s scenery is what draws so many visitors, as black-sand beaches combine with the city’s famous white-washed and cliff-perched buildings and crystal-clear waters to make for postcard views. Enjoy them throughout the day and within the beautiful hotels here like the Dana Villa and Suites, which feature private indoor pools as well as outdoor plunge pools.

Darvaza gas crater

The Door to Hell


Also known as the Gates of Hell, this strange phenomenon is a giant hole of fire that has been burning for years in Darvaza. Now a popular stop in Turkmenistan, the eye-catching large glowing hole was created by accident, when geologists tapped into the cavern filled with natural gas and burned it off in the hopes that this would burn out the fire. To this day, it has continued to burn, which adds all the more to its mystery.

View of Hoi An ancient town
I am Kien. I like to take many beautiful photos about landscape./istockphoto

Hoi An


Though Hoi An has seen a rise in tourism, it is still often overlooked by travelers who head to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but a visit to Hoi An is like taking a step back in time. The historic trading port still preserves much of its original architecture that includes timber-framed buildings and pagodas visitors can explore amid the narrow alleys that weave through its ancient town. Don’t miss the lantern festivals that take place here at night, when bright lanterns can be seen floating across the river and in homes.

Hallstatt Village and Hallstatter See lake in Austria


Austria is beautiful throughout the year, and immensely charming during the holiday season when Christmas markets are filled with local treats and handmade ornaments. In Vienna, travelers can explore the history of famed individuals that are from the country, including Freud and Mozart. Stop into one of the many cafes and indulge in the decadent layered cakes that line its shelves.

oldtimer taxi cars parking in front of Capitol in Havanna
Cascade. Yerevan


For a destination filled with ancient history and unspoiled nature, head to Armenia, which is one of the world’s oldest wine-producing countries and is loaded with historic sites dating back to 4000 B.C. Its capital Yerevan hosts open markets, bustling cafes, historic attractions, and close proximity to stunning natural sites found in locations like Lake Sevan and the mineral-water springs of Dilijan National Park.

Moon over the canyon, Wild West, USA


Utah is a nature lover’s dream, hosting some of America’s most popular national parks that include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and its unusual hoodoo rock formations, and Arches National Park. Utah is also home to the Bonneville Salt Flats and its white salted crust formations that stretch for 12 miles in length and cover a total of 46 square miles, and which are known for the land speed records that have been set there.

Flying above Fort Jefferson
Jeffrey K Collins/istockphoto

Dry Tortugas National Park


One of America’s least visited parks is also home to some of North America’s best snorkeling and diving. Dry Tortugas National Park is made up of seven islands, with a staggering 99% of it actually located underwater. Explore its colorful coral reefs and shipwrecks and enjoy the incredible sky views that arrive at night. The park is only accessible via plane or boat, making it one of the most remote locations, which adds all the more to the experience of swimming in its clear water crowd free.

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Saint Lucia

While Saint Lucia has the clear, warm, and marine-filled waters the Caribbean is known for, its bright blue waters are also surrounded by soaring peaks and lush botanical gardens that create stunning scenery. The island also boasts a drive-in volcano. The island’s majesty becomes all the more apparent as you drive through its many winding hills.

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

White Sands National Park

New Mexico
At White Sands National Park, you’ll feel like you’re in a large expanse of snow without the cold. The park is home to the world’s largest gypsum dune field, stretching over 200 square miles. Not only do the powdered gypsum dunes look like snow, but they also provide the same enjoyable activities as it. Sledding is a popular way to enjoy the dunes.

Chocolate hills of Bohol

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills comprise over 1,000 hills that spread across 20 square miles and which seem symmetrical in shape in the landscape they dot. They get their nickname from the fact that their green grass tends to dry up in the dry season, from late November to May, making them turn a dark brown color.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is one of those locations where time ceases to exist. The Strip is one of the world’s most famous streets with its buzzing hotels and array of legendary dining options to explore. Prime concerts and entertainment shows like Cirque du Soleil regularly take place here, while massive casinos and bustling parties are known to give the city its Sin City nickname.

Related: Free and Cheap Things to Do in Las Vegas

Three Amigos

Kruger National Park

South Africa
A trip to Kruger National Park is one of the best ways to experience the continent’s unique wildlife, where Africa’s famed “Big Five” — the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros — can be seen in their natural habitat. The park is one of Africa’s largest natural game reserves and also includes hundreds of other animal species to see.

Related: Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

Giants Causeway Hexagonal Rock Formation Northern Ireland


The Emerald Isle hosts a mystical scenery of lush forests, soaring cliffs, ancient castles, and impeccable hiking trails. Attractions range from the cosmopolitan capital of Dublin, which is the home of the Guinness brewery, to the seafood of Kinsale and the 400-year-old Bushmill distillery located in County Antrim. The Cliffs of Moher are renowned for their visual beauty, stretching roughly 8.5 miles against the sea, and hosting 20 different bird species. Meanwhile, the Giant’s Causeway, made up of some 40,000 basalt columns that rise from the sea resulting from a volcanic eruption, have drawn travelers and artists alike for years.

Related: Free Things to Do in Ireland

High Speed Bullet Train with Fuji Mountain Background in Winter, Shizuoka, Japan


Japan offers a wide range of scenery and destinations, from its cosmopolitan center of Tokyo to its more remote hot springs of Yamanashi Prefecture, where travelers will also find the world’s oldest hotel. Cherry blossom season is one of the most popular times to visit, when locations throughout Japan are adorned in rose-colored hues, but its wisteria blooms are equally beautiful. While in the winter, the country turns into a premiere skiing destination.

Costa Rica Sloth hanging from tree
Enrico Pescantini/istockphoto

Costa Rica

For a country filled with diverse attractions, head to Costa Rica, where visitors find lush rainforests, prime surfing beaches, incredible national parks, and deep river valleys. Adventure lovers will enjoy thrills here ranging from zip lining to cave tubing, while wildlife enthusiasts won’t want to miss the chance to get up close to its sloth population at the Sloth Sanctuary.

Garden flowers # 53 XXXL

Keukenhof Gardens

Nicknamed the “Garden of Europe,” Keukenhof offers one of the world’s largest flower gardens and is a prime destination for getting some of the best views of the famous blooming Dutch tulips. More than 7 million flowers bloom here, with the tulips most visible in April and May, but everything from orchids, roses, carnations, lilies, daffodils and more create the park’s colorful displays. Do note, however, that the gardens are only open March to May.

Aurora borealis over snowy mountains, frozen sea coast, reflection in water at night. Lofoten islands, Norway. Northern lights. Winter landscape with polar lights, ice in water. Starry sky with aurora

Lofoten Islands


Adventure seekers will be in bliss at the Lofoten Islands, where hiking, climbing, fishing, kayaking, and Arctic surfing await. In the winter, the islands are known for their views of the northern lights, while the fact that the islands receive midnight sun means you can enjoy its outdoor activities all throughout the day.

Related: Best Vacation Rentals for Seeing the Northern Lights

Aerial View of Bangkok, Thailand


In Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, one of the few remaining locations in Thailand where you’ll experience modernity alongside history, there are over 500 ancient temples to explore. In the far south, there are stunning coastal areas, from the more popular locations in Krabi to the unspoiled beaches of Trang that are surrounded by lush reefs. Night markets with seafood abound in cities like Phuket, while historic Buddha statues and ruins wait to be explored at destinations like Ayutthaya.

Manhattan Bridge, NYC

New York City

New York is one of America’s cities that gives visitors a look into what a dense urban environment is like. Explore the city on foot as much as possible to take in its marquee destinations like Central Park, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Grand Central Terminal. Hiking the city is also the best way to come across its many hole-in-the-wall historic food stops and watering holes that line its streets. The city is a foodie’s paradise, with its diverse population offering foods from all over the world. Italian delicacies are, of course, a staple here, with some of the best baked versions offered at the more than 100-year-old Veniero’s.

Related: Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City