People seem to put together these elaborate bucket lists all the time, and as soon as I started thinking about my own, I realised that most of the items on my list involved travelling. So I figured I may as well dedicate an entire list of destinations I want to visit before…Well, I kick the bucket! Here are my top ten favourite picks. What are yours?
Well, the Maldives are basically heaven on earth, so obviously they made it on to my travel bucket list! Ever since I saw photos of these amazing islands in the Indian Ocean, I knew I would have to go there one day. Crystal clear blue water, luxury resorts with water villas, white sandy beaches – it just seems like the perfect place to relax. I am also intrigued by the wonderful cultural attractions and the many Sinhalese, Arab and South Indian influences that can be found here. As an enthusiastic snorkeler, I’m also preparing for some amazing under-water explorations!
The Bora Bora islands in the South Pacific’s French Polynesia are the closest to paradise you’ll ever get. It’s not hard to see why this has become such a popular destination for celebrities and honeymooners! If you’re not into beach-lounging all day, you’ll have plenty of water-sport activities to choose from. Several tour companies offer spectacular outings such as a day spent snorkelling around the Bora Bora Lagoon alongside black-tip reef sharks and sting rays. You’ll be taken to a private island for a scrumptious lunch buffet and will get to experience the warm French Polynesian hospitality – and all this for just over $100. I’ll be signing up for this!
I bet a visit to Cuba feels like travelling back in time. The vintage cars, the history, the music and the rum inspiring people to dance on the street – it almost seems like a completely different world. I can’t wait to stroll through these idyllic streets and take in all the beautiful, colourful and architecturally-impressive buildings. One such building is the Gran Teatro de La Havana, located in the Paseo del Prado. It first opened its doors in 1915 and has become a staple of Cuban culture. It is home to the Cuban National Ballet Company and has seen some of the most renowned dancers and artists in the world take to the stage. And of course you can’t visit Cuba without spending at least one night out on the town in Old Havana – this truly is the heart of Cuba and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rich in colour and flavours, Morocco is probably one of the most exciting Arab countries. Here you can ride a camel through the Sahara desert or hike the Atlas Mountains with breath-taking views of the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. If you’re not really up for great adventures you can always beach-bum around on the coast and visit the souks for a little shopping, and a glass of traditional Moroccan mint tea. If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, you should definitely stay in a Riad – a Moroccan style house with an interior patio, usually designed for lounging in during the hottest hours of the day.
With its wonderful scenery and wildlife, South Africa is definitely a place I want to visit. Its perfect temperatures and tasty food make this a fantastic place to visit all-year-round. Offering unforgettable attractions such as God’s Window (a panoramic view of the Lowveld) and the Hole in the Wall, South Africa is the perfect place for photographers and families eager to make memories. This is also your chance to see the Big Five – Africa’s most difficult animals to hunt or witness in their natural habitat: the elephant, black rhinoceros, lion, leopard and the Cape buffalo. Fortunately, the famous Kruger National Park has incited strict anti-poaching measures and is now equipped with a special canine unit and two drones aimed to keep hunters out.
When I think of Greece, I immediately think of white-washed houses and roofs as blue as the Aegean Sea. But on the island of Santorini, the small town of Oia has taken its buildings’ colour coding to a whole other level: brightly orange walls and deep red facades line the cobblestoned paths of this quirkily romantic town. The island is what remains of the volcanic caldera and as such offers a unique landscape full of mystery – yes, the island has even been linked to Atlantis and the Exodus! On top of that, Santorini’s beautiful beaches, the delicious food and the most mesmerizing sunsets in the world make me want to pack my bags and leave RIGHT NOW!
Turkey – Cappadocia
I only heard about this region in central Turkey recently, and now I am adamant to get there as soon as I can. Every morning before sunrise, hundreds of hot air balloons take to the skies allowing passengers to view the landscape from above. You can book an hour-long balloon ride for around $100 and will be served with tea to keep you warm on this most beautiful trip. This historical region is famous for its fairy chimney rock formations and cave houses you’ll want to stay in to capture the true feeling of Cappadocia. The Göreme National Park is a must-see and is as impressive in summer as it is in winter: just imagine all those fairy chimneys covered in snow – magical!
Steeped in history, Vietnam offers inexhaustible tourist attractions. Start your first day with a romantic breakfast as you watch the sun rise over Halong Bay, the place poet and Confucian scholar Nguyễn Trãi dubbed the “rock wonder in the sky”. You can see why Vietnam is on my travel bucket list, right? Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a view of these emerald green waters at least once in their lifetime?! There are many temples and tombs to visit here, but the Tomb of Khai Dinh should be on the very top of your list. Mixing various architectural styles, the Tomb of Khai Dinh prides itself on the biggest dragon sculptures in Vietnam. If you’re looking for an affordable holiday and great street-food, Vietnam is the place to be.
Peru – Machu Picchu
This world famous archaeological site in Peru was built at the height of the Inca Empire. You can get there via multiple hiking routes, but the most popular is the Inca Trail which takes somewhere between 4 and 5 days. Alternatively, you can take the train from Cusco, where you’ll be teamed with a guide who will teach you everything there is to know about the lost city. You will also have the option to climb the Huayna Picchu, which was once the residence of the high priest and local virgins. This is also where the Temple of the Moon and the Great Cavern are located. This trip can be rather strenuous, so if you need a break from all the sight-seeing, you can always exit the site for a few hours and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many cafes surrounding the park area.
Iceland may not be the best place for those of you who prefer tropical holidays, but it’s worth a visit just to see the Northern Lights. If you fancy yourself a bit of a road trip, this is the place to be: long, winding roads leading you through the vast Icelandic landscape will make you feel as though you’re all alone in the world. An absolute must is a visit to the Blue Lagoon Spa, a natural geothermal pool in which you will get the spa treatment of a lifetime: surrounded by snow-covered mountain tops, lava fields and the mesmerizing natural environment, you can even opt for an in-water massage. Once you feel rejuvenated, stop for a magical visit to The Elf School and you will return home having had an extraordinary experience!