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Europe Bucket List – My Top 20 Travel Experiences in Europe

Europe bucket list - best travel experiences in Europe

From hot air balloon rides to wine tasting trips, glass igloos to overwater bungalows, I’ve got 20 top travel experiences to add to your Europe bucket list.

The days of waiting for a special occasion to treat ourselves are long gone! We are all craving new experiences to make up for lost time, and if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that life is for living! Thankfully EU Digital Covid Certificate has made it easier to travel within Europe, so I thought I would create a Europe bucket list to give you inspiration for your next trip overseas.

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I have some luxury hotels, unique experiences, as well as some top class adventures that I think you will love! I hope it inspires you to travel overseas soon. And, if you are looking to travel further afield, this post might be of interest:

Read: 25 Bucket list holidays around the world
 

 

 

1. Stay in a Glass Igloo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

Glass Igloo at Kakslauttanen with the Northern Lights.

A stay in the iconic glass igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic is sure to tick more than one item off your Europe bucket list. Its location places you in a prime position for viewing the Aurora Borealis.

Although this natural phenomenon can never be guaranteed, the location of Kakslauttanen, 250km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland’s Lapland, means the odds are certainly in your favour.
 

 

 
The Glass Igloos offer a memorable opportunity to watch the magic come to life through the thermal glass. But if you’re staying for a few nights, I would recommend having a look at the Kelo-Glass Igloos which combine the cosy amenities of a log cabin, including private sauna and fireplace, with the spectacular glass roof above the bedroom.

The Glass Igloos at Kakslauttanen are on every Europe bucket list

The best time for viewing the northern lights is from September to March, and the winter months offer an array of exciting snow activities such as husky safari, cross country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling. A short stay in an igloo in Lapland is sure to leave you with a lifetime of memories.

Read: How to see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo
 

 

 

How to get there:

Fly via Helsinki to Ivalo Airport. Kakslauttanen Resort is located 38km from the airport and can be reached either by taxi or car rental.

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2. Enjoy an Overwater Bungalow in Crete, Greece

overwater bungalows in Crete

The idyllic dream of an overwater bungalow is not confined to the Indian Ocean. Closer to home, I have a stunning resort in Greece offering overwater bungalows, some of which also boast an outdoor jacuzzi.

At Stella Island Luxury Resort & Spa, spend your days lounging on your hammock or luxury lounger, before diving directly into the pool from your deck to cool off.
 

 

 
This five-star adult only resort offers B&B, Half board, or All-Inclusive options, with a choice of five onsite restaurants. Aside from the accommodation, the spa is one of the main talking points at Stella Island, where there is no shortage of pampering options, including their must-do couples spa retreat which is the top choice for honeymoon couples.
 

 

 
If all this lazing around in paradise gets too much, the hotel can arrange a selection of activities on the island such as water sports, diving, horse riding and mountain biking. Although, I’d place a bet that once you check-in to Stella Island, you won’t want to leave.
 

 

 

How to get there:

Fly direct to Heraklion airport with TUI Holidays and book hotel separately. Alternatively fly to Chania Airport with Ryanair but transfer time will be longer. 

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3. Treat Yourself to The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is on my Europe bucket list

Iceland is probably already on your Europe bucket list, but if you want to make your trip even more memorable, have a look at including a couple of nights at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon. This exclusive suite hotel is nestled into the stark volcanic landscape and encircled by the mineral rich waters of Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon.
 

 

 
During your stay you can gain unlimited access to the Retreat Spa, the Retreat Lagoon, the Blue Lagoon, and Blue Lagoon Ritual. Enjoy unique spa experiences such as an in-water massage, the steam cave, or beauty treatments using the Mineral-rich geothermal Blue Lagoon water.
 

 

 
The views through the large glass windows in each of the suites offers a dramatic scene of moss-covered lava fields, and the interior décor compliments the outside beautifully.

The time of year you visit will also determine the dramatically changing landscape, and who knows, if you’re lucky enough, you might even be treated to a display of the Northern Lights.

Read: Top things to do in Iceland
 

 

 

How to get there

Fly direct to Reykjavik airport. The Blue Lagoon Retreat is located 37km from the airport and can be reached either by taxi or car rental.

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4. Explore the Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Along the northwest coast of Italy lies the five towns that make up the extraordinary coastal area of Cinque Terre. Each of the five villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Varnazza and Monterosso, dramatically hug the cliffs along this stunning stretch of the Italian coastline.
 

 

 
Access between the villages by car is not so easy, but it really is a walker’s paradise. There are over 120km of trails in the area, which is now a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site, with many of the most popular routes averaging 4km.

Ideally spend three or four days discovering the charm and character of each village, and include a boat trip along the coast for the ultimate Europe bucket list moment.
 

 

 
The best time to visit is May and September as the temperatures are cooler and the villages are less busy than the peak summer months. No matter where you base yourself, you will be a stones throw from those stunning views, but you can’t get much closer than staying at La Casa Del Doganiere.

This a one-of-a-kind property almost hangs off the cliff edge in Monterosso village and has an excellent 9.7 rating on Booking.com.

How to get there:

Fly to Pisa Airport and take a train via Pisa Central Station. Journey time is approx. 1 ½ – 2 hours

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5. Stay in a cave in Santorini, Greece

a cave stay in Santorini is on every Europe bucket list

The popularity of Santorini was taken up a notch over the last year with the introduction of direct flights from Dublin. It’s not difficult to describe the perfect checklist for your Europe bucket list experience in Santorini.

It would generally include a room built into the caves which leads out to a private jacuzzi, where you can enjoy the stunning sunsets and Caldera views.
 

 

 
The Aliko Luxury Suites tick all these boxes and more. Aliko Suites have luxury written all over them, from the beautifully furnished domed area to the large private terrace with comfortable loungers. They also offer a pillow menu, bathrobe, slippers and a fully stocked mini bar.
 

 

 
If you can tear yourself away, the town of Fira is 2km from the hotel where you’ll find a great choice of Greek Taverns and bars. However, if you prefer a self catering option, I have some gorgeous Airbnbs in this post:

Read 10 amazing Airbnbs in Santorini – caves, windmills and private pools

How to get there:

Fly directly to Santorini with Aer Lingus or Ryanair and take taxi or transfer to your hotel.

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6. Enjoy a Spa Break in Budapest, Hungary

a spa break in Budapest is one of Europes best travel experiences

The famous Szechenyi Bath is the most visited attraction in Budapest. Set in City Park, Szechenyi Baths are the largest thermal baths in Europe.

The medicinal benefits of the mineral rich thermal waters include providing relief from arthritis and respiratory issues, in addition to soothing muscle aches and improving circulation. This is one of the best travel experiences in Europe for spa lovers.
 

 

 
As well as the large outdoor swimming pool and two thermal pools, Szechenyi also boasts a further 15 indoor pools with varying characteristics, temperatures, jets, and shape. Inside the huge palace building you will also find a maze of corridors leading to steam rooms, saunas, and massage rooms.

The Saturday night summer spa parties are hugely popular, with live music, laser shows and cocktails for the ultimate pool party.
 

 

 
Accommodation in Budapest is very reasonable, and it certainly won’t break the bank to treat yourself to a five-star stay. A super option is the elegantly designed Corinthia Budapest Hotel in the heart of the city.

The architecture of this impressive hotel dates back to 1800, and the grandeur continues through the suites, restaurants and Royal Spa.

How to get there:

Fly directly to Budapest with Aer Lingus or Ryanair and take taxi or transfer to your hotel.

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7. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia is one of the worlds best travel experiences

There’s a good chance you will recognise this unique scenery from Cappadocia, where the hot air balloons majestically float above the cave dwellings, rock formations and ‘fairy chimneys’. This historic region is located in the heart of Turkey, and the most popular town for tourists to stay when visiting the area is Göreme.
 

 

 
It is from here that you can take one of the famous hot air balloon rides at sunrise to get an aerial view of the spectacular landscape below. The memorable experience is finished off with a celebratory champagne breakfast.

This not only deserves a place on my Europe bucket list, but it is probably one of the world’s best travel experiences. Some of the other popular activities in the region include ATV Tours and Horseback riding.
 

 

 
The Goreme Open Air Museum on the edge of the town is a must see and is part of a vast area that has earned UNESCO World Heritage site status. A 20-minute, uphill walk from the centre of town you’ll find the museum which houses cave churches dating back to 10th and 11th century.

This is a fascinating destination, off the beaten track and easily combined on a two-centre holiday with the vibrant city of Istanbul. 
 

 

 
One of my favourite hotels is 4-star Doors of Cappadocia for location, character, and stunning views from the outdoor pool. It receives consistently excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.

How to get there:

Fly from Dublin via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines to Nevsehir Airport. Goreme can be reached by transfer in 45 minutes. The Hot Air Balloon with Champagne Breakfast can be booked here and start from €123.

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8. Party at Oktoberfest Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest in Munich, Europe travel experiences

Running over 2 weeks from the end of September annually, Oktoberfest has previously attracted over six million visitors from all over the world. Although the festival is cancelled for 2021, it is definitely one to add to the calendar for 2022.

What began as a festival to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810, has now developed in the largest beer festival in the world.
 

 

 
There are 14 main tents at Oktoberfest, with a capacity to fit between 5000 – 11000 people and each with a different characteristic ranging from the music, entertainment, culinary specialities, and family friendliness. The one common denominator however is the beer – an average of over 7 million litres is consumed each year!
 

 

 
If you need a break from the beer, there is plenty of activities to choose from. The fairground is packed with rides, stalls and performers, and weather permitting there is an open-air concert on the second Sunday of the festival.
 

 

 
The two properties I’ll mention, both within a 5-minute walk of Theresienwiese (the venue for Oktoberfest) are 3-star Bold Hotel München Zentrum, or an ideal option for a group travelling is 4-star Vier Zimmer which offers a beautiful four-bedroom apartment with terrace.

How to get there:

Fly direct to Munich with Lufthansa, Ryanair or Aer Lingus and get a taxi or transfer to your hotel.

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9. Drive the Amalfi Coast & Visit Capri, Italy

driving the Amalfi Coast is one of Europes best travel experiences

When we think of the world’s best road trips, we usually think of far flung destinations like California, Melbourne or South Africa. However, sometimes what we are looking for is right on our doorstep.

The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. Each resort is nicer than the next and the views across the Bay of Naples are breathtaking.
 

 

 
Sorrento is the liveliest of the resorts, and also less expensive than some of its neighbours. However, for the ultimate bucket list holiday in Europe choose Positano or Ravello. And if budget is not a concern, stay in the Caruso Hotel, Ravello or the Il San Pietro de Positano. Alternatively combine it with a few days on the Isle of Capri. 

Read: The ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast, and where to stay 

Read: The 10 best movies to showcase Italy
 

 

 

How to get there:

Fly direct to Naples with Ryanair or Aer Lingus. Transfer times vary depending on the resort you choose, but the Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s best scenic drives, so scratch one off your Europe bucket list and hire a car instead!

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10. Take the Orient Express from London to Venice

orient express bucket list holidays

The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the most famous train journey in the world. Step back in time to the 1920’s and enjoy top quality dining and superb service in a unique setting.

London to Venice is the most iconic journey, and what better way to complete this Europe bucket list holiday than a stay at the famous Cipriani Hotel Venice, with a Gondola ride thrown in for good measure.

Read: The top things to do in Venice and where to stay

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11. Take a food tour in San Sebastian, Spain

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Spain offers many bucket list experiences, but one of my most memorable experiences was a food tour in the seaside city of San Sebastian. Not only is San Sebastian a gorgeous city in its own right, but it is the ultimate escape for food lovers.

Although home to 16 Michelin starred restaurants, (more per square metre than any other city in the world), it is the 200 Pintxos bars that get most of the attention.
 

 

 
Pintxos (pronounced ‘Pintoes’) are a tradition in San Sebastian – they are small bite size food portions, traditionally served with local wine or cider, or to put it another way – the Basque country’s version of tapas. In the old town there were dozens of Pintxos Bars to choose from.

We took a food tour with, Eskerne Falcon, from Discover San Sebastián. Her bubbly personality won us over, even before we tasted the food.  

Sebastian is chic and stylish, with a delightful old town, a fabulous beach, and amazing food – put it on your Europe bucket list!

Read: A short break in San Sebastian
 

 

 

How to get there:

Fly direct to Biarritz with Ryanair, or to Bilbao Aer Lingus. Transfer time from Biarritz is 40 minutes, Bilbao is approximately an hour. Car hire is ideal if you wish to explore Rioja and Bilbao, but be careful if flying into Biarritz and home from Bilbao as one-way drop off charges are excessive.

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12. See the Eiffel Tower from your hotel room in Paris, France

Eiffel Tower Room at Le Walt Hotel, Paris

With numerous daily flights and inexpensive airfares, Paris is one of those cities that you can fly off to at a moment’s notice! Take a cruise on the Seine, stroll around the pretty streets of Montmartre, and shop till you drop at Galeries Lafayette.

However, for the ultimate travel experience in Paris, why not book an Eiffel Tower room at Le Walt, or if money is no object, book a suite at the Shangri-La!

Read: My Paris travel guide, the top things to do in Paris and where to stay

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13. Get lost in Matera, Italy

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Matera is not only visually stunning, but it has a remarkable story too. Once the shame of Italy, it is now one of its most beautiful cities. I would highly recommend staying inside the old city or Sassi – it was one of my favourite travel experiences in Europe. We combined it with a stay in Puglia and it was the perfect combination.

 
Find out the best places to stay, how to get there and why I think it deserves a place on this Europe bucket list, in this post:

Read: A magical weekend in Matera – Italy’s best kept secret
 

 

 

14. Go Skiing in Austria

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain! While skiing might not be everyone’s idea of a bucket list experience, it surely is one of mine. I love skiing, I find it exhilarating. The sense of achievement when I ski from the top of a mountain is so rewarding.

Skiing is the only time when I completely switch off from everyday life – its quite difficult to check your emails from the top of a mountain…
 

 

 
There are many different ski resorts to choose from, but there is something magical about skiing in Austria. Most villages were once farming or market towns, so you won’t find purpose built ski resorts. Instead, you can expect picture postcard towns that are brimming with character and charm, with all the winter wonderland feels you would wish for. 

Read: Skiing in Soll – all you need to know and why you should go
 

 

 

15. Go Wine Tasting in Saint-Emilion, France

Saint-Emilion, France

When it comes to wine tasting in France, there are several trails to choose from. The Alsace and Loire Valley trails are probably the most famous, but the picturesque villages and charming Châteaux on the Bordeaux trail took my breath away.

We stayed near the UNESCO World Heritage village of Saint-Emilion many years ago and loved it. The home of Pomerol, Margaux, as well as countless lesser known vineyards, this region is a little piece of heaven.
 

 

 
For a Château experience the Château Hôtel Grand Barrail is surprisingly good value, but for the ultimate bucket list experience check out the Hôtel de Pavie. Located in the heart of the village, this old stone building is steeped in history and boasts a 2 Michelin-starred restaurant. This hotel high on my Europe bucket list and I can’t wait to stay there one day.
 

 

 

How to get there:

Fly direct to Bordeaux with Aer Lingus or Ryanair, or better still take the ferry so you can bring some wine back with you! Brittany Ferries sail from Rosslare and Cork to Cherbourg and Roscoff respectively, while Irish Ferries sail from Dublin to Cherbourg.

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16. Go island hopping in Croatia

Brac Island, Croatia

The entire western coastline of Croatia, stretching for 1,800km, is hugged by the Adriatic Sea and contains an impressive 1,246 islands. I love the walled city of Dubrovnik and it’s neighbouring towns, as well as the idyllic villages of Istria.

It is difficult to recommend just one place in Croatia so I think island hopping is the ultimate way to explore this captivating country. Find out my top recommendations on where to stay, and how to get there in this post:

Read: The best places to stay in Croatia, Dubrovnik, Central Croatia, Istria and the Islands 
 

 

 

17. Experience An Opera in Vienna

An opera in Vienna is one of my Europe bucket list experiences

It’s easy to see why Vienna is known as the city of music, with more famous composers calling the city home than any other. Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, to name just a few, each lived and worked in Vienna.

There are three opera houses in the city including Vienna State Opera House, which is considered one of the best opera houses in the world.
 

 

 
The State Opera House offers a daily programme and regularly features popular performances including La Traviata, Tosca and the Marriage of Figaro. Tickets are available to purchase here.

Vienna, which was also the birthplace of the Waltz, is rich in culture and historic architecture. To experience it first-hand, I would suggest having a look at the stunning Grand Hotel Wien, just a few minutes stroll to the State Opera House, for a luxury stay in a beautiful setting.

How to get there:

Fly direct to Vienna with Aer Lingus or Ryanair and take a taxi or transfer to your hotel.

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18. Explore the Lisbon Coast

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Lisbon is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, but the added bonus of having a gorgeous coastline on its doorstep, makes it deserve a place on my Europe bucket list.  Ride the trams, dine at Time Out Mercado da Ribeira – one of Europe’s best food markets, and wonder at the Torre de Belém.
 

 

 
However the beauty of a trip to Lisbon also lies with how much there is to do outside the city. The Lisbon coast is brimming with gorgeous beaches, picturesque towns such as Cascais, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra. We visited Lisbon and Cascais twice now and love it.

Read: Top 10 things to do in Lisbon

Read: Where to stay in Lisbon, my top 10 Lisbon hotels
 

 

 

19. Enjoy Adrenaline Experiences in Switzerland

adrenaline experiences in Switzerland

If the past year couple of years has left you craving extreme adventure and an adrenaline rush, Interlaken in Switzerland won’t leave you wanting. Combine the range of activities with one of the most naturally beautiful settings in Europe, and you’re onto a winner.
 

 

 
Interlaken is a traditional Swiss town located in a narrow valley between the sparkling waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The picturesque town is surrounded by mountains, glaciers, dense forest, and the lakes which lend themselves to a huge array of outdoor adrenaline inducing activities.
 

 

 
Get an aerial view of the surroundings on a Tandem Paragliding Experience or brave the thrilling zipline ride and suspension bridge at Grindelwald. There is also the opportunity for skydiving, canyoning, white water rafting, bungee jumping and canoeing – always with the backdrop of those breath-taking views. Details of many of these activities can be found here.
 

 

 
For a great value hotel, take a look at Hotel Brienzersee, located on the shores of Lake Brienz on the outskirts of Interlaken.

How to get there:

Fly to Zurich Airport with Aer Lingus. Interlaken can be reached by transfer, car or train in approx. 2 hours.

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20. Christmas market break in Germany

A Christmas market break should be on your Europe bucket list.

Pottering around wooden market stalls, listening to carol singing and sipping mulled wine in crisp December air – visiting Christmas markets is a great way to kick off the festive season and deserves a place on your Europe bucket list. 
 

 

 
Cologne and Strasbourg are two of the most popular cities for Christmas market breaks, however a visit to Berlin would enable you to take in the city’s highlights too. Or better still, chose Munich and explore the captivating Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

Read: Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets

Read: The best Christmas markets in Munich and where to stay
 

 

 
I hope you like my Europe bucket list and it will inspire you to get planning your next big trip! Let me know if there are any destinations that you think I should include, by commenting below.
 

 

 
Note facilities and activities are subject to change, please check with individual hotels and organisers for more details. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

Sarah

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25 Bucket List Holidays Around The World

119389-Breakfast-004-Cr-Giraffe-Manor-The-Safari-Collection

From the Maldives to Machu Picchu, the Amalfi Coast to Antartica, check out my top bucket list holidays to inspire your next big trip.

 

In most cases bucket list holidays are down to personal taste – as the saying goes, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. They can also depend on the type of holiday you are looking for at the time. Right now I would love to be lying on a beach in Bora Bora, but if I was planning a bucket list family holiday for next year, I would probably choose a road trip across Western Canada, or a tour of Vietnam.
 

 

 
One of my life long dreams is to see the gorillas in their natural habitat in Uganda. Hopefully I will get to see them one day, I will never give up hope anyway! This is my own personal list of bucket list holidays, so hopefully one of these will inspire you to plan a trip of a lifetime. 
 

 

 

1. Bora Bora 

Bora Bora one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

Bora Bora has been on my bucket list for years. Many celebrities have holidayed here and if you can afford it, it really is one of the world’s top bucket list holidays. As well as incredible beaches and secluded lagoons, you can swim with turtles and even climb its two mountain peaks.
 

 

 
It is also one of the few destinations, other than the Maldives, that have over water bungalows – check out the Four Seasons Resort for the ultimate bucket list experience! Located in French Polynesia, most combine Bora Bora with a trip to either Australasia or California. 

 

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2. Maldives

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I finally published my post on the #maldives 🙌 If you want to know all about one of the best places I have ever been – grab a coffee cos it’s a long one ☕️- Link in bio / profile . . . . . . . . maldivesresorts #maldivesislands #paradiseisland #paradisecove #irishtravelblogger #travelbloggerlife #lovemyjob #wearetravelgirls #travelpics #travelgram #beautifuldestinations #beachgirl #centaragrandmaldives @holidayshopdub @centaragrandmaldives #iphonepic #igersmaldives #beachlife🌴 #Seaview #views #maldivesisland #maldivesview #seacolours #viewsofinstagram #luxurylifestyle #luxurylife #luxurytravel #luxuryhotel #beachesofinstagram #beaches

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Our trip to the Maldives was one of my favourite holidays – no pictures or words can actually do it justice. Each resort is on its own island, so you have to arrive at your hotel by seaplane or speed boat. The laid back atmosphere means that even in deluxe hotels, the dress code is casual.
 

 

 
We stayed in the all-inclusive Centara Grand Maldives. As well having romantic over water bungalows and deluxe beach villas, there was a large amount of families and couples who were there to enjoy the activities. We loved chatting to fellow islanders about what fish they had seen that day, or activities they had tried. The Maldives is not only for honeymooners…

Read about my magical stay in the Maldives

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3. Galapagos Islands

bucket list holidays to the galapagos islands

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4. Hawaii

Hawaii one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

This multicultural paradise is vastly different from the paradise islands of the Indian Ccean or South Pacific. You will see college students on gap years, mingling with honeymoon couples in five-star resorts. There are six main islands, each offering something different. 
 

 

 
Touring the Battleships of World War II in Pearl Harbour is a popular attraction, while the rugged landscapes, superb beaches, and relaxed vibe, ensures a holiday in Hawaii will leave you wanting to come back for more. 

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5. Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Whitsunday Islands one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

My trips around Australia led me to some pretty spectacular places, but the one place that stands out in my mind is Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands. It is still probably the best beach I have ever seen. The sand is amongst the purest in the world, it is so fine, it is used to polish jewellery! Sailing boats leave from Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, and you can fly there directly from most Australian cities. 

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6. Sri Lanka

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We met this friendly #elephant on the way to Yala National Park, we got so close I could have touched him! Love the pic of me taking his photo – thanks to @cathyburketcireland for taking it. Swipe right to see more and check out my stories 👆 . . . . . . #srilanka #safari #safaripark #elephant #elephants #elephantsofinstagram #elephantphotography #animalcrossing #upcloseandpersonal #travelblogger #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #insatagood #instadaily #picoftheday #photooftheday #trafficjam #wearetravelgirls #travelbloggerlife #tcexperience #widenyourworld @turkishairlines @travelcounsellorsireland @instasrilanka @srilankadaily @destination_srilanka @srilanka

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Sri Lanka was one big surprise! I was seduced by Sri Lanka when I visited a few years ago, and have vowed to go back with my family to show them why. Although located in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka offers so much more than white sandy beaches and year round sunshine.
 

 

 
There are a staggering eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. I climbed the 660-feet tall rock fortress of Sigiriya and it was incredible. Sri Lanka has great wildlife too. It is home to the highest concentration of leopards in the world and it is one of the best places to see elephants – there are almost 6,000 of them in Sri Lanka.

I also stayed in the Ceylon Tea Trails Hotel – that is one of the world’s top bucket list holidays in its own right! Sri Lanka is the perfect destination if you want to mix adventure, culture and precious beach time.

Read: My top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka

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7. Amalfi Coast / Capri

amalfi coast bucket list holidays

When we think of bucket list holidays, we usually think of far flung destinations. However, sometimes what we are looking for is right on our doorstep. The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. Each resort is nicer than the next and the views across the Bay of Naples are breathtaking.
 

 

 
Sorrento is the liveliest of the resorts and also less expensive than some of its neighbours. However for the ultimate bucket list holiday choose Positano or Ravello. And if budget is not a concern, stay in the Caruso Hotel, Ravello or the Il San Pietro de Positano. Alternatively combine it with a few days on the Isle of Capri. 

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8. New Orleans & The Deep South

american holidays with direct flights from Ireland

Watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu is on every travel bucket list I see, and it is also on mine. I would love to trek the Inca Trail, visit the Sacred Valley and see Lake Titicaca. However, you don’t have to take the strenuous trek, there is a train that brings you right to the magical city.
 

 

 
An escorted tour is probably the best way to ensure you see all the highlights. Wendy Wu tours, Insight Vacations and G Adventures organise tours to Peru. Personally I think a stay in an eco lodge in the Amazon jungle would be the perfect ending to this trip…

Read: Top 5 South America Tours 

Read: Discover South America and Asia With Wendy Wu Tours

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10. The Garden Route, South Africa

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Our ‘tent’ – if you can call it that, at @amakhala ❤️ There are a few different lodges within the reserve, this one is Bush Lodge and as you can see it’s pretty spectacular! Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, outdoor showers and a free standing bath! Not exactly a tent as we are used to in Ireland! . . . . . #instatravel #travelblogger #travelpic #beautifuldestinations #travelgram #southafrica @ilovesouthafrica @meetsouthafrica @southafrica #tia #irishtravelblogger #thetravelexpert @amakhalasafari #safari #luxurysafari #luxuryhotels #familyhotel #smalluxuryhotelsoftheworld #gamereserve #gamereservesouthafrica #bath #luxurysafari #luxurytents #glamping #tents #tentselfie #luxury #luxurytravel #familytravel #familysafari #memories #lifetimememories @gohop_ie #drone #dronestagram #dronephotography

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South Africa is one of my favourite holiday destinations. I love the city of Cape Town, the Garden Route drive, and the numerous safari options that are available. I went on my honeymoon (a long time ago) and returned last year on a family holiday. I can honestly say that a holiday in South Africa is ideal for either situation.
 

 

 
There are plenty of romantic hideaways and wine estates for couples, but also plenty to keep the kids amused too. I have lots of posts on South Africa put this one connects them all together.

Read: How to plan the perfect South African road trip.

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11. Alaska Cruise

alaska a bucket list holiday destination

An Alaska cruise seemed like a pipe dream for most of us a few years ago, but recently it has become much more affordable. With the introduction of direct flights from Dublin to Seattle, and the increase of cruise companies now cruising Alaska, this dream can now become a reality.
 

 

 
You will witness some of the world’s most dramatic scenery as well as some stunning wildlife, massive glaciers and National Parks. The race to see Alaska is on, it is melting at an extraordinary rate. Add it to your list of bucket list holidays and go see it before its too late. 

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12. Kenya, Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar Multi-Centre

bucket list adventures

Combining safaris in Tanzania and Kenya with a stay in Zanzibar is the perfect multi-centre holiday. Myself and Cormac went on a similar holiday about 18 years ago and we still talk about it. We stayed in three different National Parks over a one week period, Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. Why not add on a few nights in Giraffe Manor too, and experience the ultimate bucket list breakfast?
 

 

 
The game viewing was incredible and each reserve gave us a unique experience. The highlight was our stay in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – an experience I will never forget. We rounded off a fabulous time in Tanzania with a short flight over to Zanzibar for a relaxing week on the beach. 

Read about my safari in Tanzania here

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13. Santorini

Santorini

The picture postcard image of Santorini is a great advertisement for Greece – how could you not want to go there? Every time I see it, I picture myself sipping a cocktail in a small Greek taverna, watching one of the most amazing sunsets. Is Santorini one of the world’s top bucket list holidays? Absolutely.  However, try to avoid peak summer months – as the crowds might ruin the romance…

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14. West Canada road trip with the Rocky Mountaineer

a canada road trip is one of my bucket list holidays

This is another trip that is high on list of bucket list holidays. A few years ago we drove from San Francisco to San Diego on a family road trip, and ever since I have wanted to go back and drive in the opposite direction.
 

 

 
With direct flights from Dublin to Seattle, I would choose to fly to Seattle and drive to Alaska, taking in the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park, Lake Louse and Vancouver. Depending on your budget, a two-day trip on the Rocky Mountaineer would finish off this bucket list holiday nicely!

Read: 5 ways to visit Canada

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15. Las Vegas with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon 

grand canyon bucket list holidays

I was supposed to be visiting Las Vegas for the first time in April, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled 😔 Hopefully I will get to see the City of Lights and one of the seven natural wonders of the world another time. Everyone I speak to who has seen the Grand Canyon say the same thing – the photos or social media images don’t prepare you for its beauty, or its immense size. Formed by millions of years of erosion, it is 227 miles long and averages over ten miles wide.
 

 

 
A helicopter ride offers you the best chance of seeing as much as possible, however  I am told the South Rim offers the most dramatic views. The Sky Walk is located on the West Rim though, so maybe Ill have to visit both! I also love that the Grand Canyon looks completely different at various times during the day – to see it at sunrise or sunset is probably the ultimate bucket list experience. 

Read: The Absolute Guide to Las Vegas

Read: 5 ways to visit Las Vegas

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16. Antartica

antartica bucket list holidays

While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly is mine. Wouldn’t it be nice to follow in Tom Crean’s footsteps and see glaciers, icebergs and incredible wildlife in one of the world’s most unspoilt destinations? National Geographic have expedition ships that leave from Ushuaia in Argentina, another country that is worthy of a place on this list of bucket list holidays.

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17. Milford Sound, New Zealand

new zealand bucket list holiday destination

Often described as the 8th wonder of the world, Milford Sound in New Zealand’s South Island is home to stunning mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and magnificent fjords. Carved by glaciers, it is breathtaking at any time of year. Combine it with a visit to Christchurch and the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown, for the ultimate bucket list experience.    

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18. The Orient Express

orient express bucket list holidays

The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the most famous train journey in the world. Step back in time to the 1920’s and enjoy top quality dining and superb service in a unique setting. London to Venice is the most iconic journey, but there are also plenty of one-night journeys available if you just want to live the dream for a day! 

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19. Turks & Caicos

turks and caicos bucket list

I must confess, I knew little about Turks and Caicos until recently. I posed a question on my Facebook page asking followers to name their favourite bucket list destinations, and I was surprised at the number of people who named Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory located close to the Bahamas.
 

 

 
It turns out that it is a huge celebrity hang out. Many celebrities have homes here, and Oprah, Brad Pitt, Bill Gates and The Kardashians visit regularly. It is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, with some of the world’s best beaches, I think I might have to go and check it out for myself….

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20. Chase the Northern Lights in Iceland


There are many ways to see the Northern Lights, they have even been seen in the west of Ireland. However, Norway, Finland and Iceland probably offer some of the best opportunities to see them.
 

 

 
We were fortunate to see them in Iceland a few years ago. There is so much to see and do in Iceland, but a tour around The Golden Circle and a swim in the Blue Lagoon are are must. Iceland deserves its place on this list of bucket list holidays, even if you are not lucky enough to see the aurora borealis.

Another resort that promises the ultimate bucket list experience is Kakslauttanen in Finland, where you can see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo!

Read: How to see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo

Read: New Year in Iceland, Flights & 4-Star Hotel from €457!

Read: Top things to do in Iceland

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21. California Road Trip

California offers so much for every type of traveller and is full of bucket list opportunities. You can drive the Pacific Coast highway in a convertible, bike the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, sip wine in Napa Valley, or bring the kids to Universal Studios and DisneyWorld. It really is one of those rare holiday destinations that appeals to everyone – so add it to your list of bucket list holidays if you haven’t already visited.

Read the best places to stop on the Pacific Coast Highway.

 

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22. Round the World Cruise

luxury round the world cruise

While I don’t think this would be my personal choice at this stage of my life, it is something that I might like to do when I retire. To travel the world in a luxury cruise ship, stopping off in some of the world’s greatest cities, with delicious food and world class entertainment every night, sounds pretty good to me! 
 

 

 
Many mainstream cruise lines including MSC and Princess Cruises offer round the world cruises but you if you are looking for the ultra luxury experience, check out Regent Seven Seas, or Silversea for a more intimate cruise. Make sure you speak to a cruise specialist before booking, as they will advise you on the best ship to suit your needs.
 

 

 

23. Vietnam and Cambodia Twin Centre

halong bay bucket list destination

Both of these countries deserve a place on this list of bucket list holidays on their own, however, when combined I think they are a great two-centre holiday. I have planned this itinerary in my head many times, although I think it is probably best to ask a specialist tour operator or travel agent to book this for you.
 

 

 
I would fly to Vietnam first, spend a few nights in Hanoi and cruise Halong Bay. I would then fly to Da Nang and visit the riverside town of Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, before flying direct to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Considered the world’s top attraction by Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor, it simply has to be included on this list of bucket list holidays.

Read: 3 ways to visit Vietnam
 

 

 

 24. Moscow &  St. Petersburg, Russia

st petersburg
 
Visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg is the ultimate city break. Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Kremlin and the Winter Palace are all bucket list experiences, but I believe simply setting foot on Russian soil must be quite fascinating. I have never been to Russia, but can only imagine that seeing its communist society, retro cafes and iconic buildings would certainly be a holiday to remember.

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25. See the Gorillas in Uganda

to see the gorillas in uganda is my ultimate bucket list experience

I’m saving the best for last! This has been my dream trip ever since I went on my first safari in South Africa over twenty years ago. I loved the experience of being close to wildlife in their natural habitat. I told myself I would see the gorillas in Uganda for my 30th birthday. This then turned into my dream for my 40th, but never materialised. I am hoping that I might just make it for my 50th!
 

 

 
There are only 900 mountain gorillas in existence, so to see them up close has to be one of the ultimate bucket list holidays. Uganda and Rwanda provide the best viewing experiences but I think I would like to add on a side trip to Victoria Falls to round off my trip of a lifetime. 

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I hope you liked my post on bucket list holidays and it has inspired you to get planning your next big trip! Let me know if there are any destinations that you think I should include, by commenting below.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

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