Ready to explore the world? Our 2018 Travel Bucket List features destinations around the globe to inspire your next great adventure.
In 2018, consider touring iconic mountain ranges, bright metropolises, pastoral villages, some of the world’s best beaches, or untamed wilderness. Add to this the unbelievable photos you’ll come back with. The contrasting locations on our 2018 travel bucket list offer renewed perspective and share common themes: profound cultures, significant sites, and nature at its best. Plus, these twelve destinations have some of the most amazing photo opportunities in the world.
Calgary and the Canadian Rockies
Nestled at the foot of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary — the largest city in Alberta — is just a short ride away from some of the world’s most stunning natural beauties, including Banff National Park and the turquoise waters of Lake Louise — crowned the “Jewel of the Canadian Rockies.”
The Icefields Parkway offers breathtaking views of the Columbia Icefield, a family of glaciers that forged the region’s valleys and waterways long ago. Journey out onto the glaciers themselves, in specially designed Ice Explorer vehicles, for an experience that you’ll always remember.
And if you visit in July, you can enjoy the Calgary Stampede, a combination rodeo, music, and food festival that has been dubbed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”
Switzerland is annually ranked as one of the world’s happiest countries by the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. Why? Well, you’ll have to see the picturesque snow-covered mountains, alpine meadows, and fairy tale cities in person to truly understand.
The capital city of Zurich, straddling the Limmat River and beautiful Lake Zurich, features some of Europe’s finest museums, dining, and shopping. Lucerne’s medieval buildings, Chapel Bridge, and cobblestone streets will transport you back in time, while the crystalline waters of Lake Geneva and Lake Maggiore offer the ideal environment for waterfront rest and relaxation. And all this is set against the backdrop of the majestic Swiss Alps.
Will 2018 be the year you cross Switzerland off your bucket list?
While many people associate Norway with the wintertime — the country hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, after all — this Scandinavian gem’s spellbinding landscapes and rich history can be enjoyed in every season.
Norway’s natural wonders alone are worth a spot on any Travel Bucket List; Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord — the “Queen” and “King” of the fjords — are fed by cascading waterfalls as they slice through lush green cliffs. Jotunheimen National Park, “Home of the Giants,” is a mountain region worthy of its name, with hundreds of peaks over 2000 meters.
Partnered with the glorious scenery, Oslo’s architectural magnificence (especially the Opera House and Royal Palace), and the country’s awe-inspiring stave churches (where ancient inscriptions have inspired troll lore), Norway has all the ingredients for the trip of a lifetime.
There’s a simple reason that travelers from across the globe make the journey to Machu Picchu: The first moments you lay eyes upon the ancient Incan city you’re left speechless. Basking in the panoramic views atop the Andes and walking in the footsteps of the Incas amongst Machu Picchu’s terraces and monuments is a truly life-changing experience.
Peru has a wealth of other riches to share with globetrotters. Cusco, once the capital city of the Inca empire, is now a bustling metropolis that blends its Incan roots, Spanish influence, and contemporary Peruvian sensibilities. To the south is Lake Titicaca, where the Uros people construct islands out of floating reeds. And to the east is the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.
If you want to soak up the sun in a lively tropical environment, Thailand should be at the top of your Travel Bucket List. Some of the most magnificent ancient temples in all southeast Asia can be found here, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the grounds of Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
Make your way down the canals to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, where you’ll find an array of colorful fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs. Journey out to Thailand’s exquisite white sand beaches where you can float on the aquamarine water and marvel at the rock formations jutting out of the sea. And savor the splendid flavors and spices of Thai cuisine all along the way as you explore the treasures of Thailand.
This small island off the southern coast of Australia is the perfect locale for travelers who want to get off the beaten path. From pink granite mountain peaks to eucalyptus forests to alpine heathlands, Tasmania is an explorers dream. The Freycinet Peninsula, overlooking the Tasman Sea and Wineglass Bay, begs to be photographed, and Cradle Mountain’s untamed wilderness and wildlife enchant the soul.
Tasmania is also home to pastoral beaches, where you can dip your toes in the striking blue water that surrounds the island. After a day spent on the sand, wander over to the historic Salamanca Market to pick up fresh food and exquisitely handcrafted goods from Tasmanian artisans.
For a trip worth writing home about, make Tasmania your destination in 2018.
Japan strikes a masterful balance between busy, high-energy city life and peaceful, serene countryside. Home to thousands of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, Kyoto is a tranquil setting to immerse yourself in Japanese tradition and spiritual life. Visit the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji Temple, tour the Imperial Palace, and admire the city’s famous cherry trees.
Scale Mount Fuji, the iconic mountain that has inspired Japanese artists for centuries. Then, enjoy a change of pace by spending time in Osaka and Tokyo, where the neon lights, skyscrapers, museums, shopping, and gastronomy will invigorate and give you a sense of Japan’s cutting-edge present and future.
At the very southern tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, lies Cape Town. The city sprung up in a natural amphitheater, with Table Mountain providing a remarkable, and photo-worthy, backbone. The top of the Table, a two-mile-wide plateau, can be accessed via cable car or hiking trails and offers unbeatable views of the city and cape below. Nearby, the world-class Stellenbosch wine region, famous for its Steen (Chenin Blanc) and Pinotage grapes, is a must-visit destination for any wine lovers.
South Africa is a staple on any travel bucket list, and it’s easy to see why. Outside cosmopolitan Cape Town is the African Bush, where safari excursions allow visitors the opportunity to observe and photograph lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and other animals in their natural habitat. Talk about a dream come true!
Madrid has something for everyone and it’s easy to see why so many travelers are lured to Spain’s central capital. If you’re passionate about great art, great food, and great architecture, Madrid is the place to be. The hallowed halls of the Prado Museum hold the work of the Spanish masters, including Picasso and Goya. The Gran Vía thoroughfare gives a true taste of Madrid, featuring the city’s finest shops, restaurants, and bars, while Madrid’s famous architecture — the Royal Palace, Cibeles Palace, Plaza Mayor, and Metropolis building — provide a cross-section of Spanish history.
Surrounding Madrid are the cities of Segovia, Toledo, and Avila, all of which hold landmarks that will enrich your understanding of the region’s culture — from the towering Roman aqueduct in Segovia to the 12th-century synagogue in Toledo to the fortified medieval walls of Avila.
Some of the world’s great explorers hailed from Portugal: Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Bartolomeu Dias. Follow in their footsteps with a trip to Lisbon’s Belém Quarter, where numerous voyages launched during the Age of Discovery.
The Douro Valley is historically significant as the birthplace of Port wine and the world’s first demarcated wine region, following a royal charter in 1756. Douro’s terraced hillside vineyards make for spectacular wine country that shouldn’t be missed.
On the southwestern tip of Portugal is The Algarve; a radiant coastal region where the ocean has carved extraordinary caves into the seaside cliffs and where you can enjoy classic Portuguese seafood dishes in waterfront villas.
Isn’t it time you explored Portugal?
The Croatian coast’s jaw-dropping Mediterranean beauty rivals that of the French Riviera, Amalfi Coast, and Greek Islands while managing to stay under-the-radar. Dubrovnik and Split, both located on the sea, have preserved their incredible history; in Split, you can find Diocletian’s Palace, a 4th-century Roman fortress. And as you wander the stone streets of medieval Dubrovnik, you’ll quickly see why George Bernard Shaw called it “paradise on earth.”
On the Adriatic island of Hvar, glamorous yachts, 13th-century buildings, and aromatic lavender fields create a dynamic amalgamation of Old World and New that perfectly embodies Croatia today.
And no trip along the country roads of Croatia is complete without a day spent at Plitvice Lakes National Park, where turquoise waters meander and tumble through 16 interconnected lakes.
In what other countries can you go snorkeling in the world’s largest coral reef, spot kangaroos lounging in the sun, and go on walkabout in the Outback? Only in Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, but nothing compares to seeing it up close as you swim alongside the reef’s fascinating marine residents. You’ve seen the Sydney Opera House in countless photos and movies, but why settle for that when you can see it from the deck of a sailboat on Sydney Harbor (and photograph it your self?). You can see kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and wombats in a zoo, but wouldn’t it be more exciting to see them in the wild?
Australia is an adventure waiting to happen. Make this the year that you set forth on that adventure.