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Top adventures to add to your bucket list

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list

Susan Sontag

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a bucket list as a list of things a person wishes to do or achieve before they die. The term originates from the phrase ‘to kick the bucket’ – meaning to die.

Whether they think of it as a bucket list, everyone has some sort of wish list of things they want to do or see during their time on this earth. Mine grows quicker than I can check items off and I am always on the lookout for unusual experiences to add.

While I have been blessed to travel to many countries, there is still a long list to go.

So I threw it out to the travel blogger community, and they sent me their top bucket list adventures. Some are mainstream, while others are unique and unusual experiences. Whether you are looking for road trips, adventure, events, picturesque hikes or amazing sites and places to stay, there is something for everyone!

Whet your travel appetite with this list of bucket list places to visit across the continents, ordered by location! Some of these are definitely now added to mine!

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Africa bucket list experiences

 

Okavango Delta Helicopter, Botswana

Rachel from Round the world Rachel

Rachel from Round the World Rachel flying over the Okavango Delta, Botswana

When you are planning your Okavango Delta tour, think carefully about the time of the year you are traveling. The kind of wildlife you can see is dependent on this. If you are wanting to see large herds of elephants, zebras and giraffes, plan your vacation for winter in Botswana. This is when most of the animals are in the surrounding delta and can be seen easily.

From a helicopter, you will have a greater chance of seeing wildlife. We were lucky enough to fly low which meant seeing Nile Crocodiles and hyenas up close.

A private helicopter will always seem a lot more pricey, but seeing the Okavango Delta on a private flight really gives you the best views.

Many of the pilots have been heavily trained, not just in flying the helicopters, but also about the land. Many grew up in the area and know the wildlife well. Our pilot had been living in Maun for over 10 years and knew all of the best spots to fly past to catch a glimpse of a sleeping big cat or where the African wild dog pack lived. He was knowledgeable on the animals and their habitat. So, it was great hearing facts and information as we flew over various animals.

It was easily the highlight of my African road trip and worth every penny.

You can check out more of Rachel’s African Adventures in her driving in Mozambique post.

You can check out more things to do in Botswana here.

 

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Madagascar

Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Linn from Brainy Backpackers swimming with a Whale Shark in Madagascar

Swimming with whale sharks had been on my bucket list over things to do for more than 10 years. But I wanted to do it somewhere not so crowdy and not so touristy. Last year, the opportunity finally came as I visited Madagascar. 

The whale sharks pass the northern part of the island in the month of November around the island of Nosy Be. You can fly directly to Nosy Be or travel by bus or car from the capital to Antananarivo to get to the island.

The tours take specific care of the well being of the whale sharks when they take tourists and only one boat at the time is allowed to let people swim with the animals at the time. The other boats have to wait their turn at a distance. This is to not scare the whale sharks and to secure that all individuals respect the rules of no touching etc. Briefings are also made to not wear sunscreen that is harmful to the animal and slide into the water to not create waves and scare the whale sharks away. When I went, I only saw two other boats looking for whale sharks.

The experience was mesmerizing. The enormous fish was so pleasantly calm in the water and swam straight towards us and got up really close without seeming bothered to share his yummy plankton with us. The whale sharks can grow up to twelve meters but are not aggressive, rather the opposite. This is definitely a bucket list adventure I can recommend and one of many extraordinary animal encounters in Madagascar! But make sure you do it in a place that is not overcrowded by tourists so the whale sharks won’t suffer.

 

Tracking Gorillas in Rwanda

Carly from Carly’s Adventures Afar

Silverback Gorillas in Rwanda from Carly's adventures afar

My breath caught as the baby gorilla’s liquid amber eyes peered at me through the vegetation. The curiosity and intellect apparent.

Nearby a huge silverback mountain gorilla sat sleeping. Completely unbothered and unfazed by the small group of tourists trying to contain their excitement.

Other gorillas lazed amongst the patch of stinging nettles, one of the favourite habitats of mountain gorillas.

A huge smile was plastered on my face and would stay there for weeks.

I was experiencing one of the ultimate wildlife encounters in the world, tracking gorillas in Rwanda.

We had reached this small group of gorillas after hiking a steep path through the lush rainforests of Rwanda’s Volcano National Park. The hike can be challenging as it is at high altitude and varies in length depending on which group you are allocated.

Whilst the permits to visit the gorillas of Rwanda are now the most expensive at USD1,500 I do think the price is worth it. Spending the all-too short hour with the gorillas was truly special.

For me it was also important to know my money helped with the conservation and research of these  incredible animals, and also went to paying the salaries of the guides and porters (some of who used to be poachers).

Many people visit Rwanda’s gorillas as part of a tour or organised group. But it is possible to make the arrangements yourself like I did.

First you’ll need to obtain the necessary permit by contacting the Rwanda Development Board. Be sure to do this as far in advance as possible given the extremely limited spaces available every day.

You will also need to arrange 4WD transport to Kingi where the trip begins. This can be organised in Muzanze the nearby town which is the base for gorilla tracking.

To reach Muzanze you can take a public bus from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

Read more about Carly’s experience tracking Gorillas in Rwanda

 

Safari Adventure South Africa

James from Travelscribes

Family of Elephants in South Africa by James from Travel Scribes

Picture it. You’re up long before the sun rises each day, rolling yourself out of bed and, still groggy, strapping yourself into an oversized jeep and snuggling down into a warm fleecy blanket. Your guide, a local wildlife expert, briefs you on the morning ahead and virtually as you round your first corner, you’re staring down a herd of elephants, chewing slowly as the first rays of light signal the dawn.

Yes, you’re on safari in South Africa. And you’ve started your day off right.

While the entire African continent is known for safaris, there is no doubt that South Africa (along with perhaps Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana), is the place to do it. Teeming with the Big five – that’s elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard, in case you’re wondering – South Africa boasts some of the best parks and the most luxurious hotels, particularly in the Kruger National Park.

However, even if you’re on a budget, you could opt for a self-drive safari, where you can go through the park at your leisure, spotting towering giraffes, local monkeys and hundreds of different species of bird, all living side by side.

You’ll see springboks (the national animal of South Africa) rubbing shoulders with hippos at the watering hole, you’ll definitely see a pride of lions on the hunt, or a cheetah – the world’s fastest land animal – racing across the Savannah.

A safari in South Africa is a must-do for any bucket list, the Lion King brought into real life.

 

Living with a Xhosa Tribe in South Africa

Lieve from Elundini Backpackers

Learning to make the Zhosa bread by Lieve from Elundini BackpackersFor thousands of years the Xhosa people lived harmoniously with each other and nature. Their traditional community had a strong sense of right and wrong, respect for all people, treating one’s neighbours as one would oneself, living a sustainable lifestyle free from stress and enjoying the joy and laughter of a supportive and connected community.

Although colonialism and the demands of the modern world have touched every corner of the globe, there are still pockets of the Eastern Cape of South Africa where people still live with a heartfelt connection to their traditional ways. Elundini village is such a place.

Sleep over at Elundini Backpackers, run by a Belgian-Xhosa couple. Enjoy the activities organised by people of the community through their 100% self owned businesses: learn how to bake Xhosa bread on an open coal fire, fetch the wood yourself and carry it back on your head, learn the tongue twisting Xhosa language or go on an exciting village tour. Disconnect for a couple of days from western society and all its modern commodities. Connect with nature and the Xhosa people.

 

 

Swimming in Angel’s Pool, Victoria Falls Zambia

Fiona from Passport and Piano

Fiona from Passport and Piano swimming in Angel's Pool, Victoria Falls Zambia with a local guide

Victoria Falls in Zambia is one of the worlds most magnificent waterfalls and its listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

At the top of the waterfall is a small island called Livingstone Island, and Tongabezi tours offer adrenaline seekers the opportunity to visit Angel’s pool or Devils pool.  If you’ve got the nerve, you can then go for a swim at the top of the waterfall.

It’s not for the faint-hearted as the flow of water is tremendous, and the pools sit right on the edge. However, its a fantastic and unique experience.

The adrenaline rush that you get leaning over the edge, swimming at the top of the falls and the sheer force of the flow of water is impossible to describe.

One of the guides leads you through the powerful currents of the Zambezi to the pool.  There are no guide ropes, and you’re not attached to anything, so you have to hold your nerve.

When you reach the pool, there’s a chance to relax and enjoy the magnificent view over the falls.

There’s plenty of photo opportunities, and the guides take you individually to the very edge of the falls.

You cannot visit Livingstone Island independently so to swim in either Devils or Angels pool, Victoria Falls you have to book a tour.  Numerous tour operators organise trips to the island, but once you’re there the experience is the same as Tongabezi operate the island.

 

 

Americas bucket list experiences

 

Juneau Helicopter tour and Glacier Walk, Alaska

Candy from Where I’ve Been Travel

Candy from Where I've Been Travel and her husband on helicopter trip in Alaska

Alaska is full of bucket list adventures. Recently I had the chance to check off my bucket list item of riding in a helicopter while in Juneau.

I love to fly and have flown in tiny airplanes, floated through the clouds in a hot air balloon, and experienced the thrill of both parasailing and paragliding but had never been in a helicopter. Alaska seemed like the perfect place to right that wrong, so I booked a tour to not only fly in a helicopter, but also walk on a glacier. Two incredible bucket list worthy adventures in one!

The helicopter ride was amazing, and I found myself grinning the entire ride. The scenery below was spectacular. Alaska is stunningly beautiful from any vantage point but you really need to see it from above to appreciate how vast its landscape is.

Landing on the Herbert Glacier was another thrilling moment. The feeling of standing on the ice and being surrounded by lush mountains is really something else. It really reminds one of how small our place is in this world. Adventure and a philosophical moment? Sign me up.

Alaska does feel like the last frontier and I love that I had the opportunity to explore a small part of it while checking off an item from my ever-growing bucket list!

Check out more things to do in Alaska here.

 

Mountain biking Death Road Bolivia

Simon from Journeys to Adventure

Death Road Bolivia by Simon at Journeys to Adventure

Death Road considered the most dangerous road in the world. Located in the mountains ranges near La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city. Killing thousands of people along its treacherous mountain pass, including dozens of mountain bike tourists

So, when I found out you could mountain bike down, it was quickly added to my bucket list of adventures while traveling South America.

The downhill journey begins high in the snow covered peaks, rapidly descending down 3,600 m (11,800 ft) into the hot Amazonian jungle.

There are two sections on the mountain bike journey.The first section is on a very steep highway starting in the mountains. You zoom past oncoming trucks, weaving through traffic surrounded by panoramic views of rivers, snowy mountains and waterfalls.

The second section is the real Death Road, it’s a dirt road cut into the side of a mountain face. With a very high vertical cliff on the side of a road barely wide enough for cars to pass each other. Plus this is not a straight road, turning sharply and consistently, as it follows steeply down the mountain side.

For myself it wasn’t just the deadly high cliff to watch out for, but the oncoming cars and trucks. Plus a mudslide to navigate and a waterfall to ride through.

I came off my bike only once but luckily didn’t go over the cliff to my doom, instead hitting the rocky dirt road hard, cutting up my back.

Death Road was a great adventure while traveling in South America and I would recommend it to anyone keen for an adventure. One tip though, make sure the brakes work on the mountain bikes. A few people on my tour had trouble with their brakes not working.

 

Salar de Uyuni Bolivia

Mal from Raw Mal Roams

Salar de Uyuni Bolivia by Mal from Raw Mal RoamsSalar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats in the world! It’s located in Bolivia and it covers nearly 11,000 square km. The salt flats were formed from evaporation of a huge prehistoric lake that left behind a lot of salt and to be exact 50% of the world’s reserves!

If you visit during the rainy season, you can take amazing photos of the flats reflecting the sky creating the illusion of walking in the clouds. In the dry season you can take the famous perspective photos.

Other attractions in the Salar de Uyuni include a train graveyard, Incahuasi Island and a salt mine where salt is used to produce bricks for building houses. If you travel a bit further away towards the Chilean border, you can see pink flamingos living in the many lagoons.

To visit this extraordinary place, you can fly from La Paz to Uyuni or take a night bus. You need to book a tour with a driver and a guide as there are no roads in the Salar de Uyuni. All tours start in Uyuni town and there are many options to choose from, from day trips to a four day trip that will take you all the way to the Chilean border.

Read more about Mal’s adventure at Ultimate Salar de Uyuni facts.

Climb Huayna Potosi Bolivia

Kat from Crunchy Kat Explores

Huayna Potosi Bolivia by Kat from Crunchy Kat Explores

There are two activities synonymous with Bolivia – biking the Death Road and touring the Salt Flats. Backpackers and tourists often overlook this gorgeous country after they’ve checked those two items off their list. But honestly, Bolivia is home to many hidden gems. One of them? Huayna Potosi. How about adding a 6,000m+ (almost 20,000 ft!) mountain (that’s higher than the super popular Mount Everest base camp) to your bucket list?!

Located just 15 miles outside of the city of La Paz stands Huayna Potosi – a 6,088 m/19,974 ft mountain in the Cordillera Real. Huayna Potosi may be known as the easiest 6,000m+ mountain to conquer, but this is no walk in the park. You’ll be walking on snow for hours in the pitch black in crampons, scaling an ice wall with your ice axe, leaping over crevasses, and to top it all off, navigating an 18-inch wide path to the summit with sheer drops on either side of you! You may conquer this peak and wonder if it was the best or worst thing you’ve ever done… but I guarantee it’ll be worth it!

If you’re heading to Bolivia to cross Huayna Potosi off your bucket list, remember it is very important to acclimatize. But honestly, altitude sickness is a very real thing and it doesn’t matter how in shape you are! It is recommended to spend about a week in La Paz (11,942’) before attempting the climb!

You can check out more things to do in Bolivia here.

 

Hike the O Circuit Patagonia, Chile

Philip from Zen Travellers

Hiking the O Circuit in Patagonia by Philip from Zen Travellers

The O Circuit in Patagonia is a bucketlist destination for most outdoor lovers and probably one of the most well-known hiking trails in the world.  Even if you don’t recognize the name of this trail, you’ve probably seen pictures of Patagonia on Instagram or whatever your favourite social media platform is.

The O Circuit is located in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile.  This hiking trail is a 130km loop that takes you through the rugged Patagonian mountains and alongside streams and glaciers.  The full “O” loop typically takes about 7 days to hike.  Those that are a bit tighter on time can hit most of the highlights by doing the shorter, 4-5 day “W” trek.

Chile’s Patagonia region can be a busy destination, but thankfully the “O” side of the trek gets you a bit more peace and quiet than the W portion.  Compared to the “W”, the trek loops around the back side of Torres del Paine before re-joining the W trek. No guides are necessary provided you have some navigation skills and the ability to read a map or follow a trail, although given the length and the fact that Patagonian weather can be nasty, you should have some previous backcountry hiking experience.

It’s worth the effort as the views are absolutely stupendous and Torres del Paine is honestly a place that every outdoor lover should go once in their lifetime.

Check out other things to do in Chile here.

 

Casa el Agua Colombia

Marika from Clumsy Girl Travels

Casa el Agua Columbia by Marika from Clumsy Girl Travels

Casa El Agua is a hostel in the middle of the ocean just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.

It’s a secluded paradise, requiring a two-hour boat journey from the mainland. I spent a few days there but could have easily spent more. Fresh seafood is cooked for everyone daily (they will even show you where they store it!) There are also many tour options available including night swimming with plankton, visiting the worlds most densely populated island Santa Cruz del Islote for an all-day island tour and trips to local beaches for the day.

Casa El Agua is a place you will stay but never want to leave!

 

Stay on Galapagos Islands Ecuador

Claire from Past the Potholes

Pinnacle Rock, Galapagos Islands by Claire from Past the Potholes

High on most people’s bucket lists are the Galapagos Islands.  We’ve been fortunate enough to visit twice and it never ceases to amaze!  Land-based Galapagos travel is actually surprisingly affordable and, we feel, the best way to see the islands. 

Not only did we get to enjoy some incredible animal encounters, staying on the islands meant we also experienced the local culture and less visited activities.  We loved eating at the local restaurants, watching Ecuadorian volleyball games and wandering the streets in the evenings. 

There are actually a lot of free things to do in the Galapagos Islands.  One of our favourites was visiting Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island.  It is probably the most beautiful beach we’ve ever laid eyes on.  Add the hundreds of marine iguanas and excellent snorkelling and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect day!

Isla Isabela was definitely our favourite island with a huge abundance of wildlife visible from the moment we stepped off the ferry.  It’s a little more work to get here so it is much quieter but it is so worth the effort.  Isabela has a true relaxed island vibe.

San Cristobal Island has the largest colony of sea lions in the Galapagos.  They are literally everywhere!  While the smell isn’t great, they are just so entertaining to watch. 

Few locations come with more hype than the Galapagos Islands and yet they still manage to meet and exceed most expectations.

 

Visit Chichen Itza Mexico

Natalie from Blissmersion

First view of Chichen Itza, Mexico by Natalie from Blissmersion

We walked from the tree lined path into the clearing and the Pyramid of Kukulkan came into view.

“It’s bigger than I expected,” I breathed in awe.

We’d booked a hotel in Piste, Yucatan, Mexico that was so close to Chichen Itza that it had its own private entrance (you still had to pay to get inside, but the line was short). We’d also hired a tour guide. This turned out to be a great decision. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable and we learned so much more than if we’d raced to get to the Pyramid of Kukulkan just to get some pictures. Which is exactly what I would’ve done if we hadn’t hired a guide. The private guide moved at our pace, which was important since we had our young children with us. She answered our questions and showed us where to buy ice cream for the kids (hint: near the cenote).

I left Chichen Itza with a feeling that I’d seen something epic and amazing (I had). Staying right next to the site and lining up before it opened allowed us to see the site without huge crowds. It also wasn’t as hot as it would’ve been midday. I would love to return to see the light show at night or on the equinox. In the late afternoon sun on the fall and spring equinoxes, 7 triangles of light appear down the side of the pyramid that combined with the serpent head at the bottom of the staircase, creates the illusion of a snake slithering down the staircase. Thousands of people travel to Chichen Itza just to witness this amazing event.

Even without the natural or man-made light shows, Chichen Itza is an amazing archeological site that is worth visiting!

Read more of Natalie’s adventure at Chichen Itza with kids.

Sea Trek in Cancun, Mexico

Breanna from Messy Buns and Mom Jeans

Underwater life Sea Trekking in Mexico by Breanna from Messy Buns and Mom Jeans

Sea trekking in Mexico. No, not Star Trekking, sea trekking! This neat adventure is astronaut helmets meet scuba diving. In beautiful Xcaret Park in Cancún, you can have all sorts of adventures. This one totally caught our eye. They put a giant helmet on that feeds oxygen through it, and the weight of the helmet actually keeps you weighed down and allows you to literally walk around on the bottom of the ocean to explore!

You can see all sorts of aquatic wildlife like fish, sea urchins, plants and coral reef. No more trying to dive down, or goggles fogging and filling with water. This helmet gives you a full view to all of the oceans wonders! We brought down food for the fish, got to hold sea urchins, and find all sorts of awesome adventures down there!

This obviously costs a little bit, but it was worth every penny! It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done! From the deep blue waters to contrasting white sand, they even built metal rails along the bottom for you to hold on to. You also don’t need to worry about swimming or snorkel skills, you can walk and breathe normally. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera! There are some landmarks down there that you don’t want to miss!

Check out other things to do in Cancun here.

 

Huacachina Dune Buggy, Peru

Hannah from Hannahs Happy Adventures

Dune Buggying in Huacachina by Hannah from Hannahs Happy Adventures

Huacachina village is a desert oasis located in south-western Peru. It is a definitive must-see destination when visiting Peru. Aside from its stunning beauty, Huacachina is also a haven for adventure activities. People visit here to go sandboarding, climb sand dunes, take a dune buggy, or perhaps just to relax by the pool. Of these activities, my personal favourite was dune buggying, and here’s why it should make your bucket list!

Firstly, I have to warn you this is not for the faint hearted. Only sign up if you have nerves of steel! Despite the drivers being very experienced, this activity is considered dangerous.

However, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Think of a rollercoaster in the desert. You’ll be screaming as the buggy plunges you down enormous dunes. It was terrifying and yet exhilarating at the same time!

After an hour driving around the dunes, you’ll get to go sandboarding too. Lying face-first on a makeshift board, your driver will push you off down the side of a huge dune. It was so much fun. We even had a go at trying to stand up, without much success! After an hour of sandboarding, you’ll head up onto one of the tallest dunes for an unforgettable sunset. On your way back to Huacachina, you will also make another stop to get the classic photo over the desert oasis.

The buggies set off into the desert at 4 PM each day and return at around 6 PM. The tour costs roughly $20 and can be booked through your hotel upon arrival in Huacachina.

Helicopter ride Kauai, Hawaii USA

Nikki from She Saves She Travels

Waterfall in Kauai from a helicopter by Nikki from She Saves She Travels

The most epic helicopter ride ever, and one that should absolutely be included on your travel bucket list, is flying over the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

First of all, the island is absolutely gorgeous any way you experience it. Kauai’s diverse climate and terrain make it an adventurer’s paradise. But to see the island and all its glory from the air? Well that’s an experience you’ll never forget.

On a helicopter tour of Kauai you’ll likely see:

  • Views of Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the grand canyon of the pacific. It’s truly magnificent!
  • The most rugged and beautiful coastline you’ll ever see in your life. The Napali Coast is where jagged mountain cliffs meet the ocean with vivid blue waters.
  • Mountain peaks and valleys lush with so many waterfalls you’ll actually lose count.
  • Mt. Waialeale, the second wettest place on earth. Expect rain.
  • Rainbows for days. To actually fly through a rainbow and see it from the air is truly a sight to be seen!

Pro tip: book this excursion early! Tours sell out and they’re dependent on weather.

Enjoy one of the most beautiful helicopter rides on earth – above Kauai. It’s truly a jaw-dropping experience!

Check out other things to do on Kauai here.

 

Swim with Wild Dolphins, Hawaii USA

Holly from Globeblogging

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins in Oahu Hawaii, courtesy of Dolphins and You

Photo courtesy of Dolphins and You, Oahu Hawaii

I couldn’t tell you how long it had been on my bucket list to swim with dolphins. Certainly before 2007 at least, which was my first failed attempt. Three attempts in three countries and I finally got to tick this off! I could have achieved it easier if I’d been willing to swim with captive dolphins, but I am not a fan of animals in captivity as a general rule and so it had to be in their world, on their terms.

So when planning my trip to Oahu Hawaii, naturally I was interested in where I could do this. This time I had learned though. Wild animals aren’t going to conform to your timeline and if it so happens they don’t come out on your particular trip and you’ve booked it for your last day… shame for you.

The main tourist hub of Oahu is Waikiki, and the dolphin tour operators all run from the other side of the island. Since I wasn’t keen on hiring a car, I chose the experience through Dolphins and You for the inclusion of Waikiki pickup. I’d recommend getting the photo package since the photos I managed on an underwater camera were less than impressive.

The Hawaiian Spinner dolphins rest during the day, which is why we are able to see them. Normally they’d be too fast. On the boat on the way out into the open water we all suit up in snorkel gear and life-vests, awaiting our moment to leap into the blue water. It’s pretty comical watching people trying to walk across a rocking boat with flippers on, but even my apprehension of open water isn’t enough to make me hesitate when the boat captain gives the signal that dolphins have been sighted. A guide leaps in and two by two we follow, the guide periodically checking the water beneath for dolphins.

She calls out to put our faces down, and there beneath us rests a pod of about twenty dolphins, hovering above the sandy bottom.

Dolphins are inquisitive, and they swim around our group and surf the waves nearby much to our delight. They are wild animals though and always maintain a safe distance. However you still get to swim within metres of these amazing creatures.

You can find more information about this experience in my 7 Day Oahu Itinerary.

New York Christmas, USA

Kim and Kalee from Kim and Kalee

Christmas in New York City by Kim and Kalee from Kim and Kalee

There is nothing like New York City during the holidays. The Rockefeller Center buzzes with excited holiday shoppers gathered around the massive, live Christmas tree. Restaurants are decked out in red and green, and Santa is visiting Macy’s everyday!

There are so many things to see in the Big Apple. We recommend stopping into John’s at Time’s Square. It’s always decorated beautifully for the holidays, and you can’t beat their pizza! It’s also close enough for you to visit Time’s Square and check out Broadway.

If it’s not freezing, you can visit Central Park after and either go for a carriage ride or ice skate. The ice skating rink in Central Park has been featured in dozens of movies like The Bishop’s Wife and Serendipity. Even Elf made an appearance in the park for a snowball fight. So in our books – it’s pretty cool! Plus, the lines to ice skate in the park are much shorter than at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink.

Once you’ve seen the park, you can venture your way down 34th Street to Macy’s to visit Santaland. There you can meet Saint Nick and grab a Christmas ornament as a souvenir.

Finally, you’re ready to see the big Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and grab a sweet treat at Magnolia Bakery to round out your bucket list adventure!

Check out all the cool things you can do in New York here.

 

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park USA

Cath from Passport and Adventures

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park USA by Cath from Passport and Adventures

The most famous geyser in the world is located in Yellowstone National Park and one of our best bucket list experiences was visiting Yellowstone with our son and getting the chance to see Old Faithful in action.

It was the first geyser in the park to be given its name in 1870, Old Faithful, due to the predictability and reliability of its eruptions. And rightly so. Old Faithful geyser has had more than 1 million eruptions since recordings started. Its eruptions occur every 65 or 90 minutes, depending on the duration of the previous eruption. If the eruption lasted two and a half minutes or less, the next eruption will occur in 65 minutes. Or, if the eruption lasts more than two and a half minutes, the next eruption will occur in 90 minutes, give or take a few minutes. Predictability at its best.

During our visit to this amazing National Park, we visited the Upper Geyser Basin on our first day in the park. We arrived just as an eruption was ending so had time to browse the shops, have lunch and then find a seat at the viewing area.

Old Faithful teased us in the ten minutes before the eruption with early signs that something was going to happen. And then of a sudden, it did. Gallons of boiling water shooting high into the air. It is something to witness with your own eyes and no video footage or pictures do it justice. It’s just one of those bucket list experiences you need to experience for yourself. Even our then 3-year-old son was amazed. Although we only stayed for one eruption, keen to explore more of the park, we came away satisfied that we’d fulfilled one of our bucket list items.

Exploring Antarctica

Teresa from Type A Trekker

Penguins in Antarctica by Teresa from Type A Trekker

Who doesn’t dream of exploring the vast white continent of Antarctica? Who doesn’t want to walk with penguins on land that they have owned for centuries? Who hasn’t dreamed about viewing the seemingly endless snow-covered landscapes with countless numbers of glaciers? Antarctica is often thought of as an unattainable dream.  But it’s not, with planning and saving you too can see this incredible continent.

I spent a little over a year actively planning this bucket list trip. Every month I put money aside anticipating this would be one of the more expensive trips I have taken. About three months before my desired departure, I began to carefully follow travel agencies waiting for the best last-minute deal I could find. Two weeks before my departure, I finally booked my boat at less than half the average price!

I left for Antarctica from the small mountain town of Ushuaia. My cruise lasted a total of ten days. The number seems small, but the actual experience felt much longer. I made new friends and saw incredible scenery. I hung out with penguins and watched out for lion seals. I saw icebergs calve, walked penguin highways, and fell in love with seabirds, discovering I have a favourite seabird: The Cape Petrol. I watched penguins deliver rocks in hopes of impressing the females of their kind. I saw a pod of Orcas swim by our boat and saw countless Humpbacks and Minke whales. I lounged on a snow-covered beach and enjoyed it. I had the experience of a lifetime that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Antarctica may seem like an impossible dream, but it is well worth dreaming of.

 

Asia bucket list experiences

 

Mount Kinabalu Hike, Borneo

Ming Lee from Flyerism

Summit of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo by MIng Lee from Flyerism

Like every other Malaysian hiker, climbing the famous Mount Kinabalu in Sabah has always been in my bucket list. I’ve heard so much about the amazing view of this world heritage site. Alas, I used to be a serial procrastinator until I heard about the Sabah (the state of Mount Kinabalu) earthquake in 2015, which result in deaths on Mount Kinabalu trails That’s when I realized that Sabah is not earthquake free and I shouldn’t wait any further.

As Mount Kinabalu is insanely popular, I and several hiking buddies made our reservations and secured our flight tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah in June 2017 for our big trip in March 2018. We also committed ourselves to regular training as climbing to the summit can be physically challenging.

When the big day came, the weather was perfect and thankfully all of us make it to the low’s peak of Mount Kinabalu without major issues. The climb was indeed difficult. However, we were rewarded with the stunning view on top. The summit is truly impressive and it felt surreal to finally be there. Words don’t do it justice so I am not going to elaborate any further but to say: Mount Kinabalu hike is highly recommended.

Check out other things to do in this part of Borneo here.

 

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Sydney from A World In Reach

Atop the Great Wall of China by Sydney from A World In Reach

One of the top experiences on my bucket list was to climb the great wall of China, so I was thrilled when I finally got the opportunity to do so.

I spent about 10 days in China and visited the Great Wall on the last day. We visited the Mutianyu section of the wall; while it’s definitely built up and easily accessible for tourists, it’s not as crowded as the Badaling section. It’s also one of the best-preserved sections of the wall. When you arrive at Mutianyu, you have the option of either hiking up to the wall or taking the cable car. In order to maximize our time at the wall, we chose to take the cable car (CNY 100).

After the ride to the wall, I took a couple of hours to climb the wall and take it all in. It was a surreal feeling to be standing in a place I’ve always read about in history books! Make sure to wear cool clothes and comfortable, sturdy shoes – it can get very hot and with the steep inclines and uneven steps, the climb is quite difficult even for the most experienced hikers. If you need refuge from the heat, you can spend some time hanging out inside the watchtowers where there seems to be a significant degree difference in temperature.

After exploring the wall, we chose to take the toboggan down. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip! Climbing the Great Wall of China was the ultimate bucket list experience, and when staying in Beijing, it’s a very easy day trip. You can get to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall via public transportation or one of the many affordable day tours that leave from Beijing.

 

Visit the Taj Mahal India

Derek from Robe-trotting

Taj Mahal India by Derek from Robe-Trotting

From the time I was a kid and learned about India in World Cultures class, I wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. In January 2019, I had the opportunity to do so after a work contract ended and I had some free time to organize a bucket list trip to India. I did some research and looked into numerous tour groups and travel opportunities that included a visit to the Taj Mahal. I settled on one, applied for my visa and booked airfare. Things were in motion and I was beyond excited to finally see this World Wonder.

The Taj Mahal was completed in 1648 and erected by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth in 1631 at the age of 38. This tragic event threw Shah Jahan into a state of inconsolable grief, but the love he had for his departed wife inspired the magnificent Taj Mahal.

Walking into the gates of the Taj Mahal, I was immediately in awe. The structure itself is perfection and every step you take, the beauty is enhanced. The details are remarkable, for example, the arches grow in size from bottom to top in order to preserve the perspective and make them appear uniform in size when admiring from the ground. The gardens, buildings and reflecting pools around the Taj Mahal are geometrically perfect and were designed to mimic heaven on earth so that Shah Jahan could visit the mausoleum and enter the realm of his late wife. This testament to undying love was everything I dreamt of seeing and more. I am so happy that I checked this incredible visit from my travel bucket list.

Read more about Derek’s trip to the Taj Mahal and the red fort of Agra.

 

Visit Komodo National Park Indonesia

Jackie and Justin from Life of Doing

Komodo Dragon in Komodo Dragon National Park Indonesia by Jackie and Justin from Life of Doing

Visiting Komodo National Park was a dream come true. We always wanted to see the carnivorous Komodo dragons in person and decided to do a quick one day trip to the Komodo National Park from Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.

There are two places to see the Komodo dragons at the National Park – Komodo Island and Rinca Island. We went to Rinca Island as it was closer to the mainland and the waters were less choppy for our boat. All visitors must take a tour and have a National Park guide for safety.

During our one hour tour, we saw over eight Komodo dragons up close, ranging from young to adult ones. We were lucky to see a good number of them as we went during mating season. Most of them normally leave the main village area during that time.

The young Komodo dragons were adorable as they hung out on the trees so they wouldn’t get eaten by the older ones. The adult Komodo dragons were huge and intimidating. It was fascinating to see them flick their tongue to determine the direction of food (or their prey) and walk with such power to their next destination. Even though they walk slowly, they can sprint up to 12 miles per hour.

The guides did a good job with diverting them to another direction if they were too close to the visitors. We felt safe throughout the entire tour and wouldn’t hesitate to see the Komodo dragons again.

 

Mount Ijen hike, Indonesia

Nat from Nat-wanderlust

Mount Ijen Indonesia b y Nat from Nat-Wanderlust

Hiking into the crater of an active volcano, Mt Ijen in Java Indonesia, is one of the best bucket list experiences that I will remember forever. Located in East Java, it’s very easy to get to from Bali as it’s just the next island over and you can take a cheap ferry.
Mt Ijen has a large labour intensive sulphur mining operation in its crater. These miners work round the clock and carry 80-100kgs of sulphur rock up out of the crater then down 3kms to where they get paid roughly $9 for 60kgs worth. They suffer from many health problems.
Inside the crater of this active volcano, is where you will find the largest blue flame area in the world. When you start hiking down, you must wear a gas mask because of the toxic sulphur fumes. You can rent one at the carpark before you start hiking.
You’ll begin your journey around midnight from Banyuwangi and drive an hour to get to the entrance. Then it’s a steep 3km walk to get to the top of the crater and a 45 minute walk into the crater to see the blue flames and the miners working. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will stay in your heart forever.
The sunrise at the top of the crater is absolutely stunning and the whole experience has been life changing for me. I recommend seeing it as soon as possible because I’ve heard from locals that it’s likely the path into the crater to see the blue flames will be closed to tourists in the not too distant future.
Check out other things to do in Java here.

Snorkel with Gili Islands Turtles, Indonesia

Campbell from Highlands 2 Hammocks

Snorkeling with Turtles in Indonesia by Campbell from Highlands 2 Hammocks

The open ocean. Infinite possibilities and unbelievable beauty, lying just beneath the blue canvas, stretching across the horizon. Who knows what creatures, treasures and adventures await, if you were only to dive beneath its mystic surface..

Well, when it comes to Indonesia, there is one adventure that is an absolute must. What better way to spend your day in paradise than diving below the crystal clear waters and being with the incredible sea life below? Snorkeling with the turtles of Gili Air is a definite bucket list item for any traveller heading to the Gili Islands of Lombok.

Easy to get to, breathtakingly beautiful and (best of all) cheap as chips! Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air offer some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving experiences in the world. With snorkel tours costing as little as USD $20, and departing from any of the three islands, embarking on your own sub-sea adventure was never easier.

The tours leaving from the Gili Islands all include a mask, snorkel and flippers and make three stops around these paradise islands. One stop at the famous underwater statues of Gili Meno, on stop for fish feeding and of course, one stop to swim with the Gili Air turtles. The expert boatmen taking you on the tour can pretty much guarantee that you will see at least one turtle on your tour, making it the adventure of a lifetime.

Check out other activities in the Gili Islands here.

Torajan death rituals Indonesia

Trina and Tim from Team Hazard Rides Again

Painted Coffins at Toraja Indonesia by Trina and Tim from Team Hazard Rides Again

Elaborately painted coffins at Toraja

Back in the heady days of VHS tapes, when Lonely Planet had a travel show on cable, I saw a tale of a place where they mummify their dead, have them remain in the home until the funeral – which could be years away, and then finally bury their loved ones in high, rocky cliff sides. Not only that, but ever few years they would remove the bodies, spend the afternoon with them and give them fresh clothing and offerings.

I was fascinated.

Fast forward twenty years when my husband and I are planning for our trip around the world and I see mention of this culture in the Lonely Planet Guide of the first country we’re visiting – Indonesia. We had to go.

The Toraja people live in the central region of the island of Sulawesi.

Over four days, we learned of the immense societal importance of the funeral and death rituals to the Torajan people. We visited the livestock market where sacrificial offerings are sold. Invited by a local family, we attended the second day of a four day long funeral. We saw everything from mummies and the lovingly adorned cliff side graves, to the heartbreaking, but hopeful, baby graves carved into Tarra trees.

Our guide, Ino, was a local and he made sure we understood the beliefs and culture of the wonderful people of Toraja. Despite many of them now belonging to more mainstream religions, like Christianity and Islam, they continue to believe in their connection to the dead and uphold their traditional practices.

Our visit was amazing and it’s a bucket list success we’ll never forget.

Read more about Toraja at life death and mummies in Indonesia.

 

Mario kart around Tokyo

Bryann from Fiercely Unbroken

Mariocart through the streets of Tokyo, Japan by Bryann from Fiercely UnbrokenJapan has long been known for their unique, once in a lifetime experiences.One of these experiences was instantly added to my bucket list when I heard of its existence: real life mario karting! This can be done on various routes through Osaka, Kyoto, Okinawa, and Tokyo. I chose the Rainbow Bridge Route through Tokyo. When I tell you it is like being in a video game, I am not exaggerating. The experience starts with participants picking a onsie costume to set the tone for the experience. Of course, you can forgo the costume, but why would you want to do that?! You can also rent a gopro with chest strap if you want to document your adventure.

You must also sign a waiver because there is a certain level of danger involved with go-karting. However, this is exceptionally adventurous, as you are not on a closed course. You are actually on Japanese roads, riding alongside regular vehicles! Seeing Japan on a go-kart, dressed as Bowser from Mario Kart is a memory I will not soon forget. For just about $80 USD, it was extremely affordable and worth every penny. You just need to make sure to stop by your local AAA before you leave for your trip to obtain an international driving permit, as you cannot get one in Japan. You have to get it before. The permit costs $20 and needs 2 passport size photos.

**Unfortunately, the company was sued for copyright infringement in September 2018, and can no long offer Nintendo themed costumes. However, they have rebranded to Street Kart and offer a variety of other costumes. So, all the adventure can still be had!

You can read more about Bryann’s Japan adventures at Japan’s Tattoo Friendly Onsen.

There’s heaps to do in Tokyo! Check out the activities available here.

 

Staying in a Ryokan hotel Japan

James from Travel Collecting

Japanese Ryokan by James from Travel Collecting

A total bucket list adventure is to stay in a ryokan in Japan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn .   A ryokan is nothing like a regular, western-style, hotel.  At a traditional ryokan, you are greeted at the door by your hostess wearing a kimono. You take off your shoes and walk to your room in slippers that are provided for you.  Your room is typically very simple with tatami grass mat floors and a low table and chairs where you are served a welcome cup of tea.  Here, too, is where you have a kaiseki dinner in the evening.  Kaiseki is a multi-course haute cuisine meal with beautiful and tasty seasonal, local dishes tastefully displayed on colored plates, leaves and flowers.  Either before or after dinner, you can soak your cares away in a hot spring bath (onsen).  Most ryokan have either communal or private baths – be sure to shower before entering the water.  While you are relaxing in hot water, a futon mattress is laid out for you in your room (though western style beds are available in some more modern ryokan).  Breakfast the next morning may be Japanese with rice and fish, or western style with eggs and toast. Staying in a ryokan is a fully immersive experience rather than a place to lay your head for the night, and should definitely be on your bucket list!

Discover the best ryokan in Japan.

 

Hike the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Susannah from The O’briens abroad

The Annapurna Circuit Nepal by Susannah from The O'Briens abroad

Nepal is a location synonymous with adventure. The country isn’t easy or cheap to get to and their politics and culture are off-putting to many, so the only clear reason to visit is for extreme experiences and bragging rights. Home to more than half of the world’s top 20 tallest mountain peaks, adrenaline junkies travel from every corner of the world to partake of mountain-related activities. The high mountain walls lead to incredible white water rafting, some of the world’s best paragliding, extreme mountain biking, and, of course, hiking.
I’ve grown up around outdoor enthusiasts who speak of Nepal in reverent tones. Since only the most extreme adventurers visit the poor country, those who make the journey immediately earn the reputation of a serious traveler. I never thought I would qualify, being one who doesn’t enjoy hiking due to health issues. When the opportunity arose to join other families on a 5-day trek on the Annapurna Circuit, however, we took advantage of turning a difficult activity into a group experience.
Hiking through the Annapurna range with a child was difficult, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. By packing well, relying on the motivation of others, and taking one step at a time we gradually made it closer to our goal of standing on one of the world’s tallest peaks. I am so proud of myself for taking on a challenge I never expected to complete, and am thrilled my 6-year-old learned that hard work leads to incredible rewards.”

You can see other activities in Nepal here.

 

Staying in an overwater villa, The Maldives

Mar and Cal from Once in a Lifetime Journey

Private reserve at Gili Lankanfushi from a drone by Mar and Cal from Once in a Lifetime Journey

The Maldives is a magical place. It’s the very essence of luxury travel and with so many stunning hotel options to choose from, it’s one of the top destinations for honeymooners and couples looking to get away from it all. I was lucky enough to spend a month hotel hopping on a press trip through the Maldives and can truly attest to its beauty and glamor. The best way to enjoy the Maldives is to take advantage of the 5 star accommodations that are spread throughout the 26 atolls. This is a bucket list adventure that you’re going to need to save up for though, as prices are sky high.

If you search through a travel website, you’ll see an astounding amount of hotels to choose from, somewhere close to the 500 mark. So hotel selection is key for a perfect stay. I would highly suggest taking one of the overwater villas with a private pool. It’s so great to wake up in the morning and fall right into the ocean from your bed. Some overwater villas, like the Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi or the Soneva Jani Water Retreat, actually have a slide from your room right into the azure waters. This will fulfil any childhood bucket list adventures you’ve ever had.

There are art-forward resorts like Joali, over-the-top luxe like The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, and some less ostentatious but still opulent barefoot luxury escapes like Soneva Fushi. You can even dine underwater while watching the marine life swim overhead at Conrad Rangali. When you picture a luxurious island getaway in your head, you probably have an image of the Maldives, one of the most perfect ways to unwind, cocktail in hand, with a personal butler at your service.

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Maldives Luxury resorts.

 

Diving with Tiger Sharks, The Maldives

Steffi from Beach Bum Adventure

Tiger Shark at The Maldives by Steffi from Beach Bum Adventure

Since I started diving years ago I have been interested in diving with sharks. Even seeing small reef sharks fills me with excitement so you can imagine how I jumped at the chance to dive with tiger sharks in the Maldives! These predators are about three metres long and known for being one out of three potentially aggressive shark species. We could see the tiger sharks from the boat while we were passing by the dive site for other dives and they looked like huge shadows in the water. I was very nervous before we jumped in and starting to freak out slightly! But as soon as we saw them, I relaxed. I realised they weren’t that interested in us and they were cruising past and circling around minding their own business. The patterns on them are so beautiful and I was just in awe to see so many of these incredible creatures. I felt extremely lucky and it made me just want to protect them more! Having lived in Thailand where shark fin soup is still considered a delicacy rather than something barbaric I just want to spread awareness so that the generations to come can also experience our oceans and have the chance to dive with the tigers!

 

Visiting the Temples of Bagan Myanmar

Jeanne from Learning to Breathe Abroad

Balloons over the Temples of Bagan by Jeanne from Learning to Breathe Abroad

Bagan in Myanmar is a magical place, steeped in religion and studded with ancient temples for as far as the eye can see. The intricate pagoda style temples and stupas come in all shapes and sizes and can be found dotted throughout the landscape.

These temples provide the perfect platforms for viewing sunrise and sunsets. The more popular temples can get exceptionally crowded, so the best option is to delve a little deeper into the scrubby lands to find the off-the-beaten path temples. If you’re lucky you can have one all to yourself to watch the sun rising or setting in a blood red sky.

A popular way to experience the sunrise is in a hot air balloon. For those watching the sunrise, the myriad of hot air balloons hanging in the sky, just magnifies the experience.

The best way to get around is to hire a motorbike, but in Bagan they only have electric bikes. Driving down the main drag at 5am, surrounded by twenty other bikes, but no sound but the squelching of tyres is a bizarre experience.

A typical day in Bagan will begin at 4am as you need to be at the temples by 5am for sunrise. From there you can explore some more temples and the nearby towns of Nyaung-U and Old Bagan. My top tip would be to make sure you book accommodation with a swimming pool. This is the perfect place to escape the midday heat and relax after your early morning. At 4pm everyone heads out again to watch the sunset from the temples.

The town of Nyaung-U is the popular place to stay and Restaurant Row lives up to its name with an endless array of restaurants to choose from.

 

Drive a Tuk Tuk, Sri Lanka

Nuria from Sube a la Nabe

Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka by Nuria from Sube a la NabeThe day we arrived in Negombo, in Sri Lanka, we had nothing planned, we did not know what the next destination would be. We only knew that we wanted to make a route through the country, but we had not thought if it would be by car, bus or bike, who knows!

We discard the bike because we had two big backpacks, the car was very expensive and also we discard the bus because you depend on the travel schedules. And then, suddenly, the light went on: why do not we go through Sri Lanka in tuk tuk? After all, it is one of the main methods of transportation used by people in this country. Why did not we think of that? If we wanted to live Sri Lanka as an adventure and in the most local way possible … nothing better than doing it in tuk tuk!

During two weeks we toured the whole island in tuk tuk and it was hilarious. The local people could not believe it and they laughed when they saw us with the tuk tuk, the travelers saw it as a great adventure and we … we were able to travel the country with total freedom!

Although the roads were sometimes in very bad condition, some days there was fog and the maximum speed allowed was 40 kilometers per hour… Every day we drove 3-4 hours while we listened to music, enjoyed the sun and did not get too hot thanks to the air. So, definitely, it was a very fun experience and we would repeat it again without any doubt!

Read more about Nuria’s adventure in a tuk tuk.

Check out the other activities available in Sri Lanka here.

 

Dine at the Burj Khalifa restaurant Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Sarah from Hungryoungwoman

A meal at BUrj Khalifa United Arab Emirates by Sarah from Hungry Young Woman

Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world and entered the Guinness World Records in 2009. Previously known as Burj Dubai, the tallest tower was renamed in honor of the President of United Arab Emirates and the King of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Burj Khalifa has immensely contributed to the skyline of Dubai and has brought the city a lot of recognition. Standing at a whopping 163 floors, the highest observation deck in the world is on the 144th and 145th floors. While I do recommend you to view Dubai from above, the observation deck (At the Top) is mostly filled with tourists and the queues are too long.

Instead, dine at the highest restaurant in the world at At.mosphere located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa to skip the line and dine in style! While the a la carte menu can burn a deep hole in your pocket, I suggest selecting their afternoon tea or business lunch menu for an experience that will not set you back too much.

As is expected, the food and service at At.mosphere is top notch and there is nothing to complain about. The view is spectacular which is best enjoyed if you have a table with a view. It does cost a little extra, but is so worth it! If you have a foodie bucket list, dining at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa should be on it.

You can get your Burj Khalifa tickets and check out other things to do while you’re in Dubai here.

 

Atlantis the Palm Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Alex from Get Out With Kids

Waterpark at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai by Janine from Get Out With Kids

Staying at Atlantis The Palm Hotel and Waterpark is a bucket list item that you will remember for a lifetime. With the world’s largest indoor aquarium, hosting twenty different exhibits including sharks, jelly fish and seahorses, and a whole waterpark inside the hotel grounds, you’ll find it near to impossible to leave.

Situated in the United Arab Emirates, the average temperature is almost always in the high 30’s. Thus, you won’t struggle to take a dip in one of the pools, or ride down one of the adrenaline-filled waterslides.

Our favorite waterslide in the huge waterpark was the ‘Leap of Faith’, a vertical drop from a height of 5 stories. The waterpark also houses a gigantic Lazy River, The Tower of Poseidon, Aquaconda, Zoomerango, Poseidon’s Revenge, Slitherine, Shark Attack and Water Coasters. The waterslide and river rides are suitable for different age groups and thrill seekers will not be disappointed!

The hotels dining options are excellent. With exclusive meals from around the world, there will be something for every pallet. Deserts are no understatement either; with multiple chocolate fountains, walls of cupcakes and multiple ice-cream flavours you and your kids will be spoilt for choice.

Atlantis the Palm should be a bucket list item for any traveler.

 

Motorbike Vietnam

Mary from Move to Vietnam

Riding a Motorbike across Vietnam by Mary from Move to Vietnam

One of the best adventures I’ve done myself was to go motorbiking across Vietnam. It is a popular thing to do when you plan a backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, many travelers even have this on their bucket list. Vietnam’s demographic shape makes this type of activity easy and pretty straightforward. Whether you are starting in the South or North of Vietnam, you surely won’t miss anything. The North of Vietnam is filled with stunning mountains to hike like Sa Pa, while the Central part of the country is known as the home for Vietnam’s world-class dishes, make sure to check out the towns called Hue and Hoi An. In the South, you can enjoy the beaches (Mui Ne and Nha Trang) and the lively cities like Ho Chi Minh City. The most important thing to make sure that you have at least three weeks to avoid rushing your trip and of course, get good travel insurance for peace of mind. Buying a motorbike is pretty easy too, just remember that it’s cheaper to buy in Hanoi than in Ho Chi Minh City. If you ended up not wanting to continue the drive, you can easily sell it in major cities and hop on a bus.

 

Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Slavi from Global Castaway

Halong Bay Vietnam by Slavi from Global Castaway

Halong Bay’s popularity has long crossed over the borders of Vietnam, and today the formerly hidden gem of Asia is one of the most famous bays in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994, Halong Bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin and consists of over 1600 limestone pillars, islands, and islets.

While the scientist believes the bay is a result of 500 Million years of marine regression, the locals have much more exciting story to tell. The legend has it that when Vietnam was still young, an aggressor attacked from the north via sea. The Jade emperor saw that from heaven and send the Mother Dragon and her children to help the Vietnamese. As the aggressor’s ships advanced into Vietnam’s ocean, the Dragons began spitting fire at them while simultaneously spitting jewels and jade into the sea. The treasures become islands, and the enemy’s fleet was trapped into a labyrinth. The place that resulted was so beautiful and serene that the Mother Dragon decided to make it her home. The area where she descended was named Halong Bay meaning Descending Dragon.

Best way to explore this magical place is to take a cruise around the islands and spend at least one night on it. If you get the right cruise, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful islands in the world from up close while laying on a sunbed, drinking a coconut cocktail.

Most of the cruises also offer a kayak around monkey infested lagoon, squid fishing after dark and even a small cooking class that will teach you to make the typical Northern Vietnam Spring rolls!

Check out Global Castaway’s advice to learn how to find the perfect Halong Bay cruise.

 

Australia and New Zealand bucket list experiences

 

Cage of Death, Northern Territory

Katarina from Her Umbrella Magazine

Cage of Death, Northern Territory Australia by Katarina from Her Umbrella Magazine

All my life I have revelled in uncommon experiences, but to celebrate my 40th birthday I wanted something really special!

Thus…The Cage of Death!

Located in Darwin Australia ‘The cage of death’ is exactly as it sounds; a frightening experience where you come face to face with one of nature’s most dangerous predators, Australia’s salt water crocodiles.

With a 3.1 ton bite force, a length of 5.5 metres and a weight of 750 kg this giant prehistoric beast could make you its meal in no time at all.

The ‘cage of death’ itself is a perspex tube created for the sole purpose of safely lowering people into the water with crocodiles in a one of a kind experience. Not surprisingly the initial movement of the cage along with the height above numerous crocodiles can be a terrifying moment.

This is only surpassed by the lowering of the cage into the warm waters alongside the gigantic crocodile that calmly swims around you.  To be face to face with a mere inch of perspex between you is an experience not easily forgotten and once you calm down it can almost be relaxing and fascinating to see this monster so very close.

This of course is only until the final stage of the encounter kicks in and the experienced handler’s proceed to feed the croc over the wall of the pool.  I’m sure you can guess what happens next.  The crocodile jumps, snaps at the food and proceeds to crash down against the cage…and yes you die a little on the inside!

To say it was exciting is an understatement.  This thrilling experience has to be one of the most memorable ones I have ever had.

Check out the wealth of other things to do in the Northern Territory here.

 

Canoe Nitmiluk Gorge, Northern Territory

Stephanie from Navigating Adventure

Canoe Nitmiluk Gorge, Northern Territory Australia by Stephanie from Navigating Adventure

What better vantage point to view the ancient, sacred site of Nitmiluk Gorge than from a canoe? This became the most peaceful and spiritual experience I’ve ever had – canoeing through the tall, ancient, sandstone walls of Nitmiluk.

On a few occasions we stopped for a swim in the refreshing water, and for lunch we enjoyed a picnic on the bank. We occasionally passed other canoeists but for much of our journey we enjoyed nothing but the sound of nature around us.

Also known as Katherine Gorge, and actually made up of 13 gorges in total, Nitmiluk includes breathtaking scenery, spectacular waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art thousands of years old.

The Traditional owners who so generously allow visitors to experience their sacred sites at Nitmiluk National Park are the Jawoyn and Dagomen people.

Nitmiluk Gorge is located approximately three hours south of Darwin in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia. There are a range of accommodation options nearby – from budget friendly camping and cabins to the incredibly luxurious Cicada Lodge Eco-Resort.

Canoes can be hired from Nitmiluk Tours for a half day, full day or two days at a time. Canoeing is open during the dry season only, due to the risk of saltwater crocodiles at other times.

Check out other ideas for a Darwin family holiday.

 

Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef Queensland

Ioana from The World is my Playground

Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef Australia by Ioana from The World is my Playground

Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef was every bit as magical as I expected (and hoped!) it to be. I always knew that one day I’d have to learn to dive just to see the Reef with my own eyes, and it didn’t disappoint!

Last year, I embarked on a year of travel, starting with an 8-week adventure through Australia and New Zealand. The Great Barrier Reef was a must on my itinerary, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a chance to get my PADI certification prior to the trip.

I was ecstatic to find out that most of the day tours to the reef provide basic training for newbies. We learned all the basics – breathing underwater, swimming with an air tank, dos and don’ts of diving around reefs, and basic technique. We then got tested close to the surface to ensure we were comfortable and felt safe, before being able to dive deeper – we had one instructor to 3 people, which was perfect!

Our instructor guided us through the magical reef and pointed to various things – colorful fish, funky coral, clams, and reef sharks. We got extremely lucky and saw a turtle on our first dive, which was the highlight for me!

One of my biggest surprises of the day was how calm everything becomes once you’re underwater. There’s a serenity that takes over as soon as you put your head in the water – it’s a whole other world! I loved the first dive so much, that I decided to suit up again at our second stop and explore further! The second time was even better since I felt so much more comfortable breathing and moving under water. I saw another turtle, species of fish that weren’t at the first location, and even found Nemo. To say it was magical is an understatement.

The whole day was amazing. We got back to Cairns after a full day on the water, beaming from ear to ear with excitement. That day will always be one of my favourite days in the world, and I can’t wait to get back in the water. Next stop: PADI Certification!

 

Outback NSW road trip

Leah from Kid Bucket List

Statue at Broken Hill, NSW Australia by Leah from Kid Bucket List

When thinking of Australia, no doubt the outback is on your list of things to visit when traveling to Down Under for the first time. What visitors often don’t realise is that the Australian Outback also features on the bucket list of many Australians as it is so far from all the major cities and takes a whole lot of time to transit to unless you have access to a plane.
A road trip to Outback Australia is no easy task, but it can be done with a plethora of options to have you digging your toes into Aussie red earth in no time.
By far, the easiest inland trip is to Broken Hill. Broken Hill is a mining town that sits on the cusp of the Australian Outback but is accessible by sealed road, train, bus or plane. It offers a myriad of sites to explore and plentiful sights along the way too.
Broken Hill was Australia’s first city to be included on the National Heritage List and is the country’s longest running mining town. It’s a township that has appeared in numerous movies and books including Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Visiting Outback Australia, even if it’s as far as Broken Hill, makes the traveler uncomfortably aware of how very big this island continent is, its vastness, beauty and isolation. Remember to pack water!
Embarking on an Australian Outback adventure requires some planning. With sealed roads all the way to Broken Hill, a regular car will suffice but any further will require a 4×4. It’s certainly not a destination that you can head to on a whim. Be careful of emus, kangaroos and goats that share the road and be provisioned well with excess water in the event of a break down.
A trip out here provides you an opportunity to explore mines including famed opal deposits, Mungo National Park where the oldest human remains outside Africa have been discovered, the site of the original Mad Max film and so much more. You have to go!

 

Ride the Indian Pacific Sydney to Perth

Keith from Travellin-lite

Train tracks for the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth Australia by Keith from Travellin-lite

In an age where faster is always considered better, there’s something romantic and timeless about a great train journey.

Such is the trip on The Indian Pacific, an iconic train ride that leaves Sydney, Australia’s most populated city to traverse one of the most sparsely populated regions of the globe, the Nullabor Plain.  It arrives in Perth, Australia’s most remote capital city, four days/ three nights later after travelling 4,352 kilometres.

Conversations amongst the guests on board will sooner or later lead to the reason why they choose to travel on this train.  It’s a single phrase – ‘bucket list’.  And why wouldn’t it?

Putting it simply, the train is pure indulgence.  Full silver service is provided for all meals in the dining car, the Queen Adelaide Restaurant.  Days are spent in the lounge car, the Outback Explorer Lounge, which is a fantastic place to relax, enjoy a drink, or talk with other travellers.  All the while there is the moving panorama of the expansive landscape, as the colours change from morning to through to evening.  Green, red and orange to the horizon.

The Gold Class cabins are fully self-contained, with their own ensuite of shower/toilet.  By day they are a generous three seater, and by evening the staff convert them to a comfortable twin bunk arrangement.  There are a limited number of Platinum Class cabins available, if the need for additional space is essential.

The staff are wonderful.  Nothing is too much trouble for them to ensure each and every person gets the best experience possible.

It is a long journey.  It makes four stopovers to provide everybody the opportunity to stretch their legs and participate in off-train experiences.

  • Broken Hill in western New South Wales to visit art galleries of well-known painters such as Pro Hart
  • Barossa Valley, Australia’s oldest premium wine producing region
  • Cook for a short break, and Rawlinna for night of entertainment under the stars

We all keep a bucket list in the back of our minds.  Those ‘must-dos’ before we move on.  Make this trip number 1 on your bucket list.  You won’t regret it.

While you’re in Perth take a look at some of these activities.

 

Tasman Island Cruise

Holly from Four Around The World

Tasman Island Adventure Cruise by Holly from Four Around the World

There are loads of well known experiences you need to have when you visit Australia, however there is one we always tell everyone about – our Tasman Island adventure cruise.

Tasman Island is pretty much the most southern point of Australia, off the coast of Tasmania.  Pennicott Wilderness Tours run the Tasman Island cruise, using special boats that allow them to get in close to rocks and caves, and up close with wildlife you spot along the way.

The scenery off Tasman Island is stunning, with ocean as far as the eye can see. We saw a family of fur seals, many different species of bird and had a pod of dolphins surfing alongside our boat. Incredible!

Weather in Tasmania can be really cold. You will have a special waterproof suit to help keep you warm but make sure you wear warm clothes underneath too if it is a cool day.

Even though the boat gets a little rough at times bouncing over the waves, it is safe for young children and even pregnant women. I was 5 months pregnant at the time. They offer you seasickness tablets beforehand if you don’t bring your own. Even though I had been really unwell during the trip, I did not feel unwell at all during the cruise.

The whole experience was amazing and we can’t wait to do it again with our kids! Make sure you stop by Port Arthur Historical Site afterwards as it is on the same road.

Check out other things you can do in Tasmania here.

 

Hobbiton New Zealand

Marta from Backpackers.WRO

Hobbiton New Zealand by Marta from Backbackers.WRO

I have been a big fan of the Lord of the Rings for over fifteen years now. I have read and watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy almost twenty times. No wonder that my dream has always been to move to the land of the Hobbits for a while. My husband is not a fan of Tolkien, but I managed to persuade him to visit New Zealand and Hobbiton during our honeymoon in November 2015.

Unfortunately, not everything went our way. On the day of the trip, it was raining heavily, and my husband got an upset stomach. Still, I consider visiting the Hobbiton one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

You do not have to be a Tolkien fan to have fun during the trip. The number of stories and curiosities told by the guide is enormous, the place itself is beautiful and at the culmination of the experience is a tasting of yummy ginger beer. The hobbit houses are empty, and all scenes inside the holes were shot in the studio. The last stage of the visit is shopping in a large store with gadgets, books, accessories, and everything related to Tolkien, Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings movies.

The north island of New Zealand has so many things to do! Check them out here.

 

Europe bucket list experiences

 

Shakespeares Globe Theatre London

Laura from Travelers Universe

Shakespeares Globe in London

Seeing a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe in London surely is bucket list material, even more so if you are a Shakespeare fan or regular theatergoer. One of the top things to do in London, on the cheap nevertheless, you can actually be a groundling and see a play for only a few pounds. Sure, you can choose to join a tour and learn all about the reconstructed building, but personally, I believe a performance is way more memorable. Seats under the thatched roof are more expensive and given London’s notorious weather, it might be worth paying the extra. But you can also wait until the last minute, watch the forecast and decide whether paying several times more is worth it. When I saw Othello last summer I preferred to stand and although the play lasted nearly three hours, it was so entertaining I really didn’t mind. Plus the weather behaved!

Back in Shakespeare’s day, being a groundling was quite common. People of little means would gather in the pit below the stage. It sounds bad but what nobody tells you is that these are the front row seats. You get to see the actors from close by, observe every emotion on their face and every detail of their costumes. It really is breathtaking and the play is all of a sudden so much more powerful. I can only recommend you to be a groundling at The Globe next time you are in London. It’s an exhilarating experience!

You can also check out Sydney’s popup Globe.

For other amazing London activities and tours click here.

 

Fly above the Baie de Somme France

Nesrine from Kevmrc

Flying above the Baie de Somme by Nesrine from KevmrcThe Baie de Somme is located in the North West coast of France, 2.5 hours away from Paris. The bay covers an area of 7,200 hectares and is one of the greatest sites in the world because of its amazing landscapes and ecological diversity. In fact, the bay is rated as one of the Most Beautiful in the World by the UNESCO since 1998.

Visiting the Baie de Somme is a must-do for nature lovers : you can find seals, watch migratory birds, walk on the sand dunes, watch the tide, ride a horse, take a boat… But the best way to enjoy the bay is definitely from the air.

WIth 2 of my friends, we decided to discover the bay from the sky to get the best view of the estuary. We went to the Abbeville Aeroclub, a local aerodrome that offers a 30-minutes flight in a tiny aircraft above the bay. The experience was amazing! As we flew at low-tide, we could see the river beds without water, creating long trails and tiny lakes. The plane itself was part of the excitement as we could feel each vibration and if you haven’t tried it yet, I totally recommend it!

Read more about this adventure above the Baie de Somme.

 

 

Cathar County Road Trip, France

Elisa from France Bucket List

Minerve, Cathar County France by Elisa from France Bucket List

The Cathar Country in Southern France is an underrated and mystic area with an interesting culture, history, and heritage. Because the Cathar Country is quite off the beaten path, it makes a cool bucket list adventure in France, especially if you decide to explore it on a road trip. Less adventurous people can set their base camp in cities like Carcassonne or Narbonne and explore the rest of the area on day trips from these cities.

The Catharism was a dualist religion which flourished in the Languedoc during the XII and XIV centuries. The followers of this new religion, the Cathars, were ascetic people who rejected the luxuries of the Roman Catholic Church and the entire church structure in general. Many lords of the former regions of Occitanie and Midi Pyrenees followed the Cathars or protected them, that’s why the Catholic Church started to consider the Catharism dangerous. The  Catholic Church declared the Cathars heretics and called a crusade to destroy them. From 1208, a war of terror was waged against the indigenous population of the Languedoc and their rulers and it is estimated half-million Languedoc people (Cathars or not) were massacred by the Crusaders.

The Cathar Route includes 22 exceptional sites, including medieval villages, abbeys and vertigo citadels with incredible places such as Carcassonne, Béziers, or Château de Quéribus just to name a few. Because some of the most beautiful citadels are located at the top of rocky spurs, they are best explored during the summer, when the weather, and road conditions are good.

 

Carnival in Cologne Germany

Nicola from See Nic Wander

Snow falling on Carnival in Cologne, Germany by Nicola from See Nic Wander

One of my top bucket list adventures happened totally by accident. I was traveling around Europe as a house sitter and I booked a house sitting gig in Cologne, Germany. I thought I’d enjoy a few quiet weeks waiting out the winter with some adorable kitties. But little did I know, my house sit was exactly during the time of Cologne Carnival!

Carnival in Cologne is like an amazing hybrid of American Mardi Gras, Brazilian Carnival, and a German Beer Festival all rolled into one. Everyone in Cologne is out in the streets enjoying live music performances and sampling Kolsch beer. There are elaborate parades and festivities out in the streets for the full week of Carnival. Everyone wears costumes for a week straight and during the parade, people throw candy and chocolates.

I don’t know about you, but a festival where I can wear a zip-up animal onesie and get handed buckets of free chocolate while drinking amazing local beer is my kind of party! Cologne Carnival happens every year in February and is definitely worth the trip.

You can check out some of the other things to do in Cologne here.

 

Blue Lagoon, Grindavik Iceland

Jenna from Travels of Jenna

Entrance to the Blue Lagoon Iceland by Jenna from Travels of Jenna

It’s no surprise that bathing in steamy blue waters on an island in the North Atlantic is on most peoples bucket list these days. Though touristy, it’s as epic as it looks in the photos. The Blue Lagoon, nestled in a lava field, is located in the town of Grindavik. Since it is about halfway in-between the airport and the city of Reykjavik, it is easiest to visit as soon as you arrive or just before departing Iceland.

The best time to visit Iceland’s most popular geothermal spa is early in the morning when there are the least tourists. Time slots to enter the Blue Lagoon often fill months in advance, so it’s best to book through their website as soon as you know your schedule. This is especially important if you are only in the country for a short period such as a 24-hour layover.

Once you arrive at the Blue Lagoon, allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy the hot, milky waters and the Icelandic, mountain backdrop. If you’re able to splurge, round out the experience with an in-water massage (it’s amazing). Afterward, you can enjoy a five-star meal in your robe at the property’s restaurant, LAVA.

Being prepared goes a long way when it comes to visiting a destination with a lot of hype. A bit of simple planning can be the difference between a dreamy Nordic experience and a touristic nightmare. Following these tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon will help you enjoy a rewarding bucket list experience with ease.

 

St Patrick’s Day in Dublin Ireland

Pam from Directionally Challenged Traveler

St Patricks Day Parade in Dublin Ireland by Pam from Directionally Challenged TravelerSt. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world with turning cities green and lots of parades, but nowhere is more epic than celebrating it in Dublin, Ireland.   The Irish love St. Paddy’s (not Patty’s) day and instead made it a five-day affair!  Leading up to the actual 17th, you’ll see stores covered in green merchandise and advertising the after-parade festivities and specials.

On the actual day, the parade is one of the most unique parades I’ve ever seen.  The parade begins at 10:00 am and you should try to get there by 9:00 am to get a good spot.   You’ll be joining about 500,000 other people there, so be prepared for the crowds.  Also, wear green – if you don’t the leprechauns will see you and you’ll get pinched (people will pinch you for not wearing green)!  The beginning is traditional with dignitaries and a band kicking it off, but then the performers and dancers have very elaborate costumes.

After the parade, many people go to a local pub (all of them are Irish, so you have plenty to choose from) and watch the England vs. Ireland Rugby match.  At 6:00pm the city starts getting more green – if that’s possible – and lights up buildings and venues throughout the city.  Meeting locals, drinking Guinness, and eating traditional Irish food is the best way to celebrate this holiday.

Check out other things to do in Dublin here.

 

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Diana from Traveling in Heels

Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way by Diana from Traveling in Heels

Think you know Ireland? Think again. Combine two bucket list road trips, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (1,600 miles total) and the Causeway Coastal Route (approximately 200 miles), for one trip of a lifetime. My husband and I, along with another couple, embarked on an amazing adventure in Ireland, and we are still blown away by our experience. (And in some cases, due to the coastal winds, quite literally!)  To explore both routes, allow 4-5 days.

We left Belfast and our road trip wound its way through iconic landmarks, quaint little villages, and Game of Thrones filming locations. Do plan a stop at the somewhat touristy (and busy) Giant’s Causeway, and walk along its coastal paths. Due to the rain and huge swells, we pulled out our umbrellas, only to have the wind whip them into pieces. However, the walk is absolutely stunning overlooking the iconic and massive, geological wonders of the pillars of the Causeway. These 40,000 interlocking basalt columns are the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.

The historic walled city of Derry-Londonderry marks the halfway point. Continue along the northern coastline to be wowed by the County Donegal and the northern section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Take in the Inishowen Peninsula and the majestic Slieve League Cliffs. The finale is Donegal town, set in a valley between the Barnesmore Mountains and Donegal Bay. We only had time to do the northern portion of the Wild Atlantic Way, and we stayed two nights in Donegal at Harvey’s Point, a lovely family-owned hotel surrounded by mountains and a lake (Lough Eske).

 

Road Trip in Montenegro

Arzo from Arzo Travels

Piva Lake Montenegro by Arzo from Arzo Travels

Piva Lake Montenegro

One of the activities that I had on my bucket list forever was road tripping Montenegro. I held back though because I was scared of driving there – but it turned out that driving in Montenegro is fine (yes, someone hit my car and the Montenegrin insurance company does not want to pay at the moment) but overall, it was as I imagined it to be.

Montenegro is a small country in the Balkans – bordering Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Serbia. I imagined it to be one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and actually Montenegro is exactly that!

The most famous place in Montenegro might be the beautiful coastal town of Kotor – located in the Bay of Kotor but driving in Montenegro held so many highlights that I had problems keeping track.

My favorite place was probably the most Piva Lake in the northeastern part of the country – totally underrated and one of the most beautiful streets I have ever driven, but also Perast and Kotor were picture perfect. Ten days in that small country seemed almost too little but with this trip, but I am happy to have seen this stunning country!

Yes, the drivers in Montenegro tend to be fast and a bit reckless but if where would be the fun if it would be that relaxed?

So, my tip is to not drive with your own car but with a rental car and plan in enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the cute towns.

Check out Arzo’s Montenegro Itinerary.

Other Montenegro tours and activities can be found here.

 

Kayaking Norway Fjords

Penny from Itchy Feet Family

Kayaking Fjords in Norway by Penny from Itchy Feet Family
The fjords of Norway are a magical place to visit.  The clean crisp air, the mountains reflecting on the crystal waters and the vast open spaces combine to deliver a unique bucket list destination.
We visited the area via cruise ship for a week of amazing scenic cruising but also took the opportunity to include some adventure to our journey.  When stopped at Olden for a port day we got off the waters of the large ocean ship and into narrow, close to the water, kayaks to experience the Fjords up close and personal.
Sitting in a tiny kayak, where you can touch the water with your hands as you paddle, certainly puts you close to nature.  With large mountainous ranges surrounding, clouds cloaking the mountain tops and clean fresh air to breathe there was something magical about kayaking the Norwegian Fjords.
The town of Olden, with a population of just 2,500, is a sanctuary of nature and isolation and being on the waters of the Fjord was a peaceful and calming experience.
Our tour provided two hours of paddling on the Fjord, stopping every 15 -20 minutes for commentary from our guide – so it was not a physically demanding activity. Instead a tranquil experience allowing us to take in all the glory of the surrounding nature.
For Norway tours click here.

 

Transfagarasan Road Trip, Romania

Loredana from Earth’s Attractions

Transfagarasan Road Romania by Loredana from Earths Attractions

If you like taking road trips, then you should definitely include the Transfagarasan Road in Romania on your bucket list. Whether it’s an easy day trip from Bucharest or part of a long journey through Romania, that’s up to you, but if you like to drive, to admire scenic views and the mountains, THIS is it.

As a fun fact, a few years ago, Top Gear, the famous TV car show (the team now known as The Grand Tour) named it “greatest driving road in the world”.

Constructed between 1970 and 1974 for defense purposes (to ensure quick military access across the mountains in case of a Soviet invasion), the Transfagarasan will get you to an altitude of 2,042 meters (6,699 ft).  There are numerous hairpin turns and small waterfalls along the way.

The view is simply stunning! There is also a cabin at Balea Lake (where you might find a bit of snow during the summer) where you can stop and eat something. On a side note, here, during the winter, we have an ice hotel.

The road is open from June 15th to the end of September – the dates may vary a bit depending on the weather so make sure to check in advance the opening dates and the weather conditions for when you want to take a road trip on the Transfagarasan. I like to take a yearly trip to this road – that’s how much I like it – plus it’s a fun one-day trip for us!

While you’re in Romania, check out these other tours and activities.

 

Trans Siberian Railway Russia

Sinead from Map Made Memories

Trans Siberian Russia by SInead from Map Made Memories

The Trans Siberian is one of the world’s most famous and iconic train trips and riding the Trans Siberian featured on my travel bucket list for many years.

There is not one single Trans Siberian route or ticket – the Trans Siberian railway is comprised of different lines and trains stretching across Russia and beyond into China and Mongolia. Any of the routes will be a trip of a lifetime.

Traveling solely across Russia from Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east is an epic journey spanning two continents, traveling through eight time zones and covering over 6,000 miles. The Trans Siberian railway offers a diverse trip in terms of landscape, language and culture – all within the same country.

I traveled from the Mongolian border, through the dramatic landscapes of Siberia to the cosmopolitan Russian capital Moscow and onwards to St Petersburg. I visited the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal, hiked in dense birch forest, stood in awe at the enormous communist era sculptures at VDNKh in Moscow and at the incredible architecture of the Church of the Spilled Blood in St Petersburg. I found the trains comfortable and relaxing and easy to navigate and travel on, even with no Russian language. It was an incredible trip and I hope to return one day to complete another route!

If you finish your trip in St Petersburg, check out these other things you can do.

 

Visit Chernobyl, Ukraine

Carly from Fearless Female Travels

Chernobyl by Carly from Fearless Female Travels

Chernobyl is, without a doubt, one of the top bucket list travel destinations in Eastern Europe.  In 1986, the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl experienced a catastrophic meltdown that was infamously exacerbated by the incompetence of the local government and USSR officials.  The area around the reactor remained closed until 2011, at which time select areas were opened to visitors on guided tours.  Today, eight years later, Chernobyl is a fascinating place for travelers interested in Soviet history, science, ethics and environmentalism.

I recommend that travelers choose a two-day tour to Chernobyl, as there is far too much to see in a single day.  There are a number of reputable tour operators based in Kiev who organize small-group adventures into the nuclear disaster zone.  A typical tour takes you to breathtaking sights that most people will only read about in history books (or watch on the new HBO series “Chernobyl”), including the two-billion-euro sarcophagus built over Reactor #4, the abandoned town of Pripyat (including its evocative ferris wheel) and the Duga Radar, a missile-defense warning system that is almost one kilometer long and more than 200 meters tall.  If circumstances permit, you may also encounter the famous dogs and foxes of Chernobyl, or even meet one of the babushkas who refused to leave after the nuclear meltdown.  It’s an experience that can’t be had anywhere else in the world, and that may become restricted in the future by the Ukrainian government, so cross this one off your bucket list as soon as possible!

 

Fly in a Seaplane in Scotland

Henriette from Travel Around With Me

A Seaplane flight in Scotland

There are those things that you just have to do once in your life! For me, that included flying in a seaplane. When I was traveling to Scotland, one of my travel dreams came true. I went flying in a seaplane above the beautiful Scottish lake Loch Lomond and Glasgow.

From my hotel, the Scottish luxury Cameron House hotel, I walked across the walkway to the bright yellow seaplane. With a group of six people we took a seat in the small aircraft and Scott started the engines. I had watched the previous flight by water plane from the garden of the hotel and that made a lot of noise. Once on board, the sound of starting the engines was not too bad. The seaplane turns away from the quay and makes a sharp turn towards the center of the lake.

We wait a while and suddenly Scott gives full throttle ahead. Within no time we rise from the water and I look out over Loch Lomond, one of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland. Loch Lomond is part of National Park “the Trossachs”. It is the first National Park of Scotland located in the southern highlands and worth a visit both from the air and on foot. We are making quite a long flight and I even have the chance to catch a glimpse of Glasgow. In one word, fantastic!

Read more about Henriette’s Seaplane adventure.

Check out other tours and activities in Scotland here.

 

Hike the Caminito del Ray, Spain

Ar’nie from The Goddess Style

Hiking the Caminito del Ray, Spain

We moved to the beautiful province of Andalucia, southern Spain in Sept 2019 from London. It’s such an amazing region that I almost want to say it’s the most beautiful and varied (geography wise) place in the whole world. There are mountains (E.g. Sierra Nevada for skiing), ancient paintings covered caves (E.g. Cueva de Pileta) and those mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea like the area where we live, Costa Del Sol (The Sunny Coast).

When my husband’s work colleague found out we were moving close to the city of Malaga (one of the main cities in Southern Spain) he was very excited. He told me of his dream to walk the ‘world’s most dangerous mountain trail’, the Caminito Del Rey.

We had never heard of it and quickly Googled it. It didn’t disappoint the adventurers in us.

The local government have made many improvements to that trail since a couple of people died doing it. Now it’s no longer super dangerous but it’s still very exciting nonetheless and can make your knees weak in some parts.

We did the trail earlier this year when the weather was just cool enough for the 1.5-2hrs walk. I told my Husband we shouldn’t rush and just enjoy the nature walk and admire the scenic route.

Tickets have to be booked in advance. We opted for the 11am start as it takes us 1.5 hrs to get to this part of Andalusia. Each walker is given a white hard helmet for safety. You are expected to walk within the trail which begins from one location. You either park your car here then take the bus back at the end of it or park your car at the end of it and take the bus to the entrance.

The trail takes you along the edges of a mountain and this is where the “world’s most dangerous” name came from. So many parts of the original cement trail are crumbling and then there’s even big gaps! Luckily today they’ve built wooden floor with secure metal rails above that crumbling walkway. You’ll pass by waterfall, trains running into ‘cave’ like structure and forest. The last scary part is crossing a hanging bridge. With the winds blowing strong and water vapour being swept over to your face, you can either run across while closing your eyes. Or you can take a deep breath, and walk slowly, enjoying the power of human engineering while breathing in nature. Like I did…

 

Visit Montserrat Mountain, Spain

Carol from Wandering Carol

Montserrat Monastary in Spain

An excursion to Montserrat Mountain in Spain is a trip to remember, with majestic scenery, beautiful hikes and an unforgettable spiritual energy that has attracted the devout for centuries. A great day trip from Barcelona – it lies 31 miles northwest of the city – the mountain is home to the monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, where you’ll find a museum, restaurants, hotel and gothic basilica.

Attracting some two million visitors a year, Montserrat is an iconic destination in Catalonia. One of the biggest draws is the statue of the Black Madonna in the Basilica. Also known as the Virgin of Montserrat or La Moreneta, this famous statue has been associated with many legends and miracles, and scores of pilgrims come to ask for her blessing. Another popular thing to do at the Basilica is to hear the renowned boys’ choir, Escolania, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe.

The monastery is also a good base for hiking, and there are a number of trails that wind their way through the Sierra de Montserrat. The Way of the Cross is a gentle hike of about 40 minutes round trip that culminates at the Cross of St Michael, where you’ll have panoramic views of the valley beyond, while the ambitious can hike the Sant Jeroni Trail.

Whichever way you choose to experience Montserrat, it’s a trip into the cultural, historic and natural heritage of Spain.

While you’re in Spain, check out these other activities.

 

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From road trips, to animals, to amazing hikes, festivals and experiences, this list of over 60 of the best bucket list adventures for travellers of the world has something to whet everyone's appetite!

From road trips, to animals, to amazing hikes, festivals and experiences, this list of over 60 of the best bucket list adventures for travellers of the world has something to whet everyone's appetite!

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