50 INCREDIBLE TRAVEL BUCKET LIST IDEAS

crossing5oceans.com | Published June 30th, 2021 | Last Updated June 30th, 2021

A tour bus driving through a moss field with black mountain in the background

All Images © 2021 - Kelly Girouard - Please Contact for Permission to Use

It's 2021, and it's time to start thinking about jet-set adventures to locations around the globe. Browse through this list of 50 incredible travel ideas to get the inspiration you need to create your own travel bucket list today!


1 - VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER

View of the Eiffel Tower with a couple walking across the tiles of Trocadero Plaza

View of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Plaza


Taking its place as one of the most iconic structures on the planet, it makes sense that this wrought-iron lattice-work tower tops bucket lists the world over. With approximately 20,000 visitors per day, you can expect to be greeted with queues that will be some of the longest you will encounter...anywhere. So be sure to pre-book tickets that bypass those long queues, and spend your time instead wandering the wonderful streets of Paris.


2 - TAKE A CAMEL TREK THROUGH THE DESERT

Birds eye view of a camel that is looking off into the setting sun of the desert

The Arabian Desert in the UAE at Sunset


The quiet of the desert, brief gusts of wind swirling the sand, and the warmth of the sun makes this camel trek one of my favourite bucket list experiences to date. The trek was provided by the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab in Abu Dhabi, but many countries in the Middle East allow you to experience a ride on the 'ship of the desert'. Various tour companies will offer everything from a one-hour dune experience to overnight stays in Bedouin camps. You can read the full article "Unforgettable Safaris Through the Arabian Desert" here.


3 - CROSS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

A plane sitting on a tarmac with pools of water on the ground and low lying clouds

Crossing the Arctic Circle from Iceland's Mainland to Grimsey


There's something about the experience of crossing the Arctic Circle in Grimsey. There's no climbing, no hiking, no strenuous activity; it's simply stepping over an imaginary line. So why all the hoopla? It's probably because it's not a common experience that many people have the opportunity to take, and those types of adventures tend to be the treasured bucket list goals. This tour was provided by Iceland Air, and the crossing occurred on the Island of Grimsey, but there are also crossings available in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska (USA), Canada, and Greenland (Denmark).


4 - GO CAVING IN VOLCANIC LAVA TUBES

Leidarendi Volcanic Cave in Iceland


Why head to a regular cave created by water and erosion over time when you can go caving in a volcanic lava tube? These caves were created by lava pushing its way through the earth, solidifying, then hollowing out to leave behind open chambers. Some countries that offer these experiences are Iceland, Kenya, Portugal, Spain, the USA, and South Korea.


5 - DRIVE THE TRANSFAGARASAN HIGHWAY

Bird's eye view of a mountain with a twisting road going down the side of it

The Twisty Turny Transfagarasan Highway in Romania


Considered one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the world, the Transfagarasan in Romania reaches an altitude of 6,700 feet. It's 90 kilometres long with 80 hairpin turns, five tunnels, and over 500 small bridges. If you're driving at a safe speed and taking it easy on the bends, the Transfagarasan will still be a thrilling and picturesque experience; as a bonus, you'll be able to leave Romania accident-free, which is always a plus.


6 - VISIT THE SISTINE CHAPEL

How could Michelangelo have known that his masterpiece is so famous that today it attracts more than 5 million visitors annually? He started painting the Sistine Chapel in 1508, and it took four years to complete, but it was not a project he wanted to undertake. He considered himself a sculptor more than a painter, so he balked at the idea but was convinced by Pope Julius II to take on the project. The end result is a stunning chapel worthy of making it onto the 50 incredible travel bucket list ideas.


7 - VISIT NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

A fairy-tale castle perched on a mountain surrounded by trees in fall colours

Neuschwanstein Castle Perched on a Mountain in Schwangau, Germany


Straight out of a fairy tale, Neuschwanstein castle in Germany is one of the most well-known castles in the world and tops many of the "Most Beautiful" castle lists. Envisioned by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein took 12 years to complete. Since the castle is perched precariously on the side of a mountain, there's constant upkeep and checks to the retaining walls to ensure it remains stable. With the castle being out of the way, it's was shocking to learn that more than 6,000 people per day visit Neuschwanstein during the busy summer months.


8 - ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

A lake at sunrise with low lying clouds, pine trees and snow covered mountains

Jasper National Park - Rocky Mountains, Canada


It's one of the few places in the world where a three-hour drive will take an entire day. The vistas include lakes of turquoise, soaring snow-capped mountain peaks, wildlife grazing at the edge of the roads, and waterfalls cascading down cliffs of limestone. The Icefields Parkway, which is the road travelled to get from Banff to Jasper, is 268km of scenery that will leave even the most seasoned travellers in awe of the beautiful expanses in Western Canada. You can read the full article "Photos that will Inspire you to Visit the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper" here.


9 - GO TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD'S TALLEST BUILDING

The World's Highest Viewing Platform - Burj Khalifa, Dubai


At a staggering 2,722 feet or just over half a mile, standing at the top platforms of this building may make your knees buckle when viewing the ant-like world beneath you. If you have the opportunity to visit the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and it's in the budget, be sure to get the "view from the top" VIP pass that takes you to the 148th floor. You will bypass the line, receive juice and snacks, have access to a luxury lounge, and most importantly, you'll be able to use exclusive viewing platforms so you won't need to jostle with large crowds of people trying to take in the surreal views.


10 - VISIT THE COLOSSEUM IN ROME

The Roman Colosseum lit up with orange and yellow lights at dusk

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy


The Colosseum has been standing for over 1950 years, yet it only took eight years for the Romans to build in 70 A.D. Learning about the history while touring the building makes it even more appealing, if that's possible. A few interesting facts you'll learn:

  • Some of the stones used in building the Colosseum weighed 50 tons, so the ever-genius Romans used cranes to lift them. Am I the only one who didn't know Romans had cranes in 70 A.D.?

  • According to records, up to 65,000 people could fit inside the Colosseum.

  • The structure was built with massive blocks of stone and iron pins, not concrete as most people assume.

  • The Colosseum was not just a ring for Gladiators; it was also a place to host naval sea battles. The lower portion of the stadium was flooded so the boats would float, allowing battles to take place over the water.


11 - SWIM IN THE BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND

A lagoon with black volcanic rock, and a boardwalk over the water

Silica Mud Covered Rocks and Boardwalks in the Blue Lagoon


The geothermal water that heats the Blue Lagoon comes from 6,500 feet below the surface and remains an amazing 100°F. It didn't start at that temperature though; before it reaches the top, it's an incredible 464°F! When visiting the lagoon, you can pretty up your skin with a silica mud facial, make use of the handy swim-up bar, and take in the scenery around you, which you'll swear is straight out of a sci-fi flick.


12 - WATCH THE SUNSET FROM OIA, SANTORINI

Sunset over calm water with a stone structure in front holding iron church bells

Sunset over the Aegean Sea from Oia, Santorini


Tourists descend on the viewpoint in Oia for good reason; it's considered one of the best locations on the planet to watch the setting sun. Rays of orange, red and yellow spill across the waters of the Aegean Sea, with the occasional boat passing through the vibrant scene. Being such a popular destination, you'll share the view with hundreds of other people with the same idea in mind, so if you don't mind the background chatter, this is one travel bucket list experience you shouldn't miss.


13 - VISIT NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL IN PARIS

View of Notre Dame Cathedral surrounded by trees with a fountain in front

Notre Dame - Île de la Cité in Paris


What to say about a cathedral that took 182 years to build? It's remarkable inside and out with its 33-foot wide stained glass window, French Gothic architecture, and use of flying buttresses to support a large upper clerestory. Unfortunately, there are anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 people per day that walk through its doors, so it isn't easy to visit without crowds. That being said, the best times to see the cathedral are mornings instead of afternoons, and the quietest days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


14 - DRIVE ON THE AUTOBAHN

I'm embarrassed to admit that when an SUV sped by me on the A9 at 160km per hour followed by a police car without a siren, it took a minute to connect A9 with the Autobahn. The recommended speed is 130, but you won't receive a ticket even if you drive 170 or more. That doesn't mean you can attempt time travel in the DeLorean for 8,000 miles of roadway. There are areas that you need to follow the speed limit, such as entering larger cities and in construction zones.


15 - HEAR BIG BEN CHIME

Big Ben weighs a whopping 13 tons, is a little over 7 feet high, and has a diameter of almost 9 feet; it's fair to say 'Big Ben' is the appropriate moniker for this chimer. The bell tolls every hour on the hour and at the quarter marks of each hour. Ben fell silent on August 21, 2017, and will remain so for four years to protect the hearing of the workers who are doing renovation work on the tower.


16 - VISIT THE HOT GATES IN THERMOPYLAE

A plaque on raised beds of flagstone with the sun rays shining on it through the trees

The Spot Where Leonidas and his Troops Made their Last Stand


The area around Thermopylae is laden with history, and walking in the footsteps of a war known as "history's most famous last stand" is humbling. The photo above is the supposed spot where this last stand was taken, and Leonidas was killed. When walking down from the hill, look to the mountains in the distance, and you will see the hot gates that were the impossible passage for the Persians to breakthrough. Across the road, there is a monument to Leonidas as he holds up his shield and sword. The text under the bronze statue reads, "Come and take them!" which is the answer Leonidas gives to Xerxes' demand that the Greeks give up their weapons.


17 - WALK THE CITY WALLS OF DUBROVNIK

Orange roofed buildings behind a stone wall on the edge of a cliff

View of Dubrovnik City Walls from Lovrijenac Fortress


This breathtaking 2km wall walk is hands down one of the best activities to do when visiting the medieval city of Dubrovnik. The jaw-dropping views out to the Adriatic Sea are framed by the city's ancient stone walls and fortifications. You can start your walk at Pile Gate or Ploce Gate and head up the stairs after buying your ticket. The walk should take around 2 hours to complete, but plan on longer if you're busy snapping what is sure to be hundreds of photos of this unforgettable excursion.


18 - CRUISE THE CANALS OF AMSTERDAM

A small boat on a calm canal, lined by trees and a bridge in the distance

Be Sure to Book a Cruise on the Canals in Amsterdam


Amsterdam's canal ring is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, so why not cruise through some of the 165 canals winding through the city and discover what makes them so unique? Visitors will learn about the centuries-old canal systems and see the city from a different viewpoint. I booked a canal cruise through the company Viator and had a great boating experience.


19 - VISIT LOCH NESS

A couple walking through castle ruins with turbulent Loch Ness water in the background

View of Loch Ness from the Walls of Urquhart Castle


Nessie, Nessie, where art thou Nessie? So, most people don't exactly go to Loch Ness in search of the fabled monster, but this location is intriguing to put on a travel bucket list all the same. Why do so many swear they've had a sighting or an encounter with the girl of the deep? For the lore to continue after science has disproven the existence makes the whole area mysterious and a place that many still go in hopes of a sighting.


20 - WITNESS A GEYSER IN ICELAND

Geysir steam rising from a pool of water in a treeless landscape

Iceland's Strokkur Geyser After Eruption


Blink, and you'll miss it, as is the case in the photo above. I stood in fascination of the 98-foot plume of steam and boiling water, missing my opportunity to catch the geyser in action. I visited the area on a Golden Circle half-day tour, which meant only being allotted enough time to see the Geyser erupt once before our group was on the move. If you're planning on visiting the area, opt for the whole day tour or rent a car and leave yourself as much time as you need.


21 - STAND BETWEEN TWO CONTINENTS

A plaque on a wooden bridge that reads "Mid-point, in the footsteps of the gods"

Signage at the Centre Point of the Bridge Between 2 Continents


This plaque sits at the mid-point of a bridge in Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula. It isn't a bridge over water; it's a bridge over land, or rather a rift in that land. This crater didn't exist at one point in time, but alas, Iceland is not one to sit still; it is forever being stretched, pulled and fractured. In this case, the crater represents the land being torn apart by tectonic plates at a rate of 2cm per year. Eventually, Iceland will split apart into two separate landmasses. In the meantime, head to this area to go to the one place on the planet where you can theoretically have one foot in North America and one in Europe. You may also like to swim in the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir National park. Here, the tectonic plates are so close that you can touch North America and Europe simultaneously.


22 - VISIT THE ACROPOLIS IN ATHENS

A stone building with ionic columns overlooking a city far below

The Entry to the Acropolis Sitting High Above Athens


There's something fascinating about being able to walk in the same footsteps as people did centuries before us. If the idea of being one with the Greeks of yesteryear is up your alley, then the Acropolis is the place for you. The Acropolis was built in the early 5th Century B.C.; if you didn't do the math, that makes it about 2460 years old, and parts of this structure still stands! It's best to visit this site before 9am or at the earliest opening time since it gets crowded during the afternoon, not to mention hot with no shade in sight.


23 - GO TO THE TOP OF A VOLCANO

A girl in a brown snowsuit standing in front of red volcanic rock and snow

Volcanic Rock from the Summit of Eyjafjallajokull Volcano


The height of Eyjafjallajokull is 5465 feet, and the crater is 4km wide. While getting to the top of a volcano was on my bucket list, being stranded on one before it erupted is something else entirely. This photo was taken at the summit of Eyjafjallajokull just hours before the April 14th, 2010 eruption that shut down air travel across Europe for six days. The story behind getting stuck here is for another post. Most of the trips to this volcano are now made by helicopter, but a few companies offer trips to the top in super jeeps like the one our tour group used. You can read more information on volcano exploration here: "How to Safely Explore a Volcano in Iceland".


24 - VISIT THE TOMB OF AGAMEMNON

Four people standing in the massive doorway of a large tomb

The Beehive Structure of Agamemnon's Tomb


How did they do that? The lintel you see above the doorway in Agamemnon's Tomb weighs 120 tons. Considering cranes were developed by the Greeks in 515 B.C., and this tomb was built in 1250 B.C., how did they get that lintel in place? It would require the strength of over 7400 men to lift it to its current position! After pondering that, realize that this tomb has remained intact with rocks stacked to form a dome for 3270 years!


25 - EAT DINNER AT A BEDOUIN CAMP UNDER THE STARS

Bedouin Camp Organized by Platinum Heritage Desert Safari


Having dinner at a Bedouin camp organized by Platinum Heritage was an incredible experience! The menu included a delicious multi-course meal, and between courses locals taught us how to make bread and coffee from scratch. The whole wonderful evening ended with traditional song and dance that we were able to participate in. You can read more about this experience in the article: Unforgettable Safaris Through the Arabian Desert.


26 - VISIT DRACULA'S CASTLE

Interior Courtyard and Exterior Facade of Bran Castle


Taking a photo of Dracula's Castle on a warm sunny day does not do its nefarious portrayal justice. What happened to the ominous clouds, the shadowy halls, and the chill in the air? It doesn't help that I couldn't stop thinking that it was a pretty castle, so much for the intrigue of it belonging to a blood-sucking vampire. One step into a room plastered with information about Bram Stroker's novel, and you are quick to learn that Vlad the Impaler was the true model for Dracula's character. Despite the peaceful visit to this fortress on the hill, Bran Castle is steeped in history and deserves to earn a spot on this travel bucket list for the lore, mystery and intrigue it has given us.


27 - DRIVE THE ROMANTIC ROAD IN GERMANY

A town square with cobblestone streets, patio tables and a red car with Christmas presents on top

Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Car


There are several idyllic towns to explore on the Romantic road, each with a subtle variation of cobblestone streets, timber-framed buildings and overflowing flower boxes. The route is 334km and deserves to be explored slowly, making stops in Schwangau, Nordlingen, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Donauworth, and Fussen to name a few.


28 - VISIT THE SMALLEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD

Saint Peter's silvery blue dome with the sun setting in the sky behind it

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City


Vatican City is just over 1 km long and a half km wide with a population of 801 people, making it the smallest country in the world. Despite its size, it attracts more than 5 1/2 million visitors per year, and the country is the only one to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop over the border to delve into some of the world's most famous works of art, including the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, as well as the Vatican Museums. Be sure to visit St. Peter's Basilica, and if you'd like a keepsake, you can purchase a small vial of holy water blessed by the Pope to take home with you.


29 - VISIT THE LOUVRE

The columns, statues and ornate details on the facade of the Louvre

The Louvre is the Largest Museum in the World


If you were to spend 30 seconds at each piece of art in the Louvre, it would take 200 days to see the entire museum! The footprint is so large that you are sharing the space with approximately 15,000 other visitors simultaneously, and if each room were stretched out in a straight line, it would cover over 12km! If you're not a museum aficionado but would still like to visit the Louvre, you should expect to spend at least 3 - 4 hours to see some of the most coveted pieces of art history.


30 - RIDE A GONDOLA IN VENICE

A row of blue gondolas on a Venice canal with buildings in the background

Some of the 400 Gondolas on the Canals in Venice


Riding a gondola in Venice seems touristy and expensive, but at the same time, it makes travel bucket lists time and again because of the quaint experience and romanticism of it all. Some interesting facts that you will learn along the way, there are only 400 gondoliers and boats on the canals of Venice, they have been in use since the 11th century, and they are built lopsided to ensure they do not keep turning to the left when the gondolier only rows from the right.


31 - VISIT THE SAGRADA FAMILIA IN BARCELONA