Travel Bucket List Ideas: Places To Visit Before You Die

Helen Fanthorpe

written by
Helen Fanthorpe

updated 12.06.2024

Read through our ultimate travel bucket list, with not just the top places to see, but the unique experiences that you can have when you visit these amazing locations around the world.

This article is inspired by our Rough Guides guidebooks — your essential guides for travelling the world.

Whether it’s adrenaline based adventures or sampling a unique local delicacy for the first time, these experiences will give you unforgettable memories and stories to return home with.

If you're travelling with kids, you might also want to discover magical places to visit with children before they grow up.

1. Get lost for words at the Grand Canyon

After pondering the Grand Canyon for the first time most visitors are stunned into silence. The problem isn’t lack of words. It’s just that the canyon is so vast and so deep, that the vista stretches so far across your line of vision.

The facts are similarly mind-boggling: it is around 277 miles long and one mile deep. Think of it this way: the Grand Canyon is like a mountain range upside down. The abruptness of the drop is bizarre and unnerving. But this is what makes it one the top places to see. Once you return, you’ll never see scenes like it ever again.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for great value and location to the Grand Canyon: Red Canyon Cabins. Situated in Kanab, Red Canyon Cabins features accommodation with free WiFi, barbecue facilities and mountain views.
  • Best for celebrity treatment: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon. Featuring a bar, The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon is located in Tusayan in the Arizona region, 11 km from Grand Canyon Village and 29 km from Grand Canyon South Rim.

The Grand Canyon is like that: it picks you up and takes you out of your comfort zone, dropping you back just that little bit changed.


Visiting the Grand Canyon should be on your travel bucket list

2. Walk the Siq to Petra, Jordan

Tucked away between parallel rocky ranges in southern Jordan, the fabled site of Petra is simply awe-inspiring and worthy to visit befor you die. Popular but rarely crowded, this rock-carved Nabataean city has entranced travellers for centuries with its ornate facades and classical architecture. Perhaps the most magical view lies at the end of the Siq, a dramatic natural gorge that’s still the main entrance.

Here, you emerge from the bizarrely eroded cliffs onto an extraordinary view: the famous facade of Petra’s Treasury looming before you. Carved directly into the cliff face and standing 40m tall, it’s no wonder that this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see on any Middle Eastern bucket list.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for budget: Nomads Hotel Petra. Located in Wadi Musa, less than 1 km from Petra, Nomads Hotel Petra provides accommodation with a bar, free private parking, a shared lounge and a terrace. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and a shared kitchen, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hostel features family rooms.

Walk the Siq to Petra - one of the places to visit befor you die

3. Relish the cheap seats at Shakespeare's Globe

It’s standing-room only in ‘the pit’ at Shakespeare’s Globe. This London institution is an open-air reconstruction of the original theatre a few hundred metres away, where Shakespeare’s theatre company performed in 1599. Here in “this wooden O”, as Henry V calls it, hard wooden seats encircle the ‘thrust’ stage.

But it’s in the pit, standing in the footsteps of Elizabethan and Jacobean ‘groundlings’ who paid a penny apiece, where you get the best atmosphere. This close up, Shakespeare cannot be dusty or distant. The performances are energized, physical and exhilarating. This is a participatory, democratic theatre experience.

There’s a terrific camaraderie between actors and audience, and a real intimacy in those iconic moments when Shakespeare lays bare the inner sinews of human emotion. That's why this place is worth to be on your travel bucket list.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for modern architecture and river views: Sea Containers. This huge modern hotel is located on the banks of the River Thames, close to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
  • Best for value: YHA London St Paul’s. Just a 5-minute walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, this youth hostel offers great value rooms in a historic building, set in the beating heart of the city.

    What to do:

  • This unique Shakespeare tour has been designed for lovers of the world's greatest playwright and for anyone interested in Elizabethan London. Enjoy the official in-house Globe Theatre tour and visit Southwark Cathedral to admire its Shakespeare window.

Only here do you have the chance to eyeball Hamlet as he contemplates 'self-slaughter', or Lady Macbeth as she tries to wash the imagined blood from her hands.


The Shakespeare's Globe

4. Get blown away by the Great Wall of China

Snaking across the dusty hills of northeast China, the Great Wall is an unforgettable sight and a mandatory item in your travel bucket list. It’s impossible not to be blown away by this 7m-high, 7m-thick fortification.

Take at least a day to walk between its battlements, shunning hawkers and tourists for less-visited sections where you clamber up unrestored stairs and through crumbling towers. Yet even after you’ve seen, touched and walked the wall, it’s still hard to believe this was built by simple human endeavour.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for great value and location to surrounding activities: Crowne Plaza Beijing Badaling. Crowne Plaza Beijing Badaling is located in Yanqing is also one of the three major competition areas of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The hotel has 3 restaurants combining Eastern and Western cuisine and 2 lobby bars. The Great Wall Museum of China is 14 km away.
  • Best for being on a budget: The Great Wall Courtyard Hostel. The Great Wall Courtyard Hostel is just 500 m from the Badaling Great Wall. It offers a business centre with fax and photocopying services, and free on-site parking.

    What to do:

  • This hiking trip of Great Wall will show you both Simatai and Jinshanling sections of the wall within 3 hours. You will experience both original and restored Wall on a less-visited sections.

The Great Wall in China

5. Save a place in your travel bucket list for sailing the Whitsundays, Australia

There’s a distinct feeling of déjà vu cruising in a sailboat among the Whitsunday Islands. Presently it comes to you: you’ve been here many times, in your lottery fantasies.

This tropical idyll of turquoise seas lapping ivory sands against a backdrop of dense green foliage is ingrained in our imagination. Life on board here becomes simple. A shower is as easy as diving into the surrounding water, and your bed is the deck of the boat or the sand on the beach.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for views of the ocean: Freedom Shores has a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a garden and bar in Cannon Valley. Among the various facilities are a private beach area and a terrace with a sea view.
  • Best for staying on your own island: Daydream Island Resort. This stylish and tranquil retreat is located in the heart of Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands. The resort features modern rooms, outdoor pools and three bars and restaurants.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

6. Visit the Taj Mahal by moonlight, India

Simply the world’s greatest building, Shah Jahan’s monument to love does not disappoint. Volumes have been written on its perfection, and its image adorns countless glossy brochures and guidebooks; nonetheless, the reality never fails to overwhelm all who see it, and few words can do it justice.

A workforce of some twenty thousand men from all over Asia completed the Taj Mahal in 1653 after twenty years of toil, and it is undoubtedly the zenith of Mughal architecture in India.

Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore described the Taj Mahal as “a teardrop on the face of eternity”, and though its layout follows a distinctly Islamic theme, representing Paradise, it is above all a monument to romantic love.

Shah Jahan built the Taj to enshrine the body of his favourite wife, Arjumand Bann Begum, better known by her official palace title, Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”). The emperor was devastated by her death, and set out to create an unsurpassed monument to her memory – the result is sublime.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for stunning views: Tajview. Spread over 9 acres of landscaped gardens, Tajview – IHCL SeleQtions enjoys beautiful views of the Taj Mahal. Aside from 24-hour room service, the hotel also provides outdoor pool, a fitness centre and a pampering spa.
  • Best for luxury: Grand Imperial - Heritage Hotel. Situated in the heart of medieval Agra, Grand Imperial, a heritage hotel offers luxury accommodation with spa facilities, conference facilities and beautiful gardens, ideal for business and leisure travellers.

    What to do:

  • If you prefer to organise and book yourself, consider taking a private Taj Mahal tour from Agra - your private guide will take you to explore the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

    Tailor-made travel:

  • Explore the Golden Triangle and beyond with one of our Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips, like the Essential Golden Triangle trip. As with all of our trips - they're 100% customisable in collaboration with your local expert.

The magical Taj Mahal

6. See the floral wave of cherry blossoms, Japan

In Japan, spring sees the country gradually coated in a light pink shade, soft petals slowly clustering on their branches as if puffed through by some benevolent underground spirit.

The sakura-zensen, or cherry blossom front, flushes like a floral wave that laps the country from south to north and is followed ardently by the Japanese. Among the best places to see it are Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Tokyo’s Ueno Park or the castles in Osaka or Himeji, all of which are lent a dreamlike air by the arrival of the blossom each spring.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for great value in the heart of Kyoto: Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Shijokarasuma. Nishiki Market is a 10-minute stroll away, while Nijo Castle is a 15-minute bus ride away. Popular with travellers interested in temples, sightseeing and history.
  • Best for staying in Osaka: Hotel Hyllarys. Set in Osaka and within 1,650 feet of Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. Chuo Ward is a great choice for travellers interested in shopping, street food and shopping for food.
  • Best for location to Ueno Park: Nohga Hotel Ueno. Situated in Tokyo, 1,650 feet from Choen-ji Temple. Nearby Taito City is a great choice for travellers interested in temples, city trips and city walks.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • From Tokyo to Osaka, this Japan tailor-made trip features fantastic experiences. View a sumo session, visit ancient temples, and climb the Tokyo Skytree tower. Explore the resort town of Hakone in Mt Fuji’s shadow, savor a tea ceremony in Kyoto, and see cherry blossoms, in season, to complete a wonderful trip.

A lesson about fragile beauty that must be treasured and contemplated.


Cherry blossom season in Japan - one of the things you should see before you die

8. Traverse the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The immaculate white expanse of the Salar de Uyuni is one of Bolivia’s most extraordinary attractions to include in your travel bucket list. This is the largest salt lake in the world, capped by a thick, hard crust of salt, easily capable of supporting the weight of a car.

It’s perhaps best seen after a heavy rainfall, when the Salar transforms into an immense mirror, reflecting the sky and the surrounding snowcapped peaks so pristinely that at times the horizon disappears and the mountains seem like islands floating in the sky.

  • Best for value and location: Casa de Sal - Salt Hotel. Set in Uyuni's city centre, rooms at Casa de Sal - Salt Hotel are built with salt blocks and feature details of Andean décor.
  • Best for 5 star salt treatment: Hotel Palacio de Sal. Built out of salt bricks and also featuring salt furniture, Palacio de Sal offers guests accommodation with free WiFi and a complimentary buffet breakfast in Potosí.
  • Take a day-tour to explore the Salar de Uyuni before enjoying a Bolivian wine tasting at sunset. Or head out in the middle of the night, for a stargazing tour of this unique landscape.
  • With our tailor-made tour you will experince the highlights of every Peru and Bolivia trip: the fascinating ruins of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, followed by a trip to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Afterwards, continue via La Paz to the Salar de Uyuni, the incredible salt flats.

Tip from Rough Guides: Learn about the best ways to get to Bolivia.


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

9. Explore the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The utter indifference that most of the animals of the Galápagos Islands show to humans suggests that they knew all along they’d be the ones to change humanity’s perception of itself for ever. It was, after all, this famous menagerie that started the cogs turning in Charles Darwin’s mind.

With each island, new animal oddities reveal themselves – giant tortoises, canoodling waved albatrosses, lumbering land iguanas and Darwin’s finches, to name but a few – each a key player in the world’s most celebrated workshop of evolution.

You feel like a privileged gatecrasher, one who’s allowed an up-close look at a long-kept secret: the mechanics of life on Earth.


Iguanas in the Galapagos Islands

10. Take a train journey through the Scottish Highlands

Even in a country as beautiful as Scotland, you might not expect to combine train travel with classic highland views. The scenery along the West Highland Railway is both epic in its breadth and compelling in its imagery, so probably you should write this item down in your travel bucket list.

Travel from the centre of Glasgow, all the way to Mallaig, through famous sites such as the 21-arch viaduct at Glenfinnan (of Harry Potter fame) and the mighty Ben Nevis mountain. Whilst you might have to crane your neck to get the full view, you won’t have to worry about keeping your eyes on the road.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for views of the Lochs and visiting Ben Nevis: Cruachan Hotel. Situated 5 minutes from Fort William, the Cruachan Hotel offers bedroom views of Loch Linnhe and easy access to Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
  • Best for visiting the Glenfinnian viaduct: The Prince’s House Hotel. This traditional Scottish hotel is an easy walk from the iconic Glenfinnian viaduct and the train station.

    What to do:

  • Sit back and relax on this hour long trip on what is known as the Queen of Scottish Lochs. Enjoy spectacular views of the magnificent Ben Lomond and the highland boundary fault line as you enter into the Scottish Highlands from the Lowlands.

The West Highland Railway

11. Bed down in an igloo, Canada

This might not be the most common contender on a travel bucket list, but it’s certainly a one-of-a-kind experience to have. Tucked away between rolling hills and vast stretches of tundra in northern Québec lies a series of igloos. These domed shelters were built by Inuit elders, who carved snowblocks from windswept snowdrifts, using skills passed on from their ancestors.

Today, they continue to safeguard hunters as well as welcome adventure seekers. Visitors can feast on caribou stew and frozen Arctic char before falling asleep to the sounds of kids throat-singing and the gentle flicker of the seal-blubber-fuelled qulliq (lamp).

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Hotel Manoir Morgan. Boasting a bar, terrace and views of city, Hotel Manoir Morgan is situated in Quebec City, 100 m from Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
  • Best for grand heritage: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Situated in Old Quebec in a beautiful European chateau. This Unesco heritage property boasts great views of the St. Lawrence River and city.

Igloo in tundra, northern Québec

12. Climb Mont St-Michel, France

Wondrously unique yet as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower, Mont St-Michel, with its harmonious blend of natural and man-made beauty, has been drawing tourists and pilgrims alike to the Normandy coast for centuries.

Soaring some 80m up from the bay that bears its name, this glowering granite islet has an entire commune clinging improbably to its steep boulders, its tiers of buildings topped by a magnificent Benedictine abbey. It’s an aesthetic delight yet also a place of serenity: less than a third of the 3.5 million tourists that flock here each year actually climb all the way up.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location on Mont St-Michel: Les Terrasses Poulard. Composed of 2 different buildings, Les Terrasses Poulard is a historical property in the heart of Mont Saint-Michel and offers views of the bay, the village and the street.
  • Best for views of Mont St-Michel: Le Relais Saint Michel. This hotel faces the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. All guest rooms ( except Twin Room Saint-Michel with interior view) offer a private terrace and some have panoramic views of Mont Saint-Michel.

    What to do:

  • Discover Mont-Saint-Michel abbey, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Explore this spectacular historical site at your own pace and take advantage of an information booklet to learn about the rich history of the site.

Looking out from Mont St-Michel, the tides rolling in around its base, is a panorama to be savoured.


Mont St-Michel Abbey, France

13. Rage wine war in La Rioja, Spain

Each year several villages in La Rioja spend an entire day soaking each other in red wine. One of the truly great events of the Spanish summer, the Wine War (La Batalla del Vino) is a wine-fight of epic – and historic – proportions.

In theory, the townsfolk of Haro are battling it out with those of neighbouring Miranda de Ebro, but in the good-humoured but frantic battle that rages, there are no obvious sides, and no winners or losers. Instead, the object is perfectly straightforward: to squirt, hose, blast or throw some 25,000 litres over as many people as possible.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for Haro Wine Festival: Hotel Plaza De La Paz. The hotel offers a terrace and views of the plaza. Great location for hiking, skiing and cycling.
  • Best on a budget: Tinto Dreams Hostel. The accommodation features a private room, shared kitchen, a shared lounge and organises tours for guests.

You won’t be spared as a spectator, so you may as well join in.

San Vicente de la Sonsierra vineyard, La Rioja, Spain © Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock

Wineyards in La Rioja, Spain

14. Spot puffins in the Faroes

On the unspoilt Faroe Islands, about 300km north of Scotland in the windswept, weather-tossed North Atlantic, heavy waves batter tall, chalky cliffs. But there’s more than just geological beauty here.

Come spring, pairs of puffins, their feathers ruffled from the raging sea, wash up on the island, standing proud and rubbing their beaks together in displays of matrimony. The show has just begun. For the next four months, these curious seabirds will mate, nest and raise their offspring – all of which makes for including this destination to your travel bucket list.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for views of the beach and ocean: Boat house in Hósvik. A great location in the centre of the Faroe Islands (Hósvik) providing a perfect base to explore all the islands. This beachfront property offers access to a patio with stunning views.
  • Best for Puffin watching: The View. The View is set in Bøur. Located on the beach front and close to the Island Mykines, renowned for high volume of Atlantic Puffins in breeding season.

Adorable puffins on Faroes

15. Solve the mysteries of Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii was famously buried by Vesuvius in 79 AD, and the result is perhaps the best-preserved Roman town anywhere, with a street plan that is easy to discern – not to mention wander – and a number of palatial villas that are still largely intact.

While crowded, not surprisingly, it's a large site, and it’s quite possible to escape the hordes and experience the strangely still quality of Pompeii, sitting around ancient swimming pools, peering at frescoes and mosaics still standing behind the counters of ancient shops. The city’s story still speaks loud and clear.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for great value and location to Pompeii: Hotel del Sole. Located right in front of the Pompeii archeological site. Some of the rooms come with a panoramic balcony.
  • Best for a little luxury: Hotel Forum. Opposite the entrance to the Pompeii excavations, this hotel is situated in the heart of the town, just a 5-minute walk away from the main Piazza.

    What to do:

  • Discover Pompeii with an archaeologist on a small-group or private tour. Skip the ticket line and explore the excavations while listening to anecdotes.

Pompeii, Italy

16. Get in high spirits on the Bourbon trail, USA

Bourbon is the United States’ sole native spirit. And while bourbon can be produced elsewhere, the spirit of the spirit resides in Kentucky, which is not only home to the finest distilleries, but also, according to local legend, its birthplace.

The best place to find out more is along the Bourbon Trail, a meandering route through the rolling hills of central Kentucky that links several distilleries and historic towns.

    Where to stay

  • Best for Wild Turkey Distillery: Best Western Lawrenceburg Inn. Guests staying at this Lawrenceburg hotel are within 4 minutes’ drive of the local Bourbon distilleries Wild Turkey Distillery and Four Roses Distillery.
  • Best for basing yourself in Louisville: Aloft Louisville Downtown. Located on the historic Whiskey Row, Aloft Louisville Downtown offers great views of Ohio River and a good value location to visit nearby Whiskey distilleries.

Bourbon barrels near the distillery

17. Come eye-to-eye with Africa’s mountain gorillas, Rwanda

A face-to-face encounter with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is one of the most exciting wildlife experiences to add to your travel bucket list. And locating the apes in their tangled and misty forest home is part of the thrill.

A close-up encounter is practically guaranteed, but be warned – it can get tough. Any exhaustion dissipates immediately, however, when you look into the liquid brown eyes of one of the magnificent bamboo-munching beasts – these are the archetypal “gentle giants”.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for the mountain views: Go Lux Lodge. With mountain views, Go Lux Lodge is situated in Kinigi and has a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, bar, garden and terrace. Both WiFi and private parking are accessible at the lodge free of charge.
  • Best for gateway to Volcanoes National Park: Ingagi Park View Lodge. Set in Kinigi, 4.9 km from Kinigi, Ingagi Park View Lodge offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. This 3-star hotel offers room service, a concierge service and free WiFi.

Mountain gorilla in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

18. Follow the oyster trail in Galway, Ireland

The Galway International Oyster Festival is Ireland’s longest-running and greatest gourmet extravaganza, celebrating the new oyster season in the finest way possible: a three-day furore of drinking, dancing and crustacean guzzling.

The traditional objective is to down a pint and a couple of oysters in every pub along the Oyster Trail over three days – that’s around thirty pints and up to a hundred oysters. If you can do this and still make it down for breakfast on the Sunday morning, you need never prove yourself again.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for being in the heart of Galway: Skeffington Arms Hotel. Overlooking Eyre Square in the heart of Galway, The Skeffington Arms offers bright, modern rooms, a vibrant bar and restaurant, and Galway's largest cocktail bar.
  • Best for a little luxury: Salthill Hotel. Overlooking the famous Salthill Promenade, Galway Bay and the Clare Hills. The Hotel is just 0.6 miles from Galway city centre, set in Galway’s beautiful countryside on the scenic route to Connemara National Park. It has a swimming pool and gym.

    Tailor-made trips:

  • Take some time off with your family and friends and discover the most spectacular places that Ireland has to offer with a 4-day tailor-made trip to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren National Park.

Galway oysters

19. Meet sun bears in Borneo, Malaysia

Though it easily rivals the panda in the cuteness stakes, little is known about the world’s smallest bear, named for the distinctive white mark on its chest that resembles the sun. Seriously endangered, sun bears live throughout Asia, but Borneo is their last stronghold.

See them at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok, the first of its kind, which aims to educate people about these wonderful animals. There can be no doubt that the efforts directed towards their survival are more crucial than ever.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre: Sepilok B&B. Clean and simple accommodation situated close to Rainforest Discovery Centre and The Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Best for including some beach time: The Aru Hotel. Situated in Kota Kinabalu, 1.5 km from Tanjung Aru Beach, The Aru Hotel features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness centre and a terrace.

Baby sun bear in Borneo forest

20. See the Blackpool illuminations, England

When autumn knocks, the temperature drops and other resorts have shut up shop, one seaside town switches on. From the end of August until early November, the Blackpool Illuminations light up the seafront – and if you’ve a penchant for gaudy, nostalgic, none-too-highbrow fun, you should get your coat on and come.

Comprising around a million lights, the glittering display stretches six miles – and amazingly, the whole experience is free. All you’ll need to buy is a tram ticket, a bag of chips and a novelty stick of rock. And never mind if it rains – the lights look even more gorgeous shimmering in the puddles.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location to the illuminations: Ruskin Hotel. The Ruskin Hotel offers central accommodation in Blackpool and is situated close to the Blackpool Tower.
  • Best for great value by the sea: Lyndene Hotel. This a great seafront location on Blackpool's sea promenade. Hotel Lyndene is a 15-minute walk from the famous Pleasure Beach and just 1,650 feet from Blackpool Stadium.

Blackpool illuminations, England

21. Down a stein at Oktoberfest, Germany

The world’s largest public festival, the Munich Oktoberfest, kicks off on the penultimate Saturday in September and keeps pumping for a full two weeks. An unadulterated celebration of beer and Bavarian life, it attracts almost six million visitors and sees as many million litres of beer disappear in sixteen days.

At the heart of the festival are fourteen enormous beer tents where boisterous crowds sit at long benches draining one huge litre-capacity glass or stein after another. If you’re up for annihilation, head to the Hofbrau tent, go for the ten-stein challenge and join in with the thousands of young bloods braying for beer. Prost! And if you happen to be in town outside of Oktoberfest season, fear not.


Oktoberfest, Germany

22. Explore the land of the fairy chimneys, Turkey

An expanse of undulating, cave-pocked, tunnel-riddled rock at the centre of Turkey, Cappadocia is a landscape like no other. It’s one of those rare places that can draw quality snaps from even the most slapdash photographer, with a rocky palette that shifts from terracotta through pink and honey to dazzling white, the orange fires of sunrise and sunset adding their own hues to the mix.

From Uçhisar’s castle to the cliff-hewn churches of Çavusin, there are heavenly views at every turn.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for views of the landscape: Zen Cappadocia. Offering a garden and a terrace with a bar, Zen Cappadocia Boutique Hotel is set in Nevsehir, 9.9 miles from the Urgup Museum.
  • Best for an historical stay: Monte Cappa Cave House. Monte Cappa Cave House is situated in a beautifully restored historical building made of stone masonry. It offers a terrace with stunning views and friendly staff who can provide local information.

Hot air baloons with tourists in Cappadocia

23. Marvel at the pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The Pyramids at Giza were built at the very beginning of recorded human history, and for nearly five millennia they have stood on the edge of the desert plateau in magnificent communion with the sky.

The overwhelming impression is due not only to the magnitude of their age and size but also to their elemental form, their simple but compelling triangular silhouettes. Seen at prime times – dawn, sunset and after dark – they form as much a part of the natural order as the sun, the moon and the stars.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for views of the Giza Pyramids: Hayat Pyramids View Hotel. Giza Pyramids are 350 feet from the accommodation, while Great Sphinx is less than 0.6 miles from the property.
  • Best for resort style travel: Helnan Dreamland Hotel. A luxurious choice for business or leisure travellers, the Helnan Dream Land Hotel is located within the self-sustained community of Dreamland in 6th of October City, only 8 km from the Pyramids of Giza and 30 km from Cairo city centre.

Visiting the piramids of Giza probably is already in your travel bucket list

24. Take a hot air balloon over the savannah, Kenya

With the sun breaking over the horizon and warming chilly faces, the perfect serenity of this mode of transport is hard to beat. Below, hippos cavort in the muddy river and vervet monkeys watch the balloon’s passage from their treetop vantage points.

Once it’s over the plain, the balloon is ignored by the grazing herds of zebra and gazelle – but they flee its shadow and the whoosh of the burner when it flies too low. For wildlife photography, a balloon safari can’t equal patient observation on the ground, but few experiences can match this one for sheer unforgettability.

  • Best for getting close to nature: Mara Intrepids Tented Camp. Facing the Talek River, Mara offers elegantly furnished tents on raised platforms, and a terrace with a bar for spotting animals.
  • Best for the luxury camping experience: Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Overlooking the Mara River, home to hippos and crocodiles, all tents at Fairmont Mara have a private veranda for viewing wildlife.
  • Visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, stop at the Giraffe Center, see Rothschild giraffes, and visit the Kazuri Bead Factory. Enjoy all park fees already included in the price.
  • The Kenya Family Trip with plenty of game drives and fun activities for the whole family. Take your (grand)children and embark on the adventure of a (family) lifetime: 7 days in Kenya, with up-close animal encounters, game drives to see the Big 5 and plenty of fun day activities.
  • Thinking about a family trip to Kenya? Our tips for visiting Kenya with kids will help you manage the hassle and have a more relaxed trip.
  • To add comfort to your journey, also read our guide on when is the best time to travel to Kenya and explore our Kenya itineraries for inspiration.

Hot air balloon over the savannah, Kenya

25. Climb Table Mountain, South Africa

If the skies are clear on your first day in Cape Town, drop everything and head straight for Table Mountain. It’s an ecological marvel, and a powerful icon for the entire African continent. What’s more, the views from the top are unmissable – as long as the celebrated “tablecloth” of cloud stays away.

The obvious, and most popular, route to the top is to take the aerial cableway, but if you’d rather work a little harder, you can tackle one of the hiking trails that snake their way up the cliffs.

  • Best for travelling on a budget: Mojo Hotel/Hostel & Market is located in the suburb of Sea Point, just 3.1 miles from Cape Town's city centre. The beach and Sea Point Promenade is 350 feet away.
  • Best for views: The Verge Aparthotel offers self-catering accommodation in the suburb of Sea Point in Cape Town and just 5 minutes' walk away from the Sea Point Promenade. Free WiFi is offered and free private parking is available on site.
  • Hike the table mountain along one of the most popular paths in the Platteklip Gorge, as a half day tour from Cape Town.

Tailor-made trip:

Gaze out over the city to the ocean beyond and you’ll feel like you’re standing on top of the world.

Rough Guide tip: 


Table Mountain, South Africa

26. Eat barbecue in Texas Hill Country, USA

If you think barbecue is a sloppy pulled-pork sandwich or a platter of ribs drowned in a sticky, sweet sauce, a Texan will happily correct you. In the rolling hills around Austin – where pecan trees provide shade, pick-up trucks rule the road and the radio is devoted to Waylon, Willie and Merle – you’ll find barbecue as it should be: nothing but pure, succulent, unadulterated meat, smoked for hours over a low wood fire.

Thankfully, this austerity applies only to the substance – not the quantity – of the meat. Gut-busting excess is what makes barbecue truly American, after all.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Hyatt Place Austin Downtown offers air-conditioned accommodation in Austin. The property is set 300 m from Austin Convention Center, an 11-minute walk from Capitol Building and a 20-minute walk from Frank Erwin Center - University of Texas.
  • Best for rooftop view: Hilton Garden Inn features a restaurant, fitness centre, a bar and shared lounge in Austin. This 4-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and free WiFi. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge.

Don’t ever forget: it’s all about the meat.


Enjoy a meaty luxury in Kentucky

27. Explore mystical Sintra

One of Europe’s finest UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sintra, the former summer retreat of Portugal's monarchs, is dotted with palaces and surrounded by a series of shaded wooded ravines.

It has been a centre for cult worship for centuries: the early Celts named it Mountain of the Moon after one of their gods, and the hills are scattered with ley lines, mysterious tombs and house-sized boulders that litter the landscape as if thrown by giants.

The fairy-tale Palácio da Pena on the heights above town, with its dizzy views over the surrounding woodlands, looks like something from Shrek, complete with domes and drawbridges.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for gardens: Quinta Das Murtas. This rustic 19th-century manor house is set within peaceful gardens in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Quinta Das Murtas features an outdoor pool, a hot tub and free Wi-Fi in public areas.
  • Best for unique experience: Chalet Saudade. Located in the centre of Sintra but away from the touristic venues, Chalet Saudade dates back to 19th century and offers scenic views of the surroundings. Free WiFi is available.

    What to do:

  • Marvel at Pena Palace, one of the most magnificent and recognisable tourist attractions of Portugal. The palace exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture and stands atop a rocky peak, which is the second highest point in Sintra Hills.

    Tailor-made trips:

  • Travel south from the beautiful cities of Porto and Lisbon, down Portugal's stunning coast, as far as the charming resort town of Albufeira. On this tailor-made trip, you will also visit the historic coastal towns of Estoril, Sintra, Lagos and Sagres.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

The fairy-tale Pena Palace - one of the places you should visit before you die

28. Hike the Pennine Way, England & Scotland

The Pennine Way, Britain’s oldest and longest long-distance footpath, meanders 270 miles through some of England’s most beautiful and least crowded countryside.

This is Brontë country, grim on a dank, misty day but bleakly inspiring when the cloud lifts.
 In between walking the wilds, you can stay in pretty villages along the way. Again and again you’ll find yourself transported back to a bygone rural idyll of village shops, church bells and, of course, pubs.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Pennine Hotel. Boasting a restaurant, bar and free WiFi, Pennine Hotel is situated in Kirkby Stephen, 37 km from Askham Hall and 6.8 km from Brough Castle. The property is around 32 km from Whinfell Forest, 33 km from Bowes Museum and 35 km from Brougham Castle.
  • Best for atmosphere: Slaley Hall Hotel is an Edwardian mansion house with a modern twist set in 1000 acres of Northumberland countryside, just 38.6 km from Newcastle. It has a luxury spa, 2 PGA Championship golf courses, 3 restaurants and wonderful views.

The Pennine Way, England & Scotland

29. Have a beer in Brussels, Belgium

If you just ask for a beer in Belgium, your request will be met with a blank stare. Because no one produces such a wide range of beers as they do here: there are lagers, wheat beers, dark amber ales and strong beers brewed by Trappist monks. Quickly write this point down to your travel bucket list.

Brussels is the best place to try them all, including its own beery speciality, Lambic, a flattish concoction not much changed from the stuff they drank in Bruegel’s time. A few glasses is enough to have you behaving like one of the peasants in his paintings.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for budget: Motel One Brussels. Motel One Brussels is centrally located in Brussels, a 10-minute walk away from the Grand-Place, the Manneken Pis Statue, the Rue Neuve Shopping District and Brussels-Central Train Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire accommodation.
  • Best for hotel bar: Warwick Brussels. This luxurious hotel in the heart of Brussels is a 2-minute walk from the Grand-Place and Brussels Central Station. It features free access to the fitness centre and sauna. A brand newly installed air conditioning system is now fully operational for your satisfaction and comfort.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • This tailor-made trip will bring you the best of two countries: the Netherlands and Belgium. From the quaint streets, canals and windmills of Holland to beer and Belgium chocolate tasting in three beautiful Belgium cities. This trip has it all.

Belgium beer with a cheese plate

30. Eat gelato in Rome

This is definitely one for the foodie travel bucket list. A quiet revolution in that time-honoured Italian favourite – ice cream – has taken place in Rome over the last few years.

Gelaterias have upped their game, ordering the finest ingredients – lemons from Amalfi, pistachios from Sicily – and vying to create the city’s tastiest ices, in the most outlandish flavours. Order a suitably kooky combo – wasabi and chocolate, say, or basil, walnuts and honey– and hit the streets for the passeggiata.

Your kids will love the gelatto. Plan your family trip by finding even more things to do in Rome with kids.

  • Best for modern stays: SM Vatican Relais. Situated in Rome, near Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo and Lepanto Metro Station, SM Vatican Relais features free WiFi. An Italian breakfast is available each morning at the bed and breakfast.
  • Best for comfort: San Pietro Grand Suite. Located in Rome, 300 m from Ottaviano Metro Station and 600 m from Vatican Museums, San Pietro Grand Suite provides city views and free WiFi. The bed and breakfast offers an Italian or vegetarian breakfast.
  • Welcome to this tailor-made whirlwind tour of Rome, also known as the Eternal City. Rome is one of the most photogenic cities on earth, so make sure you pack your camera.

A variety of gelato in Rome

31. Feel the heat in a Finnish sauna

There are two million saunas in Finland – that’s 4 for every ten Finns – and they have played an integral part in Finnish life for centuries. Finns believe the sauna to be an exorcism of all ills, and there’s certainly nothing quite like it for inducing a feeling of serenity.

Traditionally, Finns end their sauna by mercilessly plunging straight into the nearest lake or, in winter, by rolling in the icy snow outside – the intense searing cold that follows the sweltering heat creating a compelling, addictive rush at the boundary of pleasure and pain.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for sunset views: Clarion Hotel Helsinki is situated along the waterfront in the district Jätkäsaari, 600 m from the West Ferry Terminal. Set in two 16-storey towers, this modern hotel offers a rooftop swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre. Free WiFi is available.
  • Best for sauna: Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa. This waterfront hotel is in a quiet, green district, 10 minutes’ drive from central Helsinki. It offers free access to WiFi, gym, sauna and pool. There's also an à la carte restaurant and a private beach.

Tailor-made trip:

Ever heard of a sauna cruise? Talk to our local expert in Finland and check out oursample itinerary to explore Helsinki, Rovaniemi (the Santa village) and beyond.

32. Brave the Devil's Throat at Iguazú, Argentina and Brazil

Every year, tens of thousands of visitors from around the world try to evaluate the sheer dimension of this natural miracle – around 275 individual cascades, the highest with a drop of over 80m – and usually fail.

However you spell it – Iguazú, Iguaçu or Iguassu – there’s little doubt that these are the most spectacular falls in the world and they should be on your travel bucket list. Get right into the heart of the action on a boat trip up to the ominously named Devil’s Throat, one of the most impressive cascades.

No matter if you decide to visit from the Argentinean side or the Brazilian one, our tailor-made trips experts are at your fingertips to help you with your ideal trip.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for gardens: Hotel Saint George boasts a lush garden with 2 pools and spa facilities. It is located 300 m from Puerto Iguazu city centre, and 17 km from the Iguazu Waterfalls.
  • Best for luxury stays: Hotel das Cataratas. Facing the spectacular Iguaçu Falls inside Iguaçu National Park, the 5-star Hotel das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel, Iguassu Falls allows guests to enjoy a cocktail by the swimming pool or play a game of tennis on the provided court, and also provides free WiFi

    Tailor-made trip:

  • With our tailor-made tour visit two of the most fascinating parts of Argentina: First, the electrifying capital of Buenos Aires in all of its glory before heading out to Puerto Iguazu to discover the majestic Iguazu waterfalls.
Iguazu Waterfall, Argentina © sharptoyou/Shutterstock

Iguazu Waterfall, Argentina © sharptoyou/Shutterstock

33. Paint the town red at La Tomatina, Spain

If you want to indulge your childhood fantasies, there’s only one place to go. On the last Wednesday in August, tomato-throwing madness takes over the tiny town of Buñol. This enormous public tomato fight sees 130,000 kilos of over-ripe tomatoes hurled until the streets are ankle deep in squishy red fruit. All in all, it only lasts about an hour, but it’ll go down in memory as one of the messiest, most fun days you’ll ever have.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Casa Rural en el Pueblo. Situated in Buñol, 40 km from Bioparc Valencia, 41 km from Church of Saint Nicolás and 41 km from Norte Train Station, Casa Rural en el Pueblo features accommodation with a patio and free WiFi. Guests benefit from a balcony and a terrace.

La Tomatina, Spain © Shutterstock

34. Kayak Milford Sound, New Zealand

Dwarfed beneath the forest-clad mountains that soar to either side, it’s hard to comprehend just how tiny you are in comparison to the sheer size of Milford Sound. That the fiord makes even the most cumbersome and colossal cruise ship look small is an indication of just how impressive the scale is here.

But only getting out on the water will give you a true sense of its majestic beauty – to really get up close, and access spots that no cruise ship could ever reach, head out on a kayak.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for overnight cruise: Milford Sound Overnight Cruise. Fiordland Discovery offers a scenic overnight boat cruise around New Zealand's iconic Milford Sound. Guests can enjoy spectacular views of the towering peaks and waterfalls, and spot local wildlife, including seals and penguins, from the boat. Each luxury cabin has an en suite bathroom and is individually climate controlled with both heating and air-conditioning.
  • Best for nature: Milford Sound Lodge. With garden views, Milford Sound Lodge is located in Milford Sound and has a restaurant, room service, bar and garden. Both WiFi and private parking are available at the lodge free of charge.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • The larger of the two major island in New Zealand, South Island is best to be explored at your own pace in a rental car. From massive mountains to beaches, panoramic waterfalls to challenging hiking trails, this itinerary shows you the best of South Island.

There’s something undeniably exhilarating about exploring somewhere so immense from so close to the water.


Milford Sound, New Zealand © Shutterstock

35. Celebrate the Loy Krathong Festival of Light, Thailand

In the days leading up to Thailand’s annual Loy Krathong Festival of Light, pretty little baskets fashioned from banana leaves and filled with orchids, marigolds, candles and incense sticks begin to appear at market stalls across the country.

On festival night, these are lit and set afloat with prayers of thanks to the water goddess, in whose honour this festival is held. The sight of hundreds of bobbing lights drifting away on the breeze, taking with them any bad luck accrued over the past year, is beautiful.

Find your perfect accommodation options in Thailand

Tailor-made trips:

Thailand is always worth a visit, so even if you're visiting outside of Loy Krathong, Northern Thailand and the islands make for a spectacular holiday any time of the year. Check our sample itineraries linked or contact our local experts today to create your own personalised trip.


Loy Krathong Festival of Light, Thailand

36. Down caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What could be simpler than a caipirinha? Made with just cachaça (a rum-like spirit distilled from fermented sugar-cane juice), fresh lime, sugar and ice, the caipirinha (literally “little peasant girl”) is served at nearly every bar and restaurant in Brazil. Neither insipidly sweet nor jarringly alcoholic, it’s one of the easiest and most pleasant cocktails to drink. And on a hot, sticky night in Rio, the perfection of a caipirinha is undebatable.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for families: Emiliano Rio. Boasting an outdoor infinity pool, Emiliano Rio is set in a privileged location in Rio de Janeiro, beachfront to Copacabana Beach. The contemporary architecture values the natural light and the sea view, offering guests a special and unique connection with the city. Free WiFi is provided, and private parking is available on site.
  • Best for nightlife fans: YOO2 Rio. Located in front of Botafogo Beach, and offering amazing view to Sugarloaf and Corcovado Mountains, Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro boasts an outdoor pool. Guests can also enjoy drinks at the rooftop bar.

    Tailor-made trips:

  • As with all of our tailor-made trips, these itineraries can be modified to fit your preferences and tastes. The Brazilian Beaches itinerary includes Iguassu and the beaches of Rio.

Enjoy caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

37. Climb Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The statistics are impressive. Measuring some 40km across and rising 5895m above sea level, Kilimanjaro is easily Africa’s highest mountain. But such bald facts fail to capture the thrill of actually climbing it: the days spent tramping from muggy montane forest to snowy summit.

It’s hard to match the exhilaration of watching the sunrise from the Roof of Africa, with an entire continent seemingly spread out beneath you. The sense of fulfilment will stay with you, long after you’ve finally said goodbye to Kili.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for backpacking: Arusha Safari Hostel. Located in Arusha, 5.8 km from Uhuru monument, Arusha Safari Hostel provides accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a shared lounge and barbecue facilities.

A view of the Kilimanjaro mountain, Tanzania

38. Spend the day at Tivoli, Denmark

Not many cities have a roller coaster, a pirate ship and an 80m-high carousel slap bang in their centre, but Copenhagen is home to Tivoli – probably the best fairground in the world.

The famous pleasure gardens have dished out fun and thrills to a bewitched public since 1843. But the rides are just the icing on the cake – there are forty or so restaurants, jazz bandstands and, in the weeks around Christmas, spectacular lighting displays and a Christmas Market. Even if fairs usually leave you cold, you can’t fail to be won over by the innocent pleasures of Tivoli.

    Where to stay:

  • Best Boutique Hotel close to Tivoli: Ascot Hotel. Set in a charming 19th-century building, this hotel is 3 minutes’ walk from City Hall Square and Tivoli Gardens. It offers free WiFi, free gym access and a popular breakfast buffet. Copenhagen Central Station is 500 m away.
  • Best Family Hotel close to Tivoli: Absalon Hotel. This family-run hotel is in the vibrant Vesterbro district, within 5 minutes’ walk of Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli Gardens. It offers bicycle rentals and a popular Scandinavian breakfast buffet.

What to do:

Save yourself the time and skip the lines at Tivoli so you can use the remainder of the day cruising the canals of Copenhagen.

On a fine summer’s night it’s nothing short of magical.


Amazing Tivoli must be on your travel bucket list

39. Crank up the volume on King's Day, the Netherlands

You’ll find enough beer-chugging, pill-popping and red-hot partying to satisfy the most voracious of appetites.

At the end of April each year, Amsterdam, a city famed for its easy-going, fun-loving population, manages to crank the party volume a few notches higher in a street party that blasts away for a full 24 hours.

On King’s Day, there are only two rules: you must dress as ridiculously as possible, preferably in orange, the Dutch national colour, which adorns virtually every building, boat and body on the day; and you must drink enough beer not to care.

If you're planning to travel to the next King's Day, book cheap flights to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

  • For one-star excellence: Hotel Prinsenhof is a small one-star which has been offering bed and board since 1813. Its 11 rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, making it one of Amsterdam’s top budget options, but booking ahead is essential.
  • For no-limits luxury: elegant old-timer, De L’Europe Amsterdam, has plenty of fin-de-siècle charm and a central riverside location. The rooms are large and opulent, and there’s also a two-Michelin-star restaurant, Bord’eau, as well as a spa and the glamorous, Freddy’s Bar.

Or find more accommodation options in our guide to the best areas to stay in Amsterdam


The King's Day, the Netherlands

40. Marvel at Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, Spain

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet’s pièce de résistance is famously still under construction more than a century after he took the project on: “My client is not in a hurry” was his jocular riposte to the epic timescale.

Conceived as a riposte to secular radicalism, the Temple Expiatiori de la Sagrada Família consumed the final decade and a half of a life that had become increasingly reclusive. Gaudí couldn’t have imagined that a new millennium would find his creation feted as a wonder of the postmodern world, symbolic of a Barcelona reborn and the single most popular tourist attraction in Spain.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for families: Gaudi Sagrada Familia. Just 100 m from La Sagrada Família, the stylish Gaudi Sagrada Familia apartments offer balconies and free Wi-Fi. They are situated within a 2-minute walk of Sagrada Familia Metro Station.
  • Best budget stay: Hostemplo Sagrada Familia. This design guest house has an excellent location just 200 m from Gaudí’s world-famous Sagrada Familia. There is free Wi-Fi throughout.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • With our tailor-made tour to the tale of two cities explore the capital of Spain Madrid with a unique city tour before heading about an hour outside of the city, to visit Europe's longest zip-line in historic Toledo. Afterwards, board a train to explore the second-largest city of Spain, Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain © R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock

Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain © R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock

41. Float down Norway's Geirangerfjord

Everything about the Geirangerfjord is dramatic, even the approach: zigzagging up through the mountains from Åndalsnes before throwing yourself round a series of hair-raising bends as you descend the aptly named Ørnevegen, or Eagle’s Highway, the fjord glittering like a precious gem below.

A great slice of deep blue carved into the crystalline rock walls and snaking out in an “S” shape as it weaves west, it might be one of the region’s smallest fjords, but it’s undoubtedly one of its most beautiful.

    Where to stay:

  • Best hotel and spa: Hotel Union Geiranger Bad and Spa. Overlooking the Geiranger Fjord, this spa hotel offers a rooftop garden, free parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi access, a minibar and a TV. The Flydalsjuvet viewing point is 4 km away.
  • Best view: Hotel Utsikten - by Classic Norway Hotels. Located in Møre og Romsdal County, this hotel offers Norwegian cuisine and panoramic views of the Geiranger Fjord. Guests can enjoy free WiFi access and free private parking.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • This tailor-made tour is perfect for people who want to explore the Arctic. Begin your journey from the southern part of Finland via Sweden up to the northern part of Norway. Most importantly, you will be hunting for the Northern Lights in the best locations! From Nov to March.

Norway's Geirangerfjord

42. Hike Half Dome in Yosemite, USA

Half Dome’s looming, truncated form (“like it had been sliced with a knife”) makes it one of the most iconic mountains in North America. It’s also an exhilarating hike. From the top, nearly 9000ft up, the dramatic views of Yosemite National Park will render you speechless.

Those who dare can edge toward Half Dome’s lip and dangle their feet over the side, while the very brave (or very foolish) may inch out along a projecting finger of rock for a vertiginous look straight down the near-vertical face.

    Where to stay:

  • Best Autocamp: AutoCamp Yosemite. Set in Midpines, 42 km from Yosemite Arch Rock Entrance, AutoCamp Yosemite offers accommodation with free bikes, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar.
  • Best located hotel: The Ahwahnee. Situated in Yosemite Village, 3.9 km from El Capitan, The Ahwahnee features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar.

    What to do:

  • Experience the incredible scenery of Yosemite National Park and a Giant Sequoia Walk all in 1 day on this tour. You'll have hours to explore, marveling at the Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and amazing Giant Sequoia trees before returning to San Francisco.

Sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy the view.

Sunrise on Half Dome in the Forest, Yosemite National Park, California ©  Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock

Yosemite in the setting sun

43. Relive the Wild West at the Calgary Stampede, Canada

Every July the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” – the Calgary Stampede – causes a usually conservative city to go wild. Everything suddenly becomes, well, more western – which for Calgary means shifting gears into serious cowboy overdrive – expect white Stetsons, blue jeans, bolo ties and handmade leather boots.

For those who live on isolated farms or in small communities, this is their chance to bring the cowboy culture into the big city and really let rip. For the half-million visitors, it’s a chance to join in the ultimate Wild West carnival, often given the accolade of North America’s roughest rodeo.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Hotel Arts. Offering an outdoor pool and bar with a retractable roof and a fitness centre, Hotel Arts is located in Calgary city centre. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property. Calgary Stampede is just 1 km away.
  • Best for budget: HI Calgary City Centre. Located in the heart of Calgary, a daily breakfast and continuous free coffee and tea is provided at HI-Calgary City Centre. The City Hall transit stop is 2 minutes away and offers free transport within the city centre. Free WiFi is included.
 Brett Holmes/Shutterstock

The Calgary Stampede

44. Watch the sunrise at Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal was arguably the greatest of all Guatemala’s Maya cities, controlling an empire of vassal states and trade routes between the southern highlands and the Caribbean. And the symbols of its dominance – six great temples – still stand. Impressive at any time of day, Tikal shows itself to full advantage in the hours around sunrise.

As the ruins of this Maya city come to life around you, and the forest’s denizens gradually begin to emerge from their night-time resting places, dawn is a magical time.

  • Best for staying in the park: Hotel Tikal Inn. Stay at location right inside Tikal National Park, enjoy the refreshing jungle experience and Ancient Maya History. Relax in their outdoor pool watching spider monkey play in trees outside your room. They boast a tropical rustic style decor with beautiful thatched cottages and restaurant.
  • Best for staying in jungle: Jungle Lodge Tikal Hostal. Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Jungle Lodge Tikal Hostal is located in Tikal, just 1 km from the main square. It features free WiFi and beautiful tropical gardens.

What to do:

If you prefer day tours, check out this guided day tour from Flores to Tikal.

Editor's tips: When planning your trip familiarise yourself with all the nuances of the country's weather with our guide to the best time to visit Guatemala. Also for better planning, read our breakdown of how many days are optimal for visiting Guatemala and our Guatemala travel tips.

Tailor-made trip:

Take a tailor-made trip to Guatemala, like this sample itinerary off-the-beaten track in Guatemala and Belize.

 Jonas Andreae/Shutterstock

The sunrise at Tikal, Guatemala

45. Fall under the spell of Luang Prabang, Laos

The pace of life is deliciously slow in Luang Prabang. Though it has the air of a rather grand village, this is the ancient Lao capital, the most cultured town in Laos and one of the best preserved in Southeast Asia.

You’ll find a captivating scene whichever way you turn: saffron-robed monks emerging from their temple-monasteries to collect alms, temple roofs peeping out from the groves and streets still lined with wood-shuttered shophouses and French-colonial mansions.

To better prepare for your upcoming trip to Laos read the Laos travel tips we've collected.

  • Best for luxury: Avani+ Luang Prabang Hotel. Set in the centre of AVANI Luang Prabang, AVANI Luang Prabang boasts a central garden and a 25 m long swimming pool. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property and free private parking is available on site.
  • Best Boutique Riverview: The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel. Located along Mekong River, The Belle Rive features comfortable rooms with air conditioning and free minibar. It boasts a 24-hour front desk and free WiFi, which is available in all areas.
  • Embark on a shared or private cruise to Pak Ou Caves with a stop to taste rice whiskey and explore a cave. After lunch in an elephant camp, travel by car to Kuang Si Falls.
  • One of Southeast Asia’s lesser-known countries, Laos is definitely off the beaten track, but it has retained its culture, charm and traditional village life, wild jungle and stunning countryside. Come here for tradition and mystery and a unique adventure.
Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, Laos

46. Get away from it all in the Gilis, Indonesia

Collectively referred to as the Gilis, the trio of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air each has its own characteristic charm. The smallest and most tranquil of the three, Gili Meno, is perhaps the most picturesque, with pure white-sand beaches framed against the warm turquoise waters, while Trawangan, the largest, is well known for its party atmosphere. A bit of both can be found on Gili Air.

All three offer powdery beaches, snorkelling and diving opportunities and unlimited time under the tropical sun. What are you waiting for?

  • Best for a romantic getaway: Samata Village Gili Air. Welcoming guests with breeze and greenery, Samata Village Gili air is located in Gili Air in the Lombok Region, 6 km from Gili Trawangan. The property features a year-round outdoor pool with a sun deck where you can relax.
  • Best for Instagram shootings: Flamingo. Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, bar, garden and free WiFi, Flamingo is situated in Gili Trawangan, 700 m from North East Beach and 800 m from North West Beach. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and luggage storage for guests.
  • Explore Bali & Lombok before heading to the Gilis or go even further to the island paradise of Flores and Sumba. Planning a family trip? Also read our guide to travelling in Bali with kids.

Tropical beach in Gilis

47. Take the polar plunge, Antarctica

A cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula throws up more giddying thrills than you could hope to count. What with the glaciers and the whales, the mountains and the million-strong penguin colonies, the scale and beauty of the place can be genuinely overwhelming. Literally the most breathtaking tradition of all, however, has to be the opportunity to dunk yourself into the Southern Ocean.

If you’ve never taken a dip in sub-zero Antarctic waters, rest assured that it’s a bracing experience, not so much about rising to a challenge as giving yourself a short, sharp shock that enables you to appreciate the fullness of your surroundings.

You’ll have new respect for the hardy penguins that dart around beneath the chilly waves all day.

19 places for a digital detox: Penguins, Antarctica.

Penguins dive off an iceberg in Antarctica

48. Hit the streets for Notting Hill Carnival, England

In August, the familiar streets of Notting Hill are transformed into a wash of colour, sound, movement and pure, unadulterated joy. This huge street festival is the highlight of London’s party calendar and an item to be included in your travel bucket list.

Fragrant smoke wafts from jerk chicken stalls, bass lines tremble through the air, streets lined by mansion blocks become canyons of sound, and all you can see is a moving sea of people, jumping and blowing whistles as wave after wave of music ripples through the air.

    Where to stay in Notting Hill:

  • Best for families: Blue Bells Hotel. This 18th-century Victorian building has a superb central location in Notting Hill. The famous Portobello Road and market are around 15 minutes’ walk away.
  • Best hostel: Hostel One Notting Hill provides accommodation in London near Portobello Road Market and Royal Albert Hall. This is a social party hostel designed for young backpackers and solo travellers. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, free WiFi, and free daily activities and evening events.

For two days, the only thing that matters is the delicious, anarchic freedom of dancing on the London streets.

Notting Hill carnival © Shutterstock

Notting Hill carnival © Shutterstock

49. Drop in on the churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

An enigmatic and utterly beguiling country, Ethiopia has endless intrigue. From its unique, highly sociable cuisine – the basis of which is injera, a spongy sourdough pancake, piled high with piquant curries and stews and shared between friends – to its ancient language and curly Amharic script, there’s very little that’s familiar about this place, and your trip will be all the better for it.

Lalibela, in Ethiopia’s highlands, is a quiet, rural place. Yet in the thirteenth century it was the capital of the great Zagwe dynasty, one of whose last rulers, King Lalibela, embarked on a quest to build a Holy Land on Ethiopian soil.

Historians say he was inspired to build the town’s famous rock-hewn churches after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, while the devout claim that he was instructed by angels during a poison-induced sleep. Whatever the real reason, the town of Lalibela, built as a “new Jerusalem”, leaves pilgrims and visitors alike humbled by the elegance of its churches.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for a river view: Sora Lodge Lalibela. With river views, Sora Lodge Lalibela is set in Lalībela and has a restaurant, room service, bar, garden and terrace. Both WiFi and private parking are available at the lodge free of charge.
  • Best for budget: Top Twelve Hotel. Set in Lalībela, 1.2 km from Bet Medhane Alem, Top Twelve Hotel - Lalibela offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. Featuring room service, this property also provides guests with a terrace.

    What to do:

  • Discover the monolithic, semi-monolithic, and cave-like churches of Lalibela on a full-day private tour. Learn the history behind these impressive structures and join in a traditional coffee ceremony.

Abbandoned church in Lalibela

50. Celebrate the Biennale in Venice, Italy

Several European cities hold major contemporary art fairs, but Venice Biennale has more glamour, prestige and news value than any other cultural jamboree. The main site is in the Giardini Pubblici, where there are permanent pavilions for about 40 countries that participate at every festival.

In addition, various sites host fringe exhibitions, installations and performances. With artists, critics and collectors swarming around the bars and restaurants, the art world buzz of the Biennale penetrates every corner of the city – it’s unforgettable.

    Where to stay:

  • Best budget option: Generator Venice. offers stylish rooms and dormitories on Giudecca Island, with views of Saint Mark's Square in the distance. It is a 10-minute ride by water bus to San Marco district with lines 4.1, 4.2 and 2. The property has free WiFi, a 24-hour reception, a cafè and views of the Grand Canal.
  • Best for a romantic getaway: Hotel Bucintoro. Right on the waterfront in the heart of Venice and next to San Biagio Church, Hotel Bucintoro offers elegant rooms and suites with panoramic views over the Venice Lagoon.

    What to do:

  • Head straight inside the Doge's Palace in Venice with your admission ticket. Explore the site that was the head of a thousand-year republic and marvel at its art and architecture. Walk across the iconic Bridge of Sighs.

    Tailor-made trip:

  • Enjoy a weekend getaway in the most romantic of cities. This compact tailor-made trip features a pleasant walking tour, which provides a unique insight into the history, art and architecture of Venice, and a gondola ride.
Biennale, Venice ©  avphotosales/Shutterstock

Venice during Biennale © avphotosales/Shutterstock

51. Experience Bhutan - a tiny country leading the way in sustainable tourism

Hidden in the Himalayas, with all the matchless scenery you’d expect, the tiny country of Bhutan is staggeringly beautiful. Piercing peaks and plunging valleys fold into its borders, where you can climb to mountaintop monasteries, hike through ancient forests and horseback ride over lush green plains, while local guides give a real insight into the country’s living spirituality.

Bhutan has been quietly forging its own path for centuries. Now, it’s leading the way in sustainable tourism. With at least sixty percent forest cover, Bhutan takes environmental conservation seriously. It’s already carbon negative, and while the target to become the world’s first fully organic nation by 2020 has been pushed back, they are still actively working on it.

Preservation is priceless, and travellers to this enchanting nation will leave with a real sense of what a privilege it is to experience Bhutan’s natural, cultural and spiritual riches.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for comfort: Nirvana Inn. Located in Paro, 3.4 km from Paro Airport, Nirvana Inn provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness centre and a bar. Providing a shared lounge, the property is located within 13 km of Drugyel Dzong. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.
  • Best for luxury: Taj Tashi Bhutan. Five-star luxury awaits at Taj Tashi Bhutan, set in the heart of Bhutan’s Thimphu Valley. Featuring elaborate Bhutanese architecture, the hotel offers a fitness centre and luxurious spa. 4 dining options are provided in the hotel.

    What to do:

  • Come explore the rich culture, customs, traditions, history of Bhutan, an untouched land on the lap of the Himalayas with this 10-day tour.

Monks in Bhutan

52. Discover Tbilisi's reignited cultural scene

While the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has long lured visionary types to its bohemian neighbourhoods, it’s slipped under the tourist radar for years. That may have something to do with its turbulent recent history: although Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there followed a period of civil war, violence and ethnic tensions.

Over the past decade, however, a new generation has reignited Tbilisi’s cultural scene through a mix of local art galleries, exhibition spaces, music venues, concept stores and creative hubs. A growing crop of industrial- style hotels is springing up across the city, many set in Soviet-era factories and publishing houses.

The food scene is thriving, too – innovative chefs have taken the helm in the kitchens of new restaurants, where they reimagine traditional Georgian cuisine with a modern twist. The revolution is underway.

Read more about why Georgia is the ultimate adventure destination.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for comfort: Terrace Boutique Hotel. Featuring a tour desk, ticket service and 24-hour front desk, The Terrace Hotel is situated in Tbilisi, 1 km from Rustaveli metro Station. Free WiFi and free private parking are available on site.
  • Best for a stunning view: Hotisi Hotel. Located in Tbilisi City and with Freedom Square reachable within 1.9 km, Hotisi Hotel provides express check-in and check-out, allergy-free rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi throughout the property and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace.

    What to do:

  • Discover the wine region on a full-day tour from Tbilisi. Visit beautiful towns, taste plenty of Georgian wine and find out more about the traditional winemaking process.

Tbilisi in Georgia

53. Hike in Gorges du Verdon - the 'alternative Grand Canyon'

The breathtaking beauty and majesty of the Gorges du Verdon – also known as the Grand Canyon du Verdon – almost matches that of its American cousin, albeit on a much smaller scale. Peppered with spectacular viewpoints, plunging crevices up to 700m deep, and glorious azure-blue lakes, this area of Provence in France is absolutely irresistible.

The river falls from Rougon at the top of the gorge, disappearing into tunnels, decelerating for shallow, languid moments and finally exiting in full, steady flow at the Pont du Galetas at the western end of the canyon. Alongside is the huge artificial Lac de Sainte-Croix, which is great for swimming when the water levels are high.

Moustiers-Ste-Marie is the loveliest village on the fringes of the gorge, occupying a magnificent site near its western end. Set high on a hillside, just out of sight of both canyon and lake, it straddles a plummeting stream that cascades between two golden cliffs. A star slung between them on a chain, originally suspended by a returning Crusader, just adds to its charms.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for terrace: Hotel La Bonne Auberge. Set in the Verdon Regional Park, this hotel features a swimming pool and a shaded terrace in the garden. Regional dishes are served in the hotel’s restaurant.
  • Best for lake: La Clorinde. Located in the heart of an olive grove, 800 m from the village of Moustiers, La Clorinde is ideally situated to discover the Gorges du Verdon (1.5Km) and to appreciate the beauty of the lake of Sainte Croix (3Km) and the lavender fields.

    What to do:

  • Witness the incredible natural beauty of Provence on this picturesque tour and experience the breathtaking views of the Verdon Gorge.
Gorge of Verdon

Gorges du Verdon in France

54. Admire Victoria Falls - the world’s widest curtain of water

Along with Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls – or Mosioa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”) – ranks as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. No matter how many pictures you’ve seen beforehand, nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring sight and deafening sound of the falls.

The world’s widest curtain of water crashes down a huge precipice, producing clouds of spray visible from afar, before squeezing into a zigzag of sheer-sided gorges as a torrent of turbulent rapids, carving its way to the Indian Ocean well over 1000km away.

Their dramatic setting on the Zambezi river – on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border – has also made Victoria Falls the undisputed adventure capital of Africa. There’s an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer, from whitewater rafting and bungee jumping to zip-lining and bodyboarding.

Read more in our First-timer's Guide to the Victoria Falls.

    Where to stay:

  • Best for location: Ilala Lodge is your best bet if you want to be as close to the Falls as possible. Occupying lovely grounds, the lodge has stylish rooms, a small pool and an excellent restaurant. Best of all, though, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the park’s entrance; from the hotel’s terrace, you can see clouds of spray rising from the Falls.
  • Best for views: Victoria Falls Safari Club. Victoria Falls Safari Club is a premium boutique hotel located 6 km from the Victoria Falls bridge. This property features a viewing deck overlooking the game corridor to the Zambezi River.

    What to do:

  • Embark on the Zambezi River with a dinner cruise and take in the glorious sunset color palette, surrounded by a wildlife paradise. Savor a unique 4-course meal on board as you admire the beauty of the setting sun.
Victoria Falls waterfall Zambezi river

Victoria Falls

Looking for more travel ideas? Also read our guide to unique travel experience around the world.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

Discover more of the world’s best travel experiences with The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth 2022. Every single one is a personal recommendation from a Rough Guides writer, chosen to inspire you to get away from established routes and to seek something that little bit more special and authentic. We hope that they truly inspire you to make the most of your time on Earth.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Helen Fanthorpe

written by
Helen Fanthorpe

updated 12.06.2024

Helen worked as a Senior Travel Editor at Rough Guides and Insight Guides, based in the London office. Among her favourite projects to work on are inspirational guides like Make the most of your time on Earth, the ultimate travel bucket list.

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