This article showcases our top picks for the Best Places You Have To Travel Before You Die. We reached out to industry leaders and experts who have contributed the suggestions within this article (they have been credited for their contributions below).
We are keen to hear your feedback on all of our content and our comment section is a moderated space to express your thoughts and feelings related (or not) to this article This list is in no particular order.
When people think of Croatia, they often think of visiting Dubrovnik. But Dubrovnik is afford pricey and full of tourists. Istria is the Hidden gem of Croatia. It has bundles of culture, bell towers, art and cobbled streets, it’s the ultimate old town Europe. Did you know there is a leaning tower of Istria? A tower that leans 40cm to one side in a little town called Zavrsje. Zavrsje is an abandoned village high upon a hill, there are no tourists and lots of ruins. It is like stepping onto a movie set. With beautiful views of Istria below and of course the leaning tower.
This place was recommended by Mrs DDuffin from Icanshowyoutheworld5
This place was recommended by Sarah Groen from Bell & Bly Travel
South Africa packs a punch in terms of the diversity of experiences it offers. Here you can enjoy a true luxury safari experience one day, explore the history of Apartheid the next, wine taste the following, and finish up hiking and whale watching in Cape Town. It’s hard to think of another spot on earth where you can combine all of these experiences. Insider tip – you can also hop a plane for a few days camping in Antarctica!
This place was recommended by Samantha Patil from Well Traveled
It’s like a literal snow globe brought to life. The town is pedestrian access only. You arrive via train (there’s only one track going in/out of the little town) and upon arrival you’re either getting around by foot, a little golf cart-like vehicle or a horse drawn carriage. It’s also one of the only places in the world you can ski in Switzerland, Italy and France all on the same ski pass and within the same day if you’d like to! To top it off, you’ll find charming restaurants serving Fondue and delicious french wine. It’s truly a magical place.
This place was recommended by Hilary Bird from Vanlife blogger
If Chiang Mai, Thailand isn’t on your bucket list, then you need to add it! While Thailand is known for its gorgeous beaches, its hidden gems are lush rainforest jungles in the north. Chiang Mai is located in the north and boasts elephant sanctuaries, the most delicious, homemade (and least expensive) curry dishes, very friendly locals and lots of ancient temples. What’s more, you can stay in nice hotels for very reasonable prices given the exchange rate to the dollar. The best time of year to go is around early March to ensure sunny skies before monsoon season starts. In Chiang Mai, you get a taste of its rich history as well as all of the geographic beauty Thailand has to offer.
This place was recommended by Finn Cardiff from Beachgoer
I highly suggest Belize once it welcomes tourists back to its sunny beaches on August 15. As of this writing, there are less than 30 cases of COVID-19 in the country and authorities have set up stringent measures to control the spread of the virus. Staying in Belize once it opens is ideal for those who want to observe social distancing because not too many visitors will flock to the country right away. The airports are now equipped with sanitation facilities and hotels have to achieve the “Tourism Gold Standard Certificate of Recognition” to ensure they’re complying with health standards. Tobacco Caye, which is a small island at the northern part of South Water Caye Marine Reserve is a perfect tourist hangout. The lodges are great for vacationers who want to explore the protected marine reserve and shore diving. You’ll find many foreign backpackers and scuba enthusiasts in this cay. Aside from shore diving, you can explore Caracol, which is the largest Maya site in Belize. Take IG-worthy photos when you arrive. But the best part of Belize is the Long Caye Belize, which is considered the only surf break in the country that is both accessible and safe to locals and tourists. Bring your bodyboard and don’t worry about breaking over live corals in the area because the Belize Barrier Reef blocks ocean swells. It’s the highlight of any trip!
This place was recommended by Lindsay Paige Stein from The Roundtrip Collective
The Maldives is by far one of the most sought after bucket list destinations in the world. I was lucky enough to visit last year, and out of all of the places I’ve visited the Maldives is the most breathtaking. Once you arrive, you feel like you’re in true paradise and the luxury resort options are endless. I stayed in three different private island resorts, all with amazing 5-star cuisine, friendly service, and activities that are a super unique like dining in an underwater restaurant, swimming with sharks, and sipping champagne on a completely private sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Before you die, staying in an overwater villa in the Maldives is a must.
This place was recommended by John Pinedo from Freedom Bound Business
Having visited the ancient Incan citadel high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, I can see why it was voted one of the new 7 wonders of the world in 2007. A simple Google or hashtag search on Instagram will show you jaw-dropping images of this highly-toured part of the world. It’s only a thousand times more stunning in person once you’re up there, and it’s a view people should not miss out on.
This place was recommended by Anat Ben Yosef from Israel- Land of Creation
Beauty, grandeur, and inspired design combined with meticulous gardening by generations of dedicated workers from a variety of cultures create the unique atmosphere of the Baha’i shrine and gardens in Haifa. While each garden offers a different experience, they all share the same theme of gravelling paths, unique hedges, and flourishing flower beds. A picture so perfect you must see it with your own eyes to believe the precision and symmetry. This mystical iconic site is not just beautiful, though. It is also the world center of the Baha’i faith, a religion whose origins come from Iran. Its founder, Baha’u’llah, was exiled from his homeland at the end of the 19th century and went to Akko (Acre) and Haifa after suffering persecution in neighboring countries. He was impressed with the beauty of Mount Carmel and expressed the desire that the Bab (one of the central figures of the Baha’i faith) would be buried there. About 20 years later the bones of the Bab were laid to rest in Haifa on the site which is now visited by half a million people every year.
This place was recommended by Isabella Biava from BoundlessRoads
Most often confused with the US state of California, Baja California is actually a Mexican State, the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula. It’s a spectacular region full of contrasts and natural marvels. The red rocky desert of the central mountain range covered with green cacti and interrupted by tropical oasis clashes with the blue of the pacific ocean and the internationally popular Sea of Cortez, named the world aquarium by Jacque Custeau, for its rich marine life and variety of species. Although Cabo San Lucas is where you would land and where the most popular all inclusive hotel brands are located, I would leave that tourist hub behind, rent a car and travel around, instead. It’s so easy to drive in Baja California and it’s the best way to discover the off the beaten track spots. Check out the colorful La Paz where you can’t miss the breathtaking sunsets from Balandra beach, one of the most beautiful and photogenic beaches in Mexico, in my opinion, take walks on the malecon and have some fish tacos. Join a tour to Isla Espiritu Santu to swim with the funny sea lions and then continue your journey north, up to Puerto Lopez Mateo, a small fishing town now popular for the whale watching tours, the best in the area. Mind that whale watching is only available from the end of December through March. Continue your journey up to the magic town of Loreto, the first Spanish settlement, which is now a cute colonial town, with so much to do. You can easily spend a week there. take a tour to see the blue whales and another one to Coronado Island, visit the Mission of San Javier and the local museum. Go for a hike in the Sierra La Giganta and enjoy walking through the majestic boulders.
This place was recommended by Stephanie Ambarsumyan from Wandering Why Traveler
Laos may feel a world’s away, and that is precisely why it is absolutely vital to visit. Laos is perhaps one of the last standing countries that has not disregarded its authenticity in order to appeal to selfie stick touting tourists. Laos is located in southeast Asia and feels as though it has stood still in time for decades. Enjoy the natural splendour of the jurassic palm trees, tall green grass and murky brown Mekong river. Wonder at the humility of the Laotian monks as you participate in giving alms as the sun rises over the city of Luang Prabang. Sample delicious French wine, cheese, and pastries left over from colonial days for a fraction of what a trip to Paris costs. Learn about the secret war with Laos and how the COPE center in the capital city creates prosthetics for victims of UXOs entirely made possible through donations. Marvel at one of the only reclining Buddhas in the world, a behemoth monument in the capital city of Vientiane. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a shot of rattlesnake whiskey to calm your nerves before embarking in outdoor adventures such as caving and kayaking.
This place was recommended by Melissa L. Smith from Enotrias
Anderson Valley is home to some of the most exquisite wines in the US. Stunning Pinot Noir and Alsatian varietals are grown along this wine route that spans 3 AVAs, and ends at the Pacific Ocean at the Mendocino Coast where you can stay at homey inns or chic glamping resorts. Home to dozens of collectible wines, the Anderson Valley Brewery, fruit stands, and a number of dairies producing delicious artisanal cheeses. Located 2-3 hours north of San Francisco, this isn’t a day trip destination, but one that you’ll want to stay at least a night to experience all that this valley has to offer.
This place was recommended by Erin Clarkson from Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
Savannah is such a charming Southern city. With its cobblestone streets, converted warehouses lining the riverfront, and the stunning Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, it looks very much like an old European city right here in the US! The city is known for being a foodies destination, so you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, including plenty that feature delicious Southern fare. Savannah is also loaded with history. You can walk to a number of historical homes and landmarks within the small boundaries of the Historic District.
This place was recommended by Anna Wojtowicz from The AW Guide
Thirty minutes south of Bordeaux in Martillac stands Les Sources de Caudalie, a luxury hotel, spa, and Michelin Star restaurant in the French vineyards. There, visitors can not only enjoy drinking wine, but soaking in it as well (yes please!) through vinotherapy. During which the winemaking residue is rubbed into the skin. Imagine taking a bubble bath infused with wine as you stare out into the French vineyards. This hotel is based on a new way of looking at traveling, offering a moment of nature within a short distance of large cities. Unlike other 5 star destinations that are off the grid, Le Source de Caudalie offers an experience of bliss in the middle of the french countryside. Quiet and subtle in it’s luxury, one feels that they are with nature and truly home.
This place was recommended by Neill Kramer from Ohana Retreat Bali
There is a reason why Bali appears in the top 10npoaces in the world year after year. It’s not because of the beaches, although there are many beautiful ones. It’s not because of the waterfalls, although there are at least 25 impressive ones. It’s because of the Balinese, am artistic, spiritual, and tolerant people who are friendly and open to peaceful visitors.
This place was recommended by Rick Wallace from The Navient Class Action Lawsuit site
Made famous in part as the setting for the finale of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the formerly lost city of Petra, with its spectacular carved stone buildings, was rediscovered in 1812. Visitors access the city via a narrow canyon known as the Siq and the view when you emerge from the gap and stand in front of the 45m-high Al Khazneh (Treasury) temple with its ornate, Greek-style facade is mind blowing. Nothing can prepare you for it, and this is just the first in a series of monuments made by the Nabataean civilization in the first century AD that you can explore. The recent discovery via a drone of previously unexplored buildings at Petra just makes it an even more desirable place to visit.
This place was recommended by Jamela Adam from Jamela On The Go
Every time I look back at the photos I captured in San Marcos La Laguna, I feel a sense of peace and serenity. This tiny village in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala is so otherworldly yet familiar. So tranquil yet full of life. As soon as you step onto the dock of San Marcos, you’re immediately invited by an indescribable magical flow of presence. With the town surrounded by majestic volcanoes towering over the lake, and inhabited by a mixture of traditional Mayan villagers and hippy yoga-loving ex-pats, San Marcos makes you feel as if you’re living in a dream. A dream full of soul-nurturing nature, vibrant colors, and warm sunshine. It is truly a mystical town that deserves to be savored slowly and deeply.
This place was recommended by Naima Khalid from eFor-Real
Altit Fort is an ancient fort at Altit town in the Hunza Valley in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. It was a home for the rulers of Hunza State. Altit Fort is around 1100 years old. A completely different experience when you drive right through the mountains along the Karakoram Highway.
This place was recommended by Naima Khalid from eFor-Real
Great Pyramids Of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering present-day Giza in Greater Cairo, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As it is only one to remain substantially intact of all seven wonders, you should visit it before you die.
This place was recommended by Naima Khalid from eFor-Real
The lucid white sand and turquoise sea of the Island of Mozambique leaves you in wonder. On the other hand, all the historical buildings on the island’s northern end make it a destination of dreams.
This place was recommended by Naima Khalid from eFor-Real
Tianzi Mountains is a mountain located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China. These mountains inspired the Pandora mountainscape in the film Avatar by James Cameron, there has also been a theme park created there regarding the movie. Visit Tianzi Mountains before it becomes a regret if you are a fan of Avatar.
This place was recommended by Mansa Brice from TheParadiseSeed
This land was frequented by Roman emperors, 4th century BC peasants, and Cilician pirates. It hosts the large Mount Olympus adjacent to a beautiful sea cove, scattered with bungalow homes. As a guest in Antalya, you can’t help but feel like you’re being coddled by modern comfort and consequences of its 2400 year legacy. We have a tendency of chasing the most beautiful sights in the world but neglect to revisit our past. Lycia is an ancient city, but it provides both fun and education. Why not enjoy a seaside breeze by some ancient ruins and create a memory of a lifetime?
This place was recommended by Albert Lee from Home Living Lab
Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s most valuable treasures and is renowned throughout the world for its conserved wilderness. This is one of the best places to spot the big five, the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino in their most natural habitat and also other rarely seen animals like the cheetah, wild dogs and sable. I can assure you this experience will trump any zoo in the world. Most of us will never have the opportunity to get up close and intimate with these animals if not for Kruger Park. However, once you have tried it, you will be hooked.
This place was recommended by Stefano Menegazzi from Solo Espresso
There are a number of locations in Sicily that make it a perfect destination for a few days tour. You can span from natural beauties, to historical sites to the local food tradition. Starting from the Zingaro Natural Reserve you can then head to Palermo, the capital city of the Region, which offers a mix of local culture, history and food tradition. Not far is the Temple Valley of Agrigento, with 8 ancient temples. From there the choices are multiple depending on the time. You can choose to head to the eastern part, Noto, Catania, Modica (famous for the unique chocolate production) and Ragusa, or spend some time on the edge of the Volcano Etna, the main of three active volcanoes in the Island. Last but not least, the sea is amazing, so a few days in one of many small islands is a great idea for those who seek relaxation and amazing food!
This place was recommended by Rory from Malawian Style
The lake is often mistaken for an ocean, it’s nicknamed the Calendar Lake; 352 miles long and 52 miles wide. Along the lakeshore are beautiful white sand beaches, the worlds friendliest people and a variety of lodges to suit all budgets. More than a thousand species of African cichlid live in Lake Malawi, and of these, several hundred are endemic. They are an amazing sight when snorkelling or scuba diving. On the water, you will see a variety of birdlife including the African Fish Eagle. Malawi is a country like no other, known as The Warm Heart of Africa, you will leave with fond memories and new friends.
This place was recommended by John Bedford from Viva Flavor
There is simply nothing I didn’t love about Vietnam when my wife and I stayed there during our backpacking days. The food is some of the best I’ve eaten anywhere, the countryside is stunning, and I genuinely believe the people are the friendliest on earth. I consider it to be the one place I have to travel to TWICE before I die!
This place was recommended by Monica Mencer from The Morning Cactus
Switzerland has a secret. It’s Ticino. Ticino is the sole canton that struggles to identify completely with either Swiss or Italian heritage, leaving us with a glorious cultural mashup that will amaze any traveler. This is a location you must visit before you die because it’s a dream come to life. Ticino is full of pristine lakes, incredible mountain ranges, cliff diving, the alps, castles, music festivals, boutique wineries, and to-die for pizza. I spent two years living in Switzerland and Ticino was the best area to live and travel that I’ve been in the world!
This place was recommended by George Hammerton from Hammerton Barbados
Barbados is one of the ultimate bucket list destinations, with a uniquely kind and generous culture driven by a rich history, the way of life for guests and locals alike sets it apart. With tropical palm trees shading idyllic coral beaches, gourmet dining, casual beach bars, and turtles swimming freely off shore, there’s no true tropical paradise like Barbados – a destination for everyone’s bucket list.
This place was recommended by Olivia-Petra Coman from Inreperta
It is a land of fairy tales, where people are still guided by traditions, wear national costumes, and preserve old customs. Wooden churches (found on the UNESCO list) built in the region’s style fascinate the visitor, strong spirits sometimes pour out of traditional gates, while the local hospitality and pace are unmatched.
This place was recommended by Yoann from Where Can I FLY?
Having been a digital nomad for 6 years, and visited more than 55 countries, I often get asked the same question: what is the best country I’ve visited? While there is no simple answer for any traveller, one country was a big surprise for me, and it was Armenia. The reason being that behind finding amazing food, friendly people, safe country, cheap prices, and beautiful nature, which actually happens in many places, this country had other surprises: oldest castles ruins from 4th century and christian churches from 1st century that I’ve ever seen – and I’m native from the French middle ages castles region, Grand-Est, where most of them aren’t older as 10th century. Therefore, it is usually the must-see before you die country that I recommend when asked that question.
This place was recommended by Monique Teggelove from Papillon Reizen
Explorers like Mungo Park and René Laing risked their lives to travel to the fabled desert city of 333 Saints, which was in the past hosting a famous university. Ancient manuscripts, preserved in libraries and hidden in family homes tell the stories of the past. In recent years the town has often made it to the news due to the insecurity in the region. Unfortunately currently not accessible for tourists, but definitely a place to put high on the bucket list for when peace returns to the amazing city.
This place was recommended by Mia Clarke from Invert Pro
It is a reserve located in the Bokeo province in Laos. The place was created to protect the nearly extinct black-cheeked gibbon. It is a natural beauty, from the forest to water walls, everything about it is spectacular. One can use the Gibbon experience to watch gibbons and nature, you can also join the waterfall gibbon experience where there’s three hours of trekking along the Nam Nga river.
This place was recommended by Meg Marrs from Safer Senior Care
Fairbanks, Alaska is located directly under the Auroral Oval and is one of the top places to view the northern lights. Aurora Borealis or more commonly known as the northern lights are a stunning natural light show that happens when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere colliding with gaseous particles. It is a magical experience with blue, green, pink and violet lights appearing and moving across the night sky. The season lasts from end August till end April. Whilst in Fairbanks it is just a short trip to Santa’s house.
This place was recommended by Sneha Francis from Unstumbled
Varanasi No matter how much is said about Varanasi it is just not enough. You have to experience the city of death to truly understand what makes Varanasi or Banaras, as it is so lovingly called by its locals, so special. Varanasi is an assault to your senses. Everything is in your face in this beautiful city of lights; the prayers, the religious dips in the Holy Ganges and even death! Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva, the God of death and destruction and it is said that if you die in Varanasi and your ashes are cremated in the River Ganges you will attain Moksha (Salvation) and breakaway from the continuous cycle of reincarnation. Varanasi is an action packed city that is rich in history (one of the oldest living cities in the world), has some of the nicest locals you will find, great food and the most beautiful sunrise. So do yourself a favor and ditch other destinations for Varanasi and head there as soon as you can. Let the City of Light encapsulate you and leave you with an experience of a lifetime.
This place was recommended by Tim Hirtle from XcalakMexico
Xcalak is a small town on the Yucatan Peninsula, where visitors sample what remote beach living is truly like. Most travelers are familiar with seaside vacations, but not the joys (and adversities) of living on the beach sustainably. Accommodations in Xcalak are off-grid, meaning they rely on solar power and collected rainwater. These resources are limited, and therefore precious, yet still abundant enough to keep everyone comfortable. This is the type of beach where guests get the full Robinson Crusoe experience, such as isolated beaches, and still keep most modern comforts. And (of course) with Xcalak being on the Caribbean Coast, and inside a protected National Park, the area is beautiful.
This place was recommended by Joe Flanagan from 90s Fashion World
The southernmost city of the continent, is a lovely city that sits on a strategic position. It allows you to go sled racing (pulled by a bunch of super cute Malamute dogs), to visit sea lion’s islands (where they go to reproduce every year), to watch penguins from afar (totally worth it boat trip) or to go riding horses on the snowy mountains. You might even spot a whale or two on those boat trips! You can also ride the Train at the End of the World that goes in and out of a beautiful forest and later on go up the cable lines to the top of the mountains that sit all around the port. During winter, you can also go skiing! Overall, it is a marvelously and beautiful place, with a ton of excellent activities to enjoy and a lot of untouched wild areas around it that are scarcely populated. Ideal to keep to yourself, rent a cottage in the woods and have the holiday of a lifetime!
This place was recommended by Caryn Werner from KOYA
For eight years I was a humanitarian photographer working with nonprofits and socially conscious companies. This career gave me the opportunity to travel to well over 75 countries, Bhutan being one of them. It won’t surprise me if you have never heard of Bhutan. This small South East Asia country is sandwiched between China and India. It holds breathtaking views, Ema Datshi (a spicy chili cheese dish) and some of the most beautiful people. Put this hidden gem on your bucket list.
This place was recommended by Melanie Musson from AutoInsuranceEZ
You can almost feel the history of Rome when you stand at the Colosseum. Everything you’ve read about, heard about, and seen in movies, comes to life as you enter that arena. And that’s just the beginning. The Pantheon is an engineering marvel and the Roman Forum will give you a glimpse into the glory that was Rome. It’s a must-see destination that should be added to everyone’s bucket list.
This place was recommended by Tomasz W.R. Jasinski from royal sequoia
Once you park your car and begin your walk, you‘ll immerse yourself in another world; a world of silent, stately, natural skyscrapers. The Giant Sequoia, some more than 3000 years old, having experienced life in another era, still standing majestic, immune to most of the world’s troubles. As you walk through the woods, look up and give yourself over to your surroundings, hoping these trees live to experience many more millenia. The experience will change your life.
This place was recommended by Shiv Gupta from Incrementors Web Solutions
The Taj Mahal is a truly beautiful architectural feat built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It’s a massive, white, marble-domed mausoleum constructed in the 1600s that attracts over three million visitors each year.