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Top 32 Dream Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

June 10, 2020
Mount Roy in Wanaka, New Zealand

Are you looking for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday? Here are 32 dream destinations to fuel your wanderlust. Some of them may be classics, while others may be places you’ve probably never even considered traveling to before. Regardless, out of the many countries I’ve visited, these were the ones that personally inspired me the most. In this article, you’ll find out why I recommend these destinations as well as practical information such as when to visit each place!

Disclaimer: This awesome, free article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. No pressure to use these links, but I really appreciate it when you do!

32. Patagonia, Chile

a mountain and river in patagonia chile

If you enjoy outdoor activities and are a big fan of nature, then the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia should definitely be on your bucket list! This place absolutely took my breath away. Every corner you turn, there’s a majestic backdrop of mountains in the distance, and it always looked too good to be real. Some of the various things you can do here include trekking, glacier hiking (and tasting fresh spring water!), horseback riding, rafting, and kayaking. You can also relax at the dreamy Río Serrano Hotel + Spa, where you can get an incredible view of the mountains right from your room! If you have ample time, you should definitely visit Argentinian Patagonia as well.

Best time to visit Patagonia, Chile: November to early March (best weather for hiking and exploring as it's summertime there)

31. Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is hands down the most underrated country I’ve visited. I can never recommend it enough as no words can do this country justice; it’s one of those places that will leave you completely speechless. The architecture in Uzbekistan is made of such intricate and stunning details that you won’t even believe your eyes. In addition, this country is a great place to learn about the history of the Silk Road, as you can clearly see the cultural and religious impact it left on the trade hub cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.

It’s also worth mentioning that Uzbek people are honestly the kindest, most sincere, and most welcoming locals you can meet. They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable in their country, and their incredible hospitality has left a lasting impression in my heart.

➢ Read my 10-day Uzbekistan travel guide for all the details on where to go, where to stay, how to dress, and other important tips for visiting this country!

Best time to visit Uzbekistan: April, May, September & October (for ideal weather)

30. Moscow, Russia

Moscow’s beautifully unique Orthodox churches and cathedrals are totally worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. The famous Red Square, which houses the Kremlin, is an incredible place to learn about the history of the country while admiring fairytale-style buildings. If you enjoy art, simply take the metro ⁠— Moscow’s home to some of the most ornate metro stations in the world! Built during the Soviet times, their extravagant decors are truly a fascinating sight.

During your time here, I also recommend visiting Bunker-42, a secret Soviet bunker used during the Cold War. Today, it’s a Cold War Museum that showcases equipment used in the past and serves as a great reminder for us to not take peace for granted. Another place I recommend stopping by is Izmaylovo Kremlin, a colorful complex with lots of museums, souvenir markets, restaurants, and buildings inspired by drawings of old Russian fairytales.

Where to stay: Four Seasons Moscow ⁠— a stunning luxury hotel located right next to the Red Square. The view of Manezhnaya Square that you get from the room terraces there is simply jaw-dropping (see picture on the left).

Best time to visit Moscow: April & May for good temperatures and more affordable hotel prices (as opposed to the high season of summer) / December for the magical Christmas decorations (worth the freezing temperatures!)

29. Komodo Island, Indonesia

If turquoise waters, pink beaches, and swimming with sea creatures appeal to you, then Komodo Island would be your perfect bucket list holiday. There are endless amounts of activities to do there, but to start off with, I recommend booking a boat tour from Labuan Bajo. You can spend several nights on the boat as it takes you to all the most important sights on the island, allowing you to snorkel in some of the clearest waters and hike up to incredible viewpoints.  

girl standing on padar island in komodo island indonesia

Some of the key spots in Komodo are: the Pink Beach (which got its color from microscopic animals that produce a red pigment on coral reefs), Padar Island (which offers the best sunrise viewpoint over the entire Komodo National Park), Taka Makassar (a white sand beach perfect for snorkeling and drone photography), and Manta Point (where you can swim with marvelous manta rays!). Visiting Komodo Island is an experience you won’t forget; this place is definitely one of Indonesia’s best treasures.

Best time to visit Komodo Island: April to December (best weather and calm seas)

28. Cape Town, South Africa – One of the Dream Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

Cape Town is a fantastic destination for nature lovers looking for a relaxing and adventurous getaway. If you’re into outdoor activities such as hiking and paragliding, you’re definitely looking at the right place! One of the highlights of my time there was hiking Lion’s Head and being greeted with an unbelievable view of the sun setting over the city’s coastline. To make it even better, paragliders kept flying by, and you can spend a good hour or two simply watching them swing into the horizon (or try it for yourself!).

a parachute flying above the coastline of cape town south africa

Of the many other things to do in Cape Town, definitely book a safari tour to see the big five and check out the splendid beaches of the city, several of which are good for surfing too! You can also learn history at the UNESCO site of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years during the apartheid. The tour guides there are all former political prisoners of the island, which makes it a very personal and insightful experience. Some other must-see spots in the city are Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, and Boulders Beach for a magnificent sight of penguins! Last but not least ⁠— the seafood in Cape Town is out of this world.

Best time to visit Cape Town: March to May / September to November (good weather, lower prices and fewer crowds)

27. Japan

Japan ruined travel for me. During my 4 months there, I was deeply impressed by how polite and respectful the people there are and how clean and orderly everything is. In many ways, this country felt like a utopia, and no other place could match up. If you want to get to know one of the most beautiful and peaceful cultures in the world, then definitely go to Japan! You’ll be touched by people going out of their way to help you out and bowing at each other out of pure respect. You’ll also be fascinated by all the very unique and quirky things there, such as wasabi-flavored Kit Kat and ramen noodle baths.

I should also mention that the food in Japan took me straight to heaven. You’re probably not surprised to hear that the sashimi and sushi there are as fresh as could be, but there are so many other delicious things to try too! Some of my favorites are okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), yakitori (meat in skewers), and takoyaki (octopus dumplings)! My top suggestions for places to visit in Japan are Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka, and Nara. If you adore animals, you can also visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park to see snow monkeys bathe in a natural hot spring!

Best time to visit Japan: March to May / September to November (best weather) | For cherry blossoms: March to April (it depends on the weather conditions of the year though)

26. Riga, Latvia

Riga might not be at the top of your Europe bucket list, but its unique charm and lively, artsy vibes are bound to captivate your heart. For example, did you know that this city has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world? In fact, roughly one-third of all the buildings in the city center are in the style of Art Nouveau! Wandering around the cobblestone streets here, you’ll also come across lots of colorful buildings and street musicians putting a smile on your face. My partner and I arrived in town at 1:30 am, and even at that time, the city was still beaming with energy, music, and life!

Riga is also home to a lot of cool restaurants and bars. One of my favorites is Rozengrāls, a medieval restaurant set in an underground cellar ⁠— their impressive decor and (delicious) old-fashioned dishes really take you back in time! To see more of the local life, head over to Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs, an authentic pub with awesome live music and a very upbeat atmosphere. I recommend staying in the Old Town, where most of the action takes place. My suggestion is Metropole Hotel by Semarah ⁠— it’s elegant, stylish, and very decently priced!

Best time to visit Riga: June to August (most ideal weather)

25. Baku, Azerbaijan

If you’re intrigued by places where the old meets the new, then Baku should definitely be on your travel dream list. This fascinating city really has it all⁠ ⁠— it’s a place where ⁠futuristic skyscrapers and ancient monuments stand next to each other, creating a melting pot of cultures and styles. Stroll along the seafront, relax at Upland Park, taste the fantastic local food, talk to the friendly locals, and visit the historic Old Town — the list of things to do here goes on and on!

In addition, did you know that half of the world’s mud volcanoes are in Azerbaijan? From Baku, you can also take a day trip to see the ones in Gobustan, and it’s an experience not to be missed! In terms of where to stay in the city, I recommend Four Seasons Hotel Baku because you can get a very dreamy view of the iconic Flame Towers from the terraces there. If you’re a solo female traveler, you’d also be happy to know that Baku is incredibly safe!

➢ Read my Baku travel guide for insider tips on the best places to visit, where to eat, awesome day trips to take, how to spend epic evenings in this city, and more!

Best time to visit Baku: May, June, September, October (most ideal weather)

24. Turkey

Turkey is a breathtaking country whose magic is hard to sum up into words. There’s something to do here for every kind of traveler, whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday, an epic adventure, or a history lesson. You can explore the spectacular mosques in Istanbul and admire their architecture; visit the captivating ruins of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; ride a camel through the enchanting rock formations of Cappadocia; discover the majestic waterfalls of Antalya, or simply relax in the thermal pools of Pamukkale. There are also plenty of amazing things to do in Izmir!

Of course, one of the experiences you can’t miss is watching hot air balloons rise over Cappadocia during sunrise. You can also ride one if you don’t mind the steep prices (usually ~$160 USD per person for 1 hour). One of the best places to watch the balloons rise is from cave hotels around Cappadocia. Two I highly recommend are Koza Cave Hotel and Museum Hotel. The first one has a terrace with an unbelievable view (see picture on the top left) and fewer crowds compared to the more popular cave hotels in Göreme. The latter one allows you to enjoy the view of the balloons from a dreamy pool!

Best time to visit Turkey: May, June, September & October (for best weather, less crowds and best chance of seeing and riding the hot air balloons)

23. Croatia

Imagine a seaside getaway with delicious food, jaw-dropping sunsets, and atmospheric old towns… If you visit Croatia, you get all of that and a lot more! This country is hands down one of my favorite destinations in Europe. You may know the charming town of Dubrovnik for its Game of Thrones landmarks, but did you know that its Old Town is also one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in the world? You can easily get lost wandering the cobblestone streets and historic buildings there; paired with a magnificent view of the sea, every corner of this city is simply ravishing.

the seaside of dubrovnik croatia with houses and mountains in the backdrop

Don’t spend all your time in Dubrovnik though. You can easily hop on a bus and get to Split in 2 hours to indulge in more waterfront fun. Other places I recommend checking out are Zagreb, Rovinj, Hvar, Istria, Vis, Krk, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Krka National Park. You’ll be welcomed by vibrant beaches, soothing waterfalls, ancient ruins, and the most relaxing vibes.

Where to stay: Apartments La Bohème — this amazing place is located very near the Old Town, has private pools and offers beautiful sea views. It’s also very decently priced given its amenities!

Best time to visit Croatia: May, June, September & October (for ideal weather and less crowds compared to the summer months)

22. Iran

Incredibly misrepresented by the media, Iran is one of the most remarkable cultural and historical destinations there is. The intricate details of the architecture there will leave you with no words (and a painful neck because of all the impressive ceilings)! Most important of all, Iran is super safe. I felt more safe walking alone there than I did in many Western countries! Iranian people are also known for their friendliness and hospitality, and you will be blown away by how welcoming they are towards foreigners (and Americans are no exceptions!).

Some of the key stops on an ideal trip here are Shiraz, Esfahan⁠, Yazd, Kashan, and Tehran. You can easily get from one city to the next through local buses, which are very comfortable and come in VIP class as well. Your trip won’t just be filled with majestic mosques and shrines, but also ancient Zoroastrian sites in the desert and captivating archeological ruins (such as Persepolis)!

➢ Read my 2-week Iran itinerary for more details on the best places to visit, where to stay, how to dress, and other important tips for visiting this underrated country!

Best time to visit Iran: April & May / September to November (most ideal weather)

21. New Zealand

New Zealand is the ultimate destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, skydiving, and kayaking. This country’s diverse landscapes are some of the most breathtaking in the world, and few places are better for an escape from city life. Spend 2 weeks in New Zealand to explore both the picturesque South Island and the unique North Island — an experience filled with breathtaking nature and cultural discoveries.

the landscapes of mount roy in wanaka new zealand

Some highlights of the South Island include Wanaka, where you can hike up to Roys Peak to get an amazing view of the nearby lake; Rotorua, a unique town known for its intriguing collection of geysers, geothermal pools, and volcanoes; Kaikoura, where you can swim with dolphins; the Tamaki Māori Village, where you can learn about the culture of the indigenous Polynesians who’ve inhabited New Zealand since the 1320s, and other natural wonders such as Mirror Lake, Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo, Franz Josef Glacier, and the famous Milford Sound fjord!

Best time to visit New Zealand: November to April for summer fun / June to August for winter fun 

20. Myanmar

Myanmar is a country that really moved me. Most people there live very modest lives, yet they seem to be a lot more content and appreciative of what they have than most people in the West (myself included). While a quarter of the country’s population lives in poverty, their spiritual wealth is incredibly high. Golden temples and stupas are scattered everywhere, and many of them are built entirely on locals’ donations! Getting to know this remarkable country is truly a humbling experience, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a cultural and educational holiday!

Aside from exploring the golden temples of Yangon and Mandalay, pay a visit to the scenic Inle Lake, where you can discover the unique leg-rowing techniques used by the native lake dwellers there! Of course, one of the highlights of the country is the ancient city of Bagan, where you can go temple-hopping with an e-bike and feel like Indiana Jones. If you visit between October and April, you can also watch hot air balloons soar over the temples at sunrise! And if a holiday isn’t complete to you without some seaside relaxation, then definitely head over to the heavenly Ngapali Beach.

Best time to visit Myanmar: November to February (for ideal weather)

19. Prague, Czech Republic

There’s a reason this beautiful medieval city is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. If you’re looking for fairytale vibes, historic architecture, and high-quality beer — look no further than Prague! This city is also a great place to enjoy live music, whether it’s at the annual Prague Spring International Music Festival, or at evening concerts in churches.

During your time here, make sure to grab a drink at Vytopna Railway Restaurant to get the unique experience of your beer arriving on a little train that stops next to your table! You can also enjoy a spectacular view of the sun setting over the Old Town from Terasa U Prince restaurant (just make sure to reserve your table in advance). I recommend staying at Grand Hotel Bohemia, an elegant and stylish hotel at the heart of the city center, or at Miss Sophie’s Downtown for a more budget stay near the center.

Best time to visit Prague: April, May, June & September (for best weather and for avoiding the summer peak season) or during Christmas for amazing festive vibes!

18. Oman

Oman is one of the most versatile adventure destinations out there. This stunning peninsula in the Middle East really has it all — from wadi pools, hiking trails, and lush waterfalls to ancient forts, modern mosques, and desert dunes. In fact, this country truly has something for every kind of traveler and every type of holiday, and I couldn’t recommend it enough, especially if you enjoy doing a myriad of different activities while you travel!

Where to stay: Al Bustan Palace in Muscat — one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at (see picture on the bottom right). The main pool there overlooks the sea, and it’s a view I won’t ever forget. In Wahiba Sands Desert, I recommend the magical Desert Nights Camp for the ultimate glamping experience!

➢ Read my 10-day Oman road trip guide for a complete itinerary and all the best tips on where to go, what to eat, how to dress, and other helpful details!

Best time to visit Oman: October to April (for the best weather)

17. Peru

It’s impossible to create a list of dream destinations without mentioning Peru. Home to one of the kindest and friendliest populations on earth, this country has an endless amount of breathtaking nature, ancient wonders, and unique attractions to explore. Whether it’s hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, shopping at the local markets in Cusco, discovering the Amazon rainforest, tasting the freshest ceviche, or white water rafting through canyons, you’re bound to have an unforgettable time in this country!

clouds over machu picchu in peru

One thing you absolutely shouldn’t miss is visiting the 120 man-made Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen, and the locals there will show you how they built their homes on top of the floating islands as well as other interesting facts about their lives. You can also stay overnight with a local family there and join them in their authentic dance parties in the evening! It was one of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve had.

Best time to visit Peru: May to September (the dry season) 

16. Cinque Terre, Italy

Italy has too many dream-worthy places to list, but one of the most spectacular ones is Cinque Terre ⁠— a string of seaside villages where you can relax by the beach, explore colorful towns, and go on beautiful hikes. The five villages of Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. You can hike from one to another (or take a train if you want to relax more).

colorful houses by the coast in manarola cinque terre italy

I highly recommend hiking the entire route though; the coastal sceneries and rows of charming houses you’ll come across are absolutely marvelous. The trail that connects all the five villages is around 12 km (7.5 miles) long and will take you 5 to 6 hours in total to hike if you don’t take any breaks. However, I strongly suggest breaking up your route and spreading it across multiple days so that you’ll be able to soak in the beauty of each town.

➢ Read my guide on the best famous landmarks in Italy to discover more spectacular places to add to your Italian bucket list!

Best time to visit Cinque Terre: September & October (shoulder season - good weather and fewer tourists)

15. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Music, culture, beaches, and heavenly views — these are just a few glimpses into the magic of Rio de Janeiro. In fact, this incredible city is the perfect place for both a relaxing and cultural holiday. Whether you’re soaking up the sun on a secluded beach, admiring the bird’s-eye view of the city from Corcovado, or watching a magnificent samba performance in the evening, one thing is for sure: you’ll find it hard to leave!

the city view of rio de janeiro brazil with the sea

Aside from the popular attractions such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, I recommend going on a favela walking tour to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of many of the locals in the city. Please consider a sustainable tour where the fees go towards helping the local communities, such as Favela Experience.

Where to stay: Rio has lots of hotels with gorgeous views of the sea and mountains; two I recommend are Rio Panoramic and Miramar by Windsor because they’re also decently priced!

Best time to visit Rio de Janeiro: December to March (for best weather) / February for Carnival festivities!

14. Iceland

It goes without saying that Iceland is one of the best destinations out there for nature and outdoor activities. It will also take your breath away with all its unique glacier lagoons and ice caves! From whale watching and horseback riding to waterfall hopping and glacier hiking, you’ll find a vast variety of epic things to do here. I had the pleasure of seeing this country all lit up during the Christmas season too, which made the whole experience even more special.

houses with christmas decorations in akureyri iceland

Aside from driving the Golden Circle, one of the most unmissable activities here is to try and catch the Northern Lights. You can do this on a self-drive, by boat, or with a guided tour if you prefer having an expert with you who knows where to go. I did the latter with Extreme Iceland and felt like it was well worth it! There are also many ways you can explore Iceland on a budget.

Where to stay: In Selfoss, I recommend staying in Country Dream – Langholt 2, a guesthouse with cozy cottages far from the city lights, which gives you higher chances of catching the Northern Lights!

Best time to visit Iceland: May to September for longer days and warmer weather / December to February for the icy winter wonderland expereince / October to April for highest chance of seeing the Northern Lights

13. Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw may not be an obvious stop on a trip to Europe, but it definitely should be due to its historical significance, artsy vibes, and chic bar scene. Behind the beauty of its colorful Old Town lies a haunting past: during WWII, more than 85% of the Old Town was destroyed. It was then rebuilt afterward based on paintings of it from the 17th & 18th centuries. Today, it’s one of the country’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

I definitely recommend going on a free walking tour during your time here to learn more about the history of the city, the losses it’s endured, and how it rose up from the ashes. For the best view of the Old Town, make sure to climb up the Observation Terrace there!

Where to stay: I recommend Apple Inn, a cozy homestay located in the center of the city with very warm staff, classy rooms, and a shared kitchen. It’s very easy to reach the Old Town from there with the nearby metro, bus, and tram stations!

Best time to visit Warsaw: May to September (best weather + festivals & events in the summer)

12. London, United Kingdom

London has so much more to offer than just its iconic touristy spots. Tucked in the corners of this city are enchanting hidden gems such as mystic gardens, jaw-dropping roof terraces, rows of colorful townhouses, and captivating street musicians. It’s also one of the few cities in the world where you can find just about any kind of quirky show or event, such as hip hop painting parties and Massaokes! If you’re looking for a fun and unexpected holiday, then London should definitely be on your bucket list.

Where to stay: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is in the smack center of the city (right next to the international train station) and has the most stunning rooms and interior decorations (see top left picture). Its famous staircase is also where the Spice Girls filmed Wannabe!

➢ Read my guide on the best photography spots in London to discover more hidden gems and off-the-tourist-trail places!

Best time to visit London: May to September (best weather) / December for the magical Christmas decorations and festive vibes! 

11. High Tatras, Slovakia

If you’re a big fan of nature and prefer to travel somewhere peaceful and away from the tourist crowds, then make sure to drop by the High Tatras mountains of Slovakia! Whether you visit during the summer or winter, you’ll be blown away by the gorgeous views of the peaks and lakes there. Because it’s still relatively undiscovered (most people who visit are from Slovakia, Hungary, or Poland), it’s one of the most serene places to go hiking and skiing in Europe!

Where to stay: I recommend renting an Airbnb in Tatranska Lomnica if you want to be close to the ski slopes and hiking trails. Alternatively, if you prefer a more social and lively environment, there are lots of pubs and markets in Stary Smokovec, which is also a great town to stay in!

Best time to visit High Tatras: Mid-June to September for hiking / December to March for skiing

10. Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore is definitely one of the hidden treasures of Southern Asia. Bustling with life and filled with history, it’s the perfect cultural destination if you’re looking for an incredibly authentic and non-touristy travel experience. In fact, you will need a local guide to help you get around this city hassle-free because international tourism is really not developed there. But the locals are super warm and welcoming, the food is simply exquisite, and the architecture will blow your mind.

You can learn a ton about the Mughal Empire (1526-1857) during your time here, as many of the iconic landmarks were built during that period. Make sure to also stroll the markets and bazaars because that’s where you get a real glimpse of local life!

➢ Read my comprehensive Lahore travel guide for more information on visiting this city including what to see, where to eat, where to stay, how to dress, safety tips, and more!

Best time to visit Lahore: March, October & November (best weather)

9. Egypt

I only got to see a small part of Egypt, but this list would not be complete without mentioning the historical wonders and majestic nature of this alluring country. Being one of the oldest ancient civilizations on earth, Ancient Egypt is any archeology lover’s delight, and today, you can get a captivating glimpse into it from many monuments scattered across the country, from the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza to the lesser-known Temple of Hatshepsut.

a camel eating grass in front of the great pyramids of giza in egypt

Aside from the archeological landmarks, you can also dive in the Red Sea, go windsurfing in El Gouna, admire the White Desert, and explore the astonishing underwater ruins of Heracleion, a 12-century city that was flooded and sank 10 meters deep off the coast of Alexandria. If you’re up for some truly epic adventures, then definitely don’t miss out on Egypt.

Best time to visit Egypt: October to May (to avoid the heat)

8. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is one of those cities that is absolutely gorgeous no matter the season. Whether you visit during the summer or winter, you will be stunned by its eternal waterfront beauty! In fact, this city is nicknamed ‘Venice of the North’ because it’s made up of 14 islands connected by 57 bridges over Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. Rising from the waters, Stockholm’s island cityscape is absolutely remarkable and truly makes it one of the most uniquely beautiful places on earth.

One of the best viewpoints in town is Monteliusvägen in Södermalm, where you can see both Lake Mälaren and parts of the city. You can enjoy the scenic view as you walk there from the colorful Gamla Stan, the well-preserved medieval Old Town. One thing you absolutely shouldn’t miss during your time in Stockholm is exploring the brilliant subway art! Yes, this city is home to over 90 ornate subway stations covered in paintings, mosaics, and installations, thanks to the hard work of over 150 artists.

Best time to visit Stockholm: May to August for warm weather / December to March for winter wonderland vibes

7. Bavaria, Germany

If you’re looking for a holiday with the ultimate fairytale vibes, then look no further than Bavaria! This stunning region is filled with mesmerizing castles, mountains, lakes, and medieval old towns. The sceneries are absolutely breathtaking and they also change completely with every season. The famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, for example, is covered in snow in the winter, but completely surrounded by orange leaves in the fall and lush greeneries in the spring and summer!

schloss neuschwanstein castle in bavaria germany

Aside from visiting the well-known Munich and Schloss Neuschwanstein, make sure to stop by Zugspitze (the Bavarian Alps), the splendid town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the incredible Eibsee lake, and the picturesque Hohenschwangau Castle! Another great thing about Bavaria is that you can find really decent accommodations for around €40 a night!

Best time to visit Bavaria: June to September for water sports and festivals / November to February for winter wonderland vibes

6. Australia

Australia is a paradise for nature lovers looking for an epic and relaxing getaway. From mystical gorges and white beaches to the world’s largest coral reef, the fantastic wonders of this country are infinite. The cities here have a lot to offer too ⁠— the cosmopolitan Sydney exudes pure joy and happiness; Melbourne is bustling with art and culture, and the Gold Coast is not only great for surfing but also for visiting wildlife sanctuaries!

the Loch Ard Gorge in australia

While it’d be very hard to list all the worthwhile things to see in Australia (there are simply too many), some spots that should definitely be on your bucket list are: the Twelve Apostles of the Great Ocean Road, Loch Ard Gorge, the famous Uluru sandstone formation, Blue Mountains, Pinnacles Desert, Lord Howe Island, and of course, the phenomenal Great Barrier Reef. You can also hop on a luxury train that takes you on a 4-day tour through some of the coolest spots in the country.

Best time to visit Australia: March to May & September to November (good weather and not as much crowd as the summer season)

5. Petra, Jordan

Hidden in the desert mountains of southern Jordan stands the lost city of Petra, a prehistoric trading hub and capital of the Nabataean Empire (400 BC – 106 AD). Petra is simply mesmerizing. Its history dates all the way back to 7000 BC and it was once home to 30,000 people. Its ruins remained undiscovered for centuries before a Swiss explorer unveiled them in 1812. Today, it’s one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and one of the most enchanting destinations for history buffs and archeology fanatics!

So much of Petra will fascinate you — from its majestic rock-cut architecture to the intricate sandstone carvings and natural rock formations. I also highly recommend the Petra by Night experience, where the city is lit up by 1,500 candles, creating a uniquely calm and peaceful atmosphere. Spend at least one week in Jordan and be sure to stop by this marvelous world wonder!

Where to stay: Petra Guest House Hotel — this absolutely beautiful hotel is located right at the entrance of Petra and part of it is set in a 1st-century Nabatean house. It has a lovely garden and offers rooms with mountain views too.

Best time to visit Petra: Spring (March to May) and autumn (September & October) for best weather | Learn more: when to visit Jordan

4. Portugal

Portugal is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Europe for a reason. Whether it’s surfing on a beach in Algarve, exploring castles and palaces in Sintra, or admiring traditional ceramic tiles (azulejos) on the cobblestones streets of Porto ⁠— the delightful art, history, and nature of this country are simply remarkable. A trip to Portugal takes you right into the most colorful chapters of a history book as well as the most exciting pages of an outdoor magazine!

You may have already heard a lot about the tourist hotspots of Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, or Algarve, but there are infinite hidden gems in this country too. To name a few ⁠— make sure to not miss Azores, a volcanic archipelago nicknamed “the Hawaii of the Atlantic”; the historic city of Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal; the vibrant town of Óbidos; the beaches of Ericeira; the coastal vibes of Cascais; the quaint little village of Monsanto, which was built around a rock; the wineries of the Douro Valley, and the unique Aveiro, the ‘Venice of Portugal’.

Best time to visit Portugal: July & August for beaches / April, May, June & September for cities in general

3. Seville, Spain

What could be a better way to spend your time in Spain than to visit the sunniest city in Europe and the birthplace of tapas and flamenco? That’s right, Seville (the capital of Andalusia) has a lot to pride itself with. Filled with cultural and historical experiences, you’re bound to leave with a greater grasp of Spain’s Moorish influence and very satisfied taste buds! Join a tapas tour, watch a flamenco show, admire the royal palaces and azulejos, and stroll the colorful neighborhoods ⁠— these are just a few unforgettable ways to soak in this city!

Where to stay: EME Catedral Hotel offers one of the most epic views of the Giralda Tower from its terrace pool, and it’s the perfect hotel for luxury, spa, and relaxation. Another option is Hotel Ateneo Sevilla, which has really unique vintage decorations and more of a traditional vibe.

➢ Read my 3-day Seville itinerary for a detailed guide on the top places to visit, the best tapas bars to try, the coolest venues for flamenco shows and more!

Best time to visit Seville: September to November for good weather and fewer crowds / March to June for good weather and local festivities

2. Slovenia

Did you know that Slovenia is one of the greenest countries on earth? Being an extremely environmentally-friendly country, half of Slovenia’s total area is covered in forest, making it an amazing natural getaway from the bustling city life. From picturesque gorges and forested mountains to coastal towns and cave castles, the hidden gems of this country are more than plenty and are bound to leave you speechless!

lake bled in slovenia

The most popular spots in Slovenia are undoubtedly the breathtaking Lake Bled and the charming capital of Ljubljana, but make sure to also visit the lesser famous Lake Bohinj, which can be done on a day trip from either of the previous places. Other lesser-known attractions in the country are Tolmin Gorge, Triglav National Park, the coastal cities of Piran and Koper, the enchanting Predjama Castle, and the magnificent Savica Waterfall. You can visit many of them on a perfect 7-day Slovenia road trip!

Best time to visit Slovenia: May to September (most ideal weather)

1. Norway

If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, then look no further than Norway. The natural landscapes of this country are so ravishing that pictures simply don’t do them justice, and they’re an absolute haven for outdoor enthusiasts and photography fanatics. A road trip around Norway will have your eyes glued to the window as you take in its endless amount of marvelous fjords, waterfalls, snowy mountains, hiking trails, and scenic villages. Of course, you can also catch the Northern Lights in the winter if you’re lucky!

a girl hiking in trolltunga norway

While the famous Pulpit Rock, Trolltunga, Hamnøy, and Bergen are definitely worth every hype they’ve gotten, don’t overlook the lesser-known places such as the village of Reine, the island of Svalbard (where you can see polar bears), Vøringsfossen waterfall, the rock formation of Trollpikken, Langfoss waterfall, and the unique city of Stavanger. I also recommend doing the gorgeous Kjeragbolten hike if you can’t get enough of the epic views that this country has to offer!

Best time to visit Norway: May to September for sunshine / December to February for Northern Lights and winter sports

I hope these 32 dream destinations have provided you with lots of travel inspiration! For more travel ideas, check out my article on the 28 most incredible hidden gems of Europe.

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  • Margarida Vasconcelos June 10, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    What a beautiful post and great pictures. Have you done the silk road?

  • MIchelle; June 10, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    What an awesome list! I am pleased to say that I have made it to many of these incredible places. We have not yet been to Egypt and that is the top of my hubby’s list. I guess I need to make that happen for him 🙂

  • Rachel June 10, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    Wow, this list is so comprehensive. Photos are lovely, too. You’re right, they’re all dream destinations!

    • madhu sharma June 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      Wow what an awesome list and inspiring pictures..hope to tick this list off

  • Bolupe June 11, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    What a comprehensive list of amazing dream destinations around the world. I dream of visiting Lahore, Iran and Australia one day.

  • Lyne June 12, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    A lot of those destinations are on my bucket list, they are definitely dreamy! Also, your photos are stunning, it makes me want to visit every places!

  • Rebecca Toy June 13, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Yowza, do you have stunning pictures! Love this beautiful photo essay PLUS all of the great info. And of course I had to sign up for your top photog tips.

  • Taylor June 13, 2020 at 1:46 am

    Wow! This is an amazing list Jiayi! So many of these places are on my bucket list. I hope to go sometime in the near future. Also, your photos are so beautiful as always! 🙂

  • Ruth June 13, 2020 at 3:39 am

    These are dream destinations for real! I love, love your photos. I still have to visit a lot of places from your list but I up for the challenge.

  • Katie June 13, 2020 at 4:16 am

    I love this post – it has me thinking about my bucket list dream destinations! I would love to explore more of South America, places like Chile, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico just look incredible. We are from the UK and have spent a lot of time in Asia so I would definitely London, Japan and Myanmar but China and Thailand are also incredible places to explore too.

  • The Spicy Travel Girl June 13, 2020 at 4:33 am

    Great list and of course breathtaking photos! I’m absolutely dying to visit Uzbekistan, Oman, Iran, and Azerbaijan!

  • MG June 13, 2020 at 4:50 am

    I LOVED reading this Jiayi! Your photos are incredible and now I have so many more places on my bucket list 🙂

  • Ophelie June 13, 2020 at 10:19 am

    It’s such a pleasure to discover your amazning travel photos from places all over the world! Many I haven’t seen yet on your feed because you visited “before the gram” as we say ;). Anyway this gives me total wanderlust feeling!

  • Shay June 13, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    Your photos are UNREAL. I’m insanely jealous.

  • Bella June 13, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    What a great list and your photos are stunning too! Lovely blog! Will have to come back and check out more of your posts!

  • EvBeing June 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Love the post! Indonesia and Cape Town on my bucket list 😀

  • Nele June 13, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Oh girl these photos are STUNNING!!! The wanderlust is itching like crazy hahaha! Man, I miss travelling – these definitely made my bucketlist grow a whole lot!

  • Sara June 13, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Fantastic Article with a lot of great ideas for our future travels! We have been to many of the places and I absolutely agree they are stunning!

  • Bettina June 13, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    This is an amazing list and I love that you included places which are not on everyone’s bucket list yet. I’m sure they will be after they see your beautiful photos – at least they are on mine! <3

  • Josy A June 13, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Jiayi, your photos are truly stunning.

    I already wanted to visit quite a few of these places, but I can’t imagine being able to capture them half as beautifully as you have. Wowza.

  • Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad June 13, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    WOW. I was going to say your photos of Uzbekistan are gorgeous – but ALL your photos are!! What a great list of places too, lots that I fully approve of and many more that are actually the highest on my travel list (top 3: Japan, which I was supposed to visit this year *sad face*, Norway & Slovenia!). What a beautiful post!

  • Mikaela June 14, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Loved your list! You have included everything on my list so far and gave me wanderlust! I wish I could keep on traveling and learn from each destinations one at a time.

  • Portia Jones June 14, 2020 at 6:41 am

    What an incredible bucket list! Your photos are insane. This is definitely the inspiration I need to plan some future travels.

  • Melissa June 14, 2020 at 7:48 am

    Best bucket list I’ve ever seen! Very impressive photography, and great travel tips. I will coming back to this post again!

  • Carla Vianna June 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    THIS LIST. Filling me with wanderlust! Every destination is on my list!

  • Paloma Fts June 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    omg you just made me add so many places to my bucket list! Can’t wait to start traveling again. Beautiful pictures <3

  • Elizabeth June 15, 2020 at 6:32 am

    I have only been to 5 places on your list….I have so many more to explore! Patagonia is at the top of my list. I had a trip planned there, but due to an injury I had to cancel. I can’t wait to be able to go back and fully explore that region.

  • Léa June 15, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    This blogpost is sooo complete and amazing girl! Well done on elaborating it, you just filled my wanderlust even more if possible! I have been to many places already but all the left ones are definitely on my bucketlist. Also, as usual your pictures are just a dream <3

  • Federica June 18, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Awwww! How to not want to travel after reading this article????? Now I would like more than before to have the chance to travel again, and again, and again, and everywhere!!!
    I have enjoyed watching your photos, and reading your recommendations, especially the one regarding the hiking trail in the Cinque Terre! =D 😉
    Also, exactly today I was thinking that right now, in June, in Norway there’s the midnight sun, and having light even at night, it’s something that I really enjoy, and that’s why I like going there in this month…. and I find that you have put Norway in the 1st place!!😃🙌 Is it you that one seated on Trolltunga??? Sooo cool you have been there!🤩 as also on those other stunning places!!!! 🤩🤩 I’d really love to go there again and discover more and more!

    • The Diary of a Nomad June 19, 2020 at 8:43 am

      Hey sweetheart!! So happy to read your comment, thanks so much for taking the time to write it!! 🙂 Yes, Norway would be amazing right now!! I’d love to experience the midnight sun there too!! It’s one of those places that’s amazing to visit no matter the season right? 😉 I want to go back in the winter as well to see Lofoten & the Northern Lights! 🤩 And yes that’s me on Trolltunga! haha was a bit scary but so cool!

  • Emily June 18, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    How are you always alone in your pictures when it’s probably packed tourist destinations???

  • Zsuzsanna June 20, 2020 at 7:57 am

    I love that you included less popular destinations as well, just like Riga! (I spent 6 months there and people never know where that place is 😀 )

  • Katelyn October 15, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Wow! I am 14 and we are doing a school inquiry about what our dream life is and there is like 15 places that have caught my eye on here! Amazing pics, great info as well. Thank you so much!!!

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    Welcome to my travel blog!

    I'm Jiayi, a Chinese-Italian photographer and writer who has no idea where to call home. What I do know is I'm most in my element when I'm in a new country, immersed in a new culture. To me, it's one of the most humbling, educational, and valuable experiences one can have! I've lived in 5 continents, visited 60 countries, and plan to never stop. I hope my detailed guides and itineraries will be useful in helping you plan your next big trip! Make sure to subscribe if you don't want to miss my new articles. Happy travels! :)

    x Jiayi

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